Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Beatles – Rooftop Concert

ON THIS DATE (43 YEARS AGO)

January 30, 1969 – The Beatles, with Billy Preston, gave their final live performance atop the Apple building at 3 Savile Row, London, in what became the climax of their Let It Be film.
“We went on the roof in order to resolve the live concert idea, because it was much simpler than going anywhere else; also nobody had ever done that, so it would be interesting to see what happened when we started playing up there. It was a nice little social study. We set up a camera in the Apple reception area, behind a window so nobody could see it, and we filmed people coming in. The police and everybody came in saying, ‘You can’t do that! You’ve got to stop.’” ~ George Harrison, Anthology
January 30, 1969 in London was a cold day, and a bitter wind was blowing on the rooftop by midday. To cope with the weather, John Lennon borrowed Yoko Ono’s fur coat, and Ringo Starr wore his wife Maureen Starkey’s red mac.
There was a plan to play live somewhere. We were wondering where we could go – ‘Oh, the Palladium or the Sahara.’ But we would have had to take all the stuff, so we decided, ‘Let’s get up on the roof.’ We had Mal and Neil set the equipment up on the roof, and we did those tracks. I remember it was cold and windy and damp, but all the people looking out from offices were really enjoying it.” ~ Ringo Starr, Anthology
The 42-minute show was recorded onto two eight-track machines in the basement of Apple, by George Martin, engineer Glyn Johns and tape operator Alan Parsons. The tracks were filled with the following: Paul McCartney, vocals; John Lennon’s and George Harrison’s vocals; Billy Preston’s organ; McCartney’s bass guitar; a sync track for the film crew; Starr’s drums; Lennon’s guitar; Harrison’s guitar.
“That was one of the greatest and most exciting days of my life. To see The Beatles playing together and getting an instant feedback from the people around them, five cameras on the roof, cameras across the road, in the road, it was just unbelievable.” ~ Alan Parsons, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
The songs performed on the roof:
Get Back (five versions)
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Don’t Let Me Down (two versions)
I’ve Got A Feeling
One After 909
Danny Boy
Dig A Pony (two versions)
God Save The Queen
A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody


Brief, incomplete and off-the-cuff versions of I Want You (She’s So Heavy), God Save The Queen and A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody were fooled around with in between takes – as was Danny Boy, which was included in the film and on the album. None of these were serious group efforts, and one – the group and Preston performing God Save The Queen – was incomplete as it coincided with Alan Parsons changing tapes.
The Beatles’ rooftop show began at around midday. The timing coincided with the lunch hour of many nearby workplaces, which led to crowds quickly forming. Although few people could see them, crowds gathered in the streets below to hear The Beatles play.
“There were people hanging off balconies and out of every office window all around. The police were knocking on the door – George Martin went white! We really wanted to stop the traffic, we wanted to blast out the entire West End…” ~ Dave Harries, engineer, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
Traffic in Savile Row and neighbouring streets came to a halt, until police from the nearby West End Central police station, further up Savile Row, entered Apple and ordered the group to stop playing.
“It was good fun, actually. We had to set the mikes up and get a show together. I remember seeing Vicki Wickham of Ready, Steady, Go! (there’s a name to conjure with) on the opposite roof, for some reason, with the street between us. She and a couple of friends sat there, and then the secretaries from the lawyers’ offices next door came out on their roof.
We decided to go through all the stuff we’d been rehearsing and record it. If we got a good take on it then that would be the recording; if not, we’d use one of the earlier takes that we’d done downstairs in the basement. It was really good fun because it was outdoors, which was unusual for us. We hadn’t played outdoors for a long time.
It was a very strange location because there was no audience except for Vicki Wickham and a few others. So we were playing virtually to nothing – to the sky, which was quite nice. They filmed downstairs in the street – and there were a lot of city gents looking up: ‘What’s that noise?’” ~ Paul McCartney, Anthology
The Beatles began with a rehearsal of Get Back while the film cameras were being set up. At the end it was applauded by the spectators on the roof. In response, McCartney mumbled something about cricketer Ted Dexter, and Lennon announced: “We’ve had a request from Martin Luther.”
Another version of Get Back followed. An edit of these two versions was included in the Let It Be film. Afterwards Lennon said: “We’ve had a request for Daisy, Morris and Tommy.”
The third song was Don’t Let Me Down, as featured in the Let It Be film. At the end The Beatles went straight into I’ve Got A Feeling, which was used in both the film and the album.
George Harrison sang a few lines on I’ve Got A Feeling, his only vocals throughout the performance. At the end of the song Lennon can be heard saying: “Oh my soul, so hard.”
One After 909 was also used in the Let It Be film and album. At the end of it John Lennon broke out into a brief impromptu rendition of Conway Twitty’s 1959 hit Danny Boy.
The sixth song The Beatles played was Dig A Pony. A short rehearsal was played first, with Lennon asking for the lyrics. They then performed the song properly, with a production runner on the film, Kevin Harrington, kneeling in front of Lennon holding a clipboard with the words on. George Harrison, too, briefly knelt next to Harrington.
Dig A Pony began with a false start. In the film, Ringo Starr can be seen putting his cigarette down and crying out ‘Hold it!’ This, and the full version that followed, were both included in the album and film, although on the LP the ‘All I want is…” refrain which opened and closed the song were later cut by Phil Spector.
As Alan Parsons changed the recording tapes in Apple’s basement studio, The Beatles and Billy Preston performed an off-the-cuff version of God Save The Queen. This was never used; nor were second versions of I’ve Got A Feeling and Don’t Let Me Down.
The final full song was Get Back, although The Beatles nearly stopped performing when the police arrived on the roof. The officers demanded that Mal Evans turn off the group’s Fender Twin amplifiers. He complied, but George Harrison immediately turned his back on.
Evans realised his mistake and turned John Lennon’s back on too. The amplifiers took several seconds to start again, but The Beatles managed to continue long enough to see the song through to the end.
In the end it started to filter up from Mal that the police were complaining. We said, ‘We’re not stopping.’ He said, The police are going to arrest you.’ ‘Good end to the film. Let them do it. Great! That’s an end: “Beatles Busted on Rooftop Gig”.’
“We kept going to the bitter end and, as I say, it was quite enjoyable. I had my little Hofner bass – very light, very enjoyable to play. In the end the policeman, Number 503 of the Greater Westminster Council, made his way round the back: ‘You have to stop!’ We said, ‘Make him pull us off. This is a demo, man!’
I think they pulled the plug, and that was the end of the film.” ~ Paul McCartney, Anthology
As a climax it could scarcely be bettered, with McCartney brilliantly ad-libbing, “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and that’s no good, and you know your Mummy doesn’t like that… she gets angry… she’s gonna have you arrested! Get back!”
The police presence ensured that The Beatles would play no more on the roof. The concert over, McCartney thanked Ringo Starr’s wife Maureen for her enthusiastic cheering with a simple “Thanks Mo”.
“I always feel let down about the police. Someone in the neighbourhood called the police, and when they came up I was playing away and I thought, ‘Oh great! I hope they drag me off.’ I wanted the cops to drag me off – ‘Get off those drums!’ – because we were being filmed and it would have looked really great, kicking the cymbals and everything. Well, they didn’t, of course; they just came bumbling in: ‘You’ve got to turn that sound down.’ It could have been fabulous” ~ Ringo Starr, Anthology
Then, of course, there was John Lennon’s immortal closing quote: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” Both these comments were used at the end of Get Back on the Let It Be album, although the version of the song was not from the rooftop performance.
Around half of the performance was used in the Let It Be film. Furthermore, edits of I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909 and Dig A Pony all featured on the Let It Be album.
The final Get Back take was included in the Let It Be film, and appeared on Anthology 3 in 1996.
An edit of the two Don’t Let Me Down takes was included on 2003’s Let It Be… Naked, due to John Lennon getting the vocals wrong at different points in both. That album also contained an edit of the rooftop performance of I’ve Got A Feeling and another version, recorded on another date.

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ON THIS DATE (51 YEARS AGO)

January 25, 1961 – Disney’s 17th animated feature film, “101 Dalmatians,” featuring the voices of Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, and J. Pat O’Malley, opened in U.S. and Canadian movie theaters.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians, often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Seventeenth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 by Buena Vista Distribution.
The film features Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, the first of the Dalmatians, and Betty Lou Gerson as the voice of the villainous Cruella de Vil. The plot centers on the fate of the kidnapped puppies of Pongo and Perdita.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was the tenth highest grossing film of 1961, accruing $6,400,000 in distributors’ domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals during its first year of release, and one of the studio’s most popular films of the decade. The film was re-issued to theaters in 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991.
It currently holds a 97% “fresh” rating from critics and users on Rotten Tomatoes. The film did receive some negative criticism. Phillip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette only gave the film 2/5 stars. In 2011 Craig Berman of MSNBC ranked the film and its 1996 remake as two of the worst kid films of all-time saying, “The plot itself is a bit nutty. Making a coat out of dogs? Who does that? But worse than Cruella de Vil’s fashion sense is the fact that your children will definitely start asking for a Dalmatian of their own for their next birthday.”

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The Rolling Stones: Between the Buttons

ON THIS DATE (45 YEARS AGO)
January 20, 1967 – The Rolling Stones: Between the Buttons is released in the UK. (US version in February 1967)
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# Allmusic 5/5

Between the Buttons is the fifth British and seventh American studio album by The Rolling Stones. It was released on 20 January 1967 in the United Kingdom and 11 February 1967 in the United States as the follow-up to the ambitious Aftermath. Between the Buttons is seen as the beginning of the Stone’s first complete departure from their R&B roots and the beginning of their brief foray into psychedelia. In 2003, the American version of the album featuring “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” was ranked number 355 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Initial sessions for the album began during the Rolling Stone’s 1966 American Tour at Los Angeles’ RCA Studios on 3 August 1966 and lasted until the 11th. Dave Hassinger was the engineer. During this time several songs were worked on and the backing tracks for six songs that would appear on the album were recorded. Also completed was the backing track for “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and the R&B throwback “Who’s Driving Your Plane?”, which would appear as a B-side to the somewhat psychedelic “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” single in late September. The band returned to London where sessions continued at IBC Studios on 31 August and lasted until 3 September. This session was dedicated largely to completing “Have You Seen Your Mother…” for single release. Following the release of that single on 23 September, the Stones embarked on their 7th British tour which lasted into early October 1966. It would be their last UK tour for 3 years.

The second block of recording sessions for Between the Buttons began on 8 November at the newly opened Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, London and alternated between there and Pye Studios until 26 November. During this time the bulk of the album was completed including vocal overdubs of the previously recorded backing tracks, mixing and arranging. “Ruby Tuesday” was also completed. Around the same time producer Andrew Loog Oldham was also preparing the US-only live album Got Live If You Want It!, a contractual requirement from London Records which contained live performances from their British tour 2 months prior mixed with studio tracks overdubbed with fake audience noise. After that album’s release on 10 December, a final overdubbing session for Buttons was held at Olympic Studio on 13 December 1966 before Oldham took the tapes back to RCA Studios in Hollywood for final mixing and editing.

The entire album was recorded using a 4-track machine in which certain tracks were bounced down for overdubs, so much so that Mick Jagger felt the songs lost clarity. He commented during an interview, “We bounced it back to do overdubs so many times we lost the sound of it. [The songs] sounded so great, but later on I was really disappointed with it.”

Between the Buttons proved to be the last album produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, with whom The Rolling Stones would have a creative falling-out in mid-1967 during the arduous and meandering recording sessions for Their Satanic Majesties Request.

REVIEW
by Richie Unterberger, allmusic
The Rolling Stones’ 1967 recordings are a matter of some controversy; many critics felt that they were compromising their raw, rootsy power with trendy emulations of the Beatles, Kinks, Dylan, and psychedelic music. Approach this album with an open mind, though, and you’ll find it to be one of their strongest, most eclectic LPs, with many fine songs that remain unknown to all but Stones devotees. The lyrics are getting better (if more savage), and the arrangements more creative, on brooding near-classics like “All Sold Out,” “My Obsession,” and “Yesterday’s Papers.” “She Smiled Sweetly” shows their hidden romantic side at its best, while “Connection” is one of the record’s few slabs of conventionally driving rock.

TRACKS:
UK tracklisting)
All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Side one
1.            “Yesterday’s Papers”      2:04
2.            “My Obsession”               3:17
3.            “Back Street Girl”             3:27
4.            “Connection”     2:08
5.            “She Smiled Sweetly”    2:44
6.            “Cool, Calm & Collected”              4:17

Side two
7.            “All Sold Out”     2:17
8.            “Please Go Home”          3:17
9.            “Who’s Been Sleeping Here?”    3:55
10.          “Complicated”  3:15
11.          “Miss Amanda Jones”    2:47
12.          “Something Happened to Me Yesterday”             4:55

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Styx: Paradise Theater

ON THIS DATE (31 YEARS AGO)
January 19, 1981 – Styx: Paradise Theater is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5

Paradise Theatre is the tenth album by Styx, released on this date in January 1981.

A concept album, the album is a fictional account of Chicago’s Paradise Theatre from its opening to closing (and eventual abandonment), used as a metaphor for America’s changing times from the late 1970s into the 1980s. (Dennis DeYoung confirmed this in an episode of In the Studio with Redbeard which devoted an entire episode to the making of the album.)

“The Best of Times”, written by Dennis DeYoung, went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Too Much Time on My Hands”, written by Tommy Shaw, went to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, Shaw’s only top 10 hit for Styx. “Rockin’ The Paradise”—written by DeYoung, Shaw and James Young—went to #1 on the Top Rock Track Chart.

The song “Snowblind” (lyrics by Young, music by Young and DeYoung) was an attack on drug addiction. The track would come under fire for supposedly having backward messages and was branded by Tipper Gore’s PMRC as “Satanistic.”[citation needed] James Young and DeYoung denied this on the In the Studio episode devoted to the making of Paradise Theatre. Paradise Theatre became Styx’s only US #1 album. It was the band’s fourth consecutive triple-platinum album.

REVIEW
by Eduardo Rivadavia, allmusic
After successfully establishing themselves as one of America’s best commercial progressive rock bands of the late ’70s with albums like The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, Chicago’s Styx had taken a dubious step towards pop overkill with singer Dennis DeYoung’s ballad “Babe.” The centerpiece of 1979’s uneven Cornerstone album, the number one single sowed the seeds of disaster for the group by pitching DeYoung’s increasingly mainstream ambitions against the group’s more conservative songwriters, Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young. Hence, what had once been a healthy competitive spirit within the band quickly deteriorated into bitter co-existence during the sessions for 1980’s Paradise Theater — and all-out warfare by the time of 1983’s infamous Kilroy Was Here. For the time being, however, Paradise Theater seemed to represent the best of both worlds, since its loose concept about the roaring ’20s heyday and eventual decline of an imaginary theater (used as a metaphor for the American experience in general, etc., etc.) seemed to satisfy both of the band’s camps with its return to complex hard rock (purists Shaw and JY) while sparing no amount of pomp and grandeur (DeYoung). The stage is set by the first track, “A.D. 1928,” which features a lonely DeYoung on piano and vocals introducing the album’s recurring musical theme before launching into “Rockin’ the Paradise” — a total team effort of wonderfully stripped down hard rock. From this point forward, DeYoung’s compositions (“Nothing Ever Goes as Planned,” “The Best of Times”) continue to stick close to the overall storyline, while Shaw’s (“Too Much Time on My Hands,” “She Cares”) try to resist thematic restrictions as best they can. Among these, “The Best of Times” — with its deliberate, marching rhythm — remains one of the more improbable Top Ten hits of the decade (somehow it just works), while “Too Much Time on My Hands” figures among Shaw’s finest singles ever. As for JY, the band’s third songwriter (and resident peacekeeper) is only slightly more cooperative with the Paradise Theater concept. His edgier compositions include the desolate tale of drug addiction, “Snowblind,” and the rollicking opus “Half-Penny, Two-Penny,” which infuses a graphic depiction of inner city decadence with a final, small glimmer of hope and redemption. The song also leads straight into the album’s beautiful saxophone-led epilogue, “A.D. 1958,” which once again reveals MC DeYoung alone at his piano. A resounding success, Paradise Theater would become Styx’s greatest commercial triumph; and in retrospect, it remains one of the best examples of the convergence between progressive rock and AOR which typified the sound of the era’s top groups (Journey, Kansas, etc.). For Styx, its success would spell both their temporary saving grace and ultimate doom, as the creative forces which had already been tearing at the band’s core finally reached unbearable levels three years later. It is no wonder that when the band reunited after over a decade of bad blood, all the music released post-1980 was left on the cutting room floor — further proof that Paradise Theater was truly the best of times.

TRACKS:
Side 1
A.D. 1928 (Dennis DeYoung) – 1:08
Rockin’ the Paradise (DeYoung, James Young, Tommy Shaw) – 3:35
Too Much Time on My Hands (Shaw) – 4:31
Nothing Ever Goes As Planned (DeYoung) – 4:48
The Best of Times (DeYoung) – 4:19

Side 2
Lonely People (DeYoung) – 5:28
She Cares (Shaw) – 4:17
Snowblind (DeYoung, Young) – 5:00
Half-Penny, Two-Penny (Young, Ray Brandle) – 4:33
A.D. 1958 (DeYoung) – 2:27
State Street Sadie (DeYoung) – 0:28

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Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country



JANUARY 1969 (43 YEARS AGO)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Bayou Country is the second studio album by Creedence Clearwater Revival, released by Fantasy Records in January 1969, and was the first of three albums CCR released in that year.
Released in early 1969, the second album by guitarist/vocalist John Fogerty’s Californian quartet is perhaps the definitive example of the group’s swampy brew of rock, R&B, and blues. The key song on BAYOU COUNTRY is “Proud Mary,” a rock milestone that still sounds just as fresh and exciting as it did when it first boomed out of AM radios decades ago. Although Creedence indulges in a few extended jams on tracks like “Keep On Chooglin” and “Graveyard Train,” they forsake the gratuitous soloing favored by many of their San Francisco contemporaries in favor of fleshing out rhythmic, rock-solid grooves. From Fogerty’s formidable bluesman’s growl on “Born On The Bayou” to the explosive version of Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Bayou Country” is what rootsy rock & roll is all about, and it’s one of the best American rock albums of the ’60s.
Blender (Magazine) (p.84) – 3.5 stars out of 5 — “Bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford walk the beat with zen proficiency as Fogerty stretches his Howlin’ Wolf yowl over his rangy guitar pearls.”
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s new LP suffers from one major fault—inconsistency. The good cuts are very good; but the bad ones just don’t make it.
The group’s sound is very reminiscent of that of the early Stones—hard rock, based in blues. John Fogerty carries the group with his good lead guitar, in addition to his good vocal and harp work. He also wrote all of Creedence’s original songs, and arranged and produced the album. He probably swept out the studio when the recording was finished, too.
Despite John’s dominance, the group has a solid overall sound. Stu Cook on bass, brother Tom Fogerty on rhythm guitar, and Doug Clifford on drums are all good musicians; they lay down a heavy backing for Fogerty, and the result is a very tight sound.
The main failing of the bad cuts is a lack of originality. “Graveyard Train” is a repeat of “Gloomy” on the first album. “Gloomy” wasn’t worth much in the first place, and “Train,” dragged out to eight minutes and thirty-two seconds, is simply boring. “Penthouse Pauper” is similar to “The Working Man,” also on the first LP. The music and lyrics are good, but they’ve been heard before.
“Good Golly Miss Molly” is not nearly as exciting as Little Richard’s original, though the group gets a good workout on this one. “Bootleg” is a good, short number which explains how something often becomes more attractive when it is illegal. Again, the lyrics are good. But even here, Fogerty uses the same riff as on “Keep On Chooglin.” A few more fresh ideas would be helpful.
The good cuts do come off well. “Born On The Bayou” is a very bluesy thing which inspired the LP title. This contains some of John’s best vocal work. “Proud Mary” is a good, easy-rolling song concerning a Mississippi river-boat. The Fogerty’s guitars help to create a gentle, flowing mood. I take it that “Proud Mary” is the name of the boat.
“Keep On Chooglin'” is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “rave-up,” a good, long, toe-tappin’ type song. As is usually the case with such numbers, it sounds better in person than on record. Nonetheless, CCR has managed to capture some of the excitement of a live performance on this album. Exactly what chooglin’ is, or how you do it, is not explained. However, Creedence Clearwater Revival would like us all to keep on doing it (apparently we’ve been doing it all along without knowing it) and it seems like a good idea in these troubled times.
Overall, the material in Bayou Country is not always strong, but Creedence Clearwater Revival plays with enough gusto to overcome this problem. With the stronger material, they are excellent. It seems to me though, that CCR has just about exhausted its supply of blues-rock numbers. They have produced two fine albums; so far, so good. But I think (and hope) that we will see new directions on their forthcoming albums.
~ RAY REZOS (March 1, 1969)
TRACKS:
All songs written by J.C. Fogerty, except where noted.
Side one
“Born on the Bayou” – 5:16
“Bootleg” – 3:03
“Graveyard Train” – 8:37
Side two
“Good Golly Miss Molly” (Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, John Marascalco) – 2:44
“Penthouse Pauper” – 3:39
“Proud Mary” – 3:09
“Keep on Chooglin'” – 7:43
40th Anniversary Edition CD bonus tracks
“Bootleg” (Alternate Take) – 5:48
“Born on the Bayou” (Live in London, 9/28/71) – 4:48
“Proud Mary” (Live in Stockholm, 9/21/71) – 2:51
“Crazy Otto” (Live at The Fillmore, 3/14/69) – 8:48

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