Category “Beatles”

Beatles on Sullivan: 50th Anniversary

Sunday, February 9, 2014 20:59
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Tonight is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan. I watched the whole episode this evening, and here are some observations:

1. John’s mic was just about dead. You could hardly hear him!
2. Star Trek was well represented two years before it was born: after the Beatles performed, three Star Trek guest stars appeared. Frank Gorshin (alien in original series) did impressions, Georgia Brown (Worf’s Mom in TNG) sang, and Charles Brill (Tribble-hating guest star in original series and Deep Space Nine) did a comedy routine.
3. One of the kids Georgia Brown sang with was future Monkee Davy Jones.
4. Ed Sullivan really came off here seeming like a school principal dealing with excited kids on the last day of school.
5. The 1964 Winter Olympics ended this day, and Ed announced that only one American won a gold medal, speedskater Terry McDermott. McDermott, in the crowd to watch the Beatles, stood up and acknowledged the applause.

Bonus observation: as the episode came to an end, Ed mentioned that the next episode would be broadcast from Miami and mentioned something about a Liston/Clay fight that would take place there, too. Ed promised to have the winner on his show (which I don’t believe ever happened!)

The Whiter Album

Monday, July 11, 2011 21:16

Okay, I’ll admit it: the White Album might be my least favorite Beatles album. Or at least it was. It’s not that it’s a bad album – it has great songs on it! But there’s always been something about it that I’ve disliked, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I think people (including me) have historically placed the blame on the divergent styles of the four guys, and the varied sort of songs on the album not going together, but lately I’ve been thinking this might not be so. Now I think I’ve figured it out: it’s the order of the songs that is maddening! Whereas Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road seem to flow from first track to last track, The White Album is a nightmare when played as a single (or double) album.

Fortunately, today we can choose the song order ourselves. And so that’s exactly what I’ve done (on my ipod). And now (at least in my opinion) the album plays much better. But before I get to my version, let’s look at the original version, with its hodgepodge of moods:

1 Back In The U.S.S.R.
2 Dear Prudence
3 Glass Onion
4 Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da
5 Wild Honey Pie
6 Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
7 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8 Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9 Martha My Dear
10 I’m So Tired
11 Blackbird
12 Piggies
13 Rocky Raccoon
14 Don’t Pass Me By
15 Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?
16 I Will
17 Julia
18 Birthday
19 Yer Blues
20 Mother Nature’s Son
21 Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey
22 Sexy Sadie
23 Helter Skelter
24 Long, Long, Long
25 Revolution 1
26 Honey Pie
27 Savoy Truffle
28 Cry Baby Cry
29 Revolution 9
30 Good Night

Okay now my version: Just like the original, I begin with “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence”, because it’s a great way to kick off the album, and “Prudence” pivots well off of the opening rocker.

Then I stick in “Honey Pie” before getting to the hard edged “Glass Onion.”. This smooths over the awful transition from the original album where “Glass Onion” was like a slap in the face following “Dear Prudence.” Then I go to “Piggies”, which unlike the polka “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da”, pivots well off of “Onion”.

This is followed by “Rocky Raccoon” and “Don’t Pass Me By” just like the original album, building some momentum with each song, before we pivot into “Martha My Dear” – which sounds ten times better in this order than where it was originally. (I love “Happiness” but “Martha” is not the sort of song you want to follow it up.) Then I continue with “I’m So Tired”, before speeding things up slightly with “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?”, which I once saw on a list of “Rock’s strangest rhetorical questions”. And then after this, HERE’S where you stick “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”. Seriously, listen to these last two songs back to back and tell me that’s not what the order should have been. Sometimes I think “Wild Honey Pie” (which I lopped off my version of the White Album) was only stuck in to smooth the bridge between “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” and “Bungalow Bill”. But it just makes the album order stranger.

Anyway, back to my version: I follow “Bungalow Bill” with the same followups as the original: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – before pivoting into “Savoy Truffle” and “Mother Nature’s Son” (the latter of which is a very pretty song that on the original album is buried between two totally different sort of songs; it sort of like putting a John Denver song between songs by the Rolling Stones and The Who.) Now we’re ready to polka, and that takes us to “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da”, another song badly misplaced on the original album.

We pivot off of that joyous fun into the sympathetic “Julia”, followed by the sensitive, “I Will”. Now we’re ready to rock with “Yer Blues”, followed by the underrated “Cry Baby Cry” and the overrated “Blackbird” before another rocker, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey”. Like the original album, we pivot off of that to “Sexy Sadie”, “Helter Skelter”, “Long Long Long”, and “Revolution 1” – all of which have a nice flow when put next to each other.

Following this slow version of “Revolution” we speed things up with “Birthday”, which is actually a great album starter – but I wanted to make one album (as opposed to the original double album) for my ipod, and so I had to move the song somewhere else. It does make a nice “almost finale”, like the reprise of Sgt. Pepper’s does for its album. This leads to “Revolution 9” before the finale, “Good Night”.

Now I realize many people have grown up with the original White Album order and will stand by it. (And it’s not like I have a lot of influence when it comes to this sort of thing anyway.) However, I’m glad I finally have what sounds like a complete, cohesive album! Thankfully Paul already fixed the “Let It Be” album for me with the superior “Let It Be Naked” which reorders the songs and gets rid of the unpolished snatches of songs from the original (replacing them with “Don’t Let Me Down”). Most people were upset with Paul for doing this. I guess if Paul McCartney can’t get people to accept change in a Beatles album, I have little hope.

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Beatles’ Songs

Friday, September 3, 2010 9:00

I picked up a copy of the latest issue of Rolling Stone, dedicated to the Beatles, and it’s certainly a keepsake. It’s got articles for each of its choices for the top 100 Fab Four songs (out of the 219 the Beatles recorded), as well as a ton of extra stuff, like John and Paul’s favorite songs, Ringo’s best drumming bits, and the best songs the Beatles gave to other performers. It will take me weeks to find the time to read through it all, but I imagine I’ll be reading it over and over through the years. Here’s their rankings for the 100 best Beatles’ songs, along with my comments below each group of ten:

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Rolling Stone Ranks Beatles’ Songs

Friday, August 27, 2010 15:00

Rolling Stone magazine has for the first time rated the greatest 100 Beatles’ songs, The list was released as part of a special collector’s edition issue titled “The Beatles: 100 Greatest Songs” to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four’s 12th and final studio album, “Let It Be,” released in 1970. Here’s a sneak peak at their top ten at long with their comments:

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The Beatles CD Collection Part 3

Sunday, March 14, 2010 19:33
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So today I turn my attention to the post breakup CD releases.

The Beatles 1962 – 1966 (1973)

Red Album cover

This was known as “the red album” back in the day, and I wish I would have had it growing up. It has all the Beatles hits from… well, you can probably guess by the title. It covers their touring days, so it goes from their first single and album to Revolver, covering all their best stuff. I can’t argue with the selections, though I don’t know why they didn’t choose more. It’s a double album, but it only has sixty minutes of music total. What’s up with that? Also, the CD is over twenty years old, and doesn’t have that great of sound quality compared to today’s releases.

Favorite Tracks: All of them, of course!

Tracks I dislike: None

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The Beatles CD Collection Part 2

Saturday, March 13, 2010 19:07

Here we go with the second of my three part Beatles post. This will cover their studio years. Just so you know, I’m going to cover the albums in the order they were recorded as opposed to released, because that’s how I listen to them.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (1967)

Sgt. Pepper's Cover

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The Beatles CD Collection Part 1

Friday, March 12, 2010 19:09
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With the recent release of all the Beatles albums (for the first time in like thirty years, meaning they finally have decent sound,) I thought it would be a good time to give my opinion on them all.

Please Please Me (1963)

Please Please Me Cover

People tend to dismiss this one, saying it’s from a time before the Beatles were “The Beatles”, the latter being the greatest band in the world. I can’t disagree, but I really love this album. It’s sort of like inviting a 60s club band over to play some introspective tunes. The only thing I dislike about the album is that it’s only about a half hour long… although all the early Beatles albums were about that length.

Favorite tracks: I Saw Her Standing There, Ask Me Why, Please Please Me, Baby It’s You, There’s a Place, Twist and Shout

Tracks I dislike: None

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