Tag Archives: Beatles

Four records at a time

It took a pandemic for me to listen to a bunch of my records. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go.

Staying home and socially distancing wasn’t too bad until the weather turned cold up here in Wisconsin and really kept us inside. So I just kept dropping record after record onto the turntable. No ripping to digital. Just let it go, man.

Four records make for a nice night of listening while surfing or writing.

Some records take me right back to where I found them, a nice memory.

Some records have startling moments. Those, I’ll circle back on and rip a little something from. Eddie Floyd’s “Down To Earth” LP was the first eye-opener. Then the scorching “Involved” by Edwin Starr. Then “Dreams/Answers,” Rare Earth’s rarely-seen debut LP. Then a couple of alternate Beatles takes from the 2017 re-release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” 

There you have it, four records.

Four records also make for a nice visual presentation when you post to Facebook or Twitter. If you follow me either place, you’ve seen a lot of them, especially this month for Black History Month. Today will make it 23 such posts — 92 records, all by Black artists — over 28 days and nights.

From the Black History Month social posts, some records that’ll get more spins:

— “Young, Gifted and Black” is by far the best Aretha Franklin record in my crates. That was a $1 record. Looked rough, played fine.

— Didn’t know about Johnny Adams, but, man, could he sing.

— Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” has lost none of its punch.

— The instrumentals on “James Brown Plays New Breed (The Boo-Ga-Loo)” really cook.

— Ike and Tina Turner’s early live records are astonishing.

— Definitely going back for seconds on the “Cleopatra Jones” soundtrack featuring Joe Simon and Millie Jackson. That was a $3 record found in a box on the floor at a record show in Indianapolis.

— Timmy Thomas got a lot of mileage out of that syncopated beat on “Why Can’t We Live Together,” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Found that at a record store that no longer exists.

There you have it. Eight records, two nights’ worth of listening.

When I spent a couple of nights listening to blaxploitation soundtracks last week, I circled back to the first record I ever wrote about here. I’m talking ’bout “Shaft.”

I was 14 when I bought this record in 1971.

With that, we quietly mark 14 years here at AM, Then FM. Can you dig it?

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Filed under February 2021, Sounds

Fixing a hole in my knowledge

Time for a confession.

Because I came to know Beatles songs first as singles on the radio and then via the red and blue greatest-hits comps from 1973, I must confess that I’m still not all that familiar with some Beatles songs in the context of their studio records. That is to say, Beatles songs as the Beatles intended for them to be heard.

I’m working on that. Today, I dropped “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” onto the turntable.

Three years ago, one of my birthday gifts was the 50th anniversary edition of “Sgt. Pepper.” It’s a two-record set. The first record is the “Sgt. Pepper” everyone knows, but with a crisp new stereo mix produced by Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin. The second record is from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions, presenting alternate takes or instrumental versions of all the songs in order, along with studio chatter here and there. It’s a fun thing to have. Here are a couple of cuts from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions.

“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Take 1),” from Side 3. Recorded March 1, 1967.

From the liner notes: “Take seven of the instrumental backing from this session was used as the basis for various overdubs. This is the first proper run-through.” John’s lead vocal is here, but the choruses are missing. In their place, dig Paul on the Lowrey organ and George Martin on piano.

“Within You Without You (Take 1 with Indian instruments),” from Side 4. Recorded March 15, 1967. An instrumental version.

From the liner notes: “The song’s recording began with a performance by musicians from the Asian Music Circle based in London. The featured instruments are: tabla (a drum first featured on a Beatles record in “Love To You”), swaramandala (which made the harp-like glissando on “Strawberry Fields Forever”), tamboura (a stringed instrument plucked to create an atmospheric drone for “Love To You” and “Getting Better”) and a bowed instrument called a dilruba.”

Both from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” 2-LP edition, 2017 re-release of the 1967 original.

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Filed under January 2021, Sounds

It’s all too much

50 years ago, as September turned to October in 1969, Green Bay was waiting for the Beatles.

It had been almost a year since the Beatles’ previous LP, the one they called “The Beatles” and the one everyone else called The White Album.

The Stiller Company, which had long sold records from its music department, in late September promised the “new Beatle LP” and listed a release date of Friday, Oct. 3. But Oct. 3 apparently came and went without that new Beatles record. For the next two weeks, the “new Beatle L.P.” was “coming soon!”

The Beatles’ new record apparently finally arrived in Green Bay sometime in the third week of October 1969, when the Stiller Co. ad listed the new “Beatle L.P.” as being in stock along with new albums from The Band, Tom Jones and, uh, one Laura Nyrol.

The new Beatles record, of course, was “Abbey Road.” Imagine, just imagine, the anticipation for that.

Fast forward 50 years to today. The recently reissued 50th anniversary “Abbey Road” shot up to No. 1 in the UK and to No. 3 here in the States. Apparently quite a bit of anticipation for that, too. Or was that just marketing hype?

I think I’m good with my copy of “Abbey Road,” which I bought used decades ago. (Mine appears to be a pressing from the Capitol Records plant in Jacksonville, Fla., though not a first pressing.)

I don’t want or need any of the seven formats in which it’s been reissued, though I hope my friend Timebomb Tom sells a bunch of them:

  • Super deluxe edition with three CDs and a Blu-Ray, plus a book
  • Double CD set with a second disc of demos and outtakes
  • Single CD with just the stereo remix
  • Triple LP box set with two additional discs of demos and outtakes
  • Single LP with just the stereo remix
  • Single picture disc LP with just the stereo remix
  • Super Deluxe digital audio, with 40 tracks to stream or download in hi-res 96kHz/24 bit audio

Though I have always loved the Beatles and will always love the Beatles …

Though I have a dozen Beatles records (and have sold “Live at the Star-Club” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, Volumes 1 and 2”) …

Though I have a bunch of wonderful Beatles memorabilia, particularly “Yellow Submarine” stuff, much of it given as gifts …

Though I recently bought rough, loved-to-death $1 copies of six Beatles LPs, including what appears to be a first Jacksonville pressing of “Abbey Road” …

I think I’m good with most everything Beatles now, too.

Janet just smiled when I said that to her the other day.

At some point, you have to say it’s all too much.

… Though I still want to visit Liverpool and London and stroll across the Abbey Road crosswalk some day.

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Filed under October 2019, Sounds

A week in the life

The big news around here this week was that Paul McCartney will be playing a show at Lambeau Field on June 8. That’s a little over 2 miles from our house. Macca himself, practically in our neighborhood. But we’re not going.

We’re seeing him two nights earlier at the Kohl Center in Madison. That show was announced first, at the end of August. We were fortunate enough to get tickets. We’re good with that.

All of this got me to thinking about seeing the Beatles live. Some day, we’ll look back and say we did the best we could, given that we came along too late.

Day One: Friday, Aug. 12, 1966. I was 9 when the Beatles toured America for the last time. We lived a mere 150 miles away when that tour opened at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago that Friday. But, again, I was 9. The Beatles weren’t on my radar except as Saturday morning cartoon characters.

Day Two: Wednesday, Aug. 30, 1972. John Lennon never toured America. I was 15, soon to be a sophomore in high school, when John played his last full-length show at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s laughable to think it might have been publicized in any way in our corner of Wisconsin. That show might as well have been on the moon.

Day Three: Saturday, Nov. 30, 1974. I was 17, a senior in high school, when George Harrison went on his only tour of America in November and December 1974. Maybe they mentioned on the radio that George and Ravi Shankar were playing two shows at Chicago Stadium. Had I known about the shows, and had I somehow scraped together the money for a ticket, I suppose I could have driven the 280 miles to Chicago that Saturday. But realistically, none of that was a possibility. We probably had a basketball game or a party, or both, that night.

Day Four: Tuesday, July 16, 2013. We saw Paul McCartney at Miller Park in Milwaukee. We had seats in left field, on the field, stage left. It’s not every day you see one of the Beatles up close. Paul did not disappoint. Tremendous, wonderful, almost surreal.

Day Five: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. We saw Ringo Starr at the BMO Harris Pavilion at the lakefront in Milwaukee. Ringo did not disappoint. Still irreverent, still cracking wise. We heard, and sang along to, “Yellow Submarine.” Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

Never saw the Beatles. Never saw John. Never saw George. Saw Paul and Ringo. But there’s still some unfinished business.

Day Six: June 6, 2019. We’ll be in the same room with Paul McCartney.

Day Seven: TBD. I hope to walk across the Abbey Road crossing someday.

Maybe that’ll be in 2021, when I’m sixty-four.

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Filed under December 2018, Sounds

After Ringo, what’s next?

So anyway, we saw Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band in Milwaukee last month.

Ringo is surprisingly elfin and nimble for a gent of 78. That’s him in the striped pants in front of the drum kit with the star on it. He bounced from center stage up a few steps to his drum kit and then back down and back up and back down with ease. Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

The show was exactly as billed. A greatest-hits show by Ringo and his bandmates — Colin Hay from Men At Work (only Ringo got bigger cheers), Graham Gouldman from 10cc (a polite reception for his elegant songs), Steve Lukather from Toto (with a nod to those Weezer covers) and Gregg Rolie from Santana and Journey (“Oye Como Va” is still damn near a showstopper).

Of course, everyone was there to see and hear one of the Beatles. Ringo did not disappoint. Still irreverent, still cracking wise. Your favorite uncle sang his Beatles songs. Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

Ringo opened with “Matchbox,” “It Don’t Come Easy” and “What Goes On,” noting that the latter was the only Beatles song credited to Lennon, McCartney and Starkey. “The credits should be reversed!” Ringo insisted, smiling. After one song each by his bandmates, Ringo did “Boys” and “Don’t Pass Me By.”

Then Ringo played “Yellow Submarine,” the 10th song of the show. After singing along like everyone else, I turned to Janet, smiled and said “OK, we can go now.”

But Ringo wasn’t done. There was “You’re Sixteen” (even the Ringo faithful at the show agreed it’s inappropriate now as then, and they’d prefer “No-No Song” to that) and “Anthem” (a polite reception for that one, too). “I Wanna Be Your Man” was dropped into the middle of a long set of songs by his bandmates.

The show wrapped with “Photograph,” “Act Naturally” and a wonderful sing-along medley of “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “Give Peace A Chance.” Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

Which leads us to the question posed above. After Ringo, what’s next?

Our local record show, the Green Bay Record Convention, is coming up on the last Saturday of October. That night, there are two shows I’d like to see, each a distinctly different genre in a distinctly different venue. What say you?

Update: Thank you for your votes. But as it turns out, I did neither of these things after the record show. We went to see our niece play hockey instead.

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Filed under October 2018, Sounds