Archives for posts with tag: Beatles

“If I ever get out of here,
Thought of giving it all away
To a registered charity.
All I need is a pint a day
If I ever get outta here…”

 

Even if the Beatles had stayed together past 1970, one wonders how long they would have made a go of it.  Their contract with Capitol ran through 1976; would the loose confederation of cooperation stay together once no longer legally bound to do so?  We look at what other groups of their generation were able to sustain.  The Rolling Stones lost creative momentum after Some Girls (Tattoo You was largely made up of rejects from the previous decade) while the Who and Led Zeppelin wound up losing drummers.  Part of the Beatles’ charm all of these years later is that instead of putting out an It’s Hard or Dirty Work, their finite collection stands as a complete sentence.  Eventually the well will run dry here.

As we’ve been doing, in the alternate universe singles will be referred to by quotation marks and albums by italics. Writer/singer will be noted by J, P, G or R in parenthesis after the song.

 

March 1974- Rarities. Hey, they cashed in the previous spring with the “Red” and “Blue” albums and many of those songs were previously released on other LP’s.  Here they’re giving the fans their money’s worth like Hey Jude (aka Beatles Again), putting out songs that were only released as 45’s during their first decade together.  While all of their 1960’s A-sides had seen the light of day the previous year, there were still a few B-sides that hadn’t found its way on to an album.  No reason to miss charging fans for more product. In the real world, a version was released in the UK (1978) and the US (1980).

 

May 1974- “Jet” (P) b/w “Out the Blue” (J).  Paul’s run of rockers continues with the rousing A-side named after his dog (much better that his previous dog-inspired song, “Martha My Dear”).  John serves up a holdover from his “Mind Games” sessions.

 

September 1974- “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” (J) b/w “Bluebird” (P). The duo switch places as John goes up-tempo with horns and Paul turning in a second-rate version of “Blackbird”.

 

November 1974-  Band on the Run.  For the first time in the 70’s, Paul’s work clearly outshines the others and he gets six songs, including the opening/title track.  He also gets a bit of a medley (it’s tough for me to separate Mammunia and No Words) as well as the finale.  Regret and restraint take over side one, while side two has begins rather depressingly with John’s lament.

 

Side One-

Band on the Run (P)

#9 Dream (J)

So Sad (G)

No No Song (R)

What You Got (J)

Mamunia/No Words (P)

Side Two-

Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out) (J)

Let Me Roll It (P)

Dark Horse (G)

Mrs. Vanderbilt (P)

Steel & Glass (J)

Ding Dong, Ding Dong (G)

Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five (P)

 

December 1974- “Junior’s Farm” (P) b/w Maya Love (G).  Paul gets the Christmas single, backed with George’s offering.  We didn’t know this at the time, but this would be the last year each released new material.  Cobbling together enough for a 1975 release will present a bit of a challenge.  Of course, there’s always mining for another compilation release.

 

 

 

“What does it matter to ya, when ya got a job to do;
Ya got to do it well, you got to give the other fella hell!”

 

So far in this space over the last month we’ve kept the Beatles intact through 1972.  And in this space they’ve maintained a compilation sort of relationship instead of a collaborative one.  The albums Détente, Façade and Friendly Fire may total less than the sum of their parts but still hold together as only a Beatles LP can.

In 1973 each was producing his own album’s worth of original material for the first time since the 60’s (don’t forget that Let it Be was primarily recorded in 1969). Added to the equation was Paul McCartney getting the theme song to the new James Bond film, which set up perfectly in the group’s “two or three singles plus one album” front.

As we’ve been doing, in the alternate universe singles will be referred to by quotation marks and albums by italics. Writer/singer will be noted by J, P, G or R in parenthesis after the song.

March 1973- compilations 1962-66 and 1967-70 were released in real life to deal with pirated collections of previously released material, titled “Beatles: Alpha Omega”. Partially celebrating the tenth year anniversary of their first album Please Please Me, partially cashing in on their first compilation since 1970’s Beatles Again (since retitled Hey Jude). The 54 song cornucopia of their career as an empire instead of a commonwealth scored well on both sides of the Atlantic, with the “Red” album charting at No. 3 in the U.S. and U.K. charts while the “Blue” reached No. 1 in America and No. 2 in the United Kingdom.

 

June 1973- “Live and Let Die” (P) b/w “Miss O’Dell” (G) is released before Roger Moore’s debut as 007, backed with a quirky George aside that would find its way into the soundtrack behind Bond’s arrival in New Orleans.

 

September 1973- “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” (G) b/w “Only People” (J). George gets his first A-side in two years (that in the real world would reach No. 1) while John’s contribution is a perfect B-side: in the real 1980 Playboy interviews Lennon said, “It was a good lick, but I couldn’t get the words to make sense.”

 

November 1973- Four Sides of the Circle was a proposed title for what would wind up becoming Revolver.  Just as the title speaks to incongruity, so is the current situation of the four recording separately yet compiling collectively.   John dominates side one while Ringo shines with a George-penned song;  Paul bookends the second side and delivers the finishing kick, named after his Land Rover.

Side One-

Mind Games (J)

The Mess (P)

Living in the Material World (G)

Photograph (R)

Tight A$ (J)

Get on the Right Thing (P)

I Know (I Know) (J)

Side Two-

My Love (P)

You Are Here (J)

The Day the World Gets Round (G)

Little Lamb Dragonfly (P)

Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long (G)

Meat City (J)

Helen Wheels (P)

 

December 1973- “Mind Games” (J) / “Helen Wheels” (P) (Double-A). Akin to “Day Tripper”/”We Can Work it Out”, the quartet comes up with a double-sided hit for the holidays.  And just like they did after Abbey Road, it’s the top two tracks from the recently released LP.  After a year that saw a salute to the 60’s, an appearance in a James Bond movie and another compelling front, what would 1974 bring?

 

“You may say I’m a dreamer…”

This month saw the Beatles effectively break up fifty years ago thanks to an “interview” tucked into the packaging of Paul McCartney’s self-titled solo album.  Last week we explored the possibility of the Fab Four extending a loose partnership through the end of 1970; this week we kick the fantasy can another year down the road.

Think of their 60’s collaboration as an empire and their 70’s work as a commonwealth, a confederation that gave the four a common stage to keep while giving each ample time to pursue their passions: John focused on his peace and justice causes, Paul toured with his makeshift “McCartney & Friends”, George enjoyed gardening and race cars with a dash of humanitarianism, and Ringo acted in multiple films of varying quality.  Releasing two to three singles plus one album a year would do just that.

Just like last week, in this new world singles will be referred to by quotation marks and albums by italics. Writer/singer will be noted by J, P, G or R in parenthesis after the song.

 

April 1971- “Another Day” (P) b/w “Power to the People” (J).  Paul’s hit-making ability soars to the top of the charts while John’s political passion becomes an inadvertent anthem for the summer’s youth.

 

August 1971- “Bangladesh” (G) b/w “Heart of the Country” (P) was released to support those starving in the country formerly known as East Pakistan.  The fact that he appeared at Madison Square Garden minus his bandmates naturally was tabloid fodder. Paul’s B-side is a nice tune that helped push sales for those who thought the A-side was a little heavy-handed.

 

November 1971- Façade arrives just in time for the Christmas market as the group continues its recent tradition of using French words for their album titles.  The fourteen tracks may be released behind a united front, but at this point the band was clearly anything but behind the scenes.  Paul gets one more song (five) than John and George (four apiece) on the LP (in the real world Harrison didn’t release a studio album in 1971).  Ringo’s song affectionately deals with his relationship with the other three band members.  As opposed to 1970’s Détente, Paul also gets the last word on side two with a mini-suite.

Side One-

How? (J)

Too Many People (P)

Wah Wah (G)

Early 1970 (R)

Let It Down (G)

Smile Away (P)

Jealous Guy (J)

Side Two-

Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (G)

It’s So Hard (J)

Back Seat of My Car (P)

Deep Blue (G)

Gimme Some Truth (J)

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (P)

 

December 1971- “Imagine” (J) b/w “Oh Woman Oh Why” (P) delivers John’s manifesto with Paul letting loose on the flip side, giving fans a nice stocking-stuffer.  John’s ode to the holidays and peace would have to wait a calendar year.  Do we dare imagine another year where The Beatles gritted it out to show a united front?

“It was fifty years ago today”-

On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney slipped in a press release disguised as an interview to accompany his new self-titled album.  The 37-question and and answer sequence was the unofficial divorce decree of The Beatles.

But what if they had averted disaster?  What if cooler heads had prevailed?  The 2017 novel “Once There Was a Way” by Bryce Zabel covers this alternate history where John, Paul, George & Ringo continue to make music in the 1970’s and beyond.  The film “Boyhood” saw actor Ethan Hawke put together a “Black Album” of solo recordings by the group, and there are “Orange” and “Green” albums on the internet.  It’s relatively easy to do a greatest hits collection of their solo works.  But what would have an early-70’s Beatles album looked like?

Over the next few weeks we’ll do that in this space, accounting for label demands and the inner politics of the band at the time.  We’ll also compensate for the relaxed schedules of the 70’s, where groups didn’t release more than one album per calendar year.  This is where things step over the line from the realistic to the fantastic:

Apple management (Allen Klein & Lee Eastman representing the members of the group) effectively embargo any new releases until “Let it Be” comes out as an single, album, and film later in the spring.  But the four still record songs on their own over the next few months.  By the time the single, film and album are released cooler heads prevail.  They agree on a détente where they could continue to put out product and stabilize what was once a sinking Apple corporation; giving John time for his causes, Paul the freedom to play live with a backing group (titled “Paul McCartney & Friends”), George the necessary break to feed his spiritual hunger, and Ringo more time to appear in movies.

In this new world, singles will be referred to by quotation marks, albums by italics. Writer/singer will be noted by J, P, G or R in parenthesis after the song.

March 6, 1970- “Let it Be” (P) is released with “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” (J).  It reaches number one.

April 24, 1970- Let it Be is released, as there was no McCartney album hitting the market in this world.  Another number one with the film being released four days later.

May 11, 1970- “The Long and Winding Road” (P) b/w “For You Blue” (G). In one world, the Fab Four’s final chart-topper.  In another, the natural post-album release to feed the hungry market that had just watched the movie.

 

August, 1970- “Instant Karma” (J) b/w “Apple Scruffs” (G).Recorded in January, John wanted this rush-released. Even held back five-plus months, its intensity still has charge.  George’s paean to the group’s fans is a nice throw-in.

 

November, 1970- Détente

Just in time for the Christmas season release (as was the custom from 1963 through 1965 as well as 1967 and 1968), they return to fourteen tracks that was the norm for six of their first seven studio albums.  John gets five songs while Paul and George get four apiece, and Ringo receives his moment in the spotlight.  Paul’s best song of the year kicks off the LP in grand fashion (and each gets a turn in the first four tracks), while the first side ends with John’s compelling sermon. An emotional second side wraps up with George letting things go, relaxing tensions. Like the détente they had sought amidst business, musical and personal differences over the previous year.

Side One-

Maybe I’m Amazed (P)

Remember (J)

My Sweet Lord (G)

It Don’t Come Easy (R)

Every Night (P)

Art of Dying (G)

God (J)

 

Side Two-

Mother (J)

Isn’t it a Pity (G)

That Would be Something (P)

Working Class Hero (J)

Teddy Boy (P)

Isolation (J)

All Things Must Pass (G)

 

December, 1970- “What is Life” (G) b/w “I Found Out” (J).  George gets his turn on the holiday single released alongside the LP (akin to “Day Tripper” and Rubber Soul in 1965).  Starting with a sweet guitar riff and put over the top with a waterfall of sound (thank you Phil Spector), this rings in the new year at number one.  What would 1971 bring these Beatles?

Forgive us if we’re a little giddy here.  It’s one thing to be a one-hit wonder…another to have “Get off of My Cloud” hit #1 in the US or “From Me To You” top the UK charts.  While the Nats had previously won NL East crowns in 2012 and 2014, they were unable to repeat the feat–sometimes embarrassing themselves in the process (Papelbon, anyone?).  Not the case this year, where General Manager Mike Rizzo made the necessary offseason (Adam Eaton) and in-season (the bullpen trio) moves to give Manager Dusty Baker the best club possible.  Baker’s firm but not overbearing hand on the wheel steered the club through injury-ravaged seas (they’ve used 50+ players this year).  And the players who came up short in defending previous titles had career-defining seasons (Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon & Gio Gonzalez specifically).  Instead of a winter of what-if, there are postseason possibilites.  And I no longer mention the magic number in this space.  That should be reason enough to celebrate.

From Magic to Tragic- while Philadelphia is already out of Wild Card contention, the other three NL East teams still have hopes.  Miami’s fall from orbit (12 losses in 14 games, including 0-7 against the Nats) drops the Marlins ten games behind Colorado for the final playoff spot in the National League.  Their “Tragic Number” is now ten.  Atlanta’s elimination number is seven while the Mets need a combination of five losses/Rockies wins to call it a year.  Enjoy at your own risk.

O’s Woes- somehow after getting swept by AL Central leading Cleveland the Birds remain on the fringe of the Wild Card, three games behind Minnesota.  Doesn’t anyone want this playoff berth?  The Twins, Angels and Rangers are a combined 14-16 over their last 30 combined games.  Twelve of the O’s remaining 19 games are on the road…but they only play seven games against teams with winning records.  And three of those are at home against Boston, a team that might lead the division but one Manager Buck Showalter’s crew is 10-6 against.

Playoff Possibilities- if the season ended today, the Nats would own the #2 seed in the NL and would host the Chicago Cubs in the first round.  The Los Angeles Dodgers would get the winner of the Wild Card game between Arizona and Colorado.  American League pairings would have top seed Cleveland host the Wild Card winner (New York Yankees or Minnesota) while Boston would visit Houston in the other series.

Last Week’s Heroes- Daniel Murphy hit .450 while Trea Turner tallied seven runs and six RBI, but Michael A. Taylor earned his middle initial by batting .409 with three homers and nine RBI.  Did we mention his inside-the-park grand slam?  Did we forget his out of this world defense that saved a home run Thursday and cut down a runner at the plate Friday?  For today I’m calling him Michael A+ Taylor.  Stephen Strasburg won both of his starts while posting an 18 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Last Week’s Humbled- relievers Shawn Kelley and Oliver Perez are not making the best case to be included on the postseason roster…as both pitched Friday but were unable to record an out while allowing three-run homers.  The Nats also had the gall to clinch the division on the day the Redskins opened their season.  How dare the perennial postseason contenders win their fourth title in six years while the football team loses its fifth straight opener!  Talk about rubbing it in…

Game to Watch- the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers come to town this weekend, and Friday they send Alex Wood (14-3, 2.81 ERA) to the hill against Edwin Jackson.  Memories of last year’s hard-fought NLDS loss to LA and the division clinched has Friday not arriving soon enough.

Game to Miss-  I’m sorry, Gio Gonzalez.  You are having your best season since the 21-win campaign and your ERA is under two since the All Star Break.  But your start Tuesday against Atlanta is the same night that the Washington Mystics meet Minnesota.  WNBA fever takes over for at least one evening…as the upstart squad led by Maryland great Kristi Toliver and Elena Della Donne face last year’s runners-up and this year’s top regular season team.  It’s not the Kastles in World Team Tennis, but it’s close.

 

With the Moody Blues touring in celebration of their landmark album “Days of Future Passed”…we’ve been going through the archives.  

The fall of 1967 meant awaiting the Christmas offerings of the Beatles and Rolling Stonesto much disappointment. “Magical Mystery Tour” was merely an EP that served as a soundtrack to the Fab Four’s first misstep–a drug enduced home movie that shocked many and confused more on Boxing Day…while “Their Satanic Majesties Request” saw what happened when the Rolling Stones tried to imitate “Sgt. Pepper” instead of “Aftermath”–a psychedelic journey that never really began or ended with a Bill Wyman song to boot. Nobody expected greatness from a has-been band almost named after a brewery just a few years before. But that’s what they got with the Moody Blues “Days of Future Passed”.

A revamped lineup, a change of musical focus and consecutive singles that fail to chart is not the ideal way for a musical group to rebound from a two-year slump. Although neither “Fly Me High” nor “Love and Beauty” made a dent in the UK top 20, Deram Records thought they had something– guinea pigs. Recording at the time was making the move into stereo…and the label thought it would be great to have a demo of what stereo would sound like with classical and modern music. So naturally, they asked the Moody Blues to record and adaptation of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9. Kind of like an aspiring painter asked to reproduce something they saw in art class, but with different paints to show off a new canvas.

Fortunately for the group, they were writing quite a bit of new material while touring in Belgium…and were able to narrow the fruits of their creativity into a song cycle about “a day in the life”. Mike Pinder had sat in on one of the Sgt. Pepper sessions for that Beatles song–and perhaps that got things rolling. But it wasn’t just Pinder who contributed songs: Hayward, Lodge and Thomas also wrote while Graeme Edge composed the two poems that bookend the album:

“Cold hearted orb that rules the night…remove the colors from our sight. Red is grey and yellow white…but we decide which is right. And which is an illusion…”

The spoken word poems, however goofy-sounding at times (and depending on your mood they range from profound to downright ridiculous) hold key posts in the groups first five “core” albums (with grunting emerging in their sixth)…setting the table (In Search of the Lost Chord’s “Departure”) or providing a finishing statement (A Question of Balance’s “The Balance”). In Days similar verses open and end a journey through the day.

It was a marriage of rock and classical music like none other. Peter Knight directed the “London Festival Orchestra” to fill the gaps in between songs moving through different day parts. The opening track “Day Begins” touches on different melodies we’ll hear later on the album…and the orchestral pieces mesh perfectly with the songs. Credit producer Tony Clarke with fitting the two genres in tandem.

“Dawn is a Feeling” wakes up the listener to the possibilities of the day ahead…even sneaking in a subtle narcotic hint (“the smell of grass just makes you pass into a dream”)…Hayward and Pinder trading verses and bridges. Justin’s sunshiny pleasantness would provide the Yin to Mike’s soul-searching Yang over the next seven years. “Another Morning” offers the double-tracked voice of Ray Thomas (also known as the dancing machine in the group’s “Ride My See Saw” video”) and no question about it, the Moodies’ flautist vocally dances through whimsical lyrics “a palace is an orange box”…with the key line “time seems to stand quite still–in a child’s world it always will”. “Peak Hour” brings John Lodge into the mix with a up-tempo rocker that ends the first side that showcases Graeme Edge’s accelerating drum solo that instantly makes one think of his intro “I’m Just a Singer (in a rock and roll band)” five years later.

“Tuesday Afternoon” opens side two with the hypnotic combination of Mellotron/bass for the first few bars…and by the time Hayward’s vocal starts and the guitar and drums kick in, the listener is lost in an audio undertow. “Evening (Time to Get Away)” lets us know Lodge has a falsetto in his arsenal and isn’t afraid to use it. “Sunset/Twilight Time” juxtaposes Pinder and Thomas effectively. Booming drums with an Oriental flavor set the tone underneath Mike’s initial vocal…and then Ray’s flute answers the Mellotron in between the verses. After Hayward’s guitar plays the introductory note to “Twilight Time” Thomas’ fall away jumper of a vocal boasts the lyrical gem “an aerial display of a firefly brigade…dancing to tunes no one knew”.

The final song remains 46 years later the group’s signature tune…”Nights in White Satin”. Reportedly inspired when he received satin sheets as a gift, Justin Hayward captures the heart of chances not taken (“letters I’ve written, never meaning to send”)…before being given confidence from Pinder’s Mellotron to declare his feelings. Thomas’ flute enters side by side with Lodge’s bass and Hayward’s acoustic guitar as support during the bridge. A tidal wave of emotion crashes with each line…and for a guy who was only meaning to send letters, Hayward delivers “I love you” no fewer than 15 times before the orchestra kicks in. I hope he bought forever stamps.

“Nights in White Satin” would chart three separate times (#19 in 1967, #9 in 1972 and #14 in 1979) in the UK and reach #2 in the US in 1972 (topping the charts in Canada that year) while taking #1 in the “Cashbox Chart” (the ESPN/USA Today Poll to Billboard’s AP) the same year. “Nights” would serve as scene-setters for movies set in the 1960’s like “Bobby” and “A Bronx Tale” while showing up in “Deuce Bigelow: European Gigelo”. TV shows from “Fringe” to “Two and a Half Men” would use “Nights” for emphasis.

Titled “Days of Future Passed”–and often misspelled “Past”–by the record company (the last time that would happen for the Moodies)…the album would see moderate success in the homeland (#27) while taking off on this side of the Atlantic (#3 in the US and Canada)…and the Moodies would make more than a few trips to America over the next few years. The album’s success ended a two-year descent and gave the group a blueprint they’d go back to six more times over the next four years.

Coming Up Next–How did they lose the chord in the first place?

With the Moody Blues touring and playing their 1967 landmark album “Days of Future Passed”, I’m returning to the archives for the first four parts of a summer-long series from 2013.  Eventually I’ll add pieces and bring us to the present…whether you like it or not.

 

1966 was an incredible year in music. The Beatles released their highly regarded Revolver while the Rolling Stones were spinning out singles like “19th Nervous Breakdown” and groups like Cream and the Jefferson Airplane were beginning to take flight.  Meanwhile, the Moody Blues were on their way to becoming insignificant one-hit wonders (GO NOW!, #1, 1965)–about to be devoured by the law of diminishing returns.  To add to their drifting into oblivion…the Moodies lost their rudder and sail as lead singer Denny Laine and bassist Clint Warwick fled the sinking ship.  As a last gasp the remaining trio reached into their past and future.

John Lodge had originally left the Moodies to attend technical college…but rejoined at this time as fill-in Rodney Clarke didn’t last long enough to merit a Wikipedia entry.  Lodge’s voice and songwriting would be an unexpected bonus to his bass playing:  he’d create and deliver band-defining songs from “Ride My See-Saw” to “Isn’t Live Strange”.  For a new lead guitarist, the band picked up a hand me down from the Animals:  Eric Burdon handed Mike Pinder a letter and demo from 20-year old Justin Hayward.  The sandy blonde songwriter had previously been a part of the “Wilde Three” and had done some solo work…and would go on to become the face and voice of the Moodies during their peak era of 1967-72.

Armed with two singer/songwriters, the band refined its sound.  R&B knockoffs wouldn’t work any more in a changing musical landscape.  The quintet grew together playing in Belgium–now focused on their own material.  The first fruit of their cross-pollination would be one step forward with “Fly Me High”…a Justin Hayward song that drives though the verses steadily before relying on John Lodge’s falsetto harmony in the bridges.  The kind of song where you enjoy the entire ride and are bummed when it’s over… thinking for sure you had one more verse to enjoy.  The B side would be a leftover from the Laine/Warwick days, “I Really Haven’t Got the Time”.  A song that feels like a Gerry and the Pacemakers derivative…only not as good. Thankfully, Mike Pinder’s next effort wouldn’t only be much better, but also feature a new instrument that would define the band.

“Love and Beauty” was the band’s next single…and in addition to featuring interwoven harmonies Mike Pinder swapped out his piano for the Mellotron. He discovered the instrument while an employee of Streetly Electronics. This keyboard instrument plays tape loops and gave bands the feel of an orchestra at times. It provided the perfect vessel for the band to take their listeners on seven remarkable journeys.


Coming up Next: One Incredible Day.

It was fifty years ago June 1st that The Beatles released their best-known album…one that would help mark the second half of their careers.  “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” helped re-set the rock world during the summer of 1967…and has spawned more than a few imitators in the years since.  The landmark LP was more than just what everybody was listening to:  Sgt. Pepper’s was one of the first albums of the rock era to not spawn singles (Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever was released months earlier).

It’s release came at a fortuitous time, because for the first time The Beatles US and UK album track lineups were the same.  Over the previous four years the group’s American (Capitol) and British (Parlophone) releases were similar yet different:  while “Meet the Beatles” was a mish-mash of two albums plus a stand-alone single, Revolver” cut out three Lennon-voiced songs.  By trimming the UK LP’s from 14 to 11 tracks and adding standalone singles into the mix, Capitol was able to generate 11 units from the 7 Parlophone albums.  This also created American LP’s that had no British counterpart…from “Beatles VI” to “Yesterday and Today” (that first featured the famed “Butcher Cover”).  What would Sgt. Pepper have looked like under this landscape?

Under the practice of slapping recent singles and slicing extra tracks to get each album to 11,  I would imagine Capitol would be more than okay with placing “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” on the LP.  That makes 15 tracks–and candidates to leave Pepperland would be “Getting Better”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “Being for the Benefit of Mister Kite” (Strawberry Fields getting the last spot on side one) and “Lovely Rita”.

 

The modified Sgt. Pepper-

Side 1-

1-“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

2-“With a Little Help from My Friends”

3-“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

4-“Fixing a Hole”

5-“Strawberry Fields Forever”

Side 2-

1-“Penny Lane”

2-“Within You and Without You”

3-“When I’m Sixty-Four”

4-“Good Morning Good Morning”

5-“Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”

6-“A Day in the Life”

 

Sadly, the presence of the Beatles’ latest single would spike sales even more.  This would also give Capitol a head start on their fall product (having been robbed the previous year of no new Beatles LP in November/December like 1964 or ’65).  They’d also have “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” from 1966 still waiting for an LP to be slapped onto.  Add the summer single “All You Need is Love” and “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” Capitol would be just three tracks shy of a new album.  Padding things out would be songs that didn’t make the “Pepper” cut and were consigned for the “Yellow Submarine” cartoon movie project:  George’s “Only a Northern Song” and “It’s All Too Much” plus Paul’s “All Together Now”.  That smokey big bite of songs would come together to form a late October/early November release by Capitol… “Magical Mystery Tour” be damned.

“Beatles on Safari” track listing-

Side 1-

1-“All You Need is Love”

2-“Baby You’re a Rich Man”

3-“Getting Better”

4-“Only a Northern Song”

6-“She’s Leaving Home”

Side 2-

1-“Being for the Benefit of Mister Kite”

2-“Lovely Rita”

3-“It’s All Too Much”

4-“All Together Now”

5-“Rain”

6-“Paperpack Writer”

I know, this completely messes up the “Magical Mystery Tour”…but I’m sure Capitol would be okay with holding their MMT back until after the film premiered in late December.  Seven tracks would be available…so one could pad the Capitol version with “Jessie’s Dream” (an instrumental never released anywhere) or “Death Cab For Cutie” (performed by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the film).  They could also mimic the US versions of “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help” by padding the album with soundtrack instrumentals.  Unless they wanted to wait for the “Lady Madonna”/”Inner Light”/”Across the Universe”/”Hey Bulldog” sessions of February ’68.

 

 

Fifty years ago this month.  Can you believe it was all those years ago that a quartet known for snappy hits and on-stage chemistry came out of the studio with facial hair and unleashed a number one album that would change our perception about them forever?

What’s that, you say?  The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper June 1st?  I’m referring to “Headquarters” by The Monkees. The “pre-fab four” had already posted a pair of #1 albums in 1967 (“The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees”)…but were burdened with the image as a group that didn’t write their material (mostly true) and didn’t play any of their instruments (almost completely true).  This was hardly a unique practice; the Beach Boys used “the Wrecking Crew” to craft most of the backing tracks to “Pet Sounds” and popular TV shows generated albums like “Bonzana: Christmas on the Ponderosa”.  But according to a music press that was beginning to think of itself as reporters of legitimate art, a TV show about musicians releasing an album where the musicians didn’t play their instruments rang false.

That changed with their third album.  Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike doubled down on their hit TV show (that would eventually win the Emmy for Best Comedy) and demanded musical input.  After the dismissal of Donnie Kirshner as their musical director, they had the studio to themselves and brought in former Turtles bassist Chip Douglas to produce.  Faced with the challenge of blending four completely different musical styles (Micky-California rock, Mike-country rock, Peter-folk rock, Davy-Broadway) and a drummer who was still learning (they often had to edit multiple takes by Micky to generate acceptable tracks), they produced a hidden gem.

Headquarters didn’t have any hit singles (although “Shades of Gray” received a ton of airplay and “Randy Scouse Git” was released in the UK as “Alternate Title”)…but went to #1 the week before the Beatles buried the Monkees with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.   One was a record of its time while the other would become a record for all time.

The success of “Headquarters” was both the best and worst thing that could have happened to the Monkees.  It proved that they could piece together an album of their material that they played on…but it also gave them creative control that convinced them to proceed in their separate directions.  “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.” would be released that fall under the production of Douglas and even though they played all of their instruments on just one track (the Harry Nilsson-penned “Cuddly Toy”) PACJ felt like a unified musical effort.  They chose to produce their next LP and “The Birds, Bees & The Monkees” would seem more like multiple solo records instead of one album with four voices.  Combined with the cancellation of their TV series, the run of four straight #1 albums in ’67 ended with Birds & Bees charting at #3.  Future LP’s would chart at #45, #32, #100 and #152 with band members leaving:  Peter first in 1968 and then Mike in 1969 before Micky & Davy finally called it a day after “Changes” in 1970.

The Monkees went from rags to riches to rags in the span of five years…before eventually becoming a pretty productive nostalgia act in the 80’s.  But for one shining moment they went toe-to-toe with the greats of the era…producing music on their own terms and holding their heads high.  Hey, hey…

 

 

So they almost got swept by the Orioles amidst fans chanting “OH!” at Nats Park.  So they dropped two of three to a Colorado team going nowhere.  So the second-place Marlins got needed outfield help in the form of veteran Jeff Francouer.  The Nationals’ biggest concern is the amount of attention they’ll receive as the Redskins and college football monoliths take their proper places in the Beltway sports landscape.

This week is extremely crunching for yours truly…as WTOP.COM is rolling out a five day forecast of the upcoming college football season. 

http://wtop.com/ncaa-football/2016/08/3-9-season-maryland-football-selling-whats-new/

We also marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ last concert on their final tour…

http://wtop.com/entertainment/2016/08/dc-sportscaster-recalls-50th-anniversary-beatles-last-us-show/

So forgive me if this week’s notebook appears a little rushed…

Dissecting the Division…and Projecting the Playoff Picture- the Nats lead the Marlins by 8 games in the NL East and are 9 games in front of the Mets;  those two teams play a three game series this week.  At this moment the Nationals own the second best record in the NL- so they would have home field in the NLDS with the West Division leading Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Chicago Cubs would own the #1 seed while facing the winner between wildcards San Francisco and St Louis.

All about the AL East- the Orioles after taking 3 of 4 against the Nats turned around and lost their first two games with the New York Yankees.  They now trail Toronto by 3 games in the division…and battle the Blue Jays in a three game series this week.  While the division is within their reach…so is falling out of the wildcard as the O’s lead Detroit by two games for the final playoff spot in the American League.  Meanwhile, Boston continues to churn out high-scoring wins and losses in its usual frustrating fashion.

Last Week’s Heroes- Trea Turner hit .500 with 4 steals and 6 runs…scoring Friday night after an infield single, error, stolen base and grounder to first.  Bryce Harper tallied 10 hits while Daniel Murphy drove in 9 runs…to move within 100 for the season.  Max Scherzer struck out 10 over 8 scoreless innings…while Gio Gonzalez notched career win #100.

Last Week’s Humbled- Ryan Zimmerman hit .103 with 8 strikeouts…and gets a seat in Monday’s game at Philadelphia to clear his head.  Reynaldo Lopez had a rude awakening in Baltimore–coughing up 4 runs over 2.2 innings.  Blake Treinen posted an ERA of 33.75…

Game to Watch- Tuesday Max Scherzer (14-7, 2.92 ERA) pitches against Jerad Eickhoff (9-12, 3.87). Max is 5-1 since Independence Day while Eickoff has won three straight decisions.

Game to Miss- Saturday the Nats do not have a starter listed for their game against the New York Mets.  There’s a full plate of college football to enjoy, my friends…from Maryland-Howard to Virginia-Richmond to Navy-Fordham to Virginia Tech-Liberty.