The Beatles captured the hearts and ears of a generation with music that continues to resonate today. Here are 17 hits by The Beatles, produced by George Martin, whose contributions ranged far beyond the traditional producer role, from arranging to composing to playing instruments:
1. “Please Please Me” (1963)
When John Lennon and Paul McCartney first played “Please Please Me” for George Martin during their second EMI recording session on September 4th, 1962, the song was miles away from the uptempo tune that would become their first Number One. “At that stage ‘Please Please Me’ was a very dreary song,” Martin recalled to historian Mark Lewisohn. “It was like a Roy Orbison number, very slow, bluesy vocals. It was obvious to me that it badly needed pepping up.” He suggested they speed it up double-time, and suddenly they had a hit on their hands. “We were a bit embarrassed that he had found a better tempo than we had,” admitted McCartney in The Beatles Anthology.
2. “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)
Song featured in the Beatles’ first film, with that title — taken from drummer Ringo’s response to a comment that he looked tired: “Yea, I’ve had a hard day’s night, you know.”
3. “Yesterday” (1965)
When Paul McCartney first completed the song he literally dreamed up, the rest of the band were at a loss for what to play on it. The somber tone and mournful lyrics didn’t really lend themselves to an effective drum pattern, jangly guitars or even vocal harmonies. Read the rest of this entry »
vintage everyday has a small collection of rare photos of John Lennon traveling in Hong Kong in May 1977 with Sean, who was about two years old, and was on his way to meet Yoko in Japan.
Billboard’s Track-by-Track Album Review
Kenneth Partridge writes: Over the course of 16 months beginning in early 1969, an ambitious project that was titled Get Back and intended to document the back-to-basics rebirth of the Beatles devolved into Let It Be, a heavily fussed-over hodgepodge of live and studio cuts finally issued a month after the band had broken up. It’s a messy end to the Fab Four story, though in some ways, it’s not an ending at all.
Released 45 years ago today, on May 8, 1970, Let It Be isn’t really the final Beatles studio album. It was recorded almost entirely in January 1969, shortly before the lads regrouped, worked their magic one last time, and cut the vastly superior Abbey Road, which dropped in September ‘69.
Whereas Abbey Road came together somewhat naturally—in a proper studio, with longtime producer George Martin at the helm—Let It Be (and its accompanying film) was completely forced. Its uncharacteristic spottiness has much to do with the wrongheaded approach.
From the beginning, Let It Be was Paul McCartney’s baby. He’d been leading the band since manager Brian Epstein’s death in 1967, and as relationships grew strained, and the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time started to splinter, Paul seemed the least willing to, you know, let it be.
Somehow, he convinced John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr that the best way forward was to hire a film crew and make a movie about the band’s efforts to rehearse for a live performance (or series of live performances) that would help wipe away the acrimony and make everything fab once again. As any reality-TV alum can attest, the presence of cameras rarely makes life easier, and it didn’t help that a completely checked-out John insisted on bringing then-girlfriend Yoko Ono to the sessions.
Not that she was the problem. Harrison was the first to snap, and he quit the band about a week into the sessions. He agreed to return, but only if they moved from the Twickenham soundstage where they’d been working to the basement studio at their own Apple Corps headquarters in London. It was there that the group hunkered down for the remainder of the month, amassing hours and hours of music Lennon described in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone as “the shittiest load of badly recorded shit—and with a lousy feeling to it.”
That line is part of a longer quote wherein Lennon defends Phil Spector, who came on to mix the album after the group twice rejected versions put together by engineer Glyn Johns. Known for his bombastic “Wall of Sound” aesthetic, Spector tarted up several of the tracks with orchestral overdubs, and while Lennon was pleased with the results, Paul was incensed. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Defiant Danes March After Attacks Copenhagen: ‘We Will Not Accept Any Attempt to Threaten or Intimidate Our Liberties and Our Rights’Posted: February 17, 2015
Tens of thousands of Danes gathered at torch-lit memorials around the country on Monday, commemorating victims of deadly attacks on a synagogue and an event promoting free speech that shocked a nation proud of its record of safety and openness.
Singing John Lennon’s Imagine, defiant Danes promised to uphold their trademark open society and showed solidarity with the country’s Muslim minority after reports the gunman was a Dane with Palestinian roots and a passion for Islamist issues.
“We have now experienced the fear that terrorism seeks to spread. The Danish democracy is strong, the Danish nation is strong, and we will not accept any attempt to threaten or intimidate our liberties and our rights.”
— Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt
The 22-year-old gunman opened fire on a cafe in hosting a free speech debate on Saturday, killing one, and attacked a synagogue, killing a guard. He was later killed in a shootout with police in his neighborhood of Norrebro, a largely immigrant part of the city with a reputation for gang violence.
Police, which have not publicly the identified the gunman, arrested two people on suspicion of aiding the attacks but said there was no indication the shooter was part of a cell or had traveled to Syria or Iraq.
“We have now experienced the fear that terrorism seeks to spread,” Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told reporters. “The Danish democracy is strong, the Danish nation is strong, and we will not accept any attempt to threaten or intimidate our liberties and our rights.”
Jewish leaders also called for calm and tolerance as some Muslims feared a backlash.
“We fight together with them (Muslims) for religious rights. We are moderates. We fight together against extremism and radicalism,” Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, chairman of the Danish Jewish Community, told a press conference.
Thousands of Danes left flowers at the synagogue, walking in a quiet, solemn procession, with many also leaving both Danish and Israeli flags. A march by PEGIDA, the anti-Islam movement born in Germany, however, attracted only around 50 people.
Saturday’s cafe event was attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has received death threats for drawings of the Prophet Mohammad, and by French ambassador Francois Zimeray, who likened the attacks to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Vilks and Zimeray were both unharmed.
The killings shocked Danes who pride themselves on a welcoming and safe society, and fed into a national debate about the role of immigrants, especially Muslims. The populist Danish People’s Party, which campaigned against the building of a mosque here, has strong support in the polls. Read the rest of this entry »
From today’s Fresh Air, a wonderful interview with producer Kevin Howlett. Worth a listen. Hearing about The Beatles early show business career, and early appearances on BBC radio programs, reminds me of interviews with members of Monty Python. As they described it, England’s radio and television landscape at the beginning of the 1960s, was buttoned-down and formal. The notion of performers talking informally in front of a microphone, improvising and being mischievous, was unprecedented. What the Beatles were allowed to do was — though it’s hard to imagine now — was revolutionary.
Also of interest, the BBC never preserved any recording of the Beatles broadcasts, in all those years. Producer Kevin Howlett had to seek them out from individual collectors who’d recorded the live broadcasts. Good thing he did!
NPR: England got a lot more of The Beatles than Americans did during the group’s formative years. Between 1962 and 1965, The Beatles were featured on 53 BBC radio programs, including their own series, Pop Go the Beatles. They performed originals and covers and chatted with BBC hosts.
The Beatles: On Air-Live At The BBC Volume 2 has just been released. Kevin Howlett produced both that and the newly remastered reissue of the first volume, which was originally released in 1994. For reasons he explains to Fresh Air host Terry Gross, Howlett had to search for many of these recordings, and they weren’t easy to find.
Howlett has written a new companion book called The Beatles: The BBC Archives,which includes transcriptions of the band’s BBC radio and TV interviews as well as fascinating internal memos about the Beatles and their music.
On the challenges of his project working in the BBC archive
My quest to restore the BBC archive [of the Beatles] goes way back to 1981 when I joined the national pop network in this country, BBC Radio 1, as a young rookie producer. I was 24 years old. The management knew I was a Beatles fanatic, I was a child in the ’60s growing up with the Beatles, and they gave me this task. What a dream thing to be handed. They said, “Can you investigate what programs the Beatles performed music in and what songs they did?” And the BBC’s written archives are a wonderful place where they kept every single piece of paper relating to the Beatles’ performances, so when I wrote the book it was a magnificent source of material: memos, contracts, audience research reports — so that was fine, you could find out all of the information.
But then finding the music on the tapes? That was a completely different matter. Some of these recordings come from transcription discs, LPs that were distributed by the BBC to other countries for broadcast. Some come from producer listening copies. There were some producers at the time that thought maybe it is worth keeping this material, and in some of these cases, listeners who taped off the radio.
On The Beatles’ audition for the BBC
The very first thing that Brian Epstein did when he took over the management of The Beatles was to fill out an application form for the variety department of the BBC. This, again, reminds us that there was no rock business as we know it. This was show business and they would be on with all sorts of other acts, radio ventriloquists even, that kind of thing. Read the rest of this entry »
Columnist James Wolcott examines a new spate of books that look back on the time when America met the Beatles
O, you poor Generation Xers, Generation Yers, and Millennials (bent under the load of student debt as if it were a brick-filled backpack), how I pity thee. Thanks to us Baby-Boomers, the demographic bulge that refuses to budge, the remainder of this decade looms like a commemorative rerun of a show you late arrivals didn’t see the first time. It will be a Ferris wheel of golden anniversaries, a rinse cycle of 60s nostalgia nourishing the collective narcissism of Boomers, who held the title of most coddled generation until the unholy rise of hipster parenting. The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the subject of my previous dispatch, is succeeded by the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ invasion of America, in 1964, the subject of the column before you. And we’re just getting started, so save your groans until the end. Lying ahead are the half-century retrospectives of Bob Dylan’s going electric (1965), the debut of Star Trek (1966), the flower-power Summer of Love crowned by the release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago (1968), then, capping this cavalcade of last hurrahs, the Woodstock festival, the Manson-family murders, and the moon landing (1969). As any fan ofMad Men knows, the deeper we move into this decade, the darker the events being memorialized and the more nihilistic the fury, with even the mud bath at Woodstock shadowed by the violence months later at the free concert at the Altamont Speedway, where pool cues wielded by Hell’s Angels came whaling down. At least the anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival and their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is one of unalloyed joy. The touchdown of Pan Am Flight 101 at J.F.K. Airport on February 7 that brought the Beatles to America set off a thunderclap of euphoria heard round the world and proved to be no temporary flash of mass hysteria or passing fad but the re-start of the 60s after J.F.K.’s funeral procession. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were the heralds of America’s spring awakening, a puberty rite writ large.
A man who bought John Lennon’s tooth at an auction two years ago is now hoping to clone the music icon using DNA from the molar.
“If scientists think they can clone mammoths, then John Lennon could be next,” Canadian dentist Dr. Michael Zuk told The Examiner.
Zuk made headlines when he bought the ex-Beatle’s tooth for $30,000 at auction in 2011.
At the time, he said: “Most people would say I was crazy, but I think it’s fantastic.”
And now we know why.
Zuk, from Edmonton, Canada, has launched a project to extract the DNA from the rotten tooth which Lennon – who was shot dead in New York in 1980 – gave his housekeeper in the 1970s.
“To potentially say I had a small part in bringing back one of rock’s greatest stars would be mind-blowing,” Zuk told The Examiner. Read the rest of this entry »