Making Mixtapes: Autumn Edition

I know, I know, it's a massively-cliché stock photo... But hey! At least it's pretty!

I know, it’s a cliché stock photo… But hey! At least it’s pretty!

Late Autumn and early Winter is my favourite time of year – the searing heat of Summer turns into breezy, hazy sunshine, that soon finds itself becoming a satisfying brand of icy, crisp cold. Everything just seems so dreamy, so magical, so perfect. So maybe the climate is to blame for the fact that almost all of my favourite musical memories occur somewhere within the cooler months of the year. And considering that, in Australia, we are entering the final weeks of Autumn, I thought it would be especially appropriate to make a ‘mixtape’ of a few of these today!

‘Penny Lane’ – The Beatles

I remember the day I bought my first Beatles album (1, for the curious): it was the 10th of July, 2013. I’d never heard anything so thrilling in my short life, and I listened to it on endless repeat for the remainder of the year. The day after The Purchase, however, I was hanging out with my best friend at the time, a more seasoned Beatles fan who actually introduced me to them in the first place. We spent much of that afternoon listening our favourite songs, dancing and chanting the words we knew. I remember picking ‘Hello Goodbye’ and ‘Help!’ – and I remember that she picked ‘Lady Madonna’ and ‘Yesterday’, among others. But she also picked ‘Penny Lane’, a song I was yet to hear, then. And as I listened, there was something just so magical about the song – whether it be its surrealism or inventive band arrangement or the beautiful melody of the lyrics – something that moved me like no song had before… I couldn’t have had any idea as to how monumentally that moment would change the course of my life. I wouldn’t be a rock’n’roll fan without it.

‘Sugar Man’ – Rodriguez

I first learnt of Rodriguez – a cult musician who created quirky, psychedelic folk in the early ’70s – in April 2014, via a documentary on his life that lead to a major resurrection of his work. His discography fascinated me from the first listen – partly because it reminded me of The White Album, but also because it was ‘weird’ in a way I didn’t yet know music could be. The best-know track off Cold Fact – his debut – is a freakishly beautiful folk song called ‘Sugar Man’ – whirring synths and woodwind arrangements accompany his echoey guitar and his voice, which is only describable is incredible… At a time when I felt that listening to artists other than The Beatles equated betraying them, his music became one of my favourite things in the world.

The following Spring, I saw Rodrgiuez play in my hometown. It was my first proper gig, and what a great one it was! He still sounded incredible, and to this day I consider it one of the greatest nights of my life…

‘Sunday Morning’ – The Velvet Underground

I first heard the phrase ‘Velvet Underground’ on the night that Lou Reed died – everyone was talking about him, and though I remain mildly annoyed that I only got into his work afterwards, it was through this that I learnt of his first band. I never felt compelled to listen to them, however – that was, until, I first heard a cover of ‘Sunday Morning’ one night, in May 2014. I felt like I knew it (I didn’t), like it and I were meant to be – and it happened to be one of my mum’s favourite songs. As we listened, she told me of how The Velvet Underground had played a part in the the soundtrack of her 20’s, and she told me to go and look the original version up. The next day, I did just that, and its immense beauty captivated me – it is hard to explain in words the affect it had. The Velvets have continued to captivate, inspire and influence me ever since…

‘Lust For Life’ – Iggy Pop

In the Winter of 2014, my mum and I decided we’d listen to CDs in her car instead of the radio. So we sifted through the glovebox, and found – among the stacks of children’s novelty albums and musical soundtracks – the soundtrack to Trainspotting. We inserted the CD into the player, and soon enough, this ferocious rhythm burst out of the speakers – and then this sneering, couldn’t-care-less voice joined it all, too. ‘Lust For Life’ was dangerous, tough, fiery, in a way that I didn’t realise music could be. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the next thing about Iggy Pop, that my days of blasting ‘Search and Destroy’ and ‘1969’ at maximum volume were still years off, that I hated punk rock; I wanted to dance. I was hooked.

‘Isn’t It A Pity’ – George Harrison

By the middle of 2014, I’d officially listened to every Beatles song, so I’d begun to delve into their solo catalogues as well. One particularly cold and dark July day that year, I was sitting – or shivering, rather – in an apartment in Melbourne  when I finally decided to listen to All Things Must Pass. There was something so dreamy, so warm about the album – it was the definition of ‘ethereal’, and it seemed so bright, in contrast to the dark clouds that loomed outside my window. I was introduced to ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ that afternoon – a song that was perhaps the warmest, the most shimmery of them all, and one that I’ve loved ever since. It is the perfect song for dark, cold Winter nights…

‘Hallelujah’ – Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley’s version of ‘Hallelujah’ is perhaps the definitive late-Autumn song. The warm, twinkling beauty of the guitar and Buckley’s beyond-incredible voice seem to be the sonic equivalent of the hazy, dying heat of Australian Aprils. Like the weather, the song seems like something of magic, too. I first heard it in June or July 2014, after my guitar teacher told me about it. All I remember was how overwhelmed I was, of how I thought it sounded almost as beautiful as my favourite Beatles songs. There weren’t too many songs that made me cry, then – but this was one of them.

‘I’m Only Sleeping’ – The Beatles

It was August, 2014 when I decided, rather innocuously, that I was going to listen to Revolver one afternoon. This, of course, wasn’t an uncommon decision at the time – Revolver was my all-time favourite album, after all. So I placed it on the turntable, and I began to listen. Everything seemed perfectly normal to me – until I reached ‘I’m Only Sleeping’. I’d listened to it a thousand times before, but that afternoon I felt something I’d never felt before. I realised just how incredible, how beautiful the song – and the album – was; I became entirely overwhelmed by this immense love for the music. I’d been a music fan for a while, at that point – but it wasn’t until that day that I realised how powerful it was.

‘Waterloo Sunset’ – The Kinks

In the March of 2015, I borrowed a biography on The Kinks from a nearby library. I found their story fascinating – not always in a good way, yet endlessly interesting nonetheless. And, I mean, I’d heard ‘Waterloo Sunset’ countless times before reading the book, but I’d never appreciated it – I’d always liked their early garage ventures (‘You Really Got Me’; ‘All Day and All of the Night’) more. But as I read, I realised that Ray Davies is a certified songwriting genius, and I felt compelled to listen to it properly. And of course, I also realised how wrong I’d been to take it for granted, and by the time it was through, I’d concluded that it was among the greatest songs of our time. I do, after all, have ears…

‘The Real Me’ – The Who

I first heard Quadrophenia in the Autumn of last year. On May 19th – Pete Townshend’s birthday – to be exact… At this point in time, I was becoming a massive Who fan – I’d read Townshend’s autobiography, I’d played my CD of Tommy so many times that the fancy gatefold had started to ever-so-slightly fall apart… But Quadrophenia blew my mind like no other Who album ever had. It was ambitious, but it was also one of the greatest I’d ever heard – it was so passionate, so expertly crafted, so captivating, and oh, how I loved the brass arrangements! ‘The Real Me’ was what started it all – everything about it was so energetic, so flawlessly recorded and it made you want to dance, too. To this day, it’s my favourite Who song.

‘Miss Amanda Jones’ – The Stones

Some Kind of Wonderful – not The Breakfast Club, not Pretty in Pink – is my favourite ’80s movie. This is for a number of reasons; mainly because the protagonists are both quirky outsiders who, unlike PiP‘s Andie and TBC‘s Allison, never compromise who they are – but also for the fact that one of the characters is named after a Stones song. ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ (the song in question) is ridiculously underrated – it’s a seemingly conventional rock song on the surface, yet Keith Richards’ fuzzy guitar turns it into a darkly psychedelic freak-out. It also happens to be on my favourite Stones album, Between the Buttons. It’s the most perfect song for a movie about two people who never apologise for not ‘fitting in’ – it’s so freaky, yet it’s so great… I listened it on repeat all through the coldest, darkest Winter days last year!

‘Old Man’ – Neil Young

Like ‘Hallelujah’, Neil Young’s music is, to me, the sonic equivalent of the beauty of late Autumn. His voice, his guitar, his songwriting style all resonate with the most beautiful melancholy warmth that is so innately satisfying to the listener. Harvest is easily one of my all-time favourite albums because of this. And ‘Old Man’ happens to be one of my favourite songs, too. There’s just something about it – his achingly beautiful voice, the thoughtful lyrics, its catchiness, the exquisite guitar, backing vocals… It really is the perfect song to listen to as the final rays of sun shine on your back, as Summer draws to an end.

‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ – The Only Ones

Before the beginning of last year, I hated punk rock. But then I watched a documentary on Joy Division and decided it wasn’t so bad – and that Unknown Pleasures was amazing. But it wasn’t until I was introduced to the Only Ones that I grew to love it.

In the Winter of last year, my mum found her Only Ones album in her vinyl collection, and we decided to play it sometime. But first, we looked up ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’. I was instantly hooked. Listen to the song: the gritty power chords, the pretty melody. I decided it was one of the greatest I’d ever heard, and consequently, I finally felt compelled to listen to the punk bands that I’d read so much about. In hindsight, the Ones aren’t actually that punk (though this does nothing to diminish how much I like them). But they were an incredible gateway, and for that I owe them a lot!

‘Gloria’ – Patti Smith

I’d read a lot about Patti Smith, and of how Horses was supposedly one of the greatest albums of all time. So last July, I bought it. I wanted to see if it was really that amazing. I placed it in my CD player as soon as I had the chance – I turned it up loud, sat nearby and pressed ‘play’. The first track began innocuously enough, and it confused me; wasn’t Patti supposed to be punk? Why is it just piano chords? But then, she sang the first line: ‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.’ There are few times in my life where I’ve felt as liberated, as incredible as I did in that moment. And of course, ‘Gloria’ turned into the most incredible rollercoaster ride of poetry, bohemianism and her unique brand of minimalist rock. By the time it faded out, my life would never be the same again.

‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ – David Bowie

Funnily enough, David Bowie was one of my first musical discoveries – I became a music fan in 2013, after all, a year in which his presence was unavoidable. But it wasn’t until 2014 that I actually began to listen to him, and before August 2015, I really was only a casual fan. But the first Bowie song I loved predates that August by a couple of months – ‘Suffragette City’. I first heard it in an episode of Gilmore Girls, yet I didn’t realise how amazing it was until I listened to it minus the context of my favourite TV show. It is hard to forget how it blew my mind – how edgy and thrilling it sounded, how I couldn’t keep my feet still, how I couldn’t stop grinning for the entire duration of the song, how I couldn’t help but scream ‘Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am!’ with him. I promptly added it to my last ‘Making Mixtapes’ post (from last July), and in one draft, added that I soon hoped to become more than a casual fan of his work…

By the time I heard ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ – only a few months later – I was well beyond casual fandom. I’d seen the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition a couple of weeks beforehand, and he’d stormed into my life and almost entirely changed how I saw the world. I’d spent those weeks in a daze, so overwhelmed by his art, and I listened to him whenever I had the chance. Hunky Dory was among the first of his albums that I discovered, and there are few I love as much as it. I fell in love with ‘Pretty Things’ on my first listen – I loved the chords, and the singalong chorus, and his juxtaposition of darkly philosophical lyrics and upbeat melodies. I remember listening to it at school all the time last year, feeling cool and comfortable in myself in a way I hadn’t really experienced before. He made me realise that I didn’t have to change myself, that I didn’t have to ‘fit in’ to be comfortable in my own skin.

‘Teen Age Riot’ – Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth was first recommended to me at the end of 2014. I tried listening to them then – and I decided I liked one of their songs (‘Sunday’) but that they were too ‘weird’ for me. But as 2014 turned into 2015, and as my music taste became progressively freakier, I tried again that Winter – but this time, I adored them. ‘Teen Age Riot’ is a song prone to obsessive fanaticism, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s magical, hypnotic – as Kim Gordon chants about ‘sweet desire’ to clashing guitars, and as Thurston Moore frantically sings its lyrics to punky, noisy rhythms. It’s one of the songs that enters and changes your life so fast – one that you’ll listen to on endless repeat while chanting the lyrics by heart. It’s so unconventional, yet it’s so rewarding. I’ve proudly called myself a Youth fan ever since my first listen.

 

‘Kiss Off’ – Violent Femmes

When it was announced that the Violent Femmes were on the bill for this year’s WOMADelaide (a music festival I’ve attended every year since I was 8 or 9), my mum and I were so excited. I’ve been a Femmes fan ever since she played me their 1991 album, Why Do Birds Sing, in the Spring of 2014. But in the months that lead up to the festival, I dived deeper and deeper into their catalogue, and listened to their classic debut on constant repeat for at least a month or two… ‘Kiss Off’ was my favourite track off it, even if mainly for the frantic chant of ‘Everything! Everything! Everything!’ at the end of the bridge.

And of course, their set at the festival was every bit as amazing as I expected. I sang the lyrics to almost every song, dancing madly and raucously applauding at the end of each. I even managed to get my CDs signed by bassist Brian Ritchie afterwards!

‘Just Like Honey’ (The Jesus and Mary Chain)/’Boys Don’t Cry’ (The Cure)

For some reason, these songs are linked in my mind. I first (deliberately) heard them, back to back, while working on an assignment for my Music class a month or so ago. ‘Just Like Honey’ was first: it appeared as a ‘recommended video’ on YouTube, and I decided to listen – I’d been meaning to try the Jesus and Mary Chain for a while, after all. I had high expectations for the song, yet I couldn’t have predicted how amazing it would be: the booming drums, the guitar (so laden with gritty effects that it seemed to shimmer and twinkle), Jim Reid’s flowing voice, the melody. It was just so impossibly pretty – it sent shivers down my spine. I haven’t been able to get enough of it since!

Despite trying multiple times, I’ve never been able to ‘get’ The Smiths – so perhaps that’s why I only began listening to The Cure earlier this year. On the day that I discovered ‘Just Like Honey’, I’d only listened (yet also really liked) to a couple of their songs – so when YouTube recommended ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ after ‘Just Like Honey’, I thought I’d try it, too. I wasn’t surprised to discover I loved the song, as well – Robert Smith’s voice sounded so great, and I loved the hook that ran between the verses. I ended up singing it to myself for the rest of the day, and right now, it’s definitely among my favourite songs…

‘The Ballad of El Goodo’ – Big Star

Sometimes it takes only one song to entirely fall in love with a band’s discography. ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’ is one of those songs. I first listened to it a month or so ago, during my Art class, as the Autumnal sun poured through the window and onto my sketchbook. Its beauty entirely overwhelmed me. And it really is beautiful – the achingly exquisite guitar, Alex Chilton’s stunning voice, the dreamy backing vocals, the lyrics, the chiming, pretty melodies… It is one the most perfect songs in history. It’s just incredible.

‘God Only Knows’ – The Beach Boys

Last month, my mum and I went to see Brian Wilson perform Pet Sounds. We decided, quite literally, a few hours before, but it was certainly among the better decisions we’ve made… While we may have been sitting in the back row, and Brian’s voice mightn’t have been so great anymore, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Just knowing that the man sitting in front of the white grand piano on stage wrote one of the greatest albums of all time was enough. As one would expect, the performance of ‘God Only Knows’ was one of the greatest moments of the night – the silence, the admiration that spread through the theatre was spine-chilling. At its end, we all gave him a standing ovation – and then he told us to sit down so he could start the next song!

‘Here Comes Your Man’ – Pixies

I feel like I came to the Pixies kind of late. I was so busy obsessing over Sonic Youth that I almost forgot about the other definitive 80s’ alternative band. Yet, not too long ago, I listened to Doolittle for the first time with slightly strange expectations – I wanted it to be amazing, but I never thought it could equal Daydream Nation. But as I played it, I became more and more hooked as the album progressed – their combination of arty noise and conventional melodies fascinated me. ‘Here Comes Your Man’ must be my most-played YouTube video of late – there is something so great about Black Francis’s voice on the track, the pretty, poppy melodies in the context of, well, the Pixies… So I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since, and you know what? I reckon I like them just as much as SY!

‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ – David Bowie

Despite the fact that I’d been beyond excited about it since rumours started spreading of its existence, I didn’t listen to Blackstar on the day it was released. I’d preordered it on vinyl as soon as the chance was available, and I knew it was going to be incredible – so I decided I would wait until my vinyl arrived, so I could truly appreciate its greatness on the first listen. Of course, between its release and its arrival on my doorstep, something happened: it was announced that David Bowie had passed away. That night, a lot of things flew through my head as I tried to contend with my grief – one of these things was an incredible regret, as I’d never have the chance to listen to the album without its now-apparent context…

My copy of Blackstar arrived a week later, almost to the minute. It sat on my record player for a couple of weeks, but eventually, I worked up the courage to play it. This was a strange experience; musically, I loved it, yet I found it incredibly difficult and emotional to listen to, as well. ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’  was perhaps the pinnacle of this – it was such a great song, yet it also happened to the most melancholy on the album. Yet, I still love it. It sounds like the future, so heady and positively intergalactic – proof that Bowie will always be 20 years ahead of the rest of us. A few weeks ago, a music video was released for it. It was so beautiful – surprisingly uplifting, too – and I gained even more of an appreciation for the song. As I watched the video, it proved to me that my sadness at his passing would never lessen the incredible way his art makes me feel – it remains too powerful, too brilliant for that…

‘Perfect Day’ – Lou Reed

And so, I find myself at the beginning, again. I, too, first heard this on the Trainspotting soundtrack – yet unlike ‘Lust For Life’, it wasn’t love at first hearing. ‘It’s not as good as the Velvets,’ I remember telling my mum at the time. Yet, at some point – last year? this year? – something really changed. Because now it – a song recorded by one of my favourite artists and produced by another (Bowie!) – is among my all-time favourite. It’s so incredible, so beautiful, so moving. I’d be glad to spend any day with this song, perfect or not…

So, what are your go-to songs as the cold weather begins to set in? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

You can listen to the whole thing here!

And here’s an appropriately-themed song to finish off…

My 15 Favourite Albums on the 16th

Reading through the most recent posts of my blog post feed this morning, I found many people had participated in the #top15onthe15th tag, and listed their 15 favourite albums. And I decided I’d add my opinion to the mix, too! Of course, it is well and truly the 16th in Australia, now, but anyway… This list certainly isn’t comprehensive. My full list of all-time favourite albums would probably only fit on ten rolls of toilet paper, and narrowing it down to 15 was certainly hard! But anyway, in no particular order…

Revolver (1966) The Beatles (1968): The Beatles

Revolver the white album

Revolver is easily my favourite album of all-time. Featuring everything from dark, mysterious psychedelic rock, to a garage song with searing hot guitar, to spellbinding, well-crafted ballads, it possesses a special kind of magic. It was the album that made me realise just how special The Beatles – and music, in general – are. ‘Genius’ is oft overused, but it certainly applies here.

Compared with the perfectionism of Sgt Pepper, The White Album isn’t technically good at all. But technicality and perfectionism has never been an essential requirement in good rock music, and the album is perhaps one of the best embodiments of this. Sprawling from proto-metal to soft folk to avant-garde musique concrete to vaudevillian jazz to good-ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll, it transcends genres. Whilst it’s certainly self-indulgent in parts, this contributes to the unconventional vibe of the album. And that – its eccentricity –  is what makes it so great.

Hunky Dory (1971) & The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972): David Bowie

hunky dory ZiggyStardust

Hunky Dory is a work of musical art. Displaying Bowie’s eclectic gift for songwriting – ranging from the pop of ‘Changes’, to the flamenco-infused folk of ‘Andy Warhol’, to the music hall-inspired ‘Oh! You Pretty Things, to the glam-rock of ‘Queen Bitch’ – each song is perfection. Lyrically, the album contains some of Bowie’s best, his unique imagery and way-with-words particularly evident on tracks such as ‘Life on Mars?’ and the aforementioned ‘Queen Bitch’. Utter genius!

There isn’t a single song I don’t love on Ziggy Stardust. Bowie tells the story of a rock star who takes it all too far – subject matter rarely broached by a popular musician – with surrealist imagery, his voice (ranging from the screaming passion of ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’ to the almost-lazy tone of ‘Suffragette City’), thought-provoking lyrical matter and guitars, drums and saxes that absolutely rock. It’s easy to see why it affected teenagers so much at its original release, and why it continues to do so – myself included – today…

Tommy (1969) & Quadrophenia (1973): The Who

Tommyalbumcover quadrophenia

Tommy was my first Who album, and continues to be the one I listen to the most. Whilst its narrative is more disjointed and less plausible than that of Quadrophenia, this is definitely accounted for with the music. Containing everything from the falsetto beauty of ‘See Me, Feel Me’, to the hard rock of ‘Go To The Mirror!’, to the (successful!) ambitiousness of the album’s instrumentals, it is certainly one of the band’s best.

Quadrophenia is definitely my favourite Who album. With it, the band reached levels of emotion, passion and musical virtuosity that would be the highest they’d ever reach. The tracks are something of songwriting genius, again arguably the best of The Who’s career. And though the story is incredibly sad, it’s ability to move listeners only serves as a testament to its power and importance.

Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967): The Rolling Stones

their satanic majesties request

An unpopular opinion here: Satanic Majesties – The Stones’ psychedelic experiment – is almost universally hated, by both fans and the band themselves. And yeah – the lows are unarguably very low (‘On With The Show’, anybody?), but its highs are incredibly high, as well. From the driving hard rock of ‘Citadel’, to the baroque pop of ‘She’s A Rainbow’ and – my favourite – the hypnotic, hazy psychedelia of ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, it is moments like these that make it so good.

The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967): The Velvet Underground (featuring Nico)

the velvet underground and nico

The Velvet Underground and Nico was the first non-Beatles album to affect me, and it’s easy to see why. Incredibly edgy, yet with its share of exquisite beauty; the voices of Lou Reed and Nico delightfully nonconformist; the lyrical matter still controversial to our 21st-century ears, it was totally unlike anything I’d heard before. Ranging from out-of-tune protopunk to the prettiest ballads, it is truly a masterpiece.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967): Pink Floyd

PinkFloyd-album-piperatthegatesofdawn_300

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is – unlike the lengthy prog. rock of Pink Floyd’s later work (which, of course, are ‘gems’ as well) – is a psychedelic gem. The album patents a brand of wild, cacophonous psychedelia – heady and deeply rooted in the underground. Syd Barrett’s lyrics, too, are wonderful. Whimsical and naïve, they add a level of childlike innocence to the music. As much as I love the band’s prog era, it is – hands down – my favourite Floyd album.

The Doors (1967): The Doors

TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcover

The Doors’ self-titled debut is often regarded as their best, and my opinion is no exception. An intriguing mix of psychedelia and jazz, the music is mysterious and dangerous; Ray Manzarek’s organ, in particular, adds a layer of shimmery beauty to the tracks. And of course, Jim Morrison’s lyrics are as well-written and fascinating as usual, his voice a contrast to the trends of the time…

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970): John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

JLPOBCover

John’s first post-Beatles solo album is a stark contrast to Abbey Road, the last album the band would record together. Musically, it’s pared back to tough, basic hard rock (with a couple of exceptions); lyrically, it’s a mixture of realism, denouncement of authority and a recurring theme of his painful childhood. But it’s contrast to The Beatles is, again, what makes it such a great album. John had moved on, and he had begun to make great art on his own.

Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015): Courtney Barnett

sometimes i sit

Though only released in the March of this year, Courtney Barnett’s debut studio album quickly has become among my all-time favourites. I don’t know what it is about it – whether it be Barnett’s wonderfully witty and intelligent lyrics, her Australian accent, the music itself (a brand of grungy rock’n’roll rarely heard these days) – but it is impressively good, and will likely be listened to by indie fans alike many years from now…

Horses (1975): Patti Smith

PattiSmithHorses

I picked up Horses at a nearby record shop on a whim, a few months ago, to see if I agreed with all the accolade. I inserted it into the CD player, and turned it up loud. ‘Gloria’ began, with its serene piano chords and Smith’s famous lyric of “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine”. The music soon turned into unique arty punk, something which intrigued me. I felt a sense of liberation – maybe it was Smith’s lyrics, or her singing (which reminded me a little of my own), or her successful merging of bohemianism and punk. But anyway, I knew it was my kind of music. And I’ve loved it ever since.

Attack and Release (2008): The Black Keys

attack + release

Though The Black Keys have forever been plagued by comparisons to The White Stripes, it is with Attack and Release that they prove these claims blatantly wrong. Helped by their then-new partnership with producer Brian Burton (AKA Danger Mouse), it is the perfect mix between psychedelia, blues rock and punk, perhaps my favourite genres ever. Easily my favourite Keys album!

Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (recorded 1968, released 1996): various

Rolling_Stones_Circus

This one’s self-explanatory. There is so much to love: a John Lennon-fronted supergroup (featuring Keith Richards on bass and Eric Clapton on lead guitar) playing a searing version of ‘Yer Blues’, an electrifying Who performance of their mini rock-opera, ‘A Quick One While He’s A Way’, a set from The Stones themselves, featuring a spine-chilling slide performance from Brian Jones and a rendition of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ seven months before its release… Virtually my musical dream!

So, what are your favourite albums of all time? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

Making Mixtapes…

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

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

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

Revolver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Suffragette City’: David Bowie

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

‘Gloria’: Patti Smith

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

‘God’: John Lennon

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

‘What Is Life’: George Harrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there. Here’s the entire playlist mixtape:

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

Some more awesomely random little-known Beatles factoids…

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

(Image credit: albumorientated.wordpress.com)

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

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

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

His Majesty Prince Jones…

Rest in peace.

Rest in peace.

Today is July 3nd. On this day in 1969, around midnight, Rolling Stones founder, namer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool. He was 27.

Brian’s story is one of rock’s saddest tragedies. He was the founding Stone; he named them; he was their original “bad boy”. It was his persistence that helped them in the early days. He introduced them to the blues. But soon enough, Brian became ostracised from his band. His mental and physical health began to decline, leading to his untimely death.

Brian as a child

Brian as a child

Brian Jones was born on the 28th of February, 1942, in Cheltenham, England. He had two sisters, Pamela and Barbara. Pamela died when Brian was 3, of leukaemia.

Brian was a very intelligent kid. He had an IQ of 135. He excelled in school. Brian’s parents were both interested in music, and sent him to music lessons from an early age, translating their interest to their son.

When he was 15, Brian discovered jazz, changing him forever. He picked up saxophone and would soon begin guitar, foreshadowing his multi-instrumental genius with The Stones. He began to hang out in coffee clubs in Cheltenham, and played shows in many of them, too. His parents, however, did not approve of this.

Brian’s attitude also changed around this period. Although he had enjoyed school as a child, he grew tired of its sense of authority and conformity. He rebelled, leading to suspension on a couple of occasions. Brian’s attitude and musical passion made him somewhat of a loner. An ex from that period commented that “a lot of people didn’t understand him”. However, he still managed to get good grades, earning 9 O-levels and 2 A-levels.

Brian moved out of home at 17. He had fathered a string of illegitimate children, and — after quitting school  — spent the Summer travelling through Europe. Living on money from busking with his guitar, his cash eventually ran out and he returned to Cheltenham.

The Stones in 1962.

The Stones in 1962.

In 1962, Brian moved to London. He became entranced with the blues, and befriended musician Alexis Korner, who would stay a friend for the rest of his life. But perhaps the most defining moment of this period was when he placed an ad in the Jazz News, looking for members for an R&B band, which he named after Muddy Waters’ ‘Rollin’ Stone’. This caught the attention of two teenagers named Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. They went to see Brian play at Korner’s club, and were blown away by his magnificent slide guitar work on Elmore James’s ‘Dust My Broom’. Brian brought Mick and Keith into his band, and begun sharing a flat with them at 102 Edith Grove. After a succession of bassists and drummers — including future Pretty Thing Dick Taylor and, allegedly, future Kink Mick Avory — Brian settled on Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. The Stones were ready to become one of the biggest bands of the ’60s.

102 Edith Grove.

102 Edith Grove.

Around this time, Andrew Loog Oldham began managing The Stones with soon-to-be-ousted Eric Easton. Brian had been fulfilling this position until that point, and had been paying himself 5 pounds more for the job. The other Stones were not too pleased about this, to say the least, beginning the alienation between Brian and The Stones.

It didn’t take long for The Stones to become big. They released a few singles; adding his famous slide guitar to the Lennon/McCartney-written ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, adding some awesome harmonica to ‘Not Fade Away’. They released their self-titled debut (still a very Brian-lead affair) in 1964. However, Oldham decided that Mick would make a better “leader” of The Stones (a position also fulfilled by Brian ’till this point), and set out to make this so. And, in an attempt to equal the success of The Beatles, Oldham made Mick and Keith begin writing songs together, reducing Brian’s role in the band. (Though Brian wrote a film soundtrack, the melodies for ‘The Last Time’, ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘Under My Thumb’ and allegedly wrote ‘Ruby Tuesday’ with Keith, The Stones never recorded a song he wrote by himself.) The Oldham-Jagger-Richards troika took over from Brian as The Stones’ leader. They treated him horribly, and Brian soon became an outsider in the band he’d started. One scenario of such treatment is recounted in Paul Trynka’s excellent Brian biography: Brian was told to come into the studio to record ‘Little Red Rooster’, one day. However, he got to the studio only to discover that the other Stones had recorded their parts without him, and he was left to add overdubs. Though it was in part his fault, I feel that their treatment of him was particularly cruel and unnecessary.

Brian playing slide.

Brian playing slide.

Despite this, Brian added some simply stellar touches to The Stones’ catalogue, earning him the place as (arguably) the band’s greatest musician. He has been described by many as a bit of a musical genius. Some of his contributions include the marimba on ‘Under My Thumb’ and ‘Out Of Time’; the sitar on ‘Paint It Black’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’; the Appalachian dulcimer on ‘Lady Jane’ and ‘I Am Waiting’; the Mellotron on ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, ‘We Love You’ and ‘Stray Cat Blues’; recorder on ‘Ruby Tuesday’; saxophone on ‘Dandelion’… Not even mentioning his harmonica and slide guitar. Brian certainly had the ability to turn a good song into a classic!

Brian’s multi-instrumental-ism was not limited to The Stones, either. You know the saxophone on The Beatles’ ‘You Know My Name’? That’s Brian. It’s been argued that the oboe in ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’ is him, too. He also sang backing vocals on ‘All You Need Is Love’ and ‘Yellow Submarine’, on which he also clinked glasses. Brian was a good friend of The Beatles: he was particularly close to George, though was friendly with John and Paul, too.

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George and Brian.

However, as The Stones grew bigger, Brian’s demise began. The alienation he suffered from The Stones sent him into depression. To deal with his mental health issues, Brian started using drugs, and soon became addicted. Andrew continued to shine the spotlight on Mick + Keith and ignored Brian, which can’t have helped his already-underlying insecurity.

Around this period, Brian met Italian actress and model Anita Pallenberg. Together, they formed one of the most famous rock couples at the time, and were an icon of the blossoming counterculture. However, it was not to last. During Mick, Keith and Brian’s infamous trip to Morocco in 1967, Brian had been admitted to a hospital in France. Whilst he was gone, Keith and Anita had already begun a relationship. And when Brian rejoined the party in Morocco, Anita broke up with him and went to Keith after one too many fights. Brian was left stranded in the foreign country when Mick and Keith left unexpectedly. Already damaged, Brian’s mental health took a severe turn for the worse after the trip. And though Mick, Keith and Brian hadn’t been overly close since the 5 pound incident, they were never really friends, after Morocco.

Brian and Anita.

Brian and Anita.

By that time, Swinging London was a place of psychedelia. The Stones recorded AftermathBetween The Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Brian’s musicality is particularly evident on that trio (my favourite of the band’s work), and his skills added a certain psychedelic element to a number of tunes. Though many fans dislike Satanic Majesties, I’ve always enjoyed it for the magnificent instrumentation. Brian’s dress-sense also became quite psychedelic in this period. Always valuing style, he became a regular at the London boutiques and quickly turned into a style icon. Brian also went to Monterey Pop Festival, and introduced the Jimi Hendrix Experience, cementing his place in psychedelic history. (The title from this post is taken from The Animals’ song ‘Monterey’.)

Brian at Monterey.

Brian at Monterey.

Brian also wrote and recorded the soundtrack to A Degree of Murder, a film that Anita was in. Brian would also soon return to Morocco and record an album of the Master Musicians of Joujouka. The album would be released in 1971.

But Brian’s personal life was not getting any better. He was busted for drugs on the same night as Mick and Keith’s infamous ‘Redlands’ incident. However, though ‘Redlands’ made Mick and Keith into even stronger figures, Brian crumpled. Not long after, he was treated for a nervous breakdown. He spent a night in jail for possession and allowing weed to be smoked on his property, but was discharged with a fine and an order to seek professional help for his drug problem. Brian would be busted again, in 1968, which would be one of the final straws for his declining health.

Brian was becoming increasingly unreliable. He would turn up to the studio stoned, or in too bad a place to play — if he turned up at all. However, his mark can still be found on The Stones’ next album, Beggar’s Banquet. Arguably the best of these is his beautifully emotive slide guitar on ‘No Expectations’. In a way, the lyrics could be seen to be referring to Brian’s fall. But his guitar performance is simply amazing. It’s been referred to as his swan song.

Still, The Stones had almost completely marginalised Brian. And he’d become too depressed and addicted to add much. However, unlike the similar scenario that went on with Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett, The Stones didn’t really care. Which I find to be a horrible shame. Brian couldn’t tour legally, either, ‘cos of his possession record. On the 8th of June, 1969, Mick, Keith and Charlie went to Brian’s recently purchased Cotchford Farm (the former home of A. A. Milne), and informed him that he’d been replaced by guitarist Mick Taylor.

And just under a month later, just before midnight, Brian drowned in his swimming pool. Some say it was murder or manslaughter. Some say it was suicide. Some say it was “death by misadventure”, as his death certificate reads. Brian’s funeral was on the 10th of July. The only Stones to attend were Bill and Charlie. The band paid tribute to him at their famous Hyde Park Concert, where Mick read out ‘Adonais’ by Percy Shelley and thousands of butterflies were released in his memory.

The last pictures taken of Brian.

The last pictures taken of Brian.

In the aftermath of Brian’s death, many of his contemporaries paid tribute to him, too. Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to him at one of his performances. Pete Townshend wrote a short poem to his old friend called ‘A Normal Day For Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day’. Jim Morrison also wrote a poem titled ‘Ode To LA While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased’, and wrote a song for him called ‘Tightrope Ride’. (Ray Manzarek changed the lyrics after Jim died, so they would refer to both Brian and Jim. Ironically, he died precisely two years after Brian, also at 27.)

Brian was one of the first members of the ’27 Club’, a group of people who died at 27. (Other “club members” include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and more recently, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.) The penultimate track on The Stones’ 1972 double album Exile on Main Street, Shine A Light, was written by Mick about his demise. Brian’s referenced in the name of indie band The Brian Jonestown Massacre. And many underground musicians have referenced him in their songs, including Robyn Hitchcock, The Drovers, Psychic TV and Tigers Jaw. In a way, Brian has become an underground figure, despite his associations with one of the biggest bands on Earth.

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Brian was a very complex guy. By many accounts, he could be sweet + shy one minute, and arrogant + manipulative the next. But still, he was a wonderful musician. He also had wonderful fashion taste, and helped create a more feminine look acceptable for men. And though The Stones have rarely talked positively of him recently, many others have talked of his influence. There must be a reason why others have said nice things about him. His death is incredibly heartbreaking, and not just because a life was lost. He could have gone on to do so many great things. He could have begun a new chapter of his life. But sadly, he never got the chance. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know who Brian was (my dad’s a Stones fan), and he’s fascinated me since I was a child.

So rest in peace, Brian. We’ll never forget you.

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It was 50 years ago today…

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

All You Need Is The Beatles

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

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

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

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

The Doors

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

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

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

Pink Floyd

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

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

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

The Velvet Underground

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

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

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

The Who

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

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

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

The Rolling Stones

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

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

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

The Beatles

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

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

FAVOURITE ALBUMS: Everything Rubber Soul onwards!

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

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

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

My Beatles Record Collection Pt. 7 — ‘Magical Mystery Tour and Other Splendid Hits’

I have always loved the fish-eye lens pictures from The Beatles' brief trip to India in 1966 with a passion. And I think I may have just found my favourite!

I have always loved the fish-eye lens pictures from The Beatles’ brief trip to India in 1966 with a passion. And I think I may have just found my favourite!

And so it is the 1st of March… Happy Autumn (or Spring, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere)! In Adelaide, the month of March (or really, mid February ’till the end of March) is Festival Season. We have lots of music and arts festivals at this time of year, and it is a really awesome place to be! Tonight, I’m going to see a stage production of The Who’s Tommy (as a part of the Adelaide Festival), and next weekend I will be spending three days at WOMADelaide (a world music festival, with the best food, iced tea and shops, too!)! And in unrelated news, we are playing a Beatles medley in my school concert band! Yay! But onto the post…

‘My Beatles Record Collection’ is back — late… Sorry about that. But alas, this month I will be focusing on a The Beatles’ studio album which never really was a proper studio album — Magical Mystery TourMagical Mystery Tour was released (ironically) on December 8th, 1967, as the soundtrack to the ill-fated “film” of the same name (which I have only watched once. I didn’t hate it, but it was a bit odd…) In countries on which The Beatles were released on Parlophone, it was released as a double EP, complete with a fancy booklet and fancy packaging. But in the land of good ol’ Captiol Records (America), it was released as a full length LP along with the Beatles’ singles from ’67, because EPs were apparently “useless” at that point in time. But anyway, due to its different release methods, it is often debated between Beatles fans as to whether it should be included in the core discography or not. Ever since the ’87 remixes, EMI has included along with the core selection as a studio album as the material was never available on an actual studio album. But I am in the latter camp. Magical Mystery Tour, to me, is a Captiol compilation of a similar ilk to pretty much any Beatles album released in America before Sgt. Pepper. But oh well. As an album, some of the tracks include ‘Flying’, ‘Blue Jay Way’ (my favourite song on the album!), ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and the famous ‘I Am The Walrus’ (goo goo g’joob). I’d say it is just as mad and psychedelic as Pepper, and I love mad psychedelia! 🙂

America was not the only place to have a Magical Mystery Tour LP, however. In 1970, the same album was released in Australia, under a slightly different title of Magical Mystery Tour and Other Splendid Hits. But it was not released on Apple, or Parlophone. It was released on a label named World Record Club (exclusively in Australia, according to the back!), which was a mail-order catalogue type thing. I obtained my copy in a cool record shop in Melbourne back in July, and apparently they are quite rare!

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This is the front cover. Note how it is so different to the US/official cover which we all know so well! The picture is a still from the ‘I Am The Walrus’ scene of the film. The font of the title is different, too. But then, the actual title itself is different too, so…

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This is the back cover (obviously!). I actually like the back cover, as it makes it clear to the listener which songs are from the film, and which ones are “other selections”. I find it interesting how some quirky pieces of text which are synonymous with the original EP/LP — like the “‘No, you’re not!’ said Little Nicola” bit underneath ‘I Am The Walrus’, and the production being credited to ‘Big George Martin’ — are included on the back of this version, too! Oh, and that little star in the top right-hand corner says ‘STEREO’, by the way. By the time that MMT was released in Australia as an LP, mono had long been not used for albums. The Beatles were in fact the first popular band to utilise stereo, as far back as Please Please Me. Funny to think how all The Beatles’ albums were packed in between 1963 – 1970. Amazing…

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This is the vinyl itself! The inner sleeve is quite interesting, as it is made of quite thick, translucent plastic — as opposed to the paper or flimsier, transparent plastic inner sleeves of the Parlophone/Apple releases. You can see the WRC record label here, too. According to Wikipedia, WRC was actually owned by EMI from 1965 onwards — which would explain why the inclusion of a Beatles album in one of those mail order catalogues (they usually weren’t included).

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A close-up of the label. The actual text isn’t that different to what one would discover on a regular Beatles release label, though of course the label itself is. Apparently WRC felt a need to point out that it should spin at 33 1/3 RPM…

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And a close-up of the vinyl! It’s in really, really good condition — near mint, actually! The vinyl is still very shiny — to the point where I had to have a few goes to try and not get my iPad reflected on the vinyl! And for a record made in 1970, the vinyl is quite heavyweight. (A lot heavier than the flimsy ‘orange label’ reissues of the same time, anyway…) It plays really well, so I am pleased!

And there we go…done for another month. I am especially looking forward to doing this month’s ‘MBRC’, as it is time for a very special double album. And I am lucky enough to have an equally special pressing of this album…

Oh, and yesterday (February 28th) would have been the 73rd birthday of my favourite Stone, Brian Jones! Lately, I have been doing a lot of reading on Brian (and The Stones). Amongst other things, Brian was a huge influence on The Stones in the early days, and he was an amazing multi-instrumentalist who made many good Stones songs great. I shall write a proper post about him at some point in the future, but for now, I shall post a few pictures of him below. Happy birthday, Brian!

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I’ll go back to my normal blogging schedule next week, I think. I have a great Beatley idea which has been in the works for a very good while, and it shall see the light of day next week! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂

My Favourite Beatles Covers

The Beatles filming the promotional videos for 'Rain' and 'Paperback Writer' -- also hiding behind cellophane... The back cover of 'Revolver' is from the same group of shots.

The Beatles filming the promotional videos for ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ — also hiding behind cellophane… The back cover of ‘Revolver’ is from the same group of shots.

When I first became a Beatles fan, I hated Beatles covers more than I hated One Direction. I vehemently detested them. But as I slowly realised that I was being rather hypocritical as I was making really bad (Really. Bad.) covers myself using the Smart Instruments on GarageBand (this was before I started playing guitar), I began to appreciate good Beatles covers more and more^. And over the past few months, I’ve discovered that plenty of my other favourite artists have done Beatles covers. And now I really love listening to reinterpretations of some of my favourite songs! I decided today that I would compile a list of my favourites, an idea I’ve had for a while, and so here it is. I’ll start off with my favourite Beatles cover of all time…

‘She Said, She Said’ — The Black Keys

This gem came off The Black Keys’ — made up of Dan Auerbach (guitar and vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums) — very first album, The Big Come Up, which was released in 2002. (The album was recorded in the basement of the house that Carney rented, by the way.) ‘She Said, She Said’ is my favourite Beatles song, and I love how the Keys turn the psychedelic masterpiece into a wonderful bluesy rocker. The guitar is amazing, and Auerbach’s distorted vocals match the style very well. This was also the song that introduced me to The Black Keys in the first place, so I have two things to thank it for! This is not the first time the Black Keys have been mentioned on this blog, and it certainly won’t be the last…

‘Run For Your Life’ — Arcade Fire

This is a live cover, but it’s still damn good, in my opinion. It highlights the heaviness of the original (something which isn’t really shown all that much) and they really rock it. Well done, Arcade Fire. (Arcade Fire are an indie pop/rock band from Canada, by the way. They rose to notoriety with their first album, Funeral, though I think the 2010 The Suburbs is their best.)

‘I Saw Her Standing There’ — Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes

Sort of a bluegrass reinterpretation of the first song off The Beatles’ first album, I really like this cover. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (an indie folk band from Los Angeles) covered this song as a part of an album titled Beatles Reimagined. As with The Black Keys’ cover of ‘She Said She Said’, Edward Sharpe’s (a.k.a. Alex Ebert) voice really lends itself to the style of the cover. A job well done, I must say.

‘Oh! Darling’ — Florence and the Machine

I found this cover whilst bumbling around YouTube one day, and it’s really good! Florence and the Machine stay quite faithful to the original, but Florence Welch’s amazing voice gives the song an entire different feel. The lead guitar runs with that awesome reverb are also really enjoyable… 🙂

‘Hey Bulldog’ — Dave Grohl

This cover came out of a certain Grammys tribute from about a year ago (was it really that long ago?!), and this is definitely my favourite cover to originate from the night. Dave and the backing band really rock one of my favourite Beatles songs out really hard. Those drums, the guitar, the keyboard… It almost could be a Foo Fighters song!

‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ — The Breeders

The only Breeders song I’ve heard is this particular cover, but it certainly makes me want to go and check out more of their stuff! This cover gives the song a more grungy feel, though — as with Florence and the Machine — still stays quite close to the original. And a female singer! Yay!

‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ — The Stones

Is this really a cover, or is it not? Of course, John and Paul wrote it, but The Stones released the song first. For the purpose of this list, I’ll call it a cover. But anyway, The Stones’ version of this song has the distinction of being the only Beatles cover I prefer to the original, though The Black Keys’ cover is my favourite cover. (Sorry, Ringo.) That really awesome slide guitar shows how good a lead guitarist Brian Jones was. (I wish I could play like that!) And Mick Jagger’s vocals are completely wild. Really groovy version. (This was also the song that gave The Stones their first hit. George recommended them to Decca after good ol’ Dick Rowe of the same record company told Brian Epstein a couple of years earlier, ‘Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr Epstein…’ Hmm… No comment.)

And finally, the last cover…

‘Dear Prudence’ — Siouxsie and the Banshees

I have many music-related things to thank my mum for. (Introducing me to The Velvet Underground and The Violent Femmes would be two examples.) This cover is another example. Almost a year ago, I was listening/playing ‘Dear Prudence’, and Mum remembered that Siouxsie and the Banshees had covered it. We played the cover on YouTube. I believe it was the first Beatles cover I ever liked. So thank you, Mum!

And so here we go! Got any other Beatles covers you like? Feel free to use the comments section below! And ’till my next post, good day sunshine! 🙂

^ Of course, there are still some really bad ones — not mentioning any names, *cough*OneDirectionJustinBieberMileyCyrusblahblah*cough*…

My Beatles Record Collection Pt. 3 – ‘Beatles For Sale’

As pretty much everyone in Australia knows, The (Rolling) Stones played Adelaide Oval last night, so I will post this picture in commemoration. We were actually in the CBD last night to see a movie, and thanks to my dad driving past The Stones' venue, we got to hear them play 'Honky Tonk Women'. Not my favourite Stones song, but there's no denying it sounded good live.

As pretty much everyone in Australia knows, The (Rolling) Stones played Adelaide Oval last night, so I will post this picture. We were actually in the CBD last night to see a movie, and thanks to my dad driving past The Stones’ venue on the way home, we got to hear them play ‘Honky Tonk Women’! Not my favourite Stones song (by a long shot), but there’s no denying it sounded good live.

It’s that time of month again! Time for another installation of ‘My Beatles Record Collection’! And this month, it’s [insert signature Ringo drum fill]…Beatles For SaleBeatles For Sale was The Beatles’ fourth studio album, and was the last to comply by the covers/originals formula that also went for Please Please Me and With The Beatles (though both Help! and Let It Be included covers as well). It was also The Beatles’ first gatefold album (and must have been one of the earliest examples of such packaging), and is the first album on which one can really hear The Beatles start to mature. Bob Dylan’s influence on the group (especially John) is particularly evident, and the bulk of John’s first explorations of confessional lyricism (he was suffering from depression at the time) can be found on this album. The UK cover/back cover are actually two of my favourite pictures of the group (the latter can be found on my school book labels!), but sadly the cover butcherers also known as EMI Australia decided to ruin the cover here. Not many people rate this album particularly highly, but I beg to differ. Some of my favourite Beatles songs are on this album! But onto vinyl…

I have a couple of dream vinyl purchases. Y’know, a numbered White Album, that sort of thing. And one of the things on my dream list is a UK first-edition Beatles For Sale. But sadly, it is exactly what the list suggests — a dream (at the moment). My copy of Beatles For Sale is much like my A Hard Day’s Night — a ’70s “orange label” repressing. With the Australian cover (which means no gatefold). But oh well. I only got it for about 30 bucks (plus sale discount), and it was definitely 30 bucks well spent! The vinyl doesn’t play as well as some of my other records, but there are no skips and the crackle (most of which probably comes from our record player) is bearable. Here are some pictures:

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Here is that dreadful Australian cover. Apparently the images are from one of the band’s Sydney concerts. On second thoughts, the cover isn’t that bad — it just looks quite ‘yick’ compared to the beautiful British one! It is pretty bad, though, as far as Beatles covers go. I can see why John complained to EMI. (Still better than any One Direction album cover! Hee hee!) My cover actually needs a glue job, ‘cos the original glue across the top edge has perished. A job for me at some point, I s’pose.

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The back of the record. A similar kind of thing (the sleeve notes, the track listing, the title and the picture) appeared in black on the left side of the British gatefold sleeve. As you can see, there are no backflaps, and if you look carefully, you can see the record is in stereo (like all other Beatles re-releases of the time). The picture is actually quite outdated, if you think about it. It appears to be A Hard Day’s Night era, and The Beatles had ditched the suits and had grown their hair a bit since then. I quite like it, though.

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Here’s the really interesting thing about the cover — not specific to the Australian version, but who cares. And what is that thing, you ask? Why, Derek Taylor’s sleeve notes! Especially this quote…

It isn’t all currency or current though. There’s a priceless history between these covers. None of us is getting any younger. When, in a generation or so, a radio-active, cigar-smoking child, picnicking on Saturn, asks you what the Beatle affair was all about – ‘Did you actually know them?’ – don’t try to explain all about the long hair and the screams! Just play the child a few tracks from this album and he’ll probably understand what it was all about. The kids of AD2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today.

And Derek Taylor must be psychic! Well, he got the Saturn bit wrong (that’ll probably happen in AD3000!), but the bolded sentence is truer than ever. Yes, the kids of AD2000 do draw the same sense of well-being and warmth as they did in the ’60s. And not just 2000. The children of the 2010s do to. And I bet you that the cycle will continue on forever. ‘Cos that is the reality of priceless music.

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Here’s a picture of the LP with the cover. As you can see, it’s an “orange label” version (most likely late ’70s), and like all Australian pressings (including firsts — I actually have a first-edition Australian), it comes in a plastic sleeve, as opposed to the paper ones found in UK pressings.

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And here’s Side Two of the LP. Very good condition — not a scratch! It crackles a lot, though, ‘cos it’s so thin and our record player is about as old as The Beatles’ albums. I love our record player dearly, though. Probably my favourite piece of furniture (it’s a proper stereogram) in the house.

And there you go! ‘My Beatles Record Collection’ done for another month. Stay tuned in particular for the next four months, ‘cos many of my more interesting and rare and valuable pieces will feature.

Last night, I went to see a wonderful Spanish film called Living Is Easy (With Eyes Closed). The film (named after a line in ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is about a Spanish teacher called Antonio who is an obsessive Beatles/John fan. When he hears that John is filming How I Won The War in Almeria, he makes a trip out there from his town. On the way, he picks up two teenage hitch-hikers, and the film is basically about their adventures and Antonio’s many plans for meeting John. As long as you don’t mind reading subtitles, I highly recommend it! Google it for more information.

AND IMPORTANT NEWS FOR AUSTRALIAN READERS: A HARD DAY’S NIGHT IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA! Yay! After I thought for so long that it wouldn’t. AHDN is screening in its beautiful remastered glory as a part of the British Film Festival. If you’re Adelaidean like me, it’ll be on at the Palace Nova Cinema on November 9th at 7:30pm. Check the Film Festival’s website if you live elsewhere. But anyway, we’ve already got tickets, and I’m really excited! If you’ve been reading since the beginning, you’ll know how much I wanted to see the film on the big screen, and now I have the chance! I’ll be sure to write all about it after I’ve seen it. I guess last night will go down in my mind as the night I saw a fabulous film, found out A Hard Day’s Night was coming to Australia and heard The Stones play live.

And this Wednesday is the Rodriguez concert! I, too, am really excited about that! My first big concert! Yay! I’ll write all about it next weekend. But for now, good day sunshine! 🙂