Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Beatles "1"

This will be my last Beatles post. Their 2000 compilation of 27 of their number one singles is a pretty good place to start for the uninitiated. It covers their whole career and since this is a singles collection a handful of these songs do not appear on any regular album. There is no way a single compilation could contain all the best Beatles songs, but this does a pretty good job and if you have not listened to the Beatles this CD will probably make you a fan.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Beatles "1967-1970"

This compilation I believe was the very first Beatles music I ever owned. I think I got it at Costco but I don't really remember. Anyway this is a double CD compilation of the later years of the Beatles career. Even though I have bought individual albums there is still tracks on here that justify keeping it. There are a number of songs that appear here that do not appear on other Beatles compilations, simply because most Beatles compilations are singles compilations and not all their albums contained singles. Songs from Sgt. Pepper and The White Album are both skipped over on other compilations because those albums contained no singles. Also the version of the song "Revolution" presented here is the finished studio version which does not appear on The White Album (it is a rehearsal take on the White Album).
There is a booklet that contains some photographs but is mainly song lyrics. This along with its companion album "The Bealtes/1962-1966" are perfect for the listener who would like a thorough overview of the band's work but does not want to invest in individual albums.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Beatles "Let It Be... Naked"

In 2003 "Let It Be" was re-released in a new version. The tracks were remixed stripping away Phil Spector's contributions, they also deleted "Maggie Mae" and "Dig It" and added "Don't Let Me Down," which was recorded during the session but only released as a single. The album has also been completely reordered.

I got this album as a Christmas Gift in 2003. It is not necessarily better or worse than the original "Let It Be" album but it seems more complete as all the songs now appear finished. The new sequencing also gives a more completed feel to the album. "The Long and Winding Road" is returned to its original incarnation without the choir and orchestra. The songs are as good as they were before so depending on your personal opinion of this album will determine if that is a good or bad thing. There is a good booklet with lots of photos from the recording sessions and very good liner notes about the history of the "Let It Be" recording/album. What most Beatles fans will find interesting is the bonus CD titled "Fly on the Wall" which is 22 minutes of recordings edited from hours of tape that captures the Beatles discussing their final concert (which ended up being on the roof of Apple Studio) and rehearsing various songs. There is even a rehearsal of "All Things Must Pass" which is particularly intriguing considering it became a Harrison solo song. Its a nice addition for the collectors and fanatics.

This redo is simply another version of an often controversial album. I don't listen to it all the time but I am not sorry I have it. In the end I guess it is best to just let it be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Beatles "Let It Be"

The "final" release of The Beatles career. This album was a gift from my mom I think in 2002 or so. As many already know and as I mentioned in my last post this was recorded before "Abbey Road" but released after it in 1970. Originally intended as a large concept album that would coincide with a movie documentary. The idea of the album, originally titled "Get Back," was to capture the Beatles in studio rehearsing and recording. The original album was supposed to be a mix of demos, dialogue, rehearsals and finished songs. The theory seems similar to their "Anthology" albums that were released in the 1990s.

The "Let it Be/Get Back" recording sessions collapsed under its own weight and the Fab Four were barely speaking to each other. They had days of music recorded but none of them wanted to deal with it, so they gave all the recordings to super producer Phil Spector, a friend of Lennon and Harrison, to try and make an album out of it.

He eventually created the "Let It Be" album as we know it. Spector has received a lot of grief over the album but really he was not working with the best Beatles material, the title track, "Get Back" and "Two of Us" are some of their best songs but the majority of the album is not up to par; "Dig it" and "Maggie Mae" are just outtakes and in a way these throw away songs coincide with the original idea of having demos and rehearsals mixed with finished songs. The only song Spector really changed was "The Long and Winding Road," by adding an orchestra and choir over Paul's vocals. Paul complained about this version until the original was released in the 1990s. Also the version of the song "Let it Be" as it appears on this album is different from the single version. The guitar he is much more pronounced and much more raw sounding.

Most people interested in The Beatles will have this album and there is some great music on it but it is one of their more scattered and lesser works.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Beatles "Abbey Road"

I first heard the Abbey Road album when I was a senior in High School. A friend of mine had received the album of as a gift and he did not really care for The Beatles, he liked underground music I think solely because it was underground. Anyway he did not want the album and thus gave it to me, without the case which he lost the case somewhere along the line. Anyway I listened to it for the first time that day. I thought the album was excellent, sure I could do without "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "I Want You (She's so Heavy)," but other than that I thought the album was excellent. I still think it is excellent

By now most know the story of this album's creation, it was their last album to be recorded but not the last to be released. After the painful "Let It Be/Get Back" recording sessions the group was ready to break up but decided to record one last time and return to their earlier style of recording. Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album and what I consider their most unified and concept oriented work. The first eight tracks (side one of the original record) are individual songs and the next eight tracks (side two) are one long song suite where individual songs link to make a larger piece of music.

The reason I call this their most complete album is that ideas and sounds from the album's previous songs appear in later parts of the album. The lyrics from "Here Comes the Sun" appear in "Sun King" although slightly altered and sung completely different. The lyrics and instrumentals from "You Never Give me your Money" appear in "Golden Slumbers" and "Carry That Weight." The harmonies from "Because" appear in "You Never Give me Your Money" and "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window." The characters in the songs also interact "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" are siblings, "You Never Give me Your Money," "She Came in through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End" seem to all be about the same two people though they are never named. There are probably numerous other ideas and concepts in the songs that I have yet to find but whether you search for ideas of not the music is some of the finest ever recorded by the greatest group in Rock History. The Beatles certainly went out on a high note.

I love this album and like the Fab Four said, "In the End the Love you take is Equal to the Love you Make."