Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ringo's 'Stop and Smell the Roses' album

Okay, so 'Stop and Small the Roses' may not be Ringo's best (that would be 1973's Ringo LP), but darn it, I like it.

It's got Paul, George and Harry Nilsson for one thing. I think part of reason people are tough on it is because the CD version has six bonus tracks (for a total of 16), which makes the album seem way too long. You're kind of sick of it by track 12 or so.

Ringo is better in small doses.

But I think the really interesting thing about Roses is 'what might have been': John Lennon was going to give him 'Nobody Told Me' (which is on Lennon's Milk and Honey LP) and 'Life Begins at 40' (on Lennon's Anthology box set).

The sessions were supposed to take place in January 1981, but as we all know, that didn't happen. I assume Ringo could've used the songs anyway, but chose not to.

Had Lennon done the album, it might've been a big hit. The main reason Ringo was his best and best selling LP was because it was the one time all four Beatles appeared on the same record. That is, the one time when they were all alive. 'Free as a Bird'/'Real Love' isn't really the same thing, is it? The closest they came again was in 1976 on Ringo's Rotogravure. It has songs by the other three, and John and Paul appear on it, but George did not attend any recordings.

There was something magical, not to mention 'publicity gold', about having the four boys on the same album. Yeah, Ringo is a fine record, but it has a vibe and mood to it no other Ringo Starr album has. And I think part of that is because of the other Beatles, even though all four don't actually perform together on any one song. But hey, all four of them hardly performed together on 'The White Album', either.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

'Up Against It'...the 'lost' Beatles' movie

Finally got around to reading the screenplay 'Up Against It' by Joe Orton. The script was intended as the Beatles' third film and written in early 1967, around the time of the release of the single 'Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields'.

Orton's tragic life was the subject of the film Prick Up You Ears starring Gary Oldman as Orton.

Regarding the script: I didn't like it. It was morbid and dull and the fact that the Beatles returned it without any notes or comments doesn't surprise me. The plot involves three men (this published screenplay is a revised version Orton did after the Beatles turned it down and the Ringo/George character have been merged into one) all in love with the same girl and at the same time involved in terrorism, war and generally being 'up against' society.

The setting is seems to be some kind of hybrid Victorian/1960's era. The dialog is bad 'Beatlesesque' puns. Example:

MAN: Don't sit in that chair. It has a broken leg.

RINGO: Have you called a doctor?

Orton wrote the script very quickly and it shows. The introduction is actually more interesting than the script, and has tidbits about having dinner with Paul and Orton's interaction with Epstein and Walter Shenson (film producer who did Hard Day's Night and Help!).

I would not recommend this script (you can get it with an novella Orton wrote called 'Head to Toe' which I have not read) because it is actually a chore to read. But as I said, the introduction is interesting as it gives some insight to someone who was on the fringe of the Beatles' world for a few months.