Category Archives: The Beatles
ON THIS DATE (47 YEARS AGO)
June 4, 1965 – The Beatles: Beatles For Sale No. 2 [EP] is released in the UK.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# Allmusic 4/5 stars
Beatles for Sale (No 2) is an EP released by The Beatles on 4 June 1965. The EP was only released in mono. Its catalogue number is Parlophone GEP 8938. It was also released in Australia.
Bruce Eder, allmusic
More highlights off the Beatles for Sale LP, another repackaging of existing material, but also highlighting their exquisite Buddy Holly cover “Words of Love,” plus “Baby’s in Black,” which became part of their concert set, and Paul McCartney’s exquisite “I’ll Follow the Sun,” probably his most succinct and beautiful ballad, note for note and second for second.
Songs Lennon/McCartney except noted.
“I’ll Follow the Sun”
“Baby’s in Black”
“Words of Love” (Buddy Holly)
“I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”
ON THIS DATE (43 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1969 – The Beatles: “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” b/w “Old Brown Show” (Apple R 5786) 45 single is released in the UK (June 4, 1969 in the US).
“The Ballad of John and Yoko” is a song written by John Lennon, attributed to Lennon–McCartney as was the custom, and released by The Beatles as a single on this date in May 1969. The song, chronicling the events surrounding Lennon’s marriage to Yoko Ono, was the Beatles’ 17th and final UK number one single.
The song is a ballad in the traditional sense of a narrative poem in a song, not in the sense used in modern pop music where the term usually refers to a slow, sentimental love song. Authored by Lennon while on his honeymoon in Paris, it tells the events of his marriage (in March 1969) to Ono and their publicly-held honeymoon activities, including their ‘Bed-In’ at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel and their demonstration of ‘bagism’.
Lennon brought the song to McCartney’s home on 14 April 1969, before recording it that evening. The song was recorded without George Harrison (who was on holiday) and Ringo Starr (who was filming The Magic Christian). In his biography, McCartney recalls that Lennon had had a sudden inspiration for the song and had suggested that the two of them should record it immediately, without waiting for the other Beatles to return. Reflecting this somewhat unusual situation, the session recordings include the following exchange:
Lennon (on guitar): “Go a bit faster, Ringo!”
McCartney (on drums): “OK, George!”
This session also marked the return of Geoff Emerick as recording engineer of a Beatle session after he quit working with the group during the tense White Album sessions nine months earlier.
ON THIS DATE (39 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1973 – George Harrison: Living in the Material World is released in the US (June 22, 1973 in the UK).
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# Allmusic 4/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Living in the Material World is a studio album by George Harrison, released on this date in May 1973 on the Apple Records label in the US. As the follow-up to 1970’s acclaimed All Things Must Pass and his mammoth charity project, The Concert for Bangladesh, Living in the Material World was among the most highly anticipated releases of the year. The album was Harrison’s second (and final) chart-topping album in the United States and spawned the international hit “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”.
Living in the Material World is notable for the uncompromising spiritual content of its songs, as well as for what are generally considered to be the finest guitar performances of Harrison’s career.
On his first studio album since the artistic and commercial triumph of his 1970 solo debut, Harrison opted to produce himself rather than continue his association with producer Phil Spector. Boasting an intimate, organic sound that is far-removed from Spector’s wall-of-sound production of All Things Must Pass, Living in the Material World shows a more reflective, acoustic-oriented side of the ex-Beatle. The album opens on a high note with Harrison’s number one hit “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” a gorgeous, soaring pop song that is a perfect showcase of Harrison’s earnest vocals and distinctive slide guitar playing. Though none of the other songs on the album are quite as spectacular as “Give Me Love,” there are many excellent tracks, including the Beatlesque “Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long” and “Sue Me, Sue You Blues,” a biting commentary on the Beatles’ business problems circa 1973, which features Ringo Starr on drums and some exceptionally potent slide guitar from Harrison.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
At last it’s here, beautifully-packaged with symbolic hand-print covers and the dedication, “All Glories to Sri Krsna.” Even if Living in the Material World were as trivial and regressive as McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway, there would be many who would dub it a pop classic. Happily, the album is not just a commercial event, it is the most concise, universally conceived work by a former Beatle since John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
Given everything George Harrison represents, it would be virtually impossible for one to try to separate the man, the myth and the music, and undertake an in vitro analysis of Living in the Material World. Suffice it to say that these three aspects blend harmoniously into a single creation that is vastly appealing and in places very moving. Harrison inherited the most precious Beatle legacy — the spiritual aura that the group accumulated, beginning with the White Album — and has maintained its inviolability with remarkable grace. In Living in the Material World, that legacy, which Harrison reformulated diffusely in All Things Must Pass, is formalized once and for all.
The aesthetic key to Living does not reside in Harrison’s pretty melodies or generalized lyrics but in the entire production, whose cumulative impact is far greater than the sum of its parts. In presenting a sweetly simple vision of semi-ascetic spiritual enlightenment, Harrison invokes the basic attraction of popular religion through the most traditional of means — by being inspirationally, opulently, romantic. To this end, Harrison as producer has learned well from master inspirator Phil Spector, whose Wagnerian wall-of-sound approach to pop Harrison employs lavishly.
Schematically, Living in the Material World is a pop religious ceremony for all seasons, one in which Harrison acts as priest, deliberately placing his gifts and his legend into public service for God. And it’s almost needless to say that the spiritual/material anomaly is a one-sided affair. All but two of the album’s 11 cuts carry messages of spiritual commitment with such insistency that a close listening from start to finish is roughly equivalent to participating in a mass spectacle of religious re-dedication — one that does not end with rousing anthems but in heavenly choirs. (In addition, he has donated the proceeds from those nine songs to charities reflective of their concerns.)
The album opens brilliantly with the hit single, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth),” a strong, short-phrased melody whose lyrics are sheer exhortation with an “Om” chorus. It’s every bit as good as “My Sweet Lord.” “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” is a biting slide-guitar showcase for Harrison, its lyric a clever Lennonist diatribe against such monetary quarrels as those that ended the Beatles: “Bring your lawyer/And I’ll bring mine/Get together, and we could have a bad time.” “The Light That Has Lighted the World” seems an oblique defense against public criticism and expectations of a Beatle reunion. Except for its sustained instrumental break featuring Harrison and Nicky Hopkins, it is pretty leaden stuff. But then we’re back in the groove with a gorgeous, rollicking love song, “Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long.” Exuberance is succeeded by passionate testament in “Who Can See It,” a beautiful ballad whose ascendant long-line melody is the most distinguished of the album. Side one closes with the title cut, an incantatory, polyrhythmic rocker with a falsetto-on-sitar refrain. Though the music is some of the most complex on the album, the lyrics, like the album’s graphics, imposes the simplest of juxtapositions: Harrison’s “material” history (encompassing the Beatles) against spiritual meditation.
Side two opens with a compelling gospel-flavored rocker, “The Lord Loves the One,” a stunning achievement that carries the authority of pop scripture; “The Lord loves the one that loves the Lord/And the law says if you don’t give, then you don’t get loving.” I hope that Aretha Franklin gets her hands on it, and soon. “Be Here Now,” is a meltingly lovely meditation-prayer, the ultimate aural refinement of “Blue Jay Way.” The last three cuts — “Try Some Buy Some,” “The Day the World Gets ‘Round,” and “That Is All” — while appropriately rounding out the song cycle, also attempt to intensify the already fervid romanticism through expanded production (violins, hidden chorus, etc.) and through deliberate use of instrumental hooks from “Isn’t It a Pity” and “Across The Universe.”
“Try Some” (the only cut co-produced by Phil Spector) is an overblown attempt to restate the spiritual message in material terms: “Won’t you try some/Baby won’t you buy some.” “The Day the World Gets ‘Round” and “That Is All” are two devotional prayers whose solemn mantra-influenced melodies are barely able to sustain their lush orchestration. Yet they do, so that at the end we are left suspended in ethereality, as Harrison concludes with his own prayer, a sort of Hindu In Paradisium:.
Silence often says much more
Than trying to say what’s been said before.
But that is all I want to do
To give my love to
That is all I’m living for,
Please let me love you more — and that is all.
In its special way, Living in the Material World is as personal and confessional a work as the first John Lennon album, though it is not nearly so intellectually provocative. Despite the occasional use of “psychedelic puns,” Harrison’s lyrics are so guileless they convey an extraordinary sincerity that transcends questions of craftsmanship. Similarly, the devotions we are called upon to share with Harrison, though they communicate no specific, private torment, do have the authenticity of overheard prayers and are therefore sacred. Of course, Harrison’s plaintive vocals and gently weeping guitar contribute immeasurably to this impression. Living in the Material World is a profoundly seductive record. Harrison’s rapt dedication infuses his musicality so completely that the album stands alone as an article of faith, miraculous in its radiance.
~ Stephen Holden (July 19, 1973)
All songs written by George Harrison.
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” – 3:36
“Sue Me, Sue You Blues” – 4:48
“The Light That Has Lighted the World” – 3:31
“Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long” – 2:57
“Who Can See It” – 3:52
“Living in the Material World” – 5:31
“The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord)” – 4:34
“Be Here Now” – 4:09
“Try Some, Buy Some” – 4:08
“The Day the World Gets ‘Round” – 2:53
“That Is All” – 3:43
“Deep Blue” – 3:47
“Miss O’Dell” – 2:33
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” (recorded live at Tokyo Dome on 15 December 1991)
Dolby Digital 5.1
“Miss O’Dell” (alternative version)
“Sue Me, Sue You Blues” (acoustic demo version)
“Living in the Material World”
ON THIS DATE (46 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1966 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” (Capitol 5651) 45 single is released in the US.
“Paperback Writer” is a 1966 song by The Beatles. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single. The single went to the number one spot in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song was at number one for two non-consecutive weeks, being interrupted by Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”. “Paperback Writer” was the last new song by the Beatles to be featured on their final tour in 1966, and was the group’s only U.S. number one released that year.
According to disc jockey Jimmy Savile, McCartney wrote the song in response to a request from an aunt who asked if he could “write a single that wasn’t about love.” Savile said, “With that thought obviously still in his mind, he walked around the room and noticed that Ringo was reading a book. He took one look and announced that he would write a song about a book.” In a 2007 interview, McCartney recalled that he wrote the song after reading in the Daily Mail about an aspiring author, possibly Martin Amis. The Daily Mail was Lennon’s regular newspaper and copies were in Lennon’s Weybridge home when Lennon and McCartney were writing songs.
The song’s lyrics are in the form of a letter from an aspiring author addressed to a publisher. The author badly needs a job and has written a paperback version of a book by a “man named Lear.” This is a reference to the Victorian painter Edward Lear, who wrote nonsense poems and songs of which Lennon was very fond (though Lear never wrote novels).
“Rain” is a song by the The Beatles, written by John Lennon but credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was first released in June 1966 as the B-side of the “Paperback Writer” single. Both songs were recorded during the sessions for Revolver but neither appears on that album. “Rain” has been called The Beatles’ finest B-side, especially notable for its heavy sonic presence and backwards vocals, both of which were a hint of things to come on Revolver, released two months later.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed four promotional films for the song shot on 19 and 20 May 1966. On the first day they recorded a colour performance at Abbey Road, for The Ed Sullivan Show, which was shown on 5 June, and two black and white performance clips for British television. These were shown on Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars on 3 June and 25 June, respectively.
On 20 May, another colour film was made at Chiswick House in west London. The Beatles mimed to the song, and they were shown in and around the conservatory in the grounds of the house. The clip was first broadcast in black and white on BBC-TV’s Top of the Pops on 2 June. The Beatles made their only live appearance on Top of the Pops to mime to “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”. They were introduced by DJ Pete Murray. This session is famous for being wiped by the BBC when they were cleaning tapes for re-use. The session showed how difficult it was for the Beatles to even mime to their later material – they had difficulty in taking their performance seriously.
ON THIS DATE (37 YEARS AGO)
May 27, 1975 – Paul McCartney/Wings: Venus and Mars is released in the US.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 3/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Venus and Mars is the fourth album by Wings, released on this date in May 1975 in the US (May 30 in the UK).
Preceded by the single “Listen to What the Man Said” in May, Venus and Mars appeared two weeks later to decent reviews and brisk sales. The album reached #1 in the United States, the United Kingdom and worldwide (as did “Listen to What the Man Said” in the US) and sold several million copies during the 1970s, with sales now pitched at over 10 million, even if the reaction was less than what had greeted Band on the Run a year earlier. Two additional singles, “Letting Go” and “Venus and Mars/Rock Show” were released, though to less success. Although the latter almost reached the US Top 10, it didn’t chart at all in the UK.
After recording Band on the Run as a three-piece with wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine, McCartney added Jimmy McCulloch on lead guitar and Geoff Britton on drums to the Wings line-up in 1974. Having written several new songs for the next album, McCartney decided upon New Orleans, Louisiana as the recording venue, and Wings headed there in January 1975.
As soon as the sessions began, the personality clash that had been evident between McCulloch and Britton during Wings’ 1974 sessions in Nashville became more pronounced, and Britton — after a mere six month stay — quit Wings, having only played on three of the new songs. A replacement, American Joe English, was quickly auditioned and hired to finish the album.
The sessions themselves proved to be very productive, not only finishing the entire album, but also several additional songs including two future McCartney B-sides: “Lunch Box/Odd Sox” and “My Carnival”. McCartney also decided to link the songs together much like The Beatles had on Abbey Road to give the album a more continuous feel.
John Lennon, often in a nostalgic mood while in Los Angeles, had told May Pang (his then girlfriend) that he planned to visit the McCartneys during the recording sessions for Venus and Mars, but this was not to be. Lennon’s planned visit would be permanently postponed due to his reunion with Yoko Ono.
Venus & Mars is an interesting mix of musical styles, punctuated by Paul McCartney’s unerring sense of melody and hooky songs. Along with founding members Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney & Denny Laine, recent additions Jimmy McCulloch (ex-Thunderclap Newman) Joe English rounded out the band on guitar and drums respectively. Guests for these sessions (partially recorded at New Orleans’ famed Sea Saint Studios) included N’awlins pianist Allen Toussaint, saxophonist Tom Scott and guitarist Dave Mason.
The highlights include the hard-rocking anthem “Rock Show” (later used to great effect in the Rock For Kampuchea benefit concert five years later) and the gently nostalgic “You Gave Me The Answer,” Macca’s tribute to the sounds of vaudeville introduced to him by his late father. Elsewhere, the mysticism of the French Quarter is embedded within “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt” while New Orleans’ rich R&B tradition is all over the horn-laden “Call Me Back Again.” The bouncy number one single “Listen To What The Man Said” also contrasts nicely with the melancholic title track.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
As time goes by, John Lennon’s importance to the Beatles becomes more and more self-evident. The same old story we’ve been hearing for years—that Lennon’s wit and abrasive probing were needed to balance Paul McCartney’s melodic charm and sweetness—is obvious but true; Lennon’s career has certainly had fewer ups and downs (the first Plastic Ono Band LP being his only real success), but his strivings, if at times embarrassing, have never seemed to be the product of assembly-line manufacture. None of the ex-Beatles has survived the first half of the Seventies heroically—George Harrison has become a musical Kahlil Gibran, Ringo Starr, a likably mediocre Everyman, Lennon, the confused method actor unsure of what role to play, and McCartney, a latter-day Burt Bacharach trying to invent his Angie Dickinson—but, of the four, only Lennon’s plight still reaches the rock & roll part of the heart.
Lennon probably had nothing whatsoever to do with Venus and Mars, the new Wings album, but somehow the ghost of his sincerity not only haunts but also accentuates the cool calculation of the McCartney project, and a jarring primal scream or two might make me feel less enraged by Paul and Linda’s chic, unconvincing and blatant bid to be enshrined as pop music’s Romeo and Juliet. One can point out that John and Yoko were no better, perhaps even worse, in their similar public insistence—or Bob Dylan on Planet Waves, for that matter—but what makes such a comparison appalling is that John and Yoko and Dylan believed what they were saying, or at least desperately tried to, while the McCartneys serve it all up with the offhand air of two uncaring jet-setters presenting us with the very latest in prefabricated TV dinners.
Venus and Mars begins with Paul and Linda’s casual and false assumption that the whole world is tremendously interested in the state of their union (whereas John and Yoko and Dylan were driven, I think, more by individual inner needs to say what they did), so they concoct a slick, Broadway / Hollywood exterior romance that is an insult to the very “lovers everywhere” to whom they dedicate the LP. For all I know, the McCartneys may love each other passionately, but it is self-aggrandizement, not private ardor, that shines through the computerized smoothness of their insubstantial songs; no blood on the tracks here, and no connection with reality either. Perhaps this is too harsh; perhaps Paul and Linda’s image of themselves as rock & roll’s mythical couple is real in their minds but, as this album proves, an extended trip across that arid area is apt to make even the night thoughts of Johnny Carson appear positively Dostoevskian.
“Venus and Mars are all right tonight,” the lovers keep telling us, persistently answering a by-and-large unasked question with a press-release concept, generally uninspired melodies and some of the dumbest lyrics on record. As a card-carrying romantic, I bow to no one caught in the occasionally moony state of yearning, but I can’t imagine ever telling anyone I liked, let alone loved, something like, “My, you’re so fine/When love is mine/I can’t go wrong”; or, “Ah, she looks like snow/I want to put her in a Broadway show” or, “You’re my baby and I love you/You can take a pound of love/And cook it in the stew….” The last song on the LP carries the galactic couple all the way to the old people’s home, where we are asked to pity the doddering old McCartneys because “nobody asked [them] to play.” “Here we sit,” they cry, “Two lonely old people/Eking our lives away.” Pretty damned unlikely. If the musical career doesn’t pan out, guys, you can always get a job writing soap operas or the verses for Hallmark cards.
So much for the banal ballads — “Venus and Mars,” “Love in Song,” “You Gave Me the Answer” (done Rudy Vallee style), “Letting Go,” “Spirits of Ancient Egypt,” “Treat Her Gently — Lonely Old People”—all treacle so far from the mainstream of amorousness that, if one were to make a joke, only a drip or two could sneak through. Unfortunately, some of the nonlove songs (“Magneto and Titanium Man” especially) on Venus and Mars are more galling and impudently silly than that pun, or just rather ordinary (“Rock Show,” “Medicine Jar”). The only two real exceptions are the well-sung, urban-blues-and-Sixties-soul-influenced “Call Me Back Again” and the LP’s certain hit single, the deliciously catchy and creamily produced “Listen to What the Man Said,” the latter as fine an example of slick, professional entertainment and carefully crafted “product” as has ever hit the airwaves.
Although I have always had doubts about McCartney, before this album was released I would have offered an opening argument that he, not Lennon, was the only one of the ex-Beatles whose career seemed to be going somewhere. Band on the Run wasn’t great, but it was good and did suggest that its creator wasn’t all vacuum-packed smugness and unmatched ego. Now, I don’t know. Were his talent behind him, McCartney’s current disaster wouldn’t matter much, but what is really worrisome here is the almost gleeful enthusiasm with which he makes trivial anything meaningful. It is symbolic that Venus and Mars comes with more extraneous junk (not all of it in the grooves) than it can sustain: two posters, two gummed decals, a flashy inner cover, etc. Perhaps this is the ephemera of fame, but it’s really not as cosmic as Paul and Linda think it is; indeed, it seems more an inadvertent definition of artistic emptiness. These are two geese who have laid a golden egg in a land where Michelangelo Antonioni and Norman Rockwell have somehow become soulmates, and all of us are going to be expected to pay the price. (RS 192)
~ PAUL NELSON (July 31, 1975)
All songs written and composed by Paul & Linda McCartney (listed as “McCartney”) except as noted.
1 Venus and Mars – 1:20
2 Rock Show – 5:31
3 Love in Song – 3:04
4 You Gave Me the Answer – 2:15
5 Magneto and Titanium Man – 3:16
6 Letting Go – 4:33
1 Venus and Mars [Reprise] – 2:05
2 Spirits of Ancient Egypt – 3:04
3 Medicine Jar – 3:37
4 Call Me Back Again – 4:58
5 Listen to What the Man Said – 4:01
6 Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People – 4:21
7 Crossroads Theme (Tony Hatch) – 1:00
All songs written and composed by Paul & Linda McCartney.
Bonus Tracks for 1987 CD edition & 1993 The Paul McCartney Collection edition
14 Zoo Gang [Theme from the UK TV series The Zoo Gang] -2:01
15 Lunch Box/Odd Sox [Previously released as B-side of a single “Coming Up” in 1980] – 3:50
16 My Carnival [Previously released as B-side of “Spies Like Us” in 1985] -3:57
ON THIS DATE (47 YEARS AGO)
May 26, 1965 – The Beatles record their final musical appearance at the BBC.
Just over three years since their first appearance on BBC radio, The Beatles recorded their final musical appearance on this day at Number 1 Studio, Piccadilly Theatre, London. 2:30-6:00pm.
It was their 52nd radio appearance for the corporation, and was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on 7 June 1965 under the name The Beatles (Invite You To Take A Ticket To Ride) – a change from the usual From Us To You at the group’s insistence, as they felt the old title no longer did justice to their maturing image.
The session took place at the BBC’s Piccadilly Studios in London between 2.30pm and 6pm, including time spent rehearsing. The Beatles recorded seven songs: Ticket To Ride, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, I’m A Loser, The Night Before, Honey Don’t, Dizzy Miss Lizzy and She’s A Woman.
The Beatles were also interviewed by the host, Denny Piercy, and there were a number of guests also appearing on the show.
Ticket To Ride
Ticket To Ride
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
I’m A Loser
The Night Before
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
She’s A Woman
DO YOU REMEMBER?
Billboard #1 HOT 100 (This Week in 1965)
The Beatles: Ticket to Ride