they just play it like that…

So sometimes just to feel better it’s good to not put on the tv and play The Beatles. Especially the Yellow Submarine Songtrack.

There something about Beatles compilations. It distorts the view of the band and it’s output when your faced with nothing but classics. Of course maybe that’s all there is classics.

I grew up on Saturday reruns of The Beatles cartoon and my mum singing along to songs that were often written before I was born. Although in my opinion the better songs were written after my birth. This obviously means I am responsible for the change in direction the Beatles took in the second half of the 60s. Just saying.

Yes I found this in the estate sale as well.

he’s as blind as he can be…

There once was a magic moment when the early sixties had not changed into the later sixties and all the hedonism and smelliness of hippiedom had not manifested.

I remember somewhere in first, second or third year secondary school getting into a stand up shouting argument with Galvin that The Beatles were not stinky hippies like the Byrds. Both these bands had not been around for a reasonable amount of time, For one of them at least eight years, I think the Byrds hung on for longer. The argument was so intense we ended up in weekend detention where we both discovered The Clash provided through a cassette Galvin’s brother had given him. It was 1978 after all and we were a little behind the times on some level.

IMG_3217.JPGMy major argument in defending The Beatles was based on Rubber Soul managing to be both psychedelic and a great pop record. I don’t remember the argument but I damn well stand by it.

At some point in the next year or two it became impossible to admit in public a love for The Beatles. They were not hip anymore according to the the late 70’s early 80’s influencers of Kerrang, NME Melody Maker and Sounds. They had become less than influential. Punk and glum men form Manchester were in, paisley was out and long overcoats and floppy unkempt hair were all the go, along with patched denim and skin tight jeans depending on were your loyalties lay.

I am also sure that some of this denial was based on the search for a date, girls were not we were all sure into digging into musical history. I am sure this bias caused many a promising date to be missed as well.

Rubber Soul was my mums favorite Beatles album, she never explained why but she could sing every word without the record playing as she ironed or cooked dinner. I think it was something to do with being the end of a Beatles era. She had seen them at The Cavern, in New Brighton, all over town she said. They were her youth, her and my dad were however too settled to follow them past Rubber Soul seriously. 1965 was the last year they didn’t have a child. I am sure by the time Revolver came along they were too busy working and figuring out how to raise me. Rubber Soul therefore become my mums last Beatles album she bought and heard when it came out. It was the end of the Beatles in her record collection as well apart from the Red and Blue albums, she had every album and single up to that point, after that she was content with the collections.

Rubber Soul for me therefore is the album when The Beatles went on to transform music in some way, leaving my parents behind to raise a child and work. It’s a divergence, of course great things were to come.

For me it is also how I discovered The Clash and their ilk. At times had to keep my love for punk secret as it did not go with my NWOBHM pals.

“Im looking through you, you’re not the same.”

 

when the sun shines…

I bought this album for one song.

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Yes obviously there are other great songs on this like well all of them not to put it too lightly. It was 99c and a little crackly but that adds to the charm I am sure you will agree. Even Lady Madonna is good.

Rain by the Beatles is one of the greatest moments in psychedelic music on any continent. There is backward stuff, snappy snare drums, wacky lyrics and nasally vocals, it’s a fun filled ode to rain.

I have nothing more to say than it is almost as essential as Tomorrow Never Knows in the world of perfect psychedelia.

You can imitate everyone you know…

So in a fit of Anti-Pepper, not the best album The Beatles made and not the start in any shape or form of the concept album, and it misses all the good songs off for second division filler, sentiment. I bought the Beatles albums missing from the collection in pretty new remastered versions. Rubber Soul, Revolver, The White Album and Let It Be. I deliberately avoided Sgt. Pepper in self righteous indignation at all the posters telling me I should get it. I strolled out of the store having claimed my 30% off the purchase and felt pretty good about myself in not succumbing to the pressure to buy the 50th anniversary one.

So on to this:

The unpopular last released album.

The contentious recording process, the awkward movie. The arguments about production. Did Phil Spector really ruin the album?

The geek in me wants to make all sorts of clever points. Scratch my beard and frown meaningfully and decide that one of the Get Back acetates is really the best version, or McCartney’s Let It Be Naked is the true classic.

The irony of an album that was supposed to be a return to some sort of semblance of live performance has become to be regarded as one of the most overproduced albums appeals to me.

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I have to admit though this is the Let It Be I grew up with, it is in fact one of my favorite Beatles albums, even the saccharine strings and choir on the Long and Winding Road are  essential to the listening experience, anything else is not right. Yes it is a patchwork album in feel, it never quite flows right and yet it flows exactly as it is supposed to do at the end of the day.

Also any album that has Get Back, Across the Universe and Let It Be on is a pretty good album as far as I can tell. Two of Us, Dig a Pony and I Me Mine are not too shabby either.

I found myself thinking as I listened to this newly bought version, as it’s cheaper than any original I could find, what a strange game listening to records has become. Is it the right pressing, is it mastered correctly is it remastered, what is the source tape, analog or digital and who cut the album. I have to admit it’s great fun and appeals to the inner geek. I do however long sometimes for the days when I was just happy to find a copy that I could afford new or used. Of course in the bad old days we only had one way of listening to records and our choices were limited and the word audiophile was reserved for those strange bearded men in the stereo store buying equipment we didn’t know what to do with.

To be honest after years of abuse at live shows I don’t think my ears can really tell some of the differences others claim to hear in all these exotic pressings. I like to listen to records because they are funner and I can read the lyrics and the sleeves are easier to enjoy. It’s also gratifying to see the jealous look my children give the shelves as they plot how they will split the legacy when I am gone.

Full disclosure. I got guilty when I got home and ordered the damned Sgt. Pepper album. I then felt better knowing the collection was complete in some way, I did not however get the super deluxe fab new version remixed, remastered and rewound. I got the mono version but now I think I may need the other…

 

What does it matter to ya???

On we go with the mammoth task of listening to Wings Over America. Being from Liverpool you seem to be expected to have committed the entire Beatles colleague to memory by age 4, living in the USA you are expected to personally know at least one Beatle. I have a huge affection for my home town band, like my insane commitment to the team in red from home and a grudging respect for the blue team. albert dockThe site of a Liver bird brings tears to my eyes and I swell with pride when I arrive in the city of my formative years. I have a working knowledge of the Beatles catalog, I can hum or sing along to the majority of their songs, I have listened to Revolution #9 more than once and will get into arguments about which is the best album, it vacillates between Rubber Soul and Revolver if you are interested, and will take the Beatles side in the annual drunken who is better the Beach Boys or Beatles debate. My parents saw the band at the Cavern on more than one occasion and my dad will happily spin tall tales of his association with the members and to this day I could not tell you what is or is not true, which may be the essence of the tall tale.

How this affection for the small band from home manifests itself recently is when I come across a Wings, McCartney, Ringo, Lennon, Harrison or other derivative in a thrift store I knee jerk buy. I cannot imagine the wingsalbums being left there, it seems sacrilegious almost. They need to be safe. They might get lonely if left, this also seems a problem for my son because we have collectively three copies of Band on the Run, one of which is unplayable. This is why I am listening to Wings Over America right now. The cover is beat but the vinyl seems pristine, no cracks, pops, clicks or skips and very quiet. I was unable to just walk away and leave it on the shelf, I really tried, I walked away, I tried self talk about spending too much on vinyl, I reminded myself that $3 was too much for the album in that shape, I distracted myself with other albums, I did everything I could and still walked out with the album in the end. It is pointless I am resigned to this behavior now.

This is not a phenomenon only kept for the Beatles we have the same issue with Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Crosby and Nash. It is unreasonable and several unplayable versions are on the wall in my office because of this.

I have never been a big fan of the Beatles solo output. It is often pleasant but has something missing for me. The magic of those four arguing about the record maybe or laughing and having  fun or competing, who knows but they have never really reached the heights they did as a band. With the possible exception of All Things Must Pass and Band on the Run maybe.

Wings Over America is a fine live album. It has all the hits to that point, a few nice prior band selections, some interesting covers and overdubs to avoid the inevitable out of tune live singing that always happens. It is a marathon, six sides and maybe the original idea of a double album of edits may have been the better choice. It is fun to listen to and a good representation of the band at the time I am sure.  Like all of my other experiences with a member of the Fab Four without the others it can be fun in the moment but ultimately unsatisfying. I find myself singing along and enjoying the album but once it is over all I have is the knowledge that I had a great time but don’t really remember what was so great.