Penny Lane By The Beatles

April 13, 2020

August 29, 1966: The Beatles play the last concert of their career at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

November 9, 1966: John Lennon attends an exhibition at an art gallery and meets Yoko Ono.

December 1966: The Beatles begin recording SGT. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Two of the first songs records are “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” There are dropped from the album and released as a single.

March 18, 1967: “Strawberry Fields” peaks at number 8 on the Billboard 100. “Penny Lane” reaches the top of the charts for one week and becomes the Beatles 13th chart topper in the United States.


The Beatles White Album: 50th Anniversary Edition (3-CD Set) by The Beatles

March 20, 2020

The Beatles White Album has reached the half-century mark. At the time of its release, the band had begun its downward spiral toward dissolution. Yoko Ono, outside projects, and tensions among members led to a sprawling, non-cohesive, and disparate album of brilliant music. The individual tracks were better than the whole as songs such as “Back In The USSR,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob La-Da,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Rocky Racoon,” and “Birthday” have become essential parts of rock history.

To mark the albums 50th anniversary, the music has been released in a number of formats including a four vinyl LP set and a huge 6-CD plus Blu-ray including a hard-cover book that provides everything you ever wanted to know about the album and more. However, unless you want absolutely everything by the Beatles, then this 3-CD edition, currently being reviewed, is more manageable and price conscious.

The first two CD’s cover the material from the original release. Giles Martin, son of original producer George Martin, has re-engineered the original tracks with modern day technology. The result is a vibrancy not heard on the 50 year old material.

The individual instruments have an increased clarity and there are more layers and textures to the music. Sometimes its the small things such as the discovery of harmonies toward the end of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Di” and the piano on “Rocky Racoon” becoming more prominent.

The third disc is some of the more interesting Beatles material to see the light of day. Titled “The Esher Demos;” it is a series of acoustic tracks recorded at George Harrison’s home. While rarely do all four band members appear on a track, the music has a laid back and finished feel. It gives the songs from the album a different feel.

The Beatles White Album: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is an interesting and technological upgrade of a classic album that has aged well. The tracks may still not have a cohesiveness but individually the songs don’t get much better.


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (4CD + DVD + Blu-ray Reissue) By The Beatles

December 5, 2017

 

 

 

It was 50 Years ago today, (give or take), that Sgt. Pepper’s taught the band to play. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has reached the half-century mark and the Capital label has released a massive 4-CD + DVD + Blu-ray set that contains everything you could ever want to hear or know about one of the most influential albums in music history.

The summer of love and the expansion of the Vietnam War were about to change American culture and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was about to change the music industry. It was an impeccably produced album where the songs blended together into a creative whole. While the music has been an accepted part of the musical landscape since its release, there is still a fascination to it that invites constant exploration.

The highlight of the release is the new stereo mix. It brings out additional textures and invites the listener to explore unheard layers of the music. A prime example of this enhancement process is “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” which now has an almost sonic quality. This re-imagining of the album makes the set worthwhile by itself.

Discs two and three may not be played as much as the first disc but are important for their historical significance. They contain 35 tracks and over 100 minutes of demos and songs in progress, which give a look into the recording process. The intimate studio chatter adds a dimension that that will be appreciated by fans of the band. The real bonus is most of the music is being released for the first time.  How many times someone will want to listen to these discs will depend upon the level of one’s desire to explore the Beatles music in depth.

The members of the Beatles always preferred the mono version of the album. The fourth disc contains the complete mono version in all its glory. In some ways, it pales next to the enhanced version but it presents the album as it was originally envisioned.

The DVD and Blu-ray contain the 1992 documentary The Making Of Sgt. Pepper’s. While the film takes on some new life through the enhancement of its clarity, it still has been available for 25 years. The interviews with Paul, Ringo, and particularly George are worthwhile, as is the studio footage with commentary by George Martin. While it does not have the impact of the CD’s, it does form a good foundation for the set and it is nice to actually see the Beatles.

The 140 page book is highlighted by song information, recording info and a number of in depth essays. It all adds up to a good companion piece to the music.

The new stereo mix and the original mono release deserve the highest rating with the unreleased in progress discs and the book just a little below that level. The set provides a lot to absorb and ultimately to experience.

 


We Can Work It Out By The Beatles

September 27, 2016

“We can Work It Our” topped the American Singles Chart for three weeks beginning January 8, 1966. In England, “We Can Work It Out” and its flip side “Day Tripper” shared the number one honor.

“We Can Work It Out” was a Paul McCartney composition and he provides the lead vocal. It was one of their last releases before their music would begin to undergo a creative transformation.


Yesterday By The Beatles

May 21, 2016

“Yesterday” was one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century. It was also a Paul McCartney solo effort released under the Beatles name.

In the studio producer George Martin suggested the McCartney record the song with just an acoustic guitar backed by a string quartet. It may not have been typical rock and roll but it became one of the most recognizable songs in music history.

“Yesterday” reached the top of the American Singles Chart on October 9, 1965, and there is remained for four weeks.


Help By The Beatles

April 3, 2016

The Beatles returned to the top of the American Charts for the ninth time on September 4, 1965, for the first of three weeks.

“Help” was the title song of their second film and had a quick journey to the top. It entered the charts at number 41 on August 7, and four weeks later it arrived at number one.

John Lennon once stated that “Help” and “Strawberry Fields” were his favorite songs.

 


Ticket To Ride By The Beatles

January 4, 2016

“Ticket To Ride” may not have spent as many weeks at number one as the Beatles biggest hits but on May 22, 1965, it spent the first of seven days on top of the American Pop Chart.

Interestingly if you look at the fine print on the label of “Ticket To Ride,” you will see it as a release from the upcoming Beatles film, Eight Arms To Hold You. The name was ultimately changed to Help.