Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekend reading #2

- "20 Awesome Unreleased Beatles Recordings We Want To Hear" - I wasn't aware of this alternate rendition of "Two of Us". Electric, more uptempo. Nothing could ever supplant the official version in my book, but I'd be curious to hear a full-length cut. And I really enjoyed the video clip too, with John and Paul singing nose-to-nose and goofing around. See, it wasn't all tension and acrimony during the "Get Back" sessions.
- Kudos to Stephen Deusner for directing attention to some of the other classic songs released in 1963 (that is, non-Fabs entries, like "Be My Baby", "In My Room", "Ring of Fire" and more). But spare me the trendy, quasi-poptimist criticism of The Beatles' post-Help! (or so) evolution. Yes, how lamentable it is that the band discovered sounds and influences beyond "Long Tall Sally". And yes, how sad it is that they failed to recognize their accountability to some vague ideal of True Rock 'N' Roll.
- Rolling Stone: "The 12 Weirdest Paul McCartney Songs". When life gets you down, just remember: we live in a world where "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" reached the top of the charts.
- From "Paul McCartney at 71: still here, there and everywhere" (The Guardian): "Such Macca fatigue seems peculiarly British – our national sense of cool is so nuanced as to be completely baffling to the rest of the world. Every other country would be proud to claim the 71-year-old McCartney as their own, to celebrate him as an actual living legend who changed the world through his talent. Whereas I feel as though I'm going to interview the NHS or the BBC, some well-loved British institution that inspires immense gratitude for past glories but is considered exasperating in its current form. Not necessarily by me, but that's the general air."
- From Slate: Macca's best solo songs.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekend reading #1

Some older links and some newer ones:
- "A shit hole - but with soul." Among the bevy of half-centennials we hit this year was that of The Beatles' final show at the Cavern Club.
- Read about the connection between George's maiden trip to America and his smash cover of "Got My Mind Set on You."
- Was "Beatlemania" born on the afternoon of October 13, 1963?
- More reading on that topic here.
- "Rattle your jewelry" = probably my favorite Lennon one-liner. Money quote: "The band’s twin attitudes toward authority—angry rebel and reassuring showman—were at the heart of their all-encompassing appeal. But loath as Lennon may have been to admit it, there was still nothing bigger to a British boy than playing for the Queen."
- "But Beatles vs. Stones tells a more nuanced story; it exposes the rivalry between the two bands as part myth, part publicity stunt, part invention of the press, and mostly an extension of their managers’ personalities." (Book review)
Note: Even if the Stones were viewed as a raised fist in counterpoint to The Beatles' peace sign, the two bands shared this in common: any political impact they might have had was merely symbolic in nature. Gestures and overtures usually don't amount to much. When rock stars embraced left-wing causes in the late '60s and early '70s, the whiff of radical chic was often overwhelming.
- "Thinking of visiting the Macs in New Orleans." What might have been.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Words of Love" video

I'm not crazy about the new video, which is part of the promotional campaign for On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2. It's breezy fun for sure, but I would've preferred that the old footage remain free of animation. The added color and the fanciful flourishes just end up having a cheesy, distracting effect. Why not keep the clips of The Beatles and their fans unaltered and then intercut those scenes with purely animated ones? I think the final product would've been much better. In any event, if the video isn't your style, still check it out for the song itself (a Buddy Holly cover, for those unaware). The sound quality is superb, especially on John and Paul's harmonized "hmms." They're little moments of dreamy perfection.