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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My Beatles Record Collection Pt. 8 – ‘The Beatles’ (aka The White Album)

Last year, there was an awesome art installation made up entirely of hundreds of White Albums. I didn't get to see it (I don't think it came to my city), but it looked really cool...

Last year, there was an awesome art installation made up entirely of hundreds of White Albums. I didn’t get to see it (I don’t think it came to my city), but it looked really cool…

For Part 8 of this series of posts, it is only fitting that the Beatles album released in 1968 is the focus. That album being, of course, a very famous double album. It’s called The Beatles. But most call it the White Album! The White Album is one of The Beatles’ most well-known releases, and is famous for its unconventional, inconsistent musical style and its nearly-all-white cover. It made number 10 on Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’,and number 4 on my ranking of The Beatles’ albums last year. (If I redid the ranking, though, it would probably make number 2 now!)

Apart from arguably being the weirdest album in the history of music (in the absolute best way possible!), The White Album is famous for a few other things. The sessions for the double album marked the first time that the relationship between The Beatles became particularly strained. John, Paul and George would often inhabit three separate studios in Abbey Road, each doing their own separate overdubs for their own separate songs… Ringo quit the band for a few of the early sessions, but was convinced to return by the other three. A few songs on The White Album also “inspired” Charles Manson and his “family” to commit the despicable things that they did… (But that was by no means The Beatles’ fault. It is truly horrible that the wonderful songs that Manson chose to associate himself with will forever be stained by his actions.) Oh, and it includes ‘Revolution 9’. However, the album was one of the earliest rock double albums. It also contains some of the (arguably) greatest songs ever, like the proto-metal of ‘Helter Skelter’, the tender and beautiful ‘Julia’, ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘Blackbird’, the Eric Clapton solos of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, the satire of ‘Piggies’ and ‘Glass Onion’, the first Ringo-penned tune (‘Don’t Pass Me By’), and the all-round awesomeness of wonderful songs like ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Yer Blues’, ‘I’m So Tired’… Not a bad piece of work, boys!

The White Album is also famous for its packaging. The cover is almost completely white, with the band’s embossed name being the only graphic on the front cover. That is, unless, one has a first-edition White Album. Then one would also have a number on the front, telling them what number White Album they own. Numbered WAs are particularly coveted by collectors… Original pressings also included four head-shots of each band member, and a poster with a collage of Beatles pictures on one side and the lyrics for every song. These posters were originally censored, as pictures of John and Paul naked are included on the uncensored version…

My White Album is my only other first-edition Australian vinyl (along with Revolver). In my opinion, two wonderful pleasures in life are listening to those albums on first-ed vinyl… But anyway, here is my White Album!

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Okay. Perhaps my White Album should really be called the White-with-a-coffee-stain Album. Its previous owner/s clearly mistook it for a coaster… Much like my Revolver, the cover is particularly tattered. Not that I care, though. If you look closely, you can see the embossed ‘The BEATLES’ logo. And if you look even closer…

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YES! I have a numbered White Album! I have the the 26,357th Australian White Album made. In Australia, the very early White Albums were numbered with the prefix ‘A’. Numbering went up to about the 3,000,000th WA, too. So I have a relatively low number! Due to the bad condition of the cover, it only cost me $30 AUD. And all the other numbered White Albums I have seen around here have been over 1,000,000 numbers higher. So tangerinetrees99 is a very, very lucky girl!

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This is the top of the back cover. The back cover is completely white, except for that little ‘STEREO’ stamp in the top right-hand corner. Australian stereo White Albums were made in the US, so it is slightly less rare than the UK-made Aussie mono pressings (which apparently only sold around 5,000 units). But I really don’t care!

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This is the gatefold of my album. As you can see, the spine is falling apart, sadly. On the left-hand side of the gatefold, the track-listing is written down in grey text. And on the other side, the head-shots that would have originally come with the album are pictured in black-and-white. My White Album would have originally come with the poster and headshots, but these have been lost somewhere before it reached me… Oh well!

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(The track-listing. What is your favourite song on the White Album? Tell me in the comments!)

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(The headshots!)

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These are the inner sleeves of the two discs. Again, I’m a very lucky girl, as they are the original inner sleeves! As you can see, the sleeves were originally black, probably as some kind of ironic joke! They are falling apart, but I don’t care! They still do a good job of keeping the vinyl protected…

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These are the discs, themselves. The White Album was the first proper Apple Corps release in Australia, as the ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’ single was released on both Apple and Parlophone, here.

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And a close-up of Side 1. As you may be able to see, the discs are severely scratched. But they play surprisingly beautifully! Really. Beautifully. The scratches are light enough so that the needle doesn’t skip, and though it crackles a bit, our record player crackles a lot, full stop. There is nothing quite like listening to The White Album on first edition vinyl. It really is an album that needs to be played loud through a good sound system, on an originally-pressed vinyl. Just the way The Beatles intended…

And there is my copy of my second-favourite Beatles album! Next month, I will return with one of the very last studio albums in the series…

Hope you all have a great Easter break! Tomorrow, I’m going to a music festival, which should be heaps of fun… And I’m now on school holidays! Yay! You should be seeing me a little more ’round here than usual. But ’till next post, 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 🙂