AYNITB’s Best of 2017

A/N: A post I have been meaning to publish for some months — I am sorry, yet again, for my tardiness! A proper explanation for my lack-of-presence of late is at the bottom of this post…

People say that 2017 was an awful year. This may have been true on a global scale, hence my active avoidance of news outlets over the past 12 months for the sake of my sanity — but on both a personal and pop-cultural level, I must say that my 2017 was pretty damn fine! Since pop culture is what I sporadically post about here on AYNITB, that is what I shall be discussing today… Be sure to let me know what your favourite 2017 cultural things were in the comments!

Best (New) Album: Masseduction, St. Vincent

Perhaps my all-time least favourite cliche in music writing is when X newer artist is touted as being the new prestige act — and yet, here I am, about to type that St. Vincent (A.K.A. Annie Clark) is the closest thing we have to a new Bowie. She has the slick style; the constant reinvention; the sleek, beguiling combination of the pop and the incredibly inaccessible — of course, no-one will ever match David himself, but to say she’s pretty darn cool nonetheless would be something of an understatement. Her latest, Masseduction, is at once both filled with layers of emotion and meaning, and then is just a really good pop record. The album is sharp, clean, and glamorous, a sound that is surprisingly quirky and playful and endearingly joyful for all of its detachedness — it’s kind of like the sonic equivalent of a Gucci dress. Clark’s signature virtuosic guitar-ing is still all over the record, much like her 2014 self-titled (a bonafide masterpiece that you should listen to immediately if you haven’t already!), but it really embraces its pop credentials by experimenting with layers of synths. These create an all-encompassing, chaotic sound that wonderfully disorientates the listener, and yet their staccato accenting is irresistibly danceable, producing an impressive bridge between the avant garde and the bubblegum. This experimentation in sound, aided by the songs’ mysterious lyrics, also allows for a level of exquisitely hedonistic, glittery androgyny so close to the allure of the very best glam rock! And then there’s the album’s lead single, ‘New York’, so nuanced and tender and hilariously blunt and heart-burstingly melodic and just perfectly romantic — it’s exquisite.

Honourable mentions: Jen Cloher (self-titled), Phases (Angel Olsen), Pure Comedy (Father John Misty),  Forced Witness (Alex Cameron), Party (Aldous Harding), Windswept (Johnny Jewel)

 

Best (not new) music I discovered:

I couldn’t decide on one winner so, in no particular order, here are several of my favourite discoveries of the past 12 months, summarised in a sentence or so each:

  • Suburban Lawns

Quirky, erratic postpunk from late ’70s Los Angeles, that sounds a little like if the Beach Boys were possessed by ’50s B-movie supernatural antagonists. The choppy guitar and lead singer Su Tissue’s wonderfully girly, idiosyncratic voice are particular highlights!

  • Vintage pop music

This — not an artist, per se, but a style I’ve become very into lately – began as a somewhat ironic fascination with retro kitsch, but has instead blossomed into wholehearted love for what might be some of the most exquisite songs I’ve ever heard. There is this kind of poetic, intense emotion to them, kind of naive and yet so full of the pure feeling that the cynicism our current world sometimes denies us; a romance that makes your heart melt and expand and split into tiny fractured pieces. There’s also such an incredible musical intricacy to these — the layers of ethereal accompaniment, the obscure chord progressions, the way the voices so delicately flow and bleed and tremble into each other — that, despite its technicality, transcends so many of the ideas I have about music and emotion and everything, and makes me feel as if I am floating through the stars, that I am the only person to have ever felt this on top of the world.

  • Helium

Helium are grunge — if you added in the early Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, ’70s soft rock, and English Mediaeval folk music, all played with a voice as melodic and quirky as Joni Mitchell’s and technique as good as what my middle school violin teacher told me to practise two hours a day to achieve. One of the most unique, accomplished — and seriously underrated — bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a fan of!

  • Talking Heads

Talking Heads are among the discoveries that I should’ve made a long, long time ago, especially considering that I’ve noted the presence of Stop Making Sense in my parents’ CD collection since childhood. In their earlier work in particular, there’s a kind of detached quirkiness and a chilling objectivity that I find wonderfully and strangely endearing — and, of course, the singularity of David Byrne’s voice and wordy lyrics are equally so also. (And, it doesn’t get much cooler than Tina Weymouth’s funk-infused bass!)

  • Chromatics

Shimmery, synthy dream pop that is the sonic equivalent of city lights glittering on a misty humid night. (Plus, if a band is featured in Twin Peaks, there is a statistically high chance that I will like said band.)

  • The Modern Lovers

To paraphrase what I wrote in a previous post: among why I’ve come to love The Modern Lovers (pun unintended) so much is the way that leader Jonathan Richman contrasts dorkiness with edginess, and the comforting relatability I find in this. While I adore the music and lyrics of Lou Reed/Alex Chilton/Iggy Pop/Patti Smith/et al, I’m the first to admit that I otherwise fit the stereotype of the socially awkward goody-two-shoes perfectly, something that tends to be derided in the culture that I like. It’s kind of nice to find a similar band from this era that not only revels in this kind of nerdy awkwardness, but acknowledges that you can both be this way inclined and love edgy underground music which would otherwise bare no commonality with your person. It’s so great!

  • Joni Mitchell

As with Talking Heads, another discovery that I should’ve made a long time ago! And yet I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because Mitchell’s music requires the listener to permit themselves a vulnerability, an openness to feeling, that I think I have only recently begun to acquire the maturity needed to attain such. Again, there is a musical intricacy to her tracks that I adore, too, in the falling chord progressions and twangs of guitar fingerings and in the soft sweetness of her voice — and an intimacy, maybe in the way her guitar and piano are microphoned and in the sparse instrumentation, or maybe in the sheer welcoming warmth of her songwriting, that makes you feel as if you are the most special, luckiest, only person to have ever heard these songs softly buzz through your mind.

Honourable mentions (i.e. people I have begun to get into but will probably further delve into at a later date): Replacements, Go-Betweens, Air, Husker Du, Sky Ferreira, Throbbing Gristle, Cocteau Twins

Best New TV: Twin Peaks (dir. David Lynch)

I never know what to say when I try to write about Peaks, particularly this latest season. I could talk about how it turned the reboot trend on its head — how it self-awarely both celebrated and stomped on nostalgia in front of our befuddled, fascinated eyes; how it was so unlike anything that ever has (and, for the next few years at least, ever will) aired on TV, in its narrative structure, its visuals, its special effects, its sound, its everything — so much that it was technically bad by our layman storytelling standards, but that it transcended those anyway. I could discuss its Lynch-isms — the little references to the rest of his filmography, the incredible use of his cast of regulars (weren’t Naomi Watts and Laura Dern amazing?), the explorations of identity and trauma through the use of a non-linear narrative structure, the little moments of impassioned, almost musical emotion that he directs so well; or I could wax on the way it made me to feel emotion more rawly, of how it taught to have more patience and how good things will come in return, how its imagination captivated and befuddled me in the most beautiful, beautiful way. I even could list my favourite moments, like when Dougie wandered around a Las Vegas casino screaming that now-iconic “hellooo-OOO-ooo,” or when Laura and Coop met in ‘Part 17’, or when Audrey danced in ‘Part 16’, or that equal-parts horrific and beautiful final scene — the infamous ‘Part 8’ in general, too. But every time I’ve tried to write about it, what I’ve come up with has never satisfied, for so much of what I love about Twin Peaks is what it makes me feel — how maybe I don’t always understand it on a left-brained level, but the primal intensity of the emotions it stirs in me still evoke an undercurrent of unconscious comprehension. This feels so intimate, so personal, so unique to me — even though I assume the vast majority of viewers feel the same — that I can barely even defend what I experienced, and why I liked it. But anyway, I did. In fact, I would go so far to say that I loved it, and it’s changed the way I see the world. Scratch what I said about this being the best TV of 2017. Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series/The Return/The Third Season/whatever the powers that be are calling it this week might just be, in my humble opinion, among the most creative, innovative, fascinating, emotionally rewarding — and wholeheartedly the best — TV ever made.

Honourable mentionsSearch PartyBig Little LiesFargo, The End of the F***ing World, The Handmaid’s Tale 

Best New Film: 20th Century Women (dir. Mike Mills)

I don’t usually go to see movies twice during their cinema run, even ones I really adore, but I did just that in the case of 20th Century Women — so that gives you an idea of just how much I loved this film. It’s practically my perfect movie: it’s set in California in the ’70s, the main characters are obsessed with an assortment of obscure postpunk bands, the cinematography and special effects are incredibly artful, it features some of the best actresses working today (Elle Fanning! Greta Gerwig! Annette Bening!), and it’s funny and sad and beautifully thoughtful throughout. One of its most memorable aspects is its imagery and camerawork — the movie has a kind of velvety, sun-dappled, pink tinge to it, mimicking the idling warmth of its suburban Californian setting, and there’s this recurring special effect that phases the image and drowns it in glittery neon chaos that adds to its dreaminess and the narrative’s celebration of the art of moving forward. Of course, then there’s the soundtrack, of Talking Heads and The Buzzcocks and Black Flag and The Raincoats and even Bowie — it’d be perfect even entirely out of context, but the way it is woven into the narrative to reflect how culture can enlighten and define and make us feel is tremendously and upliftingly powerful. (The greatest of these uses occurs fairly early on in the film, when Greta Gerwig’s character delivers a monologue about the importance of the ethos of punk, outlining the very ideas that I have always adored in my favourite music.) On top of its aesthetic, though, the film is wonderfully nuanced and thoughtful in its writing. Each character feels ridiculously real, to the point that their past, present, and future contexts are lengthily established as to create so much empathy and respect for their journeys and identities; and the script’s focusing on small, physical details in each’s world (the way each dances; their bizarre hobbies; the way they speak) adds so much subtle, tender dimension that the audience is almost forced into feeling relation toward and caring for the entire ensemble a ridiculously beautiful amount. These journeys, along with its Californian, arty iconography and montages of historical events that establish just how quickly our world spins, express an idea of the thrill of living in the moment, of letting things move a little slow, of the importance of nostalgia juxtaposed with the importance of moving on, of the complexities that compose the concept of “growing up” — themes that could be trite or cliche, but that are rendered uniquely touching in the narrative’s peaceful quirkiness. A moving, stunning tale. (Plus, hearing the guitars on The Buzzcocks’ ‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ blast out of my cinema’s surround sound speakers over the end credits was pretty cool!)

Honourable mentions: The Florida Project (a very close second fave!), Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, The Beguiled, How To Talk to Girls at Parties, Things to Come

Best book I read this year: Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion

There are two reasons why I almost didn’t think to include this on my list: firstly, that I read it back in the first week of January, and secondly, it’s affected the way that I read literature so much that I can barely comprehend that it’s only been in my life for a year. Joan Didion’s incredibly poetic tale of love and death and getting by when it feels like you can’t traces Maria Wyeth’s tale from aspiring film star to mental institution inpatient to maybe the strongest woman in all of Los Angeles. Didion’s richly glossy and sultrily objective imagery is easily its hallmark, both intoxicatingly voyeuristic as the twinkling, technicolour worlds it coolly describes crumble to desert dust, and yet full of implications and meaning and emotion and strength in its preciseness, in all the things it leaves unsaid. (As the book climaxes, this imagery even becomes physical and literal — the chapters become shorter, leaving gulfs of white space at the end of every few pages, reflecting the deadness of both the Californian desert in which the book is set and of Maria’s identity and thoughts at that point.) The narrative is incredibly written in terms of its plot as well, ensuring that its emphasis on beauty doesn’t leave it unfulfillingly shallow. It’s slow, and it doesn’t really climax until the last couple of pages, and maybe in any other scenario some might deem it boring, but its emphasis on minute details adds an everyday poignancy, giving its glamour profound emotional levity — not to mention the way this same technique performs a slow-burn reaction on the reader, allowing its truths and horrors to creep up and delicately reveal themselves so infinitely powerfully and affectingly, especially fitting in a narrative about what hides behind the glitter and dreams so many aspire to see. Then there’s its characterisation, the way it never demonises Maria despite the awful things she does, her three-dimensional-ness, the way she slowly reveals herself, her beautifully female strength in the face of everything her life throws at her; how it wafts in between third and first person perspective to greater explore the context and image of the tale, investing the audience even further in what could have been such a cliche, everyday story; its neon-lights-and-filtered-sunshine 70’s beauty. I could write about this novel for pages. No book has ever made my nerves tingle like this did.

Honourable mentions: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), A Manual for Cleaning Women (Lucia Berlin), In Cold Blood (Truman Capote), The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides), To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee — technically a reread but nonetheless!)

I feel like I should also acknowledge something else: my lack of posting over the past year. When I started this blog, I was in  middle school — I had very few other responsibilities and an insane amount of spare time. That was four years ago, and now, my situation stands somewhat altered. I am currently firmly absorbed in the very pointy end of high school (I’m in my second-to-last year and am also completing some coursework for my final year), I am working at becoming a professional musician, I make art, I’ve begun preparation for a particularly tricky violin performance exam, I have a more widened social life, and I have been lucky enough to also be able to begin writing for a couple of other online publications, resulting in my previously ample free time becoming a heck of a lot more thinly spread. I also, between my tendency to ramble a bit and the amount of time it takes me to properly edit, take a while to write things, meaning that I require some time to finish pieces to my satisfaction — time that my constantly replenishing pile of homework refuses to let me have, really only leaving my quarterly school holidays for my own projects, which also include my music, my work for the other publications, and my art. However, writing this blog has always, and will always be, one of the greatest joys of my life — I mean, where else can I publish sprawling essays about any one of my favourite things with no deadlines, and get to interact with an amazing group of fellow writers to boot! I am so sorry for my lack of time spent here at the moment, but I assure you that AYNITB is not something I’m going to give up on, and I will always be here whenever I can. I am working on several pieces currently which I plan on posting this year, and I attempt to be consistently active within the WordPress community in general, so I promise that you will still regularly see plenty of me — and as soon as I am somewhat less busy I shall properly return! In the meanwhile, you can also follow me on Instagram (@tangerinetrees99), and read more of my writing at The Mostly Books Blog and the Felicitas CollectiveThank you all so much, though, for sticking with AYNITB even with its sporadicalness — I can’t tell you all how much your readership and discussion throughout the years means to me. Bear with me over the next year or so — I promise I’ll be as active as I can whenever possible, and I look forward to being able to be a more consistent presence once my workload lessens a little! See you all soon 😆

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My Favourite Pictures of John W. Lennon

Any guesses who my favourite Beatle is?? Well, I think it's been said before on here...

Any guesses who my favourite Beatle is?? Well, I think it’s been said before on here…

Well, good morning, good morning (or afternoon…or evening…) to all who are reading!

Still beautiful weather here in Adelaide! It was slightly cold during the week, but it has warmed up again for the weekend. Tomorrow it’s meant to be 25, but then it goes back down to 17 for the rest of the week. But this next week’s going to be good, ‘cos it’s my birthday on Thursday! Yes, I was born on the 11th of September… But ‘Love Me Do’ was recorded that day in 1962, and recording for With The Beatles and filming for Magical Mystery Tour commenced in ’63 and ’67, respectively, and it’s Ethiopian New Year, too. Not just the 9/11 anniversary. But anyway…

I realised that my favourite Beatle does not have a post just about him, yet! Sorry, John… So I thought I’d do this! As you might assume, about half of the Camera Roll on my iPad is made up of Beatle-y photos, and of course for photos of just one of the boys, John takes up the most memory (not that I care!)! In fact, quite a bit of my iPad memory is taken up by Beatles stuff, whether that be actual music or photos or random things I’ve written about them or PDFs on them… 🙂 But here we are – my favourite pictures of my favourite idol in (you guessed it) a nutshell! Oh, and this post will only include one David Bailey shot (‘cos they have their own post), and only one of him in my favourite brown suede Rubber Soul jacket, ‘cos that might get a post titled ‘The Rubber Soul Jacket Appreciation Society’ soon.

 

I found this one the other day, whilst looking for pictures for an ICT project on the Beatles Bible. My ICT teacher is also an avid Beatles fan, so he encouraged me to make my assignment on the lads!

I found this one the other day, whilst looking for pictures for an ICT project on the Beatles Bible. My ICT teacher is also an avid Beatles fan, so he encouraged me to make my assignment on the lads!

 

Oh my - I love this picture! It's from my beloved 'Help!' period (he's even wearing the outfit he wore in the Salisbury Plains scene), and even though I love him for his music and intelligence first and foremost, I must say he's really attractive here... :-)

Oh my – I love this picture! It’s from my beloved ‘Help!’ period (he’s even wearing the outfit he wore in the Salisbury Plains scene), and even though I love him for his music and intelligence first and foremost, I must say his looks are really done justice here… 🙂 Oh, and those sunglasses…

 

Okay - you must think I have an obsession with that green corduroy! My obsession lays with his brown suede 'Rubber Soul' jacket (because of which I bought a beige corduroy jacket that looks just like it) and his batwing coat from 'Help!' (because of which I bought a navy cape from Vinnies), but I do love this outfit. I think it may have been shot whilst filming the intermission of 'Help!', and looks like someone's a bit tired...

Okay – you must think I have an obsession with that green corduroy! My obsession lays with his brown suede ‘Rubber Soul’ jacket (because of which I bought a beige corduroy jacket that looks just like it) and his batwing coat from ‘Help!’ (because of which I bought a navy cape from Vinnies), but I do love this outfit. I think it may have been shot whilst filming the intermission of ‘Help!’, and looks like someone’s a bit tired! I don’t blame him…

 

This photo was part of a photo-shoot with Brian Duffy in 1965. It is probably one of my favourite photos of him, along with David Bailey's stuff. Interestingly, I only found out the other day that he took some of the most famous pictures of David Bowie ever taken!

This photo was part of a photo-shoot with Brian Duffy in 1965. It is probably one of my favourite photos of him, along with David Bailey’s stuff. Interestingly, I only found out the other day that Duffy took some of the most famous pictures of David Bowie ever taken!

 

I love this picture! It was taken by Bob Whitaker (a fellow Aussie!) in 1965 - like most of these photos. As I said above, it's my birthday on Thursday, and I might be getting his book!  I love so many pictures of John. I think there might need to be a Part Two to this post soon!

I love this picture! It was taken by Bob Whitaker (a fellow Aussie!) in 1965 – like most of these photos. As I said above, it’s my birthday on Thursday, and I might be getting Whitaker’s book! John with a daisy over one of his gorgeous eyes is too cute! This is my avatar on thebeatles.com.
I love so many pictures of John. I think there might need to be a Part Two to this post soon!

 

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I can find no information whatsoever about this picture, but that just makes it even more intriguing! I can see it was taken in 1968 (hairstyle and Yoko pictures), but that’s all I really know about it. I think it may have been taken in an art studio at some point – there are calligraphy pens and a large amount of paper on the table – but I guess I won’t ever know. I wonder if the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ drumhead is the original featured on the album cover?

 

I also discovered this whilst browsing the Beatles Bible the other day. Interestingly, the negatives for this only surfaced three years ago. I really like this proof-sheet - in fact, you may have noticed a pattern that I like pretty much any picture of any Beatle taken in 1965. Especially John...

I also discovered this whilst browsing the Beatles Bible the other day. Interestingly, the negatives for this only surfaced three years ago. I really like this proof-sheet – in fact, you may have noticed a pattern that I like pretty much any picture of any Beatle taken in 1965. Especially John…

 

Brown suede jacket time! Taken whilst recording my second-fave album, 'Rubber Soul'!

Brown suede jacket time! Taken whilst recording my second-fave album, ‘Rubber Soul’!

 

This was, in fact, my avatar for quite some time. A still from the Paperback Writer/Rain promo videos, thus taken in 1966.

This was, in fact, my avatar for quite some time. A still from the Paperback Writer/Rain promo videos, thus taken in 1966.

 

Like the mysterious art studio (?) picture above, this was taken in 1968, and John seems to be trying to decide what 45 to play next!  Mum found this on my favourite record shop's Facebook page, and sent it to me a couple of months ago - thanks!

Like the mysterious art studio (?) picture above, this was taken in 1968, and John seems to be trying to decide what 45 to play next! Mum found this on my favourite record shop’s Facebook page, and sent it to me a couple of months ago – thanks!

 

This picture was on the cover of LIFE magazine some time ago, and that's all Google will tell me. I know, however, that it was taken in 1965. Thank you to nymfan97 (a big hello to you if you're reading) for posting this on your blog! I - in fact - drew a pencil portrait of John from this picture, which I a) am quite proud of, and b) must post on here sometime.

This picture was on the cover of LIFE magazine some time ago, and that’s all Google will tell me. I know, however, that it was taken in 1965. Thank you to nymfan97 (a big hello to you if you’re reading) for posting this on your blog! I – in fact – drew a pencil portrait of John from this picture, which I a) am quite proud of, and b) must post on here sometime. Nice to see my favourite Beatle shares an appreciation of red polo-necks with me!

 

Like the LIFE cover picture, I first saw this on nymfan97's blog! I was just reading some of her archived posts, and I saw this picture again. I'd forgotten how I love it. It was taken in February 1965, whilst filming 'Help!' in the Bahamas

Like the LIFE cover picture, I first saw this on nymfan97’s blog! I was just reading some of her archived posts, and I saw this picture again. I’d forgotten how I love it. It was taken in February 1965, whilst filming ‘Help!’ in the Bahamas. John has the loveliest smile – when I post more pictures of John at some point, I must post more of him grinning.

 

Yes, 1965 again. Also found on the Beatles Bible. I thought for quite some time that this was taken in Stu Sutcliffe's studio, without realising that John was not in Germany in 1965, and thus could not have visited Stu's widow Astrid and photographed in her house. Further research revealed that it was, in fact, taken in John's own Weybridge home in his attic art studio.

Yes, 1965 again. Also found on the Beatles Bible. I thought for quite some time that this was taken in Stu Sutcliffe’s studio, without realising that John was not in Germany in 1965, and thus could not have visited Stu’s widow Astrid and photographed in her house. Further research revealed that it was, in fact, taken in John’s own Weybridge home in his attic art studio.

 

Aww! :-) I think this might be the earliest picture in this post. I think it was taken in mid-to-late '64. But regardless of when it's from, John with a stuffed panda is almost unbearably cute!

Aww! 🙂 I think this might be the earliest picture in this post. I think it was taken in mid-to-late ’64. But regardless of when it’s from, John with a stuffed panda is almost unbearably cute!

 

And now for my all-time favourite shot of John! Yes, I know David Bailey took it, but it must feature in this post. I love just about everything in this photo... It also reminds me of The John Lennon Letters, one of my first Beatle-y ventures in the literary world. This is also my current avatar.

And now for my all-time favourite shot of John! Yes, I know David Bailey took it, but it must feature in this post. I love just about everything in this photo… It also reminds me of The John Lennon Letters, one of my first Beatle-y ventures in the literary world. This is also my current avatar.

 

So there you go! Some utterly gorgeous pictures of Dr Winston O’Boogie, and my musings on them.

(And now for a couple of other things…)

I’m a recording musician! I set up a Soundcloud account last weekend, and uploaded a cover of ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ on it. My stage/alter-ego name is Sadie of Kirkcaldy, taken from two Fabs songs – ‘Sexy Sadie’ (Sadie) and ‘Cry Baby Cry’ (of Kirkcaldy). I plan on uploading a more sophisticated cover of ‘Dear Prudence’ – using my brand new Fender Acoustasonic amp which I got yesterday for John, my gorgeous acoustic-electric guitar – and some of my own self-written songs (once I’ve got a melody for them) on there soon, so please follow me and share with your friends! My account can be found at http://souncloud.com/sadie-of-kirkcaldy , and please listen to my song below, which I’ll embed right now.

Oh, and for the Aussies reading, Nowhere Boy was on SBS1 last night. Nowhere Boy covers the story of John’s teenage years (with some artistic license), and whilst many fans didn’t like it, I love it. It’s very, very sad (I got a bit misty-eyed near the end), but I would recommend it to any Beatles/Lennon fan. Again on SBS1, tonight a documentary called Becoming The Beatles will be on at 10:05 pm, so look out for it!

Good day sunshine for now! 🙂

My Beatles Record Collection Pt. One – ‘With The Beatles’

One of my favourite pictures from the Mad Day Out photoshoot - I must do a post on Mad Day Out, at some point.

One of my favourite pictures from the Mad Day Out photo-shoot – I must do a post on Mad Day Out, at some point.

As I assume is slightly obvious (just a bit), I am a hardcore Beatlemaniac (hmm…you wouldn’t have guessedespecially if you read this blog!). Unlike many teenage Beatlemaniacs – or teenage music fans in general – though, I prefer to listen to The Beatles on vinyl. In fact, I collect Beatles records! I have done so since late last year (I’d been a fan for about ten months), beginning with an eight-record Beatles box set, poignantly released in 1980. But that’ll come later in this series, which will get an update each month (or maybe more – not too sure, yet).

If I say so myself, I have some real gems in my collection, ranging from two British-edition first pressings in mono, to an American edition of the 1970s compilation Love Songs (which I inherited from my grandfather). But today, I’m going to start with one of my British monos – my beautiful copy of With The Beatles!

I got my With The Beatles in February this year from my favourite record shop (in which I am known as Miss Beatle!), using some leftover Christmas money. It plays amazingly well for a record of over fifty years of age, and I swear it is in near mint condition! There is nothing quite like listening to The Beatles on first-edition vinyl – the 2009 remasters are all fine and dandy at first, but to hear The Beatles as they were meant to be heard, you really have to invest in one of these babies. If they play through well, I guarantee you will never have heard The Beatles better.

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Here is (obviously) the cover. Apart from a few discolourations in the white top secion, it is amazingly good condition. Not that it really matters, compared to the record – it is nice to have a good cover to go along with it, though.

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As you can see, the record is in mono (meaning it only plays out of one speaker – unlike stereo, which plays out of two), which makes it rarer than one released in stereo. One thing I should have put in my ‘Six Ways The Beatles Changed The World’ post is how The Beatles pioneered the use of stereo in pop music. In fact, I am fairly sure they were the first band to use it – on Please Please Me. Because of this, though, it means that Beatles records in mono are hard to find, so I struck jackpot with this! As of September 8, you’ll be able to hear most Beatles albums in mono, too, with the new mono remasters. But the original vinyl will always sound better, (pretty much) no matter what.

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The back of the record, complete with the ‘Use EMITEX’ label used on all British pressings of Beatles releases and sleeve notes written by Tony Barrow. Note the flaps of cardboard around the borders – or ‘backflaps’, as they are called. These were only used on first pressings, meaning this was one of the first With The Beatles to ever be made.

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To be exact, though, it was the 206th With The Beatles ever made. Wow – I feel rather special! How fab!

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Here is the side of the record – in absolutely pristine condition! I have two records owned by ‘Clark’ (you may have noted a name on the picture two above), and both are almost perfect. They must have looked after their records very well.

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Here is the British address on the back, plus the EMITEX label – proving it’s a British pressing. Australian versions of this record would have a Sydney-based address, and lack the EMITEX label – and would have a different cover. But that’s a different story, to be explained another day…

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‘Clark’ didn’t just keep her records in perfect condition – she also spiced up the slip-cover, too! Usually, British pressings have a paper sleeve with another EMITEX advertisement plus a warning about replacing your record player needle as needed (and trust me, you should – I may or may not have ruined a record by not. But as with the cover, that story will be saved for the Help! edition of this series). But our ‘Clark’ appears to have cut out all sorts of Beatles scraps and decorated the sleeve (rather like the end-papers of my diary!), making beautifully unique. Now, any guesses of who her favourite Beatle is (clue: it’s probably Ringo)?!?

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Here’s the other side of the slip cover, with a picture of George, a still from A Hard Day’s Night (obviously she scrapped into the next year, too) and a review of the album to pour over!

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And finally, here is Side One of the record – absolutely scratch-less!

(And now for a couple of other things…)

So far, The Beatles: The Night That Changed America – A GRAMMY® Salute (that Grammy special from February) has received an Emmy! It was nominated for six, but only four of the categories it was in were announced today. The rest will be announced on August 25, when The Emmys are broadcasted around the world. So far, it has been awarded for Most Outstanding Musical Direction, but fingers crossed it will get more when the other two categories are announced.

And finally, my good friend kate160801 (you know who you are) has started a blog called ‘The Hunger Readings’, on which she will publish her various pieces of writing. kate160801 hasn’t put much on it yet, but trust me – she is an amazing writer, so make sure you check out her blog here: http://thehungerreading.wordpress.com .

Hope you’re having a groovy day wherever you are, and good day sunshine 🙂

 

Things We Polled Today…

A lovely picture of John and Paul!

A lovely picture of John and Paul! Don’t they look sweet? 🙂

Well – I haven’t done a poll in a while, have I? I also have some other things to write about today (i.e. Ron Howard’s upcoming Beatles doco – for which I cannot wait!), but to start off with – here’s a poll! It’s titled ‘Which Beatles’ period is your favourite’ (as you will see further down), and Option One will be ‘the early years’ – the Hamburg/Cavern Club Era (1960) ’till the A Hard Day’s Night sessions (1964), which includes Pete Best/Stu Sutcliffe, the ‘Love Me Do’/’P.S. I Love You’ sessions, the marathon 12-hour Please Please Me session and the With The Beatles sessions, plus the filming of A Hard Day’s Night and their Australian tour. Option Two will be the ‘middle years’ – the Beatles For Sale (late 1964) sessions ’till the Magical Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine sessions (1968 – there’s a slight overlap, here, ‘cos both the film and album Yellow Submarine fit in with the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper/ Magical Mystery Tour, but were recorded around the time of ‘Lady Madonna’, which is considered as a part of their back-to-basics-rock-and-roll late material. I consider Yellow to be middle-period, but that’s only my opinion), which includes ‘Ticket To Ride’/’Yes It Is’, the album/film/single Help! (which includes classics such as the title track, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and – of course – ‘Yesterday’), Shea Stadium, Rubber Soul, ‘Paperback Writer’/’Rain’, the groundbreaking Revolver, the Sgt. Pepper sessions, plus (not-so-positive bits) the introduction of pot/LSD, the decision to stop touring (not that was necessarily a bad thing…) and the ‘Jesus remark’ (which was taken completely out of context). And then, the final option will be the ‘late years’, spanning from the ‘Lady Madonna’ sessions ’till the break-up – this involves India, introduction of Yoko and Linda, the White Album sessions, ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’, the Get Back/Let It Be sessions and Abbey Road, plus the mounds of arguments and the split ( 😦 ). If I had to choose, I would vote for the ‘middle years’ – my favourite albums (Revolver, Help!, Beatles For Sale and Rubber Soul) were all recorded in that period – plus the songs I favour – and (not that it matters) I think they looked the best around that period (not that they were bad-looking at any period – except for maybe Paul’s Let It Be beard…)! Oh, and one word: PSYCHEDELIA! But this isn’t a place for me to vote, ‘cos I’m putting it to you. So please choose, and I’d love to see which period is the most popular amongst the people who’ve seen past this large block of text and voted!

 

(And now for some more…)

As most Beatlemaniacs will have heard by now, acclaimed director and actor Ron Howard is both directing and producing a documentary on The Beatles’ touring years (1960 – 1966), which is scheduled for release in late-2015! Ron Howard (who – amongst other things – starred as Richie in Happy Days, plus is the creator behind Parenthood) is a self-proclaimed Beatlemaniac himself, and is being joined by Nigel Sinclair (who produced George Harrison: Living In The Material World); the two (according to Rolling Stone) have been granted access to the Apple Corps archives (I can only dream!), and are sourcing footage/photos/material from fans. For more information, here is the link to the article on The Beatles’ official website, which involves information on how to submit your material for the doco (anyone here got any??). You can find Rolling Stone‘s article (the most informative yet) on the upcoming feature here. And Sky News Australia’s two-bobs’-worth is here – whilst short, it contains a cool news-clip about the event! I cannot wait for this to be released, and I’ll be making sure I’m at the pre-viewing if it makes it to cinemas.

As for some other Beatle-y news, The Grammys’ Beatles tribute has been nominated for six Emmy awards! Let’s hope it wins some, ‘cos (in my opinion) watching Paul and Ringo re-unite is much more interesting than binge-watching Game Of Thrones (not that I’ve ever watched it)… And A Hard Day’s Night has been released on Australian iTunes stores (as of the 9th of this month), but it’s rated M. Why M?? I get that John snorts a bottle of coke (the cola kind…) in the train (‘But they hadn’t even done pot at this point, let alone cocaine,’ I protest), there are a few jokes of a sexual nature (Paul’s comment to the effect of, ‘He [Grandfather] could be in an orgy by now!’, John’s ‘Please can I have one to surge with?’ comment, what John and the girl are hinting at in the ‘she looks more like me than I do’ scene, and the stamp collection), and of course, the smoking – but M? Really?? I also read that the Australian BluRay isn’t particularly good, so I’m glad I got my UK export! Talking of my UK export…IT’S BEING SHIPPED ON MONDAY! I absolutely cannot wait for it to come!

Oh, and a big thank you to my good friend (you know who you are) for recommending an interesting book to me, earlier this year – I just finished it yesterday! But what book am I referring to, you ask? When We Wake, a dystopian novel written by New Zealander-come-Australian Karen Healey! The story is about a sixteen-year-old girl living in 2027 Melbourne named Tegan, who’s about to go on a climate-change-action protest with her best friend Alex and her boyfriend-as-of-the-night-before Dalmar. However, a sniper intervenes, and Tegan is shot dead. Tegan had donated her body to science some time before she died, though. She wakes up (as the first successful cryonics – the process of freezing someone who is dead, and then proceeding to try and revive them – patient) in 2128, and soon enough, she finds herself in the middle of the paparazzi, a medicinal-drug-smuggling plot, a secret – and possibly corrupt – government operation and a devout Christian cult, who want her dead. And of course, Tegan is a hardcore Beatlemaniac – her favourite is Ringo, but the majority of Beatles references are somewhat related to John 🙂 ; yay for Johnny! Sadly, though, George isn’t mentioned… However, I really enjoyed this read, and you can buy your own copy here. Again, thank you, my friend, and hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

And one more thing… if you haven’t already noticed, I’ve changed my sidebar widgets slightly! Please check out my profile, and see if you can guess what songs I’m punning on. Good day sunshine 🙂

It was 50 years ago today…

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 fame – had booked the four for concerts in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Adelaide had been left off the list.

A few weeks later, ‘Please Please Me’ ruled the charts in Britain, and John, Paul, George and Ringo performed on Sunday Night At The London Palladium, to hordes of screaming girls; Beatlemania was born! Meanwhile in Australia, Ken Brodziak was unsure whether his deal with Epstein would be fulfilled – to his luck, it was, and The Beatles were scheduled to perform in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in June 1964. But something was missing – The Fab Four would not be coming to Adelaide…

A little later, Bob Francis (a relatively-famous South Australian DJ on 5AD) heard that The Beatles were touring Australia, but skipping Adelaide. He was not happy, and set his mind on bringing The Beatles to the Festival State. He set up a petition, which gathered thousands of signatures, and after much lobbying from him and other Adelaide fans, John, Paul, George and Ringo were set to perform four concerts here, over the 12th and 13th of June. Despite the fact that Ringo was hospitalised with tonsillitis and pharyngitis, thus unable to come to Australia before the others made their way up to Melbourne, Adelaide still managed to make Fab Four history, by giving them the largest reception they would ever receive, of somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000 people (over half the population at the time)! And for that, us Adelaide-ean Beatlemaniacs are very grateful.

YouTube Clips

 

 

This is a clip of bits and pieces of footage from ’64, released this year especially for the anniversary by EMI Australia.

 

 

This one’s of The Beatles’ Adelaide press conference – I haven’t watched the whole thing (shame on you, so-called ‘hardcore Beatlemaniac’!), but I’ve seen some bits; John has some really funny jokes, in it!

 

 

And well, here it is – the strangely-prophetic John Lennon quote from the Adelaide press conference that featured upon the end of When The Beatles Drove Us Wild, that made me cry. As I said last post, what a tragic irony. Rest in peace, John – love you to bits!

 

 

And this one’s a little lighter than the last – fragments of John, Paul, George and Jimmie’s Adelaide gig! I can just imagine being in the audience, that day – the atmosphere just seemed so electric, even from a YouTube clip!

 

Photos

The Waving Beatles

Not in Adelaide (Ringo’s in it) but anyway – I love the photo (for no apparent reason), so who cares?!

Oz Beatles Crowd

Here’s photographic proof of why Adelaide is so cool…

the beatles in adelaide three

Performing live…

the beatles in adelaide four

Front page of The News (Adelaide’s former evening newspaper) on B-Day.

the beatles in adelaide five

Too-cool-for-words people greeting an incredibly-cool city…

 

Fun Facts

Did you know…

  • Australian politician Bob Katter was among a group of Beatle-haters who pelted eggs at The Beatles in Brisbane.
  • Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum was kicked out of The Beatles’ Melbourne concert for being ‘too hysterical’.
  • Jimmie Nicol – Ringo’s replacement – says that ‘being in The Beatles was the worst thing that happened to him’, and now lives as a recluse in London.
  • The Beatles almost cancelled their trip to Australia – after Ringo fell ill (the day before The Beatles embarked on their 1964 world tour) a loyal George refused to play with a replacement, though was eventually convinced (how sweet!).

 

This time tomorrow, I will be enjoying a Beatles tribute – put on by tribute band The Beatle Boys – recreating their Australian tour; it should be loads of fun, and I will report on Saturday! But for now, I’ll pause the White Album (but ‘Julia’ is so beautiful – and sad, too) and enjoy the special hour of Beatle-y fun that local radio station Cruise 1323 AM will be putting on in half an hour. But anyway, enjoy this special ‘birthday’ (pun on song playing off the White Album currently – see if you can guess what it is!) in Beatles history, and good day sunshine!

 

 

‘When The Beatles Drove Us Wild’ Review

The band in question (or three quarters - note Jimmie Nicol) arriving in my hometown - Adelaide, Australia!

The band in question (or three quarters – note Jimmie Nicol) arriving in my hometown – Adelaide, Australia!

This week is absolutely giant for Aussie Beatlemaniacs – it marks 50 years since The Fab Four landed here, in our little far-fetched corner of the globe! As one would imagine (coincidence – I am currently listening to Imagine!), heaps of celebrations have been circulating around the country, which I discussed in my earlier post ‘Beatle-y News’. Even my school has been celebrating (ever so slightly!) – there was a display of Beatle books in the library foyer today, to my delight! However, as I am sitting here, listening to ‘Jealous Guy’, I thought I’d write about one particular aspect of my country’s festivities; When The Beatles Drove Us Wild, which was screened on ABC1 at 8:30 PM, last night.

You might like to watch the trailer for the documentary – I have posted it below:

Before you go around thinking it was just another middle-of-the-road Beatles doco with a disgustingly-large percentage of time spent discussing groupies/drugs/etc., with most of the interviews being held with the husband of the best friend of the cook of the bus-driver of the chauffer of Brian Epstein’s second cousin (or something), think again. The documentary was made this year, especially for the 50th anniversary of John, Paul, George, Ringo & Jimmie Nicol landing in Australia, and featured everything from never-seen-before archival footage, to interviews with the likes of Bob Francis (a famous South Australian DJ who campaigned for The Beatles to come here – thank God he was successful!), Jenny Kee (an Australian fashion designer who ‘spent a night’ with John) and Glen A. Baker (a music journalist and Beatles aficionado).

After the prologue, opening credits and an insight into what being a teenager in the ’60s meant, the documentary was split into six categories: Sydney (first time around – only a short stop), Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney (second time – proper concerts, now), New Zealand and Brisbane. After this, Australian rockers (such as Jim Keays of Masters Apprentices and Glen Shorrock of Little River Band) discussed how The Beatles changed the music industry; shortly after, the doco wrapped up with John Lennon’s quote that, as The Advertiser promised, pierced my heart, thus made me quite emotional and sent chills down my back (to say the least).

Apart from Bob Francis, Jenny Kee, Jim Keays, Glen A. Baker and Glen Shorrock, the interviewees ranged from a feminist/social scientist to fellow Adelaide fans (these ones, however, were lucky enough to be my age in ’64 – their mothers also booked them a hotel room in the hotel in which The Beatles were staying). Apart from a couple of men, who were carrying on with their free-sex/partying/pill-taking tales (which would have went on – no doubt about that – but would have been exaggerated a bit), each interviewee had a very interesting perspective on The Fabs, which were equally as interesting to listen to. I really enjoyed the documentary, and I think it’s a must-see for every hardcore Beatlemaniac.

And as for closing words that John said at an Adelaide press conference, that pierced my heart? SPOILER ALERT.

(After being asked whether he is aware of possibilities similar to JFK)

“Well, I think you’ve got to be – you might get shot.”

TRAGIC IRONY. Rest in peace, Johnny.

Anyway (on a lighter note), it’s 50 years today since The Beatles landed in Sydney, and 50 tomorrow since they landed here, and received the biggest reception they would ever receive. Be sure to check out the paper, tomorrow (if you live in Adelaide), and listen to Cruise 1323 AM, who are doing a one-hour special, from 7-8pm. I’ll do a special post, too.

Good day sunshine, for now.