Friday, September 28, 2018


Short but sweet today ...

(After yesterday's mega blast, I figured I'd give ya a break!!!)

First up ...

More on the White Album …

Beatlefest Founder Mark Lapidos was invited to a special “pre-screening listening party” in New York City the other night and has this to report … 

We were invited to attend The White Album Listening Party held in New York City on Wednesday, September 26th, hosted by Giles Martin!

There were many familiar faces at the event - Apple Chief Jeff Jones introduced Giles Martin. All three Beatles Channel Fab Fourum Hosts Dennis Elsas, Bill Flanagan and Tom Frangione, Bruce Spizer, Kenneth Womack, Beatles podcast or radio personalities Darren DeVivo, Mitch Axelrod, Rob Leonard, Tony Traguardo and Ken Michaels, plus the four of us. 

Giles took us on a journey through the amazing recording sessions from 1968 that mostly ended up as The White Album, produced, of course, by his father, George Martin. Giles told the room full of listeners that the music of the White Album and The Beatles is timeless. He proceeded to tell us how he went about doing the remixes for this 50th Anniversary release. 

First, Giles began with the Esher Demos, which is one entire disc in the set. He said since all the Beatles had home recording devices at their homes by 1968, not all of these, in all likelihood, were recorded at George's home. He played five of these songs for us:  Back in the U.S.S.R., Sexy Sadie, Not Guilty, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, and Child of Nature. I noticed they were all double-tracked, which seems a little unusual for simple demos. Ob-La-Di had some really cool harmonies and was worked on together as a band. I thought I noticed John trying to speed up U.S.S.R. Child became Jealous Guy with entirely different lyrics. 

Second, Giles played five outtakes (from the fifty outtakes on three CDs of the set) ... Cry Baby Cry, I Will, Julia, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and Good Night. Cry featured some very interesting and different guitar work, I Will was not double tracked, Julia did not have the Donovan claw strum., but Take 2 did have it. Good Night has unique three part harmonies with a Donovan claw guitar strum. 

Finally, we got to hear five of the remixed songs from the actual album itself. Giles talked about playing the tracks to both Paul and Ringo. About the originals with George Martin, Giles said Ringo told him he told his dad to “Go crazy and we'll then reign you in.”

Here are my notes on each of them ...

     Overall, the sound jumps out of the speakers without losing its original appeal and emotion. 
     Dear Prudence - All instruments were so clean and easy to hear each one. There is also a piano at the end.

Mother Nature's Son - So clean, the bass really jumps, and great effects.
     Long Long Long - This has the biggest difference. The vocals are now up front, as are most of the instruments. I asked Giles (in the Q & A) about this big change. It was no mistake that his Dad, George and likely the other Beatles, wanted the song that way in 1968. How did he feel about this remix? He liked the question and said he gave it a lot of thought before remixing it. I think he improved upon this great song of George's.   
     Happiness Is a Warm Gun - Giles pointed out the song keeps changing meter and feelings. John's voice is even more up front than the original.  
    Helter Skelter - I heard some clear harmonies in places.
    Overall, I give this White Album release an A+ based on what I heard yesterday.  Congratulations, Giles, on giving us what we fans want to hear. We also thank Apple for getting these great projects out to the world. 

I was fortunate enough to get to hear the entire “Sgt. Pepper” box set several weeks before its official release … and am hoping to have the same opportunity with this landmark set.

Stay tuned for more commentary and detail … and be sure to check out our “Revamping The White Album” Series kicking off on Monday.  (kk)

I don't know that I've ever seen more of a blatant money grab, by anyone, with this latest fleecing of music lovers by Capitol Records. You've even mentioned it Kent ... how many variations of the same songs do you want (Do you need)?
Far more often than not, the reason songs are left off of albums is that they aren't as strong. Certainly we all have our faves, and certainly my faves aren't any better than yours. In regards to the Beatles, it was there at the beginning, when Capitol chose to leave off a couple songs from each of the Beatles albums, to then fleece fans into buying Yesterday & Today. Of course the Beatles were co-conspirators, by creating controversy with the butcher cover. Musicians, known and unknown who are FH readers, must wish they could have had this kind of marketing behind them. Of course 40,000 1963 dollars helps too. Now they aren't the only ones who have conned music lovers over the years … it's just the most obvious example.
How sad is the current state of recorded music when the biggest thing going is an album by a 76 year old musician, whose best days passed long ago, and a 50 year anniversary issue of an album that should have been pared down to begin with, let alone expanded? Why is everyone falling for the hype?
The Beatles continue to sell at a pace with many of today’s biggest name artists … and I expect the special 50th Anniversary of The White Album to follow suit.  There must be SOMETHING to this music that keeps this trend going.  Think about it … in two years, they’ll be re-releasing “Let It Be,” meaning that The Beatles will have been broken up for 50 YEARS!!! 
A lot of this stuff was never supposed to see the light of day … The Fabs kind of had an agreement between themselves ... almost a secret pact ... that the stuff in the vault would STAY in the vault … nothing but their final agreed upon mix would ever be heard outside the studio walls ... but once the Anthology idea hit, all that changed.
Let’s face it … today’s collectors’ market has changed … people want anything and EVERYTHING many of these artists did … and it’s not just The Beatles … it’s been happening for YEARS now, even with some relatively more obscure, minor artists.
(Then again, today alone I got promotional hype for brand new box sets coming out just in time for the Christmas Market by The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and ELO … and you can bet there’ll be more.)
Yes, it irritates me that I have bought The White Album … in some configuration … at least a dozen times already … the original LP (and then a replacement copy as that one started to wear out) … the import … the white vinyl edition … at least two (and maybe three) copies on cassette (as these, too, withered away) … and then on CD when it was finally released … and again on the complete stereo box set and the complete mono box set, the first time I ever owned The White Album in mono.  (It wasn’t released that way here in The States … only in The U.K.)  and now again in its most deluxe edition yet.
Now that doesn’t mean that EVERYBODY has to buy it again (although I’ve seen some price wars in the last few days alone that have caused the album price to drop from $199 to $179 to $159 to $145 … and it’ll probably go even lower … man, I love Amazon’s “price protection” policy!!!)  And there are a few who will hold out, listen to the tracks on the various websites that’ll feature them (or on The Beatles Channel, who have already begun airing little surprises here and there) … many will echo your sentiment that “I’ve already bought this thing … I own it … and I have the version that The Beatles themselves originally wanted us to hear” … and I have absolutely no problem with that.  The Anniversary Edition isn’t for everybody … but I can’t even imagine not owning it!
(Frannie asked me a little while ago if I wanted it for Christmas … and I said, “Are you kidding me???  I can’t wait that long!!!)
I got my very first copy on Christmas Day, 1968 … so it WOULD be kinda cool to see the whole thing come full cycle … but I know myself … and I could NEVER wait that long!  (lol)  kk

Good morning, Kent:
First of all, a huge thanks to you for mentioning the stream for our syndication affiliate, MeTVFM Milwaukee, 99.1-2, in your “Thursday This and That.”  We appreciate the time you spent listening to the stream before posting your review.  Your comments sure brightened up a grey day!  Thanks for the note, Kent, and especially for lending your discriminating ears to the Milwaukee station. 
Second, I completely agree with you (and Joel Whitburn) on your definition of pop instrumentals.  Having spent 30+ years in the instrumental-based radio format, smooth jazz, I can tell you that we grappled with that issue early on.  Quite a few of our tunes featured occasional vocalizing, which we term “shadow vocals.”  In the pop realm, MFSB’s “TSOP” and AWB’s “Pick Up The Pieces” are examples of shadow vocals.  In smooth jazz, we had several dozen tunes like this.  In order to make a determination of whether they constituted instrumentals, we did a couple things. 
First, we went to the musicians themselves and asked them if they considered their tunes that featured shadow vocals to be vocals or instrumentals.  The answer was the same each time:  instrumentals.  In my opinion, that was enough to settle the issue. 
Second, there was also a practical consideration.  We learned the hard way that, in programming tracks for radio, you had to classify shadow vocals as instrumentals.  Since the standard sequence of tunes in smooth jazz was instrumental – vocal – instrumental - vocal, if you classified a shadow vocal tune as an actual vocal and then listened to the result on the air, any stretch that went instrumental - shadow vocal - instrumental sounded very much as though you were missing the vocal in that sequence.  It sounded like you just played three instrumentals in a row, not the desired result.  The shadow vocal sounds and feels very much like an instrumental because it’s primarily instrumentation, not singing.
Here’s the parallel in pop or oldies radio.  Suppose you classified “Tequila” as a vocal (sic).  What if “Tequila” happened to play right before or after an actual instrumental, such as Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream?”  If you listen to that sequence on the air, the complexion of the station is different than what you intended.  From a listener’s standpoint, there’s a sense that something’s missing, despite the fact that the word “tequila” gets thrown in there a handful of times.   Thus, from a radio programming perspective, it’s much better to classify shadow vocals as instrumentals.  That way, you avoid the risk of playing two tracks in a row that listeners would perceive as instrumentals. 
The bottom line is that instrumentals belong in a totally different class than vocals.  Even if there’s an occasional vocal (“Tequila”) or occasional vocalizing (“TSOP”) within the body of the tune, it sounds and feels different than your run-of-the-mill vocal.  I bet Sam Ward would have to concede that “Pick Up The Pieces” and “Fly Robin Fly” don’t sound like the usual pop vocal song.  And ask anyone to listen to either of those back-to-back with, say, “We’re in This Love Together” by Al Jarreau or “Doctor’s Orders” by Carol Douglas.  They’d tell you right away that the first two belong in a different category.  Classifying them as instrumentals solves that problem very nicely.
Rick O’Dell
Program Director

It all makes sense to me.  Classifying "Tequila" as a "vocal" pushes the whole idea to well beyond the limit.  And your programming analogy brings it all into perspective.  Thanks, Rick, for letting us see it from the other side.  I think we stand by our definition as accepted by the industry at large.  (kk)

Mornin' Kent,
Another great read.
Please tell Bonnie that I didn't know that video link on Tommy James' Branson gig was a scam ... with my tired computer, I couldn't get it to come up ... I do apologize.
Thanks, my friend
Barry Winslow
I tried to access it when you first sent it to me, but it took you thru so many steps to register that I finally gave up … maybe that’s a good thing as I suppose it could have been some hacker or virus – so rather than take any chances I just took it down.   
I didn’t hear from anybody else on this, so I don’t know if that means nobody tried to watch it - or ran into the same frustrations I had - or got thru with no issues. I think if somebody had gotten a virus I probably would have gotten an angry email.  Better safe than sorry I guess!  (kk)

Hey Kent,
Reading the on-going Tommy James conversation, this post gets lots of attention on the Pray For Surf Blog: Tommy James reveals secret to Crystal Blue Persuasion:

As you know, I have no sustained concentration, so call this four for the price of one.
Most underrated song of the 50’s: the Paris Sisters - I Love How You Love Me ...
the 60’s: tie … The Moody Blues - Go Now and Eric Burton - Sky Pilot ...
the 70’s: The Outlaws - Green Grass and High Tides Forever   
Greatest guitar performance on any given rock song: Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower. I swear Jimi strangles his “machine” as he weaves his way through so many highs and lows and chord changes.
Hope to see ya soon. 
Chet Coppock 

A comment about Bob Verbos' comments in Sunday's posting: 
The correct titles of these two tunes are "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" and "Navy Blue." 
The interesting part is that both of those songs peaked at #6 in 1964 ... on May 30th and March 14th, respectively.  What are the odds of two favorite songs peaking the same in the same year?
Mike Brown

Hi Kent,
I enjoyed this week's issue.  In fact, I take no issue with it at all! 
Back in the days of yesteryear, when I was music director for The
Rip Chords, we did a big concert in Wildwood on an oldies bill:
it was, The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Crystals, The Grass Roots,
Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits, and Mickey Dolenz topping the
bill.  I can't recall if Charlie Gracie was on that bill, too, or if we had
played with him another time.
Anyway, attached is the cover of The Beat with a photo of us across
the top, taken at that show. (Another friend of Forgotten Hits, Mitch
Schecter, is pictured to my right.)
That's me with the plexiglass bass, arm in the air signaling the end of
a song.  It was a real fun gig, and several months later, I ended up being
the US correspondent for The Beat, a position I held for eight years.
Well, keep up the good work, my friend.
Best Regards,
Bob Rush, D.C.

A closing smile from Frank B ...