Archives for posts with tag: Paul McCartney

This year the Moody Blues are touring to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their landmark album “Days of Future Passed”.  I’m reposting a series from 2013 and continuing extensive coverage of the Moody Blues that nobody has asked for throughout this month.  Something to do before football season kicks off…at least.

 

 

It all began in May, 1964 like many groups of the day that succeeded and failed: one band splinters and then dissolves. Mike Pinder (keyboards), John Lodge (bass) and Ray Thomas (tambourine, flute, bad dancing) left “El Riot and the Rebels” only to disband when Lodge attended school and Pinder entered the Army (one has the feel of “Summer of ’69”: “Jimmy quit, Jody got married…”). Pinder and Thomas eventually reunited to form the “Krew Cats”. I don’t know which name is less irritating, but before long they were joined by Denny Laine (guitar) and Clint Warwick (bass) as well as a former band manager turned drummer Graeme Edge (sort of like the Rolling Stones Ian Stewart in reverse). Would they keep “Krew Cats”? Or maybe become the “Crew Kats”? The answer lay in the bottom of a pint of beer.

Mitchells & Butlers plc owns and operates over 1,500 restaurants and pubs across the United Kingdom…and is headquartered in Birmingham. No doubt the lads were well ahead of the curve in attempting to get M&B to sponsor the band–when you need an amp or a set of maracas you’ll likely do anything. While the proposed name “M&B Five” never gained traction with the brewery, M&B stayed as initials. Much like the kismet that delivered the Avengers character “Emma Peel” (casting directors were looking for and actress who appealed to men, aka “man appeal”/”M-appeal”), the blues-based group formed their name off the initials of the beer of the day= “The Moody Blues”.

Much like the multitude of struggling groups on the fringe of success the lads played clubs of all sorts honing their craft, hoping for the opportunity to trickle into London for an audition with a label. They signed with a management company that would release their recordings through Decca. Their first single, “Steal Your Heart Away” failed to chart…and sounds like much of what came out at the time. It was almost a demo reel for each band member to prove they could play guitar, bass, piano and drums and interweave harmony and lead vocals. While their debut would sound like a band playing a song, their followup would feel like a song being played by a band.

From Denny Laine’s naked vocal to the descending piano to the presence of full harmonies and band in the first 15 seconds, “Go Now!” has you hooked, avidly awaiting the next line. The Larry Banks-Milton Bennett penned tune is fairly straightforward…and the harmony chorus often feels like the solo verse and vice versa. Laine brings an over-the-top energy that remains restrained–instead of being too hot or too cold, his voice is just right here. The harmony vocals provides him the perfect sound to bounce off of…and Mike Pinder’s clean piano drives the song without taking away from the singing.

Go Now!” skyrocketed to #10 in the US charts and would claim the top spot from Georgie Fame’s “Yeh Yeh” in the UK before being nudged aside by the Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (no truth to the rumor that Tom Cruise sings “Go Now!” in a scene that didn’t make the final cut of “Top Gun”). TV appearances followed where today’s youtube viewers think Ray Thomas is John Cleese from Monty Python. Naturally, a slapped together album of covers, filler and miscellaneous followed with the hit single as its centerpiece. The album failed to chart…as their #1 song was becoming a millstone instead of a milestone.

Instead of being a springboard, “Go Now!” turned out to be the gold standard that each successive single paled against. “I Don’t Want to Go on Without You” stalled at #33. “From the Bottom of My Heart” peaked at #22. “Everyday” (solid stop and go harmonies) crested at #44. “Stop!” (too herky-jerky) stopped at #88…in Canada. And “This Is My House (but Nobody Calls)” finally replied at #119 in the US. In a singles-dominated medium where yesterday’s news becomes lining for bird cages, the Moodies were becoming old hat overnight. “Life’s Not Life” was a fitting final attempt as Laine (who would eventually join Paul McCartney’s Wings and perform “Go Now” in concert with Paul & Linda) and Warwick went their own ways…leaving Pinder, Thomas and Edge looking to revamp the band’s lineup and perhaps reinvent their sound. And that’s when two Blue Jays flew in from out of nowhere.

 

Coming up Next– Finding harmonies…and meeting the Mellotron.

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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.

 

 

Now that is how you enter the NFL.  Week one against New Orleans is what fans were hoping for when Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell were drafted.  This is the combination of field stretching offense and big play defense Burgundy and Gold Nation was looking for when Mike Shanahan took over in 2010.  Are we saying 11-5 and a division title?  No, but a fifth straight last place finish in the NFC East looks a lot less likely.

RG3ver– The rookie completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.  He was the only one of five rookie quarterbacks starting yesterday to deliver victory… and had a higher passer rating (139.9) than Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden COMBINED.  Griffin began the game by completing his first seven passes… and unlike Mark Brunell’s “record” completion streak there were actually attempts downfield.  The rookie also used his feet as well to create opportunities downfield without getting smacked around.

NFL… NFL…NFL–  Something magical about the first week of the season.  The midweek matchup involving the Super Bowl Champ… that USA Today on the first Friday… and Sunday’s pregame buffet.  FOX adds Erin Andrews, keeping Pam Oliver on the sidelines…while subbing in a new picks guy for Frank Caliendo.  He’s going to be an acquired taste.  CBS adds former Washington Post reporter Jason LaConfora as their “information guy”… as opposed to James Brown and the rest of the bunch who by contrast I guess don’t offer any information.  I’m hoping ESPN eventually has Adam Schefter dress like Bert and Chris Mortensen dress like Ernie.

Morris the Quick Cat– the incredible August of Alfred Morris evidently wasn’t a mirage.  Named the starting running back the rookie rushed for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns… as the ground game gains momentum: 63 yards on 21 carries in the first half before rolling for 90 yards on 23 tries after intermission.  Will #46 be the #1 back for the whole season?  At least the Skins have options.

Paul McCartney says reports of the Redskins Offensive Line Depth premature– so much for saying preseason injuries to Jammal Brown, Kory Lichtensteiger and Chris Chester would make the Skins’ OL swiss cheese.  Maybe swiss cheese that had sat outside for a week, but nothing like previous disastrous lines of memory.  The running game after a slow start notched 153 yards and the OL allowed just one sack.  I’m not calling these guys the Hogs II… but they’re much better than the mess many had feared.

What time is it?– the NFL moving doubleheader games to 4:25 is no big thing… although there was the excitement of  “we’re bringing in viewers from Green Bay-Minnesota” during the first fifteen minutes of most broadcasts.  I’d even be fine with making it 4:30.  Allows all the early game watchers to exhale.  I’m not ready for the Albert-Moose-Goose trio though… Tony Siragusa is one step away from a T-shirt and sweatpants while carrying a bag of chips. 

Sharing the Wealth– Pierre Garcon’s injury limited #88 to just 4 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown… but the rest of the receiving corps stepped up as RG3 completed passes to seven other receivers.  Aldrick Robinson (4-52-1TD) picked up where his productive August left off… Santana Moss (3-47) provided quality play from the slot… and four other receivers caught at least one 20+ yard pass.  Stretching the field is a good thing.

Third Up and Down– The Skins began with a bang… converting 4 of their first 6 chances to move the chains.  But somewhere in there they lost themselves… finishing 4-15 on the day.  Griffin’s line on 3rd down: 5-8-49 (converting 3) along with 2 rushes for 5 yards (no conversions).  Breaking down the third downs:  1 of 5 on 3rd and short (1-3 yards), 3 of 6 on 3rd and intermediate (4-6 yards) and 0 for 4 on 3rd and long (7+).  The fact that a big chunk of third downs are now short yardage is a good sign.

Dissecting the Division–  After one week Dallas finds itself atop the NFC East thanks to their 1-0 division record… the Redskins are in second because they’re 1-0 in the conference… and Philadelphia currently holds down third place not because the Eagles win at Cleveland was ugly (and it was uncomfortably hideous), but because the Browns are a non-conference opponent.  While the NY Giants are in last– remember they were in last place last year after one week.  And the Skins have been in first place after one week the last two years only to finish in last place after week 17.

D earns a B– Coordinator Jim Haslett’s unit wasn’t perfect:  allowing 358 total yards and more than a few times one felt that Drew Brees was about to go through the banged up secondary like a blowtorch through butter*.  But they held New Orleans to 2 of 11 on third down:  four of the Saints first six possessions were three and outs.  They held Drew Brees to under 50% passing and made the running game an afterthought (32 yards… and no carries after the third quarter).  And when it looked like New Orleans had momentum, DeJon Gomes made a game changing interception that set up what would eventually be the difference-making score.   Moving forward, an injury and suspension riddled secondary will be a primary concern.

East the Beast Again?– After one week the NFC East and North own the best records as each is 3-1…while the AFC North and South will both likely be 1-3 after Monday night (a Ravens-Cincinnati tie would be awesome and result in an 0-2-2 start).  How important is this?  Last year the AFC North finished 37-27 but 1-3 in the playoffs.  The NFC North went 36-28 and 0-2 in the postseason.  The division competition is a fun parlor game but nothing more.  Unless it means something.

No Longer Special–  I will now refer to the non-offensive and defensive units as the “kicking teams”… as a blocked punt near the end of the first half almost robbed the Redskins of whatever momentum they had built.  After last year’s blocked field goal attempts and 2010’s mishandled snaps… “Special Teams” is currently on hiatus.  On the bright side, Billy Cundiff connected on all four attempts… twice from 37 yards out while legging 41 and 45 yard makes.

Next Up– a St. Louis team that somehow over the years seems to play the Redskins rather well.

*One of my favorite lines from Goldfinger— when Connery tells Pussy Galore not to fire a gun on an airplane.