Paul McCartney, Monkberry Moon Delight

Posted in Paul McCartney on May 19th, 2012 by Willie

If you glance over the music trade papers (or internets) as I do on occasion, you might have noticed on the periphery that Paul McCartney is planning a re-release of his incredibly great solo album Ram.  Now Ram is quite simply one of my favorite albums of all time.  It’s easily my favorite solo McCartney album by a mile, and rotates in and out of the #1 spot for my own personal best solo Beatle album list.  At the time of its release,  Ram was unjustly criticized by rock critics for a bunch of complicated reasons.  One of them was that many of the tunes are credited to both Paul and Linda McCartney, a fact many cynical rock people had trouble swallowing.  John Lennon himself took offense to the album as two songs on there, “Too Many People,” and “Dear Boy,” had biting little obscure inside jokes, or digs at John and Yoko.  I’ll cover those songs and their natures later this week though.  Anyway, the point is, everybody was caught up in the bullshit of Ram, and not the music.  Now, objectively, the music on Ram is basically as good as anything you’d find on the “White Album.”  If you loved what McCartney was doing in 1968, you’ll love what he was doing in 1971.  It’s the only way I can describe it, Ram is Paul McCartney’s “White Album” songwriting stylizations part II.  Its Paul at his psychedelic best.  Just take a listen to “Monkberry Moon Delight,” in many ways Paul’s response to “I am the Walrus.”  It’s a frenzied piano stomping masterpiece of jibberish.  You can almost see Paul frothing at the mouth, mashing the keys the so hard that it detunes the piano.  It’s a cult classic, and if you never heard it, you’re in for quite the treat, so check out the song below, and watch the fantastic assortment of Paul and Linda home movies that go along with it.  Ram on….

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Magical Mystery Tour, Full Film, Remastered!

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on December 30th, 2011 by Willie

“Come with me now, to that secret place, where the eyes of man have never set foot…” The “Magical Mystery Tour,” represents an odd moment in Beatle history as both a film and an album.  As a record, its unintentionally brilliant.  The original British EP just consisted of songs from the hour long movie such as “Fool on the Hill,” “Blue Jay Way,” “I am the Walrus,” and the cool trippy instrumental “Flying.”  That now rare EP has long since been replaced by the full length American issued record.  The LP, not only includes the songs from the movie but also includes all the humungous Beatle singles from 1967 such as “All You Need is Love,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Penny Lane.”  It makes for a colossal psychedelic album, littered with Beatle masterpieces.  The film, while containing much of this fantastic music, is a different story all together.  Conceived mainly by Paul McCartney as a solution to give the Beatles exposure without the hell of playing to insane live audiences, the film ended up being the Beatles first real commercial and critical disappointment.  So let’s not kid ourselves, the movie sucks.  The plot makes no sense, its poorly edited, (save the musical numbers) includes a ridiculously pointless strip tease, and ends suddenly with little to no explanation.  That being said, the film is a total joy and wonder.  I know, I just massively contradicted myself, but come on, you get to see some of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever known, running around like mad as a collective unit, at a time when they were at their creative peak. It’s a priceless document of the lads in the era right after the death of their manager Brian Epstein, (the first real death knell of the group according to John Lennon), and just before their incredible spiritual journey to India.  The making of the film became a source of tension for John and George, as Paul basically created and directed most of it.  John and George were becoming increasingly disgruntled with Paul’s emerging group dominance, and resentment grew mightily.  As for the Mystery Tour itself, that too ended up being a disaster as fans found the bus on the road, tailed it, and caused traffic jams.  John angrily tore the “Mystery Tour” graphics off the bus’s side so they could proceed filming on schedule and with more anonymity.  With all the unhappiness present amongst the Beatles, glimmers of joy and goofiness do pierce the film’s dreck.  Ringo is simply a fantastic actor with a lot of heart and humor.  John, decked out in psychedelic lederhosen, has some nice moments with a cute little kid, and George is deliciously weird as fuck throughout the entire film. Paul, who is blamed for a majority of the film’s crappiness as director, does get a stunning spotlight for his “Fool on the Hill” sequence as he dances around the cliffs of France. Anyway, I got the full film, remastered in stunning sound and glorious color, so roll on up for the Mystery Tour, just click play!

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The Beatles, I am the Walrus Remastered and in HD

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on November 28th, 2011 by Willie

The clip below is how The Beatle’s “I am the Walrus,” will be preserved forever, remastered in HD stereo glory.  It’s hard to imagine the scope of the genius behind this song.  Lennon himself said, “Let the fuckers work that one out.”  By putting on fresh ears, and letting the song just hit you in 2011, an experience I am sad John himself never got to try, what comes across is the ultimate post-modern anthem.  It doesn’t sound like it came from 1967, but rather from some timeless place in someones imagination.  The mere fact that “I am the Walrus” did emerge from 1967, is one of the things that gives people like me, who never lived then, the magical impression that 1967 was a year when human creativity knew no limit, and was so powerful that it transcended time.  The song both hurls itself at you while simultaneously digging trenches of mad gorgeous beauty in your brain.  It changes your thinking somehow, giving you an epileptic cinematic insight into a few minutes of a John Lennon LSD trip.  It’s both profound and silly, and its profoundly silly; 2 opposite forces interacting on their own, but also interlocked somehow.  It’s simply a musical masterpiece, and I hope you serviceable villains enjoy it in bright psychedelic HD as much as I have.

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Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Say Say Say, The Girl is Mine

Posted in Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Youtube Favs on July 19th, 2011 by Willie

The year was 1981.  Michael Jackson was staying over Paul and Linda McCartney’s house.  The pair of ultra stars were recording songs with Quincy Jones and George Martin for their respective albums.  For Thriller, MJ and Macca were laying down “The Girl is Mine,” a horrendous piece of saccharine pop.  For McCartney’s equally successful album ; ) Pipes of Peace, the pair laid down “Say Say Say,” a more superior pop song, but equally stupid in its generic lyrics and execution.  For Jackson, the pairing with a Beatle was both an artistic and commercial turning point for his career.  For Paul McCartney, it was the most costly business mistake he ever made.  When Michael was in the studio for “Say Say Say,” it was the first time he didn’t have Quincy supporting him, and he found he could hold his own with the very musical McCartney.  It was an experience that massively boosted his musical maturation and confidence.  Paul was a gracious host this whole time, even giving the young pop star an inside glimpse into how he was making billions, by purchasing music publishing catalogs.  MJ took the advice to heart.  In 1985, the long disputed “Northern Songs” catalog, which contained the entire Lennon/McCartney catalog was up for sale, and Michael Jackson outbid Paul for the controlling interest, dropping 40 million underneath Paul’s nose.  In years since the incident, Jackson has been painted as the villain that stole Paul’s songs.  The real story is more complicated.  Paul was actually offered the songs privately, but he wanted to share it with Yoko Ono out of fairness, but she wanted to hold out for a better deal.  If anything, Yoko is the biggest culprit in the Beatles not owning their own songs.  Anyway, the friendship between Michael and Paul fell apart not because Jackson bought “Hey Jude” and “I am the Walrus,”  but because Michael wouldn’t raise the royalty rate John and Paul agreed to all the way back in 1961.  Paul has felt that the Beatles had been cheated and underpaid for decades, and the fact that Michael wouldn’t give him a boost was unforgivable.  So, even though Michael and Jackson would never perform or record together again, at least they left a legacy of a massive abortion of  commercial pop for us musical archeologists to examine for the next 1000 years.  Thanks boys.

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The Beatles, All You Need is Love

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on June 26th, 2011 by Willie

At last we’ve arrived at part 100 of my youtube favorites countdown.  This is the final part of the countdown, and boy has it been a magical journey through some of my favorite songs and videos of all time.  I had to end the countdown on the Beatles because it hurts my eyes when they don’t fall on #1 in any list predominantly about rock and roll.  “All You Need is Love,” is a mysterious song.  It was written specifically for the historic first worldwide satellite TV broadcast, “Our World,” and was watched by over 400 million people globally.  The song is a mystery because there aren’t too many quotes from John Lennon about the inspiration and writing of the song, and the other Beatles and George Martin can’t seem to remember exactly where the song came from.  The song wasn’t made for any album, and the recording of the track (save some overdubs) was mostly done in the live recording you see below.  So you don’t have a bunch of takes and jam sessions in the vault that might give further insight into its creation.  I have yet to hear a demo of John on his guitar or piano plunking out the song for the first time, which would simply be a marvelous thing if it exists somewhere.  Anyway, this song is a Masterpiece, (note the capital M.)  It’s one of the greatest slogans ever set to music and fantastic slice of artistic genius.  It’s also just further evidence of the insane alien amount of productivity the Beatles were capable of.  They had just finished Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their timeless masterwork, and then a few weeks later, they unleash this masterstroke.  They were an unstoppable force of magic, churning out record after record, with smash #1 singles (that weren’t on the LPs) dotting those releases.  What’s further amazing is that nothing in their tumultuous personal lives slowed them down a bit.  In 1967, John was a full blown drug addict; snorting cocaine, dropping acid every weekend, smoking pot everyday, and probably drinking heavily.  His marriage was falling apart, he was having a massive identity crisis, he was jealous of Paul McCartney, and he was suffering a dark depression.  None of that seemed to stop him from writing a song like, “All You Need is Love,” and then following it up with another track like the brilliant “I am the Walrus,” a few weeks after.  No force, personal or global, could really stop the momentum the Beatles had built for themselves, and it all culminated in them being considered the greatest musicians of the 20th century.  So the countdown ends, but the website doesn’t of course.  From here on out, I’ll be focusing on writing more ambitious “proper essays” and articles on everything from music, politics, culture, and philosophy.  So keep checking back, as I intend to make this one of the best websites you’ll ever read.  Thank you so much.

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