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!

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!

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! 🙂

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!

HAPPY (slightly belated) BIRTHDAY PAUL McCARTNEY!

One of my favourite pictures of Paul, as taken by the Lovely Linda... (Image credit: iwasdreamingofthepast.blogspot.com

One of my favourite pictures of Paul, as taken by the Lovely Linda…
(Image credit: iwasdreamingofthepast.blogspot.com)

As you probably know, Sir James Paul McCartney turned 73 a couple of days ago, on June 18th! Happy birthday, Paul! I did mean to post on the day, but I’ve been quite busy with end-of-term assessments, so sorry ’bout that. I haven’t really written all that much about Paul, so today is my chance to muse on all things McCartney…

I’m not much of a Paul person. John has always been my favourite Beatle, and George a close second. And everyone likes Ringo. When it comes to songs, I’ve always found the songs that John and George wrote more appealing to my ears than Paul’s. I’ve always found a majority of his songs to be a little too much on the poppy side for me.

But regardless of the fact that I’m more of a John-and-George gal, I think that Paul is an extremely talented guy! There is no doubt that he is one of the best songwriters ever. Not only is he one half of Lennon/McCartney,  a number of his post-Beatles songs are also certified-classics for very good reason.

Most of my favourite McCartney-penned compositions stem from The Beatles era. Especially from Rubber Soul onwards, Paul was an amazing songwriter. Penning everything from screaming proto-metal rockers to the softest of folky ballads, he was something of a songwriting genius! He definitely deserves the many accolades he receives for his work.

(‘Helter Skelter’) ‘Helter Skelter’ is recognised by most music fans to be one of the first heavy metal songs ever. And whilst I’m not really a fan of the genre in its modern state, I absolutely love this song! The song incorporates Ringo’s thrashing drums, completely awesome guitar performances from Paul and George, a rockin’ bass from John and a screaming vocal performance from Paul! There has been more than a few interpretations of the song over the years; John claimed it was about a, well, helter skelter (an essential part of English fairgrounds), Paul said the helter skelter symbolised “the fall”, and we all know what Charles Manson thought… The song has since become a pioneer of all things hard rock, and is also one of my very favourite Beatles songs!

(‘Blackbird’) And now to the complete opposite… In my opinion, ‘Blackbird’ is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Paul’s solo voice accompanying his fingerpicked guitar and his tapping foot (and later, some blackbird sounds) is perfection, in my opinion. Paul’s lyrics in this song are some of his best, I think; they are supposedly about the Civil Rights Movement in America. My favourite bit about this song, though, is the guitar. It’s gorgeous. And even after months of trying to play it, I still can’t play it properly… 😉

(‘I’m Looking Through You’) Paul’s songs on Rubber Soul are all super-cool, and this is one of my favourites. Ever since I first listened to the album, ‘I’m Looking Through You’ has always stood out. Whether it be Paul’s great vocal performance, John’s rhythm guitar part, George’s lead guitar part or Ringo’s organ (!) or the folk-rock feel, this song is just all-round great. I particularly like the mono version of this song, as the outro is a little longer, and I especially love the outro…

(‘Here, There and Everywhere’) For me, it’s easy to see why this song was one of both John’s and Paul’s favourite Beatles songs – for it’s one of my favourite Beatles songs, too! This song is simply beautiful. Paul’s vocals are sung gorgeously, and the backing vocals are simply hypnotic! I also love Ringo’s bass-y drums, and the rhythm guitar is great. An all-round perfect song…

(The Abbey Road Medley) This is what I like to refer to as Paul’s masterpiece. Taking up most of Side 2 of Abbey Road, the Abbey Road Medley is nothing short of a masterpiece. Beginning with the epic 4-part ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, and ending with the philosophical musings of ‘The End’ or brief ‘Her Majesty’ (depending on who you ask), you’ll hear about everything from a few rpgue “Apple Scruffs” climbing through Paul’s bathroom window to a grouchy old guy who sleeps in a hole in the road. Each song is carefully merged into each other by Paul and George Martin, and stylistically, it ranges from raw rock’n’roll to delicate orchestral pop. A perfect final note that will be remembered as one of the most innovative things ever released.

And now for Paul post-Beatles… I’m not a huge fan of Paul’s solo career. However, I’ve since found that there are a whole heap of great songs that Paul wrote after the breakup of The Fab Four, too! Last post, I mentioned my penchant for both ‘Call Me Back Again’ and ‘Dear Friend’. And I think I’ve mentioned my like of ‘Another Day’ and ‘Mrs Vandebilt’ before, too. So here are a couple of songs from Paul’s solo career that I particularly enjoy…

(‘Too Many People’) Despite the fact that the whole song basically denounces John and Yoko, this is one of my favourite Paul songs. Musically. I particularly dig that killer lead guitar, and Paul’s vocals are also great! The acoustic guitar is also awesome. In fact, this is an all-round awesome song, apart from the lyrics.

(‘Band On The Run’) And I’ve always loved this song! I love how it has three parts, and each of them are contrast each other so much. My favourite is the middle part — the rockiest part. I also really love the guitar riff that runs through parts 1 + 2, and it’s one of my favourite things to play. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this pop up in the middle of 2014 film Boyhood, which is my favourite movie at the moment.

(‘Maybe I’m Amazed’) This song is amazing. Pun intended. Paul’s vocals are raw and emotional and just wonderful! And I’ve always been a fan of his piano work in this song. It’s one of Paul’s best known songs, and for very good reason.

And of course, Paul is an amazing musician. It’s a well-known fact that he is one of the best bassists ever. Many Beatles songs featured extremely inventive bass lines due to his genius. My favourites include ‘Dear Prudence‘, ‘The Word‘, ‘Hey Bulldog‘, and ‘Drive My Car‘. Paul is my favourite bassist, along with John Entwistle of The Who.

Other examples of Paul’s musical prowess can be found within some of his lead guitar lines. The solo in ‘Taxman‘ is one of the best examples, and as a guitarist, I find it truly amazing! Paul also played some great breaks on ‘Another Girl‘, ‘The Night Before‘ and (along with John and George) ‘The End’. Paul was also the first Beatle to play an Epiphone Casino guitar, and as the proud player of such a model, I’m very thankful for that. I also very much like Paul’s piano skills, which can be heard on songs such as ‘Let It Be‘, ‘Hey Jude’ and parts of ‘A Day In The Life‘.

And so, happy birthday Paul! As a musician, I find your musical skills absolutely amazing. Thanks for all the wonderful songs! tangerinetrees99 🙂

And now for one more tune…

10 Underrated Songs From The Beatles’ Solo Careers

Image credit: ultimateclassicrock.com

Image credit: ultimateclassicrock.com

You could say that The Beatles’ solo work, as a whole, is underrated. So much media attention is directed towards The Beatles as a whole, and very deservedly so. But the music that each former member created after they split is somewhat overlooked by the general public.

But that’s not to say that The Beatles’ solo careers don’t get attention, too. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hadn’t heard the opening bars of piano of ‘Imagine’, or the slide guitar fills of ‘My Sweet Lord’, or the screaming vocals of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. But even with this, there are so many great songs from The Beatles’ solo careers that are very under-appreciated. So today, I thought I’d dedicate a list to a few gems in each Beatle’s solo career that I think don’t get enough attention. So in no particular order…

‘How?’ (John Lennon)

John’s pretty piano ballads make up a fair amount of his best-known songs: ‘Imagine’, ‘Love’, ‘Jealous Guy’, etc. But ‘How?’ never seems to quite get the same amount of accolades. Situated near the end of the Imagine album, the piano chords delicately land on the beats, and the violins add a beautifully shimmery extra layer. John’s vocals are also particularly delicate, suiting the overall dainty feel of the song. And like many of John’s songs from the time, the lyrics are quite personal and contemplative, as they were inspired by his Primal Scream Therapy. One of John’s prettiest songs!

‘Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’ (George Harrison)

George wrote this song about his house, Friar Park, which he purchased early in 1970. The house was originally built in 1898 by a guy called Sir Frank Crisp, hence the title of the song. I think ‘Ballad’ has some of George’s best lyrics; within each verse, the listener is taken around Friar Park and surrounds. Spanning rooms, and gardens, and fountains of perpetual mirth, the words are witty and (like a lot of his songs) spiritual and just gorgeous! The song is wonderful from a musical aspect, too. Laden with reverb and slide guitar and jangly instruments, the song has a beautifully ethereal, dreamy sound to it. In fact, it’s dreamy, full stop!

‘Call Me Back Again’ (Paul McCartney & Wings)

Buried on the second side of Venus and Mars, I came to ‘Call Me Back Again’ after hearing it on iTunes’ free solo-Beatles EP last year. It has since become one of my favourite Paul solo song, and for good reason! Paul’s vocals scream out of the speakers, for one. The saxophones featured prominently in the song are pretty awesome, too. I’m particularly loving the lead guitar, too, which is wonderfully intricate and cool. A great song!

‘Well, Well, Well’ (John Lennon)

There are so many reasons why I think this song deserves way more attention. First of all, John’s guitar is amazing; laden with crunchy distortion and an almost-punk sensibility, it’s wonderful! Same goes for Klaus Voorman’s bass performance and Ringo’s drums. They, too, put on an amazingly rocking show! John’s lyrics talk of spending time with Yoko — of going to dinner with her, of their involvement in political activism. And John’s vocal performance is stunning; in the latter half of the song, he howls confrontationally over the grungy instrumentation. It’s not for everyone, but in my opinion, ‘Well Well Well’ is one of John’s best songs.

‘I’d Have You Anytime’ (George Harrison)

The opening track of George’s masterpiece, All Things Must Pass, George wrote this song with Bob Dylan in late 1968. (Harrison and Dylan wrote a number of songs together during this period.) Their lyrics muse on the friendship that had blossomed between the two, and George sings them in his typically sweet voice. I think that George’s slide guitar performance on the track is one of his very best; beautifully emotive and perfect. His choice of chords is very interesting, too. In my opinion, ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ is a beautiful song!

‘New York City’ (John Lennon)

‘New York City’ is the fifth song on Sometime In New York City, an album I would argue is completely underrated, full stop. And it’s a gloriously rockin’ song! I love the piano and John’s guitar and it has a wonderfully rough sound. John’s lyrics are what makes the song for me, though. A witty recount of him and Yoko’s move to New York, and all the people and troubles that they crossed along the way, I especially like the lyrics! An unfairly underrated rocker that’s pretty awesome, in my opinion.

‘Isn’t It A Pity (Version 2)’ (George Harrison)

Whilst Version 1 is also underrated, Version 2 of ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is extremely under appreciated, probably because it’s “version two”. The song plays host to one of my favourite guitar performances from George ever, and the organ is also just dreamy! And of course ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is a great song, anyway. George’s slightly sad lyrics are lifted up by the music, which — in typical Harrison style — is simply beautiful!

‘Dear Friend’ (Paul McCartney & Wings)

This song is heartbreakingly beautiful. Possibly Paul’s most beautiful song (in my opinion), his voice accompanies piano in such a sad yet gorgeous way. Paul’s lyrics are also atypically emotional and personal. He wrote them in response to the war-of-words that had surrounded his friendship with John since the late ’60s, and he sings them in such a vulnerably-gorgeous way. A wondrous song.

‘I’m The Greatest’ (Ringo Starr)

Not being super familiar with Ringo’s solo catalogue, I’m perhaps not the best person to select one of his more underrated songs. But I feel that this song never gets enough attention. Written by John, the song is a satirical take on the history of The Beatles and Ringo’s life, and it never fails to make me smile! Ringo, John and George played on the track, too, which makes it a Threetles song, which is a plus! An awesomely funny song!

What Beatles solo songs do you think are underrated? Be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line…

Hope you’re having a great day, and good day sunshine ’till next post! 🙂

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! 🙂

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)

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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! 🙂