Saturday, December 27, 2008

September 5, 1964 - International Amphitheater, Chicago

Taped: Saturday 5 September 1964

There had been plans for a civic welcome and 100,000 people were expected but Special Events Director Colonel Jack Reilly canceled the arrangements saying he did not have sufficient police to spare "for a bunch of singers". Paul commented on TV and radio, "So we shall have to go in by the back door again and the fans won't get a chance to see us or we to see them. It's a great big drag."

Nonetheless Chicago was ready for The Beatles. The Andy Frain Organisation sent ten of its ushers to The Beatles' concert the previous night in Milwaukee to scout the tactics of The Beatles' fans, and the 170 ushers and 35 usherettes were specially selected as being non-Beatles fans so that they would not succumb to the hysteria. Stationed around the auditorium were 320 Chicago cops. One of them, patrolman Anthony Dizonne, remembered the Frank Sinatra days. "This is kind of like Sinatra multiplied by 50 or 100," he observed. "These Beatles make about fifty million bucks a year and they don't even have to buy a haircut in this country."

The Beatles' plane flew into the rarely used Midway Airport an hour late. They were due at 3.40pm but by the time they arrived over 5,000 fans were waiting for them. The girls were kept behind a chain-link fence as the group were bundled into a long black limousine and roared off to the Stock Yard Inn attached to the amphitheater at 42nd Street and Halsted. The crowds outside were so thick that the group had to enter through the kitchens. The Chicago Sun-Times reported only one casualty at the airport, a 14-year-old girl who was treated for a cut finger.

At the concert, fans were frisked and all large signs confiscated because they would block the view for others. Jelly beans, candy kisses and anything else that the fans were likely to throw at the group were also confiscated. Despite this, Paul was hit in the face by a spent flashbulb.

After the show half a dozen fans were taken to Evangelical Hospital in various states of emotional and physical exhaustion. One girl was poked in the eye but left the ambulance to rejoin the audience.

After the show, they hurried into waiting cars and drove straight back to the airport where they flew on to Detroit. A police guard was mounted on their hotel room to prevent fans from tearing it apart for souvenirs.

The Cavern: The Most Famous Club in the World

by Spencer Leigh

"It's the dream of my life to be here in Liverpool and playing the Cavern because this music got me through my childhood."
-Billy Bob Thornton

"We came down from Newcastle to Liverpool in a little van in 1963 and we carried our own gear into the Cavern for a lunchtime session. We were very nervous about playing there and I said to a girl in a duffle coat who was watching us, 'Do you think they'll like rhythm and blues here?' 'Like it?' she said, 'We invented it.'"
-Alan Price of the Animals

Liverpool's Cavern Club is the most famous club in the world, giving rise to The Beatles and the Merseybeat explosion, but it is far more than that. Respected music writer and Merseybeat historian Spencer Leigh tells the Cavern's fifty-year history with the help of owners, hundreds of musicians, backroom staff, and fans. From its days as a jazz club, through the Beatle years, the dramatic openings and closures, and the appearance of Paul McCartney in 1999, every page abounds with wit and insight.

Tied in with the best-selling, 120-track, 3-CD collection of the same name, featuring some of the greatest names of the British music scene, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Queen, and many, many more, this book is the perfect companion to the soundtrack of fifty years of the greatest music ever made.

Friday, December 26, 2008

At the Apple Christmas Party, 1970

by Carol Bedford

"I'm drunk, so I need to prop myself up," George explained. "If I don't lean on the wall, I think I'll fall over. I haven't been this drunk since I was fourteen." George started giggling.

"I'm sorry my letter was so strong, but you really pissed me off that night."

"Yeah. I was confused by your letter," he said. "What did you think I said?"

"You said 'it's warm in there' - the studio. It was like you were putting us down for waiting out in the cold for you. I mean, I know you don't encourage us to wait out for you, but I thought you didn't mind. It really hurt our feelings that you were putting us down for it."

I was breathless from my long speech. The anger was rising again, and I didn't want it to. He was really being very nice.

"That's not what I said, and that's certainly not what I meant," he smiled in a conciliatory way. "The heat had been turned off in the studio. The thermostat was broken or something. We were freezing! When I came outside, it seemed warmer out than in. I looked into the studio and the orange lights made it look so warm and cosy. What I said was 'It looks so warm in there.' I was making a statement. It looked warm, but wasn't. Of course, you weren't to know that. But I'd never put you down. What you do is your choice, not mine. But since you brought it up, I think you should quit waiting out. I mean you can't get anywhere with it, can you?"

He smiled, putting his face close to mine. His right hand, index finger only, stroked my left breast, hesitated on the nipple. Somehow it seemed innocent, like he was offering comfort and no more.

"How could I stop waiting out? I'd never see you again," I said.

"Just Walk Away, like the song says," he laughed. (Margo later gave me the Matt Munro single.) "Anyway," he added seriously, "if you think of me, I'll be there. I'm with you always, in here," he tapped my breast gently and removed his hand.

"I'm not sure what you mean by that. It would be impossible to 'get over' you. Every time I turn on the radio, I'll hear your voice. How can I forget someone I hear all the time or see in the papers?" I looked at him. He was listening intently, staring deep into my eyes. Was he just trying to focus or was he trying to read something in my eyes that was not in my words?

"I'll always be with you. We're part of each other. I wrote a song about us the other day. It goes like this: 'I, I, I love you: You, You, You love me.' We're together always. We're in each other. You don't need to see me walk out of a building, do you?"

Here Come the Beatles

by Enzo Gentile

No rock’n’roll group has ever had more influence on an entire generation than The Beatles. They single-handedly changed the 1960s and their influence is still being felt today. Music, culture, lifestyles, hairstyles, clothing styles and attitudes all changed because of this remarkable band that emerged out of Liverpool, England. It’s not hard to understand why so many people love collecting Beatles memorabilia. When the Beatles first arrived on the musical scene in 1962, they were an instant pop sensation, the likes of which the world had never seen. Not since the days of Elvis Presley had anyone seen music have such a profound effect on so many people. Even more than thirty years after they recorded their last song together, John, Paul, George, and Ringo are still as beloved as they were when they made their first appearance. A unique tribute, this publication is a must-have for any Beatles’ fan with an unquenchable thirst for everything Beatles: music, books, film, posters—everything.

Enzo Gentile is a critic, journalist, academic, radio presenter, and artistic director of exhibitions and musical events. He writes for journals and newspapers, and is the author of many books. Umberto Buttafava is a lawyer, academic, writer, collector and has been a fan of The Beatles for more than forty years.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

December 13, 1975 - Christmas With Rutland Weekend Television

Taped: Saturday 13 December 1975
Aired: Friday 26 December 1975

At the BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane, London, George Harrison, as pirate "Bob", records a special Boxing Day edition of Rutland Weekend Television, featuring his exclusive performance of the Harrison/Eric Idle composition 'The Pirate Song' which appears at the very end of the show with the credits running over the top. George also makes further cameo appearances in the 31-minute programme, including one where he is dressed as a pirate. The show, which also features such comic delights as How To Ski In Your Own Home and the Christmas play entitled Santa Doesn't Live Here Anymore, is broadcast for the first time on BBC2 on December 26 between 10:55 and 11:26pm. (Rutland Weekend Television, besides being the show that first introduced The Rutles to the nation, is a comedy series centred around a small TV station in Rutland and was created by Eric Idle, one of the brains behind The Rutles and a founder member of the Monty Python comedy team.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Beatles: The Complete Guide To Their Music

by John Robertson

The indispensable consumer's guide to the music of The Beatles, from their first single Love Me Do up to Let It Be... Naked released in 2003.

Features include:

  • An album by album, track by track analysis
  • Informationon when and where the music was recorded
  • A track index for easy reference
  • Special section on compilation albums
  • Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    September 17, 1964 - Municipal Stadium, Kansas City

    Taped: Thursday 17 September 1964

    This was originally supposed to be a rest day but after seeing the amazing reception the group received elsewhere in the country, a wealthy promoter, Charles O. Finley, approached Brian Epstein with an offer of $100,000 to add Kansas City to their tour. Brian asked The Beatles if they would mind and without even looking up they said, ''Whatever you think, Brian." Brian turned the offer down, despite the fact it was an enormous figure for the time. But Finley saw it as a matter of civic pride and was determined that Kansas City should see The Beatles. He offered $150,000, a higher figure than an American artist had ever received and almost guaranteed to show a loss. The 41,000 seater stadium was half full, with 20,280 paying spectators. Finley, the owner of Kansas City Athletics, lost between $50,000 and $100,000 for sponsoring the show. Despite this he donated a further $25,000 to Mercy Hospital. He said, "I don't consider it any loss at all. The Beatles were brought here for the enjoyment of the children in this area and watching them last night they had complete enjoyment. I'm happy about that. Mercy Hospital benefited by $25,000. The hospital gained, and I had a great gain by seeing the children and the hospital gain." An Athletics official said that ticket sales of 28,000 were needed to break even.

    The Beatles flew in at 2am in pouring rain. About 100 fans waited, staring at them from behind a wall of wet policemen. George slipped on the wet runway apron on his way to the limousine which transferred them to the Muehlebach Towers where they had the $100-a-day, 18th-floor terrace penthouse. It took seven bellmen to carry in the 200 items of luggage The Beatles party had with them. A Kansas City actress had sent up a Missouri country ham, apple cider, a mincemeat pie and a watermelon.

    To commemorate this extraordinary concert, The Beatles added 'Kansas City'/'Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey' to their repertoire, which the local fans loved. Excitement ran so high that the concert had to be stopped, with a threat of cancellation, if the audience did not calm down. They did and The Beatles played on.

    The Muehlebach Towers sold the group's bed linen-16 sheets and eight pillow cases - to a Chicago man for $750. As in Detroit a few days earlier, these were later chopped into small pieces and turned into instant souvenirs.

    Sgt. Pepper and the Beatles: It Was Forty Years Ago Today

    Edited by Olivier Julien, Universities of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and Paris-Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III), France

    The first concept album in the history of popular music, the soundtrack of the Summer of Love or 'Hippy Symphony No. 1': Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is first and foremost the album that gave rise to 'hopes of progress in pop music' (The Times, 29 May 1967). Sgt. Pepper and the Beatles commemorates the fortieth anniversary of this masterpiece of British psychedelia by addressing issues that will help put the record in perspective. These issues include: reception by rock critics and musicians, the cover, lyrics, songwriting, formal unity, the influence of non-European music and art music, connections with psychedelia and, more generally, the sociocultural context of the 1960s, production, sound engineering and musicological significance. The contributors are world renowned for their work on the Beatles: they examine Sgt. Pepper from the angle of disciplines such as musicology, ethnomusicology, history, sociology, literature, social psychology and cultural theory.

    Contents: Preface; 'Their production will be second to none': an introduction to Sgt. Pepper, Olivier Julien; 'Tangerine trees and marmalade skies': cultural agendas or optimistic escapism?, Sheila Whiteley; Sgt. Pepper and the diverging aesthetics of Lennon and McCartney, Terence O'Grady; Sgt. Pepper's quest for extended form, Thomas MacFarlane; The sound design of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Michael Hannan; The Beatles and Indian music, David Reck; The Beatles' psycheclassical synthesis: psychedelic classicism and classical psychedelia in Sgt. Pepper, Naphtali Wagner; Cover story: magic, myth and music, Ian Inglis; Within and without: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and psychedelic insight, Russell Reising and Jim LeBlanc; The whatchamucallit in the garden: Sgt. Pepper and fables of interference, John Kimsey; The act you've known for all these years: a re-encounter with Sgt. Pepper, Allan Moore; 'A lucky man who made the grade': Sgt. Pepper and the rise of a phonographic tradition in 20th century popular music, Olivier Julien; References; Index of names; Index of songs, albums, films and musical works.

    About the Editor: Olivier Julien teaches the history and musicology of popular music at the Universities of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and Paris-Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III), France.

    Reviews: 'Like the album that it analyzes, this collection of essays by an international array of Beatles scholars has more than just a few hooks to capture everyone’s particular fancy. The authors present a wide-ranging and contextualized discussion that shows us why Sgt. Pepper is a monument in the history of rock music. Given the richness of the Beatles' work and the densely dynamic times in which they flourished, all pivoting around Sgt. Pepper, this book is more than welcome.'
    Deena Weinstein, DePaul University, USA

    'The eleven chapters, written by distinguished international scholars, approach this groundbreaking album from eleven interrelated points of view: connections with psychedelia (psychedelic lyrics, sonic and conceptual realizations of psychedelic experience), aesthetic unity and complexity (formal unity, aesthetic divergence of Lennon and McCartney, classical and psychedelic aesthetic ideals, influence of Indian music), production (sound design, position in the rise of a "phonographic tradition" album cover), critical reception and musicological significance. These diverse points of view cover the key issues, which made Sgt. Pepper not only the soundtrack of the "Summer of Love" but also the album of all times – an album which is remembered 40 years after its first release and will also be remembered in the future. This book is a "must" in the bookshelf of anybody interested in the Beatles or Sixties culture in general.'
    Yrjö Heinonen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    Beatlemania Forever: The Beatles Encyclopedia

    by W. Fraser Sandercombe

    An A-to-Z reference to The Beatles, this comprehensive book includes information on everything related to their careers such as awards, recordings, tours, concerts, television appearances, and films. Going beyond the history of the band, it also covers the former members’ solo careers, their personal lives, and has entries for other people who were connected to the band—friends, family, producers, promoters, writers, and journalists—making this a one-stop resource for all subjects related to The Beatles.

    W. Fraser Sandercombe is a musician, a rare book dealer, and a writer whose stories have appeared in Aphelion, Haunts, Macabre, Moonbroth, and Weirdbook magazines. He is the author of The Beatles: Press Reports and Nothing Gold Can Stay. He lives in Burlington, Ontario.

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    John Lennon - Compositions

    Label: Vigotone, VT-191

    Vigotone is proud to present Compositions, a collection of excellent quality home recordings taped on John Lennon's piano at Tittenhurst Park following the legendary Plastic Ono Band sessions in the fall of 1970. While some of these songs have appeared on previous releases, this is the first time that the complete tape has appeared in its unedited form. Highlights included a post-Beatles version of "Help!" and early versions of songs that would appear on Imagine and Mind Games.

    1. Make Love, Not War
    2. I'm The Greatest
    3. I'm The Greatest
    4. How?
    5. Child Of Nature
    6. Child Of Nature
    7. Oh Yoko!
    8. Sally And Billy
    9. Sally And Billy
    10. Rock And Roll People
    11. Oh Yoko!
    12. Oh Yoko!
    13. Help!
    14. instrumental
    15. Happy Christmas
    16. Happy Christmas
    17. People Get Ready/How?
    18. How?
    19. How?
    20. My Heart Is In Your Hands
    21. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues
    22. I Promise
    23. You Know How Hard It Is
    24. I'll Make You Happy
    25. I'll Make You Happy

    Playing Time - (1:01:40)

    (P) (C) MM Vigotone Industries - All Rights Reversed

    Liner Notes


    On behalf of John Lennon, his and Paul McCartney's music publishing company, Maclen, bought this fine Georgian house and 72 acre estate on May 4, 1969 for $150,000.00. After moving in on August 11, John and Yoko lived here for three years until settling in New York in September 1971. In September 1973 it was sold to Ringo Starr who moved out in early 1988, selling to the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan alNahyan. In 1989 and 1990 the house and grounds underwent extensive rebuilding, including the erection of a nine foot high security wall around the entire estate. During this renovation almost all the Lennon/Starkey fittings were scrapped.

    Originally, the main house comprised many small rooms, but walls were ripped out at John and Yoko's request to create more open space. Much of the ground floor at the front of the house was converted to a single large room, decorated in white. John and Yoko also had an eight-track recording studio installed, as well as film editing equipment. The studio, named Ascot Sound during John and Yoko's tenure and Startling Studios during Ringo's, was where John recorded his album Imagine.

    The gardens, named Tittenhurst Park, had been open to the public until the Lennons moved in. They date back to 1763 and are internationally renowned among dendrologists for their scores of interesting trees, many rare.

    Tittenhurst Park was the location for the final photo session showing the Beatles together, an historic event which took place on Friday August 22, 1969, two days after their final recording session together. It was caught by the cameras of Ethan Russell, veteran Daily Mail man Monty Fresco and the Beatles' assistant Mal Evans. Some amateurish film footage was shot on this day and can be seen at the end of the Anthology video series.

    For the occasion, John and George donned wide-brimmed cowboy hats. Yoko Ono Lennon and the heavily pregnant Linda McCartney appeared in some photographs too. Also present was the Apple press officer, Derek Taylor.

    Selected photographs from this Tittenhurst Park session were issued by Apple as publicity material and have been published the world over. Three shots (by Ethan Russell) formed the front and back covers of the Capitol compilation album Hey Jude, issued in February 1970.

    Tittenhurst text adapted from The Beatles London by P. Schreuders/M. Lewisohn/A. Smith

    1. Make Love, Not War (4:12)
    Early version of "Mind Games".

    2. I'm The Greatest (1:36)
    3. I'm The Greatest (0:40)
    Two passes of a song later given to Ringo.

    4. How? (1:50)
    First pass.

    5. Child Of Nature (0:56)
    6. Child Of Nature (1:16)
    John revisits his unused 1968 composition.

    7. Oh Yoko! (0:50)
    First pass.

    8. Sally And Billy (1:16)
    9. Sally And Billy (1:38)
    Two passes of a song John would return to at the Dakota.

    10. Rock And Roll People (4:21)
    Early version of the song given to Johnny Winter.

    11. Oh Yoko! (2:51)
    12. Oh Yoko! (0:47)
    Second and third passes.

    13. Help! (2:24)
    John attempts to work up a new arrangement.

    14. instrumental (4:12)
    Unknown song

    15. Happy Christmas (3:18)
    16. Happy Christmas (2:26)
    Two passes at a seasonal message.

    17. People Get Ready / How? (5:25)
    18. How? (5:05)
    19. How? (4:51)
    Three more attempts to polish the song.

    20. My Heart Is In Your Hands (1:34)
    Unknown song

    21. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues (2:06)
    One of John's favorite Buddy Holly numbers.

    22. I Promise (2:47)
    Part of this was worked into the song "Mind Games".
    23. You Know Hard It Is (1:59)
    Unknown song

    24. I'll Make You Happy (1:56)
    Unknown song

    25. I'll Make You Happy (3:42)
    Unknown song

    Playing Time - 64 minutes 43 seconds

    After the emotionally exhausting Plastic Ono Band writing and recording sessions, it was time for John Lennon to exhibit a lighter compositional touch. Perhaps showing the strain from the amount of single-minded effort that went into that LP, John in contrast seemed to be all over the place with this batch of songs and noodlings, recorded in the late fall of 1970 at the Tittenhurst Park estate. A rare glimpse into a single Lennon piano demo session, Compositions reveals an artist trying to find his way to what would eventually become the Imagine LP. While John's not in the best voice of his career, it's still a fascinating listening experience, and has never before appeared in its entirety.

    The tape begins with "Make Love, Not War". This song did not appear on the next LP Imagine, but in rewritten form as the title track of 1973's Mind Games, after being combined with a song heard later on the tape, "I Promise". Both of these sound much better than the edited versions released officially on The John Lennon Anthology in 1998. "I'm The Greatest" also emerged in '73, but not as a Lennon track; it was the leadoff song on Ringo Starr's Ringo LP. At this point in 1970, the song was in embryonic form and had more John-oriented references than it would later have upon being handed over to the ringed one.

    The next three songs all showed up the next year on Imagine. "How?" is featured as a false start, then with a complete run-through. The first pass here is a very tentative attempt with John singing in the plural: "How can we go forward when we don't know which way we're facing". "Child Of Nature" was on its way to being "Jealous Guy", but it still held onto its 1968 "Beatles in India" origins at this point. There are three false starts prior to the full performance. Next comes "Oh Yoko!" On Imagine, it is a song of joy to his wife. Here, it sounds more like a dirge in the vein of "Mother". More confident takes appear later in the tape.

    Following these three eventually issued tunes, the next two songs went unreleased in John's lifetime. A track usually given the title "Sally And Billy" is up first in this duo, featured in a series of breakdowns; John never really gets the song down in this try, but he'll give it another attempt at the Dakota in 1976. Next is "Rock And Roll People", a song not released by John until the posthumous Menlove Ave. compilation in 1986, for good reason!

    A highlight of this tape is the reworking of "Help!" in a much slower version than the1965 Beatles arrangement. Around this time, John was exploring the possibility of re-recording some of his more personal Beatle's songs. This might have been an attempt to work up a new arrangement. In any event, he abandons the effort after not being able to work out the chords for the chorus. An amusing moment occurs when Yoko makes a comment and John answers "I don't care how you want to sing it, Dear, I'm singing it meself at the moment..." This is followed by an improvisation that didn't exactly go anywhere, but eventually turned into a Christmas message which appeared in part on Vigotone's The Ultimate Beatles Christmas Collection; two takes of the message are featured here in their entirety. Next, The Impressions' spiritual call "People Get Ready" leads into a second pass of "How?" now sung in the familiar first person singular: "How can I..." Over and over he repeats what he's written until the final structure of the song is arrived at: a series of searching questions aimed at himself.

    By this time, Yoko has made her presence known, and is heard in the background during yet another lengthy run-through of "How?". Don't worry, you'll hear more from her later. The next song, a fifties-style rocker a-la Fats Domino, is unnamed but possible titled "My Heart Is In Your Hands". It's featured in a false start and a "complete" attempt. Too bad he never completed it, as it has some potential. John does however quickly move on to a song familiar to anyone who's bought the Beatles' Anthology 3. "Mailman Bring Me No More Blues", issued as the flip side of Buddy Holly's first solo single, "Words Of Love".

    Next, in the fifties vein of "Oh! Darling" comes "I Promise", the kind of apologetic ode to Yoko that he was still writing until his final days. Finally, we come to the most difficult titles to enjoy: an untitled track by John with the line "You Know How Hard It Is" being a likely title for the song (and hard indeed it is to listen to!). The tape ends with two passes of a song apparently called "I'll Make You Happy". Yoko recorded an answer to this this song of John's which can be heard on Bag's Lost Lennon Volume 30. Only the true masochistic need apply.

    ...and so we come to the end of this particular demo session. John and Yoko would go on to make individual LP's, Imagine and Fly, the next year, and would move to New York, leaving Tittenhurst Park and England behind for good.

    This piano tape is an excellent example of the post-Beatle days of Ascot creativity, and some of the last home recordings John made in his native land.

    Tony Cooks
    February, 2000