Category Archives: Paul McCartney

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded: “Little Woman Love” by Wings (Paul McCartney)!!!

For as long as I’ve been on the radio, and definitely for as long as I’ve been writing a blog, I will occasionally make a reference to a song being “One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded!” (GSER)

I would usually follow that by saying that I would eventually start a category for it, but then never get around to it.

Well, now I’m getting around to it!

It will pretty much follow the pattern of The Most Awesomest Song of the Day.

I’ll select a song to celebrate and then give my thoughts about it. Nothing really brand new here that hasn’t been done before. But since I have a website, I can collect them and lay out what my own greatest songs are.

My radio show, “Theme Attic,”  is on Wednesdays 2PM-4PM ET.

Even though I always emphasize new music and artists, it’s always fun to take a short drive through the legendary artists, since they influenced those other artists!

But a song doesn’t have to be old or done by a legendary Theme Attic Hall of Fame member to be thus honored.

I can think of several songs that are only a few years old or less that I could identify as One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded.

This will be fun, and hopefully you will join me on my journey!

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In the early years following The Beatles breakup, FM radio was establishing itself as the best medium for songs and information for decades to follow.

AM radio was pretty much unlistenable except for a couple of songs, because everything of substance was still available on FM.

Albums ruled the music world, but Paul McCartney chose to release a series of disconnected singles.

In May 1972, McCartney–performing as Wings, released an innocuous single: “Mary Had a Little Lamb” b/w “Little Woman Love.”

Hopefully, I’ll write about “Lamb” some other day.

I bought the single within the first week of its release. My initial response was that I liked it and…I mean, come on! It was Paul McCartney!

Since The Beatles had taught us several years ago to always listen to the B side, I have to admit that I was stunned listening to “Little Woman Love” for the first time!

What a brilliant little gem!

It opens with a barrelhouse piano riff that’s sticks better than Super Glue!

That forms the foundation of the song.

Everything else is triggered off the piano groove, which undergoes subtle changes throughout “Little Woman Love.”

In my mind, I have an image of Paul being some kind of madcap chef making one of his signature dishes, but he seems to have lost his recipe. So he ends up adding flourishes of “spices” where he thinks he needs it: A splash of slap back bass over here! A pinch of conga drum over there!

McCartney has plenty of jazz “sous chefs” in the kitchen helping him out: nimble Dave Spinozza and studio musician Hugh McCracken on guitars, and Milt Hinton on the previously mentioned bass–who gets a nice solo in the process!

Future “Winger” Denny Seiwell does a nice job staying in the pocket on drums and percussion!

This group really knows how to cook, and the “Little Woman Love” gumbo is actually very tasty!

The music is so good that it masks, possibly the worst middle eight that McCartney ever wrote, complete with a couple of minor augmented chords:

“Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.

Woah oh oh unh unh unh.” (Repeat)

However, the music is so good, you can’t help but sing along without giving it a thought!

It’s absolutely Beatle worthy to me!

One last thought:

I’ve read that the song was left off of Paul’s “Ram” album. When that album was released on CD years later, “Little Woman Love” was issued as a bonus track.

Ironically, when the most recent version of “Red Rose Speedway” was released, It also appeared on that one, too!

Another interesting aside is that because of the slap back solo, the song is often categorized as a “rockabilly” tune. Interesting because of the jazz musicians playing on it!

Regardless, it is two minutes plus of pure magic! Like most great songs, it’s over before you realize it!

It is a song that sounds like everyone was having a good time contributing and making music for music’s sake!

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded is “Little Woman Love” by Wings!!!

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If you like what you see, don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the “like” button on my Facebook page, Phil Maq!

#Wings #LittleWomanLove #PaulMcCartney #PhilMaq #OneoftheGreatestSongsEverRecorded #GSER

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded: “Don’t Bother Me” by The Beatles!!!

For as long as I’ve been on the radio, and definitely for as long as I’ve been writing a blog, I will occasionally make a reference to a song being “One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded!” (GSER)

I would usually follow that by saying that I would eventually start a category for it, but then never get around to it.

Well, now I’m getting around to it!

It will pretty much follow the pattern of The Most Awesomest Song of the Day.

I’ll select a song to celebrate and then give my thoughts about it. Nothing really brand new here that hasn’t been done before. But since I have a website, I can collect them and lay out what my own greatest songs are.

My radio show, “Prime Time Theme Attic,”  is on Monday nights 8PM-10PM ET but is on hiatus because of the pandemic.

Even though I always emphasize new music and artists, it’s always fun to take a short drive through the legendary artists, since they influenced those other artists!

But a song doesn’t have to be old or done by a legendary Theme Attic Hall of Fame member to be thus honored.

I can think of several songs that are only a few years old or less that I could identify as One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded.

This will be fun, and hopefully you will join me on my journey…at least sometimes!

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The first album I ever owned was “Meet The Beatles” in mono!

It was given to me as a present from my oldest brother.

At that moment in time, I couldn’t say that I was a fan of The Beatles, nor anyone else for that matter.

I did already own one 45 which I detailed last year when I wrote about “There’s a Place!” (I left a link in case you missed it.)

After I opened the present and saw what it was, I couldn’t say I was excited to now have a copy of “Meet The Beatles.” I mean, it wasn’t a new baseball or bat–what I was into at the time. If I had to get an album as a present, I would have rather it be one by Alvin and The Chipmunks!

But my brother either never noticed my veiled unexcitement, or chose to ignore my response as he demonstrated how I should slide the album out of the wrapper from the cover. I was told to hold the album on the sides suspended between the palms of my hands when I placed the LP on the record player. And even though every device we had in the house at the time had a spindle for an album to drop onto the platter, he advised me not to do that, but to lay the album flat on the turntable so it wouldn’t get scratches or lose sound quality.

That was quite possibly the best advice my brother ever gave me!

So, I took my new possession into my older sister’s bedroom because she had an RCA phonograph given to her by a different older brother of mine. She let me use it after I demonstrated I knew what I was doing.

Placing the needle gently on my new album, I sat on the floor to listen to the music. I recognized a few of the songs from hearing them on the radio. However, there were several I didn’t know.

I sat there looking at the album cover, front and back.

I started to read the liner notes. I really didn’t make much sense out of them, but eventually, I would.

Not really knowing John’s voice from Paul’s voice… yet (I certainly wasn’t alone there. I still run into people who can’t distinguish their voices.), one song in particular began to stand out: “Don’t Bother Me.”

The lead voice sounded different than the other ones.

I noticed that George Harrison had written the song.

It made sense to me that he probably sang it, too.

Speaking directly to me, the chorus lyrics were similar to something that I said often in my life back then:

So go away/ leave me alone/
Don’t bother me.”

How could he know how I felt?

Yeah. He didn’t. Harrison was singing about a broken relationship. I disregarded all of the girl references and focused on what mattered to me.

But that’s how music works!

“I’ve got no time for you right now/
Don’t bother me.”

I may not have been crazy about The Beatles before I owned “Meet The Beatles,” but I bonded with the band right then and there!

And George Harrison instantly became my first favorite Beatle!

Besides the lyrics, the dense, busy rhythm track caught my young novice music listening ears.

There’s claves cracking out Latin accents, a noticeable hi-hat sound as well as Ringo riding on the cymbal, and some engine room sounding “thuds” on every beat that the band also plays on.

The minor chords and that rhythm: so strange, so unusual!

It still is!

And a tight Harrison guitar solo as a bonus!

It turns out that “Don’t Bother Me” was George‘s first fully written song.

I would watch for others by him because he had a different slant than Lennon-McCartney.

And as much as I tried to keep “Meet The Beatles” free from defects, the truth is it was the only album that I ever owned that skipped. “Little Child” had one as well as “Don’t Bother Me.”

“Don’t” was the first track on the Side 2 and the needle went straight from “Since she’s been gone I want…me” leaving out “no one to talk to.”

I used to be bothered by that, but I did play the album a lot! I replaced it several times over the years on vinyl as well as CD.

“So go away/leave me alone/
Don’t bother me.”

Beautiful!

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded is “Don’t Bother Me” by The Beatles!!!

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If you like what you see, don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the “like” button on my Facebook page, Phil Maq!

#DontBotherMe #MeetTheBeatles #TheBeatles #GeorgeHarrison #PhilMaq #OneoftheGreatestSongsEverRecorded #GSER

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded: “Rave On” by Buddy Holly!!!

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For as long as I’ve been on the radio, and definitely for as long as I’ve been writing a blog, I will occasionally make a reference to a song being “One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded!” (GSER)

I would usually follow that by saying that I would eventually start a category for it, but then never get around to it.

Well, now I’m getting around to it!

It will pretty much follow the pattern of The Most Awesomest Song of the Day.

I’ll select a song to celebrate and then give my thoughts about it. Nothing really brand new here that hasn’t been done before. But since I have a website, I can collect them and lay out what my own greatest songs are.

My radio show, “Prime Time Theme Attic,”  is on Monday nights 8PM-10PM ET but is on hiatus because of the pandemic.

Even though I always emphasize new music and artists, it’s always fun to take a short drive through the legendary artists, since they influenced those other artists!

But a song doesn’t have to be old or done by a legendary Theme Attic Hall of Fame member to be thus honored.

I can think of several songs that are only a few years old or less that I could identify as One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded.

This will be fun, and hopefully you will join me on my journey…at least sometimes!

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I’ve only gone through a few phases in my musical education, but I went through a Buddy Holly one twice!

When I use the word “phase,” I mean listening primarily to one artist for an extended length of time.

As a child, it was pretty easy to like Buddy Holly: His music was simple, melodic, and catchy. He also had an easy name to remember.

However, Buddy‘s career was before I was aware of music, so I first learned about him and his untimely death through The Beatles and oldies stations.

And he certainly was an influence on The Beatles. For the most part at that time, it was very rare for an artist to write their own music. But John Lennon and Paul McCartney knew that Holly wrote his own and was successful, and that was what they wanted, too.

The first single they recorded as The Quarrymen was “That’ll Be the Day,” a Buddy tune.

McCartney liked him so much he even bought his catalog and made a documentary, “The Real Buddy Holly Story.”

As far as my own personal discovery, I learned my wife was a Holly fan when I first started going out with her. That alone made me focus more attention on him.

In the late 80s and early 90s, I realized that I really only knew the songs that were released as Greatest Hits packages. It dawned on me that I really didn’t know his back catalog.

I eventually bought a vinyl Complete Collection and easily got hooked on it for quite a while.

“Rave On,” one of Buddy’s signature songs, surprisingly, was not written by him but by Sonny West, Bill Tightman, and Buddy’s Texas producer, Norman Petty.

From it’s hiccupy vocal intro to its final fading notes at 1:53, the song moves at a fast pace that includes a yearning chorus with great backup vocals, plenty of starts, stops, and accents, and a super piano solo!

It’s my favorite song by Buddy Holly!

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded is “Rave On” by Buddy Holly!!!

If you like what you see, don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the “like” button on my Facebook page, Phil Maq!

#RaveOn #BuddyHolly #TheQuarrymen #ThatllBetheDay #TheBeatles #JohnLennon #PaulMcCartney #PhilMaq #OneoftheGreatestSongsEverRecorded #GSER

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded: “Little Child” by The Beatles!!!

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For as long as I’ve been on the radio, and definitely for as long as I’ve been writing a blog, I will occasionally make a reference to a song being “One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded!” (GSER)

I would usually follow that by saying that I would eventually start a category for it, but then never get around to it.

Well, now I’m getting around to it!

It will pretty much follow the pattern of The Most Awesomest Song of the Day.

I’ll select a song to celebrate and then give my thoughts about it. Nothing really brand new here that hasn’t been done before. But since I have a website, I can collect them and lay out what my own greatest songs are.

My radio show, “Prime Time Theme Attic,”  is on Monday nights 8PM-10PM ET but is on hiatus because of the pandemic.

Here’s the link for when the show returns: http://rdo.fm/r/4qntu )

Even though I always emphasize new music and artists, it’s always fun to take a short drive through the legendary artists, since they influenced those other artists!

But a song doesn’t have to be old or done by a legendary Theme Attic Hall of Fame member to be thus honored.

I can think of several songs that are only a few years old or less that I could identify as One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded.

This will be fun, and hopefully you will join me on my journey…at least sometimes!

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The only song on “With the Beatles,” or “Meet The Beatles” that features John Lennon on harp, harmonica, or mouth organ to use his words, “Little Child” is also one that Lennon and Paul McCartney themselves refer to as “filler.”

Being also the shortest venture clocking in at 1:46, it also arguably captures the band at their most raw and truest form!

And “Little Child” is a wall to wall harmonica romp!

Starting with Lennon’s sedate two chord harmonica intro, the song quickly kicks into gear as soon as McCartney’s piano joins in followed by Ringo Starr‘s cymbal crash and drums, along with Paul’s bass! George Harrison takes a back seat to the rest of the guys.

Lyrically, it’s not Lennon and McCartney at their best, however “Little Child” does contain a lot of one Beatlemania phrase: “come on” is used eight times!

My favorite part of the song is the instrumental harmonica solo where the band gets to jam, joyously unrestrained for twelve bars!

The section sounds totally improvised and is possibly the best example of what The Beatles may have sounded like all of the times they were playing live and not being recorded!

It’s that time in a band where everyone is tapping into a “collective brain” and experiencing the same feelings!

“Meet The Beatles!” is the first album that I ever owned!

I received it as a birthday present from my oldest brother and sister-in-law.

As a little kid, one thing my brother did teach me was how to handle records so that I wouldn’t damage or scratch them.

However, I played that first album so much that it did develop a couple of skips. Sadly, one of them was on “Little Child.”

Even though that album has been replaced many times over the years, that skip is ingrained in my brain, and I still expect to hear it!

One of the Greatest Songs Ever Recorded is “Little Child” by The Beatles!!!

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If you like what you see, don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the “like” button on my Facebook page, Phil Maq!

#LittleChild #WithTheBeatles #MeetTheBeatles #PhilMaq #OneoftheGreatestSongsEverRecorded #GSER

The Most Awesomest Song of the Day: “Do It Now” by Paul McCartney!!!

Here’s a link to the complete list: https://philmaq.com/most-awesomest-songs/

I want to emphasize mostly, relatively newer music, just like on my Monday night show, “Prime Time Theme Attic.” (Monday nights 8PM-10PM ET when it returns.)

Here’s the link for when that day comes: http://rdo.fm/r/4qntu )

But I can promise this: I will not force my selections. If something doesn’t hit me, I won’t post one.

Everything I do has always been about shining a spotlight on the artist and their music.

Now I will have the potential to shine 365 more spotlights if I want to!

Please share the post to help spread the word!

Regardless of everything going on in the world that is way more important than my daily post, I will continue, nonetheless, in case someone is looking for a few minutes of respite.

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Paul McCartney released his 17th solo album, Egypt Station,” in 2018.

It followed a similar pattern that has been in place pretty much since his first release: It’s loaded with a ton of songs of various quality.

Some tracks automatically stuck out as brilliant while others not necessarily so.

And then through repeated plays, the familiarity of the songs showed that most of the songs were of great quality and everything was right in the music world.

I mean, it has to be quite difficult to put out music, and no matter how hard you try to keep it separate, it would always be compared to The Beatles canon, which most fans won’t even talk about any song being subpar.

And I’m always amazed when some of my music friends will comment after a new release, “Why does he keep putting music out? He must have enough money. Why does he do it?”

Seriously?

He’s been creative his whole life, why would he stop?

An artist is an artist forever?

I mean, did anyone ever ask Picasso to quit putting out works?

So, on Sir Paul’s birthday, I would like to emphasize a fairly unknown recent track, “Do It Now.”

I have no idea how long it took him to write, but it sounds simple–in a Beatleish way.

In a McCartneyish way!

Beautiful melody and harmonies.

Mostly simple, elegant chords.

It sounds like a lullaby–a slow version of “Golden Slumbers.”

It’s comforting, but with a purpose!

“Do it now while the vision is clear!”

I hope Paul continues to release new music!

I love it when legends create!

The Most Awesomest Song of the Day is “Do It Now” by Paul McCartney!!!

Happy Birthday, Paul!

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If you like what you see, don’t forget to spread the word by hitting the “like” button on my Facebook page, Phil Maq and by sharing this post!

#PaulMcCartney #DoItNow #EgyptStation #PhilMaq #TheMostAwesomestSongoftheDay #HappyBirthdayPaul

“A Hard Day’s IMAX!!!”

Today, September 18, is the final day for two Beatles related events at “the Henry Ford” in Dearborn, Michigan: “Magical History Tour” and “A Hard Day’s Night” on the IMAX screen. I wanted to put that up front in case you weren’t aware of it. I went to see the history exhibit last Sunday (September 11), and I’ll write about that in a different post. But I was not aware of “A Hard Day’s Night” on that giant screen! So, I came back yesterday to check it out.

The whole day turned into a giant adventure. I forgot the starting time of the movie and arrived two and a half hours early for it. That was OK because I bought my ticket then. So, I left for a couple of hours, but about 10 minutes later, my car broke down in Allen Park behind Marshall Music. Damn! Now I had to wait for a tow…in the rain…with The Beatles on the hook.

The driver arrived extremely fast and got me hooked up quickly. After a tow to where I wanted to go, I got picked up from there, grabbed another car, and took off for the movie.

I got there just a little bit after it started. To my surprise, the theater was about half full—pretty good for a 50+ year old movie in black and white. I’ve written about my early experiences with “A Hard Day’s Night when it was the 50th anniversary of its release in a prior post. (Look for it on this website.) I had also just watched it within the past month because Turner Classic Movies had just run it recently, so it was still fresh in my mind again.

The first thing that strikes you when you see them on that big screen is how great they look! John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and particularly Ringo Starr never looked better! George Harrison, in my opinion, looked a little “scruffier” in this format. Now that’s not a bad thing. His hair just seemed a little less groomed than the other Beatles.

I wish I could say that it was like seeing it for the first time, but that wasn’t the case. When someone has watched the film as many times as I have, the odds were pretty much stacked against that. But after adjusting to the size of the screen, the one thing that you do see for the first time throughout the movie is the detail in it. I never noticed that John had a band aid on the pinky finger of his left hand during the movie’s final live performance. Or the pocket watch on the studio console as well as the Wrigley’s Spearmint gum wrapper stuffed into the console ashtray.

Now this may not be exciting enough for someone to see this movie again, but that band aid on Lennon’s hand was the equivalent to me of hearing finger popping snaps the first time I listened to “Here, There, and Everywhere” from “Revolver” on headphones!
It’s like looking at the movie while holding a giant magnifying glass!

And the best thing about seeing the movie again, was hearing the songs on that IMAX speaker system. That was the best I have ever heard any Beatles music! The supporting cast also comes off even better because you can’t help but notice them.

There were some negatives to seeing the film in a format that super sized. In particular, the lip synching and strumming pantomime to “And I Love Her” is slightly off. That one was really obvious to me, so I had to mentally look towards something else to take my mind off it.

Some viewers applauded when it was over. I always like that because the movie deserves
it. Seated behind me were two young mothers in their twenties who had taken their daughters to watch the film. They had behaved themselves throughout because I wasn’t even aware they were there. As we were walking out, I heard one of the girls—who was probably four years old, say, “Thank you, mommy! I liked that!” The mother clarified with the girl that that was what she was talking about and the girl again said that she really liked it. And that is how a musical dynasty keeps on rolling!

Well, I really liked it, too!

And I’ll see it again today!

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George Martin: The Fifth Beatle and Beyond

George MartinAs I stayed up and waited for the final results of the Michigan State Primary, I received word from someone on Facebook that George Martin had passed. I have learned over time that one has to verify whether someone has really passed, but I knew in my heart that it was all too true. And even though he hadn’t been able to do anything work related for a number of years because of deteriorating hearing, it still seemed very sad.

When someone artistic passes on, the accomplishments of that person are often exaggerated to such extremes of hyperbole that if that person were alive, they may not have even recognized the impact of their works. The memories recalled are just so vivid and important. A little time has pass to fully assess the artist and put their work into some kind of perspective. With George Martin, his hyperbole may be understated.

George Martin had been moving through life as a successful producer when he intersected paths with The Beatles. They had been brought in to audition for Parlophone Records, pretty much a label that hadn’t made too much of a mark in the world of music, mainly concentrating on comedy albums and classical music. This background may have indirectly led to his best traits as a producer–being patient enough to let the work develop. The music industry at the time was more interested in novelty songs and one hit wonders versus thinking in terms of longevity. The Beatles themselves were still trying to figure out where they fit into the scene—if at all. In the end it turns out that they each needed each other but didn’t know it yet.

Once The Beatles were signed to the label, there was evidence that they hadn’t really sold their talents to Martin. He brought along a song for them to record that he felt would be a hit. And he was correct. It just wouldn’t be for them. I’m referring to “How Do You Do It” which became a monster hit for Gerry and The Pacemakers. They didn’t know what to do because they wanted to record songs they had written, but they also didn’t want to hurt their new producer’s feelings. The Beatles halfheartedly attempted to do a version of the song. The only thing that the song had of value was a soulful solo vocal by John Lennon.

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Another example that showed that George Martin wasn’t sure how to handle the group was when he had studio drummer Andy White sit in for Ringo Starr on drums on “Love Me Do.” Now they had a chance to do one of their own songs, but it still didn’t feel right because the band still wasn’t complete. This must have been very frustrating for The Beatles because they had gone through such personal turmoil to replace longtime drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr, and now Martin didn’t think he was good enough to play in the studio!

George Martin also had to rearrange the vocals on “Love Me Do.” It was John’s song, but he couldn’t sing and play harmonica at the same time, so Martin gave the “Love me do” line to Paul McCartney to sing. Paul has said in interviews that he wasn’t sure how John would take it giving up his line. McCartney says that when he hears the song that he can still hear the nervousness in his voice.

But that’s what a producer does—especially with a novice recording band. From those humble beginnings, they eventually developed into a world wide recording team at warp speed. The next break that Martin was “instrumental” in creating a masterpiece was when “Please Please Me” was brought to him. Lennon wrote it as a Roy Orbison type of ballad. It was Martin who suggested recording it at a faster tempo. When the band scored their first Number One hit with the recommendation, they truly never looked back as Beatlemania broke in England over the brand new sound!

The Beatles drew on Martin’s vast knowledge of music and had him play on several songs—most notably the Bachian piano solo that Martin sped up to sound like a harpsichord on “In My Life.” If there ever was an argument as to who was “the fifth Beatle” that alone has to settle the argument. Brian Epstein and Murray the K never provided a musical track for any Beatles song.

 

As the band achieved more success, George Martin did, too working with other artists. Gerry and The Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Jeff Beck, Elton John, and Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas.

To me, one of the greatest musical achievements he ever did was melding two different takes of “Strawberry Fields Forever” in different keys and tempos. A flippant John Lennon threw it to Martin when he couldn’t figure it out for himself. It was and still may be my favorite Beatles song. George Martin said that he could always detect where the two tracks were spliced at approximately the 1:00 mark. He felt that it sticks out like a “sore thumb.” I have listened to the song for decades and even knowing that it’s there, I never feel that it’s ever different than what it’s supposed to sound like.

 

Over time, the individual Beatles grew less fond of George Martin’s influence and techniques. Lennon felt that he wasn’t getting his voice quite right. George Harrison was pretty much ignored as a writing talent. Paul McCartney felt so motivated that he conducted the orchestra for the string track on “She’s Leaving Home” one day when Martin couldn’t do it, but McCartney wanted it done. Ringo Starr felt so unappreciated by “The White Album” that he quit the band for a while. It was not so easy being a producer for a band that had outgrown their own heads.

The magnificence of George Martin’s genius took place on The Beatles final and possibly best record, “Abbey Road.” They wanted to do one more album like they had done in the old days. They had to convince him that they were willing to hand control over to him so that he could become a producer again instead of “detention teacher for spoiled kids.”

After the band and Martin had parted ways, George continued to do excellent work with other bands and artists. Some of the best music America had ever recorded took place under the watchful eye of George Martin as he produced several of their albums. Little River Band also revived their career under Martin’s talents. One thing that I found out after he passed was that Dire Straits had George Martin do the lush string arrangement for a song called “Ticket to Heaven” for their last album “On Every Street” in 1991. I always have thought that was one of Dire Straits’ best songs!

George Martin was not without flaws. He has apologized for snubbing Ringo on “Love Me Do” or ignoring George Harrison’s talents. But in the same breath he also has stated that he was working with two of the greatest writers in musical history, so you can’t blame him too much for arriving late to catch up to Harrison.

So, as I look back to that birthday when I first received my copy of “Meet the Beatles,” and noticing the very plain unassuming name for producer, George Martin, and then seeing it appear over and over again on subsequent releases over the years, you had to respect the talent. Even with the incredible songs on each record, they always had an incredible sound quality. Ringo’s drums always sounded sizzling. Harrison’s guitar distorted or clear for just the right effect. The vocal harmonies were so crisp!

I don’t think that under the circumstances of the musical industry at the time that The Beatles would have made it without George Martin. He was willing to let the band evolve and explore with him at the helm. Another producer may have just crushed them and we might still be listening to novelty songs and one hit wonders. But The Beatles wanted a career. They were wed to their music. A common question during Beatlemania was what would everybody do once the bubble burst. Through the work of George Martin, that bubble has never burst and probably never will with young people discovering the band every day. Thank you, George Martin! You helped make some of the best music ever made!

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: The Shea Stadium Concert, August 15, 1965!!!

https://youtu.be/Bt2d8JKtwiE

 

Historically, The Beatles put together an unprecedented number of “firsts.” Many of which may never be duplicated again: The first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the activity on the record charts in April 1964, the audience for the first performance of “All You Need Is Love,” and so on.

In August 1965, Beatlemania still hadn’t run out of steam, particularly in New York City. In an unprecedented arrangement, promoter Sid Bernstein along with Beatles manager Brian Epstein put together a deal to play the large arena, Shea Stadium, that was primarily used for sporting events. Both the baseball Mets and the football Jets callrf the stadium their home. Although state of the art for sports, it was lacking in sound quality for a musical mega event. That would turn out to be the major problem in producing a post concert product worth watching.

Everyone knew the Shea appearance would be an epoch event for the band and ir was treated as such. A film crew followed The Beatles for several days before and after the show to document the whole experience. The film used for recording was 35mm which from a sound engineering perspective let alone the visual quality was preferred by audiophiles particularly among classical artists. The film was wider than audio tape and therefore would produce a sharper sound since more of it would be magnetized.

Although there was plenty of apprehension in The Beatles camp, especially whether they would be able to fill the stadium with paying customers, both Bernstein and Epstein had taken risks the previous year when they put group at Carnegie Hall, a primarily classical venue. When that became a non issue once tickets moved rapidly, all that remained was how big of an impact the concert would have.

The were several bands to warm up the crowd including The Young Rascals and King Curtis. The Beatles ran out to their midfield stage wearing identical brown suits with star badges, (Yeah, whatever.) and played a 12 song set that lasted 37 minutes. But once the concert was over, the effect for post marketing lasted for a couple of years.

Even with all of the preparation for the event, the sound quality produced on the tapes was atrocious. George Harrison’s vocals were missing. Paul McCartney’s bass parts disappeared. John Lennon went “crazy” on the organ for “I’m Down.” So The Beatles tried to salvage the historical record by going clandestinely into CTS Studios in London in January of 1966 to rerecord parts of songs and sometimes redoing whole songs. This, by the way, is something that happens on most “live” recordings up to the present.

Live sound is a compromise. It is more important to have the sound better for the listening audience at the event versus making a recording to be used later. The Beatles also had in reserve, pretty good sound quality tapes of their Hollywood Bowl performances. Some of these were substituted for the bad quality versions of the Shea stadium performance. So basically, the finished product for the show had only a small percentage of actual source material.

So what!

The show was turned down by CBS even though Ed Sullivan, one of their stars, introduced them at Shea. Rumor is, they wanted to show it raw minu the overdubs. NBC also passed. ABC, the lowest rated of the three networks at the time landed the special, but didn’t show it until January 1967.

The question that always comes up is whether The Shea Stadium concert will be released for public consumption. Since some of the material is from The Hollywood Bowl performances, the idea is that it’s not a true depiction of the show.

Don’t care! Don’t care! Don’t care!

Last I checked, there aren’t any Hollywood Bowl DVDs so let’s get off this point. There’s supposed to be mono and stereo mixes of the show, just like much of The Beatles’ catalogue, that sound completely different. That’s fine. Put it all together including the raw version and release it all as a set!

Somebody has to be first and just like much of their history, The Beatles were their to raise the bar. Yes, other bands have had concerts that have had more attendees than the 55, 600 at Shea Stadium. But at the time, it was unsure that enough people would go to a show that huge. Just watch the mayhem and screaming at the show, let alone the music. This show needs to be released and it’s just as important now as it was “Fifty Years Ago
Today!”

Paul Is Dead…Again??!!

There is an article on the internet that references Beatle drummer and soon to be Rock and Roll Hall of Fame solo artist Ringo Starr as having stated that the band actually did replace Paul McCartney with Billy Shears—a McCartney look-alike, after Paul died in a car crash. Since I have had some of my music friends ask me what I thought about the comments, and since I actually have a web site that ocasionally puts outs some Beatle observations, I felt that perhaps some analysis might be in order.

Now, I may not have been able to take part in many Beatle events because I was just a kid during that stretch, (I did see them live on their Ed Sullivan performances. I wrote about that in a prior blog.) I did hear the live broadcast where the “Paul Is Dead” hoax originated.

I looked up the day and it was October 12, 1969. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was lying on my bed listening to local radio station WKNR, 100.3 FM in Detroit. WABX, 99.5 FM was my favorite, but I usually switched between the two because they were the best stations out there. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t a WRIF yet, and it had a sporadic music feed from WABC in New York City. The music was usually pretty good when they played some, and I remember hearing King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” for the first time from there.

Radio broadcasting legend, Russ Gibb, was on the air and it was about 2:30 or 3:00 PM. Nothing was happening for me that day and I figured I would listen to some music, and with some luck, take a nap. Radio back then was free form and the DJs could pretty much go wherever they wanted to. During a break from playing some music (maybe “Led Zepelin II?” “Tommy?”,), Russ took a phone call. I think he started out just talking to the guy and not broadcasting it, but probably thought it would be funny to put him on the air.

Gibb started out by humoring him about Paul being dead but then the caller started talking about clues as proof. So Russ began to pull out album covers to verify what the guy was stating. I don’t really want to recap all of the clues here—the album covers for “Abbey Road,” “Yesterday and Today,” “Revolver,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” etc. But it was freaky and creepy. And it was put together so well, that you had to get sucked into the conspiracy.

The conversation went on for an hour or so. I think Russ took more calls after he finished the conversation to ask others whether they agreed with the caller about Paul McCartney being dead. Honestly, there were a lot of clues and it was a compelling argument. Locally, it created a mini firestorm for both WKNR and Russ Gibb. A local TV show was put together about it with Gibb and the clues—including a tape recorder “witness” of the radio show. It created so much buzz that Paul was finally reached on his farm in Scotland to squelch the rumors. That’s pretty much where it’s stayed for the past 45 years.

So, let’s move ahead to the present time.

All of a sudden a tabloid style article rehashes the same stuff just as it started all those years ago. Ringo is quoted that the band felt guilty about the Paul “switch” so they left all of the clues where people could find them. He also is claimed to have said that he wanted to “come clean” before he died so the secret wouldn’t die with him since Paul would be the only surviving member on his death and most likely would never reveal it himself.

Considering this was supposedly on the internet for a couple of days and I hadn’t heard about it, that’s a good sign that there isn’t any credibility to the story. It’s a rehash of the so-called urban legend. I checked youtube and couldn’t find a clip of Ringo Starr saying these things. I would think that that would at least be out there, but it’s not. I presume if there is an audio clip of the statements, it would just be some masterful editing from Ringo’s prior responses to the rumor.

I do have to admit that just like I was fascinated listening to Russ Gibb’s show, I did read the whole article. I understand the fascination with this subject. I, myself, am fascinated just because it’s about The Beatles. But think about this. If Paul did die and was replaced, how many people would be in on this secret? Have you ever tried to keep a secret? Between two people? Three people? Twenty people? A hundred people? There would have to be members of the band, their inner circle, medical emergency staff, witnesses, coroner, policemen, government agencies, and on and on. Do you think all of them could have kept quiet over all of this time? I’ve never heard anyone else come out and state anything to confirm even one aspect of the rumor.

Let’s look at money. If all of these people were being kept quiet with hush money, well, when money’s involved, there’s always someone who needs more. If Ringo decided to “spill the beans” he could make a ton of money giving his version of the events not just some offhand comments.

Replacing Paul McCartney is probably the weakest link of the argument. Just think of all of the music that Paul made just with The Beatles alone after being replaced. “Helter Skelter,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Sgt. Pepper,” “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Oh, Darlin,” and that doesn’t include his post Beatle work. Paul McCartney is a unique individual of incredible talent. His vocal range and style is amazing. He still sings his songs in the same key they were written in. You just can’t find someone with his skills even if the replacement has some talent.

Having said all that, I do feel that The Beatles themselves were connecting all of these clues as either a subliminal ad campaign or at least for their own amusement. I don’t remember any one from The Beatles camp ever admitting that, but there’s just too many coincidences to happen randomly.

And one response to a clue never makes any sense to me. It’s the scene in “Magical Mystery Tour” where John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr are all wearing red carnations. Paul McCartney is wearing a black one. Now when this movie was shown in England, it was first broadcast in black and white so maybe it wasn’t noticed at first. But all you would have to do as a follower of the band is to look through the booklet that came with the album. It’s obvious from a glance.

The official Beatle response has always been that the florist ran out of red carnations, so Paul was given a black one instead. Really??!! Did this person just not know how many Beatles there were? Really??!! How many black carnations does a florist keep on hand? That comment has never made sense to me! But draw your own conclusions. There’s certainly plenty of “clues.”

And where does that leave this rumor? As dead as the “real” Paul McCartney is supposed to be!