Thursday, May 31, 2012

Psychobabble’s Twelve Greatest Pre-‘Pepper’ Albums of 1967

Argue if you must, but you’ll have a tough time convincing a lot of Rock fans that there was a greater year for music than 1967. A spell of healthy competition buzzed the atmosphere as the very best bands pop music would ever know allowed their imaginations to explode. It was also the year the single passed the baton to the L.P., and this moment can be honed down to a specific date: June 1st. That was the day The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Rock L.P. had been etching out its position as Rock’s chief artistic vehicle for over a year. The Beatles had stopped filling out their albums with covers once and for all when they released Rubber Soul in late 1965. That album directly inspired Brian Wilson to create an even more cohesive piece with Pet Sounds in 1966. The Beach Boys’ album would serve the same inspirational role when The Beatle’s got back in the studio at the end of that year to begin work on the album that would give the L.P. its ultimate foothold. From that point on, the album would be regarded as more than a souvenir for record buyers with money to burn. It would be Rock’s central mode of expression. Consequently, the albums released in the second half of 1967 were as different from the ones released in the first half as the albums of 1966 were from the ones of ’65. So, it makes a certain amount of sense to split the year in half when evaluating it, dividing the less-self conscious pre-Pepper albums from the grander statements of the post-Pepper works. Here are Psychobabble’s picks for the twelve greatest albums released during the five months before The Beatles changed the album forever.

(Release dates in parentheses were mostly pulled from Wikipedia, which means it may be wise to take them with a grain of salt.)

12. Emotions by The Pretty Things (4/18/67)


Even in the months before Sgt. Pepper’s landed on Earth, the old Rock quartet line-up was looking primitive thanks to pre-Pepper items like “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Ruby Tuesday”, and “Good Vibrations”. For The Pretty Things, primitive was as much a way of life as it was for Alley Oop, so it’s no wonder why they were beside themselves when the Powers That Be at Fontana Records slathered their latest batch of songs with strings and brass without their input or even their knowledge. While such a move would have been an unequivocal disaster had it been perpetrated on their earlier blues and booze romps, the tracks on Emotions already found the Pretties in less surly territory. In fact, the brass blurts work quite well on the Kinky character sketch “Death of a Socialite” and the intense, psych vamp “My Time”. Brass adds extra punch to the already hard-driving “There Will Never Be Another Day”. “The Sun”, an elegant stroke of baroque pop, is almost unimaginable without its complimentary strings. At times the embellishments don’t work quite as well, although that may be as much the fault of middling material, such as “Children” and “Tripping”. Emotions is controversial and a bit uneven, but it reveals great growth in the songwriting partnership of Phil May and Dick Taylor, which would flourish fully the following year on an album they recorded a few doors down the Abbey Road halls from the Pepper sessions.

11. More of The Monkees by The Monkees (1/9/67)

On a schedule that would have even been extreme in 1964, the second Monkees album hit shops a ridiculous three months after their debut. From Colgems’ point of view, such rapid releasing must have seemed necessary since no one knew when the phenomenon was going to suddenly end. It was possible because an army of producers were constantly holding sessions in the desperate hope that they’d cut a track that would end up on an album guaranteed to sell zillions. So there was a mass of material at the ready to fill out More of the Monkees, and as was the case with The Monkees, most of it was more fabulous than anyone had any right to expect it to be. Or maybe it should have been expected since pros such as Goffin and King, Boyce and Hart, and Neil Diamond were contributing songs. Despite the hasty and totally inorganic way it was put together, More contains the best-known Monkees double-sided hit— “I’m a Believer” b/w “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”—and their best-known album tracks: Boyce and Hart’s “She”, Goffin and King’s “Sometime in the Morning”, Diamond’s “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, and Mike Nesmith’s “Mary Mary”. Each one of these tracks is a pop gem polished to perfection, and “Steppin’ Stone”, “She”, and “Mary Mary” are tough enough to give the impression of a real garage band at work even if this was not at all the case. Nesmith’s clattering and joyful “The Kind of Girl I Could Love” and the driving baroque popper “Hold on Girl” are pretty terrific too. The rest of the album is more of an acquired taste. Fans tend to love or hate Peter Tork’s fart sounds on the novelty track “Your Auntie Grizelda”. Most just seem to hate the lurching, goofy “Laugh” (I’m in the minority of fans who find it catchy fun), and a serious gag suppressant is required to make it through the soppy “The Day We Fall in Love”, easily the worst piece of trash ever to score a place on a Monkees LP. One could only imagine Nesmith’s disgust when he heard this particular track, and totally sympathize with his battle to get The Monkees to make their own records from then on. He won that unlikely war, and the best and truest Monkees albums would be the fruits of it, but no matter how it was made, More of The Monkees was still a pretty great album.  

10. Mellow Yellow by Donovan (3/67)


The pastoral strokes The Stones forged on “Ruby Tuesday” were a lot more complimentary to the ethereal Donovan than they were to the nitty-gritty Pretty Things. Don’s third album, Mellow Yellow, is bookended by its two raunchiest tracks: the bumping, grinding title tune, and the name-dropping, Swinging London tribute “Sunny South Kensington”. In between lies the songwriter’s most graceful selection of baroque folk and rainy jazz executed with stand-up bass, lightly brushed drums, piano, occasional woodwinds, and Donovan’s fluidly picked acoustic guitar. Mellow Yellow is also the most credible testament to Donovan’s insistence that he’s a poet above all else. “Writer in the Sun” is the empathetic faux-autobiography of an author whose best days are behind him. “Museum” is a cheeky, picturesque love letter. “An Observation” is Donovan at his most biting, transforming the frustration of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” into outright spite. “Young Girl Blues” is him at his most unexpected; it’s a sensitive but unflinching portrait of a party girl with the kind of explicit sex and drug references that would soon make Lou Reed infamous. Mellow Yellow is Donovan’s most authentically artistic statement and a lovely, sometimes gritty, sepia snapshot of pop’s most mythic era.

9. Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane (2/67)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: ‘Fifty Sides of The Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story’


Mark Dillon surfs a novel wave while telling familiar tales in Fifty Sides of The Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story. He employs the aid of fifty fans and collaborators to relate the history of California’s favorite sons. Although each chapter is labeled according to a guest commentator and the song on which that guest has chosen to comment (ex: “Roger McGuinn on ‘Don’t Worry Baby’”), the guest is not the author of his or her chapter, nor is the featured song the sole focus. Rather, Dillon uses the song as a launch pad to discuss the era in which it was made while allowing the guest to interject here and there.

Typical of these sorts of things, the commentaries from those actually involved in the making of the music (all surviving Beach Boys, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Tony Asher, etc.) are more informative than celebrity guests given to comments like “There’s something in those records that’s going to speak to generation after generation.” But for the most part, Dillon wisely selected celebrities who actually knew the Boys, so the book rarely loses the beat.

A quick scan of the table of contents may raise eyebrows among certain fans. Nearly a third of the chapters profile songs from the band’s post-Holland era when the quality of their music took a dramatic dip. There are even some questionable choices from their golden age. But remember that this book is a biography and not a list of the 50 greatest Beach Boys songs. So while “I’m Bugged at My Old Man” may be barely listenable, it makes way for an interesting extended discussion of Brian Wilson’s fraught relationship with dad Murry. Sometimes the requisite biographical information on the guest commentators is slightly distracting, but Dillon never fails to prod his narrative back on track before such tangents veer off too far. And like any good biography, there are new details that expand the group’s story, particularly in the chapter on “Forever” that delves into Dennis’s sometimes avoided association with Charles Manson and the one on “Sail on Sailor”, in which Blondie Chaplin fully explains the unfortunate incident that initiated his exit from the band.

Despite such reliance on fans and admiring collaborators, Fifty Sides of The Beach Boys is commendable for its refusal to descend into banal hero worship. Dillon acknowledges that post-Holland quality-decline, while also reserving praise whenever it's due (mostly in response to Brian’s solo records). With summer looming over the horizon, Fifty Sides of The Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story is essential beach reading for fans of our greatest champions of surf and sand.

Get Fifty Sides of The Beach Boys: The Songs That Tell Their Story at Amazon.com here:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: 'The A to Z of Mod'


Mod culture was defined by rigorous rules of style and musical tastes. Razor sharp mohair suits were donned for shimmying all night to the very latest Northern soul records while pilled to the clouds on bennies and dexys. Mod enthusiasts Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter realize Mod is a lot more elastic than that. In The A to Z of Mod, the writers both pay reverence to the strictures of the pioneer modernists and acknowledge how much the culture has changed throughout the ensuing decades. Archetypal Modernalia (A is for The Action! R is for “Ready, Steady, Go!” S is for The Scooter!) is filed amongst less typical entries (F is for Martin Freeman! G is for Glam and Pub Rock! Y is for The Young Disciples!). The A to Z of Mod redefines Modernism while remaining true to its essence by way of slick design. Published by Prestel, it’s a handy volume busting with fab full color photos and smashing pop art flourishes. Plus it’s compact enough to fit right in the pocket of your Parka.

Get The A to Z of Mod at Amazon.com here:

Review: Deluxe Editions of ‘Small Faces’ and ‘From the Beginning’

Small Faces were the quintessential Mod band, one of England’s biggest hit makers of the ‘60s, and recent inductees into a certain turgid popularity club. Ample evidence that their wonderful recorded output should be ripe for double-disc deluxe editions, right? However, there are but four Small Faces albums, and they have been reissued and reissued and reissued since the dawn of the compact disc. But wait. Those myriad reissues have all shared one significant flaw: they’ve all been assembled from second-generation tapes. UMe’s new Small Faces deluxe campaign corrects this wrong, pulling their classic albums from the original masters. The sonic improvement will stop you in your tracks. I have Decca’s expanded edition of Small Faces from 2006, and I always thought it sounded pretty damn great. Playing it alongside UMe’s new edition reveals an anemic, overly trebly master. The UMe version sounds deep, dimensional, and very, very heavy.

This is great news, since Small Faces is easily one of the best debuts of the British Invasion era. Even The Who’s My Generation wasn’t quite this raw, probably because Roger Daltrey had yet to perfect his primal scream, while Steve Marriott sounds like he shrieked his way out of the womb. The band’s song craft is still rudimentary, but the bone-pulverizing performances of “What’Cha Gonna Do About It”, “Come On Children”, “E Too D”, and “You Better Believe It” make up for any compositional shortcomings. Plus, there are stunning covers of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” and Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” (shiftily retitled “You Need Loving” and credited to Marriott and Ronnie Lane, a con Led Zeppelin would later double down on by renaming it “Whole Lotta Love” and claiming the composition as their own). As far as the original material goes, the hit “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” is probably the best song here, even though the guys thought such bubblegummy fare was beneath them.


Small Faces had an even more legit gripe when Decca slipped out one last album as the band made its move to Immediate Records in mid-’67. From the Beginning is a crass cash-in in the mode of The Stones’ Flowers, consisting of outtakes, tracks only intended for release on singles, and retreads from their previous album. Also like Flowers, From the Beginning is pretty great. As a Small Face, it’s an understandable embarrassment. As a Small Faces fan, it’s a cool comp assembling fabulous hits like “All or Nothing” and “My Mind’s Eye” with great psych cut-outs from their Immediate debut like “That Man” and “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”. The group must have been infuriated that the L.P. included unfinished versions of songs from their second eponymous album. It’s still fascinating to hear these rough takes of “My Way of Giving” and “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me”. A version of Marvin Gaye’s “Baby Don’t You Do It” poorly sung by ex-Small Face Jimmy Winston is disposable in light of superior covers by groups like The Who and The Poets, but an unexpected cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” is exciting and emotive. Again it’s easy to sympathize with the band’s disgust over the operatic flourish tacked on by ousted manager Don Arden. It’s also impossible not to crack a smile when Arden’s ridiculous voice kicks off the album.

As was the case with UMe’s superb Kinks reissues of last year, Small Faces and From the Beginning are nicely annotated and loaded with bonus tracks, though these are less revelatory than the ones on the Kinks discs. The best bonuses are the non-L.P. singles, such as “I’ve Got Mine”, “Understanding”, “Patterns”, and “I Can’t Make It”. There are some neat stereo mixes, a backing track of of "I Can Make It" with some nasty fuzz guitar, and one of “Show Me the Way” that really showcases its otherworldly beauty. But unsurpassable masters of some of the most unsurpassable music of the ‘60s is the reason to repurchase Small Faces and From the Beginning, which you can do using the links from Amazon.com below:



Coming soon: Deluxe Editions of Small Faces (Immediate) and Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake.

Monday, May 28, 2012

21 Underrated Songs by Siouxsie and the Banshees You Need to Hear Now!

I know, I know. As far as most people are concerned, they’re all underrated. Siouxsie and the Banshees have always had a cultier audience than their stadium-filling peers in The Cure. They slink in several slots behind The Sex Pistols and The Clash during discussions of British punk’s genesis, even though they were there from the start. Siouxsie Sioux was conspicuously, fabulously present when Steve Jones dropped the live-T.V. profanity bombs that ignited the filthy, furious war between the Pistols and proper (i.e.: tedious) society.

Of course, Siouxsie and the Banshees are hardly obscurities in the new wave collective consciousness. Siouxsie, who turns 55 today, is still as iconic for her terrifying trill as she is for her exotic, immensely influential sense of style. The band’s equally otherworldly music has been profiled on three greatest hits compilations. None of the tracks contained therein are included here. Instead, Psychobabble digs a little deeper into the dark wells of the band’s catalogue, reemerges a little dazed, a little roughed up, but clutching 21 underrated songs by Siouxsie and the Banshees you need to hear now.
1. “Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)” (from the album The Scream) 1978

In classic punk fashion, Siouxsie and the Banshees began their career doing everything in their power to be as off-putting as possible: interminably massacring “The Lord’s Prayer” at their debut show, adopting disturbing Third Reich imagery, allowing Sid Vicious to drum. Those who know the group from pleasantly poppy crossovers like “Cities in Dust” and “Kiss Them for Me” might be shocked to hear their early work. Disjointed, strident, far scarier than anything in Johnny Rotten’s imagination. “Metal Postcard (Mittageisen)” from their debut embodies this as well as any other track, instantly placing Siouxsie’s swastikas in ironic quotes with a dedication to anti-Nazi artist John Heartfeld, then lamenting/celebrating an increasing mechanized society to a shudder-inducing mechanical rhythm. Siouxsie’s conflicting messages clash just as hard as the vertiginous beat.




2. “Jigsaw Feeling” (from the album The Scream) 1978

Like “Metal Postcard”, “Jigsaw Feeling” draws its immense power from intense Sturm and Drang, but there’s also some fiery guitar work from John McKay to melt the ice around Siouxsie’s shout. Still, that does little to sooth the savagely paranoid lyric.




3. “Nictotine Stain” (from the album The Scream) 1978

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ten Reasons Christopher Lee is the Most!

Today, Christopher Lee turns 90 and Psychobabble surveys decades of reasons why he’s still the most.
1. Has any actor ever portrayed as many iconic characters as Christopher Lee? He equaled Lon Chaney, Jr., by playing four of the major movie monsters: Dracula, The Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy, and Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde (renamed Dr. Marlowe and Mr. Blake). He also filled the shoes and cloven hooves of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Fu Manchu, Rasputin, Lucifer, Tiresias, Saruman, and the Jabberwocky. That’s quite a cv.

2. Christopher Lee had a somewhat ambivalent relationship with the studio and role that made him famous. He has been known to refuse to sign memorabilia depicting him as the title vamp in Hammer’s Dracula pictures. At the same time, he has been strangely devoted to Hammer. In the studio’s earliest days, he was quick to defend its films against its many critics by describing them as “adult fairy tales” rather than “Horror,” a term he loathed. In later years he often narrated documentaries about the studio and answered the call when it revived in 2007 to take a role in its comeback flick. The Resident was a pretty bad movie, but it was still nice to see Mr. Lee’s face follow the Hammer logo once again.

3. After playing the Count in the romantic tradition of Bela Lugosi a couple of times, Christopher Lee got the chance to be the first actor to really portray Dracula as Bram Stoker described him in Jesús Franco’s excellent Count Dracula (1970). Lee wasn’t the first to don a mustache to play the vampire. That distinction goes to John Carradine, but Lee was the first to resemble Stoker’s Dracula and perform in scenes and speak dialogue far closer to the source novel than we’d seen in any earlier Dracula film.

4. On screen, Dracula had a first-class nemesis in Van Helsing. In real life, Christopher Lee had a wonderful friend in Peter Cushing. Though the serious Lee and the jocular Cushing could not have had more different personalities, they remained close friends and were always quick to defend each other to jerky journos looking for discord behind the scenes of those nasty, nasty Hammer gore fests.

5. Christopher Lee’s closest Horror associate will always be Peter Cushing, but he was also involved with the genre’s definitive star. Christopher Lee was both a co-star of Boris Karloff (Corridors of Blood, The Curse of the Crimson Altar) and a next-door neighbor. In his autobiography, Tall, Dark, and Gruesome, Lee wrote, “When we came out of our houses simultaneously, people expected to see body-bags dumped on the pavement”!

6. Christopher Lee is literally the most! At 6’5” he is one cinema’s tallest leading men.

7. Christopher Lee is a man of numerous talents, not the least of which is his stunning bass. He first got to show off his singing abilities in his best film, the 1973 Horror musical The Wicker Man. In 2010 he released his very own album, the wacko “symphonic metal” opera Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.

8. Paul McCartney loaded the cover photo of Wings’ excellent 1973 L.P. Band on the Run with familiar faces: boxer John Conteh, journalists Michael Parkinson and Clement Freud, actors Kenny Lynch and James Coburn, and of course, the three members of Wings. But by far the coolest face belonged to Christopher Lee.

9. OK, so the Star Wars prequels weren’t too hot (and The Phantom Menace was downright wretched). Still, it was pretty groovy that George Lucas selected Christopher Lee to play the villainous Count Dooku in Episodes II and III. Lee’s casting was a neat way to link the new films with the original trilogy because of his unbreakable association with Peter Cushing, who’d played General Tarkin in 1977’s Star Wars. And let’s not ignore the significance of his character’s name: “Dooku” may sound like something you’d find in a diaper, but “Count” is another unmistakable reference to Lee’s best known role. It was a cool move for some pretty uncool movies.

10. Even as Christopher Lee turns 90, he is just as in demand as ever. The 21st century has been one of the most active eras of his career. According to imdb, Lee has loaned his voice and face to some 30 films and television series since 2000. They have included such major releases as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and upcoming Hobbit movies, the Star Wars prequels, several Tim Burton films, and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. After all these years, Christopher Lee is still creating new cinema icons. That’s the most.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: ‘George Harrison: Living in the Material World’


Early in George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Ringo Starr says, “George Had two incredible separate personalities. He had the love, bag of beads personality and the bag of anger.” This observation functions as a sort of low-key thesis statement for George Harrison: Living in the Material World; low-key, because director Martin Scorsese does not spend a lot of time dwelling on the dark side of the quiet Beatle. But because of George’s spiritual persona, the fact that he had some drug problems, was a bit of a womanizer, and had a tart tongue to rival Lennon’s might take some less-informed fans back a step or two. Most of Living in the Material World portrays Harrison as a good man not nearly as dependent on the material world as “Taxman” or his reputation for being a bread head suggest. Above all else, George Harrison seemed to be a great pragmatist and perhaps the most logical proponent of spirituality ever to nab the spotlight. When he wasn’t Hare Krishna-ing on “My Sweet Lord”, he was damning the pope in “Awaiting on You All”, quoting a Swami who said, “It’s better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite,” and funding the religiously controversial Life of Brian (considering his similar experiences with The Last Temptation of Christ, Scorsese could no doubt relate). That good head on George’s shoulders is as worthy of our respect as the talent that created so much wonderful music.

Living in the Material World, however, is not overly concerned with music, barely acknowledging George’s work after All Things Must Pass. We still get extended discussions of his underrated songwriting and guitar playing and his all-too brief dalliance with the sitar, which highlights his lifelong friendship with Ravi Shankar sweetly. There is also a delightful sequence in which he gets a huge kick out of old footage of The Beatles performing “This Boy”. He seems particularly taken with the sight of himself as such a young man. Unlike Lennon, George didn’t seem to yearn for his youth. He wasn’t the type to cry, “When I was a boy, everything was right.” There were certainly bumps in the road along George Harrison’s journey, and none were worse than his 1999 stabbing, which wife Olivia recounts in chilling detail. But more than anything else, Living in the Material World presents an dauntless man who dealt with the hysteria of Beatlemania and everything that followed with grace and intelligence.

Get George Harrison: Living in the Material World on Blu-ray or DVD at Amazon.com here:

Friday, May 25, 2012

50 Years/50 Reasons The Rolling Stones are the Most!

According to Karnbach and Bernson’s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first went to see Brian Jones and Ian Stewart rehearse with their new blues band on May 25, 1962. Kismet. For the next fifty years, The Rolling Stones would remain the definitive Rock & Roll band, leaving a trail of milestones in their wake. Here are 50 that prove The Stones are and have always been the most.


1. Start Me Up
“Hot Stuff” notwithstanding, Stones albums could always be counted on to get off to a rousing start. Track one always packed a little extra kick: “Route 66” on their debut, “She Said Yeah” on Out of Our Heads, “Sympathy for the Devil” on Beggars Banquet, “Gimme Shelter” on Let It Bleed, “Rocks Off” on Exile on Main Street, “Start Me Up” on Tattoo You. Sometimes The Stones lured you in with beguiling mood music, as they did with “Mother’s Little Helper” on Aftermath, “Yesterday’s Papers” on Between the Buttons, and “Sing This All Together” on Their Satanic Majesties Request. No matter what, as soon as the needle drops on side one, there’s no mistake you're listening to the world’s greatest Rock & Roll band.

2. Imagination
Sometimes The Stones’ exploits overshadow their music. Mick and Keith are rarely spoken of in the same breath as fellow lyricists Dylan or Lennon and McCartney, but could they be Rock’s greatest wordsmiths? They were not as poetic as Dylan. They were not as empathetic as The Beatles. Yet Mick and Keith were far more personal, varied, and imaginative than many listeners realize. Songs such as “Before They Make Me Run” and “Wild Horses” are vulnerable contemplations of real situations. “Citadel”, “Torn and Frayed”, and “When the Whip Comes Down” establish incredibly detailed scenarios of fantasy and reality. “Sympathy for the Devil” may be Rock & Roll’s finest—and most frightening— character study, while “Monkey Man” might be its most hilarious self-parody.

3. Copy Me
One of the things that made Mick Jagger such a stellar frontman was his ability to mimic the greatest frontmen before and of his time. He spent the first few Stones records working hard to capture Chuck Berry’s audible smirk, Jimmy Reed’s slur, Marvin Gaye’s sweet roll, and Otis Redding’s transcendent shout. By the mid-‘60s he was an expert impersonator who had Ray Davies’s wryness (“Cool, Calm, & Collected”), The Beatles’ Liverpudlian harmonies (“Yesterday’s Papers”), and Dylan’s whine (“She Smiled Sweetly”) down pat.

4. The Bass Player He Looks Nervous…and the Drummer, He’s So Shattered…
Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman were never a flash rhythm section like Moon and Entwistle, or rhythmic melodists like Starr and McCartney. They just locked into grooves like no other white rhythm section, smearing slicks of drums and bass Keith could slide all over with his greasy licks. So what if Charlie played a little behind the beat? So what if Bill didn’t have the interest in distinguishing his lines from the mix, making it necessary for Keith to tear the bass from Bill’s hands and do the job himself from time to time? There’s still an undeniable magic to their boogie: Charlie wacking away like a slightly slack metronome; Bill tossing off walking runs with ease, occasionally dive-bombing down neck like Bo Diddley. On stage, the guys looked like they could not have been less interested in what they were doing. The exquisite rumble they made proved otherwise.

5. …and the Guitar Players Look Damaged
While Bill and Charlie were perfecting their rhythms at the back of the stage, Keith Richards and Brian Jones were out front revolutionizing guitar dynamics. The lead and rhythm player had always been distinct entities in Rock & Roll. Keith and Brian started changing that through a technique Keith christened “weaving,” instinctively trading rhythm and lead roles within a song. While Mick Taylor’s virtuosity meant that the roles became less integrated during his tenure, The Stones’ acquisition of Ronnie Wood in 1976 resulted in the most perfect weaving Keith would ever achieve with a guitar partner.

6. Slipped My Tongue
It’s been slapped on T-shirts, jackets, and air fresheners (though it’s hard to believe anything associated with The Stones would actually make the air smell better). Over-commercialized for sure, The Rolling Stones’ tongue is still a perfectly lascivious, unbelievably iconic logo for the world’s dirtiest band of pirates. It has certainly gotten more mileage than if it had “slowly (turned) into a cock,” as Keith Richards once suggested it might.

7. I Got the Blues

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: 'RAM' [special edition] by Paul and Linda McCartney


Lambasted in 1971, RAM has stood up better than any other Paul (and Linda) McCartney album. This well-crafted grab bag no longer bears the baggage of The Beatles’ messy break up, so we can enjoy its refreshing pop, country, blues, pocket symphonies, psych, and metal guilt free. Now there’s even more to enjoy on Hear Music’s double-disc special edition of RAM. The remaster is warm and most complimentary to Paul’s incomparable bass work. Aside from the hit single “Another Day”—another terrific pop confection that outpaces its initial bad rep—the bonus tracks are mostly the kind of fun fluff critics once accused RAM of being. Imagine what a shellacking the album would have received had it included the B-side “Little Woman Love” or “Hey Diddle”! “Oh Woman, Oh Why” is at least heavy-duty fluff. The drum-driven jam “Rode All Night” is pretty weighty too, though its nine minutes is a bit much.

Get the RAM special edition at Amazon.com here:

Watch “Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution” on Psychobabble!

“Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution” has long earned its place in history for Brian Wilson’s spellbinding solo performance of “Surf’s Up” captured during the days when SMiLE was still a possibility. That footage has found its way into numerous Beach Boys documentaries, but all 51 minutes of Leonard Bernstein’s T.V. special are packed with moments worth revisiting. Originally airing on April 25, 1967, “Inside Pop” is a charming, sometimes hilariously misguided, attempt to explain the appeal of Rock & Roll to parents. The show opens with Bernstein breaking down the unorthodox time signatures of The Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine” and “She Said She Said” and the unusual harmonic structures of The Left Banke’s “Pretty Ballerina” and The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”, complete with the conductor’s own off-key renditions of the songs. Bernstein headbanging along with “Love You To” and “Paint It Black” is not to be missed.
The show proceeds with a bevy of oddities, from Janis Ian singing “Society’s Child” along with reel-to-reel backing to a Teenbopper blatantly bootlegging a Herman's Hermits show to Graham Nash and Peter Noone getting totally wasted and debating whether or not Donovan has the power to stop all war. Graham Gouldman, Frank Zappa, Roger McGuinn (still Jim!), and Frank Cook from Canned Heat weigh in too, as do members of less well-remembered acts like The UFO and The Gentle Soul. One must wonder what Lenny was thinking when he decided to focus on the sex, drug, and social revolution content of pop lyrics in order to convert parents, but that’s just another delightful element of an utterly delightful time capsule. Watch it below:



1,000 thanks to the original poster.

Review: ‘Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘N’ Roll’


Without a truly era-altering record since 1991, when Nirvana released Nevermind, it is now easy to forget there was a time when a single disc of pop songs could make the earth quake. In the mid-‘60s that record was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. With its audacious jacket, cornucopia of weird sounds, and weighty “concept album” conceit, The Beatles’ Summer of Love definer was the first Rock & Roll album to be widely accepted as serious art. Strange, when just a year earlier, The Beatles had put out a record that was even more experimental and was wrapped in an even more avant garde jacket… not to mention it contained considerably better and more diverse songs. No claims of an overarching concept necessary.

Why wasn’t Revolver regarded as the masterpiece it is during its own time? Robert Rodriguez spends a good deal of his new book Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘N’ Roll getting to the bottom of this question. He also addresses the album’s composition, recording process, and immediate aftermath in deep detail. By also checking in on the peers who influenced and were influenced by Revolver—The Beach Boys, Dylan, The Stones, The Byrds—Rodriguez crafts a complete and compelling portrait of one of Rock’s key years.

In an era when books seem to escape the editor’s desk with any number of embarrassing factual errors intact, Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘N’ Roll is a true rarity. This is an impeccably researched work. The writer doesn’t let a single question about some of Rock’s greatest music go unaddressed, right down to why Paul’s front tooth only appears to be chipped in certain shots of the “Paperback Writer” promo video. Rodriguez attempts to address who really played the dual guitar leads on “And Your Bird Can Sing” and if and why Paul walked out on the “She Said, She Said” session. He is not always able to emerge with definitive answers, but the explorations are always thorough and fascinating. From the differences between the various available mixes to the precise details behind the “Butcher Cover” photo shoot, Rodriguez allows no Beatles-’66 stone to go unturned. Like me, you may have read a tower of books on the Fabs and all but vowed you never need to crack another. As long as excellent ones like Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘N’ Roll are being published, you’re going to have a real tough time sticking to that vow.

Get Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ‘N’ Roll at Amazon.com here:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Revolution Rock: The Monkees Take Control with ‘Headquarters’

January 1967. Music Supervisor Don Kirshner has called a gathering of Monkees at his Beverly Hills Motel suite to give the boys some good news. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith file in. Nesmith seems more agitated than usual. The actors, Dolenz and Jones, take their seats. The musicians, Tork and Nesmith, decide to remain standing. Nesmith begins pacing the floor.

Screen Gems lawyer Herb Moelis stands at Kirshner’s side. Self-satisfied with his role in overseeing The Monkees’ shockingly sudden success, Kirshner grins, hands each of his young charges a gold record. It’s the second Monkees L.P., released less than three months after their debut. The Monkees had spent thirteen of those weeks occupying the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Bolstered with the second number one single to bear The Monkees’ name, Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer”, More of the Monkees was even more phenomenal. It broke Billboard records by leaping from #122 to #1 in a single week. More of the Monkees would go on to enjoy an astounding 18 weeks at the top of the charts, eventually becoming the twelfth biggest selling album of all time. Not without justification, Kirshner believes the boys should be grateful that he’d masterminded their tremendous—and possibly, undeserved—success. They weren’t.

The actors are fairly indifferent, though Dolenz takes great issue with the tacky J.C. Penny’s togs he wears on the record jacket. The musicians are furious, humiliated by a media reveling in the revelation that they performed little more than vocals on their mega-selling records. Aside from the scant three tracks he’d been allowed to contribute to The Monkees’ two albums, Nesmith hates the music, feels hopelessly disconnected from it. He wasn’t even aware that More of the Monkees, a hodge-podge rush-released to capitalize on the guys’ likely fleeting success, existed until discovering it in a Cleveland record store. When he finally gave it a spin, he deemed it “the worst album in the history of the world” (Hit Parader). Wearing down the carpet in Kirshner’s suite just a few days later, Nesmith is raring to unload.

Kirshner congratulates the boys on “their” record. Nesmith cuts through his colleague’s half-hearted mumbles of thanks to ask when the next release is due. Kirshner has another single in mind for the end of February. In fact, he’d already commanded sessions for a new Neil Diamond song at RCA studio in New York, and he thinks it’s another sure hit.

Nesmith snaps.

He threatens to quit if Kirshner doesn’t step down and hand over control of The Monkees’ records. His fellow Monkees are agape. Even the veteran supervisor is floored by the threat.

Moelis finally speaks up: “You’d better take a look at your contract, son.”

That’s it.

Wham!

Nesmith rams his fist through the wall. Plaster rains to the floor. The Monkee gets in the lawyer’s face. “That could have been your face, motherfucker!” He stomps from the room. The gangly longhair with the reserved drawl and goofy wool hat is not the feeble adversary Moelis expected. His actions are nothing short of a declaration of revolution.
This incident is familiar to the fans who’ve long harbored, if only in abashed privacy, a fascination with The Monkees, their music, and their lore. It’s less well traveled among those who continue to scoff at the group, who continue to cast them as puppets, fakes, and musical incompetents. This same attitude is what sent Michael Nesmith into such a fury in Don Kirshner’s hotel suite 45 years ago. For decades The Monkees would remain synonymous with illegitimacy. They’d symbolize the record industry’s most crass schemes, forerunners of Milli Vanilli’s lipsynching shams, Lou Pearlman’s coterie of anemic boy bands, Kirshner’s own cartoon supergroup, The Archies, who had a 1969 smash with “Sugar Sugar”. But for any of these accusations to hold water, one must overlook a reservoir of facts.

Yes, The Monkees were assembled for a television series. They didn’t meet at a church fete like John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They didn’t share a decisive chance encounter on a train like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards or share the same last names like The Beach Boys. Television producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider got them together to make money, not art. But The Monkees were artists: singers, actors, comedians, multi-instrumentalists, songwriters, producers. Those who didn’t come into the project with these abilities proved to be quick learners.

The Beatles played all of these roles too, and for the most part, played them much better than The Monkees. The Beatles made revolutionary music that immeasurably influenced and altered pop music in ways that continue to resound today. Yet they never staged a revolution. In fact, during 1968, the year in which young people were all but required to take a radical stance against the conservative systems controlling them, their ringleader, John Lennon, sang that if a revolution was what they wanted, they could count him out. Mick Jagger made a high-profile appearance at London’s anti-Vietnam demonstration on March 17, 1968, but when it came down to enacting real change, he ineffectually wondered, “What can a poor boy do but sing for a Rock & Roll band?”

A year earlier, The Monkees not only staged a revolution; they won it. On their own small scale, they accomplished exactly what the anti-Vietnam protestors and every other band of insurgents throughout history hoped to achieve: they hit the powers ruling them where it counted, enacting a seismic regime shift. The puppets displaced the puppeteers; those guys playing a band on TV became an actual band; Pinocchio became a real boy. And they did it a lot earlier than many Monkee fans even realize, performing as a stage band almost from the very beginning of the Monkees project. But they didn’t cut their first album until banding together to overthrow the very corporate entity that made them. Perhaps The Monkees are more like the Frankenstein Monster.

Headquarters didn’t produce any U.S. singles, hit or otherwise, as The Monkees and More of the Monkees did, but it was undoubtedly a more consistent record. The band’s playing is ragged, and even with the innumerable edits that went into the final product, there are still a few flubs. Peter’s fingers fumble during a piano solo on “No Time” (and we hear him release a frustrated guffaw off mic). “Band 6” is a peek into how messy the sessions could get. However, Headquarters radiates a palpable joy missing from the first two records, largely cut by Phil Spector’s ultra-professional wage earners known as The Wrecking Crew. Behind the kit, Micky Dolenz is no Hal Blaine, but his rhythms are surprisingly inventive for a guy learning to play the drums while recording his first album. Established as the bass player on the TV show, and at the live performances where The Monkees got a crash course in being a Rock & Roll band, Peter Tork mostly stuck to what he does best on Headquarters, handling keyboards and the occasional banjo or twelve-string guitar part. Yet the one track on which he assumes his TV role, “You Just May Be the One”, sports the trickiest bass line on the record. With the most mature voice and songwriting talents in the band, it’s no surprise that Michael Nesmith shines anytime he steps to the frontline, but who could have anticipated Dolenz possessed the innate songwriting talent to compose something as far-out yet accessible as “Randy Scouse Git”, which became a big hit in the U.K.? Who knew Tork’s gifts were strong enough that his “For Pete’s Sake” would be chosen to score the closing credits during the second season of the T.V. show? These are not fluke achievements. This is the work of a talented group of guys who probably could have continued to develop into a formidable band had they kept at it. But they didn’t, which makes Headquarters an even more precious product of both the Monkees project and the fertile playground of ‘60s pop.

No other album in pop history has a story like that of Headquarters. There were certainly better records in the ‘60s, and arguably better Monkees records. The release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band exactly a week later brought a swift end to Headquarters’ reign at the top of the charts (it held the position briefer than any other chart-topping Monkees L.P.) and the kind of DIY garage Rock it championed. Still it remains unique and vital, a document of the revolutionary ‘60s spirit at its boiled-to-the-broth essence. And though it would be close to 30 years before The Monkees recorded as a true band again, Headquarters marked a significant change in the way Mike, Micky, Davy, and Peter made records, controlling their own sessions just as the deposed Kirshner once did.

But all of this would be mere history-book fodder if not for one essential point: Headquarters is a very, very good album. Perhaps it pales next to Revolver or Pet Sounds or Are You Experienced? , but how many garage bands of the era rocked with the chutzpah The Monkees exude on “You Told Me”, “Sunny Girlfriend” and “No Time”? How many folk rockers made mood music as moody as “Shades of Grey”, “Mr. Webster”, and “Early Morning Blues and Greens”? And how many wrote songs as forceful and imaginative as Peter’s jazzily chorded “For Pete’s Sake”, Micky’s vaudeville/avant garde mash-up “Randy Scouse Git”, Mike’s country-punk fusion “You Told Me”, or the entire quartet’s tossed-off rap “Zilch”?

The road to Headquarters is amazingly short. The very first Kirshner-helmed Monkees session took place on Friday, June 10, 1966; the first Monkees-helmed one happened Monday, January 16, 1967. But a lot went down during that brief span of seven months and six days. There were some forty sessions, the hasty construction of a media juggernaut, much churning within and without The Monkees’ ranks, gold records, and great, great sums of money. All of that continued as the band slogged through the three months it took to make Headquarters. For a time, it continued after the record’s release on May 22, 1967. But not for long. The Monkees seemed to falter commercially almost as quickly as they scored. And could Headquarters have been to blame for that too?

Commercially, The Monkees conquered a pop landscape populated by such formidable figures as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. They also made a genuine bid to compete on the same artistic level as their high-grade peers. Whether they succeeded or failed is up to the people who loved and loathed their music. Because perhaps more than any other band of their era, The Monkees were built and destroyed by the judgments of other people. Those judgments persist today but mostly drip from those who never actually sat down and gave Headquarters a listen. Their loss.

Headquarters was released 45 years ago today.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monsterology: Brides

In this new feature on Psychobabble, we’ve been looking at the history of Horror’s archetypal monsters.

“Here come the brides”…

As they have in so much of our male dominated cultural, women have always taken a backseat in the horrifying side of horror literature and film. While there is no shortage of women playing the victim or the damsel in need of rescuing, far, far fewer have been the agents of terror. The most common—and ancient— she-monster is the witch. But another lady killer has also been a fixture of horror, and she’s been in the game a lot longer than 1935 when Boris Karloff’s Monster first demanded a mate.
Logically, it was a woman who first saw fit to touch upon the monstrous bride. In her genre-defining Gothic horror novel Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley dwelled on a disturbing plot thread in which the creature does, indeed, demand a mate. He presents his creator with a grotesque ultimatum: build me a bride and I’ll stop killing and otherwise making your life less than pleasant. The plotline had any number of unsavory implications. The Monster had more in mind than handholding (“…one as deformed as myself would not deny herself to me”), essentially inventing a new strain of necrophilia in which both parties are deceased. There is Frankenstein’s equally demented destruction of the bride that bears traces of sexual violence (“trembling with passion, [I] tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged”). The doctor destroys the bride before she has a chance to animate and reject her nefarious fiancé, as she would in the film this plotline would inspire 117 years later. Rather than a havoc-raising monster in her own right, she is just another of the numerous female pawns destroyed during Frankenstein and his creation’s macabre chess match. Victor’s destruction of the Monster’s potential mate is payback for the Monster’s murder of Victor’s brother William, as well as the ostensible destruction of the boy’s nanny Justine Moritz, who is executed after being accused of the murder. His own mate obliterated, the Monster kills Victor’s fiancé Elizabeth on the day they are to be married.
Mary Shelley at Work

In Frankenstein, Shelley angrily, unflinchingly comments on the roles women so often played in reality and maps out the roles they would often play in horror fiction for centuries to come. As such, Frankenstein can be read as an anti-patriarchal diatribe, a criticism of a society in which women are built, controlled, and ruined according to the whims of men. Mary knew well of such things firsthand. Percy Bysshe Shelley left his bride’s name off the book when he submitted Frankenstein for publication, knowing that her gender might hinder its acceptance. Upon its first printing, she received no credit for her extraordinarily imaginative and influential work. Not surprisingly, Percy was generally believed to be its true creator, and even after his wife finally received her due credit upon the book’s 1822 second printing, her authorship was often questioned and continues to be to present times (see John Lauritsen’s The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein, published in 2007).

The daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of the pioneering feminist commentary A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, must have felt the sting of such sexist skepticism keenly. Even those who accepted that Frankenstein was written by a woman often used that fact against the novel. As related in Susan Tyler Hitchcock’s essential Frankenstein: A Cultural History, a writer for British Critic grunted, “If our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should, and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment.”

Contrary to that critic’s command, Frankenstein was not forgotten. Its brand of Gothic horror persisted similarly. So did the bride, and toward the end of the decade, Bram Stoker supplied not one but three monstrous brides in Dracula. And this time, they would not be destroyed before getting the opportunity to terrify. However, Stoker was no feminist. Quite the opposite, and his trio of brides are both fiendish abominations of female sexuality, hungrily draining the essence from poor Jonathan Harker, and embodiments of female subservience, cowering before their master like Mormon sister wives at the feet of their priesthood-holding husband. Shelley wanted us to sympathize with her women. Stoker wants us to be repelled by his. If Dracula’s brides are not the most flattering representations of women, they at least get the chance to do some damage, keeping Harker prisoner and Van Helsing and Mina at bay. They also eat a baby.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: The Damned's 'The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing'


After the ever-volatile Damned disbanded after 1977’s disappointing Music for Pleasure on Stiff Records, they soon regrouped (minus Brian James) for a two-year stint with Chiswick in 1979. Poppier, Gothier, The Damned were, indeed, a new band, and they created some of their very best work for the label: the L.P.’s Machine Gun Etiquette and The Black Album and several singles with exclusive B-sides. Late last year, Chiswick collected these 45s onto a new CD called, self-explanatorily enough, The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing. With the bulk pulled from songs already included as bonus tracks on Chiswick’s essential editions of Machine Gun Etiquette and The Black Album, this comp isn’t great value. Plus the new-remastering job is too fucking loud. The Damned never needed help making listeners feel agitated, so the added volume is particularly unnecessary.

The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing does have a selling point, and it’s a huge one (hint: it’s the non-Chiswick “other thing” in the CD’s title). This is the first time the great “Friday the 13th” E.P. has made it to CD since the 1993 comp Tales from the Damned, which is long out of print. Perhaps the E.P.’s four cuts have been MIA so long because they were The Damned’s only recordings for NEMS records and there were rights issues. Whatever the case, it’s great to have them back (particularly since my vinyl copy of “Friday the 13th” warped mysteriously several years ago). This is one of The Damned’s very best hidden treasures. The uproarious “Disco Man”, with its melody so similar to that of Family’s “Peace of Mind”, has been a staple of the band’s live sets for decades. “The Limit Club” is a haunting fan favorite in the Black Album vein. “Billy Bad Breaks” is pogoing power pop, and a cover of “Citadel” realigns The Damned with the ‘60s psychedelia they so adored and reasserts the fact that The Stones hardly went soft when they made Their Satanic Majesties Request (check out Captain Sensible’s multiple impassioned defenses of the album in the comments section of this article!) .

The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing has a few other recommendable oddities, such as a slightly longer mix of “Suicide” and non-Chiswick oddities like the momentous Damned/Motörhead collaboration, “Over the Top”, and a fiddle-adorned version of “Anti-Pope” from the “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” single that was oddly left off the extended Black Album CD. The booklet is well annotated by Roger Armstrong and full of great photos. But The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing earns its “must have” status for one reason only: the “Friday the 13th” E.P.

Get The Chiswick Singles on Amazon.com here:

Review: Deluxe Edition of T. Rex's 'Electric Warrior'


T. Rex perfected their space age boogie and finally conquered the colonies in 1971 with Electric Warrior. Artists from David Bowie to The Rolling Stones left a trail of glitter and stick-on stars racing after Marc Bolan to catch up with his fresh take on the most basic Rock & Roll. So a deluxe edition of this monolith seems overdue, right? Well, yes and no. Sonically, this is a major upgrade. No doubt about it. Content wise, there weren't enough compelling leftovers from the sessions to fill out two discs, and the second one is padded.

The last incarnation of Electric Warrior landed in 2003. It polished up the sound a bit and tacked on seven bonus tracks. Most of these were readily available singles, though an acoustic version of “Planet Queen” and a lengthy promo interview with Bolan were appended for good measure. UMC’s new double-disc deluxe includes all that (minus the interview) plus twenty more alternate mixes, versions, and masters, as well as a valuable clutch of home demos and weird poetry.

Although its track line-up is nearly identical to that of the 2003 release, Disc One is immediately striking because it sounds so damn good. Electric Warrior has never sounded fuller or warmer on CD. This remaster of the original album—as well as the great singles “There was a Time/Raw Ramp/Electric Boogie”, “Hot Love”, “King of the Mountain Cometh”, and “Woodland Rock”—is the main draw of the deluxe edition.

Disc Two centers on a Bizarro World Electric Warrior with the album’s 11 songs presented in their original order but as alternate imaginings. Some of this is definitely interesting. A mix of “Cosmic Dancer” eliminates Bolan’s double-tracked vocal leaving one voice so shockingly intimate you can hear his larynx constricting. The alternate “Jeepster” also strips away a vocal while pulling an eerie synth line into the mix. “Get It On” swells to nearly six minutes with an extra repeated verse and some fun vocal tomfoolery through the finish. A raw run through of “The Motivator” booms with natural room echo.

Some of this is unabashed filler, such as instrumental basic tracks of “Mambo Sun” and “Rip Off”, songs too repetitious to be remotely interesting in this setting. “Alternate masters” of “Girl” and “Life’s a Gas” are barely distinguishable from the familiar versions, as are the “London demo versions” of “Raw Ramp” and “Electric Boogie” that follow the Bizarro Warrior. Those tracks notwithstanding, this is where Disc Two starts to get cooking. There’s an unreleased rendition of Carl Perkins’s “Honey Don’t”, which translates into a blaze of haunted Rexy boogie nicely. Then there’s the cozy sequence of demos that prove Bolan really wasn’t from Jupiter after all. Fans will delight in the confidentiality of these home recordings of “Planet Queen”, “Girl” (a scant 40 seconds long), “Jeepster”, and “Get It On”. Such moments will definitely make T. Rex freaks seriously consider repurchasing Electric Warrior one more time.

Get the deluxe edition of Electric Warrior at Amazon.com here:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Six Disc Box Set Kovering The Kinks at the BBC Koming Soon...

Between last year's deluge of deluxe editions, the long-awaited release of Dave Davies's lost late-'60s solo album, and a box set of their mono albums, The Kinks have been very well-represented lately. It ain't over yet. On August 13, Sanctuary/UME will release a massive six-disc box set collecting everything the boys recorded for Auntie. The Kinks at the BBC expands considerably on the two-disc selection of BBC recordings issued as BBC Sessions 1964 - 1977 in 1996. The set consists of 5 audio discs and a DVD of performances from "Top of the Pops" and "The Old Grey Whistle Test".
Pre-order At the BBC here:



Thanks to The Second Disc for this scoop!

CD1

1. Interview: Meet The Kinks – Saturday Club -The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
2. Cadillac – Saturday Club - The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
3. Interview: Ray Talks About 'You Really Got Me' – Saturday Club The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
4. You Really Got Me – Saturday Club - The Playhouse Theatre, September 1964
5. Little Queenie – Saturday Club - The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
6. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter – Top Gear - The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
7. Interview: The Shaggy Set – Top Gear - The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
8. You Really Got Me – Top Gear - The Playhouse Theatre, October 1964
9. All Day And All Of The Night – Top Gear - The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
10. I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter - Saturday Club - Piccadilly Studios, 1964
11. Interview: Ray Talks About The USA – Saturday Club - Piccadilly Studios, 1964
12. I've Got That Feeling – Saturday Club - Piccadilly Studios, 1964
13. All Day And All Of The Night – Saturday Club - Piccadilly Studios, 1964
14. You Shouldn't Be Sad – Saturday Club - Maida Vale Studios, 1965
15. Interview: Ray Talks About Records – Saturday Club - Maida Vale Studios, 1965
16. Tired Of Waiting For You - Saturday Club - Maida Vale Studios, 1965
17. Everybody's Gonna Be Happy – Saturday Club -Maida Vale Studios, 1965
18. This Strange Effect – “You Really Got…” - Aeolian Hall, 1965
19. Interview: Ray Talks About "See My Friends" – “You Really Got…” Aeolian Hall, 1965
20. See My Friends – “You Really Got…” Aeolian Hall, 1965
21. Hide And Seek – “You Really Got…” Aeolian Hall, 1965
22. Milk Cow Blues – Saturday Club - The Playhouse Theatre, 1965
23. Interview: Ray Talks About Songwriting - Saturday Club -The Playhouse Theatre, 1965
24. Never Met A Girl Like You Before - Saturday Club - The Playhouse Theatre,1965
25. Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight - Saturday Club,The Playhouse Theatre,1965
26. Interview: Meet Pete Quaife - Saturday Club, The Playhouse Theatre,1965
27. Till The End Of The Day - Saturday Club, The Playhouse Theatre,1965
28. A Well Respected Man - Saturday Club, The Playhouse Theatre,1965
29. Where Have All The Good Times Gone? - Saturday Club,The Playhouse Theatre,1965
30. Love Me Till The Sunshines - Saturday Club -The Playhouse Theatre, 1967
31. Interview: Meet Dave Davies - Saturday Club -The Playhouse Theatre, 1967
32. Death Of A Clown - Saturday Club -The Playhouse Theatre, 1967
33. Good Luck Charm – Saturday Club -The Playhouse Theatre, 1967
34. Sunny Afternoon - Top Gear - Maida Vale Studios, 1967
35. Autumn Almanac - Top Gear - Maida Vale Studios, 1967
36. Harry Rag - Top Gear - Maida Vale Studios, 1967
37. Mr Pleasant – Top Gear - Maida Vale Studios, 1967

CD2

1. Susannah's Still Alive – Top Gear -Maida Vale Studios, 1967
2. David Watts – Top Gear - Maida Vale Studios, 1967
3. Waterloo Sunset – Top Gear - BBC Piccadilly Studios, 1968
4. Interview: Ray Talks About Working – Top Gear - BBC Piccadilly Studios, 1968
5. Days – Top Gear - BBC Piccadilly Studios, 1968
6. Interview: Ray Talks About Solo Records - Saturday Club - Playhouse Theatre, 1968
7. Love Me Till The Sun Shines - Saturday Club - Playhouse Theatre, 1968
8. Monica - Saturday Club - Playhouse Theatre, 1968
9. Interview: Ray Talks About "Village Green" – Saturday Club - Playhouse Theatre, 1968
10. The Village Green Preservation Society – Saturday Club - Playhouse Theatre, 1968
11. Animal Farm - Saturday Club, Alternative version - Playhouse Theatre, 1968
12. Where Did My Spring Go? – “Where Was Spring?” - The Riverside Studios, 1969
13. When I Turn Off The Living Room Lights – “Where Was Spring?” - The Riverside Studios, 1969
14. Plastic Man – Symonds on Sunday, Alternate Version - Aeolian Hall, 1969
15. King Kong – Symonds on Sunday, Alternate Version - Aeolian Hall, 1969
16. Do You Remember Walter – Symonds on Sunday, Alternate Version - Aeolian Hall, 1969
17. Symonds on Sunday Interview: Ray Talks About Rumours - Aeolian Hall, 1969
18. Victoria – Dave Lee Travis, Alternate Version – Camden Theatre, 1969
19. Mr Churchill Says - Dave Lee Travis, Alternate Version – Camden Theatre, 1969
20. Arthur - Dave Lee Travis, Alternate Version – Camden Theatre, 1969
21. Interview: Ray Talks With Keith Altham - Dave Lee Travis show - Aeolian Hall,1970
22. Lola - Dave Lee Travis show, Alternate Version - Aeolian Hall,1970
23. Mindless Child Of Motherhood - Dave Lee Travis show - Aeolian Hall,1970
24. Days - Dave Lee Travis show, Alternate Version - Aeolian Hall,1970
25. Apeman - Dave Lee Travis show, Alternate Version - Aeolian Hall,1970
26. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues – John Peel Session - Kensington House, 1972
27. Holiday – John Peel Session - Kensington House, 1972
28. Skin And Bone – John Peel Session - Kensington House, 1972

CD3

1. Supersonic Rocket Ship – John Peel Session - Kensington House, 1972
2. Here Comes Yet Another Day – Dave Lee Travis - Alternate Version 1973
3. Demolition – John Peel Session - Langham Studios, 1974
4. Mirror Of Love – John Peel Session - Langham Studios, 1974
5. Money Talks – John Peel Session - Langham Studios, 1974
6. DJ Alan Black Introduces "In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre"
7. Victoria - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
8. Here Comes Yet Another Day - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
9. Mr. Wonderful - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
10. Money Talks - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
11. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
12. Mirror Of Love - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
13. Celluloid Heroes - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
14. You Really Got Me / All Day And All Of The Night - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
15. DJ Alan Black Talks About "Preservation Act 2"
16. Daylight - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
17. Here Comes Flash - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
18. Demolition - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
19. He's Evil - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
20. Lola - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
21. Outro - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974
22. Skin And Bone / Dry Bones - In Concert at The Hippodrome Theatre, 1974

CD4

1. Alan Freeman Introduces "The Kinks Christmas Concert"
2. Juke Box Music - The Kinks Christmas Concert, at the Rainbow, 1977
3. Bob Harris Introduction - The Kinks Christmas Concert, at the Rainbow, 1977
4. Sleepwalker - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
5. Life On the Road - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
6. A Well Respected Man - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
7. Death Of A Clown - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
8. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
9. Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
10. All Day And All Of The Night - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
11. Slum Kids - The Kinks Christmas Concert, at the Rainbow Theatre, 1977
12. Celluloid Heroes - The Kinks Christmas Concert, at the Rainbow Theatre, 1977
13. Get Back In The Line - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
14. The Hard Way - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
15. Lola - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
16. Alcohol - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
17. Skin And Bones / Dry Bones - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
18. Father Christmas - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
19. You Really Got Me - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre, 1977
20. Interview: Ray Talks To Johnny Walker - Maida Vale Studios, 1994
21. Phobia – Johnny Walker session - Maida Vale Studios, 1994
22. Interview: Ray Introduces "Over The Edge" - Maida Vale Studios, 1994
23. Over The Edge – Johnny Walker session - Maida Vale Studios, 1994
24. Wall Of Fire – Johnny Walker session - Maida Vale Studios, 1994
25. Till The End Of The Day – Johnny Walker session - Maida Vale Studios, 1994

CD5

1. All Day and All The Night – Emma Freud session – Maida Vale Studios, 1994
2. Waterloo Sunset – Emma Freud session – Maida Vale Studios, 1994
3. I’m Not Like Everybody Else – Emma Freud session – Maida Vale Studios,1994
4. Till The End of the Day – Emma Freud session - Maida Vale Studios,1994
5. You Really Got Me – Emma Freud session – Maida Vale Studios, 1994
6. Louie Louie – Saturday Club -Live at The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
7. Stop Your Sobbing – Saturday Club - Live at The Playhouse Theatre, 1964
8. Milk Cow Blues – “You Really Got…” -Live at Aeolian Hall, 1965
9. Milk Cow Blues – Saturday Club Live at The Playhouse Theatre, December 1965
10. I Am Free - Saturday Club - Live at The Playhouse Theatre, 1965
11. Susannah's Still Alive – Saturday Club - Live at The Playhouse Theatre, 1968
12. Days – Saturday Club - Live at The Playhouse Theatre, 1968
13. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion / A Well Respected Man / Death Of A Clown - Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop - Recorded at BBC Televison Centre, 1968
14. Sunny Afternoon – Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop - Alternate Version
15. Two Sisters – Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop - Alternate Version
16. Sitting By The Riverside – Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop – Alternate Version
17. Lincoln County – Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop - Alternate Version
18. Picture Book – Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop - Alternate Version
19. Days – Late Night Line-Up:Colour Me Pop - Alternate Version

DVD

1. You Really Got Me - The Beat Room, BBC Television Centre,1964 [Film]
2. Got Love If You Want It - The Beat Room – BBC Television Centre,1964 [Film]
3. Sunny Afternoon – A Whole Scene Going On – BBC Television Centre,1966[Film]
4. Lola - Altnerative version , Top Of The Pops, 1970 [film]
5. Ape Man – Alternative Version, Top Of The Pops, 1971 [Film]
6. Have A Cuppa Tea - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1972 [Film]
7. Come Dancing – Alternative version, Top Of The Pops, 1983 [Film]
8. Scattered - Live on The Late Show, 1993 [Concert Film]
9. Over The Edge - Live on Later With Jools Holland, 1993 [Film]
10. Informer - Live on Later With Jools Holland, 1993 [Film]
11. Till The End Of The Day - Later With Jools Holland, BBC TV Centre 1993 [Film]
12. You Really Got Me - Live on Top Of The Pops, 1994 [Film]
13. Till The End Of The Day - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
14. Waterloo Sunset - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
15. Top Of The Pops - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
16. The Money-Go-Round – Alternative version - Live The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
17. Sunny Afternoon - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
18. Virgin Soldiers - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
19. Mr. Wonderful - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
20. She Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
21. Alcohol - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
22. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
23. You Really Got Me - Live at The Rainbow Theatre, 1972 [Film]
24. Victoria - Live In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
25. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
26. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre,1973 [Film]
27. Lola - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
28. Holiday - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
29. Good Golly Miss Molly - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
30. You Really Got Me / All Day And All Of The Night - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
31. Waterloo Sunset - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
32. Village Green Preservation Society - In Concert, BBC Televsion Theatre, 1973 [Film]
33. You Really Got Me / All Day And All Of The Night - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
34. Sleepwalker - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
35. Life Goes On - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
36. Stormy Sky - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
37. Celluloid Heroes - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
38. Muswell Hillbilles - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
39. Full Moon - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
40. Life On The Road - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
41. Juke Box Music - The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1977 [Film]
42. Juke Box Music - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
43. Sleepwalker - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
44. Life On the Road - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
45. A Well Respected Man - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
46. Death Of A Clown - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
47. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
48. Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
49. All Day And All Of The Night - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
50. Slum Kids - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
51. Celluloid Heroes - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
52. Get Back In The Line - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
53. The Hard Way - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
54. Lola - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
55. Alcohol - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
56. Skin And Bones / Dry Bones - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
57. Father Christmas - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
58. You Really Got Me - The Kinks Christmas Concert, Rainbow Theatre,1977 [Film]
59. Interview: Dave and Ray Davies - The Alan Price Show, 1968 [Film] 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review: George Harrison's 'Early Takes Volume 1'


Early Takes Volume 1 is the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s recent documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World. It sort of serves the same purpose as the Beatles Anthology discs of the late ‘90s, but whereas those collections were sprawling, Early Takes is pretty skimpy. At just ten tracks, it barely clears 30 minutes and offers nothing but a version of “Let It Be Me” and a home demo of Dylan’s “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind” in terms of unfamiliar songs. Aside from an inessential take of “I’d Have You Anytime” with a rough vocal, the presentations are sufficiently unusual. Half the tracks are demos from the All Things Must Pass sessions. Stripped of Phil Spector’s Wagnerian production, these versions are certainly more intimate, if not as breathtaking as the ones on George’s solo debut. “All Things Must Pass” is the standout among these, recreating The Beatles’ loose run-through from 1969, though lacking Paul’s sublime gospel harmonies.

The real treasures of Early Takes are the less familiar songs that don’t have to vie with the fully realized versions from what may be the best album of the 1970s. “Woman Don’t You Cry for Me” loses the cumbersome white funk of the version from Thirty Three & 1/3 to shine as a joyful John Sebastian-style country blues. “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind” reclines comfortably in that same rustic hammock. Best of all is that rendition of “Let It Be Me”. Indescribably delicate, gut-wrenchingly raw, it illustrates how George’s music could be so much more genuine than Paul’s and far less self-consciously ravaged than John’s. It is beautiful.

Unfortunately, along with the lack of tracks, there’s a lack of information on what’s here. Is that Ringo and Klaus Voorman accompanying George on those stripped demos of “My Sweet Lord”, “Awaiting on You All”, and “All Things Must Pass”? It sure sounds like them, but we can’t be certain. The dates of these recordings aren’t even provided.

Early Takes is slim overall, though what’s here is generally lovely. It would have been nice if we didn’t have to wait until Volume 2 to hear more of it.

Get George Harrison’s Early Takes Volume 1 on Amazon.com here:
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