Saturday, August 11, 2012

A mini Beatles Bible

I finally got around to reading Rolling Stone's "The Beatles: The Ultimate Album-by-Album Guide." I strongly recommend it. As a source of facts and analysis, it's thorough, insightful, witty and entertaining (albeit slavishly laudatory). Every album from the band's official canon is profiled in detail, and every track (including non-album singles and b-sides) is given a blurb-length treatment. Just don't bother with the musician testimonials; most of them range from dull and forgettable to vapid and incomprehensible.
Below is a smattering of facts, quotes and historical tid-bits that I found worthy of note:
- Paul on the spoils of success: "A Liverpool boy with this tanned beauty in my MG going out to dinner. It should have been 'Can Buy Me Love,' actually."
- I wasn't aware of this gender-modified cover of "And I Love Her." It's smokier and more textured than the original.
- In the chapter on A Hard Day's Night, Douglas Wolk posits that the album only has 13 tracks (as opposed to the early standard of 14) because, before the last recording session, Ringo came down with tonsillitis and pharyngitis, resulting in a schedule change. The band left for a tour shortly afterward, with Jimmy Nicol filling in for Ringo.
- "The Beatles covered more songs by Carl Perkins than by any other songwriter."
- "Ticket to Ride" was the first Beatles song to hit the three-minute mark. It was also their first song "built track-by-track rather than recorded live."
- According to Paul, George Martin's initial assessment of "Tomorrow Never Knows" took this form: "Rather interesting, John. Jolly Interesting." Ever the decorous, unfazed gentleman.
- The "Kinfauns demos" = "possibly the greatest 'unplugged' session in pop-music history."
- "Back in the U.S.S.R" was recorded just days after the Soviets and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia and thwarted the Prague Spring.
- "Our relationship was platonic, believe me" - Paul wryly commenting on his English sheepdog Martha, who apparently wasn't the eponymous lass in "Martha My Dear."
- "Julia" was John's "only solo vocal performance on a Beatles recording."

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