HAPPY BIRTHDAY RINGO STARR!

Ringo during the 'Get Back' sessions (Image credit: thebeatles.com)

Ringo during the ‘Get Back’ sessions
(Image credit: thebeatles.com)

As you probably know, today (July 7) is the 75th birthday of Richard Starkey, a.k.a. Ringo Starr! Happy birthday, Ringo! Like Paul, I’ve never written that much about Ringo, so today is my chance…

When people are asked to name their favourite drummers, there’s the obvious ones. Keith Moon, John Bonham, Neil Peart, Ginger Baker. And for good reason, ‘cos they’re exceptional players. Moon and Bonham take two spots in my ‘top three drummers’.

And of course, Ringo is the other person in my list. And I think that he’s one of the most underrated drummers, ever. Way too many people underestimate his abilities. But although I’m not a drummer, his playing, in my opinion, is wonderful! What’s special about his style is that it is quite understated; no drum solos, no flashy beats. But that wouldn’t have gone with The Beatles’ style. He was absolutely perfect for them.

Ringo is a very inventive drummer, too — whether it be the bassy fills in ‘A Day In The Life’, or the syncopated rock of ‘Ticket To Ride’, or anything in between, he executes his parts so well! The fact that he uses a right handed kit, despite being a lefty, only adds to his style and makes him even cooler! He made The Beatles drive. To quote Dave Grohl:

Ringo’s swing and backbeat carry so many of The Beatles’ songs. Back then, the recording depended on the feel of the song. There was no digital manipulation of drum tracks, so it was up to the drummer to dictate that feel. And Ringo had his own sound. Pull all the instruments out and you’d still know it was a Beatles song. And that’s the sound of a signature drummer. It’s the kind of thing drummers strive for all career, but not all of them make it.

Here are a few of my favourite Ringo drumming moments:

Ringo’s drumming turned from ‘good’ to ‘mind-blowing’ in 1966, in my opinion. His skill is on full show in ‘Rain’. His beat is peppered with these magnificent fills! The booming embellishments mimic thunder, his triplets complimenting the psychedelic guitars. Quote Ringo: “I feel as though that was someone else playing – I was possessed!”

I was listening to ‘Paperback Writer’ the other day, and the drums caught my attention. In particular, the cymbal fills in the verses, which sound a bit like someone writing on paper, in my opinion. And of course, like everything else Ringo did in 1966, the other fills are amazing, too!

Ringo’s drums on ‘Come Together’ contributes to the laid-back feel of the song. Perhaps one of the most iconic drum lines in history, his bassy pounding is instantly recognisable. I love it!

(‘Helter Skelter’) Ringo had blisters on his fingers for good reason! Ringo bangs out his drumline, playing like a heavy metal musician. He pushes the boundaries, drumming wonderfully heavy-handedly. His drums make the song drive.

‘What You’re Doing’ is possibly my favourite early-Beatles drum performance. The loud beat that begins the song is perhaps what sticks in the listener’s head. In fact, that booming drum intro is what makes it one of my very favourite early Beatles songs, full stop!

And whilst Ringo wasn’t a super great singer, so many kids are introduced to The Beatles by songs he sang. The first Beatles song I heard as a small child was ‘Octopus’s Garden’. Ringo actually wrote ‘Octopus’s Garden’, with a little help from his friend George. (Pun intended.) To this day, I love the song; for the memories, that slide guitar and the drums!

And though I’ve said before that I’m not very familiar with Ringo’s solo career, there’s one of his songs that I love; ‘I’m The Greatest’.  A hilarious, satirical take on The Beatles written by John, I can’t help but smile when I listen to this song! And both John + George play on it, too, so…

And Ringo seems like a really down-to-Earth and nice guy. I mean, there’s certainly good reason behind why he’s The Beatle that everyone likes. I especially enjoyed his contributions to the Anthology documentaries, for his humour and his honesty. He’s probably the most unaffected Beatle, too – this especially shows through in the fact that he runs his own social media, something I find very cool. (His Twitter account is hilarious, by the way!) I loved reading Rolling Stone’s interview with him, earlier this year. I’m glad that he’s now been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, and getting the recognition he deserves!

So happy birthday Ringo! Peace and love! 🙂

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Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

A very suitable picture for today's post!

A very suitable picture for today’s post!

For pretty much my entire life, I’ve loved books. There is nothing quite like getting engrossed in a good read, in my opinion. And considering I write this blog, I (obviously!) love The Beatles! And one of my favourite Beatley things to do has always been to read Beatley books…

When I first got into The Beatles and knew nothing about their history, it never occurred to me to Google them for some reason. Instead, I collected (and borrowed) a mini-library of Beatley books. And that is how — along with a few documentaries and the internet (once it did finally cross my mind) — I learnt the story of The Beatles.

My Beatley library is relatively large, and grows almost every month! It includes everything from some of the best books I’ve ever read (the books below, plus a few more), and some of the worst (*cough*GeofferyGuiliano*cough*), and everything in between. So today, I thought I’d write a bit about four of my favourites — so here goes…

The John Lennon Letters (ed. Hunter Davies)

$_35

The John Lennon Letters is a must-have title. Released in 2012, the book collects nearly 300 of John’s letters/notes/drawings/cards/etc; the earliest a thank-you card from when he was ten, the latest an autograph from the 8th of December. These writings provide an invaluable insight into John’s life. Ranging from a few of the infamous Melody Maker letters from him and Paul’s 1971 feud, to a beautiful Christmas card he made Cyn in 1958, some song lyrics which he never finished on the back of a postcard, to witty replies to hate mail, the letters are anything from hilarious to heartbreaking to angry to informative and just about anything in between. They portray John as a very intelligent guy, and show what he was like behind the spotlight. Davies adds notes to put them into context and also transcribes them. This was one of the first Beatles books I read, and was how I first learnt about John!

LIFE With The Beatles: Inside Beatlemania (photos by Robert Whitaker, compiled by LIFE magazine)

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This book is somewhat large and awkwardly shaped, but it is beautiful. Robert Whitaker was The Beatles’ official photographer from 1964-1966, and among other things took the infamous Butcher Cover. LIFE compiled pretty much all of his Beatles photos and sorted them into years. And my, was Whitaker a talented photographer! Wherever they were from 1964-1966, Whitaker was there, too, and the results that ensued were amazing. As demonstrated with the Butcher cover, he clearly had a penchant for the experimental, and his photos add a fresh new photographic voice to Beatles lore. With images ranging from John staring into his own reflection at Kenwood, to John, Paul and George’s guitars sitting in Customs in 1966, from Paul + George playing with a birdcage, to The Beatles hanging out with Mick Jagger backstage at one of their Christmas pantomimes, there are some truly special shots in here. Many of the photos have anecdotes from Whitaker next to them. In short, this is a beautiful, beautiful book!

All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release (Phillipe Margotine + Jean-Michael Guesdon)

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This book is my Beatley bible. Think of it as all a more informal Mark Lewishon-style book, with prettier formatting, more information on the songwriting side of things + lots of cool photos! Right from the engaging introduction written by Patti Smith (who I’m also a fan of!), the book goes into the genesis, recording, production, technical details and (for some of the songs) related facts for each of the 213 titles in the Beatles’ discography! From this book, you’ll learn who wrote what, who played what, where each song was recorded, how many takes it took, who produced it… You’ll also read on its impressive 671 pages about what each song was written about, or who recorded it first if it was a cover, and often little anecdotes about the song, too! A photo also accompanies each song, and most of them are quite rare. The formatting is beautiful, too, and the book comes with three posters. I learnt so much from this book, and is probably one of the most informative titles in my collection!

The Beatles’ Anthology (The Beatles)

anthology

This is the mother of all Beatles books; their “autobiography”. Part of the Anthology project from the ’90s (which saw an eight-part documentary and three double albums of unreleased material released too), this book is chock full of practically everything a Beatles fan could want! Detailed interviews with Paul, George and Ringo were conducted for the project and it is through their words that the story of The Beatles is told here. John’s perspective is not neglected, either, as the researchers have found hundreds of quotes from the many interviews he gave over the years. George Martin and Neil Aspinall were also interviewed, and many other important figures in Beatles lore (such as Brian Epstein, Mal Evans and Stu Sutcliffe) also have quotes included. The book covers practically everything! Whether you want to know about Hamburg or Pepper, Shea Stadium or the rooftop concert, you’ll find it here. Not to mention that the story comes from the people who were actually involved, making it all the more valuable. Other highlights include pictures from the personal archives of each Beatle, unseen writings, and other things that add to this highly-illustrated book. A most invaluable addition to anyone’s Beatley library!

What books on The Beatles have you read? Have you got a favourite? Be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line below…

Oh, and happy birthday to Pete Townshend for May 19th! As a huge fan of The Who, he is one of my favourite guitarists, and not to even mention a really awesome songwriter! Happy birthday, Pete.

Hope you have a great day, wherever you are, and good day sunshine until next post! 🙂

Some Beatles demos/alternate takes/sessions to feast your ears on…

Taken in the Austrian Alps - made me smile :-) !

Taken in the Austrian Alps – made me smile 🙂 !

 

 Recently – whilst completing a science assignment – I decided to stop listening to Rubber Soul for the third time in a row (I still love it dearly, but I didn’t want to get sick of it – I’d debate whether that’s possible, though 🙂 …) and do some YouTubing as a means of finding something new to listen to (I don’t buy much music on iTunes – prefer it on vinyl). And under my ‘recommended videos’ thing(y) was a video containing a compilation of Magical Mystery Tour/White Album era demos. I gave it a listen, and then I found even more of these videos under ‘suggested videos’! So yeah, it did take two nights to finish my science, but I found a really cool idea for a post! I absolutely love listening to Beatles demos – I feel a little special, hearing a completely different (and often rare) version of such familiar songs that I know and love dearly. Obviously, though, not all such recordings are rare – as we all know, the Anthology project made some of these relatively well-known. So this post pays homage to those bits and pieces John, Paul, George and Ringo may or may not have wanted us to hear – enjoy!

‘The Beatles’ Home Demos: A Hard Day’s Night and Rubber Soul

‘If I Fell’: Crappy sound quality, but that is the case with most home demos (due to primitive recording equipment). I like this version, and it proves that John was good with falsetto notes, even in the early Beatles days.

‘World Without Love’: Funnily enough, my local classic hits station (what else would I listen to? Actually, I might listen to Triple J – the local indie rock station – at some point, ‘cos I like that sort of thing too) plays the Peter and Gordon version of this song all the time, but it took me a good year-and-a-half of Beatles fandom to work out it was a Lennon/McCartney (namely, McCartney) composition! Yeah – of course I knew that most (if not all) of Peter and Gordon’s songs were written by Paul ‘cos Peter was Peter Asher (Jane Asher’s brother) – but I cannot believe I did not clue on earlier. I like this version more than the original, I have to say – probably because Paul’s singing it… 🙂

‘One And One Is Two’: Never heard this song before, but it’s groovy! I like the way Paul sings it…

‘We Can Work It Out’: Ahh – back to actual Beatles songs again! I really like the folksiness of the original, but this version is still folky and still really cool. In fact, the official version of this was just on the radio (spooky!)…

‘She Said, She Said’

Although I am forever saying that I do not have one favourite Beatles song (if an ever-changing list of about 100 tunes counts, well I do), I would cite this one as top dog if my life depended on it. As I said in my ‘Favourite Beatles Song’ post, I love this song, so I find the above very, very cool! Two completely different versions from the psychedelic masterpiece that ended Side One of my favourite Beatles album (Revolver)!

Demo One: This could not sound more different than the original, but I still love it! John was still clearly working on the lyrics (He said//I know what it’s like to be dead…), and Paul appears to be with John at the time (hence dialogue at end). Writing session at Kenwood, perhaps?

Demo Two: This is my favourite out of the two. John had mostly completed the lyrics by this point, and appears to practising it. I love how the acoustic guitar sounds so trippy, even though it likely hasn’t been edited – John had a semi-acoustic (meaning he can amp it up – I, too, have one), so I wonder if he put a pedal on it, or something? I’d love to know what he put on it, if he did anything… Oh, and there is a little bit of language in this bit – such things don’t bother me in the slightest, but just thought I should cover myself.

‘Revolution’

Wow – those people who think that John is no good as a guitarist need to listen to this! That riff at the beginning is incredibly hard to play – and I should know, ‘cos I play guitar myself! And I love John’s vocals in this, too – need I say more?

‘Something’

‘Something in the way she moves//attracts me like a pomegranate!’ Ha, ha 🙂 – need I say more? Also, George and John making up more of those random lyrics…in need for another smiley 🙂 !

Oh, and I didn’t know George could sing like that! Wow, George, wow! Normally, his anyway-gorgeous voice is quite smooth and sweet, but on this, he rocks really hard! And of course, I love this song anyway – in fact, it was this that taught me that George wrote songs, too…

A Random Bloopers Reel

This one – unlike the clips above – is a medley of all sorts of bloopers, in no kind of order whatsoever. It’s very funny, though – lots of laughing (pity a certain version of ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ ain’t on there) and jokes 🙂 ! Oh, and I s’pose I should cover myself over usage of ‘language’, too – it’s mostly from Paul (naughty Paul 🙂 !)!

‘You Can’t Do That’/’Love Me Do’/’Gimme Some Truth’/’She Said, She Said’ (Get Back sessions)

Not all of the Get Back sessions were shown in Let It Be. ‘Of course they weren’t,’ you’re probably thinking. ‘Otherwise we’d have proper of footage of George leaving the band, and we’d probably also have footage of Yoko screaming sufficient enough to make us deaf.’ Well, yeah – you’re right – but what many people don’t know is that The Beatles recorded a lot more material than first apparent within that period of time – whether that be alternate versions of past songs, or the beginnings of songs that will eventually end up on solo albums. The songs I chose to post were swamped-down versions of ‘You Can’t Do That’ and ‘Love Me Do’, that sound so damn cool (!), a version of ‘Gimme Some Truth’, a song that would appear on John’s 1971 masterpiece Imagine, and that song I keep on rambling about – ‘She Said, She Said’ (+ a version of ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window), the Get Back edition. Apparently they also did ‘Norwegian Wood’ – can’t find it, though… 😦

‘I’m So Tired’…sung by Paul! Oh, and ‘Get Back’/’Yesterday’…sung by John!

Yep, I’m serious; Paul is singing a song off the White Album, which – I might add – was written about Yoko. Paul singing a love song for Yoko – hmm. As I’ve said before, I really like Yoko (excepting the screaming) and have tremendous respect for her, but we all know that Paul did not feel the same way… But anyway (who he is singing about aside), his version is really quite good. In fact, it’s really good – gives John a run for his money. At the end of the day, though, John wins for me 🙂 ! As for ‘Get Back’ – oh my God! This might just be my favourite version of this song – especially love the tempo, John’s voice and Ringo’s fills. When I listened to this to test its eligibility for this post, all I could do was stomp my foot, clap along, dance and air-guitar along – that is all I need to say… And ‘Yesterday’ – John fooling about with a famously-Paul-only song. Sure, all the Macca Maniacs will not like it at all, but I think it’s funny! By the way, videos one & two are from Get Back, too.

‘Cry Baby Cry’

As I repeatedly state in various places on this blog, my favourite Beatles songs change from day to day. But ‘Cry Baby Cry’ is a bit like ‘She Said, She Said’ – it always remains somewhat near (if not at) the top of my list. In fact, it was the first song I played on my steel-stringed guitar, and I can still remember listening to it for the first time earlier this year, and being completely blown away. I especially love the almost proto-metal electric-guitar version near the end, with John screaming out the vocals in a, well, proto-metal-type way – a complete contrast to the folky official version (which I still love). Sounds really cool however it is played, let’s just say!

‘Yes It Is’

a) ‘One, two, three, bread.’ Deserves a smiley, Johnny 🙂 ! Next time I have to do a count-in, I know what I’m going to do…

b) I know I posted the Anthology version of this song (a mash-up of takes 2 & 14) in an earlier post, but here is the complete evolution of that Beatles song that everyone sadly forgets (except those who know it, of course). I love this song (okay – I love every Beatles song, with the exception of ‘Revolution 9’ and ‘Wild Honey Pie’ – which I appreciate at the very least), so I find this absolutely fab!

‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’

‘You cheat, tangerinetrees99,’ you’re probably thinking. ‘That’s not rare at all! It’s off blooming Anthology!’ Yes, and I am well aware of that, but I really wanted it in this post. And it is an alternate version of the official, after all, isn’t it? But anyway, I swear I heard this version of ‘WMGGW’ far before I heard the White Album edition. In fact, I prefer this to the Eric Clapton guitar-god version everyone knows. I love everything about this demo – the acoustic-ness of the whole thing, the fact it is in G minor (as opposed to A minor), just – well – everything! Thank you, George, for recording such a gorgeous version of this song.

Paul sings John a very sweet tribute

Aww! How sweet of Paul? I like his versions, too – I also like what he said before he started… I won’t say too much about this one, apart from the fact that it made me a little emotional – you’ll have to watch it yourself… 🙂

So there we have it – an incredibly long post (I’ll try and be shorter next week), but I hope it was all worth it. Enjoy listening to things you may or may not have heard before – but nonetheless (whether you’ve heard them or not), it’ll make for a fab listening marathon! Hope you have a good rest of your day (whichever hemisphere you’re in), and I’ll leave you with this really funny clip of 1965 Christmas record outtakes, which I guarantee will have you hysterically laughing by the minute-mark (excusing one or two grotty jokes, that might or might not bother you – I’m in the latter, so just covering myself again… Still, it is really funny!)! Good day sunshine 🙂