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Getting Better - Take 1
Clean
December 01, 2017 02:20 PM PST
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Here's a different (new!) mix of Getting Better. This song was featured (of course) on Sgt Pepper, following Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds.

Getting Better is mostly a Paul song, although Lennon contributed significantly to the lyrics and the vocals.

On March 9, 1967, recording started at Abbey Road studios. They first recorded the 'rhythm' tracks, including drums, pianet (Wurlitzer?), rhythm guitar and - some - bass. The bass is only heard when the pianet is not playing, suggesting that Paul played both instruments. Seven takes were recorded, the last one being labelled 'best'. This take 7 forms the basis of the version heard on Sgt. Pepper. However, on the 50th anniversary release of Sgt Pepper, also Take 1 of the rhythm track is included. It is remarkably lively, and appears to 'rock' more than take 7. Therefore, we used this rhythm track Take 1 and combined it with the vocals (recorded on 21 and 23 March). we also used the conga and piano in places.
Notable differences are the prominence of the pianet in the mix, the absence of the high pitched guitar and the tamboura drone. The high energy of the track is probably also due to the speed: they played Take 1 significantly faster than Take 7. Take 7 starts at 118 bpm, increasing to 126 bpm at the end. Take 1 starts at 122 bpm, reaching 132 bpm at some points (Ringo's drumming is more uneven than in take 7).

Musically, Getting Better combines aspects of other McCartney songs: the 'drone effect', a single note played for a long time, is also heard in e.g. Paperback Writer. The drone (a G note) is much more proounced in Take 7, since the high pitched guitar plays this note throughout (except the verses), as well as the tamboura (starting 2/3 into the song).
Here, There, and Everywhere appears to be the model for the refrain ("I've got to admit...') It consists of rising chords, going up the musical scale step by step. This is much more noticeable on the pianet in Take 1 of Getting Better. Lennon would use this same sequence later in Sexy Sadie.

Paul wrote this song on a piano, so it is no surprise the pianet is played throughout take 1, probably by Paul. Other evidence is that Getting Better is written in the key of C, a typical key for less experienced piano players; Paul could play the whole song on the white piano keys only!

There is the well-known story of Lennon feeling ill after taking LSD, and George Martin taking him to the roof....This took place during the recording of the vocals on March 21, which may explain why some of the - backing- vocals sound slightly off-key.

So here it is, new mix based on Take 1. Is it -compared to take 7- Getting Better?

Bannink & The Beatles
Clean
October 24, 2017 06:52 AM PDT
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Harry Bannink (1929 – 1999) was a Dutch composer, arranger and pianist. he had an amazing output: he wrote over 3,000 songs!

He wrote music for several Dutch musicals, Dutch TV-shows (including "Ja zuster, nee zuster"), and a weekly (!) children's TV show.

If only the Beatles had written songs at the same rate as Bannink, then we would have another 30 Beatles albums....

In Lennon & McCartney's defense, we should mention that Bannink only wrote the music; he used a number of well know lyrics writers and - Dutch - poets to write the lyrics for his songs; he usually started with a text, and then wrote the music for it.

Bannink and the Beatles were contemporary composers, and there as striking similarities:

- like McCartney, his music is very 'melodic', certainly compared to post 60's music where the rhythm (percussion) becomes more and more important.

- like Lennon, Bannink used complex rhythms, and changed the rhythm during a song

- one key success factor that they all display, is that the words and music match so well together. Bannink is a master in having his music express the same emotions as the lyrics. Words and music intertwine, and Bannink wrote his melodies with specific voices (usually of actors) in mind.

- As composers, it is evident that they were influenced by other songwriters, and in many cases they would identify their influences themselves. But these influences added to their music, they didn't imitate their examples.

Bannink - obviously - knew the music of the Beatles, but he wasn't a great fan; it's just not his style of music.
But he admitted that for some of his songs he took inspiration from Beatles tracks. One of these songs is entitled "Wil u een stekkie". This song is about plants called "Fuchsia", a popular garden shrub, which can live for years with a minimal amount of care. The word "Fuchsia" is repeated endlessly in the song. The lyrics were written by Annie M.G. Schmidt who was unaware that the word had other meanings in English. Only one of the singers (an Englishman) had trouble keeping a straight face....

Bannink himself mentioned that "Wil u een stekkie" was inspired by "When I'm 64", and he quotes this Beatles song in its intro. But he makes "Wil u een stekkie" very much a Bannink song. To showcase the relationship between "Wil u een stekkie" and 'When I'm 64" we have produced a mash-up of those 2 songs. It nicely demonstrates that Bannink and McCartney were a close match in composing this kind of nostalgic tune.

And you can hear more about Bannink (in Dutch...) at:

https://soundcloud.com/avrotros/fab4cast-81-bannink-beatles-bonte-bespiegelingen

Across The Universe (Remake 2017)
Clean
October 12, 2017 08:53 AM PDT
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It appears as if we hear more and more Beatles tracks when I go to see a movie. Just went to see/hear McCartney sing Maggie Mae in Pirates of the Caribbean. But while settling in for the movie in the theater, a trailer was shown for the new movie "Justice League Come Together": Come Together, covered by Gary Clark Jr and Junkie XL. And then a commercial was shown that featured a cover version of Across the Universe!

As a true Beatles fan, I welcome every opportunity to hear their tracks; but in this case, I had some trepidation. Would Lennon have approved of using his song to promote sales of (Samsung) cell-phones? I have my doubts.
On the other hand, I liked the cover version, it sounded great (and loud) in the theater. This reminded me that Lennon is on record (Rolling Stone interview) that he considered ATU as one of his better songs: ""It's one of the best lyrics I've written. In fact, it could be the best." He added: "It's good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin' it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don't have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them." But he felt let down by the way the song was recorded and produced. I think he meant that McCartney didn't put any effort in it, and they never got down to laying down a quality track. And the guitars were out of tune (which I don't hear, but Lennon has a sharper ear than me).
Hence the opportunity to use the backing track of the Samsung commercial "New Normal" with the vocals of Lennon himself (using Take 2 of 4 February 1968). The Samsung version is actually the cover sang by Rufus Wainwright for the movie I Am Sam. They sang in the same key, resulting in a nice upgrade. Would Lennon feel better now?

Freedom: Lennon Soundtrack
Clean
June 21, 2017 04:03 AM PDT
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The film 'Freedom' is part of the exhibition of the art of Yoko Ono,"The sky is still blue, you know .... ", which opened in May this year. This exhibition is specially designed for the Tomie Ohtake Institute and consists of 65 pieces or "instructions" that ask the visitor to help make the art. In this way, the visitor is forced to think about the instructions, and the artwork suddenly becomes very unique and temporary.

The exhibition gives a nice overview of Yoko Ono's work, from her first works from the sixties to the most recent works of this year. We know Yoko Ono of course as John Lennon's wife, some of whom see her as the woman who broke up the Beatles. But can we really blame her? Time will tell, at least I'm not so convinced; In my opinion, John Lennon left the Beatles, and Yoko Ono was no more than an accomplice. Time for discussion!

In the mid-sixties, she began making films. A short movie of Yoko Ono is called Freedom (1970); This movie takes just over 1 minute. A woman (Yoko Ono, though her face is not shown) tries to undo her bra. At the end of the film, this has still not been successful and the movie repeats. Freedom is very relative ......

The special feature of this film is that John Lennon wrote the music. Actually, this song is unheard until now for many Lennon fans! The music is as minimal as the images.

Furthermore, there is little Lennon in the exhibition, which I appreciate from Ono; Yoko Ono can stand as on her own feet as artist. Only one other time do we see Lennon, in the movie Smile. It is intriguing to face Lennon, who looks like a kind of Mona Lisa, and in extreme slow motion (333fps) makes a start of a smile. But after 15 minutes he is not much further ...
Also, the music of this film is by Lennon, but now he says, "bring your own instrument" so we only hear the wind in the trees, and the birds singing ......... ..

Some of her art has become world famous. For example, the small-letter word written on the wall (1966) You can only read it by climbing a ladder and then using a magnifying glass. This was the work that drew attention to John Lennon when he visited Ono's exhibition in London, in 1966. A whole experience for this visitor to re-enact this historical event!

There are also instructions that only apply in the mental, poetic, or imaginary plane: "observe the sun until it becomes square"; "a piece of heaven knows we are all part of each other"; "Do not try to say anything negative about someone for three days, 45 days, for three months." (1996).

Another well-known work by Yoko Ono has been her theater performance in which she sits on stage (in Carnegie Hall (1964, New York), and invites the audience to cut her clothes with scissors. The film shows how exciting it was for Yoko Ono itself, alone and vulnerable, while a series of men cut her clothes off the body.

Think of Yoko Ono what you like, but there's never a dull moment with Yoko!

Beatles vs the Analogues: Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Clean
June 13, 2017 01:31 PM PDT
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The Analogues are a Dutch tribute act to the Beatles. Founded in 2014, the Analogues' ambition has been to perform The Beatles' music from their later studio years live, using analogue and period-correct instrumentation.

How closely do the Analogues approach the original Beatles records in their performances? To find out, we have taken the 2017 (Giles Martin) remix of Sgt Pepper/With a Little Help and played it alongside a live recording of the Analogues. During the track, we alternate between the Beatles and the Analogues; note that we haven’t changed the tempo of the tracks, nor have we applied any EQ.

The Analogues play the Sgt Pepper tracks so well, that it is difficult to hear where the Beatles are played, and where the Analogues take over. A remarkable achievement!

The differences are mainly due to differences in the mix (apart from the timbre of their voices, of course): Giles Martin plays the drums and bass louder than the Analogues do, and Martin adds more reverb to the vocals. The Beatles version has more separation in the stereo field, probably because of limitations that the Analogues had in recording live vs a studio recording.

Appearance-wise the band makes no effort to look like The Beatles, but they are masters at recreating and reproducing the original sound. The Analogues have amassed an impressive collection of musical instruments, amplifiers and what have you, including a black-and-white Rickenbacker-guitar like John Lennon had, a light blue Fender Stratocaster like George Harrison's and a Hofner violin bass as used by Paul McCartney. Five pianos, ten organs, over twenty-five guitars, a Ludwig drum kit, and an assortment of wind instruments are not enough to satisfy the demanding Beatles arrangements. Exotic musical instruments from India are required as well, including a dilruba, a swarmandal, a tanpura, a tabla, and obviously a sitar.

In 2015/2016 The Analogues went on their first tour both in Holland and abroad, playing the 1967 Magical Mystery Tour album. In 2017 the band are touring with an integral performance of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I was lucky to see them perform twice, most recently at the 17,000 capacity Amsterdam Ziggo Dome on 1 June 2017, celebrating the album's 50 year existence. Go and see them perform the complete Sgt Pepper album if you can! Already looking forward to next season, when they will perform the ‘White Album’ live.

Interesting factoid: in 2017 the Analogues signed a six record deal with Universal Music Group, for five live-played Beatles albums, plus one album with original material, inspired by The Beatles. All six albums will be released under the Decca label that refused to sign The Beatles in 1962!

6x Love Me Do
Clean
May 15, 2017 12:16 PM PDT
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Love Me Do is a strange little record. Of course, it was the first Beatles record in the UK, and the fab-four also recorded Love Me Do eight times for the BBC. More recently, Paul performed Love Me Do on Pinkpop 12-06-2016.

But that's not the complete story: all in all, the Beatles recorded and released five versions of Love Me Do, and a 6th version remained unreleased. And four different drummers played on these records! Here we present a compilation of all six studio versions of Love Me Do, including the previously unreleased version of 1969. In running order:

1) Pete Best on drums: recorded on June 6, 1962, poor Pete didn't realize that this recording would cost him his seat behind the drum kit. The EMI recording staff were unimpressed by his irregular time-keeping, and the other 3 Beatles didn't mind trading him in for a better drummer like Ringo Starr. But history has been too unkind to Pete Best. True, his timekeeping on the is recording is sloppy, but so are the vocals and the overall performance of the band. Perhaps they were nervous, or unaccustomed to working a in a studio? After all, it was the first time that they recorded a Lennon & McCartney composition.

Pete's drumming seems off during the 'middle eight' (someone to love...), but it seems harsh to blame Pete for it; they had played the song live in Hamburg, and had practiced it in the Cavern before the recording session. So this was the way that Lennon & McCartney wanted the drums to play, but Pete was held accountable for the - rather poor - result.....
Pete's version can be recognized by his drumming technique: it sounds like he hits the snare drum laterally instead of vertically, and he plays a busy pattern during the middle eight. Paul's bass sounds poor in this recording, since he as using his old amplifier. They would acquire their Vox amplifiers after this recording session. Paul's vocals are tentative at times, and his voice quivers a bit in places. This version was released on Anthology 1.

2) Ringo on drums, recorded on September 4, 1962. The fab-four assumed they were recording the definitive version for their single, but didn't know yet that there would be another session on September 11th for this little song......
Ringo's drumming is more regular than Pete's, and he hits the snare drum in the usual way. He doesn't vary the pattern during the middle eight, but has a few small fills. The rest of the band sounds more confident, and the bass sound is better defined (thanks to the new amplifiers).
This version can also be recognized by the hand claps (an overdub), and the absence of tambourines.
The hand claps do raise a question: George Martin wanted Paul to sing the middle eight, so that John could play harmonica. But if they had overdub capability, why not use overdubs for the harmonica and have John sing the middle eight?

3) Andy White on drums, recorded September 11th. Poor Ringo was relegated to play the tambourine, but he does it with verve and competes with White for the loudest percussion sounds. Andy White is an excellent time keeper, he plays as regular as clockwork. The overall sound of the recording is the best of the early 3 recording dates. This version can be recognized by the absence of handclaps, and the presence of the tambourine. Also note that a fair dose of reverb is applied to the vocals. This version would make it unto most copies of the single, although the first pressing used Ringo's version.

4) Billy Preston on keyboards, recorded on January 28, 1969. The Fab 4 revisited Love Me Do during the Let It Be recording sessions. Of course, Ringo Starr on drums, while Billy Preston is at the Rhodes electric piano (and Alan Parsons at the controls as engineer). This fourth version has not been released, and in its rough form sounds not too interesting. We edited the Let It Be version to produce a pleasant - stereo! - mix, that might well have been included on the Anthology series. The complete version is available elsewhere in BDJ's Cellar full of Remixes.

5) P.S. Love me do - Paul McCartney, featuring Chris Whitten on drums. Paul made a song mixing two of his first 2 songs, P.S. I love you and Love me do and called it "P.S. Love me do". P.S. I Love You" was the b side of "Love Me Do" single in 1962.
A live version of “P.S. Love Me Do” recorded on April 21, 1990 at Maracara Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was released as a b-side on a U.K. CD single on October 8, 1990 which featured a live recording of The Beatles track “Birthday” as the a-side. Here we use only the Love Me Do verses of the song. There is not much appeal in this hybrid song. Perhaps Paul released this single to show the finger to Michael Jackson and Sony, who owned the rights to most Beatles songs and refused to trade them to Paul: these two songs are the only Beatles songs that McCartney controls, because when he first signed to EMI they had a publishing company called Ardmore and Beechwood which took the two songs, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". In doing a deal somewhere along the way Paul was able to get them back and the copyrights now belong to Paul's company MPL Communications Ltd.

6) Ringo vocals: recorded on VH1 Storytellers, a live album by Ringo Starr released in 1998. The album flopped worldwide..... Perhaps this Love Me Do is Ringo's revenge on George Martin and the rest of the world, since this is clearly the best sounding version.

So which of those 6 versions is 'best'? You decide!

A Day In The Life; Stereo Remaster
Clean
April 14, 2017 06:44 AM PDT
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For most fans, a Day in the Life is their favorite track on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Some even consider it the Beatles best song.
Considering its impact, the production on the stereo release on Sgt Pepper sounds rather understated; Lennon's voice floats around from left to right for no reason, and even the piano appears to move around the room....

Hence, the BDJ engineers decided to make a new Stereo remaster, based on the original tapes. Now, Lennon is firmly seated in the middle. As a bonus, we can now hear clearly L/R separated where vocals were double-tracked, the orchestra was quadruple-tracked, and how the final chord was built up.

What will Giles Martin do with the same recording? We'll know on June 1st.

POSTSCRIPT: Well, the Deluxe box arrived. The remix by Giles Martin is rather similar to the remix presented here; vocals remain nicely in the middle throughout. Giles mixes in some stereo vocal chorus that I didn't have..... Main difference appears to be that Giles mixed Paul's bass to the right, while here it is in the middle. And Giles included the end groove in A Day in the Life. Not correct, in my view, the end groove is independent from ADITL.

Try Some Buy Some ft. Ronnie Spector
Clean
March 21, 2017 07:09 AM PDT
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Harrison wrote "Try Some Buy Some" in early 1971, in an attempt to relaunch the singing career of former Ronettes lead singer Ronnie Spector. Ronnie was married to Phil Spector at that time, who produced the record. The track featured star performers: Harrison played guitars, Gary Wright (Spooky Tooth) keyboards, Klaus Voormann (Manfred Mann) bass, John Barham string arrangement, Jim Gordon (Derek and the Dominos) on drums, Pete Ham (Badfinger) guitar. The song would be included on a planned comeback album on the Beatles' Apple Records.

Harrison wrote the song on an organ, while he used to compose on guitar. This may explain the strange harmonic structure of the song. Klaus Voormann recalls that he had to step in so that Harrison could hear the entire piece played through: "He played the song on the piano with his right hand, just with three fingers. He couldn't play with five fingers and he couldn't play the whole song with two hands on the piano. I had to play the left hand part so he could hear how the whole song sounded."

Also note that the song is a waltz (3/4 rhythm), which is unusual for a pop song. It includes some rhythm patterns that are derived from Indian music.

It was released as an Apple Single in 1971 (and included on the CD “Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records” in 2010).

The single flopped and the critics were not forgiving for this Harrisong, or Ronnie’s singing…The whole thing turned out to be a huge disappointment, in particular for Phil Spector, who had put enormous effort in producing his trademark ‘Wall Of Sound” backing track for the song. Phil was proud of his achievement and expected that it would be hailed as a masterpiece. However, it appears that the Wall of Sound concept had outlived its days, and the song was far too ‘deep’ for Ronnie’ audience. The whole come-back album was scrapped, and Ronnie and Phil divorced……

In 1973, Harrison added his own vocal onto the 1971 instrumental track and included the result on his album Living in the Material World. Some critics find it doesn’t fit on the album, and Harrison may be singing in a key that was a bit too high for him (because he used a backing track made for Ronnie).

Lennon liked the song and later said that the descending melody played by the string section was an inspiration behind his 1974 song "#9 Dream". The lyrics may also have something to do with “Buy Some Try Some”, as both songs begin with a reference to the past: "Way back in time / Someone said try some…. Compare with #9 Dream: “So long ago, was it in a dream, was it just a dream?”

Earlier, Lennon already based the musical backing of his 1971 single "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" on that of "Try Some Buy Some".

In recent years, "Try Some Buy Some" has won more acclaim, and its unique musical structure is recognized.

Paul-René Lee alerted me to Ronnie’s 1971 version, and making a duet with Harrison’s 1973 version was straightforward, since both used the same backing track.

The Best of Both Worlds?

BeatLess
Clean
February 16, 2017 02:28 PM PST
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2016 has been a prolific year for celebrity deaths. A fair number of the celebrities who passed away in 2016 were - somehow - connected to te Beatles.

In this track, we remember the 2016's famous losses, in a touching tribute to their talent, inspired by one of The Beatles finest songs, In My Life.

The Beatles celebrities in this mix are:

- David Bowie (“Fame” with Lennon)
- Glen Frey (Eagles, became musician after attending a Beatles concert)
- Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane, jammed with McCartney)
- Terry Wogan (interviewed Beatles many times)
- Prince (played guitar solo in the Concert for George)
- George Martin
- Tony Barrow (Beatles press officer)
- Carry Fischer (film with Ringo)
- Henry McCullough (guitar in Wings, played solo on My Love)
- Muhammad Ali (photo opportunity with Beatles)
- Scotty Moore (Guitar whit Elvis, jammed with McCartney)
- Toots Thielemans (jazz player, inspired Lennon to play Rickenbacker guitars)
- Al Brodax (producer of the Yellow Submarine film)
- Leonard Cohen
- Greg Lake (Emerson Lake & Palmer, befriended Ringo and Paul)
- Sam Leach (impressario of the Early Beatles)
- Allan Williams (manager of the Early Beatles).

This remix is inspired by Fab4cast 67, "Death & The Beatles" - in Dutch only...- , which can be heard and downloaded at:

http://web.avrotros.nl/podpourri/luisteren/fab4cast.aspx

Hey Jude, Isn't it a Pity?
Clean
February 13, 2017 03:54 PM PST
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There are a number of similarities between Harrison's song (form his first solo LP) and McCartney's Hey Jude. They last (almost) as long, and most of the song consists of the outtro (a hallmark of later Beatles tracks).
But would they mash well? That's what Paul-René Lee asked me to try. Here it is, judge for yourself!

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