Monday, July 29, 2013

Whatever happened to the lives that we once knew? (The Beatles) #68 of 300ish singles

The Beatles Free As A Bird/ Christmas Time (Is here Again) (Apple R 6422,  1995)

The surviving Beatles regrouped in 1995 to supply music for John's Free As A Bird and answer another of John's questions in the lyric - Can we really live without each other?

Well yes and no. Life went on after John's murder in 1980 but the world hasn't been the same without him. It certainly changed the Beatle universe in general and the lives of Paul George and Ringo (Yoko, Sean, Julian...) in particular.

Paul George and Ringo do their best with the song (in truth not one of JOL's greatest efforts) and they can't help sounding like who they are. I, for one, am happy that they did this and Real Love for the Anthology project. Obviously, with George's death there can never be a repeat of the Threetles.

George and Paul's vocals and those familiar harmonies are fantastic additions to John's lead. George's guitar and Ringo's drums: it's the bloody Beatles la.

Hidden gem: The Beatle's Christmas discs sent out each year by the fan club from 1963 until 1969 are a fantastic collection of inspired lunacy. They show the wonderful friendship the four headed beast enjoyed and they also serve to show the inner turmoils towards the end of their career together. The Christmas discs have been bootlegged a lot but it would be great to have them officially released together on an Apple album.

This one comes from 1967 and is probably the least interesting of the fan club discs, so here's the complete set. Gear! So it's over to John - NOW~!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

He composed it himself in a fit of lethargy (John Lennon) #65 - 67

The Beatles 1 Watching Rainbows 2 She Came In Through The Bathroom window/ 1 Too Bad About Sorrows 2 She Said, She Said 3 Mean Mr Mustard 4 Don't Let Me Down 5 Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight  (Bootleg EP)

The Beatles Twickenham Jams: 1 Early In The Morning, Hi Ho Silver 2 Stand By Me 3 Hare Krsna Mantra/ 1 All Things Must Pass 2 A Fool Like Me 3 You Win Again (Bootleg EP)

The Beatles Intervista Con L Beatles/ Intervista Con L Beatles   (Bootleg single)

In which we enter the dodgy world of the bootleg EP. I know I shouldn't, I don't really want to, but I can't help myself.

In this case the tracks on the first two EPs are the usual dire quality that afflicts the world of the bootleg. They both come from the 1969 Get Back (AKA Let It Be) sessions.

Watching Rainbows comes on rainbow coloured vinyl with a fake Apple label; Twickenham Jams comes on green vinyl.

Of much more interest to me is the intervista on blue vinyl, again with an Apple label. Its two sides contain the much bootlegged 1968 radio interview/larking about session with Kenny Everett - a great DJ whose humour is a great match with the fabs.

Hidden gems: Nope!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Three cool chicks made three fools of three cool cats (The Coasters) #61 - 64 of 300ish singles

The Beatles Three Cool cats/ Hello Little Girl (Pye 106  1962)

The Beatles September In The Rain / The Sheik Of Araby  (Pye 206, 1962)

The Beatles Searchin'/ Like Dreamers Do  (Pye 306, 1962)

The Beatles Memphis/ Love Of The Loved   (Pye 406, 1962)

The Beatles on Pye? What the hey?

Well it makes sense when you remember that before signing to Parlophone, the Fabs auditioned elsewhere and were turned down. Dick Rowe had to choose between The Beatles and The Tremeloes and he went for the Brian Poole led group.
These four singles come from that January 1962 Decca audition and are pretty much of historical interest only (no Ringo remember - Pete Best is on drums). A number of other songs were done that day, fifteen in total, but someone has selected these eight songs for the singles that were not issued until the Fabs had become world beaters.

Having said that I love their versions of Memphis (the Chuck Berry song) and the Leiber/ Stoller songs done by The Coasters - Searchin' and Three Cool Cats (song well by George).

Hidden gems: Love Of The Loved is pretty naff - it was given to Cilla Black to sing (1963). Like Dreamers Do is also an early sappy Macca song. Dreamers was given to The Applejacks in 1964.

Of much greater interest is the comedy routine done to The Sheik Of Araby (another great George lead vocal) and Hello Little Girl, a cool little song which was eventually given to The Fourmost (1963).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's been a long long long time (The Beatles) #56 - 60 of 300ish

The Beatles 1 From Me To You 2 Thank You Girl/ 1 Please Please Me 2 Love Me Do  (Parlophone GEPO  ?)

The Beatles 1 Long Tall Sally 2 I Call Your Name/ 1 Can't Buy Me Love 2 You Can't Do That (Parlophone MGEP 6011, ?)

The Beatles 1 She Loves You 2 I Want To Hold Your Hand/ 1 Can't Buy Me Love 2 I Feel Fine   (Parlophone EPP 19, 1978)

The Beatles 1 Savoy Truffle 2 Old Brown Shoe/ 1 Blue Jay Way 2 Long Long Long   (Apple EPEM 10540, 1971)

The Beatles 1 Magical Mystery Tour 2 Your Mother Should Know/ I Am The Walrus + 1 The Fool On The Hill 2 Flying/ Blue Jay Way   (Parlophone MMT A1/B1, 1967)

The EP's, and hits, keep coming thick and fast.

This lot contains a great EP from Mexico on Apple that has a George Harrison theme and the double EP that was issued for the Magical Mystery Tour film.

The mono version of Magical Mystery Tour numbered MMT (the stereo one is numbered SMMT) is slightly different to the stereo versions used more extensively on the US Magical Mystery Tour album and is therefore more collectible.

Hidden gems; Long Long Long is my favourite George Harrison song. I've mentioned the song plenty of times in the blog as a point of comparison but I don't think I've actually written about it much.

Head phones.



Those are the three conditions needed to get this song. My vinyl copy is almost unplayable on side three, last track now.

It's such an strange sound. Ringo finds himself playing some inspired drum fills and Macca plays the eery organ - I'd love to know about the conversations that led to the music on this song. Interesting that Lennon played no part in the song - it's George plus Paul on organ and bass with Ringo on drums. It was recorded around John's 28th birthday so he was presumably off doing other things.

Ian MacDonald in his book Revolution In The Head agrees that it is George's finest moment on The Beatles. He calls the song 'simple, direct and...devastatingly expressive'.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If this is love you gotta give me more (The Beatles) #51 - 55 of 300ish

The Beatles 1 I Should Have Known Better 2 If I Fell/ 1 Tell Me Why 2 And I love Her  (Parlophone EPP 20  1964)

The Beatles 1 Yesterday 2 Act Naturally/ 1 You Like Me Too Much 2 It's Only Love (Parlophone MGEP 8948, 1965)

The Beatles 1 A Hard Day's Night 2 Things We Said Today/ 1 Matchbox 2 Slow Down   (Parlophone MGEP 6014, 1964)

The Beatles 1 Twist And Shout 2 A Taste Of Honey/ 1 Do You Want To Know A Secret 2 There's A Place   (Parlophone MGEP 8882, 1963)

The Beatles 1 All My Loving 2 Ask Me Why/ 1 Money 2 P.S. I Love You   (Parlophone GEPO 8891, 1963)

We now enter the murky world of the Extended Play (EP) single.

When I was first collecting, EP's were a godsend. They were way cheaper than an LP (Long Player) and they had FOUR songs on them. And they usually cherry picked the best bits. OMG - value for money (or was it the illusion of value for money?). An alien concept in 2013 fersure.

Only trouble for the collector is that every bleedin' country put out their own versions of EP's with a variety of play lists. Most of my EP's are either New Zealand or Australian versions.

Hidden gems: I love the bit in A Hard Day's Night when the boys are playing cards inside a kind of cage singing Lennon's I Should Have Known Better (great moment too when John cheats with something up his sleeve). The whole scene with the schoolgirls (including the divine Patti Boyd) trying to get to the Fabs works and it's not hard to get the cage metaphors at work here. It's clever, witty, and musically great in Beatles' early period fashion - with John on vocals and harmonica.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Elmore James got nothin' on this baby (The Beatles) #46 - 50 of 300ish

The Beatles Baby, You're A Rich Man/ All You Need Is Love   (Apple 5964, ?)

The Beatles Got To Get You Into My Life/ Helter Skelter  (Parlophone NZP 3546, ?)

The Beatles Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da/ While My Guitar Gently Weeps   (Apple NZP 3318, 1963)

The Beatles The Long And Winding Road/ For You Blue   (Apple NZP 3371, 1970)

The Beatles Eight Days A Week/ I Don't Want To Spoil The Party   (Apple 5371, ?)

The Beatles produced a vast number of commercial songs that COULD have been issued as singles in the UK but never were.

The alternate Beatles' universe takes those songs and puts them out as singles.

All of these A sides could have been chart toppers if released. But they weren't. Bizarre.

Eight Days A Week for instance was released elsewhere as a single (U.S., Canada etc) and did okay (der - went #1 in the US - it's the bloody Beatles innit). It seems such an obvious choice too.

Ob-La-Di as well. Clearly a pop hit but they didn't release any singles from The Beatles double album so it wasn't a hit until Marmalade did their cover of it (der again as it also went #1).

Hidden gems: Helter Skelter as a B side? What are you mad? Often cited as evidence for the defence that Macca is a rocker like JWL. It's great, fits brilliantly on side 3 of the white album, but a B side? 

Again George has a few B side licks. Both these feature some great guitar work, but not by George. While My Guitar... is a classic, of course, and features Slowhand; For You Blue features John on lap steel with a shotgun shell as his bottleneck.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

He got Ono sideboard, He one spinal cracker (The Beatles) #41 - 45 of 300ish singles

The Beatles Something/ Come Together   (Apple, 1969)

The Beatles Let It Be/ You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)   (Apple NZP 3357, 1970)

The Beatles Yesterday/ We Should Have Known Better (sic)   (Parlophone NZP 3535, 1965)

The Beatles 1 Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band 2 With A Little Help from My Friends/ A Day In the Life  (Parlophone R 6022, 1967)

The Beatles Back In The U.S.S.R./ Twist And Shout  (Parlophone R 6016, 1968)

Welcome to the batch which finds us at the end of the official UK releases in 1970 and a return to the alternate Beatle universe.

Something is of course the only George A side in the collection.

Let It Be is the version featuring Billy Preston's organ (as opposed to the George/ guitar LP version) and is not as gear.

The Yesterday, Sgt Pepper and Back In The USSR singles are ones done in hindsight. All emerged when the Beatle's singles were repacked/re-released as a box set in NZ. They sought to plug perceived gaps as neither the Sgt Pepper or The Beatles albums had songs lifted from them as singles.

Yesterday is a curious song, a Macca solo song, and not really one of my favourites. It's a weird one and great and everything but not really my cup o tea. More sloppy titling work in New Zealand to mention too, as they stuff up the B side.

Sgt Pepper as a single just feels wrong and so it and Back In The USSR feel like EMI are milking it. Make no mistake these are great songs but did we really need them as singles long after the albums had been released?

Hidden gems: Wow - Lennon's Come Together is riddled with good raunchy juju. I love the fact that Yoko tried to dampen down the sexual innuendo during the Love project with Cirque Du Soleil (as seen in the documentary All Together Now - check out the promo below at the minute mark for a sample).

She's bonkers, in denial, or both. What was she on about? This is the same woman who made a 15 minute film of Lennon's penis (Self-Portrait) and another, Film # 4, a.k.a. Bottoms. Suddenly she's all prudish on John's behalf! Come again??

You Know My Name is not quite the weirdest song the Beatles released (Revolution #9 is my vote) but it's a contender. Weird in a good way too.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goo goo g'joob (The Beatles) #36 - 40

The Beatles Hello Goodbye/ I Am The Walrus  (Parlophone R 5655, 1967)

The Beatles Lady Madonna/ The Inner Light   (Parlophone R 5675, 1968)

The Beatles Hey Jude/ Revolution   (Apple A 8493, 1968)

The Beatles Get Back/ Don't Let Me Down  (Apple NZP 3325, 1969)

The Beatles Ballad Of John And Yoko/ Old Brown Shoe  (Apple NZP 3329, 1969)

The impossible standards are maintained. How did they do it?

These five singles: contain the one the blog is named for - I Am The Walrus - NO ONE was in John Lennon's tree (not even John); contain my favourite Beatle song (see hidden gem); show the dominance of Macca (four out of five A sides); feature a Lennon expletive; contain the first seven plus minute single; indicate the beginning of Apple as well as the beginning of the end (Ballad has only the Nerk Twins on it - no Ritchie or George).

The expletive (Got the wrong chord, fucking hell) is found within the mighty grooves of Hey Jude (which clocks in at 7.11). Go from 2.52 mins in and it's there but no one ever notices it cos Macca is singing let her under your skin over the top of it.

Hidden gems: My favourite Beatle song is a B side! Don't Let Me Down has it all as I wrote in 2009:

I Am The Walrus is also a B side??? What the hey? Amazing and yes it was on the Magical Mystery Tour double Extended Play (EP) but still...what superb arrogance to place that as a B side. What must the rest of the musical world have thought? Sod me - that's it - game over man!

The emergence of George Harrison on The Inner Light (his first appearance on a Beatle single) and Old Brown Shoe is worthy of note as hidden gems.

They are two of my favourite George songs - The Inner Light for the Tao Te Ching inspired lyrics (Arrive without travelling, see all without looking, do all without doing) and Old Brown Shoe for the great groove.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I can make it longer if you like the style (The Beatles) #31 - 35

The Beatles We Can Work It Out/ Day Tripper  (Parlophone R 5389, 1965)

The Beatles Paperback Writer/ Rain  (Parlophone R 5452, 1966)

The Beatles Yellow Submarine/ Eleanor Rigby(Parlophone R 5493, 1966)

The Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny Lane  (Parlophone R 5570, 1967)

The Beatles All You Need Is Love/ Baby, You're A Rich man  (Parlophone R 5620, 1967)

On the surface things appear to be slowing down a bit after the first frenetic years of Beatle life. Five singles spread over three years and, shock, horror, probe - Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny lane doesn't make number one!! It being famously kept from the top spot in the UK by Arnold Dorsey (a.k.a. Engelbert Humperdinck) and his Release Me single.

But in reality it was still all go go go when you remember that there were three albums and a double EP released as well during the period these five singles came out: Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour!!!

The boys were on fire like never before!

The double A side singles (We Can Work It Out; Strawberry Fields Forever) point to the emergence of McCartney as a true equal to Lennon. As JWL influenced the early singles, Macca does the later years. At this point though it's even stevens.

Hidden gems: Rain is magnificent, as is Eleanor Rigby. And they are B sides! Eleanor made the Revolver album but Rain in 1966 was only to be found on the single. It's a clear sign of the staggering quality standards that the Beatles maintained. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Understand, it's true, yes it is, it's true (The Beatles) #26 - 30

The Beatles Can't Buy Me Love/ You Can't Do That  (Parlophone R 5114, 1964)

The Beatles A Hard Day's Night/ Things We Said Today (Parlophone R 5160, 1964)

The Beatles I Feel Fine/ She's A Woman  (Parlophone R 5200, 1964)

The Beatles Ticket To Ride/ Yes It Is   (Parlophone R 5265, 1965)

The Beatles Help/ I'm Down  (Parlophone R 5305, 1965)

The wave had crested (see the previous post) and it was going to take a while before it crashed onto shore (see a future post - some way off in the distance).

Five singles - five number two years. Wow!

These songs retain their power and absolute freshness nearly 50 years on. Stunning.

The Hey Jude compilation that I've mentioned many times in this blog is an early version of the Past Masters collections - that is - it collects A and B side singles that had not been previously put onto an album. Hey Jude begins on track one side one with Can't Buy Me Love. It sounds amazingly current in that context (the side ends with the B side to Hey Jude which is Revolution). Their sound and subject matter certainly evolved in the space of four years (Pink Floyd would regard that as a suitable time between albums!!) and yet those two songs still have the sparkle of relevancy, even nearly fifty years later. 

Hidden gems; the quality didn't let up on the B sides. Yes It Is is another This Boy exercise in FAB harmonies and again Lennon's vocal is a standout. Macca chimes in with the Little Richardesque I'm down - the boy could rock! I've included the songs greatest moment - Shea Stadium - when John goes rogue!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let me be your little dog 'til your big dog comes (Carl Perkins) #21 - 25 of 300 singles

Welcome to The Beatles alternate universe. It's a world of bootlegs, alternate B sides and different A sides, weird labels, and more.

The Beatles Twist and Shout/ Falling In Love Again  (Lingasong NB 1, 1977)

The Beatles Love Me Do/ I Saw Her Standing There   (Parlophone NZP 3158, ?)

The Beatles All My Loving/ Roll Over Beethoven   (Parlophone NZP 3158, ?)

The Beatles Slow Down/ Matchbox   (Apple 5255, ?)

The Beatles And I Love Her/ I Should Have Known Better   (Parlophone NZP, ?)

Toldja. Weird stuff. Apple? Lingasong? New Zealand red Parlophone singles with different songs and B sides? Yep - that's right.

The Lingasong single accompanied the Live! At The Star Club, Hamburg Germany 1962 double LP. It's raw and shoddy but of historic interest (only). Both songs are on the album so no hidden gems - just a bizarre choice for a B side.

The Apple one was part of an American reissue campaign and I have a complete set of the NZ red Parlophone singles which have came from swaps over the years with collectors (including Mr G Knowles) and other sources like radio NZ.  

Hidden gems: I Saw Her Standing There is a natural for a single and way better than the fairly lame Love Me Do but didn't ever appear on a UK single; Ringo is in top form as he tears into the Carl Perkins Matchbox; and George's cover of Chuck's Beethoven is also a superb side bar part of The Fabs' career.

What a band = four superb musicians, four fantastic singers with their own styles, and three world class writers (sorry Ritchie). Will we ever see there like again? Will we heck as like.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I'll always be true (The Beatles) #15 - 20 of 300 singles

Okay folks - hunker down for a doozy series of posts cos we've now reached The Beatles corner of my singles collection. Batches of five I think.

The Beatles Love Me Do/ P.S. I Love You   (Parlophone R 4949*, 1962)

The Beatles Please Please Me/ Ask Me Why   (Parlophone R 4983, 1963)

The Beatles From Me To You/ Thank You Girl   (Parlophone R 5015, 1963)

The Beatles She Loves You/ I'll Get You   (Parlophone R 5055, 1963)

The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand/ This Boy   (Parlophone R 5084, 1963)

The Beatles were a killer singles band. The best ever, and there is healthy competition for the title. The Beach Boys, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Bay City Rollers (just checking you were paying attention) - all great singles bands.

None of them can match the fabs.

What a roll call of hits. One after the other in quick succession and the quality just kept getting better (all the time). Within the space of five singles they'd conquered the world.

Amazingly only the first two singles (A + B sides) appeared on albums at the time (talking proper UK albums here, not the cobbled together US versions). Prolific and great value for money!

The other glaring fact is how John dominated the singles in the early days - all the lead vocals here are by Johnny Rhythm, although it's also clear how he and Macca combine their voices so well on these early ones. And check out those pronouns!

* I have multiple copies/pressings of Beatle singles/E.P.s and so the default numbers I've used will be the English versions.

Hidden gems: no fluff on any of these but This Boy is a key song. Lennon and those FAB harmonies are knockouts.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mindless conversation (Beady Eye)

Beady Eye The Beat Goes On/ In The Bubble With A Bullet   (Beady Eye Records, Beady6 2011)

I'm not a Beady Eye fan as such and my allegiance to Oasis (Beady Eye with Noel Gallagher) was sorely tested as they petered out with a series of CDs typified by ever dwindling returns. They had me up to and including Heathen Chemistry but I had to cling to hope from there on in.

I bought this single from Fopp in Covent Garden anyway cos it was a single on vinyl and it was 2011 and it could have been good - that 'hope' thing again.

It's not. The beat goes on huh? Sounds leaden and dull as dishwater. I always have to check I've got it on 45 rpm rather than 33 1/3. Yikes Liam! What on earth possessed you to release this as a single????

Hidden gem (no pun intended): Oh Jiminy Cricket YES! The B side is far superior. It's bright and shiny and bops along on a lovely bed of acoustic guitars and, yes, enthusiasm. Liam doesn't over sing it and it's pretty all around fine. Amazingly it doesn't appear on the album (yes I bought it and may have played it twice before bunging it on the shelf next to Dig Out Your Soul).


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

You never need to doubt it (The Beach Boys)

The Beach Boys The Beach Boys Medley/ God Only Knows   (Capitol, F 5030 1981)

I'm not a fan of the medley stuff that emerged after Stars on 45 hit it big. The Beach Boys (Mike Love's idea I bet) were one of many who jumped on the medley bandwagon. Although it reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's highest charting hit in the U.S. in over five years, it's still a bad idea. It kinda cheapens each song in turn and is ultimately an unsatisfying listening pleasure.

Hidden gem: The real gold is on the B side. Carl Wilson leaves us with a peerless collection of brilliant vocals on BB songs and he puts his heart and soul into God Only Knows.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I hear the sound of a gentle word (The Beach Boys)

The Beach Boys Good Vibrations / Let's Go Away For While (sic)  (Capitol, F 5676 1966)

This is a NZ pressing and I guess that's why there's a goof with the B side title. Sloppy work but there you go. Pretty purple Captol label though innit?

Voted the best single of ALL TIME!! by Mojo Magazine. I am not about to argue (but Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny Lane is not to be sneezed at folks).

Like millions around the world I love this song and I hear it a lot - it crops up on an expanding number of collections and still sounds wonderfully fresh.

I miss Carl Wilson and his gifts from God. When he sings GV I am lifted. Listen to the song as sung since his death and you'll hear what I miss.

Hidden gem: I wouldn't label Let's Go Away For Awhile a hidden gem. Not really. It's an instrumental and is probably more suited to a B side than Pet Sounds but it's probably sacrilege or something to suggest that.