Saturday, October 02, 2010

George Harrison on the Hells Angels Visiting Apple, 1968

"Hells Angels will be in London within the next week on the way to straighten out Czechoslovakia. There will be twelve in number, complete with black leather jackets and motorcycles. They will, undoubtedly, arrive at Apple and I have heard they may try to make full use of Apple's facilities. They may look as though they are going to do you in but they are very straight and do good things, so, don't fear them or uptight them. Try to assist them without neglecting your Apple business and without letting them take control of Savile Row."

-Memo to Apple staff, December 4, 1968

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lennon NYC

In 1971, John Lennon arrived in New York City and felt reborn: at last living in the country that had dominated his artistic imagination, Lennon and his new bride Yoko Ono found in the city the perfect blend of music, politics, culture, and lifestyle. But those heady first years eventually gave way to a dark period in which both Lennon's musical career and his personal life almost ran aground--until once again New York City came to his rescue. Using remarkable, rarely seen footage and interviews with many who were close to John, filmmaker Michael Epstein has created a moving, revealing portrait of the music legend's New York years, detailing not only his triumphs but also some hard times over which he so beautifully recovered in the final years of his tragically curtailed life.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Give My Regards to Broad Street

Give My Regards to Broad Street is the name of a film and soundtrack album, masterminded by Paul McCartney. They were both released in 1984, following the success of McCartney's previous albums Tug of War and Pipes of Peace. The film of Broad Street proved to be a financial disaster, but the soundtrack album sold well. The movie, starring Paul McCartney, was the last film appearance of classical actor Sir Ralph Richardson. The title is a pun on George M. Cohan's classic show tune "Give My Regards to Broadway", making reference to London's Broad Street railway station, which closed in 1986.

Filming and recording of Broad Street began in November 1982, after Pipes of Peace's completion. Production on the album and film continued until July the following year. In the interim, Pipes of Peace and its singles were released, and the film project was thus scheduled for an Autumn 1984 release once an appropriate amount of time had passed.

Film history

Starring McCartney, his wife Linda, Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara Bach, as well as Bryan Brown, Ralph Richardson, and Tracey Ullman, the film details a day in the life of McCartney (somewhat like The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night). The master tapes to McCartney's new album are suspected of being stolen by an employee with a shady past (who has also disappeared), and amid much searching (and music), the tapes are found in the possession of the man in question, who had accidentally locked himself in a shed in a railway station; both are discovered by McCartney. After a sensational media build-up, the film—with its less-than-exciting plot—was ravaged by critics upon its November unveiling and Give My Regards to Broad Street ended up as one of 1984's most notable cinematic flops. Despite the film being a flop, "No More Lonely Nights" was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Film Award for Best Original Song-Motion Picture.

Soundtrack album

Preceded by "No More Lonely Nights (Ballad)", a worldwide top 10 hit featuring guitar work by David Gilmour, Give My Regards to Broad Street entered the UK charts at #1 while going gold with a #21 peak in the United States (selling under expectations there). It would also mark the end of McCartney's brief alliance with Columbia Records in the US which had started with the final Wings album Back to the Egg in 1979. McCartney would re-sign with EMI worldwide (where he remained until 2007) with his Columbia output reverting back to his new - and original - label in the US.

The majority of the album - which is sequenced in the order of the songs' appearance in the film - features re-interpretations of many of his past classics of The Beatles and Wings: "Good Day Sunshine", "Yesterday", "Here, There and Everywhere", "Silly Love Songs" (the only Wings song included), "For No One", "Eleanor Rigby" and "The Long and Winding Road". There were also interpretations of songs from McCartney's more recent albums; "Ballroom Dancing" and "Wanderlust" from Tug of War and "So Bad" from Pipes of Peace. Besides "No More Lonely Nights" (also heard in a dance version), the only previously-unheard tracks were "Not Such A Bad Boy", "No Values" and a symphonic extension of "Eleanor Rigby" entitled "Eleanor's Dream". The scope of the album was so immense that when it saw release that October, its vinyl issue had specially edited versions of its songs. The cassette and the later CD edition preserved the tracks' full lengths, while the CD went one further by including a bonus 1940's-styled piece called "Goodnight Princess".

Simultaneously with the film's premiere in November McCartney's Rupert Bear recording "We All Stand Together", started back in 1980 and credited to 'Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus', was released and became a hit single in the UK, reaching #3. The accompanying animated film was shown in cinemas immediately preceding the main Give My Regards To Broad Street feature.

Give My Regards to Broad Street was remastered in 1993 and reissued on CD as part of 'The Paul McCartney Collection' series with two extended dance mixes of "No More Lonely Nights (playout version)" as bonus tracks.

Video Game

There was a video game (Cat. no. ICD-0082) released on the Commodore 64 home computer in 1985 based on the film, the game was released by Mastertronic and licensed by MPL Communications and 20th Century Fox.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Their Recording Manager George Martin (1963)

Any superstitious fears which E.M.I. recording manager George Martin may have had about the figure 13 must have been dispelled in the last 13 months. One year and one month ago George heard The Beatles for the first time--just as he was about to begin his 13th year with the E.M.I. group of labels. Despite his instant enthusiasm about the potential of The Beatles, George could never have imagined that this quartet (plus a neat little Beatalion of other Liverpoplian combos) would make him the nation's most successful hit-disc producer of 1963.

At London's Guildhall School of Music George had equipped himself with a sound, solid background of musical know-how before he joined E.M.I. His studies at the School had included composition, conducting and the oboe. 13 years ago his first tasks for the E.M.I. organization ranged from recording classical music to the traditional jazz of Humphrey Lyttelton. He also brought himself to the attention of the company's top executives by picking out and purchasing for British release an unusual little record entitled "The Happy Wanderer" by The Obernkirchen Children's Choir!

Most of George's 12 years of pre-Beatles studio activity were concentrated upon comedy and off-beat album material although a number of his disc productions--particularly Matt Monro's "Portrait Of My Love" plus "My Kind Of Girl," the Rolf Harris hit "Sun Arise" and the Bernard Cribbins best-seller "Hole In The Ground"--made pop headlines and sold in vast quantities.

He produced plenty of original cast stage show souvenirs including albums of "Beyond The Fringe" and "At The Drop Of A Hat"; he was responsible for that all-time Peter Sellers favourite "The Best Of Sellers." George broke through the unreasonable barrier which appears to prevent most comedy singles reaching the upper segments of the Top Twenty. Prime examples of his success in this line are the Peter Sellers/Sophia Loren jackpot winner "Goodness Gracious Me" and Charlie Drake's "Boomerang" ditty.

Today George Martin finds himself in the thick of the Mersey beat battle. On an average of once a week he supervises energetic studio sessions which produce Parlophone and Columbia singles capable of rivalling each other in the charts and of jostling each other for pride of place at the very top of the hit parade.

"My basic attitude to pop recording technique is unchanged," says George. "I have always looked about for something new, something different. What I really like about my new association with the Merseyside units is that a producer can become more personally involved with groups in the studio. With a solo artist there is a musical director who builds up his orchestra from assorted session musicians. One's ideas are pretty well fixed in the orchestrations. On the other hand the recording of groups allows one to work very closely with the artists. The arrangements are sorted out and modified on the studio floor during the actual sessions."

George agrees that the looser time schedules help. Session musicians stay for agreed periods of playing time and even when additional expenditure does not seem of primary importance the atmosphere of the whole production can become a little tighter, a little less free, with stricter clock-on-the-wall deadlines to be met.

What are George's ideas on the essential qualities of a Number One hit? "First of all" he declared with a familiar twinkle in his eyes "it should sell a quarter of a million copies! Also it should have a good tune, intelligent lyrics which have a personal directness about their approach and it should be slightly different from anything else which has gone before. Finally it should have a good beat to bind the whole arrangement together."

What differences have the current Liverpool Silver Disc winners made to George's professional life? The twinkle returned: "I get a few more sour looks from people who belong to other record companies and I've had my office re-decorated!"

Unlike most of the ultra-busy Mersey artists he records, George has not been obliged to decrease his number of leisure hours. He follows a number of absorbing pastimes and he lists some of them in this order of merit:-- (1) music (2) painting (3) laughing (4) swimming in warm water (5) eating (6) drinking good wines. The varied types of recorded music he prefers to hear for pleasure range from Andre Previn's "Like Blue" to Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe" and from album material by Matt Monro to sets of tracks by The Beatles.

In the first six months of 1963 George Martin produced a total of six records (five singles and one LP) with Brian Epstein's Liverpool groups. Each and every one of those releases reached the Number One spot. If he carries through this astonishing record of 100% success into the early part of 1964, George will notch up 13 top pops in 13 months . . . which is more or less where we came in!


Monday, September 27, 2010

John Lennon on "I Am the Walrus"

"I got the idea for the song 'I Am the Walrus,' which developed very subconsciously as I kept hearing police sirens in the middle of the night at my Weybridge home and their sound fascinated me. It was so hypnotic, you know, dee doo dee doo dee dooo fading in and getting loud and then fading away again. In the studio we began with electric piano and Ringo's drums. Paul put down his bass line separately and then all the session musicians came in to put their parts on and we did a lot of mixing and such. And finally the voices were added."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Aunt Mimi Smith on John Lennon and His Parents

"I loved John from the first moment I saw him in the hospital. Of course, George and I never had any children, so when my sister, Julia, had John, I was thrilled. I remember running quickly home from the maternity hospital the night he was born to beat the start of the nightly German bombing raids. I was out of breath and excitedly told everyone, 'He's the most beautiful baby in the hospital.' My father said, 'Well now, Mimi, all women say that about their babies.' So I said, 'No, no, he's not like the others. They're all red and wrinkly and he's smooth and beautiful.'

"Julia was a wonderful girl, all full of fun and life, and though she loved John dearly, it was clear after Freddie left on the ships that it was really better that he stay with George and me. Of course, things couldn't have worked out better if we'd planned it, because George and I loved him madly, and every day Julia would come over and play with him, so he really had two mothers in a way."