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Lennon's Third Eye: the Bart Huges Story
Clean
June 03, 2018 12:11 PM PDT
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Bart Huges, a former medical student from the University of Amsterdam and the grandfather of modern trepanation, recounts meeting with John Lennon in the 60s.

Huges, already having bored a hole into his own skull with a basic drill, was approached by Lennon who told of his desire to open up his own “third eye”. Huges advised that Lennon needed no such intervention. “Third eye people are your kind of people,” Huges told Lennon. Because of Lennon’s creative talents and the fact that a small percentage of the population has a skull with a naturally formed hole, Hughes deduced, “there’s no doubt about it, you have the hole.”

Lennon was unconvinced. “He kept wanting it,” Huges remembers, “and I kept contradicting him.”

Finally, Yoko chipped in. Hear Huges tell it all......

Mumbo Back
Clean
March 30, 2018 10:09 AM PDT
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A great fan of the Cellar, P.R. Lee alerted me to the similarities between two McCartney songs: Mumbo, and Get Back. In particular, some early versions of Get Back have a more improvised character, resembling the mumbo-jumbo of Mumbo.
Mumbo was recorded on July 25th, 27th, 28th & August 1971, and appeared on Wild Life. The song is credited to Paul and Linda McCartney. McCartney appeared to have liked this nonsense song, since he played it live 10 times, a.o. in Amsterdam and Groningen in 1972.
McCartney said about Mumbo: “Mumbo is just a big scream of no words. A wacky idea, cos it was just ‘Whuurrrgghh A-hurrgghhh!’ and we mixed it back so it was like ‘Louie Louie’. Everyone’s going, What are the words of that? Just hope they don’t ask for the sheet music. Which no one ever did, luckily.”
We don’t need to ask for sheet music, because the chords are very similar to Get Back…..
Get Back also started with different lyrics, describing immigration of Pakistani and others; but McCartney changed them into more innocent lyrics.
Both Mumbo and the early takes of Get Back feature Paul’s “Little Richard’ voice that he also used on Helter Skelter. In this remix, these McCartney tracks mesh seamlessly together.

Sympathy for Jude
Clean
March 18, 2018 03:14 PM PDT
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Much has been said about the Rolling Stones vs. The Beatles. Which one was the better band, the most innovative, the loudest, the most anti-establishment?
No need to enter hat discussion here. For a recent talk, listen to this podcast: http://beatlesfanclub.nl/fab4cast-90-the-stones-the-beatles/ (in Dutch).

Although the Beatles launched the Stones’ career by giving them I Wanna Be Your Man (the Stones’ first hit single), they parted ways musically thereafter. The Beatles never covered a Stones song, and the Stones covered Beatles tracks very rarely (recently they performed Come Together). But the bands remained friends and they sometimes attended each other’s recording sessions.

One song where the Stones and the Beatles appear to be approach each other is Sympathy for the Devil, and Hey Jude. The ‘na na’ section uses the same chord sequence as the verses of Sympathy for the Devil. Both songs were released in 1968; hey Jude was composed around June 1968, while Sympathy was recorded on June 4th. Hence, Sympathy was probably composed earlier, but there is no indication that McCartney had heard it before he wrote Hey Jude.
No need to cry about plagiarism; this chord sequence is very common, listen to I Can’t Explain (the Who), if I Were a Carpenter (Bobby Darin), Fortunate Son (Creedence CR), All Right Now (Free), and many others.

Sympathy tells about several atrocities (wars, murders) committed throughout the history of humanity as if they were somehow inspired by the Devil. No link with the Beatles, although one line might refer to them: The “troubadours who got killed before they reach Bombay” might refer to the Beatles visit to the Maharishi in India, but – fortunately – the Beatles didn’t get killed on the way….

This remix plays bot songs together. The Stones were well aware of the similarity of the chords; in a concert in Baltimore Nov 26, 1969 Mick Jagger actually sang ‘nana na’ and Hey Jude’ over the end of Sympathy. This fragment concludes this remix.

Where did McCartney find "My Carnival"?
Clean
February 12, 2018 09:27 AM PST
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I'm always thrilled when I discover where the Beatles found inspiration for their songs. And sometimes that inspiration bordered on infringing other's rights: examples are Harrison getting in trouble for My Sweet Lord vs. She So Fine, Lennon angering Chuck Berry's lawyers over Come Together, and McCartney.......
It seems that I don't have an example of McCartney crossing the line when using other people's music; he had some trouble over the the phrase "Ob la di, ob la da", and financially compensated the alleged source. And he clearly paraphrased Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" in his own "Back in the USSR, but that's about it. McCartney is quite frank about being influenced by a whole range of artists, but - as far as I know - has never been suspected of copying. In fact, McCartney takes great care to avoid accidental copying, as exemplified by his hesitation to release Yesterday: he was afraid that he had heard the melody somewhere.

Some time ago, I heard the song "Hey Little Girl" by Professor Longhair. Professor Longhair blended Afro-Cuban rhythms with rhythm and blues. The most explicit is Longhair's Blues Rhumba,' where he overlays a straightforward blues with a clave rhythm.The piano part for the rumba-boogie "Hey Little Girl" employs the 2-3 clave onbeat/offbeat motif.

This song has nothing to do with Hello Little Girl, the first song known to be written by Lennon. But it did remind me of McCartney's style of songwriting. I felt there could be some influence of Hey Little Girl on Hey Jude (more than just the Hey"...), but could not pinpoint it exactly. And then I heard the song "My Carnival", on McCartney & Wings re-release of Venus & Mars. The music and melody of My Carnival is an exact copy of Hey Little Girl! In the remix in BDJ's Cellar you can confirm that yourself.

Where and how did McCartney pick up this song by the rather obscure Professor Longhair? Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd (December 19, 1918 – January 30, 1980), better known as Professor Longhair, was a New Orleans
blues singer and pianist. Longhair's first recordings were made at the Hi Hat Club, where a rudimentary recording studio was set up. Four sides were issued on the tiny Star Talent label as by Professor Longhair & His Shuffling Hungarians, including Hey little Girl (1949). He is best known for his song "Mardi Gras in New Orleans", which has the same chords and melody as Hey Little Girl. There is evidence that Mardi Gras was actually performed by McCartney (on MoMac's Hidden Tracks Vol.9 and Complete Cold Cuts). McCartney has never played this song in concert. So where did McCartney hear "Mardi Gras in New Orleans"?

Wings flew to New Orleans to record their fourth album,“Venus and Mars.” And on Mardi Gras Day, Feb. 11,
1975, the McCartneys waded into the holiday revelry, masking as a pair of clowns. McCartney, asked what
musicians he’d heard during his New Orleans 1975 visit, said: “Well, we saw Professor Longhair play. And
he’s the greatest. He’s a classic. I love ’em.”

Wings recorded “My Carnival” at Sea-Saint the day after Mardi Gras. The song’s piano, rhythm and vocals
parallel the music of Professor Longhair's Mardi Gras and Hey Little Girl.

Venus and Mars reached No. 1 internationally. The original album did not include “My Carnival.” Was
McCartney hesitant because he might have copyright issues? Five years after Professor Longhair’s death,
McCartney released “My Carnival” as the B-side of “Spies Like Us,” (title song for a 1985 Chevy Chase-
Dan Aykroyd movie). In 1993, Venus And Mars was remastered and reissued on compact disc as part of "The Paul McCartney Collection" series; My Carnival was released as a Bonus Track.

So there we have it, clear evidence that McCartney copied others; we have to note that he single’s label says: “Recorded in New Orleans & dedicated to Prof. Longhair”. Now there's an understatement!

The 5th drummer of the Beatles
Clean
January 09, 2018 08:54 AM PST
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Who was the Fifth Beatle? There are a lot of candidates for this honorary title: some consider themselves the fifth Beatle, others could qualify through their merits for the Beatles. That's why we highlight a potential Fifth Beatle: Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. Purdie has clearly put his name forward with his bold statements:

- "I overdubbed the drumming on 21 songs from the first three Beatle albums".
- "There are four drummers on the Beatles records, but Ringo is not one of them"

Purdie is known as a groove drummer with flawless timing and precision half notes, backbeats and grooves. His groove sometimes combines different influences, such as swing, blues and funk. He created the now well-known drum pattern the "Purdie Half-time Shuffle".

He is widely appreciated and admired for his drum performance, so why would he say this kind of strange stuff?

It seems possible that Purdie has drummed on the American version of some of Tony Sheridan's songs and the Beatles. But otherwise, Purdie seems to exaggerate when he talks about 21 songs on 3 LPs. But how many songs should you record with the Beatles to be called the Fifth Beatle?

Here we made a remix of the German (with Pete Best on drums) , and the American version (with Purdie on drums) of "Take out some insurance on me". There is additional guitar, drums and harmonica. The drums are clearly improved, a hi-hat error by Pete Best towards the end has been eliminated.......

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!

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