Vale George Martin

 

Rest in peace.

 
So saddened to hear that the great Sir George Martin has passed away. He was such a huge part of what made The Beatles so great – his production on each of their tracks is incredible to listen to, and everything he added to their music enhanced so much of their work, often lifting it from ‘great’ to bonafide masterpiece status. I’ll never forget the first time I heard his mono mix of Revolver; ‘A Day In The Life’s apocalyptic orchestra; ‘In My Life’s beautiful (sped-up) piano; ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’; ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’; ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – all greatly affected by his work. He always seemed a true gentleman, too. 

May he rest in peace.

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10 Of The Beatles’ Best Vocal Performances

(via paulontheruntour.blogspot.com)

(via paulontheruntour.blogspot.com)

One of my favourite things about The Beatles is how they never had a lead singer. Each member had opportunities to sing, and with this, they brought their four contrasting perspectives to the band’s music. And of course, they had two of the greatest rock singers of all time: Paul, his voice one of the few with technical merits in rock music, and John, traditionally rougher, yet arguably more passionate and raw. So with all this, it is hardly surprising that there are plenty of stunning moments in The Beatles’ discography when it comes to vocals. So today, I’m naming a few of my favourites! So, in no particular order:

‘This Boy’ (B-side to ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, 1963)

SUNG BY: John, Paul & George

‘This Boy’ was the public’s introduction to the three-part harmonies that John, Paul and George would practise together, and what an introduction it is! The three sing absolutely beautifully together, their contrasting voices fitting perfectly. John’s lead, too, during the bridge is wonderfully passionate and raw. Although ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’s cultural impact was obviously considerably larger, it is these vocals that make the B-side musically superior, in my opinion.

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: John

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ is perhaps the best example of John’s vocal abilities. Each section of the song – spanning from surreal psychedelia, to hard rock, to (somewhat satirical) doo-wop – demands a different kind of singing, and John handles this task with ease. Changing swiftly from low to high, and switching styles – from heavier, rockier vocals in the middle, to a lighter falsetto tone in the end – to suit each section’s respective genre, his vocals are especially wide-ranging and impressive here.

‘Helter Skelter’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: Paul

‘Helter Skelter’ is among The Beatles’ heaviest songs – of which there are many, of course, but few as influential as this. Often regarded as one of the first metal songs, it is easy to see why. Alongside the relentless instrumentation is Paul’s vocal. Much like his Little Richard impersonation from earlier in the band’s career, but with more bite, Paul screams the lyrics like a true metal singer. Dirty, menacing and raw, they are arguably the best part of a song that foreshadowed Zeppelin’s debut album by several months…

‘Because’ (Abbey Road, 1969)

SUNG BY: John, Paul & George

‘Because’ is the last Beatles song to feature John, Paul & George’s famously magnificent three-part harmonies. Each Beatle’s voices were overdubbed twice, creating a chorus of nine voices in total, adding to the overwhelming beauty of arguably the prettiest ballad on Abbey Road. The kind of vocals that send tingles down the listener’s spine, the song shows that even when the band was rife with infighting, they still possessed a musical chemistry that most bands can only dream of.

‘Girl’ (Rubber Soul, 1965)

SUNG BY: John

John’s vocals on ‘Girl’ are almost hypnotic. Like with ‘Oh! Darling’ for Paul (see below), the song contains one of John’s most passionate performances. He doesn’t just sing the lyrics; he conveys them – acts them, almost – with such an emotion, a sadness and yearning for the girl that the narrator will never have. They highlight the complexity and beauty of the song, adding to the magnificence of one of John’s best ballads.

‘Here, There and Everywhere’ (Revolver, 1966)

SUNG BY: Paul

One of my Beatles songs – and probably my favourite Paul-penned one – ‘Here, There and Everywhere’s vocals are delicately beautiful in style, much like the song itself. Paul’s dreamy lead highlights the song’s exquisiteness; however, his vocals are not the only stand-out, in my opinion. John and George’s Beach Boys-inspired backing vocals are stunning, too, and aid in bringing a beautiful song, regardless of its arrangement, to a truly ethereal level.

‘Long, Long, Long’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: George

‘Long, Long, Long’, in my opinion, has George’s best Beatles vocals. A soft, “floating” folk song, George’s singing is understated and gentle, suiting the track excellently. However, during the middle eight, the vocals become more intense and stirring, in a way that his singing had never been before. The vocals are perhaps the best part of a song that has long (no pun intended!) been among my Beatley favourites…

‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey’ (The White Album, 1968)

SUNG BY: John

‘Everybody’s…’ is another of my favourite Beatles hard rock songs – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s incredibly fun to listen to. John’s vocals are essential to this quality. Whilst not as rousing as, say, ‘Girl’, they are perfect for the song; quite high, and slightly rough (in a good way), they are just as fun as the music itself. Together with the great guitars, they help make one of my favourite songs on the White Album!

‘Oh! Darling’ (Abbey Road, 1969)

SUNG BY: Paul

Each day for a week before recording ‘Oh! Darling’, Paul would go to Abbey Road each morning and practise the song to roughen his voice, as he felt it was too clear beforehand. And boy, was it worth it! Paul’s vocals on ‘Darling’, to me, are his most passionate and are perhaps his best. Like with ‘Helter Skelter’, he screams the words, but with an emotion that was missing a little from the former. They give the song a feeling that makes it among the best on Abbey Road.

‘I’m Only Sleeping’ (Revolver, 1966)

SUNG BY: John

John’s vocals sound fittingly lazy on ‘I’m Only Sleeping’. Of course, ‘lazy’ in the best possible sense – he sighs the lyrics tiredly, yet passionately, like someone who has recently been woken, and is pleading to be left alone. However, he adds the right amount of effort to his performance, making it particularly good. As with ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, the backing vocals are also a highlight – delightfully whimsical, they, too, suit the lazily psychedelic vibe of the song.

 

What are your favourite Beatles vocal performances? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

6 Of My Favourite Covers By The Beatles

(Via billboard.com)

(via billboard.com)

Over the course of their career, The Beatles recorded a total of 25 covers. Not that many, when put into the context of the band’s 219-song-strong catalogue. And mostly consisting of rock’n’roll songs from the ’50s and Motown tunes from the early ’60s, all of their non-originals (sans ‘Maggie Mae’ from Let It Be) stem from the early period of the group. But although some – such as ‘Twist and Shout’ and ‘Please Mr Postman’ – are deservedly well-known, many remain overshadowed by the sheer quality of John, Paul and George’s original work. However, in my opinion, among The Beatles’ covers are some of the band’s best moments! And so, here are six of my favourites…

6. ‘Baby It’s You’

Although Rubber Soul and Revolver are generally regarded as the band’s “turning point”, ‘Baby It’s You’ (a cover of The Shirlees’ 1961 song, found on Please Please Me) is perhaps The Beatles’ earliest experimental moment. Foreshadowing Soul by nearly three years, the song features a solo from a half-piano-half-xylophone instrument named a celesta played by George Martin. Relatively unknown even now, the instrument’s usage in a pop song would have been practically unheard of in early 1963! Asides from the celesta, the song also plays host to a beautifully raw and passionate vocal performance from John. One of the best cuts from Please Please Me.

5. ‘Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey’

Originally a medley that Little Richard would play live (featuring both his own song, ‘Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey’, and KC Lovin’s 1952 track ‘Kansas City’), The Beatles’ version of ‘Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey’ features one of Paul’s best vocal performances. One of several Beatles tunes which he sings in his high, screaming ‘Little Richard voice’, Paul nails the style perfectly! The guitar, sharp and exciting, also serves the song very well, and there’s something about those backing vocals…

4. ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’

Beginning with a killer piano riff, The Beatles’ cover of Barrett Strong’s 1959 song only goes upwards from there! Sometimes referred to as the second coming of ‘Twist and Shout’, Ringo’s relentless drumming and George’s dark guitar add a gritty drive to the song that The Beatles had never created on record before. Paul’s enthusiastic backing vocals, too, add to the energetic power of the song. But the highlight of the tune is John’s stunning vocals – like ‘Twist and Shout’, he screams the lyrics with such persistent stamina. And that is what makes the song for me.

3. ‘Long Tall Sally’

Also originally by Little Richard, The Beatles’ cover of ‘Long Tall Sally’ is one of the band’s rawest rock’n’roll moments! Like with number 5, Paul’s impressive vocal performance is the high point of the song – amazingly high-pitched and rock’n’roll, they completely contradict the melodic ballads that Paul is stereotypically known for. The two guitar solos (played by John and George, respectively), too, are wonderfully gritty, and John’s rhythm guitar at the end is awesome…

2. ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’

A Smokey Robinson cover from With The Beatles, the slow soul of ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ is in contrast to most of the songs on this list. But it is, yet again, the vocals that make the song. John’s vocal performance is exquisitely soulful and impassioned, conveying the emotion of the song perfectly. Fitting flawlessly alongside George and Paul’s parts, the band’s chemistry is on full show here.

1. ‘Twist And Shout’

‘Twist and Shout’ is unarguably one of The Beatles most powerfully raw songs. John infamously lost his voice after recording the iconic vocals, and you can hear the band’s adrenaline throughout the song! Recorded in merely one take, John’s rough, intense vocals practically epitomise rock’n’roll. And the guitar, bass and drums are such impressively energetic, especially when the fact that it was recorded at the end of a 12-hour session is taken into account. In a way, the song – the final track on Please Please Me – foreshadows the chaos, the cultural changes and (more) great music that The Beatles were still yet to bring to the world…

What are your favourite covers by The Beatles? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

My Ranking Of The Beatles’ Movies

the beatles movies

One of my favourite things about The Beatles is their movies. They’re not cinematic masterpieces, or anything, but they have a certain loveable charm about them. Watching their movies has become something of a ritual for me, and I’ve loved them ever since I’ve been a fan!

So today, I thought I’d rank The Beatles’ movies in order, from least-favourite to favourite. Of course, this is only my opinion. But anyway…

5. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

MMT_poster

Paul made a lot of good decisions in the late-’60s. Like Sgt Pepper, or his distrust of Allen Klein. Magical Mystery Tour was not one of these. The film has the honour of being the only Beatles film I dislike.

The movie makes no sense, whatsoever. I’m still yet to work out what the wizards are about – did they plan the mystery tour, or are they there for no reason at all? And what about the “view” during the ‘Flying’ sequence? What filmic purpose does the stripper fulfil? Who are the people on the bus supposed to be? I presume much of the comedy consists of The Beatles’ inside jokes, but as the viewer is not privy to these, they are left to wonder what on Earth is going on. The movie’s considerable lack of a storyline, however, is the film’s most serious downfall. This does not help the consistency of the film, and much of, if not all, of the scenes seem to have been filmed for the sake of it. Its incoherent & amateurish atmosphere made it quite cringeworthy to watch in parts, and I found it to mostly be a product of badly-made self-indulgence.

There are, however, some highlights. I’ve always loved the ‘Blue Jay Way’ song sequence, for the wonderfully-psychedelic camera work, and the fact that the choreography in the ‘Your Mother Should Know’ scene actually worked is pretty cool, too. And, of course, the music is simply wonderful – boasting tracks like ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘Fool On The Hill’ – and the accompanying album is perhaps one of The Beatles’ best. However, I felt the positives were somewhat outweighed, and that its status as “one of the most expensive home movies ever” is justified.

4. Let It Be (1970)

lib

I really like Let It Be. The Beatles must be the only band to have such a fly-on-the-wall documentary featuring such a seminal part of their history behind them, and for that, I’m very grateful!

There is no denying that the film is incredibly difficult to watch in parts. Over its course, you watch the band fall apart before your eyes. You see Paul become more domineering, and more desperate to keep The Beatles alive. You see George become increasingly disillusioned with the band. You see the affect that John’s heroin addiction at the time was having. And oh, I felt so much pity on poor Ringo, who’s clearly fed up with the other three’s almost-constant fighting.

However, the good moments are really good. Classics like ‘Two Of Us’, ‘Across The Universe’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and ‘Oh! Darling’ – and even tunes like ‘Octopus’s Garden’ – are created within the film, and watching their evolution is fascinating viewing. And of course, the last 20 minutes of the film consists of the famous Rooftop Concert, one of the most iconic moments in music history. The Beatles’ live performance is stunning, especially considering that they’d been confined to the studio for the previous three years. The magic between the four is enthralling to watch, and the reactions of the surrounding residents are incredibly interesting, too. I find it sad that the only way you can watch the film currently is on bad-quality bootleg, though it’s a must-watch for any Beatles fan!

3. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

ahdn

A Hard Day’s Night is arguably the best Beatles film. Rotten Tomatoes ranks it as the fifth best film of all time, and it has been credited with inventing both the mockumentary and the music clip. It has also been said to have influenced the way that movies and music performances were filmed, too. The Beatles’ humour is at its sharpest and wittiest, their music at its most joyfully poppy and the band at the height of their teenage-orientated success.

The Beatles had never acted before A Hard Day’s Night, but there are so many great moments within the film. My favourite is perhaps this scene featuring George – the humour is so sarcastically cynical and deadpan, and it’s absolutely hilarious! Other favourites of mine include the scene in which John plays with a toy boat in the bath (so ridiculously silly that it actually works) and the scene where The Beatles visit a club, and the concert at the end of the film. The movie’s influence on music clips is also clear to to the modern viewer – the various techniques used in the ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ sequences make for a swift departure from miming the songs, which was commonplace at the time. The faux-documentary presentation of the storyline also invented the “mockumentary”, and the irony and sheer ridiculousness of some of the band’s antics clearly influenced future films, such as This Is Spinal Tap. And of course, the music is great, too. The movie’s accompanying album of the same name was the only Beatles album to consist entirely of Lennon/McCartney songs, and though they are still reasonably poppy and “people-pleasing”, it’s clear that The Beatles were beginning to become the influential pop-culture icons they were to end up.

I had the pleasure of seeing A Hard Day’s Night in a cinema, last year, in HD and surround sound. It was a truly amazing experience, and I discovered a new love for the film. Perhaps the only reason it isn’t higher in my ranking is that it lacks the nostalgia that 2 & 1 have attached with them, for me.

2. Help! (1965)

beatles-help-poster

Help! – The Beatles’ second foray into the film industry – is not technically as good as A Hard Day’s Night. The humour isn’t quite as intelligent, and there’s a faint junket vibe wafting around it. However, I’ve always loved it.

The film, at various points, almost leaps off the screen in its vibrant technicolour. The Beatles’ apartment (furnished with a modernist aesthetic still considered stylish today), in particular, is displayed in comically bright hues of green, blue and orange. When an Eastern cult – the central villains of the movie – attempt to douse Ringo in their sacrificial paint, a river of red spills over the image. The stunning whites of the Swiss Alps glint in the ‘Ticket To Ride’ sequence, and the blue, sunny skies of the Bahamas provide contrast. Leading heroine’s Ahme’s costumes are shown in shades of rose-pink, turquoise and glimmering silver. The innovative and influential filming of scenes such as the ‘Another Girl’ song sequence feature a hint of proto-psychedelia, highlighting the changing times. The Beatles’ music featured in the film shows the end of their early era, predicting the changes that would come with the soon-to-follow Rubber Soul. The movie includes tracks like the folk-rock genius of ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, the keyboard-driven rock of ‘The Night Before’, the beautifully guitar-driven ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’ and, of course, ‘Help!’ itself, and the A-side of the accompanying album is one of my favourites of all time. And whilst the humour isn’t quite as intelligent as that of its predecessor, A Hard Day’s Night, the movie certainly has more than its fair share of witticisms and proto-Python skits. Some wonderfully-funny one-liners stemmed from the script, and of course, the entire film itself is a product of satire. It’s hilarious!

Help!, all in all, is a ridiculously funny and influential movie, showcasing some of The Beatles’ best tunes and foreshadowing their future direction. It was my original favourite Beatles film, and I must have watched it more than twenty times over the past two years!

1. Yellow Submarine (1968)

Beatles_Yellow_Submarine_move_poster

Yellow Submarine, in my opinion, is something that the other Beatles films aren’t; a cinematic masterpiece. And though the band were barely involved with it – only featuring for a few minutes at the end of the film – it has become my favourite Beatles movie.

Perhaps the most endearing point about the movie, for me, is its animation. Even more colourful than the bouncy technicolour of Help!, and psychedelically surrealistic & wildly chaotic, the movie is still considered mindblowing viewing over forty-five years after its release. Featuring highlights like the bold pop-art of the ‘Only A Northern Song’ scene, the darting flapper-throwback of the ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, the contrasting minimalism of the ‘Nowhere Man’ scene and the futurism of the ‘It’s All Too Much’ sequence, the film is unarguably one of, if not the, most beautiful films of all time. The music, too, is exquisite – though much of the film consists of previously-released masterpieces such as ‘All You Need Is Love’ and the aforementioned ‘Nowhere Man’, the original songs are mostly darkly psychedelic, creative gems, including ‘Hey Bulldog’ and (the also aforementioned) ‘Only A Northern Song’ and ‘It’s All Too Much’. The humour, though overshadowed by the extraordinary visuals and music, is also stunningly funny. Many of the jokes consist of Beatle-themed puns, which any Beatles fan will appreciate, though many of the other jokes are wonderfully witty and sharp. The movie is clearly a product of its era, centring around a message of peace, love and good music. Some may argue that this is a negative, though I disagree. In a way, it is such an essence of its time that it hasn’t dated at all.

Yellow Submarine is a deserved classic. Innovative, mindblowing and a work of art in a way the other Beatles films are not, it is an exquisite piece of film history. The film was my first Beatles movie, and I’ve loved it ever since.

What’s your favourite Beatles film? How would you rank them? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

Making Mixtapes…

The disappearance of mixtapes is sad, in my opinion. Making someone a YouTube playlist of their favourite tunes is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t seem to have as much thought and effort behind it. Plus, nothing beats listening to “physical” music.

So, in keeping with my mixtape-ish mood, I thought I’d make just that! Of course, for the sake of the Internet, a YouTube playlist will have to do, but anyway… And in keeping within the general theme of this blog, my mixtape will consist of all the songs from the ’60s and ’70s that are most important to me. So, here goes…

‘I’m Only Sleeping’, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Here There and Everywhere’, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Anthology 3 Version)’ & ‘Long, Long, Long’: The Beatles

Revolver

‘I’m Only Sleeping’ is perhaps my most important Beatles song. I first heard it in late 2013, and was captivated by its psychedelic, lazy vibe, unlike anything I’d ever heard before. But in August 2014, I was listening to Revolver on vinyl, and the song came on. I felt a love for the music that I’d never felt before, and I realised just how special it was. I’d called The Beatles my favourite band for over a year prior, but it was only then that I knew what it meant…

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ is my current favourite Beatles song. I love how, in under three minutes, it covers the history of rock’n’roll. Stretching from psychedelic imagery to Zeppelin-esque hard rock to a doo-wop parody, plus one of John’s best vocal performances, it’s definitely one of The Beatles’ best!

‘Here, There & Everywhere’ was one of John’s and Paul’s favourite Beatles songs, and it’s my favourite Paul-penned song. It has such a delicate vibe to it. The vocals from all parties are hypnotically beautiful – not to even mention the drums, and bass… A wondrous song!

‘Long, Long, Long’ & the Anthology 3 version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ are both folky, George-written tunes from the White Album era. The former has long been a favourite of mine. In contrast to the cacophony of ‘Helter Skelter’ before it, it’s a beautifully peaceful tune, with the wonderful guitar, organ and drums among its highlights. The latter song is my favourite version of the tune. Whilst I love the official version, with its Clapton-played lead guitar, there isn’t much better than the gentle acoustic guitar and the shimmery organ of the Anthology 3 version, for me…

‘My Generation’, ‘The Real Me’, ‘I’m Free’ & ‘See Me, Feel Me’: The Who

Thewho-therealme1

Though I love the musical work from each Who member on ‘My Generation’ (John Entwistle’s bass, in particular!), my favourite part of the song is the lyrics. Where I live, among the mainstream media’s favourite pastimes is criticising anyone under the age of 30. ‘My Generation’, like the generations before who listened to the song, made for a good antidote to their criticism & generalisations.

‘The Real Me’ is my favourite Who song at the moment. Like most of their tunes, the guitars/bass/drums/vocals are amazing – one of my favourite things about the band is how each band member was really good at what they did. The perfect opener to one of my favourite Who albums, Quadrophenia!

‘I’m Free’ & ‘See Me, Feel Me‘ are both from Tommy, my other favourite Who album.The former is a rocker, with a standout rhythm guitar performance from Pete Townshend. It’s only recently that I began to listen to it more “in-depth”, but since I have, it has quickly become a favourite. The latter in contrast, was one of my original favourites. Roger Daltrey’s falsetto vocals and Keith Moon’s drums during the “listening to you” chorus, in particular, make the song a very deserved classic…

‘Stray Cat Blues’, ‘No Expectations’, ‘Under My Thumb’, ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ & ‘Midnight Rambler (Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out version)’: The Rolling Stones

their satanic majesties request

‘Stray Cat Blues’ & ‘No Expectations’ are from The Stones’ 7th album, Beggar’s Banquet. I’ve been listening to ‘Stray Cat Blues’ almost exclusively for the past few days. It’s edgy; it’s hard; it’s great! The instruments and vocals are all awesome, and I love it. ‘No Expectations’ is another favourite. Brian Jones’s slide guitar on the song is one of the last things he did with The Stones. It’s beautiful, and only proves Brian’s musical genius.

‘Under My Thumb’ & ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ are from my favourite Stones period, the mid-’60s. Despite the horribly misogynistic lyrics, I love ‘Under My Thumb’. The fuzzed bass and stabbing guitar are great, but the highlight of the song is definitely Brian’s marimba riff. And ‘2000’ is my favourite song on The Stones’ album that everyone loves to hate, and I love to love: Their Satanic Majesties Request. The mellotron, the keyboards, the guitar & the vocals bring a song by a primarily R&B band to sound more like Pink Floyd… Probably my favourite Stones song!

My dad introduced me to Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, and ‘Midnight Rambler’ is perhaps my favourite song on the album. I love its rawness. But the most special bit about it, for me, is the cry of “Paint it black, you devil!” at the end. Dad and I joked about it for months, and continue to do so…

‘Venus In Furs’, ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ & ‘Sunday Morning’: The Velvet Underground

All_Tomorrow's_Parties--I'll_Be_Your_Mirror

‘Venus In Furs’ was my original favourite Velvets song. I remember being captivated by the cacophony of violas, guitars and drums the first time I listened to it. To this day, it’s one of my very favourites. I tried to cover it whilst busking earlier this year, with less-than-successful results…

It was only recently that I realised the beauty of ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’. I never really liked Nico’s songs on The Velvets’ debut, The Velvet Underground and Nico, and ‘Mirror’ is one that she sings. It was only after listening to Beck’s cover of the song for his Record Club project that I realised how beautiful the song is. I particularly like the guitar part!

‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ is one of the rockier songs on Nico, yet is just as great. After the beauty of ‘Sunday Morning’, it’s refreshingly hard and punk-esque. I’ve always loved the song, and continue to do so today!

‘Sunday Morning’ was the song that introduced me to The Velvets, and perhaps the first non-Beatles song to have an impact on me. After hearing a cover of it on one of our favourite shows, my mum played me the song. And so began my love of a wonderful band…

‘White Light/White Heat’ is the title track of The Velvets’ second album. The songs are less “beautiful” than The Velvet Underground and Nico, but are no less experimental. It’s a tough, distorted avant-garde rock tune, and its influence on punk rock is easy to hear…

‘The End’, ‘L.A. Woman’, ‘Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)’ & ‘People Are Strange’: The Doors

TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcover

‘The End’ & ‘Alabama Song’ are from The Doors’ self-titled debut. ‘The End’ is often regarded as one of The Doors’ masterpieces, and for good reason! Jim Morrison’s lyrics are some of his best, and the mysterious, psychedelic vibe that floats throughout the song is magical. The ending, with Jim’s infamous Oedipal spoken word section and rhythmic usage of the f-bomb, is also intriguing and helps create a magnificently climactic ending to the album. ‘Alabama Song’, in contrast, is a cover, but I love it all the same. Jim’s vocal performance on the song is one of my favourites, and I love Ray Manzarek’s pulsating, off-beat organ!

‘L.A. Woman‘ is the first song I can remember. One of my first memories is of my parents playing the song, and of being appalled once being informed that the song included the word ‘damn’! The album of the same name was in high rotation during my childhood, too. And now that I’m older, it has since become one of my favourite songs…

‘People Are Strange’ has always fascinated me, ever since I first heard it last year. The song was such a departure from any Doors stuff I’d heard before, at that point. Perhaps my favourite part of the song is the guitar, though the piano and, of course, the vocals give it quite a different vibe. It’s quite an understated song, and I like it a lot!

‘Welcome To The Machine’, ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, ‘The Gnome’ & ‘Wish You Were Here’: Pink Floyd

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‘Welcome To The Machine’‘Wish You Were Here’ are both from, well, Wish You Were Here. The former is the song that introduced me to Floyd, and what made me a fan. I remember listening to the song last year – its hypnotising synths, the swirling vocals. It completely blew my mind, and I remain in utter awe of it. And ‘Wish You Were Here’ speaks for itself, really… The acoustic guitar that runs throughout the song is beautiful, and I love David Gilmour’s vocals, too. It’s easy to see why it’s perhaps Floyd’s best-known song!

‘Interstellar Overdrive’‘The Gnome’ are both from Pink Floyd’s debut, and the only album with input from Syd Barrett, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ is an edgy, almost-overwhelming psychedelic cacophony. A favourite of mine since watching a video of Pink Floyd performing it live in 1967 with their notoriously-incredible stage show, I find the combination of experimental guitars, organs and drums captivating! ‘The Gnome’ is perhaps not a Floyd masterpiece. However, I’ve always loved the song, and it never fails to make me smile. My favourite part of the song is Barrett’s lyrics – they’re quite simple, and they almost read like some kind of whimsical fairytale, which I love!

‘Get It While You Can’: Janis Joplin + ‘Piece Of My Heart’ & ‘Turtle Blues’: Big Brother and the Holding Company

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Whilst Pearl is not my favourite Janis Joplin album, it was the one that introduced me to her work. And ‘Get It While You Can’ is my favourite song on Pearl. Much like the rest of the album, it features a prominent organ part, which adds an almost psychedelic element to the song. And of course, Janis’s vocals are amazing!

‘Piece Of My Heart’ & ‘Turtle Blues’ are both from my favourite Joplin-fronted album, Cheap Thrills, by Big Brother and the Holding Company. ‘Piece Of My Heart’ not only features yet another amazing Janis vocal performance – but the guitar is great, too! The guitarists in the band – Sam Andrew and James Gurley – were ridiculously good, and I have a huge appreciation of them, as a guitarist myself. ‘Turtle Blues’, too, is one of my favourites. Janis’s vocals again go without saying, and the piano is awesome! One can only imagine what Janis would have gone on to do…

‘Dazed and Confused’, ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ & ‘Tangerine’: Led Zeppelin

Led_Zeppelin_-_Led_Zeppelin_III

For a while, I thought of Led Zeppelin as a bit overrated. Then I heard ‘Dazed and Confused’. I listened attentively to Jimmy Page’s “weeping” guitar; John Paul Jones’s almost-mysterious bass; John Bonham’s thrashing drums; Robert Plant’s vocals, which I consider to be some of his best. And I’ve loved Zeppelin ever since.

I don’t know what it is about ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, but I really like it. I love the keyboard riff that runs throughout the song, and the drums, and the lead guitar, and the vocals, but even then… Maybe it’s the memories – it’s on Led Zeppelin IV, my first Zeppelin album, and it’s also featured in Almost Famous, a film I love. Either way, though, it’s a great song!

And I took my ‘tangerinetrees99’ from ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, but you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered that Zeppelin had a song named ‘Tangerine’, a few months ago! I was even more pleased after listening to the song itself (one of the band’s folkier tunes), which I enjoyed. It’s now one of my favourites…

‘All Day And All Of The Night’ & ‘Sunny Afternoon’: The Kinks

Kinks_AllDay

‘All Day And All Of The Night’ was among my top-5 songs of all time for ages, and still remains one of my favourites. The fuzzed guitar riff, Ray Davies’ snarly vocals and Dave Davies’ flashy solo all make for a great rock’n’roll classic! It was perhaps this song that turned me onto the harder rock which I now also enjoy.

‘Sunny Afternoon’ is my current favourite Kinks song. I read someone comparing it to ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, the other day, and I can certainly see the similarities. The lazy vibe, paired with the bassline and another great Ray Davies vocal performances, make for a great song!

‘Suffragette City’: David Bowie

ZiggyStardust

‘Suffragette City’ is my favourite Bowie song right now, and the first one I consciously enjoyed. Throughout last year, the song would often appear on iTunes Radio, and I immediately liked it. The guitar, in particular, is great, and I can’t help but smile whenever I hear it!

‘Gloria’: Patti Smith

PattiSmithHorses

‘Gloria’ begins with understated piano chords, but soon turns into an exciting, protopunk epic – the perfect opening to Smith’s highly acclaimed debut, Horses. Although I only listened to the song for the first time about a month ago, its impact on me is huge. ‘Gloria’ is what hooked me on Horses, and what inspired me to check out the rest of Patti Smith’s work. She has quickly turned into one of my favourite artists – for her unique brand of alternative rock, for her fascinating punk poetry. And as a female musician myself, she is one of my biggest influences, alongside Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and Courtney Barnett.

‘God’: John Lennon

JLPOBCover

‘God’ is my current favourite John Lennon song. I absolutely adore John’s vocals, and his piano – whilst not overly complicated and intricate – is perfect for the song. Ringo’s drums are great, too. And though I certainly believe in The Beatles, the lyrics are such typical John, and I love them all the same…

‘What Is Life’: George Harrison

What_Is_Life_(George_Harrison_single_-_cover_art)

‘What Is Life’ was the first George solo song I ever heard. Way back when I got George and Ringo confused in pictures (!), I absolutely adored the song and would turn the radio up really loud whenever it came on. A couple of years on, I still find that guitar riff utterly irresistible!

‘Our House’ & ‘Helpless’: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby,_Stills,_Nash_&_Young_-_Deja_Vu

‘Our House’ was my favourite song for the year before I discovered The Beatles. It was always played on the radio, and the melody, in combination with the piano, must have appealed to me. It was only recently that I began to realise how great the song is, and it has since become one of my favourites, again…

‘Helpless’, however, is my current favourite Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song. Written and sung by Neil Young (who has one of my favourite voices, ever), it’s a wondrously beautiful, yet somewhat sad, ballad. I particularly love the lead guitar and, of course, Neil Young’s vocals.

‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’: Bob Dylan

dylan knockin on heavens door

‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ is far from my favourite Dylan song. But it has an important place in my musical history, for it was the first song I learnt to play on guitar. Guitar has since become a huge part of my identity. There is little more I enjoy than playing my instruments, and playing has given me a greater understanding and love of the music I’d begun to like beforehand. So thanks, Bob!

And there. Here’s the entire playlist mixtape:

If you were making a mixtape of the songs most important to you, what would you put on it? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

Some more awesomely random little-known Beatles factoids…

The Beatles in Japan, 1966 (Image credit: albumorientated.wordpress.com)

(Image credit: albumorientated.wordpress.com)

You might remember a post I did a little while ago called ‘Some Awesomely Random Little-Known Beatles Factoids‘, which I had a lot of fun writing. Of course, new little-known Beatles factoids are being uncovered almost every week. And not to even mention the sheer amount of them, too. So today, I thought I’d write about some more Beatles facts! Here are some more of my favourites…

  • The Beatles’ famous show at Shea Stadium in 1965 was attended by more than 55,000 people. Among that crowd, though, were two future Beatle wives: Linda Eastman and Babara Bach.
  • Many of The Beatles’ songs had rather bizarre original titles. Perhaps the most famous of these is ‘Scrambled Eggs’, the first title of ‘Yesterday’. ‘Love You To’ was originally ‘Granny Smith’, and ‘I Want To Tell You’ was ‘Laxton’s Superb’ – both named after types of apples, ironically. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ was called ‘Mark I’ at first. My favourite, though, is probably the working title of ‘It’s Only Love’ – ‘That’s A Nice Hat’!
  • The street signs for the real Penny Lane and Abbey Road were regularly stolen. To stop this from happening, the signs was painted onto nearby buildings instead!
  • In the late ’60s, an guy nicknamed ‘Magic Alex’ hung out with The Beatles. He claimed that he was going to create a number of inventions for the band, none of which were ever made. Among these proposed products were wallpaper speakers, an X-ray camera, paint to make things invisible and a flying saucer. Yes. A flying saucer.
  • ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ is one of The Beatles’ longest songs. But only 14 different words are sung during the entire song!
  • Apparently, in the mid ’60s, Keith Moon approached The Beatles in a London club. He asked them, “Do you mind I join you?” Ringo replied, “Pull up a chair.” Keith then said, “No – can I join you?” Ringo laughed, “No, we’ve already got a drummer!” Keith would play with John and George in 1969 as a part of the Plastic Ono Supergroup.
  • George, who was friends with Led Zeppelin, attended a birthday celebration for John Bonham. Bonham wanted a photo with George. But George, knowing Zeppelin’s penchant for playing practical jokes, smashed part of a cake in Bonham’s face to prevent being joked on first! Bonham then chased George and threw him into the pool…
  • The only ever cancelled Beatles concert was in November, 1963, at Portsmouth in England, because Paul fell ill. A few concerts were played sans John in early 1963, and Ringo was infamously replaced for a few dates by Jimmy Nichol after he got sick with tonsillitis.
  • Ringo trademarked his name in 2011.
  • The first cover of Rolling Stone featured a picture of John from the film How I Won The War!
  • George wrote ‘Here Comes The Sun’ in Eric Clapton’s garden one sunny morning, instead of going to a bunch of meetings at Apple.
  • At 6AM on the 21st of April, 1967, The Beatles played a demo copy of Sgt Pepper on full volume out of Mama Cass Elliot’s apartment window. The surrounding residents opened their windows and happily listened, totally unaware that they were hearing new Beatles music.
  • Some of the ideas tossed around for the title of Revolver included ‘Pendulums’, ‘After Geography’ (punning on The Stones’ recent album Aftermath), ‘Four Sides of the Circle’, ‘Abracadabra’, ‘Beatles on Safari’, ‘Fat Man and Bobby’ and ‘Magic Circle’.
  • Paul’s first instrument was a trumpet! Receiving it from his dad on his 14th birthday, Paul soon gave it up after realising he’d get calluses on his lips…
  • John wrote the most Beatles songs, with 72 tunes in The Beatles’ discography being mainly written by him. Paul mainly wrote 70, George wrote 22 and Ringo wrote 2. 18 songs were written by John and Paul together.
  • People who were considered for the cover of Sgt Pepper but weren’t included in the final product include Jesus, Hitler and Gandhi.
  • For years, The Beatles were banned in the USSR. To get around this, though, fans would transfer the songs from smuggled bootlegs onto old X-ray film, and then would sell them on the black market to the many eager teenagers who wanted to listen to rock’n’roll.
  • It was Stu Sutcliffe, not John, who came up with the ‘Beatles’ name first. He got the idea from “Beetles” gang in the 1953 film The Wild Ones. However, it was probably John who replaced the ‘ee’ with an ‘ea’, as a pun on the word ‘beat’.
  • Alternative band Death Cab For Cutie are named after the song of the same name, performed by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in Magical Mystery Tour.
  • In 1963, George met again with Decca Records A&R man Dick Rowe, who had rejected The Beatles the previous year. After realising his giant mistake, Rowe asked George if he knew of any good bands. George raved to him about this unsigned London band which he’d been going to see called The Rollin’ Stones. Rowe promptly signed this band, and the rest is history…
  • On the night of The Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, there were no reported crimes.
  • In 1967, The Beatles bought five Greek islands for 95,000 pounds. The islands were going to become a commune for the band and their entourage. A few months later, however, the islands were sold again, after The Beatles tired of the idea…
  • Ringo originally wanted to be a hairdresser!
  • John’s favourite album was supposedly Safe as Milk by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Paul was also a fan.
  • And a Beatles song is played somewhere in the world every 15 seconds!

Have you got an interesting Beatles fact? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

9 Reasons Why I Love The Beatles

To say it’s no secret that I love The Beatles would be a gross understatement. But in the the year that I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever named the reasons why I love them so much. So today, that’s what I thought I’d do! Of course, I have way more than nine reasons as to why they’re my favourite band, but anyway… So in no particular order:

1. Their music.

Obviously! I’ve enjoyed The Beatles’ music since I was a kid. At that point, I very much enjoyed their simpler, more melodic songs. Nowadays, I prefer their more experimental work. Though I love most of their songs.

There is something for everyone within The Beatles’ catalogue. Whether you’re into folk, or psychedelia, or hard rock, or vaudeville, or avant-garde, or rock’n’roll, or Mowtown, or even simple pop, there’s going to be at least one song for you. The Beatles were one of (if not the) most diverse bands of all time. Their music spans so many genres. No wonder they have so many fans!

2. Their lyrics.

Some gorgeous lyrics-inspired art by artist Justin Helton. (Image credit: 411posters.com)

Some gorgeous lyrics-inspired art by artist Justin Helton.
(Image credit: 411posters.com)

As I wrote in some other posts, I consider The Beatles to be one of the greatest lyrical bands of all time. John, in particular, had such a special way with words. From as early as A Hard Day’s Night, the influence of Bob Dylan prompted John, Paul and George to think more about the lyrics. And this resulted in some of the greatest words of all time! Their lyrics touch on nearly everything; from love, to spirituality, to complete nonsense, to made-up characters, to politics, to… We certainly ended up with some beautiful lines!

3. They broke the rules.

If The Beatles were outlaws... (Image credit: flickr.com)

If The Beatles were outlaws…
(Image credit: Flickr)

The Beatles broke so many of the expectations made by the establishment. A lot of the bands that went before had a bassist at the back, a drummer playing almost jazzy and a rhythm guitarist playing simple chords to the side. The Beatles turned this analogy on its head. And at a time when a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song topped the Billboard Hot 100, they released the stark, simple rock of ‘Love Me Do’. They famously had “long” hair when such a concept was unacceptable for men. When it was the norm for popular musicians to have their songs written for them, The Beatles came along and wrote a majority of their tunes themselves. They became the most popular artist in America at the time, a place where it was unheard of for British bands to be successful. And when Beatlemania (an innovation in itself) got to be beyond The Beatles’ patience? They simply gave up touring. Not to even mention the “more popular than Jesus” controversy, or their many musical innovations, or their voicings against the Vietnam War, or…

4. They celebrated individuality.

The Beatles in 'A Hard Day's Night'. (Image credit: thebeatles.com)

The Beatles in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.
(Image credit: thebeatles.com)

And they celebrated it in so many ways, too! From the beginning, each Beatle was marketed with contrasting personalities, showing them as individuals within their band. And they were very individual in real life, too. This is also shown in their songs. The Beatles expressed themselves and who they were in their songwriting, as songwriters do. A fan can easily tell a John song apart from a Paul song, and a George song, and a Ringo song because of this. They even wrote songs about being an individual in a conforming society; take the lyrics to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, or ‘Fool on the Hill’, for example!

The Beatles and their brand of individuality have helped so many young people find their identity, over the years. Myself included.

5. Their musical influence.

The Beatles recording 'Revolver'. (Image credit: benjerocks.wordpress.com)

The Beatles recording ‘Revolver’.
(Image credit: benjerocks.wordpress.com)

The Beatles’ influence begins with some of the other big names of the era. The Beatles wrote The Stones’ first hit. Apparently Ray Davies of The Kinks first thought about being in a band after hearing ‘Love Me Do’. And Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s first band, The Detours, played Beatles covers at first.

And since then, pretty much rock or pop artist since 1964 has been influenced by the band, one way or another. Whether they play music which sounds “Beatlesque”, or they’re indirectly affected, there’s no denying it. The Beatles are probably the most influential band of all time.

The Beatles also influenced rock music in general. Ringo is often credited as one of the forefathers of modern rock drumming — same goes for John, Paul and George. Artificial double tracking was also invented in a Beatles session. And they were the first band to use a Mellotron, and one of the first to use a Moog. And…

6. Their influence on popular culture.

Gasp! Long hair! (Image credit: biography.com)

Gasp! Long hair!
(Image credit: biography.com)

The Beatles didn’t just didn’t just influence music. They revolutionised pop culture, too. Though many older people were shocked at first, they made it socially acceptable for men to have longer hair. They invented the music clip with the song sequences from their early films, and the “promotional clips” that were made for their songs from 1965 onwards. They set fashion trends, ranging from their earliest collarless suits and Beatle boots to their psychedelia of the mid ’60s to their casuals of the latter part of the decade. Not to mention the countless mentions of them in TV, film, video games and other music.

Just like their musical influence, The Beatles influence on pop culture is practically immeasurable. Just another reason to love them so much… 🙂

7. Their movies.

Ah, I love Photoshop...

Ah, I love Photoshop…

Sure. They’re not really cinematic masterpieces. But there is a special charm to The Beatles’ five films. And I love them!

Currently, Rotten Tomatoes ranks A Hard Day’s Night as the 5th best film of all time, which is a pretty amazing feat. It’s often credited with inventing the mockumentary. And the music clip. And various types of camera shots. And with being the first great rock film. That makes it a pretty influential flick, and arguably the best of the five Beatles movies made. Of course, the music is great, too. And the wonderfully witty humour!

Help! is slightly less clever and influential than AHDN. But the music for it is simply wonderful, boasting cuts like ‘The Night Before’, ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and, oh, ‘Help!’. According to the special features disc on the DVD, there are plenty of influential camera techniques in it, as well. Like the colouring of the camera during the ‘Another Girl’ scene.

Yellow Submarine is a classic. Filled with beautifully surreal animation, again influential image techniques and some of The Beatles’ most psychedelic songs, it’s probably my favourite Beatles film. And contrary to popular belief, Let It Be is fascinating too. There’s not many bands who have a fly-on-the-wall documentary showing such a huge part of the history. Though at the moment, the only way to see it is on *cough*bootleg*cough*.

Magical Mystery Tour, though… Hmm… No comment.

8. They’re still relevant today.

(Image credit: huffingtonpost.com)

(Image credit: huffingtonpost.com)

There are still a huge number of young people who love The Beatles, today. Like myself. Their message of love and peace still resonates with those of us who don’t believe in the fighting our governments are so set on. So many of their lyrics connect with us, our lives and our ideals. Their beautiful tunes transcend time.

I think The Beatles will last forever. ‘Cos when it comes to really good music, I don’t think it matters at all how old the band is!

9. And the fact that they packed it all into eight years!

Does it need a caption? (Image credit: laughingsquid.com)

Does it need a caption?
(Image credit: laughingsquid.com)

No band before and no band since has performed perhaps the most impressive Beatley feat. They fitted 12 albums, 13 unique singles and 2 unique EPs into less than 8 years. Most bands, these days, release an album once every 2 or 3 years. You do the maths…

Why do you like The Beatles? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

It was 50 years ago today…

In case you didn’t know, I come from a place in Australia called Adelaide. We’re famous for a few things. Iced coffee and FruChoc chocolates, for example. And we were the second place in the world to give women the vote. And we’re the capital city of the only state in Australia that was settled by people who were actually on the right side of the law! From a musical point of view, Adelaide’s played a part in the stories of people like AC/DC, Paul Kelly and The Angels — and more recently Sia, I Killed The Prom Queen and Hilltop Hoods.
But Adelaide has claim to another musical milestone — on this day in 1964, we gave The Beatles the biggest reception they’d ever receive. 350,000 people crowded along the streets of the city, which was about a third of the population at the time. And that’s even with the lack of Ringo, who was still replaced by Jimmy Nichol when The Beatles reached here. And my grandparents are in those photos, somewhere… The Beatles played 4 sold-out concerts at Centennial Hall (which is now the Adelaide Showgrounds, where every Adelaidean goes to the Royal Adelaide Show as a kid), over two days. They paved the way for bands who would come to Adelaide in the time afterwards, like The Stones (who came in early ’65) and The Who (who came in early ’68).
And so it was 51 years ago today that The Beatles came to my hometown, and we earnt ourselves a spot on the Beatley map…

All You Need Is The Beatles

Today is a very exciting day for all Beatlemaniacs who reside in Adelaide – it was 50 years ago today, when The Beatles came to Adelaide (excuse lame Sgt. Pepper pun)! I’ve been in an unusually good mood all day, but sadly, my poor friends (whom I’ve no doubtedly overloaded with squeals of, “If only I were alive 50 years ago,” and, “John was here, 50 years ago,”, etc., etc.,) are not sharing the love. But anyway (their loss), I thought I’d do a special 50th anniversary post, jam-packed with YouTube clips, photos, fun facts and more; enjoy!

As most people know, Adelaide nearly wasn’t on The Beatles’ Australian agenda. A verbal deal had been struck up between Ken Brodziak (an Australian tour promoter) and Brian Epstein in 1963, some time before ‘Please Please Me’ rocketed to Number One in Britain. The promoter – unsuspecting of The Fab Four’s future…

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A Guide To Unused Beatles Album Covers

It goes without saying that the covers of The Beatles’ albums are iconic. It seems like an obligatory tourist thing when one is in London to stop by the Abbey Road crossing and recreate the cover of the album of the same name. And whenever someone makes a list of the ‘best album covers’, The Beatles feature pretty prominently in them. And not to mention the millions of artists that have recreated the images for their own albums: among them Gorillaz, Queens of the Stone Age, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and, oh, The Rutles.

But like a lot of iconic things, The Beatles’ album covers went through a few changes before settling on the iconic images we all know and love. You may have seen a picture of The Beatles walking the opposite way across Abbey Road, or maybe the uncropped and unstretched Rubber Soul cover. (Or any of the following shots, too.) After seeing a few of of these different images, I decided to try and find an unused photo for each album. Each of these are either pictures that are a little different to the final image, or a discarded piece of cover art, or a draft for the cover — or maybe even all three! So here goes…

Please Please Me

The original cover:

beatles please please me

The unused images:

alternative-please-please-me_02

alternative-please-please-me_03

alternative-please-please-me_04

The story:

The cover of Please Please Me was shot in around February or March, 1963. ‘Cos George Martin was an “honorary fellow” of the Zoological Society of London, the original plan was to shoot the cover in front of the Insect House at the London Zoo. The Zoo, however, didn’t consent, so the cover was famously taken on the stairwell at EMI headquarters by a guy called Angus McBean. Since it was a session, it’s no surprise that there’s a number of outtakes. The three above are probably just a few!

With The Beatles

The original cover:

with the beatles

The unused images:

with-the-beatles-outtake_01

120copiadfsdsffdsbb

images (4)

The story:

In the Summer of 1963, The Beatles were touring England and were staying in Bournemouth. Photographer Robert Freeman was hanging with the band, and they needed an album cover. So The Beatles and Freeman set up a makeshift studio in their hotel. The “shadow” technique was suggested by the band, from when their German friend Astrid Kirchherr would take similar shots of them in their time in Hamburg. When they received the shots, EMI were originally unhappy with the sultry expressions of The Beatles, and wanted something a little cheerier. But The Beatles won, and hence the creation of a very iconic album cover!

A Hard Day’s Night

The original cover:

a hard day's night

The unused images:

ahdn_film

ahdn outtakes

ahdn_richy

The story:

The cover of A Hard Day’s Night was again shot by Robert Freeman. Apparently the idea for the shots was to make it look like a roll of film, and each Beatle does a different facial expression with every frame. Although only 16 were used on the actual album, many photos were taken so there are heaps of outtakes! The above are only a few… Many of the photos were also used over the credits of the same name.

Beatles For Sale

The original cover:

beatles for sale

The unused images:

bfs_original_18

alternative-beatles-for-sale_01

The story:

The Beatles For Sale cover was shot by Robert Freeman, too! The pictures were shot at the end of 1964 in London’s Hyde Park. Apparently, it was 7 PM (and getting dark!), so the pictures were taken within half an hour. The coloured spots on each image are leaves, which an assistant held in front of the camera. The cover shows The Beatles looking serious, showing how they were quickly becoming disillusioned with their fame…

Help!

The original cover:

beatles-help-uk-cover-art

The unused image:

althelp

The story:

And Help! is again Robert Freeman’s work. The cover was inspired by The Beatles’ snow scene in the film of the same name, and Freeman recreated the scene in his London studio. Their poses were supposed to read ‘HELP’ in semaphore spelling, but that didn’t work, so they spell ‘NUJV’ instead. It was kind of hard to find outtakes for Help! — maybe there aren’t any, or maybe they’ve just not been released. But I found a picture of John and Ringo in slightly different poses to the cover, so that’ll do.

Rubber Soul

The original cover:

rubber soul

The unused image:

rubber-soul-uncropped

The story: 

Rubber Soul was just the last Robert Freeman-taken cover. It was shot in the gardens around John’s house. The famous distortion of the photo happened when Freeman was projecting the picture onto cardboard to show The Beatles, and the cardboard wasn’t straight. The Beatles really liked the way it looked, hence the cover… However, an uncropped and unstretched version resurfaced a couple of years ago, and that’s the outtake for here. There’s still debate over whether it’s legitimate, but I like to think it is…

Revolver

The original cover:

Revolver

The unused images:

freemanrevolver

rev_sketch

The story:

Revolver was when The Beatles’ covers went very arty! The cover was drawn and collaged by Klaus Voorman, a friend of the band going back to Hamburg days. The second picture was his draft of what he was going to do. (Which he then turned into the iconic cover!) Brian Epstein in particular adored the picture, though The Beatles loved it, too. However, the very first design (the first image) was designed by Robert Freeman. When the image is spun, the faces supposedly merge into one. But it wasn’t to be. Klaus finished the cover long before the album was named, funnily enough.

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The original cover:

Sgt Peppercomp

The alternative covers:

pepperfool

pepperwrongdrum

MC-0012-08comp

MC-0013-08comp

The story:

The inspiration for the cover of Sgt Pepper was inspired by a picture of the jazz band that Paul’s dad was in, believe it or not! Paul and art gallery-owner Robert Fraser devised the idea, and then enlisted the help of acclaimed pop-artist Peter Blake. The Beatles then designed the cover along with Blake, which included choosing the people famously behind The Beatles on the picture. A guy called Michael Cooper shot the photos, and there are plenty of different poses. Picture 2 shows a different drumhead, too. However, the original cover was very different! Picture 1 was designed by Dutch design collective The Fool, who would go on to help The Beatles with the Apple Boutique. Though they did end up designing the inner sleeve, I think their cover wasn’t considered for long…

The Beatles (or The White Album)

The original cover:

the white album

 

The alternative covers:

images (5)

images (6)

The story:

The other covers considered for The White Album couldn’t be more different to the famously-minimalist design they went with. Paul wanted a cover that was the absolute opposite to Pepper, and he ended up with the first picture; a detailed ink drawing. Another image that was also considered was Picture 2, which was illustrated by a guy called John Byrne. (This would later be used for a Beatles compilation called The Beatles’ Ballads.)

Abbey Road

The original cover:

Beatles_-_Abbey_Road

The alternative covers:

A-116-01comp

A-116-02comp

A-116-03comp_0

A-116-04comp

The story:

Definitely The Beatles’ most iconic cover — if not the most iconic of all time — the design for Abbey Road was created by Paul in an untidy sketch. Photographer and friend of John and Yoko’s Iain Macmillam was enlisted to take the cover art, and the session took place on the crossing outside EMI’s Abbey Road Studios on August 8, 1969. But there were plenty of different positions that were tried before settling on the final product. So many outtakes have resurfaced over the years, and the above are just a few. They show The Beatles walking in a different direction, or with George instead of Paul out of step. But Paul still has bare feet. 😉

Let It Be

The original cover:

LetItBe

The alternative covers:

fakeapplecover

getbackearly

The story:

At the beginning of 1969, The Beatles were working on The Get Back Project. (This would later become Let It Be.) They were working on new songs in Twickenham Film Studios and in the basement of Apple HQ, and George quit the band, briefly. Not to mention The Rooftop Concert. But in between all of this work, The Beatles found time to shoot the cover for the album that would result. They decided to go for a parody of their first album cover, and it — like Please Please Me — was shot on the stairwell at EMI headquarters. You can see the result (+ an outtake) above. But this idea was vetoed along with The Get Back Project, and was forgotten when it was released a year later. As far as I can see, there are no known outtakes of the used cover.

What’s your favourite unused Beatles album cover? Have you seen another image that I haven’t got here? Be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line…

Happy Summer, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere! And stay warm, fellow Southerners… Good day sunshine ’till next post! 🙂

My Favourite Bands from the ’60s (and 70s)

As one might guess, I grew up to a soundtrack of  ’60s and ’70s tunes. And the love of mid-20th-century tunes held by 5-year-old me has well and truly stuck! So today, I’m going to write about my favourite bands from the ’60s and ’70s, and why I like them — so in no particular order…

The Doors

the doors

The Doors are an extremely interesting band. For one, their sound was a little jazzier than their contemporaries. And Ray Manzarek, John Densmore and Robby Krieger were all impeccable musicians. (Especially Ray Manzarek! That man was a genius on the organ!) And of course, Jim Morrison. His voice was incredible, and you really don’t hear anything like it from any other band from the era. And not to even mention his lyricism! His poetry is a huge thing that makes The Doors unique. He touched on themes like love, death, individuality, life and the human race in general, and I really enjoy listening to his writing. The Doors were certainly very unique, in the best possible way!

The Doors are one of two bands on this list that I’ve known for as long as I can remember. One of  my earliest memories involves a very young me being appalled at Jim’s inclusion of the word ‘damn’ in the song ‘LA Woman’, and the album of the same name was in frequent rotation during my early childhood. These days, The Doors are one of my favourite bands!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Doors (1967), Waiting For The Sun (1968) + LA Woman (1971)

Pink Floyd

pink floyd

Pink Floyd’s ’60s-era work is not their better-known stuff, but it’s really cool. Their first album, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn (1967), was their only album with major input from founding member Syd Barrett, who left in ’68. The album is very psychedelic, as one would expect, and there are some awesome guitars and keyboards and effects! (I especially dig ‘Astronomy Domine’! And ‘The Gnome’.) I also really like Syd Barrett’s lyrics — his writing’s quite direct and the vocab is quite simple, but it really works! A few of them read like fairytales, too, which gives them a certain air of magic.  So the ’60s Pink Floyd are probably my favourite by a smidgeon — but that’s not to say that I don’t like the ’70s Floyd, too! Wish You Were Here, for example, is one of my favourite albums of all time. ‘Welcome To The Machine’ is one of my favourite Floyd songs, and the many parts of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ are plain awesome, and I think ‘Wish You Were Here’ speaks for itself…

I started to get into Pink Floyd after listening to Wish You Were Here on vinyl last November, and my mind was blown! I’ve been listening to Floyd quite a bit, lately. Really groovy!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) + Wish You Were Here (1975)

The Velvet Underground

the velvet underground and nico

Laden with biting guitars, avant-garde instrumentation, controversial lyrics and everything else ‘art rock’, The Velvet Underground are a band I love! Though not many people paid attention to their work in the ’60s, their music now receives the recognition it deserves. The early Velvet Underground were very avant garde in their sound — founding member John Cale was a classically-trained violist, and often played it on tracks. Their innovative guitar-ing and drumming (and Lou Reed’s singing) also helped to influence countless punk and indie bands! In my opinion, The Velvet Underground are one of the quintessential ’60s alternative bands.

My mum introduced me to The Velvet Underground. One day mid last year, she played me ‘Sunday Morning’, and I was hooked! Soon after, we got a copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico, and The Velvet Underground quickly became one of my very favourite bands…

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967) + White Light/White Heat (1968)

The Who

the who

At the moment, the band I’ve been listening to the most is probably The Who. One thing I really love about them is how each member was/is extremely good at their role in the band; Roger Daltrey is an amazing singer, Pete Townshend is an amazing guitarist, John Entwistle was an amazing bassist and Keith Moon was an amazing drummer! I also think that Pete is one of the greatest songwriters ever — it’s only after I attempted to play a few songs from Tommy that I realised how complex his stuff is.  And along with The Kinks, The Who created the rock opera. Listening to Tommy and Quadrophenia and following their stories is a wonderful experience! And that’s not even mentioning the fact that their innovative usage of guitar amps, or their live shows…

I first listened to The Who after getting a best-of CD back in December. It was only in March when I really got into them, and since then, I’ve become a huge fan!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: My Generation (1965), The Who Sell Out (1967), Tommy (1969) + Quadrophenia (1973)

The Rolling Stones

the stones

Though The Stones were probably the first band I was ever aware of, it was really only 6 or so months ago that I really started to get into them. But it’s the Stones from the ’60s that I love. Their very early stuff is biting and fresh and has the blues written all over it. And by the mid ’60s, Brian Jones’s multi-instrumental genius made a number of their songs from good to absolutely wonderful! (Take a listen to the marimba on ‘Under My Thumb’, the sitar on ‘Paint It Black’, the recorder on ‘Ruby Tuesday’, the Mellotron on ‘2000 Light Years From Home’; that’s all Brian!) That stuff is my favourite — hence why I’m one of the few that likes Satanic Majesties! I also really like the stuff from Beggar’s Banquet, and Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out is my favourite live album of all time.

Like The Doors, I’ve known The Stones for as long as I can remember. My dad is a fan, so they’ve always been around the place. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know the names of Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. And excepting a brief period in 2013 when I thought that all Beatles fans had to hate The Stones, I’ve had a favourite Stones song since I was 8 or 9. (I think it was ‘Get Off My Cloud’.)

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: The Rolling Stones (1963), Aftermath (1966), Between The Buttons (1967) + Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)

The Beatles

rubber-soul-uncropped

As much as I adore the other bands on this list, The Beatles will always remain my favourite. There is something very special about them. Very. How they went from ‘Love Me Do’ to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to ‘Revolution’ to ‘The Long and Winding Road’ (and everything in between)  in EIGHT years is mindblowing. And of course, each Beatle played their instrument really uniquely and it sounded fab! And The Beatles had four lead singers, too, and three songwriters; they each brought a different perspective to their eager listeners, and that set them apart. I also consider The Beatles some of the greatest lyric-writers, especially in the later days. And that’s not even mentioning how they not only influenced music, but how they turned the world on its head; pretty much every rock band since 1964 has been influenced by The Beatles someway or another. Their immense cultural impact changed everything, too. And the fact that nearly everyone knows who they are 53 years later says quite a lot!

The Beatles changed everything for me. I’ve been a fan since February, 2013, when I decided that they were more than just a band that’s on the radio all the time. And ever since that fateful day, my life has never been the same!

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: Everything Rubber Soul onwards!

Special mentions go to Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The 13th Floor Elevators and The Kinks, the songs of whom I’m currently exploring and enjoying but don’t know well enough to write about…

What are your favourite bands from the ’60s and ’70s? Be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line…

Hope you all have a great day, and good day sunshine ’till next post! 🙂