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Beatles – Love 2LP

I just realized: if my calculations are correct, 2 days ago (this past Thursday) was my 300th day in quarantine here in the house. This. Is. SPARTA!

Also, this post finally (finally!) sees me at the end of this long Beatles run. This was a true endurance test for me, because I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan and, for a guy who’s not that into the band, I seem to own a hell of a lot of it.

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The Beatles – Love

I own this 2006 2LP set and I don’t know why. I mean, I saw it cheap and thought what the hell, but I never listen to it. 

It’s a bunch of remixes of Beatles songs as a soundtrack for a Cirque De Soleil (CDS) show. Done by George Martin and his son, it was meant to reimagine the songs we all know, and that it does. It was also the last album Martin produced before his 2016 death.

It was George Harrison who had the idea to use Beatles songs with the CDS, and all parties and estates signed off on this project. So, Martin put together over 100 clips of songs (more than they actually used), and then all the stretchy people of CDS put together a show.

There were two digital bonus tracks (The Fool On The Hill, and Girl), to drive somebody like Mike nuts lol.

 You can get background and release details here. And the track list is here.

 

 

Beatles – Let It Be… Naked

Phil Spector added all sorts of extras to songs on the Let It Be album, at the time. So, in 2003, Paul McCartney organized this remix of the album, without most of those bells and whistles, bringing the album back closer to the way the band intended it. It also replaces Dig It and Maggie Mae with a version of Don’t Let Me Down.

Interestingly, Harrison approved the project before he died, but Lennon always defended Spector’s work, and Starr liked it OK, so that’s the band split down the middle on it.  It’s up to you which you prefer. Personally, I like both well enough. While I’m well used to the original album, right now I would lean more towards this release. I like the track listing better, and I like things stripped down (that’s what she said).

My copy has the extra Fly On The Wall CD, which contains 22 minutes of song excerpts and dialogue from the Let It Be sessions. It’s supposed to provide insight into the band’s work in the studio. I’ll never play it again, likely, it’s just more stuff only deep fans would care about, really, a tag-on to be complete.

You can get all the notes and such here, and the track listing here.

 

 

Beatles – Anthology 3

I’d like to give a shout-out to the Toronto Maple Leafs for winning their first game of the 2020-2021 season last night, beating Montreal 5-4 in overtime. Go Leafs!

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Here’s the third rarities and alternative takes 2CD set in this series, companion to the TV special. This one covers from the initial sessions for The Beatles (the White Album) through to the last sessions of Let It Be and Abbey Road. 

As with the other two sets, there was to be one new Lennon song here, Now And Then, but Harrison strongly disliked the track. Instead, a George Martin instrumental called A Beginning is here (originally intended as an intro to Don’t Pass Me By on the White Album). It sounds like Disney backing music, and it’s less than a minute long. You can see the rest of the track listing and notes here.

I’ll post the same thing on all three of these in the series: I acknowledge that this is hallowed ground, but this is not for day-to-day listening, unless you’re deeply into the band, and truly invested in having every single thing they ever recorded in your collection.

Not gonna lie, this has been a lot of Beatles to get through, and while I’d thought I’d begun to lose interest in hearing all this a while ago, I’m truly getting to the end of my time with this band now. Luckily, there are only two more albums here in my collection (one I like, and one I don’t remember liking), and then I can move on.

 

Beatles – Anthology 2

Chronologically second in the series, as tied with the Anthology TV special, Anthology 2 contains more rarities, outtakes and live performances spanning from the 1965 Help! sessions to just before their trip to India in 1968, all on 2CDs. 

As with Anthology 1, there was one new song, Real Love, which was the only Beatles song to have him as sole writer. The other three added instruments to it, but didn’t change anything else. It’s OK, sounds like them. Overall, this set is what it is, an opportunity to hear things that might otherwise would only have been bootlegged by/for deep fans. You can see notes about it here, and the track listing here.

I’ll post the same thing on all three of these in the series: I acknowledge that this is hallowed ground, but this is not for day-to-day listening, unless you’re deeply into the band, and truly invested in having every single thing they ever recorded in your collection. 

 

Beatles – Anthology 1

We’re now entering the realm of the Beatles obsessed. Released as a tie-in to the TV special series, 1995’s 2CD set Anthology 1 contains outtakes, rare tracks and live performances from 1958 (when they were The Quarrymen) through to the Beatles For Sale sessions in 1964. It even has stuff featuring original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe and original drummer Pete Best. Folks also lost their mind about Free As A Bird, the first ‘new’ Beatles track in 25 years. You can find notes about the contents here, and the track listing here.

I’ll post the same thing on all three of these in the series: I acknowledge that this is hallowed ground, but this is not for day-to-day listening, unless you’re deeply into the band, and truly invested in having every single thing they ever recorded in your collection.  

 

Beatles – Live At The BBC

The first time I was aware this existed, I was visiting a minister’s house in Glasgow, Scotland, and noticed it in his collection. I asked if it was any good. Ha, what a thing to ask a Beatles fan/holy man.

Anyway, this 2CD 1994 compilation covers stuff from the 52 BBC broadcasts of the band between 1963-1965. There are 56 songs (30 of which were previously unreleased) and 13 dialogue tracks, though 275 performances of 88 songs were broadcast (36 of which never appeared on studio albums). You can see the track listing and all the notes about it here.

Recorded live in studio, it’s mostly cover tunes and talking that aired later. This stuff was bootlegged many times before this release, and as it was the first officially unreleased stuff since 1970, this was a pretty big deal to a lot of people.

It was a slog, for me, to go through all of this stuff, essentially going back to the start when I’ve already made it though their career. Before this series, I don’t think I’ve played this since I bought it, years ago. But there was such a plethora of different songs on here, I suppose it was worth it. The things I do for you, dear Readers!

 

* There was a second set, called On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2, released in 2013. I don’t have that and, frankly, I’m in no real hurry to add it to the collection.

 

Beatles – Past Masters Volume Two

Covering 1965-1970, this disc carries on the project begun by Volume One (yesterday’s post). You get 14 tracks from UK singles, including b-sides. The “Wildlife” version of Across The Universe is from a charity album called No One’s Gonna Change Our World, and the 1970 stereo mix of The Inner Light was previously only on a limited edition 1981 EP. You also get most of the tracks (except Can’t Buy Me Love and Should Have Known Better) from the Hey Jude EP, appearing here for the first time ever on CD (it was only ever on LP and CS, previously).

All the track info (with notes) can be found here.

 

 

 

Beatles – Past Masters Volume One

This compilation, which covers 1962-1965, was released as part of the move to put the band’s stuff onto CD for the first time, in the late 80s. What’s on it?

“Although they were probably the band that most transformed rock from a singles medium to an album-oriented form, the Beatles also released many singles and EP tracks that never made it onto albums. In the U.S., Capitol turned the group’s early LPs, through Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, into compilations, more or less, throwing the hit singles onto the vinyl to augment the album tracks. When the label later released the U.K. albums on CD, it posed a problem: What to do with the non-LP singles?” (Amazon)

The answer: “The set compiles every song released commercially by the band that was not available on the Beatles’ 12 original UK albums or the US Magical Mystery Tour LP…The majority of the Past Masters set consists of A- and B-sides from the band’s singles, including single versions of songs that appeared in a different form on the band’s albums. Also included are the full contents of the UK-only Long Tall Sally EP, two German-language tracks, a song recorded for the American market and a track released on a charity compilation album.” (Wiki)

The German tracks are Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand, and Sie Leibe Dich. The US-only track was Bad Boy.

My buddy Brian had this when we were in high school and played it a lot. It’s a good set, varied enough from most Hits sets to be interesting. The track listing (with full notes on song versions) is here.

 

 

Beatles – Love Songs

A 1977, 2LP compilation, this time of love songs (natch) from 1962-1970. My copy’s one of the clear yellow vinyl issues. Pretty sure mine is one of the simulated leather and gold foil covers (feels like it to me).

I got this one for free in 2014 (along with the Red and Blue LP sets) – I told this story here. Deep geeks will want to know about different mixes used here. And the track listing is here. 

Overall it’s an OK mix, definitely a different look versus yesterday’s compilation, but I mostly keep it for the cool clear yellow vinyls. Mine are in great shape, very pretty.

 

Beatles – Rock ’N’ Roll Music, Volume One

This is Volume One (I don’t own Volume 2).

This 1976, 28-track, 2LP compilation has originals and about a dozen cover tunes as well. It includes “I’m Down,” which was a b-side to Help!. The band didn’t like the cover, which is shiny and contains a lot of 50s imagery, because they’re a 60s band (they were, although influenced by the 50s) and it looks cheap (it does). There’s more info on the tapes used (and George Martin’s adjustment thereof), and the single released for it, here. And you can see the track list here.

For me, the covers were the most interesting part. I’ve heard a lot of Beatles in the last while, and it was a nice break to hear them do something else.

 

 

 

Beatles – 1967-1970 (“The Blue Album”)

Companion to the 1962-1966 (The Red Album) covered yesterday, this set spans 1967-1970. I have it here on 2LP. The contents herein are in the title, and it’s chock full of stuff you know (or should know). Geoff (whose blog you need to Follow) pointed out Yesterday (see what I did there) that this set fails to cover everything needed from the period, and I agree, but every Hits set is doomed from the start when facing so many hits and other fan favourites. Still, it’s almost 100 minutes of songs no one’s arguing about any actual inclusions here.

Just like the 1962-1966, it’s an enjoyable listen, but I reached my saturation point with these guys even before the end of the studio albums in this run-through, so listening back to these compilations is overkill for me right now. Someday this’ll be just what I needed to hear, though.

 

Beatles – 1962-1966 (“The Red Album”)

Update: WP tells me that this post today is the 250th in a row, a streak (as it says). That means 250 days since I got off my ass and started writing consistently round here again. I’ve been in quarantine longer than that, too.

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To quote a song from Revolver, this album was ‘here, there, and everywhere.’ Pretty sure everyone has a copy of this, even people who aren’t really Beatles fans, because it has all of the early stuff even the passingly curious would need to get an idea of what they were about. Part one of a two-part set (stay tuned tomorrow), as the title tells you it covers 1962-1966. I have it on a rather water-damaged (not caused by me) 2LP.

The 26 tracks here are all huge. You can check them out here. Interestingly, there are no George Harrison-written tunes on this set.

 

 

 

Beatles – Hey Jude

OK, now we’re past the studio albums, it’s time for the pile of extra stuff I have here. A lot of what’s left is compilations…

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1970’s Hey Jude [I have it on LP and cassette (!)] is a bunch of non-album singles and b-sides. If I read it right, Allen Klein worked a 1969 deal for one compilation album per year (which might explain why there’s so much Beatles stuff out there). So, this comp includes songs that didn’t appear on a Capitol album in the US, and spans their whole career, though it’s mostly later stuff. A bunch got overlooked, there’s more detail here.

Here’s the tracklist:

Side A

Can’t Buy Me Love
I Should Have Known Better
Paperback Writer
Rain
Lady Madonna
Revolution

Side B

Hey Jude
Old Brown Shoe
Don’t Let Me Down
The Ballad Of John And Yoko

 

Beatles – Let It Be

The Beatles’ 12th (and final) studio album, which I own on LP and CD) was released after they broke up. Mostly stuff they’d recorded before the split (under the name Get Back), they briefly reunited for two songs, a concert on the roof of the studio, and a film (which I’ve not seen). 

As we’ll see on a later release, here Phil Spector added orchestra, choir and studio chatter to the album, as well as removing Don’t Let Me Down (already on a single) to make space for Across The Universe.  

Again, lots you already know here, including Two Of Us, Across The Universe, Let It Be, The Long And Winding Road, and Get Back. There’s slow bluesy swagger (Dig A Pony, I Me Mine), and two short idea/farts in Dig It and Maggie Mae. On Side B there’s good rockin’ (I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909), and acoustic blues slap (For You Blue).

This record is what I imagine it’d sound like if you took the early Beatles, skipped the rest of their career but aged them that decade anyway, then told them to make a (mostly) laid-back roots-feeling record, no real druggy weirdness or mysticism. For a collection of stuff thrown together after their break-up, this was probably, oddly, the most palatable record of theirs, for me.

 

Beatles – Abbey Road

The Beatles’ 1969 11th studio album, which I have on LP and CD, has that famous cover art that’s been emulated and parodied (RHCP!) often. I’ll bet this is a favourite for a lot of folks, and in reading about it I learned that this was “…the Beatles’ only album recorded exclusively through a solid-state transistor mixing desk, which afforded a clearer and brighter sound than the group’s previous records.” Maybe that has something to do with it (not to mention all the songs you know on here). I know I love Something and Here Comes The Sun, and I don’t have a whole lot of favourite Beatles tracks, so that’s saying something. Er, Something.

“Production lasted from February to August 1969, and the closing track “The End” marked the final occasion that all four members recorded together. John Lennon privately left the group six days before the album’s release; Paul McCartney publicly declared the band’s break-up the following April.”

There was one non-album single from these sessions, The Ballad Of John And Yoko b/w Old Brown Shoe.

Once again, lots of songs we all know, including: Come Together, Something, Octopus’ Garden, Here Comes The Sun, You Never Give Me Your Money, and She Came In Through The Bathroom Window. There’s jaunty piano (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), old 50s balladry (Oh! Darling), psych blues slow jamming [I Want You (She’s So Heavy)], and vocal choir over minimal guitar (Because). 

Then it’s a Side 2 medley of eight short songs. There’s You Never Give Me Your Money, some dreamy drifting (Sun King), jangly blues (Mr. Mean Mustard), acoustic rocking over pounding drums (Polythene Pam), pretty balladry (Golden Summers), She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, uplifting group vocals (Carry That Weight), and closing the medley on the good old rockin’ of the appropriately-titled The End, the last song recorded together, but there’s also a lighter ending, with that famous line “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” 

There’s a hidden song after all this, Her Majesty, a short, jazzy-feeling goof track that slides from left ear to right ear. Personally, I’d have left it off, the message of The End was enough. But there’s (of course) a whole story about how it got left in. The band liked it, so I guess they wouldn’t have listened to me anyway.

 

Beatles – Yellow Submarine

Apparently this was recorded before, and released after, The Beatles (White Album). I have the CD, and it’s the Beatles’ 10th studio (contractual obligation and it shows) album, and soundtrack to the animated film of the same name. It has six songs by the Beatles (four new songs, and previously-released Yellow Submarine and All You Need Is Love). The rest is orchestral work by George Martin. I gather, from minimal reading, that it hasn’t been considered a major release.

It starts with the title track, we know this one. Harrison’s clanky cacophony Only A Northern Song has interesting lyrics, cynicism about the chords and the band, because hey man, nothing is real. All Together Now has an acoustic kids song feel, counting to ten, rhyming off letters to the alphabet and other such lyrics with a repetitive chorus. They were thumbing their noses at this project, right? Hey Bulldog tries hard to be slinky and bluesy, and sort of succeeds. It’s All Too Much is a psych rock guitar feedback thing with elements changing all the time. All You Need Is Love is next, this time a stereo re-release. 

The orchestral stuff is interesting enough, in and of itself, but I doubt anyone actually listens to it all that often. Be honest. 

I always thought of this as almost a side project, not a full-on album, and I came away from this now with the same thought.

 

Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album)

1968 saw (perhaps) the Beatles’ most ambitious project yet, which I own on 2LP and 2CD. A deceptively-plain white covered double album, it covers a lot of ground, from their more recent avant garde and eastern sounds back to blues, rock, country, reggae and folk. Most of the songs were written during a transcendental meditation retreat in India. This is where Yoko Ono became a major point of contention in the band too. This, among many other things (like Ringo Starr quitting the band for two weeks, and George Martin leaving for vacation during recording), was the beginning of the end. There’s lots more (recommended reading) here.

There are so many songs you already know, and tons you should. I’m truly not lazy, and I have played it through, but I honestly feel like trying to go through every track on this in words would take a lifetime, and I’m not that invested in it. So, I’ll simply list them and you can see for yourself (and explore seperately, as needed):

Side 1 

Back In The U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Side 2

Martha My Dear
I’m So Tired
Blackbird
Piggies
Rocky Raccoon
Don’t Pass Me By
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
I Will
Julia

Side 3

Birthday
Yer Blues
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Long, Long, Long

Side 4

Revolution 1
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Cry Baby Cry
Revolution 9
Good Night

Whew. As you can see, there’s a bunch you know on here, and you’ll have already formed your own thoughts on them. For me, this was such a wide, varied listen, taken in one sitting, that it was actually sort of hard to get a handle on it. It’s kind of exhausting, if you let it in. 

There were songs I knew from years ago and hadn’t heard since, songs I actually like (While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Yer Blues, for example), hits we all know, many we should probably know, tracks with huge history (Helter Skelter, and Charles Manson’s subsequent misinterpretation, etc)… Yeah, it’s a lot.

Of note, Hey Jude and Revolution (not the same as Revolution 1 or 9 on the album) were released seperately as a single before the album’s release, so they do not appear on the album proper.

In the final analysis, I didn’t mind the album, but I’d have to break it up into chunks for future listens. Maybe a side at a time, or at most one record at a time, because it’s too much for me in one go. I’m not that invested in the band, though I do “get it.”

I think.

 

Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

A double EP in the UK (because why not), and an LP in the US, this 1967 collection includes the soundtrack to the TV film of the same name plus a few extra songs. It carries on the studio trickery they’d started on Sgt. Pepper’s, and the substance-inpired pscyhedelic leanings present since Revolver, all while the band went deeper into their transendental meditation practices with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

I have this on LP and CD, but have probably only played it once before this. There are tracks here we all know, like the flute-driven The Fool On The Hill, the fuzzy druggy I Am The Walrus (“No you’re not!”, said little Nicola), and the repetitive but sweet Hello, Goodbye with its hilariously bad video. There’s also Strawberry Fields Forever, which is fun because we saw it in Central Park, and Penny Lane (both previously on single format), and the sweet message of All You Need Is Love. I like its time signature. 

The title track shifts a bunch, and repeats itself a ton, but hey. Flying Is a trippy blues until it just fades away pointlessly. Blue Jay Way gives me a chuckle, because there’s a steet/path in front of Skydome (er, whatever it’s called now) in Toronto, clearly an homage to the song and a nod to the team. But the song itself keeps the slow psych fart blues going, slow and dragging until its midpoint, where it speeds up and gets weirder. Clearly they only used the title for association… Your Mother Should Know brings back a bit of their more normal sound, repetitive and sweet enough, and gets clearer as it goes on. Baby, You’re A Rich Man’s guitars hold it together as it bangs along.

The LP is cool, with the booklet pages inside, etc. It’s why we like LPs, the packaging is larger and usually cooler, right? Yeah. Also, it’s an interesting thought to me, over these last couple of records, that when you hear these weirder, far-out tracks on a Hits set they seem cool enough, but a whole album of them requires far more forgiveness and patience.

 

Beatles – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles’ 8th studio album, in 1967 (which I own on CD and LP), has been considered a critical part of the Summer Of Love, and 60s culture in general. A double a-side single of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever was released, and both songs were left off the album. Insanity. Anyway, there’s a heap more you should absolutely read right here.

Lots of songs here you know (not to mention the aforementioned single), like the title track, With A Little Help From My Friends, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, When I’m Sixty Four, and A Day In The Life. There’s bluesy pop rebellion with pretty dark content (Getting Better), deceptive simplicity (Fixing A Hole), and sadness (She’s Leaving Home). More, there’s a wacky carnival tale (Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!), and more Eastern mysticism fascination (Within You Without You), a jaunty goofy love song (Lovely Rita), and a compressed trip into twisted rock (Good Morning Good Morning). The title track is reprised, too.

Taken as a whole, this record is quite a trip. Being in the studio with no time limit certainly changed and/or solidified their approach. Throw in their continuing maturation, mystic quests, probably some great drugs, and the general collapse of the 60s, and you’ve got this heady soup of an album. The Beatles you’ve known to this point are still in there, in spades, but the presentation is forever altered now, methinks.  

 

Beatles – Revolver

The Beatles 7th studio album (which I have here on LP and CD) was recorded in 1966. It was “the Beatles’ final recording project before their retirement as live performers and marked the group’s most overt use of studio technology to date, building on the advances of their late 1965 release Rubber Soul. It has since become regarded as one of the greatest and most innovative albums in the history of popular music, with recognition centred on its range of musical styles, diverse sounds, and lyrical content.

Also, some say it was “the start of the group’s psychedelic period, the songs reflect their interest in the drug LSD, Eastern philosophy and the avant-garde while addressing themes such as death and transcendence from material concerns. With no plans to reproduce their new material in concert, the band made liberal use of automatic double tracking, varispeed, reversed tapes, close audio miking, and instruments outside of their standard live set-up.

Yeah, that’s a lot of copy-paste from Wiki but it’s better than me trying to make it sound like I know what the hell I’m talking about!

Combined with Rubber Soul, though, I finally feel like they’d managed to progress past their boy band poppy selves and into an album-length interesting band. A lot of the tracks here are miles away from stuff from only three years before… imagine falling into a coma loving their She Loves You period, then waking up and hearing trippy stuff like Tomorrow Never Knows… you’d think it was two different bands! Well, at least until you heard Got To Get You Into My Life, but it must’ve been hard to completely shift away from their early moneymaker. 

I knew every song here, so my Mom must’ve played her copy of this a lot. I thought Taxman and Eleanor Rigby ended a little early, and Yellow Submarine was just goofy. Good Day Sunshine was simple, almost like a kids album track. But Here, There And Everywhere and For No One were nice, and even the wonky piano of I Want To Tell You kept things interesting. 

In Sum: The point of my going through all of these albums is to give them a fair shake in 2020, to see if my general preference for things other than this band holds true. It’s not to win me over, to make me regret my years of generally avoiding them. So far, I do much prefer stuff like this to their early pop, but not all of it grabbed me completely. Your mileage will vary. I do acknowledge their spirit of adventure, though.

 

Beatles – Rubber Soul

The Beatles’ 6th studio album, which I have on LP and CD, has ten of the fourteen songs and two tracks withheld from Help! previously. I didn’t know that the album title derives from “plastic soul,’ a colloquialism acknowledging their own feelings of lacking authenticity compared to African-American soul artists they admired. 

This, too: Rubber Soul was highly influential on the Beatles’ peers, leading to a widespread focus away from singles and onto creating albums of consistently high-quality songs. It has been recognised by music critics as an album that opened up the possibilities of pop music in terms of lyrical and musical scope, and as a key work in the creation of styles such as psychedelia and progressive rock. (Wiki)

For me, this is where it finally started to get interesting on a level where I pay more attention. I think it has to do with the feel of the album, gentler and more thoughtful, overall. There are also new instruments and arrangement options here than previously, and I can dig that. Even the love songs are more mature, with less sap and more experience. Is this where they finally grew up? I guess we’ll see!

And there are a ton of songs you know here, like Drive My Car, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, I’m Looking Through You, and In My Life. My Dad used to sing the hook line from Michelle all the time, often to himself without really being aware he was doing it (and with mangled French). There are clunkers, like What Goes On’s atonal underwhelming blues, or the plod of Girl, or Run For Your Life’s incredibly dark lyrics (!), but tracks I didn’t remember, such as the swing of Wait, or the early-psych of If I Needed Someone, make up for it. 

You know something, objectively, this wasn’t a bad album. In fact, this combination of elements made it the most palatable for me, thus far. Only took 6 records to do it, ha!

 

Beatles – Help!

Here we hit the first gap in my Beatles stack – I do not own their fourth studio album, Beatles For Sale. My collector’s brain calls this an oversiiiiiight, but I also feel a general shrug, like, if I see a cheap regular copy of it in good condition some day, I’ll grab it. So, instead, we move on to their fifth studio album…

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This is a soundtrack to the film of the same name (which won’t be covered here). Seven of the fourteen songs here are in the film. Here in North America the LP had those seven songs and the instrumental music from the film, while the other seven songs were spread over Rubber Soul and Beatles VI. Can you tell I’m quoting Wiki? These differences in releases hurt my head.

My LP and CD copies have the fourteen album tracks. The title track and Ticket To Ride we all know well. Yesterday is probably one of their biggest songs, and it still sounds alright to me (I never minded it, maudlin as it can be at times). Last time I heard You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, it was a decent cover by Eddie Vedder. I do like this song, it’s somehow more stripped back and clear. Beatles unplugged, ha.

 You’re Gonna Lose That Girl sounds like a 50s sock hop track, Act Naturally is country (I know), and Dizzy Miss Lizzy tries to bring back Twist And Shout attention. A couple of the songs, like You Like Me Too Much and I’ve Just Seen A Face have great intros that morph jarringly into very different-sounding songs, not sure what’s up with that. The rest are, to me, interchangeable with the teenager love note songs from albums previous.

I’m glad they kept that better production they finally achieved on Hard Day’s Night, and overall I didn’t mind the album. There are actually songs I like, here. I still find myself wanting to skip the insipid relationship songs, grown men singing like they’re fourteen years old. I know it sold records, but here in 2020, in my mid-40s, those sound like a waste of the resources they had at their disposal.

 

Beatles – The Beatles’ Story 2LP

Still in 1964, with this one. Not even sure why I own it.

Mostly a talking record, you get brief bios of the members and Brian Epstein, short interviews, cheesy elements galore, but hey, if it works it works. There are short song clips as well. Production notes, the Hard Day’s Night movie, and nothing about Pete Best, among many other things. If you’re curious, the whole track listing is here.

Will I ever play this again? Probably not. 

 

Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

That opening chord… The band’s third studio album, the first where all songs were Lennon/McCartney. Side one is songs from their film of the same name (which won’t be covered here), though our North American release (my old LP has the cover pictured at left) had a different track listing (of course). 

My Mom still has her old original LP from the 60s, I remember it well. Consequently, there are fewer unknown or deep cuts here for me. Every single song is their template high school love poetry lyrics, but that’s the bread and butter that kept the girls screaming, so naturally it’s everywhere. Also, paradoxically, this sounds somehow more mature. It must be the production, the actual sound, but it improves the experience. I may also not know a damn thing about any of this. Your mileage will vary.

 

Beatles – Long Tall Sally lp

According to Wiki, in 1964 this mono LP was released as the final album to be released exclusively in Canada. After this release, Beatles’ records in Canada would match the group’s US releases (it was a mess before this).  This has almost the same cover as the US release of The Beatles Second Album.

To further muddy the waters, it was deleted in 1967, but reissued in 1971 with two other albums in Capitol’s ‘6000 Series,’ and again in 1976 in “Dual mono/simulated stereo,” which put higher frequencies on the right side and lower on the left.

It’s a compilation of originals and covers, with two tracks from the UK EP Long Tall Sally, and four tracks from Beatlemania! With The Beatles. See why all of this stuff hurts my head? The differences in releases (covers, track listings, names) is a real pain only deep fans will care to sort out and collect.

For all that, this is a decent-enough listen. 

 

Side A: I Want To Hold Your Hand / I Saw Her Standing There / You Really Got A Hold On Me / Devil In Her Heart / Roll Over Beethoven / Misery

Side B: Long Tally Sally / I Call Your Name / Please, Mr. Postman / This Boy / I’ll Get You / You Can’t Do That

 

Beatles – With The Beatles

Just eight months after dropping their debut, the Beatles released their second album before 1963 was over. It contains seven songs written by Lennon/McCartney, one George Harrison tune, and 6 cover songs. Naturally, so close together, the sound continues over from the debut, all jangly guitars, vocal harmonies, lovelorn or in-love lyrics, and that early rock beat.

There are hits, of course, and songs we all know. What I’d consider deep cuts (but which are probably beloved tracks) carry the torch ably enough. Even songs you may not have heard before seem to pull you in to that sound and, despite knowing it kind of sounds like many others you’ve already heard, you’ll somehow still stick it out til the end. 

 

Beatles – Please Please Me

This next bit is going to be interesting.

I don’t choose to play this band’s music, in my day-to-day, yet I own a pile of it. Why? Nostalgia? I grew up on the Beatles songs from my Mom’s jukebox (she says those 45s are my inheiritance). Is it because the music collector in me knows they are a part of this complete breakfast? Or because of Boomer-dominated culture saying I should?

In fact, the Boomers will swear to their graves that this is the best band ever. Me? Before diving into this part of the series, I say they’re OK, but I prefer the darker blues of the Stones. Yeah I know.

I don’t even know if I’ll get the chronology right – their discography is a mess, between UK and US releases so, if these posts are out of order, it’s just me not getting it right.

Alright, here we go into an interesting corner of my collection – stuff I own, but why?

***

So this is the debut, from 1963. I tried my best to imagine hearing this for the first time as a teen in 1963, how formative it would have been, of course remembering that rock and roll as we know it was still relatively nascent and fresh, then. I can see how it would capture folks, there are certainly hummable melodies, and there are major hits (and shoulda-beens) here. Wiki says 8 of these 14 songs were McCartney/Lennon. 

Starting an album with “She was just 17, and you know what I mean” (I Saw Her Standing There) has always been creepy, and “I love you because you tell me things I want to know” (Ask Me Why) doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship, but throughout the album they’re mostly just trying out all the current styles to see what would stick. There are poppy rockers, maudlin ballads, cover tunes, and those mid-tempo 60’s radio tunes that were everywhere. Some of it is smart, and some of it is definitely high school drippery. Understandable, on a debut album.

From a guitar perspective, though, this is a wealth of that (now vintage) Vox chime beauty, and one could probably get a whole education in early guitar rock from a record like this. I found my ear going more to the guitar lines than anything they were singing about.

Overall, I’m not a convert because of this, but it is what it is, and it’s quite good for what it is.

 

Na

Not my work (found it online), but it pleased me:

Oh John

Ba ha ha ha!

Mail From Jedi Master Lebrain

Mail From Jedi Master Lebrain

subtitle: The AAAA Welcomes New Residents!

Ages ago, and because he is super-amazing, Mike said he was gonna hook me up with the Blue Rodeo live album, Just Like A Vacation. Wahoo! I sure do like me some Blue Rodeo, but I never owned the live album. Go figure, I’ve never seen them live either (oversiiiiight!).

Anyway, it took a little while, but it came to pass that I had something to send to him, too (you’ll hear that story shortly, I’m sure), so we mailed to each other on the same day. The Canada Post race was on! I won that race, but only by one day, and only because the central mail depot is nearMike‘s house, so of course it was easier to get things to him quickly. The rutted wagon trail to my town means it takes a bit longer for the mail delivery to reach us… not to mention the constant threat of highway robbery by bandits hiding in the woods… Ha. Still, it was only the very next day after Mike got his thing that I got… well, it was more than the Blue Rodeo set. A LOT MORE.

I came home yesterday morning to this:

IMAG2954

 

 

 

 

 

Holy shit.

That does not look like a box that contains a single CD case of a Blue Rodeo concert, to me…

So.

Did I miss a memo that said Christmas was being moved to May, this year? First, Geoff sent me awesomeness. And now Mike has overloaded my senses with more greatness?! The words ‘above and beyond,’ as regards recent events and this box (which named me Jedi Master Aaron) simply cannot do this justice. Check this out:

IMAG3015

 

 

 

Let’s have a look at the contents, shall we…

1) Two CDs (well, technically 3):

a) Blue Rodeo – Just Like A Vacation (2CD). The reason for the mailing! That band always hits me just right. I cannot wait to dig into all of the goodness sure to be contained within this set! THANKS HEAPS, MIKE!

b) Alice Cooper – A Fistful Of Alice. It looks to be a Hits set (and will therefore be double awesome because 1) Alice, and 2) Alice’s Hits!). Excellent!! “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”

2) Two copied cassettes:

a) Samson – Head First / Shock Tactics. This is gonna be brilliant. I’ve never heard any Samson (I don’t think so, anyway). It even has a typed j-card with fancy fonts on the titles. Bring on the Bruce Bruce!

b) Hellacopters – Grande Rock. I’ve heard individual songs from these guys, here and there, but never owned an album. This’ll be great!!

3) Two books:

a) Robert Hilburn – Johnny Cash: The Life. How awesome is this? Oh my goodness. A pull-quote on the cover from Rolling Stone declares it “The ultimate Johnny Cash biography.” This is going to the top of the reading pile!

b) Brian Southall – The Beatles In 100 Objects: The Story Of The World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Band Through The Items They Used, Created And Inspired. Whoa. I didn’t even know this book existed. A quick flip through it reveals guitars, post cards, gig posters, a car… This is gonna be a huge, enlightening read! What a splendid idea for a book.

In Sum:

This is just incredible. Seriously. I am flabbergasted. The generosity that has been raining down on the KMA’s Ontario offices lately has been astounding. Mike. Mike Mike Mike. Thank you. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!

March Break Thrift Shop Scores

March Break Thrift Shop Scores

Every once in a while, I prowl our local thrift shop.* Every time I post an album and say “hey, I bought this for $2!” this is where I’ve found it. It’s also worth noting, before we go much further, that I have come across many wonderful things there that I’ve left behind. Why? Quality of the item. So many times I’ve found great things, like a CD I really want, and everything is in great shape except the CD is all scratchy because some people are animals and treat their CDs like an animal would. I will only buy from there when the whole item is in perfect shape. Collection integrity!

Now, I haven’t been keeping stats on success rates, but it’s more often that I don’t find anything at all that I’d want. However, every once in a while, I find some cool things. A good recent example is that Peter Gabriel album I posted about, the one all sung in German. The cool finds make it worth all the times I don’t find anything.

On a recent foray, I did find some cool things, in a few formats. Thought I’d tell you about it:

DVD: rage against the machine – Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium ($2.99)

This is cool because it documents (what was, at the time) their last gig. Of course, they reunited in 2007 but at the time, when everyone thought this was going to be the end, emotions were gonna be high. Can’t wait to watch it.

BOOK: C.R. Avery – 38 Bar Blues** ($1.99)

Cool collection of poetry from this one-of-a-kind artist. I read snippets here and there and I can’t wait to dig further into it!

CASSETTES***: Beatles – The Beatles Ballads: 20 Original Tracks/ 20 Greatest Hits ($0.99 each)

I looked these up on Discogs, and in the NM or M condition of my copies, they’re worth enough to hang onto them. Very cool!

CD: The Story Of THEM featuring Van Morrison: The Anthology 1964-1966 (2CD) ($1.99)

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this! I sure do love me some Van Morrison, and his early years have been a hole in my collection thus far. But this set, my goodness! CD1 is 26 tracks, CD2 is 24. I went from not having much Them in my collection to having 50 tracks of awesome sauce, all in one fell swoop!

When we got home, I looked this up on Amazon, and I was shocked to see these prices: Used from $81.69, new at $120.95! Of course, I went on Discogs and there are two copies (one used, one new) for under $40, but still. I paid $2 for the whole 2CD set! SCORE!

And there you go.

I was quite happy with my little finds, and for $8.95 total, I think I got some pretty great scores.  I’ll keep trolling the bins, never know what will turn up next…

 

* For those of you in Canada, yep, it’s our local Value Village.
** Yes, this breaks my TBR20 rules of not buying more books, but I couldn’t leave this one, at $2.
*** Yeah yeah, I know, I know, tapes. I’ve never stopped playing them. They work fine for me. 🙂

Total. Score.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Rush series to bring you this breaking news update:

My lovely wife took today off from work, giving us a lovely long weekend. Of course, we had some administrative stuff to do downtown (who doesn’t love going to the bank and the post office?) but then we were free to our own devices after that.

On our way back to the car, we passed the back of our local branch of the Salvation Army store, where people drop off their donations. Ah, I see you’re already guessing where this is going…

Yes, a guy was there with a trailer full of stuff, piling it all onto the pavement. At the front of the pile, two boxes of vinyls. Of course, I had to dig through them. Initially, my fears were confirmed – a lot of crap I had no desire to hear. There were a few Bread, Earth Wind & Fire records, some Elton John and Eagles (though as I dug through, he said ‘Eagles! Those shouldn’t be in there!’ and took them back).  But most of it wasn’t for me.

There were, however, a few musts. And how much did he want for them? Nothing. I said “Seriously, Dude, let me give you money for these.” He wouldn’t hear of it. Wouldn’t even let me buy him a coffee. He was just happy they were going to a good home. I KNOW!

Folks, here is my TOTALLY FREE score from today:

IMAG4881

Yup.

Most of the vinyls are pristine and all inserts are intact, though Record 1 of the White Album looks like it has a few really light surface scratches – they shouldn’t affect playback. Honestly, these look like they were hardly ever played, if at all. Sadly, the packaging for the Red collection (1962-1966) has some water damage to the front cover, which has caused the two halves to get stuck together. I tried gently prying them apart but they’re fairly well glued, so I won’t pull them anymore. The records themselves, though, are perfect. And who cares? They were FREE!

I’m most intrigued by that collection of Love Songs with the yellow vinyls. They look neat! A quick search of Discogs (using the catalog #) shows a copy like mine to be $35-$40, but they’re worth more than that to me. They’re just neat (and the vinyls are in perfect shape).

So. Am I thrilled? HELLS YES. I still feel bad that the guy wouldn’t take anything for them. I really did try to pay him for them. Heck, I didn’t even catch his name. But he seemed cool with it, so I guess it’s alright.

A chance encounter, some random guy, and some really awesome records.

It was a very, very good day.

The Fifth Beatle

Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, Kyle Baker – The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story

Yes, I am starting 2014 off with two book reviews in a row. The library has been good to me.

This is a fascinating book. The artwork is stunning, and the story is one that, the introduction states, many people don’t really know about. For such a short time as he had on this planet, Brian Epstein did one helluva lot with his adult life. He was manager of the Beatles from the get-go (really responsible for their huge rise, in conjunction with their talent, of course). He was manager for other acts as well,  and continued to run the family record store business during most of the crazy years. He also, personally, endured hardship in the face of England’s attitudes (and laws) towards homosexuality. This is an infectious read that sweeps the reader grandly along, but it wasn’t until my mind had had time to process it all (after I was done reading), that the full weight of what he accomplished, and in the face of so much, really sank in as a complete picture. Two thumbs up.

Sabbath, Nirvana, BTO, Beatles and The Hip

At long last, here’s another batch of favourites. I will get to yours soon, I swear!

16 MIKE: Black Sabbath – Born Again

Directly From Mike: “Favourite record — I always give the same answer.  Black Sabbath – Born Again.  Considered by some to be one of their worst, due to the horrible production and the addition of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple on vocals.  Me being a Gillan fan, and this being the first Sabbath album I ever heard (didn’t even know Ozzy was in the band back then), this has a warm place in my black, black heart.”

I’ve posted Mike’s response exactly, because after all, what else can I say to add to that? I played this record and to me, without Ozzy, the band is sub-Sabbath. Still brilliant, just less. I listen to Sabbath fairly regularly, but I must admit I’ve never even give this one any thought. Way to go, Mike! Your years spent working in a record shop are showing!

17 MATT: Nirvana – Nevermind

It was inevitable that someone would pick this record. Yes, it was seminal, yes it changed the way the world made rock music for a decade, yes Cobain was a tortured genius (even if, as radiohead said “you do it to yourself, and that’s what really hurts”). What really freaked me out about Matt choosing this one was that he said he was in public school when he first heard it. Man, that makes me feel old. Who did we have in public school, Bon Jovi? Gowan? Glass Tiger, ferchrissakes? What a difference.

I almost didn’t even need to play this record again. Just looking at the track listing on the back of the CD case instantly brought every track fully into my head, but I played it anyway and I loved it for all the reasons I did way back when. It’s loud, it’s angry, it’s messy, it’s slightly out of control (in a very controlled, calculated kind of way, but still). I still contend that Bleach is better, but this is the slick, monumental crest of that wave of grunge, and the world is indelibly altered because of it.

18 JIM: Bachman Turner Overdrive – Four Wheel Drive

What fun! This is pure, balls-out 70’s guitar rawk. Even better, it’s Canadian! We all know this band’s biggest songs, but it was a real pleasure to hear a record that was mostly album tracks that weren’t massive hits. It’s proof that this band had a lot backing up the songs we’ve all heard, and boy do they ever. This record weighs a ton in solid riffs and leads.

I had a bit of a hard time not injecting the words to You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet into the song Hey You (they do sound the same, in certain ways), but that’s OK. It’s all good. I really liked this record. Classic stuff.

19 PHILLIP: Beatles – The Beatles (White Album)

I asked Phillip what his favourite was and he didn’t even hesitate – he said this record. I have to agree, this one is pretty fucking sweet. I like the later Beatles a whole lot more than I like the early Beatles. Call it blasphemy, but that whole early, smarmy tripe thing didn’t sit nearly as well with me as did the band that gave us The Ballad Of John And Yoko. Excellent musicians, just not always the greatest song choices in their formative years. I say that as a Stones fan, you realize.

An excellent choice, Phil. Of all the Beatles albums, I agree, this one is stunning from start to finish. Most bands would give their left nut (and half of their right) to make even one track as good (or weird) as any of these.

20 MARSHA: Tragically Hip – Road Apples

I love the Hip. LOVE! And so does Marsha, apparently. Although she claims to be a HUGE fan and wasn’t even aware of the existence of their box set. Oh well. Such is the love that this band has garnered in this country. It asks no questions. It just rocks out to their tunes, and goes to see them in concert no matter what pot-hole they play in next.

Lots of people find the Hip repetitive and/or boring and/or annoying, and I even know a couple of people (an ex-girlfriend of mine included) who can’t stand Gord Downie’s voice like they can’t stand nails on a chalkboard. But I say it sucks to be them. That’s ‘Little Bones.’ I mean really, get with the program!

This is straight-on great rock/poetry as only the Hip can offer it up, and “we’re all richer for having heard them this evening.” (for those non-Hip fans out there, that’s a quote from the live record, so please try to keep up). Road Apples is one fan-freaking-tastic song after another until it ends far too soon. Just imagine, this happened before (before!) Fully Completely. They are truly unstoppable!

Bob Dylan, Belle And Sebastian, Carole King, Beatles, Black Crowes, Guns ‘N Roses

Here’s the next batch of your favourites!

05 IRWIN: Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy

Irwin is the biggest Bob Dylan fan I know (and I know several). His response came back to the Favourites query immediately, with Oh Mercy. I trust he’s heard most of the Dylan catalogue by now and, of them all, this is the one for him.

I’ve already reviewed this record in these pages, and it is indeed a brilliant collection from a peerless artist. It is another of Dylan’s generous efforts to wake us up, to shake us out of our complacency and do something about the world and our lives. Dylan knows his role perfectly well. Do you?

06 SHENA: Belle And Sebastian – Tigermilk

Our great friend Shena from the mighty Mint Records chimed in with Belle and Sebastian as her favourite, and I was so glad she did. I remember loving this album the first time I heard it, and it sent me running to find everything else they’d recorded, but to be honest I haven’t played it in so long, which is a real shame… however, here was the perfect opportunity to strap back in!

Few bands can offer up a debut album this infectious, this excellent, this delicious. Every note is perfectly placed, every song is delivered with a clever wink and a knowing smile, and their playful, clear sound reigns supreme. Thank you, Shena, for reminding me that this gem of an album belongs in my playlist!

07 MY MOM: Carole King – Tapestry

My Mom selected this as her favourite record, which surprised me a bit, at first. I would have lost money by betting on sure shots like the Beatles or Elvis.

Well, I played this record and my childhood came flooding back. I knew every song, and it’s because that beat up copy of this record got a lot of play. It’s probably still somewhere in the house we grew up in. Funny how you can associate songs and albums with people and places. Mom had the jukebox full of 45s, hence my sure bets that lost, but this LP was always present too.

And what did I think of it now? Well, my memory didn’t do it much justice. There’s more here than I remembered, smarter songs and power unremembered. Yes, a lot of these songs get played as background music in malls now, and that’s pretty sad. There’s plenty more to it than that. Way to go, Mom.

08 MY DAD: Beatles – Hey Jude

My Dad knows what he likes when it comes to music, but not always the names of the artists or albums. That kind of information doesn’t interest him at all. After seeing Forrest Gump, he said, “There was music?” And so on.

This song and artist, however (of course), he knows. It’s his favourite song of all time. It was on my Mom’s jukebox all those years, and the one he liked to hear best. Of course, when we were kids we liked it well enough, but it just went on and on (and it really does, especially at the end). “Great song in need of editing. Apply within.” And it is a great song, with an interesting history that you should look up on Wikipedia, some time (especially the bit about Lennon swearing during it).

I couldn’t find an album this came from (although it’s long enough to be it’s own album, haha). If you know more than me, I’ll happily be enlightened by your comments. Looks to me like this was only ever on a 45. But we’ll let Dad away with it for this project, because he really, really likes this song.

09 MY SISTER: Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion

I am totally not surprised that my sister chose this as her favourite record. She’s one of the biggest Crowes fans I know, has been for years. There was a time when I loved the Black Crowes, especially this one and its predecessor. As they progressed, I sort of lost interest in them. They had great songs after that, in my opinion, but they never topped this (sophomore) album.

Every song here is a gem. At many points, the record really rocks with their Stones-inspired bluesy swagger, and then at other times it can be so gentle it hurts. There’s the obvious hits, and hidden masterpieces worthy of every playlist. It’s messily perfect, in every way.

10 RUTH: Guns ‘N Roses – Appetite For Destruction

Some of the responses to this query have surprised me a bit, like this one from Ruth. Not that I’m faulting her for making this choice – this is a fantastic record. But sometimes you think you generally know someone and then they come up with something that doesn’t quite fit what you’d have guessed. This, may I say for the record, rules. I love that things are unpredictable.

Appetite has already been reviewed in these pages, and I stand by what I said. It’s a sweet blast of sweaty rock that is as much raw punk as it is 80’s hair metal. And, even more so, it is all about Slash. That Les Paul guitar dominates this record.

rhymeallnight.com/

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