Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tell Me Why - The Beatles: Album by Album, Song by Song, the Sixties and After

by Tim Riley

Revised and Updated

"Brings new insight to the act we've known for all these years." --Jon Pareles, New York Times Book Review

"The best piece of writing about popular music, from someone knowledgeable about music, that I've read." --Ron Rosenbaum, New York Observer

When Tell Me Why first appeared in 1988, the Beatles' career appeared to be a closed subject. The story was over: the solo careers were grandiose apologies to expired greatness and Lennon's death precluded any real reunion talk. But several major, Beatle-driven developments have since blown their story apart, changed its meanings, and altered the band's glow for future generations. --from the Epilogue

Album by album, song by song, Tell Me Why gives us a new, deeper understanding of the Beatles by focusing on what's most important: the music. This completely revised and updated edition provides a comprehensive study of the Beatles' musical legacy--from their first releases in the early sixties to the material, both written and recorded, that's been released just in the last decade. In an extensive new epilogue, Tim Riley dissects the Anthology CDs and videos, the Live at the BBC sessions, and the global smash 1, and also reflects on both Paul McCartney's biography Many Years from Now and the death of George Harrison.

A rigorous and soulful exploration of the entire Beatles catalogue, Tell Me Why makes it clear that the legendary four were more than mere teen idols--they were brilliant musical innovators.

"Perhaps the first serious analysis of the Beatles' work and its impact on popular music, Tell Me Why is meticulous in its purpose and long overdue. . . . Of the hundreds of books written about [the Beatles] none bring the musical knowledge and the familiarity with that period that Riley offers here." --Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tim Riley's commentary on pop culture and classical music has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Magazine, Boston Phoenix, Salon, and Feed. He is the author of Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary and Madonna: Illustrated; the publisher of millennium pop, an online journal about popular culture; and the music critic for National Public Radio's "Here and Now."

Friday, July 04, 2008

George Harrison: Record Producer!

Recently GEORGE HARRISON moved into the record production field for the first time. Having used THE REMO FOUR as session musicians for some of his "Wonderwall" film soundtrack work, George went a step further and invited the group to make a new single under his studio supervision.

The Beatles and The Remo Four have known one another for many years--they were together in the Liverpool Cavern days. Remo lead guitarist COLIN MANLEY has written the following zany account of the group's studio stint.


The Characters:
The Mythical Western Prince (Tireless George Harrison)
The Tiresome Four Rock-a-Shake Group comprising
The Fat One (Colin Manley), T.O.I.E.G. (Tony Ashton),
Griper (Roy Dyke), Durran (Phil Rogers).
Black Bob The Faithful Half-breed Servant (Road manager Jens)
Man Mountain The Prince's Helping Help (Mal Lift-Evans)

The Story Begins Here:

The first day commencing as the intrepid four arrive at the car park to be confronted by a strangely daubed minute car with the blind eye of Katmanure gazing at them from every door. Then followed the meeting with M.W.P. himself of when it has oft been said, "That's enough." Greetings and formicas having been exchanged the Eager Four set about their task. The Artful Repertoire man entered phasing gently "Grove or be not grooeved." A solemn warning.

"Eat no meat" cried the Fastidious Prince.

"No pigs feet" chanted the Hungry Four.

Gazing around the large room, the young lads could fee and seast their eyes on the vast array of almost every world of the instrument--sinister black boxes with many long black cables stretching out like a spaniel's ear in Greece. Crowning all Angora's Box containing a thousand men, an instrument--nay a musical factotum--of which Rommel said "off with his head."

The fat one and Toieg played their peace, nodded the wise princes head. "Okay" said he, the signal for the commencement of the days toil and the Industrious Four fled to their instruments.

The Red Light!!

Panic spread suddenly through the shaken four and valuable time was spent for the fat one's fast fingers had forried an elbow knot around his plant. "Not a very good one" said the Bouncing Prince wading through the cigarette ends. "Let's try again." Toieg gazing down at his palm and as luck would have it all turned out in the white strip.

The arabic lettering on the crash ride sizzled out and the Merry Four played their kidneys out.

The Man Mountain burst in with refreshments, tripped but did not fall. "Tea up, but never down," quoth he. "Don't be gruel" quipped Oliver Wrist.

During the day several friends of the Prince hopped in to play their respects. "Cheap at half the price, but hello there!" cried the Friendly Lad.

A stickler for detail and perfection and object of no money, the Wily One sent Man Mountain to the tower for the Doomsday Book and rippling the pages produced percussion the like of which would have chilled the soul of Hyperions Kite. "Marvellous", marvelled the Dumbfounded Four.

"Play it back", wept the anxious four, but they must be careful what they say, for they can hear it all in there you know. A burrp from? at once recorded and played backwards produced gasps of astonishment from the awestruck four--so that's how it's done. Singing through four yards of barbed wire, happy in the thought of the dubbin to be applied,

"Plug in, tune up, hit out."

The end of the first day, high lighted by axing and rifling of the hot cigarette machine downstairs.

The second day came to the Tireless prince and listening to the work of the previous day outlined new ideas confounding the Tiresome Four.

"Put the drums and bass on one track, and the whippet and bear on the other, we shall add foam-backing later". This proving that a snitchy rhyme saves grime.

Man Mountain dribbling a jows harp yet another dynamic effect. "It's 19 shillings for a hot chop downstairs" cried the entering Fat One.

"That's Shere Khan."

To carry on would be to bore. In short, a grand time had by all. And the Thankful Four bade fond farewell to the Prince, to be met by many of his fans outside asking them what it was like to live next dour to a?...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles

by Peter Brown & Steven Gaines

The National Bestseller with a New Foreword by Anthony DeCurtis

"The best backstage Beatles book." --Time

"The definitive book on the Beatles." --New York Post

Here is the national bestseller that Newsday called "the most authoritative and candid look yet at the personal lives...of the oft-scrutinized group." In The Love You Make, Peter Brown, a close friend of and business manager for the band--and the best man at John and Yoko's wedding--presents a complete look at the dramatic offstage odyssey of the four lads from Liverpool who established the greatest music phenomenon of the twentieth century. Written with the full cooperation of each of the group's members and their intimates, this book tells the inside story of the music and the madness, the feuds and the drugs, the marriages and the affairs--from the greatest heights to the self-destructive depths of the Fab Four.

In-depth and definitive, The Love You Make is an astonishing account of four men who transformed the way a whole generation of young people thought and lived. It reigns as the most comprehensive, revealing biography available of John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

"Finally, the real story." --Rolling Stone

"Literate, complex...more than sensationalism...a hard-hitting yet sympathetic book that unflinchingly captures the highs and lows." --The Boston Globe

"The best backstage memoir yet of the most amazing musical phenomenon of our times." --The Washington Post Book World

Includes rare and revealing photos
A Literary Guild Alternate Selection

Former director of Apple Corp., the Beatles' financial parent company, Peter Brown maintains a close relationship with the surviving Beatles. Steven Gaines is the author of Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons and Heroes & Villains: The True Story of the Beach Boys, among other books, as well as hundreds of articles on pop culture.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Gospel According to the Beatles

by Steve Turner

Forty years ago, John Lennon famously commented that he believed that the Beatles had become "more popular than Jesus." At the time the comparison seemed absurd. The Beatles were a pop group. Jesus was a spiritual leader and savior of mankind. Yet over the next few years the lovable mop-tops from Liverpool were to become spiritual leaders to a generation that was exiled from the church and desperately seeking to find meaning in a world where all the old certainties were crumbling. Some even saw them as savior figures, whose message of love and freedom would save the world from self-destruction.

In this provocative new book, Steve Turner, who first wrote about the Beatles in 1969, examines the lives, songs, and impact of the Beatles in order to discover exactly what it was that turned a group of rock 'n' roll musicians into guiding lights for spiritually disenchanted young people around the world. Turner details the events, ideas, and experiences that profoundly affected John, Paul, George, and Ringo and helped to shape their collective outlook.

The Gospel according to the Beatles contains hitherto unknown stories about the "Jesus" controversy, John's education as a choirboy, the Beatnik era in Liverpool, the notorious marijuana session with Bob Dylan, the dentist who introduced them to LSD, and John's confession to a well-known American TV evangelist. The book culminates in a compelling encounter between the author and John, where the discussion turns to God, gurus, and the meaning of life. Challenging, revealing, and almost certain to be controversial, this is a unique perspective on a well-known story.

Steve Turner has been writing about rock music for over thirty years. His articles have appeared in various magazines including Rolling Stone, New Musical Express, Mojo, and Paste. He is the author of several books, including A Hard Day's Write: The Stories behind Every Beatles Song, The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love, and Faith of an American Legend, Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, and Hungry for Heaven: Rock 'n' Roll and the Search for Redemption. He lives in London.

The spiritual journey of the Beatles from fun-loving agnostics to drug-inspired mystics was a microcosm of the pilgrimage taken by a generation. Whether the Fab Four were pied pipers or simply the most high-profile participants in a massive cultural shift, the changes they went through tell us a lot about what happened in the 1960s and therefore help us to understand where we are today.

The Gospel according to the Beatles looks in depth at the development of the group's philosophy and at how it affected their lives, their music, and their audience. Through rare interviews, never-before-published archive material, and newly discovered photographs, acclaimed music journalist and author Steve Turner traces the Beatles odyssey from the churches of Liverpool to the temples of India and Japan via the vision-inducing sacraments of marijuana and LSD. In doing so he defines what the Beatles were all about and distills the message of love, peace, freedom, and transcendence that was at the heart of their gospel.

Praise for the Author's Previous Works

"It's an inspiring and humbling book for a fan like me."
Bono, on A Hard Day's Write

"It may well be the Holy Grail of Beatles lore."
Ken Hoffman, Houston Post, on A Hard Day's Write

"Takes a genuine hero, examines him thoroughly, and leaves both his heroism and his humanity intact. In what may be the most admirable of its many achievements, it's as good as Cash deserves."
Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone, on The Man Called Cash

"Not just one of the music books of the year, but a major achievement in the craft of biography."
Nigel Williamson, Uncut, on The Man Called Cash

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Simon & Garfunkel: Tom and Jerry - Complete Recordings

Label: Purple Chick (PC-53-54)

1: The Girl For Me
Paul Simon: BBC-TV 1998 (written 1956)
2: Hey Schoolgirl
3: Dancin' Wild
Tom & Jerry: Big 613 - Nov '57; #54
(also King 5167 - 1960)
4: True Or False
5: Teenage Fool
True Taylor: Big 614 - January '58
6: Our Song
7: Two Teenagers
Tom & Jerry: Big 616 - February '58
8: That's My Story
9: (Pretty Baby) Don't Say Goodbye
Tom & Jerry: Big 618 - May '58; #123
10: Baby Talk
Tom & Jerry: Big 621a - June '58
(also Bell 120a and GSP 806a - 1959)
11: Lookin' At You
12: I'm Lonesome
Tom & Jerry: Ember 1094 - May '59
(also Pye-International - May '63)
13: Anna Belle
14: Lonliness
Jerry Landis: MGM 12822 - July '59)
15: Beat Love
16: Dream Alone
Artie Garr: Warwick 515 - October '59
17: Just A Boy
18: Shy
Jerry Landis: Warwick 552 - May '60
19: I'd Like To Be
Jerry Landis: Warwick 588b - November '60
20: Play Me A Sad Song
21: It Means A Lot To Them
Jerry Landis: Warwick 619 - April '61
22: Private World
23: Please Forgive Me
Artie Garr: Octavia 8002 - August '61
24: I'm Lonely
25: I Wish I Weren't In Love
Jerry Landis: Can-Am 130 - October '61
26: Surrender, Please Surrender
27: Fightin' Mad
Tom & Jerry: Paramount 10363 - August '62
28: The Lone Teen Ranger
29: Lisa
Jerry Landis: Amy 875 - December '62; #99
30: Carlos Dominguez
31: He Was My Brother
US - Paul Kane: Tribute 128 - August '63
UK - Jerry Landis: Oriole 1930 - May '64

Vol. II
THE COUSINS: Paul Simon & Carole King
1: Just To Be With You
2: Ask Me Why
Chance 102 - 1992 (recorded 1958/59)
3: All Through The Night
4: (I Begin) To Think Again Of You
Laurie 3047 - January '60
5: Let Me Steal Your Heart Away
Laurie LES 4037 - 1981 (recorded 1960)
6: Motorcycle
7: I Don't Believe Them
Madison 169 - October '61; #99
(also Amy 835 - December '61)
8: Express Train
9: Wildflower
Amy 845 - April '62
10: Cry Little Boy Cry
11: Get Up And Do The Wobble
Amy 860 - August '62
12: Cards Of Love
13: Noise
Amy 861 - September '62
(also Amy 876 - January '63)
14: Tijuana Blues
15: Simon Says
Tom & Jerry: Pickwick 3059 - October '67
16: Flame (recorded 1961)
Jerry Landis: LSM 3016 1979(?)
17: Beat Love (no harmony)
Artie Garr: Pilot 60 - October 2000
18: Dreams Can Come True - Dec '59
19: Up And Down The Stairs - Feb '60
20: Back Seat Driver - May '61
21: Wow Cha Cha Cha - May '61
22: A Charmed Life - May '61
23: Sleepy, Sleepy Baby #1 - June '61
24: Sleepy, Sleepy Baby #2 - June '61
25: That Forever Kind Of Love - June '61
26: Lighthouse Point #1 - July/Aug '61
27: Lighthouse Point #2 - July/Aug '61
28: Aeroplane Of Silver Steel - Feb '64
29: Bingo - Feb '64
30: Forever And After - Feb '64

The Beach Boys - SMiLE: A Reconstruction

Label: Purple Chick (PC-66)

Purple Chick presents: THE BEACH BOYS SMILE - a reconstruction
(or "sweet baby Jesus on a pogo-stick! Not another damn SMiLE mix??!!??")

Brian Wilson's 2004 arrangement of SMiLE, as performed by the Beach Boys. In glorious STEREO, just like it says on the cover. We decided to do it the way we imagined which necessitated edits, manipulation, speed, tempo and pitch correction, etc. Despite killing all the sacred cows, it sounds mighty fine to us.

1: Our Prayer/Gee (Mok; Archaeology; Good Vibrations)
Our Prayer starts us off, just as the BB recorded it (Mok's synchronization of stereo and mono mixes); into the Gee and H+V theme which is slowed down at the end and fades into the sax solo, which is crossfaded into:

2: Heroes And Villains (Hawthorne California; Archaeology; Hawthorne California; Archaeology; BWPS)
Stereo single version; with restored "cantina" and ending sections (plus only four "woo-woos", instead of five)

3: Roll Plymouth Rock (Unsurpassed Masters 17; Unsurpassed Masters 16; Archaeology)
Various stereo sections from Unsurpassed Masters. Fixed the vocal flub at the end of stereo "Wa halla loo lay".

4: Barnyard (Unsurpassed Masters 16/Endless Harmony)
Mono backing track edited to match the BWPS format, then Brian's mono piano/vocal demo overlaid on the verses in perfect sync. A little panning keeps the stereo theme intact - just about.

5: Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine (Mok)
Mok's edit of the stereo instrumental with the mono vocal mix. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it!)

6: Cabin Essence (20/20; BWPS)
Untouched, for the most part, but the fade-out is restored to its full glory. Needing a suitable ending, horror of horrors, we used BWPS for the final chord because it worked so damn well.

7: Wonderful (Good Vibrations/Vigotone; Vigotone)
Synchronized two versions into stereo. This everso briefly falls back into mono for the transition into:

8: Song For Children (Mok)
Edited to match the BWPS arrangement. Digital pitch changes for the ending? Heresy!!

9: Child Is Father Of The Man (Vigotone; Archaeology; BWPS)
Two Vigotone versions/mixes synchronized into stereo. The piano ending had the beautiful trumpet part that I didn't want to cut short. So there
are four 'extra' bars before BWPS appears. How do I live with myself?

10: Surf's Up (Good Vibrations; Good Vibrations/Endless Harmony-DVD; Surf's Up/Endless Harmony-DVD)
It's hard to improve on the Ann Wallace mix, but I think we managed it. The first part is a new synchronization of Brian's piano/vocal demo with the instrumental track. Brian's vocal now includes "Canvas the town..." twice. Did I mention the restored "bygone"s?? The middle section reverts to Brian's demo, with a little help from the bass. The Surf's Up's coda is edited to match Brian's modern arrangement, and its main vocal line strengthened/doubled.

11: I'm In Great Shape/I Wanna Be Around/Workshop (BWPS; EH/Psychedelic Sounds; UM 16)
After the orchestral introduction, Brian's piano/vocal demo takes over, synchronized with one of the three known instrumental versions. You might not notice the sax in the left channel, but the bass is there loud and clear. The crossfade into another instrumental version isn't ideal, but it is what it is. The final part is the regular stereo mix, with the workshop sounds reduced in volume. All crossfading into:

12: Vega-Tables (Unsurpassed Masters 17; Good Vibrations; Mok; Hawthorne California)
Shockingly complicated. Bits and pieces from all over UM 17 - way too hard to describe. Many different takes/mixes all edited, synchronized and mixed together, with the bass line from the Good Vibrations version overlaid as a finishing touch. Also, check out the exclusive vocal-only bonus track.

13: On A Holiday (Mok; Mok/Stereo Smiley Smile)
The only (mostly) mono track here - we couldn't find a true stereo mix. It does expand into stereo when the "whispering winds" vocals fade in at the end. (That took a bit of tempo and pitch matching, I can tell you.)

14: Wind Chimes (Unsurpassed Masters 17; Mok; Unsurpassed Masters 17; Mok)
Mostly Mok's reconstruction, I think, edited to match BWPS, with UM 17 for the intro and the middle eight.

15: Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Unsurpassed Masters 17; Mok/Stereo Smiley Smile)
Why yes, that *is* the "Fall Breaks" vocal part synchronized neatly in the middle.

16: In Blue Hawaii (Unsurpassed Masters 17; Secret Smile; BWPS; Mok)
Fixed the end of the "Water" chant, to remove what sounds like a studio comment. Then a tough choice: the Secret Smile tracks are in stereo, but don't sound as good as the mono version. We chose to stick with the stereo theme, but the bonus track uses the mono mix for these parts, just in case you prefer.

17: Good Vibrations (Good Vibrations; Unsurpassed Masters 15; Hawthorne California; Heroes and Vibrations)
An awesome stereo version - this one really packs a punch. All the bits in all the right places and, like Vega-Tables, really hard to explain how we got there. We maybe took a little artistic liberty, but it's well worth it.

Very Unnecessary Bonus Tracks

18: Vega-Tables (vocals only) - I haven't seen this booted before. It's pretty cool, if you ask me.

19: Our Prayer/Gee; 20: Heroes And Villains; 21: Roll Plymouth Rock - mono mixes, just for kicks

22: Child Is Father of the Man - a mono mix, just for kicks

23: Surf's Up (alternate mix) - an editing mistake, but it sounded really good

24: I'm in Great Shape/I Wanna Be Around/Workshop; 25: Vega-Tables -mono mixes, just for kicks

26: In Blue Hawaii (with mono sections) - better quality than track 16, in case that matters to you

27: Good Vibrations (stereo - original lyrics) - just in case you prefer this version

This is a fan-created disc, and Never For Sale!!!

The Beatles on Apple Records

The stories behind the entire Beatles catalog on Apple Records -- From Hey Jude and The White Album through Anthology and Beatles 1

Compiled by Bruce Spizer

Foreword by Ken Mansfield, First U.S. Manager of Apple Records

"We've got this thing called Apple, which is going to be records, films and electronics."
-- John Lennon

In May of 1968, John Lennon and Paul McCartney flew to New York City to promote the Beatles home-grown business venture, Apple Corps. The following August, Apple Records released its first single, Hey Jude b/w Revolution. This was followed three months later by The White Album. Apple went on to issue an impressive collection of Beatles singles and albums in 1969 and 1970.

This book covers the records issued on the Apple label in America from 1968 through 1970, as well as the Red and Blue hits collections from 1973 and the triumphant return of Apple in the nineties. The book concludes with the phenomenally successful Beatles 1 released at the true end of the millennium in late 2000.

The Beatles on Apple Records is the fourth installment of Bruce Spizer's critically acclaimed series on the Beatles American records and the follow-up to The Beatles' Story on Capitol Records.

"You can now know what we knew and see what we saw through this wonderful book. Bruce Spizer is the ultimate presenter of the historical phenomenon known as the Beatles." From the foreword by Ken Mansfield, Apple's first U.S. manager

Monday, June 30, 2008

Harry Nilsson - Aerial Ballet (Mono Mix)

Label: Purple Chick

1. Intro/Good Old Desk
2. Don't Leave Me
3. Mr Richland's Favorite Song
4. Little Cowboy
5. Together
6. Everybody's Talkin'
7. I Said Goodbye To Me
8. Little Cowboy Reprise
9. Mr. Tinker
10. One
11. The Wailing of the Willow
12. Bath
13. Outro
14. I Will Take You There (mono mix)
15. Rainmaker (mono mix)

Behind the Spotlight

Two Years Ago

by Billy Shepherd and Johnny Dean

Somebody wrote, quite recently, that a certain new girl singer didn't stand much chance of finding disc success because she'd never even met a Beatle! A bit on the sarcastic side, perhaps, but there's a tremendous list of pop successes which can be put down to some form of Beatle influence--a Lennon-McCartney song, a recommendation from Ringo, a suggestion from George.

Go back to March, 1966, two years ago, and there was the case of a chart-entry group who claimed that they made the breakthrough simply because Paul McCartney fancied a ciggie and didn't have his lighter with him! And that's dead serious. Group concerned, a duo actually, was the Truth. Steve Gold and Frank Aiello had made two records, but with little success.

So they went up to Dick James' offices and the Beatle publisher was talking generally to them about which Beatle songs might give them a third-time-lucky success. The one he fancied most was "Girl". The two boys talked it over--were slightly worried about the fact that they might be described as "jumping on the Beatle band-wagon". In an outer office sat their manager, Jeff Cooper. He, too, was thinking about which songs, by a variety of composers, would best suit the boys.

And in walked Paul McCartney. He fumbled in his pockets. Then he strolled over and asked Jeff, a stranger to him, if he had a light. Jeff obliged happily.

He was sure this was an omen. "We'll do the Beatle song. 'Girl' it is", he said. They did it. And it went straight into the charts. Just sheer coincidence? The Truth didn't think so. But this little yarn illustrates the importance placed on ANYTHING to do with the Beatles. . . .

Around this rather chilly month of March, it was announced that 1966 would see the Beatles touring America, Germany and Japan. Brian Epstein was off to America to fix up details for the boys' biggest-yet-money-spinning trek round the States. And George told us: "The difference between now and a few years back is that we can look right ahead over a whole year and know just where we're going to be in any given month, or week even. It makes life much easier. Most of us now have family scenes going and it's nice to be able to make long-range plans with the wife."

Oh yes, March 1966 was "Beatles At Shea Stadium" time on television. We've dealt fully with this programme in past issues of this incredibly exciting show, in front of 56,000 people, doesn't come amiss, we hope. Almost a documentary, completely entertaining. . . lots of Beatle work in a 50-minute show which also featured dancers, Brenda Holloway and the Sounds Incorporated outfit from Britain.

Quiet Month

We spent a lot of time with John Lennon during this "quietish" month of March. He explained that it was quiet because the newly-wed George was entitled to as long as he wanted for the honeymoon. "But people keep throwing this retirement thing at us. There has to be a limit to what we take on, obviously, and there's no need to go mad rushing around the country. Recording is the problem. As the years go by, Paul and I take longer actually getting down to writing material for albums and singles. Right now we've got to get a new LP finished. So what happens? George comes rushing back from his holiday with Patti and discovers that we've got very little actually done. 'Rubber Soul' seems like only yesterday, but it was a long time ago.

"George Martin wants us to get on with it. But we find that it definitely takes longer now. There's been talk about me doing a record just reading aloud some of my poems but again I don't want to start pushing things. I think I'm more the type to sit back and hope that nice things will happen to me, rather than go out rooting for new things to do. Maybe it's wrong. Not so long ago I'd be like a long-distance runner, go anywhere, if it was likely to really help the group."

Eighth Gold Disc

John might have felt he was slowing down, but the quality was higher thane ver in his writing. "Nowhere Man" was in the process of passing the million mark in the States, earning the Beatles their eighth Gold Disc for sales in America alone. Actually this was their fifth consecutive single to pass the Magic Million Mark and nobody had ever come within a mile of that sort of consistency before. No, not even E. Presley.

Tying in with the "Shea Stadium" show, the boys decided to give everyone of their fan-club members, a souvenir of the production. So they sent out a booklet of colour pictures taken from the show (remember there was no colour television here at that time) and also a replica of a front-row ticket for the performance. It may sound a fairly simple process, just addressing the envelopes and posting the souvenirs . . . but with a fan-club as big as the Beatles it was a massive operation. Another example, though, of how the Beatles liked to come up with little off-the-cuff surprises for their faithful followers. Which means YOU!

We wonder how many of you actually remember a hit record called "Woman". Well, this was by Peter and Gordon and it chased pretty high up the charts just a couple of years ago. The composer according to the label information was one Bernard Webb, and nobody in the business seemed to know who he was. Journalists started digging deep and came up with the astonishing information that it was actually . . . Paul McCartney!

It all started because of a McCartney whim. He wanted to see if one of his songs, performed without a Beatle name attached to it, could make the grade. He'd been long friendly with Peter and Gordon, for obvious reasons, and he offered them the song at exactly the moment they wanted a follow-up single . . . having already made the charts with a fully-credited Beatle song.

Good Song

Of course it was a hit simply because it was a darned good song anyway. Peter and Gordon, who have recently split up to go their separate ways, found it a terrible trial trying to keep the secret of Bernard Webb . . . and from their point of view it led to a lot of criticism. Didn't help when they kept pointing out that the secrecy was purely and simply for Paul's sake. . . .

Mind you, then as now, there were always people trying to stir up controversy about anything connected even remotely with the Beatles. The line taken over Peter and Gordon was that THEY were responsible for hiding Paul's name away--simply because they resented criticism that they were getting to the top on the shoulders of the Beatles . . . especially seeing as how Paul's girl Jane was the brother of Peter. Some artists thought the duo were getting too much advantage; some fans were resentful at not having been told the truth in the first place.

They knew that some of the more bitter critics felt that the Beatles couldn't possibly maintain their standards much longer. "What is there left for the boys to do now?"--that was the main question. And our reply, then as now, is simply this: "There is a LOT left to do if the boys feel sufficiently strongly about doing various things. But if they ONLY go on producing incredible records and writing incredible songs, surely that's enough".

The knockers said it wasn't enough. But again, the fans remained patient during a rather inactive spell. They KNEW their heroes would come up with something that would stop all criticism.

And of course they DID. Read on, same space, next month. . . .

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Beatles: Image and the Media

by Michael R. Frontani

"The Beatles: Image and the Media is the best study to date of the Beatles' reception in the United States, the creation and circulation of their media images as a young British rock sensation, and debates over their popularity and influence."
--Douglas Kellner, UCLA, author of Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy: Terrorism, War, and Election Battles

An examination of the forces that transformed four Liverpool musicians into icons for the 1960s

The Beatles: Image and the Media charts the conversion of the Beatles from teen idols to leaders of the youth movement and powerful cultural agents. Drawing upon American mainstream print media, broadcasts, albums, films, and videos, this book covers the band's career in the United States. Michael R. Frontani explores how the Beatles' media image evolved and how this transformation related to cultural and historical events.

Michael R. Frontani is associate professor of communications at Elon University. His work has appeared in American Journalism, Journal of American Culture, Journalism History, and African Studies Review.