The Beatles Catalog Available on iTunes

16 11 2010

FINALLY! What does it take to get one of music’s biggest bands available on the iTunes store? Apparently, all you need is love… and A LOT of lawyers. After years of tension and disputes Apple Corp. has finally allowed Apple Inc. to offer The Beatles’ complete catalog of work online. I get it. I do. But after all that concern over Apple Inc. branching out from computer technology to music distribution and possible conflicts of interest, the whole argument seems futile and moot. After all, we know Paul is down with it, as his music is already on iTunes . He even filmed a commercial for them. How long did it really take for the folks at Apple Corp. to realize that iTunes is clearly one of, if not, the biggest digital music distribution channel? I guess after all those years, today is the day of epiphany. Finally. Check out The Beatles on iTunes HERE.

So, at this point you probably already own every album in various mediums and have even digitized it yourself, but for those that have not… this your chance. You can cherry pick your favorite songs or grab the whole album(s). Or, you can just bite the bullet get the entire box set ($149).  Like any major product roll out, this comes with a lot of fanfare. One of the promotion items they are touting is the complete 1964 Washington D.C. performance in HD (well, as hi-def as I’ve seen). This video exists in snippets all over the internet, some of which has been featured here, but this is the complete unedited release. CHECK IT OUT HERE. There are also some other cool videos that you can browse through while on the band’s artist page in the store.

There are a few ads that the ‘Apples’ collaborated on for this launch. They are pretty straightforward and simple but, if you’re a fan, you will enjoy them nevertheless. You can see all 5 ads below:





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.

References:

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





Jacqueline Taïeb | 7 Heures du Matin

18 08 2010

This is a really great tune from the late 60’s. Tunisian-born French Yé Yé/Pop singer Jacqueline Taïeb released it in 1967 on Impact Records. “7 Heures du Matin” was a huge hit in Europe, easily the biggest of her career. It’s remarkable considering she was only 18 when it was recorded. The song is about a teenage girl who is obsessed with Paul McCartney. Although, as someone who doesn’t speak French you’d never know. It has a very mid/late 60’s mod feel, with a lot of rawness to it. A very fitting mix of the British beat sound and the garage rock that was emerging. This was the beginning of The Runaways or The Corvettes. Basically,  female-driven edgy rock. Check out the original French version below:

Now, there is also an American version that was produced after it had achieved so much success in Europe. All the lyrics are in English on this one. I typically don’t care for alternate langauge versions because most  languages have a very specific cadence that often doesn’t translate. But, this one made me curious because I was really interested to hear these lyrics about a girl who is obsessing over Paul. Curious? PS- The English version is called “7am”.

References:

More info on Jacqueline Taïeb

More info on Yé Yé Rock

More info on Impact Records

“7 Heures du Matin” Lyrics (French)





Sir Paul @ The White House

2 08 2010

This past week PBS aired a special entitled: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House. It’s a real mouthful but then again, titles were never exactly PBS’ strong suit. The honoree this year was none-other-than Sir Paul McCartney, which should come as no surprise given the man is (literally) the most successful songwriter of all time. There were 2 stats that popped up during the presentation that were pretty astonishing to me. The first was that nearly 200 of his songs reached the charts. The second was more surprising, collectively these songs have spent a total of 32 years on the charts… 32 years! The special itself was pretty cool. It included some performances by Paul, some brief MC work from Jerry Seinfeld, numerous guest performances by other artist who honored Paul by covering his material and, of course, the President presenting Paul with his award. The whole thing can be watched in it’s entirety on the PBS website, which you can find a link to in the ‘references’ section at the bottom of this post. For a quick sneak peek you can find a few of my favorite moments right below.

Here is Jack White performing a great version of the Lennon/McCartney tune “Mother Nature’s Son” from The Beatles (The White Album).

Here is Stevie Wonder doing his amazing cover of yet another Lennon/McCartney collaboration, “We Can Work It Out”. This tune is on Stevie’s album Signed, Sealed, Delivered and in my opinion stands as one of the best interpretations of another artist’s song I’ve ever heard. It does what every cover is intended to do. It honors the original while putting a very unique (and in this case, compelling) spin on it.

This last one is a bit of a montage. It’s starts with Paul himself playing the classic “Michelle”. He gives a very charming introduction that is playfully apologetic to the Commander in Chief for singing such a flirty song to the First Lady. Unfortunately, this song is abbreviated, transitioning into “Eleanor Rigby” and then quickly cutting away to the actual award presentation. This version of the presentation is the long, unedited one. If you watch the version of the PBS site, they edit out some of the typical political rhetoric that usually accompanies such events. That version just sticks to what’s important about this evening: honoring a legend. Nevertheless, should you be curious you can see it all below…

References:

See the entire PBS Special

More info on Paul McCartney

More info on The Gershwin Prize

More info on The Library of Congress

More info on Barack Obama





McCartney Live in SF

13 07 2010

This past weekend I drove up to San Francisco with Lady GG and the pup. The impetus for the trip was to see Sir Paul on the west coast swing of his US Tour but this was my first time in San Fran so, needless to say, I was psyched to check out the city. San Francisco has a very musical history being the home and breeding ground of such bands as The Grateful Dead, Santana and Jefferson Airplane. There are also numerous famous venues like The Fillmore, The Warfield, Yoshi’s and more. Because of this history, there was a lot I wanted to see upon arrival. Of course, I had to get in all the standard SF sights as well. With just a few days, I knew it would be quite a trip.

Let me start by stating the obvious: Paul was AMAZING! I had never seen him before, which even surprises me given I’m a huge fan. The guy puts on a great show and when you consider the scale of this show it was especially fantastic. He does about 30 songs, that includes 2 three song encores. Throughout the show he engages the audience in a way that is extremely charming, which makes you think that only Paul could pull that off. I was not at all surprised by his spot-on playing regardless of instrument (bass, guitar, mandolin, ukelele & piano) but I was surprised at the man’s endurance. It takes some serious stamina to go that long with such sustained intensity and enthusiasm. I guess it should be expected from the Beatle that always wanted to tour hard even in the post-Beatlemania days. But it’s really hard to believe he’s 68 years old. Back when he was lobbying for more time on the road he was still in his 20’s.

Here is a little video I took on my shabby Flip camera. The quality of the video is mediocre but the quality of this performance is incredible. It’s Paul’s tribute to John, “Here Today”. If you are not familiar with the song, it was written after John’s death. Paul has said in earlier interviews that he never intended to write the song but at a certain point he had finally come to terms with the loss of his dear friend and the song just came out. He has also said that out of all the (amazing) songs he has written it’s one of his favorites, alongside “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Blackbird”, “Hey Jude” and a few others. “Here Today” is a fitting tribute that really conveys how close they were and expresses Paul’s regrets about their petty quarrels and disagreements. It’s really powerful and, taken in context of their relationship, it’s very sad.

Like I said, the whole show was great. If you have a chance to catch an upcoming date, you have to go. He plays a ton of Beatles tunes, hit and otherwise. He also does all that great Wings material like “Jet”, “Band on the Run”, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” and “Live and Let Die”. They even roll out some awesome pyrotechnics for “Live and Let Die” which is so crazy you wonder how they can keep going and maintain that momentum… but they do. Paul even slips in some of his songs from the solo years and 2 from The Fireman years as well. No surprise, they’re equally as great.

He played 40 songs at our show. 40! But I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised considering Paul is officially the most successful songwriter of all time… accordingly to the people at Guiness World Records. I know, crazy. Among the onslaught of pop hits, this weekend, I particularly liked “Mrs Vanderbilt”. It was also cool to see him do “San Francisco Bay Blues” given the location. He also played “Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da” which was a huge surprise. He’s been playing it on this tour but it hasn’t appeared in his repertoire for decades.  As you might imagine, it’s a great live song so the crowd went nuts upon the first chord. Check out the whole Saturday 7/10/10 setlist from AT&T Park right HERE. At that same link, you can even sample the songs… although they are not from this actual performance. But, they serve as a good reference.

All and all it was a very cool trip that included some great music, great food, a little site seeing, a really cool hike through the trails of the National Park and on top of it all we got to bring the pooch along too. I will be going back sooner than later and I have big plans to do all the stuff I missed out on. Maybe this time I’ll actually get to check out Yoshi’s.

References:

More info on San Francisco

More info on The Golden Gate Bridge

More info on AT&T Park

More info on Paul McCartney

More info on The Beatles

More info on Wings





Birthday Wkd

7 06 2010

This weekend was a birthday blowout for both Lady GG and myself. It probably comes as no surprise but my favorite B-Day tune is from the one and only Beatles. “Birthday” is part of a short list of nontraditional birthday songs out there. It’s a great tune and the background story behind it’s composition and the studio session are pretty cool.

In a 2008 interview, McCartney said, “Birthday was 50/50 me and John”. The song was largely written during a recording session at the EMI Abbey Road Studios on September 18th, 1968 with McCartney coming up with the main riff. During the session, The Beatles and the recording crew made a short trip around the corner to McCartney’s house to watch the 1956 rock & roll movie The Girl Can’t Help It which was being shown on British television for the first time. After the movie they returned to the studio to record. George Martin was away so his assistant Chris Thomas produced the “Birthday” session. His memory is that the song was mostly Paul’s: “Paul was the first one in, and he was playing the birthday riff. Eventually the others arrived, by which time Paul had literally written the song, right there in the studio.” Everyone in the studio (including Yoko Ono & Patti Harrison) sang in the chorus and it was 5 am by the time the final mono mix was completed.

John Lennon said in his 1980 Playboy interview: “‘Birthday’ was written in the studio. Just made up on the spot. I think Paul wanted to write a song like ‘Happy Birthday Baby,’ the old fifties hit. But it was sort of made up in the studio. It was a piece of garbage.” As much as I love John, what’s his deal? Why must he always be such a curmudgeon?!?! The song is great, despite the impromptu origin. I may even argue that off-the-cuff composing like this usually yields some of the most accessible material.

Just look at him in the picture below… not exactly the most enthusiastic cheers I’ve ever seen, but then again you must consider the source.

The song’s style, form and even subject matter are not exactly unique but as a composition it captures a side of the band that exudes the raw passion of their earlier years. “Birthday” begins with an intro drum fill, then moves directly into a blues progression in A which features a catchy guitar riff doubled by the bass, with McCartney singing at the top of his chest voice (think classic Paul screaming vocals) with Lennon on a lower harmony. After this section, a drum break lasting eight measures brings the song into the middle section, which rests entirely on the dominant chord. A repeat of the blues progression/guitar riff instrumental section, augmented by piano brings the song into a bridge before returning to a repeat of the first vocal section. The song is among McCartney’s most intense vocal performances given the range in which he sings during the blues run. This song is the only track on The Beatles (aka The White Album) in which Lennon and McCartney share lead vocal duties. It’s also one of the few songs on that album that is a throwback to their earlier years of pure rock n roll. It’s a refreshingly straightforward piece amongst a much more complex catalog… and one of my favorites.








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