Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kiss to release Monster- January 2012

* I don't care if this is old. It's sort of new to me.

Kiss will be releasing their next studio album. The album, Monster, will be released sometime in January 2012. This marks Kiss' 20th studio album and their first release since 2009's Sonic Boom. The band have been working hard on it, with guitarist Paul Stanley producing the album. Kiss are also planning a world tour for 2012-2013 to support the new album. This new album is said to have a cover much like the band's 1976 classic Destroyer. Much like Sonic Boom, the band are back to basics with an all out hard rocking album though guitarist Tommy Thayer has been quoted to saying it'll be slightly heavier than Sonic Boom.

Steel Panther to release Balls Out on October 11

Parody glam rockers Steel Panther will be releasing their next studio album. The new album, Balls Out, will be released on October 11. Balls Out is Steel Panther's second album, their first being 2009's Feel the Steel. The band originally formed in 2000 as Danger Kitty but quickly changed their name to Metal Shop, then Metal Skool. In 2008, the band changed their name to Steel Panther. The band have been playing shows here and there. Their live setlist consists of original songs and hard rock classics. The tracking list for Balls Out is as follows...

1. In The Future
2. Supersonic Sex Machine
3. Just Like Tiger Woods
4. 17 Girls In A Row
5. If You Really, Really Love Me
6. It Won't Suck Itself
7. Tomorrow Night
8. Why Can't You Trust Me
9. That's What Girls Are For
10. Gold-Digging Whore
11. I Like Drugs
12. Critter
13. Let Me Cum In
14. Weenie Ride

I'm excited to hear this new album. Steel Panther are a very good band and they are too funny. This should be good!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Riot's Immortal Soul set for release October-November

New York hard rockers Riot finished work on their new studio album a couple of weeks ago. It was recently announced that the new album will be release soon. The album, Immortal Soul, will be released on October 28 in Germany, October 31 elsewhere in Europe, and early November in the US. The band will be touring as "special guests" for Hammerfall, with Amaranthe for a tour in Europe. Riot aren't very popular in the US but they've been together since 1977 when guitarist Mark Reale formed the band. The band's most successful album would have to be 1981's Fire Down Under. The current line-up of Riot marks the reunion of the Thundersteel era line-up: Reale, singer Tony Moore, guitarist Mike Flyntz, bassist Don Van Stavern, and drummer Bobby Jarzombek. Immortal Soul will be the first album with this line-up since 1990's The Priviledge of Power. Immortal Soul is also the band's first album since 2006's Army of One and Riot's 14th studio album.

I'm excited for the release of this new album. It hurts me that the new album won't be out until November, not to mention an unknown date. I'd also like to see Riot come over and play in the US. I first heard of Riot after seeing the videos for "Restless Breed" and "Bloodstreets" played on VH1 Classic. I was aware of them for years but didn't get Fire Down Under until the end of 2009. I've been hooked since.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Start Me Up: The Rolling Stones' Tattoo You is 30

 The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
The Rolling Stones
Tattoo You
Rating: ****

The 1980’s would be an interesting decade for the Rolling Stones. In 1981, the band would release what many think is one of the band’s best albums. That album, Tattoo You, was released on August 24, 1981. What some people don’t know about Tattoo You was that the songs were not all new songs but instead outtakes revamped. Still, Tattoo You is a milestone in the long career of the Rolling Stones.
            By 1981, the Rolling Stones were Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood (who joined in 1975). A year earlier, the band had released Emotional Rescue. While the album did fairly well in sales, reviews weren’t all positive. When it came time to make the next album, the band thought about resurrecting rejected songs from previous albums. Aside from two or  three songs, every song on Tattoo You was a rejected song. However, the band overdubbed all the songs. These songs were from the albums Goats Head Soup, Black And Blue, Some Girls, and Emotional Rescue. The oldest songs off the album are “Waiting on a Friend” and “Tops”, which were recorded for Goats Head Soup during its 1972-1973 sessions.
             “Start Me Up” fittingly opens the album up. This song has gone on to become one of the band’s most popular songs. The opening guitar lick is very much like “Brown Sugar” and “Jumping Jack Flash”: you know what song it is before it even starts. The song was originally recorded for 1976’s Black and Blue. The band originally recorded it as a rock song but then decided to make it a reggae-type song. For the album, the band chose Take 2 which was the rock version. The band did the right thing: it’s a great song and it’s very catchy.  “Hang Fire” is a bit of an underrated track. It’s the shortest song off the album, clocking in at two minutes. It was to be on 1978’s Some Girls. The lyrics are said to be about England’s economic decline. It’s a great, fast paced rock song that the band should think about playing live again. “Slave” is a down n dirty funk-rock track. The chorus of “Don’t wanna be a slave” is really cool. Pete Townshend is said to be on the song singing backup vocals. The song would’ve been on Black And Blue and you can hear that. The LP version has the track runs at 4:59 but CD versions have the song running at 6:34 instead. Keith takes over lead vocals for “Little T&A”, a simple little rocker. The guitar tone makes it sound like a rockabilly track but done “Stones style”. While Keith doesn’t have the best voice, it suits song still. Things get bluesy on “Black Limousine”. The song is credited as a Jagger/Richards/Wood composition. According to Ronnie, he fought hard for his a co-writing credit. It’s easy to see why: Woody carries the song with his slide guitar-like playing, which he says was based off a guitarist named Hop Wilson. “Neighbours” is an uptight rocker with a back story to it. The song is about Keith and girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife Patti’s pun ins with neighbors in their New York City apartment. When Mick had heard that the couple had been evicted, he decided to write a song about it.
            Side two starts off with the wonderful “Worried About You”. It’s a ballad of sorts with Mick singing falsetto. The song was recorded during the making of Black and Blue in 1975. Billy Preston is on electric piano and Wayne Perkins is playing the impressive guitar solo. The song, believe it or not, was performed for the first time before it was even on a Rolling Stones album. The band played it on March 4-5, 1977 in Canada. It remains a favorite amongst hardcore fans. “Tops” is a very moody soul/R&B based song that was originally recorded in 1972 for Goats Head Soup. This means that Mick Taylor plays on guitar not credited (which Taylor wasn’t too happy about). “Heaven” is a beautiful and spacey track. Sources said that only Mick, Bill, and Charlie are on the song. It’s pretty impressive that this song was made with just three guys playing. Mick is playing guitar and Bill is playing synthesizer. For “No Use In Crying”, the mood is still down beat but beautiful at the same time. The song was recorded in 1979 and then touched up in 1981 for this album. The last song on the album is probably my personal favorite: “Waiting On a Friend”. The song was recorded in Jamaica in 1972 for Goats Head Soup (and yes, Mick Taylor is playing on this song as well). With the band recording it in Jamaica, it’s obvious they were inspired by their surroundings as the song has a very reggae feel and sound to it. Sonny Rollins is playing the saxophone and producer Jimmy Miller is on percussion. I like that the song is about a man who doesn’t want to be with a woman but just a good friend. It’s just a great way to end the album.
            Critics and fans alike praised Tattoo You for being a great album by the band and almost a return to form. The album stayed at #1 for nine weeks in the US while it was at #2 in the UK. Tattoo You catapulted the Rolling Stones into the 1980’s and interest in the band was renewed. Today, the album is still seen as one of their best. Mick Jagger is quoted to saying that Tattoo You is an “excellent” album. For me, Tattoo You ranks at #92 in my list of favorite albums. I think I like Some Girls a bit better but there’s no doubt that Tattoo You is a great album. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pick Up My Guitar And Play: The Who's Who's Next is 40

 The Who - Who's Next
The Who
Who's Next
Rating: *****

1971 was a great year for rock music. One of the greatest albums released that year was an album from the British rock band, the Who. Their fifth studio album, Who’s Next, was released on August 14, 1971. 40 years later, the album is still popular as are the Who. Some music critics think that Who’s Next is the band’s best album. I would agree with this, as it is one of my all time favorite albums. It charts at #4 in my list. With that being said, Who’s Next deserves a song-by-song review to commemorate its fortieth anniversary.
            By the end of the 1960’s, the Who were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Their fourth album, Tommy, has become their most successful album at that point. Tommy gained it’s fame as a conceptual album as it told the story of a pinball wizard named Tommy who becomes deaf, dumb, and blind. In that year of 1969, the Who played at many major festivals including Woodstock. In 1970, the band released their first live album Live at Leeds. The six track live album was taken from a raw and rocking performance at Leeds University on February 14, 1970. During this time, the band was at work on their next project. Guitarist Pete Townshend had written another concept album/rock opera entitled Lifehouse. Much like Tommy, Lifehouse would’ve been a double album. The music and the album’s plot were beyond ambitious, maybe too much. Lifehouse was to tell a story taking place in the future. The pollution of the world is so bad that people are forced to wear life suits. However, teenagers flock over to a rock concert called Lifehouse. Mary, the daughter of a farmer, runs off to travel with Lifehouse, which becomes its own society. A man (named Bobby, at least in the drafts) controlling the Lifehouse takes the personal data from the participants and converts them into music (if this is going over your head, I don’t blame you!).Townshend envisioned for there to be a movie of Lifehouse as well as he already had a script written (that and Tommy had been sent to Universal Pictures). The songs, however, needed to be rehearsed. The plan was for the movie to have a real Who concert woven in. The Who performed a series of shows at the Young Vic Theatre.
The band’s manager, Kit Lambert, asked the band to come over to New York to record songs at the Record Plant. The band recorded some material there at the Record Plant, which had sophisticated technology that was needed for the album to work. However, there were problems. Townshend and the band later discovered that Lambert had been doing smack during this time. This led to a falling out between Townshend and Lambert. Also, Universal didn’t understand the script for Lifehouse. However, it was suggested that the band scrap the project but do something with the songs from it. The failure of Lifehouse put Townshend on the verge of a suicidal breakdown. In March 1971, the band got in touch with producer Glyn Johns. The band liked Johns and Johns offered to produce a new album for them using some of the material from the abandoned Lifehouse project. In March 1971, the Who entered Olympic Studios in London. They finished in May 1971.

Song by Song review

1.      “Baba O’Riley”- Who’s Next opens up with this classic Who track. Over the years, “Baba O’Riley” has become a live favorite amongst fans. Pete plays the opening keyboard line. Originally, the song was going to be a 30 minute epic! Obviously, that was scraped. The song itself is about the younger generation in the world. In Lifehouse, this song would’ve been used to describe the teenagers who went to see the Lifehouse show. The end lyrics of “They’re all wasted” do not refer to drugs. According to Pete in the Classic Albums episode on this album, he says the song was about waste in life and opportunity. Roger Daltrey sings the song but Pete sings the middle eighth: “Don’t cry/Don’t raise your eyes/It’s only teenage wasteland”. For this lyric alone, many casual music fans will refer to this song as “Teenage Wasteland”. Believe it or not, Pete did write a separate song called “Teenage Wasteland” for Lifehouse but it’s not on the album here. The title of “Baba O’Riley” might be somewhat of a tribute to Meher Baba, Pete’s mentor. Much like the Maharishi Yogi, Baba was a spiritual man. He had passed away in 1969 and if you look at Pete’s solo work, he was very inspired by him. Pete mentioned before that he wanted to put the “life information” of Meher Baba into music form. At the end of the song, the violin part is played by David Arbus. The violin bit is thought to be a small tribute to Meher Baba. Truly, “Baba O’Riley” is not just a great Who song but it’s also a great song that could define classic rock or arena rock.

2.      “Bargain”- “Bargain” is another Who classic. About ten years ago, the song was used in a car commercial. It’s kind of funny that the song has been used for things such as this because the fact is it has nothing to do with buying something on that’s on sale. According to Pete Townshend, the song is about his devotion to Meher Baba and basically religion. “I’d gladly lose me to find you” sing Roger in the song. Basically, the lyrics are saying this one person is willing to lose everything to be with God. The lyric that Pete sings in the middle “One and one don’t make two/One and one make one” might sum it up right there. Pete best described the song in this quote here: “This song is simply about 'losing' one's ego as a devotee of Meher Baba. I constantly try to lose myself, and find him. I'm not very successful I'm afraid, but this song expresses how much of a bargain it would be to lose everything in order to be one with God.” According to notes from the 1995 CD reissue booklet, Pete is playing a vintage Gretsch that was given to him as a gift from Joe Walsh. “Bargain” would’ve also been in Lifehouse.

3.      “Love Ain’t For Keeping”- The band goes unplugged for this track as the acoustic guitars are out. “Love Ain’t For Keeping” was originally written as a rocker (a country rocker perhaps. Listen to an alternate version on the remastered Odds and Sods album). Also, it was going to be sung by Pete. Instead, this simply beautiful song with Roger on vocals. Roger’s vocals are really great on this song. The guitar work here is pretty good as well. When performed live, the band stuck with it being an electric number.

4.      “My Wife”- Of the nine songs on the album, “My Wife” is the only song that wasn’t written by Pete Townshend. Instead this song is written and sung by bassist John Entwistle. Also of the nine songs on the album, “My Wife” wasn’t supposed to be in Lifehouse at all. According to Entwistle in the Classic Albums episode, he said that “My Wife” had been left over from a solo album he made (possibly his first solo album Smash Your Head Against The Wall). Entwistle had written songs before for the Who at that time. Songs such as “Boris the Spider” and “Cousin Kevin” were written by Entwistle. In those songs, you can tell Entwistle had a wacky sense of humor. For “My Wife”, he was at it again. The song is about a man in a drunk tank, who simply went out to a bar in the first place. The man’s wife, however, thinks he’s off seeing another woman. The man is now thinking how he’ll save himself from his wife and the things he’ll need. Those things include a tank, a black belt Judo expert with a machine gun, and other sorts of things. The listener must be thinking that his woman must be a bitch! Is she really that bad? One Who site claims that John wrote the song after having a fight with his own wife. He took their dogs for a walk and wrote the song in his head during the walk. John’s wife was fine about the song. In fact, she offered to come on stage for the song wielding a rolling pin (it didn’t happen). Entwistle is also playing horns on this song! Roger Daltrey does get to sing for a bit at the end with the lyric, “She’s coming!” Obviously, “My Wife” is one the Who’s best songs and one of the best song off the album. It became a live favorite as well.

5.      “The Song Is Over”- This ballad of sorts was originally going to be the last song in Lifehouse, as the police invade the Lifehouse and everyone is forced out. Roger and Pete share lead vocals on this song. Pete sings all the parts except the chorus, which Roger sings. The song is supposed to be sad but hopeful as well. It’s sad that the show is over but the person in the song will sing their song no matter what. Nicky Hopkins plays piano on this one and he’s just great. Hopkins was best known for being a session musician, playing for artists such as the Who, the Rolling Stones, and the ex-Beatles.  The end of the song includes lines from “Pure and Easy”, a song that would’ve been on Lifehouse as well. According to Townshend, “Pure and Easy” was to be the key song in Lifehouse and he regretted it for being omitted from Who’s Next. At least it made it into this song (though “Pure and Easy” was later released on Odd and Sods and as a bonus track on the 1995 reissue of Who’s Next).

6.      “Getting In Tune”- Nicky Hopkins is once again on keyboards for this power ballad of sorts. The song here is basically about music itself. The lyrics that Pete wrote here are just beautiful and Roger sings them with such passion. Particularly, it’s at the chorus of “Right in on you” that gives the song it’s harmonious feel. The song would’ve been in Lifehouse as well. When the band rehearsed at the Young Vic, the working title for this song was “I’m In Tune”. The Who hasn’t played this song very much in concert. It was in their setlist for a while before the band decided to drop it.

7.      “Going Mobile- This little upbeat rocker is an interesting one to put on the album. For one thing, Pete is singing the entire song. Also, it’s got a really great sound to it. It’s not too much different from the rest of the album but “Going Mobile” is a great song. In Lifehouse, the song would’ve been in there toward the beginning. It’s about the teenagers or people going to the Lifehouse concert According to Townshend, the song is about a “lust for life” and just getting out. In Lifehouse, the youngsters were being told to stay where they were. Obviously, that wasn’t happening.  “Going Mobile” is very much an overlooked song in the Who’s career.

8.      “Behind Blue Eyes”- “Behind Blue Eyes” is not only one of the best known songs off the album but it’s one of the Who’s best songs ever. It is an angry ballad, if there was ever such a thing. Pete Townshend supposedly wrote this out of anger and frustration. According to one source, Townshend had written it on June 9, 1970 after a Who concert. He had been tempted by a groupie apparently. “Behind Blue Eyes” starts off as a depressing acoustic ballad before kicking in as rocker towards the end. In Lifehouse, this would’ve been the song for the villain in the story, Jumbo. In the Classic Albums episode, both Roger and Pete said that they could relate to it. For Roger, it’s about anger. For Pete, it’s a repression of love.

9.      “Won’t Get Fooled Again”- Who’s Next might have one of the best album closers of all time. This eight minute epic is a classic rock radio staple and also one of the Who’s best songs. In Lifehouse, this song would’ve been sung by Bobby as he doesn’t want Jumbo to become a spiritual seeker like him. The song was written by Pete supposedly after hearing about a political commune near Eel Pie Island. For Pete, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is a plea and not a defined statement.  The song is easy to recognize from that opening synth line, which then bursts into a rocker. There’s also some great playing on this song from Pete, John, and Keith. Pete is strumming away, John is plucking the bass strings, and Keith could’ve been destroying his drum set. Roger, however, gives us what might be the single greatest scream in rock n roll. “Meet the new boss” sings Daltrey. “Same as the old boss”. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” certainly ends this great album with a huge bang.

Before the album was released, the album needed a cover. There was an original idea of using naked obese women for the design but when the pictures were used by someone else, the idea was scraped. The front cover for the album was taken on May 8, 1971 somewhere in Easington Colliery, England. Near a mining area, there was a tall concrete structure. According to the booklet for the 1995 reissue, John and Keith had been talking about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie, there’s a scene where there’s a black monolith. The band liked the location and with photographer Ethan Russell, the band shot the cover right there. There’s the old myth that the band took a leak on the structure. It has been said that Pete came up with the idea for them to urinate on it (possibly an attack at Kubrick for disagreeing to film Tommy?). According to Ethan Russell, none of the band were able to urinate on it. Instead, they used rainwater from an empty film canister for the effect. Some may wonder whether the Who’s Next monolith is still there. A video posted on YouTube in 2009 shows that it’s still there. However, the area may’ve been cleared not long afterwards.   
Who’s Next was released on August 14, 1971. The album was a huge success, charting at #4 in the US and at #1 in the UK. Years after its release, Who’s Next has been listed by rock magazines and critics as one of the greatest albums ever made by anybody. With the success of Who’s Next, the band were able to continue their career as the Who.
Although the band’s next album, Quadrophenia, was a conceptual album, Pete Townshend still tried to resurrect the Lifehouse project. As it would turn out, the songs that would’ve been used in Lifehouse have showed up on other Who albums and compilations. In 2000, Townshend finally resurrected to Lifehouse project with a box set called The Lifehouse Chronicles.
For me, Who’s Next is my fourth favorite album of all time (and I do have this list on Microsoft Word. I’ll say that the top 20-25 are pretty much in cement). I got this album not too long after John Entwistle passed away in 2002. I think by that time, I was still trying to learn how to let the album play and not flip through the songs. I was ten years old, give me a break! I really like this album because for me, it defines the Who. All the songs are pure classic rock. It’s just one of those albums you can play over and over again and it’s still as great as the first time you heard it.  Without a doubt, it’s the best album the Who ever made.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Warrant's Jani Lane dead at 47

Jani Lane (born John Kennedy Oswald)
February 1, 1964- August 11, 2011

According to TMZ and now various other news reports, former Warrant lead singer Jani Lane was found dead in a LA hotel last night. He was 47 years old. Lane was pronounced dead by Fire Department personnel, who had responded to a call before 5:30 pm. The cause of death, at this time, is unknown. Lane is survived by a wife and four children (although Lane had been married three times). 
Lane will probably be best known as the singer of hard rock band Warrant, who hit the big time in the late 1980's. Lane was actually the band's second lead singer but he would become the main songwriter in the band. Warrant's debut album, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, was released in 1989. The album was a success thanks to hits like "Down Boys" and the power ballad "Heaven". The band were at their peak when they released their second album, Cherry Pie, in 1990. The album, as well as the tongue-in-check self titled track, were smash hits. Lane briefly left in 1993 but returned the following year. By that time, the band's popularity began to tone down. Still, Lane was in Warrant until 2004. He rejoined again in 2008 for an attempt to reunite the "classic" line-up but he was later dismissed before the year ended. 
Before his death, Lane appeared in an episode of That Metal Show which will air sometime in October for the show's eighth season. 
I'll be honest: I wasn't particularly a Warrant fan. I liked a couple of their songs and I do think they are a good band. Jani had a great voice and he wrote some great songs. It's a big loss in the rock world and 47 is just too young.

RIP Jani.   

Monday, August 8, 2011

Flower Travellin' Band singer Joe Yamanaka dies at 64

Joe Yamanaka
September 2, 1946- August 7, 2011

Japanese rock singer, Joe Yamanaka, passed away yesterday after a battle with lung cancer. Yamanaka was 64 years old. Yamanaka was best known as the lead singer for psychedelic hard rock band, Flower Travellin' Band. While not entirely popular, the band has somewhat of a cult following. The band's best known album would probably be 1971's Satori. The album wasn't released in the US until 2003. Rolling Stone's David Fricke is quoted to saying that Satori is his "favorite Japanese rock album of all time". The band had reunited in 2007 and released an album. The band planed to tour in 2010 but news of Yamanaka's cancer put everything to a halt.

I just ordered myself a copy of Satori. I read about these guys and they sound really cool. It's a shame that Joe has passed away and that most music magazines probably won't bother mentioning. Even when I Google his name, there's barely any news. Shame. There should be. 

RIP Joe.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Alice Cooper's Welcome 2 My Nightmare to be released, tracks announced

Shock rocker Alice Cooper will release the sequel to his 1975 classic Welcome to My Nightmare album. The sequel, Welcome 2 My Nightmare, will be released on September 13, 2011. The album will be Cooper's 26th studio album, following up 2008's Along Came a Spider. Nightmare II was produced by Bob Ezrin, who produced almost all of the Alice Cooper albums from the 1970's, including the original Nightmare in 1975. The tracking list for the album is...

 1. I Am Made Of You
 2. Caffeine
 3. The Nightmare Returns
 4. A Runaway Train
 5. Last Man On Earth
 6. The Congregation
 7. I'll Bite Your Face Off
 8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
 9. Ghouls Gone Wild
 10. Something to Remember Me By
 11. When Hell Comes Home
 12. What Baby Wants
 13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
 14. The Underture

Personally, I'm excited for the release of this new album. My only complaint is the title of the album: I really don't like it when people replace words with numbers (2 and to). I mean, what if the album was brought up into a conversation? Wouldn't people think you're talking about the 1975 album? Just saying. So I'd like to call the album Welcome to My Nightmare II. For those of you who were wondering what happened to the title of The Night Shift: according to Alice, that's a whole other project. The Night Shift was going to be the sequel to Along Came A Spider but Bob Ezrin had no interest in doing it. Perhaps The Night Shift can be Alice's next album?

Also announced recently, Alice and Universal Studios have teamed up to create an attraction called Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare. The attraction will be a maze and be open from September 23 to October 31.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The End of the Beginning: The Beatles' Revolver is 45

 The Beatles - Revolver
The Beatles
Rating: **** 1/2

In just a few years, the Beatles had become the biggest band of all time. In 1965, things had changed: the band’s sixth album, Rubber Soul, introduced listeners to a mature sounding band. The Beatles had begun the experimenting on Rubber Soul but it was on Revolver where the band dug deeper into experimenting with the sound of the music. Released on August 5, 1966 Revolver was the band’s seventh album. It was also their third album to consist entirely of original material, the first two being A Hard Day’s Night and Rubber Soul. Revolver is sometimes thought to be one of best or the best album the Beatles ever made. An album with songs that have so many stories behind them deserves the “song-by-song” treatment.
While the sound of the band was changing, so were the boys in the band. 1966 was a chaotic year for the Beatles. It started off on a light note when George Harrison married model Patti Boyd. The pair first met on the set of A Hard Day’s Night as Boyd was one of the girls on the train. On March 4, John Lennon was interviewed for the London Evening Standard. When asked about God the churches, Lennon replied
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock'n'roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
            No one made a big fuss about it then. Some locals were angered by Lennon’s statement. It was on April 6 when the band entered Abbey Road Studios to record the material for Revolver. The band finished on June 21 and began their last world tour shortly after. It was also the first album engineer Geoff Emerick worked on with the Beatles.

Song by song review

1.      “Taxman”- For the first and only time, a George Harrison penned song is the first song on a Beatles album. This one, “Taxman”, shows signs that George’s songwriting was getting better. The song, at that time, was about how the taxman was taking the money the band earned. At that time in the UK, the two biggest politicians were Harold Wilson (Labour Party) and Edward Heath (Conservative Party). In fact, their names are mentioned in the backing vocals (Ah, ah Mr. Wilson and ah, ah Mr. Heath). In the Anthology mini-series, George said about the song that it “was the point where you discover you’re actually paying more money to the taxman” and then you’re “so happy that you’re finally earning money” until you find out.

2.      “Eleanor Rigby”- “Eleanor Rigby” would turn out to be another #1 hit for the band. This song already shows experimentation from the beginning as the band are singing to an orchestra. “Yesterday” had done this before but “Eleanor Rigby” was full blown orchestral. As many Beatles fans should know, there was a real Eleanor Rigby. Paul, however, wasn’t aware. Paul began work on the song after spending time in the music room of girlfriend Jane Asher’s family home, vamping on E minor on a piano. Folk musician Donovan remembers Paul visiting his flat in London once. When they were jamming, Paul played Donovan a new song called “Ola Na Tungee”. Paul came up with the idea for the song about it being about a wedding at a church. “Ola Na Tungee” later became “Miss Daisy Hawkins” but Paul didn’t like the name. The name of Eleanor Rigby came around after combining two things together. “Eleanor” was taken from actress and Help co-star Eleanor Bron. “Rigby” was taken from the name of a store Paul passed by in Bristol called Rigby & Evens Ltd, Wine and Spirit Shippers. In a story that’s too good to be true, it turned out there was a real Eleanor Rigby. She’s buried at Woolton Cemetery, which is adjoined to St. Peter’s Church (where Paul first met John). Eleanor Rigby (1895-October 10, 1939) had lived in Liverpool. Not too far from her grave was someone named McKenzie. None of the Beatles are playing instruments in the song. Instead, there’s a string octet. George Martin also helped by composing the score. One of the best songs by the Beatles for sure.

3.      “I’m Only Sleeping”- Much like “Eleanor Rigby”, “I’m Only Sleeping” is another somewhat creepy song. John is the main writer for this song and personally, it’s my favorite song off the album. John wrote the song based on his lack of routine while on tour. When he got home John liked to read, listen to music, and other things while under the influence of drugs. According to the Beatles Bible website, Paul would have to wake up John up for afternoon writing sessions. John liked sleep obviously and he decided to make it into a song. John also thought of himself as lazy (“Everybody seems to think I’m lazy/I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy”) aside from reading and writing. Personally I love the lyrics of “Lying here staring at the ceiling/Waiting for a sleepy feeling”.  The song is also known for its backwards guitar solo. The idea came about after a tape operator had threaded a tape into the machine incorrectly. George Harrison was at work on the guitar parts. He came up with it on May 5 in a five-hour late night recording session. Personally, this is my favorite song from Revolver. I think of it as underrated.

4.      “Love You To”- As the second of his three songs off the album, George’s “Love You To” is another overlooked Beatles song. First of all, it has a wonderful intro with George fiddling about on the sitar. George’s interest in the instrument, as well as Eastern/Indian religion, had begun on the set of Help! In the movie, the Beatles are on the run from a Eastern/Indian group of people. There’s a scene that takes place in a restaurant, where someone was playing a sitar. Not too long after this, George learned of Ravi Shankar. Shankar ended up becoming one of George’s closest friends until George passed in 2001. When asked about this song, George admits that his interest in the sitar was getting deeper “all the time”. The lyrics to the song are based on the philosophy and beliefs in the Eastern/Indian religion, along with his love for Patti Boyd. I like how George uses a sitar rather than a guitar for this song. With the sitar, it makes the song more psychedelic.

5.      “Here, There, and Everywhere”- This wonderful love ballad is written by Paul. The sound is very soft and the lyrics are well written. According to Paul, he was aiming for doing a Beach Boys sounding song. The vocals from Paul are wonderful and tender, with John and George providing backing vocals. Ringo provides finger snaps! It’s simply a nice little song.

6.      “Yellow Submarine”- When I first got into the Beatles, one of the first things that got me into them was the 1968 Yellow Submarine movie. It’s hard for me to believe that the Beatles had no intentions of making a movie when making this song. Originally, it was written as Ringo’s time to sing on the album. As with many songs written by Lennon/McCartney, they didn’t write it together. Of the two, it was Paul who mainly wrote this ditty. He had in mind that this would be Ringo’s song for the album. Once again, Paul found influence while at Jane Asher’s house. According to Paul in Anthology, he had come up with the song one night when “silly things” came into his head. It would be a song about an old mariner telling the tales of when he was on the seas. The recording of this song was quite interesting: the band had fun with the sounds needed for this song. As one can imagine, they didn’t do it alone. The person clinking the glasses in the song is Brian Jones! John made the sounds of the bubbles by blowing bubbles through a straw in a bucket of water. John and Paul used tin cans to make it sound like a captain giving orders. Ringo’s the one who yells “Cut the cable! Drop the cable!” When the overdubs were over, the ending was recorded. Mal Evans strapped a marching band bass drum to his chest and led everyone (the band, George Martin, Neil Aspinall, Marianne Faithful, Patti Boyd) in a conga dance belting out the chorus. “Yellow Submarine” gave the band another #1 hit single.

7.      “She Said She Said”- Over the years, “She Said She Said” has been best described as a drug song. It’s actually true. John wrote this psychedelic rocker based on the party the Beatles hosted at a rented house on Huholland Drive. According to notes, it was a year before on August 24 when the Beatles had members of the Byrds and actor Peter Fonda at this party. Both Lennon and Fonda have similar accounts as to what happened that night. Apparently, everyone was dropping acid/LSD. At one point, Fonda went around saying “I know what it’s like to be dead”. This freaked everybody out since no one wanted to hear about it. Lennon replied to Fonda “You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born” and “Who put all that shit in your head?”. John must’ve used this experience as the basis of the song because those words make their way into the song. Much of the guitar playing was done by John and George. The two overdubbed with more guitar and an organ. Years later, Paul McCartney has admitted that he was probably not on the song. Paul says that John had “pretty much finished” it. Paul also thinks that they might’ve “had a barney or something” over it. In the end, the song ended up on the album. It’s quite a trippy song and one of my favorite off Revolver.

8.      “Good Day Sunshine”- Side two of Revolver starts off with an upbeat Paul-written song. “Good Day Sunshine” is a pleasant pop song. McCartney said years later that he was influenced by the Lovin Spponful’s hit “Daydream”. McCartney liked how it was vaudeville like and trad-jazz. The song was recorded in just about two days, which is pretty impressive. “Good Day Sunshine” is a highlight off Revolver.

9.      “And Your Bird Can Sing”- This John Lennon written song is a nice rocker, almost hard rock when you think it over. The twin guitar riffs on here are sensational. The original version had George Harrison playing a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar. This version was later rejected and enede up on Anthology 2. Perhaps it was because John and Paul could not stop giggling? Lennon was later dismissive of the song years later, referring to it as another of his “throwaways”. I think John was always dismissive of his work years later. This song isn’t bad at all.

10.  “For No One”- This piano based song has always been one of my personal favorites. Written by Paul, the song is about the end of a love affair. Paul wrote it while on holiday with Jane Asher in Switzerland. The only Beatles playing on the song are Paul and Ringo. The horn piece was played by Alan Civil. Paul is also experimenting with a clavichord, belonging to George Martin. Although he’s not on the song, John Lennon later said in 1980 that “For No One” was one of his favorites of Paul’s saying it ‘s “a nice piece of work”.

11.  “Doctor Robert”- An autobiographical song, this Lennon-penned rocker is not everyone’s favorite song off of Revolver. It’s another drug song but this time, it’s kind of pointing out names. John is quoted to saying that it’s “mainly about drugs and pills” and how he’d be the one carrying the pills (although this job later went to the roadies). Some think the song is about art dealer Robert Fraser. It’s really about Dr. Robert Freymann from Manhattan, New York. Although its somewhat weak, “Doctor Robert” is still good.

12.  “I Want To Tell You”- The third and last of George’s songs off of Revolver is “I Want To Tell You”. Like many of George’s songs with the Beatles, it’s overlooked. The song’s lyrics, according to George, are “about the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit.” In his autobiography I Me Mine, George says that the second line should be reversed. Basically, the song is about saying things you want to say but you’re finding it difficult to say it.

13.  “Got To Get You It My Life”- This McCartney written number is quite catchy. One may not believe it but this is yet another drug song. The sound of the song was influenced by Motown songs Paul had been listening to. John thought the song was about LSD. Paul later explained that he wrote the song when he was first introduced to marijuana. So this song isn’t to a person. It’s to an illegal drug. I don’t really care. It’s one of my favorites.

14.  “Tomorrow Never Knows”- It might be the last song on Revolver but it was actually the first song recorded for the album. Lennon’s name is all over this song. The song is yet another drug song but the way it came together is quite interesting. John had written the song after reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead or The Psychedelic Experience while under the influence of LSD. The song is also experimental has John is just continually strumming the C chord. All the Beatles played on the song and took part in playing their instruments. The guitars are playing reversed, as is almost everything else. The song also uses tape loops, which there are five of in the song:   a “seagull” or “American Idian” whooping effect, an orchestral chord of B flat major chord (0:19), a distorted recording of Paul laughing, a Mellotron Mk.II, played with brass tape set (0:22), another Mellotron played in 6/8 using 3 violins tape set (0:38), and guitar ascending (0:56). Quite an interesting way to end the album.

When the Beatles were done recording the album, they began their last world tour on June 23. First, the band toured Germany for the last time. Then in July, the band arrived in the Philippines. An invitation from the first lady (Imelda Marcos) was sent to the band for them to attend   the breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. On behalf of the band, Brian Epstein politely said no to the invitation. It turned out that they couldn’t take no for an answer. The snub was broadcasted on live TV and the band’s police protection was gone. Mal Evans and several others were beaten. The crowds pushed the band members around. In the Anthology mini-series, the band didn’t know if they would ever go back home. Almost as soon as the Beatles returned from the Philippines, there was an uproar in the US. An American teen magazine called Datebook had taken John Lennon’s comments about Christianity out of context from the interview he had given months ago for the Evening Standard. Many were appalled by Lennon’s statement of “we’re more popular than Jesus”. Concerts were canceled, radio stations banned the music, and conservative groups were holding record burnings. The Vatican didn’t like what Lennon had to say and of all people, the Ku Klux Klan didn’t like Lennon’s statement! In fact, they staged their burning cross shtick outside of one concert or two (one source says they even nailed a Beatles album to the cross). Lennon apologized for his statement but by that time, things weren’t so good for the Beatles. They were getting death threats and had grown tired of not being able to hear themselves play at concerts. The band’s last concert was on August 29, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. After this, the band took a break: John went to film How I Won The War, Paul wrote the score to The Family Way, George went to India, and Ringo stayed at home. In November 1966, the band regrouped (all with moustaches, which was completely a coincidence). Work began on “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, and then of course the band’s next album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Music critics and magazines alike rank Revolver high on lists of the greatest albums ever made. Some call it the best album made by anybody. I never understood all the love for Revolver at first but I get it now. On my list, it ranks at #17. I had it lower before but I think I’ve said before about my list that my top 20-25 are pretty much concrete. In terms of it being a Beatles album, it looks like it’s my fourth favorite album by them which is really good! I think Revolver is an amazing album. As said before, Rubber Soul may’ve been the band’s first “mature” album. I think with Revolver, they discovered how to experiment with new sounds. In the end, Revolver is one of the greatest albums ever made.

Sources (other than my amazing memory)
Beatles Bible (A wonderful site with hundreds of fascinating articles)
Wikipedia (duh! I only used it if the information was cited. Most of it seemed to come from Bob Spitz’s book)
The 2009 reissue liner notes

Monday, August 1, 2011

Help Us Save Some Lives: The Concert for Bangladesh 40 years later

  - The Concert for Bangla Desh
George Harrison w/ various artists
The Concert For Bangladesh
Rating: ****

It might be hard for some people to believe when there was a time when a thing like a benefit concert didn’t exist. In 1971, there was a lot going on in the United States. Around this time, however, there was something going on that the country barely knew about it. It turned out that a country called Bangladesh was in need of help. In 1971, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar did just that. On August 1, 1971, Harrison and Shankar organized a benefit show at the Madison Square Garden in aid of the people in Bangladesh. 40 years later, the Concert for Bangladesh still has relevancy.
            It was around July of 1971 when George Harrison was approached by his good friend, Ravi Shankar. Shankar told Harrison about a terrible thing that was happening in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Liberation War was happening and it lead to a massive refugee problem in India. At the time, Harrison was producing an album by rock band Badfinger. Like the Beatles, Badfinger was signed to Apple Records. This new album, Straight Up, was the band’s third under the Badfinger name (fourth if you include the one album they did as the Iveys called Maybe Tomorrow). Harrison had produced and recorded a few tracks for the album along with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. Harrison can even be heard playing slide guitar on “Day After Day”. With this, Harrison organized a benefit concert. Harrison tried inviting all of his former band mates from the Beatles. Harrison asked John Lennon to do it and he agreed…until there was an argument when Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, wasn’t allowed to participate. Paul McCartney turned down Harrison as well, thinking it was a bit strange given that the band had split a year ago. Ringo Starr ended up performing. Harrison even invited the members of Badfinger to be in the band. As for the rest of Harrison’s band, it was filled with all stars: Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Jesse Ed Davis, Leon Russell, Bob Dylan, and various others.
            Not too many people know that there were actually two concerts that day on August 1. There was an afternoon show and an evening show. The first half of the show was a 16 minute sitar piece by Ravi Shankar. When George and the rest came out, the audience went nuts. There are some differences in the two performances. There were songs that were only played at the afternoon show (“Awaiting On You All”, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”, and “Hear Me Lord”). The evening show was a bit shorter without those three songs. In the Dylan set, “Mr. Tambourine Man” replaced “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”. Two songs in the Dylan set also swapped places (“Blowin In The Wind” and “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Take a Train to Cry”). Also, “Something” swapped places with “My Sweet Lord” (which was towards the end in the afternoon show) in the evening show.  Confused? Look below.

Afternoon show
1.      Wah-Wah
2.      Something
3.      Awaiting On You All
4.      That’s The Way God Planned It
5.      It Don’t Come Easy
6.      Beware of Darkness
7.      While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8.      Jumpin Jack Flash/Young Blood
9.      Here Comes the Sun
10.  A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
11.  Blowin’ In The Wind
12.  It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
13.  Love Minus Zero/No Limit
14.  Just Like A Woman
15.  Hear Me Lord
16.  My Sweet Lord
17.  Bangladesh

Evening show
1.      Wah-Wah
2.      My Sweet Lord
3.      That’s The Way God Planned It
4.      It Don’t Come Easy
5.      Beware Of Darkness
6.      While My Guitar Gently Weeps
7.      Jumpin Jack Flash/Young Blood
8.      Here Comes The Sun
9.      A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
10.  It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
11.  Blowin’ In The Wind
12.  Mr. Tambourine Man
13.  Just Like A Woman
14.  Something
15.  Bangladesh

            According to sources, $243,418 was raised at the concert. With the sales of the album, even more money was raised for Bangladesh. By 1985, a reported $12 million dollars had been raised but some of it was tied up in an escrow account. There were rumors of the money not getting to Bangladesh in time, which former Beatles business manager (and in the early 1970’s, manager for all the Beatles except Paul) Allen Klien denied. However, Klien was well known for stealing money from his acts.
            No matter how much the concert made, the Concert for Bangladesh was the blueprint to all other benefit concerts such as Live Aid, Farm Aid, Live 8, and various others. George Harrison probably didn’t know that something like Bangladesh would start off a series of other concerts like it. For Harrison, he was just helping a friend. Now almost ten years after his death, Harrison’s memory lives on through his work with the Beatles and by himself. The Concert for Bangladesh is probably one of the greatest concerts ever held.