Paul McCartney | Teddy Boy

9 11 2010

Today is one of my best bud’s b-days.  Yes, I am talking about you, Teddy boy.  There is a good chance that you are not be familiar with the McCartney tune “Teddy Boy.”  The song was first released on Paul’s first solo album McCartney in 1970 after The Beatles broke up.  However, it was recorded a year earlier during The Beatles’ infamous “Get Back” sessions but never officially released.  A composite version that blends multiple takes did surface eventually on the band’s Anthology III album. I really like Paul’s solo version best but this one is a lot of fun too. Check it out. As simple as this video is, I love it. As a Beatles fan, it’s so cool to get the virtual tour of Apple Studios circa 1969.

George Harrison | My Sweet Lord

8 10 2010

Lately, I’ve been listening to the Beatles’ post-Beatles solo work a lot. As one would expect Paul & John have the strongest catalogs but George & Ringo are not short on great work either. Here is one of George’s solo hits. Probably not my all-time favorite but it’s near the top and comes with a cool little story. “My Sweet Lord” was originally written for one of Harrison’s friends, former Beatle session man Billy Preston. Preston released it on his 1970 album Encouraging Words, which George produced. Just 10 months later, George released his version of the song on his first post-Beatles album All Things Must Pass. I love this album, it was huge. Originally a triple album (3 records/6 sides), it was produced by Phil Spector and featured 23 songs. Some of which were long jams with various guest spots from friends like Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, Gary, Wright, Alan White (of Yes), a young Phil Collins, Preston and it is even said that John Lennon appeared on one track, although uncredited. There is also a song co-written with Bob Dylan and then a cover of Dylan’s “If Not For You”. It’s a really great album. “My Sweet Lord” was only released as a single after All Things Must Pass, at which point it went right to the top 5 and then occupied no. 1 for five weeks. It later topped the charts again after Harrison’s death and then again upon the release of a re-mastered anniversary version. Remarkable as that is, it’s not the juicy part of the story.

In 1971, George was sued by The Chiffons for rights to the song as it was incredibly similar to their hit “He’s So Fine”. Harrison later stated that he was actually inspired to write “My Sweet Lord” after hearing the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day”. A US federal court ruled that Harrison had subconsciously copied The Chiffon tune and he had to hand over the majority of his royalties from the song. This ordeal was parodied by The Chiffons afterward in order capitalize on the publicity. In good humor, George would later record his own song about the case, called “This Song”, which featured many direct references. Soon after, he just bought the rights to “He’s So Fine” anyway. So in the end, he owns his song and theirs… right on, George!

If you’re not familiar with this Chiffons tune, here it is. You’ll hear the similarities instantly. So much so, it’s hard not to side with the courts on this one.

One last thing, there is a great version of this song from The Concert For George, with Billy Preston leading an allstar band that includes Ringo, Paul McCartney, Dhani Harrison, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Tom Petty. 

note: If you’re a Billy Preston fan and want hear his original version from Encouraging Words, THIS is a great old live version, true to form.


More info on George Harrison

More info on All Things Must Pass

More info on “My Sweet Lord”

More info on The Chiffons

More info on “He’s So Fine”

More info on Concert For Bangledesh

More info on Concert For George

More info on Billy Preston

Luck Of The Irish

17 03 2010

For St. Patty’s Day it seemed appropriate to feature John Lennon’s “Luck of the Irish”. It’s from his 1972 post-Beatles release Some Time In New York City. John and Yoko got little known Elephant Memory to back them on this highly political album. This song and “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” (Not U2’s) were 2 songs from the same album that were about the tension in Ireland at the time. The latter, referencing the Bloody Sunday Massacre. On the same album is another song I really like, called “Cold Turkey”. The incredible trumpet player, Freddie Hubbard, does an amazing cover on his Hard-Bop meets Soul Jazz album Red Clay on the CTI label. That’s for another day. Today, we keep it focused on John. Erin go Bragh!

Alright… I couldn’t help it. Here’s of Lennon & Ono doing “Cold Turkey”. There was a really great live version with John in full Jesus beard but it’s been pulled off the web due to Copyright issues (Hrumpf!).

Rare footage from 1972 of Paul & Wings rehearsing their his own song about the conflict with Ireland, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”.

Rare, slightly damaged footage of John & Yoko hanging out, smoking pot and rehearsing “Luck of the Irish” in their home in NYC.

Freddie Hubbard’s version of “Cold Turkey” from perhaps one of the best albums of all time, Red Clay.

More on Lennon’s Some Time in New York City album.

The REAL 5th Beatle

22 01 2010

You may often hear people talk about the “5th Beatle”. Well, throughout the band’s career there have been many people who were given this moniker: Producer George Martin, Manager Brian Epstein, Yoko Ono, or original drummer Pete Best to name just a few.

If you ask me, the REAL 5th Beatle was actually keyboardist/singer, Billy Preston who at the time was a great session player but is now best know for his singles, “Nothing from Nothing” & “Will It Go Round Circles”. He played with so many big names, including Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, The Rolling Stones, Quincy Jones and many more. Many people don’t realize that Billy actually played keyboards (Hammond Organ and Fender Rhodes) on the Get Back/Let It Be sessions which eventually became the album, Let It Be. This was an extremely tumultuous time for the Beatles as documented in the film and in numerous writings about the band. Billy was brought in as a suggestion from George Harrison in order to ease the tension between the Fab Four. Keep in mind, this was after George had “quit” the band, returning on his own terms which included Preston.

As I said, these recording sessions were a particularly tough period for the band, later considered to be the beginning of the end. The back story to all of this is so rich and intense that I can’t even began to hash it all out in one single post. In order to get a full grasp on it all, you need to read the reference links at the very bottom. I really encourage you to do so as it is an incredible story that shows some real insight in to what happened to the world’s greatest rock band. If you’re up for it, also read The Anthology… it’s very cool.

Anyway… Paul felt the band was too disjointed at this point and wanted to “get back” to their roots of being a live band. The way I see it, Billy Preston really helped them do this. It was later noted that his professionalism and musicianship was a large contributing factor to the success (if you could call it that) of this session. Lennon, who was definitely the most aloof about keeping the band together, had even suggested at the close of it that Billy formally join the band as the official 5th Beatle. Of course, McCartney said no way as it was hard enough keeping the original 4 members happy.

As I said, this story is SO layered and intricate that I can’t do it justice here. Immediately below you will find some of the infamous videos from the final Beatles live performance on the rooftop of the Apple Records building… with Preston. I’ve included my favorites: “Get Back, “Don’t Let Me Down” & “I’ve Got A Feeling”. There’s also “Let It Be” from the recording session. See also Billy’s “Nothing from Nothing” which is an absolute Soul/R&B classic. At the very bottom, there are the links I mentioned. The Rolling Stone article is pretty interesting stuff. The Wiki page is good and thorough. There is also the FULL LENGTH Let It Be film, albeit in multiple parts… it’s totally worth it if you haven’t seen it before.

*Rolling Stone article… probably one of their best.

*Let It Be Wiki Page

*5th Beatle Wiki Page

*Entire Let It Be film in 9 parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

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