Archive for the ‘Beatles’ Category

Mourning John

December 8, 2010

Thirty years ago tomorrow morning, my Mom gently knocked on my bedroom door. “I have some terrible news,” she said.

Like everyone else, I was stunned at John Lennon’s murder — stunned, then devastated. I wore my black “All You Need Is Love” t-shirt to school that day. And as events unfolded, I watched with millions of others at the vigil outside the Dakota and the images of that twisted being who robbed the world of one of its greatest musical talents.

So today I am determined to focus not on the crime or its perpetrator, but on Lennon’s music instead. I’ll dial up some of my favs — “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “A Day In The Life” and “Grow Old With Me” among them. I hope you do the same.

Confirmed: Beatles on iTunes today!

November 16, 2010

It’s true - the Beatles are now on iTunes.

Of course, those of us with the entire catalog on CD – whether it’s the original pressings or the wonderful remastered versions – may never need to purchase them yet again.

But there’s something significant in the Beatles union with iTunes. Nearly 40 years after their breakup, the Beatles still sell more CDs than almost any other band. So fixing iTunes’ biggest gap is a positive move for Apple. And though the Beatles hardly need digital sales to boost their bottom line, the result will be even more Beatles music, all across the universe. And that, my friends, is something to celebrate.

Here’s EMI’s press release:

LONDON and CUPERTINO, California – November 16, 2010 – Apple Corps, EMI and Apple® today announced that the Beatles, the most influential and beloved rock band in music history, are now available for the first time on the iTunes Store® (www.itunes.com). Starting today, the group’s 13 legendary remastered studio albums with iTunes LPs, the two-volume “Past Masters” compilation and the classic “Red” and “Blue” collections are available for purchase and download on iTunes® worldwide as either albums or individual songs. Fans can also get a special digital “Beatles Box Set” featuring the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964″ concert film, a worldwide iTunes exclusive which captures the Beatles’ very first US concert.

“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes,” said Sir Paul McCartney. “It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” said Ringo Starr. “At last, if you want it-you can get it now-The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo.”

“We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It has been a long and winding road to get here. Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes ten years ago.”

“In the joyful spirit of Give Peace A Chance, I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,” said Yoko Ono Lennon.

“The Beatles on iTunes-Bravo!” said Olivia Harrison.

“The Beatles and iTunes have both been true innovators in their fields,” said EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon. “It’s a privilege for everybody at EMI to work with Steve Jobs and with Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones and their teams in marking a great milestone in the development of digital music.”

Each of the Beatles’ 13 legendary remastered studio albums, including “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Revolver,” “The Beatles [The White Album]” and “Abbey Road” include iTunes LPs, which create an immersive album experience with a beautiful design and expanded visual features including a unique mini-documentary about the creation of each album. The two-volume “Past Masters” compilation and the classic “Red” and “Blue” collections are also available.

Single albums are available for purchase and download for $12.99 each, double albums for $19.99 each and individual songs for $1.29 each.

The special digital “Beatles Box Set” ($149) contains the 13 remastered studio albums with iTunes LPs and all mini-documentaries, “Past Masters,” and the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964″ concert film, a worldwide iTunes exclusive which captures the Beatles’ very first US concert in its entirety. In addition, Beatles fans can stream and view the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964″ concert film from iTunes for free for the remainder of this calendar year.

Apple Corps Ltd. was founded by The Beatles in 1968 to look after the group’s own affairs. The London-based company has administered the catalogue of The Beatles releases of the 1960s that have sold to date more than 600 million records, tapes and CDs. Since the 1990s, Apple has piloted new Beatles projects that have become benchmarks for pioneering accomplishment and which have included The Beatles Anthology projects, the 29-million selling album The Beatles 1, The Beatles LOVE show and CD and the 09/09/09 release of The Beatles Remastered catalogue and The Beatles Rock Band game. Further information on The Beatles’ projects can be found at http://www.thebeatles.com.

 

Here’s the text of the Apple press release:

We are proud to announce that The Beatles are now available for the first time on the iTunes Store.

Starting today, the band’s 13 legendary remastered studio albums with iTunes LPs, the two-volume “Past Masters” compilation and the classic “Red” and “Blue” collections are available for purchase and download on iTunes worldwide as either albums or individual songs. Fans can also get a special digital “Beatles Box Set” featuring the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” concert film, a worldwide iTunes exclusive which captures the Beatles’ very first US concert.

Beatles fans can stream and view the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964” concert film from iTunes for free for the remainder of this calendar year.

Finally, a cool new video plus some quick commercials can be found here.

Beatles on iTunes?

November 15, 2010

Here is a breaking report on the Wall Street Journal website saying Apple — the computer and gadget company, has finally reached an agreement with Apple Corp., the Beatles’ company, that will allow Beatles albums on iTunes.

And to add more excitement, Apple computer has posted a mysterious message on its website, touting a big development regarding iTunes to be announced tomorrow.

Stay tuned…..

Getting Better, indeed

October 22, 2010

It was never a single, this little slice of Beatles pop circa 1967, and it is never listed as among their greatest achievements. But for me, “Getting Better” sums up the optimism, the unfettered joy that the Beatles represented better than almost anything else they ever did. And, as a bonus, it features the perfect shorthand version of Paul and John’s relationship.

Recorded at Abbey Road in their ground-breaking sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Getting Better” really doesn’t break new ground musically or lyrically. It re-uses the almost mechanical, four-beats-per-measure percussion that Paul pioneered with earlier songs like “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “Penny Lane.” But in its metronome beat and soaring vocals, the song perfectly portrays that most elusive of emotions – joy.

And after Paul’s hyper-optimism (“Getting better all the t-i-i-ime”) comes John’s sardonic rejoinder: “Can’t get no worse.” A neater summation of the magic of that partnership can’t be found.

And so, apropos of nothing, I submit “Getting Better,” my personal theme song and the relentlessly perfect portion of joy.

John Lennon’s voice

October 8, 2010

As odd as it sounds, John Lennon never really liked his own voice.

He constantly pushed Abbey Road’s engineers to modify the sound of one of rock ‘n roll’s greatest instruments. Thus, the Lennon we’re most accustomed to hearing is typically double-tracked (“Eight Days A Week,” “Tell Me Why”) bathed in 50′s style echo (“A Day In The Life,” “Come Together,” “Imagine”) distorted (“I Am The Walrus”) run through a Leslie organ speaker (“Tomorrow Never Knows”) or even reversed (“Rain”).

As the story goes, he was so interested in altering the recorded sound of his voice that he once asked if his voice could be directly injected into the tape machine, bypassing the need for a microphone. Producer George Martin told him no problem, so long as a jack plug could be implanted into Lennon’s neck!

Given Lennon’s ambivalence, it is somehow ironic that to celebrate what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday tomorrow, his widow, Yoko Ono, has chosen to remix the album they had just released when he was murdered in December 1980 — Double Fantasy — to focus more attention on Lennon’s voice. (The new mix is accompanied by a remastering of the entire Lennon solo catalog done by the same team at EMI that handled the Beatles’ excellent remasters).

The goal, Ono has said, was to strip away some layers of production to better highlight that voice.

Make no mistake – Lennon had a voice without rival for its emotional power. And his versatility is matched only by his one-time partner, Paul McCartney. Both Beatles were equally effective at blistering rock and tender balladry.

The new release, “Double Fantasy Stripped Down,” demonstrates once again that versatility. And in paring back on the production, some of the songs actually gain power.

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” one of Lennon’s most tender songs, actually sounds bigger and more expressive in the new treatment. With some of the background instruments and harmony vocals stripped out, the elements that remain — the lead guitar, the “oriental” strums and, of course, the clean, intimate lead vocal — gain prominence.

In “(Just Like) Starting Over,” with the 50′s-style slap-back echo removed, the change in vocal timbre is arresting. In that song — which he dedicates in this version to “Gene and Eddie and Elvis… and Buddy” — the echo seems so closely intertwined with the song’s style that I find I miss it.

By contrast, in “I’m Losing You,” the reduction of such vocal effects tends to bring Lennon’s voice closer to the listener, as if he’s standing in the living room in front of you.

That intimacy is most apparent in “Woman,” where layers of electric guitar and background voices are removed, leaving that vulnerable voice set against shimmering acoustic rhythm guitar and simple bass and drum parts.

Ono has been quoted as saying that the remixing process, which she did with original co-producer Jack Douglas, was painful for her. It’s easy to see why. With that voice closer, seemingly, than ever, it’s impossible not to feel a lump in the throat — especially when Lennon sings such hopeful, future-focused lyrics.

Yes, “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” gains some power from its back-to-basics style. And for many who love Lennon still, that power comes with a measure of pain — even today, thirty years after he left us.

New details on remastered John Lennon releases

September 1, 2010

EMI has just announced the full track listings and other details for the newly remastered John Lennon albums to be released in October.

EMI will release eight remastered John Lennon solo albums and new titles including Double Fantasy Stripped Down, Power To The People: The Hits, Gimme Some Truth and the John Lennon Signature Box. The Double Fantasy Stripped Down might be the most interesting, with new remixes of each song on Lennon’s 1980 release done by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, who co-produced the original album with John. The mixes pare back on the sometimes lush production of the original songs.

Here is a quite moving blog post from Yoko on the remastering/remixing process.

And here’s the text of EMI’s press release with the details on the track listings:

For the first time, Lennon’s classic solo albums and other standout recordings have been digitally remastered from his original mixes. Double Fantasy, 1980’s GRAMMY Award winner for Album of the Year, will be presented with a newly remixed ‘Stripped Down’ version produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, Lennon’s original co-producers for the album. Some Time In New York City has been restored to include the six ‘Live Jam’ recordings featured on the original album.

The deluxe 11CD and digital John Lennon Signature Box includes 13 previously unreleased home recordings, and Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, and Julian Lennon have each written personal essays for the lavish collection.

The cover art for the new titles includes original drawings by Sean Lennon for Double Fantasy Stripped Down, while the cover of 1974’s Walls and Bridges is restored to its original artwork.

John Lennon’s life and music will be specially feted this fall with a variety of commemorative releases and events around the world. Please visit http://www.johnlennon.com for official announcements and updates.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: THE HITS [CD; Digital]

1. Power To The People

2. Gimme Some Truth

3. Woman

4. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

5. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

6. Cold Turkey

7. Jealous Guy

8. #9 Dream

9. (Just Like) Starting Over

10. Mind Games

11. Watching The Wheels

12. Stand By Me

13. Imagine

14. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

15. Give Peace A Chance

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: THE HITS (EXPERIENCE EDITION) [CD/DVD]

CD

(tracklist same as above)

DVD

1. Power To The People

2. Gimme Some Truth

3. Woman

4. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

5. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

6. Cold Turkey

7. Jealous Guy

8. #9 Dream

9. (Just Like) Starting Over

10. Mind Games

11. Watching The Wheels

12. Stand By Me

13. Imagine

14. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

15. Give Peace A Chance

GIMME SOME TRUTH [4CD; Digital]

Working Class Hero

1. Working Class Hero

2. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

3. Power To The People

4. God

5. I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

6. Gimme Some Truth

7. Sunday Bloody Sunday

8. Steel And Glass

9. Meat City

10. I Don’t Wanna Face It

11. Remember

12. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World

13. I Found out

14. Isolation

15. Imagine

16. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

17. Give Peace A Chance

18. Only People

Woman

1. Mother

2. Hold On

3. You Are Here

4. Well Well Well

5. Oh My Love

6. Oh Yoko!

7. Grow Old With Me

8. Love

9. Jealous Guy

10. Woman

11. Out The Blue

12. Bless You

13. Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out)

14. My Mummy’s Dead

15. I’m Losing You

16. (Just Like) Starting Over

17. #9 Dream

18. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Borrowed Time

1. Mind Games

2. Nobody Told Me

3. Cleanup Time

4. Crippled Inside

5. How Do You Sleep?

6. How?

7. Intuition

8. I’m Stepping Out

9. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

10. Old Dirt Road

11. Scared

12. What You Got

13. Cold Turkey

14. New York City

15. Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox)

16. Borrowed Time

17. Look At Me

18. Watching The Wheels

Roots

1. Be-Bop-A-Lula

2. You Can’t Catch Me

3. Medley: Rip It Up/Ready Teddy

4. Tight A$

5. Ain’t That a Shame

6. Sweet Little Sixteen

7. Do You Wanna Dance

8. Slippin’ and Slidin’

9. Peggy Sue

10. Medley: Bring It On Home/Send Me Some Lovin’

11. Yer Blues (Live)

12. Just Because

13. Boney Moronie

14. Beef Jerky

15. Ya Ya

16. Hound Dog (Live)

17. Stand By Me

18. Here We Go Again

JOHN LENNON SIGNATURE BOX [11CD; Digital]

Original Albums [digitally remastered]

- John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

- Imagine

- Some Time In New York City

- Mind Games

- Walls and Bridges

- Rock ‘n’ Roll

- Double Fantasy

- Milk and Honey

Home Tapes

1. Mother

2. Love

3. God

4. I Found Out

5. Nobody Told Me

6. Honey Don’t

7. One Of The Boys

8. India, India

9. Serve Yourself

10. Isolation

11. Remember

12. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

13. I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

Singles

1. Power To The People

2. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

3. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

4. Cold Turkey

5. Move Over Ms. L

6. Give Peace a Chance

ORIGINAL ALBUMS (REMASTERED) [CD; Digital]

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

1. Mother

2. Hold On

3. I Found Out

4. Working Class Hero

5. Isolation

6. Remember

7. Love

8. Well Well Well

9. Look At Me

10. God

11. My Mummy’s Dead

Imagine (1971)

1. Imagine

2. Crippled Inside

3. Jealous Guy

4. It’s So Hard

5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

6. Gimme Some Truth

7. Oh My Love

8. How Do You Sleep?

9. How?

10. Oh Yoko!

Some Time In New York City (1972)

DISC ONE

1. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World

2. Sisters, O Sisters

3. Attica State

4. Born In a Prison

5. New York City

6. Sunday Bloody Sunday

7. The Luck Of The Irish

8. John Sinclair

9. Angela

10. We’re All Water

DISC TWO

1. Cold Turkey (live)

2. Don’t Worry Kyoko (live)

3. Well (Baby Please Don’t Go) (live)

4. Jamrag (live)

5. Scumbag (live)

6. Au (live)

Mind Games (1973)

1. Mind Games

2. Tight A$

3. Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)

4. One Day (At A Time)

5. Bring On The Lucie (Freda Peeple)

6. Nutopian International Anthem

7. Intuition

8. Out The Blue

9. Only People

10. I Know (I Know)

11. You Are Here

12. Meat City

Walls and Bridges (1974)

1. Going Down On Love

2. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

3. Old Dirt Road

4. What You Got

5. Bless You

6. Scared

7. #9 Dream

8. Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox)

9. Steel And Glass

10. Beef Jerky

11. Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out)

12. Ya Ya

Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)

1. Be-Bop-A-Lula

2. Stand By Me

3. Medley: Rip It Up/Ready Teddy

4. You Can’t Catch Me

5. Ain’t That A Shame

6. Do You Wanna Dance

7. Sweet Little Sixteen

8. Slippin’ And Slidin’

9. Peggy Sue

10. Medley: Bring It On Home To Me/Send Me Some Lovin’

11. Bony Moronie

12. Ya Ya

13. Just Because

Double Fantasy Stripped Down (2010) / Double Fantasy (1980)

Stripped Down

Original Album, Remastered

1. (Just Like) Starting Over

2. Kiss Kiss Kiss

3. Cleanup Time

4. Give Me Something

5. I’m Losing You

6. I’m Moving On

7. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

8. Watching The Wheels

9. Yes, I’m Your Angel

10. Woman

11. Beautiful Boys

12. Dear Yoko

13. Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him

14. Hard Times Are Over

Milk and Honey (1984)

1. I’m Stepping Out

2. Sleepless Night

3. I Don’t Wanna Face It

4. Don’t Be Scared

5. Nobody Told Me

6. O’Sanity

7. Borrowed Time

8. Your Hands

9. (Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess

10. Let Me Count The Ways

11. Grow Old With Me

12. You’re The One

Beatles “Red” and “Blue” compilations remastered

August 18, 2010

EMI and Apple Corps. have just announced that the Beatles’ 1973 greatest-hits compilation “Red” and “Blue” albums have been remastered for release in October. The remastering work has been done by the same Abbey Road/EMI team that handled the chore for 2009′s release of the remastered original catalog of albums. (For an interview with Allan Rouse, head of the remastering project, click here.)

I don’t know if you’ve heard the remastered versions of the original albums, but you need to do so if you haven’t. I know that I’ve relegated my old Red and Blue CDs to my young children’s CD players — which means, of course, they are not long for this world. The remastered versions of the songs are that much better. The engineers, headed by Rouse, did a fantastic job walking that fine line between improving the clarity and punch without hyping (that is, ruining) the original sounds.

So if you really just want the best-of-the-best in their best-possible-sounding digital form, the coming remastered Red and Blue compilations might be just the ticket!

New song: “Deadline.”

July 26, 2010

Click here for my latest song, “Deadline.” It’s a song about anticipation, about wanting something RIGHTNOW.  As was the case with “Copy Editor’s Lament (The Layoff Song),”I was inspired by my experiences as a newspaper editor — this time, I was thinking of the times I’ve spent waiting for a story to be turned in. Musically, I was going for a later-period George Harrison sound.

UPDATE: If you like what you hear, you can buy the song at Amazon.com here and at iTunes right here.

(For fellow music-production nerds, I used Cakewalk’s Sonar, with plugs by IK Multimedia among others. I recorded background vocals with a TNC (Chinese import) ribbon mic into a TNC preamp, and the lead vocal was recorded with a Audio Technica 4047 into a Groove Tubes Brick preamp. I used my Line 6 Variax electric guitar along with a $30 Craigslist find, a 60′s-era Teisco for the slide guitar parts).

Here are the lyrics:

Here I sit, I’m waiting again
I can’t quit until you hit “send”
Taking your time to polish all your phrases
Never you mind if I make some changes

(chorus:) I will live a life sublime
Told in tales of endless rhyme
If only you reply in time
For my deadline

All the pieces will fall into place
All my questions will vanish into space
Biding my time till night turns into day
Walking the line until you come my way

(Chorus)

All of my passion, all of my pain
Would find compassion
If not for your disdain

(chorus)

The Traveling Wilburys: a book review

May 7, 2010

In the grand rock tradition of supergroups, none can surpass the Traveling Wilburys. George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne merged several of the 20th centuries greatest musical themes: rockabilly, Beatlemania, ballad rock, folk-rock and arena rock among them.

Unfortunately, the story of how the group came to be — and how they did what they did — has been relatively overlooked in the annals of rock music. That’s why Genesis Publications’ limited edition book “Traveling Wilburys” should be on any serious music lover’s list.

The book, signed by Jeff Lynne, immerses readers into the group and its work with an innovative use of photos, memos, doodles and hand-written lyrics — some reproduced on small memo-pad-sized sheets and stuck between the full-sized pages — culled from the group’s sessions between 1988 and 1990.

The story is told through the voices of the Wilburys, with occasional asides from a few close friends and family, as well as group “side man” Jim Keltner, who provided drums on most of the tracks on the supergroup’s two albums.

Petty, Lynne and Keltner

The stories they tell offer a fascinating glimpse inside the world of these superstar musicians. The group came out of an album Harrison was finishing with Lynne as producer called Cloud Nine. Somehow — the precise explanations vary — Harrison and Lynne began dreaming of putting together a faux group with luminaries like Dylan and Orbison.

Within days, the four, along with Tom Petty, were working on the nub of an idea Harrison had for a song. As Harrison tells the story, after the group recorded the guitar track at Dylan’s home studio, he realized he needed lyrics:

I look behind his garage door and there was this big cardboard box that said “Handle With Care” on it. And that was it. Once we got the title, it just went off. The lyrics were flying around. We could have had 29 verses to that tune, it was brilliant.

Harrison submitted the song to his label as a b-side to his next single, “This is Love,” but both label and artist quickly realized the song was too good for a b-side.

Thus, the Traveling Wilburys was born.

As famous and accomplished as each member was, it is clear that Orbison was considered the true star. As Barbara Orbison said:

Roy might be in the kitchen and George would come down and say, “I have Roy Orbison in my kitchen!” And I would say, “You know, we’ve been here now for three weeks.”

The book also recounts the shock after Orbison’s sudden death after the first album was finished, and days before a video for “End of the Line” was to be shot. They went ahead with the shoot but chose to highlight an empty rocking chair during Orbison’s vocal parts.

The surviving Wilburys went on to record a second album with its idiosyncratic title, “Volume 3.” While its sales were disappointing, a boxed set of the two albums ended up going to No. 1 in Great Britain and No. 9 in the U.S. in 2007.

All in all, The Traveling Wilburys book offers an intimate look at a historic moment in musical history. At $345, the limited-edition book offers no larger meanings or broader context. But it does allow participants, and those closest to them, to tell their tales directly. And those tales deserve to be treasured, as it is unlikely we will see a group like this again.

Report: EMI puts Abbey Road up for sale

February 16, 2010

EMI is trying to sell the iconic Abbey Road studios, according to this report in Billboard. It’s perhaps the latest sign of the decline of major recording studios worldwide. But a sale does not necessarily mean the studio is in trouble. In fact, as the report details, the studio has its own music series and will soon debut retail goods like sweatshirts and stationery. It’s also involved in selling software emulations of some of its classic gear for recording.

UPDATE: Here’s a fun did-you-know list from the Daily Mirror about the studio and its history.

Let’s all hope that EMI finds a buyer willing to invest in the longterm success of one of the most sacred spots in the history of recorded music — or recommits to the studio itself.


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