Monday, December 23, 2013

The Beatles Christmas Records 1963-1970









The Beatles PR man, Tony Barrow came up with the idea in 1963 for the group to record a Christmas Record and send it to members of the Official Beatles Fan Club run by Freda Kelly (Good Ol' Freda).  The Beatles recorded seven Christmas records from 1963- 1970. The early records were from a script written by Tony Barrow with little add-ons.

The Beatles Christmas Record (1963):

Recorded: 17 October, 1963 at Studio Two, EMI Studios
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Total Time: 5:03
Released: UK 6 December; US 18 December

The big highlights from the album are;
  • All singing "Good King Wenceslas" 
  • John Lennon taking about "Please Please Me", "Love Me Do", and the Royal Command Preformances
  • Paul McCartney spent his time talking about Jellybabies and how they would like to not have them sent anymore but that they still like chocolates and others and what they like the best.
  • Ringo Starr talked about his history and how he went from many other bands, to Rory Storm to The Beatles.
  • George Harrison thanked the fans and the Head of The Fan Club

Another Beatles Christmas Record (1964):

Recorded: 6 October
Released: 18 December
Total Time: 4:01

After recording Carl Perkins "Honey Don't" The Beatles once again read a Tony Barrow script for their second Christmas record.

Highlights;
  • Piano intro "Jingle Bells"
  • Paul McCartney thanked the fans for buying the records
  • John Lennon thanked the fans for buying his book "In His Own Write"
  • George Harrison said thanks and just talked about The Beatles first motion picture " A Hard Days Night" and then mentioned that they were coming out with a second movie the following year.
  • Ringo Starr thanked the fans for just being fans.
  • Ended it with "Oh can you Wash Your Father's Shirt"


 The Beatles Third Christmas Record (1965)
Recorded: 8 November
Released: 17 December
Total Time: 6:20

Highlights from album;
  • Intro "Yesterday" 
  • Thanks for cards and presents recieved that year
  • "Happy Christmas To ya List'nas"/ "Down in The Jungle",  "Auld Lang Syne", "It's The Same Old Song"
  • Fake radio broadcast
  • "Auld Lang Syne" in style of Barry McGuire
  • "Christmas Comes but Once A Year"
  • "Yesterday" Reprise
  • "Christmas Day"
  • A message from John Lennon



Patomine (Everywhere It's Christmas) (1966):

Recorded: 25 November at Dick James Music Office in London
Released: 16 December
Total Time: 6:36

Paul McCartney had convinced the rest of the band that they should produce a real record based on the Goon Show, this resulted in "Everywhere It's Christmas".

Track listing for The Beatles Third Christmas Record;
  • "Everywhere It's Christmas"
  • "Orowanyna (Corsican Choir and Small Choir)
  • Rare Cheese (Two Elderly Scotsmen)
  • The Feast
  • The Loyal Toast
  • Podgy The Bear and Jasper
  • Felpin Mansions; Part One- Count Balder and Butler
  • Felpin Mansions; Part Two- The Count and The Pianist
  • "Please Don't Bring Your Banjo Back"
  •  "Everywhere It's Christmas" by Mal Evans
  • "Everywhere It's Christmas" reprise



Christmas Time Is Here Again (1967)

Recorded: 28 November
Released: 15 December
Total Time: 6:10

The front cover being created by John and Ringo and having the back cover a painting done by Julian Lennon.

The record went as followed;
  • "Christmas Time Is Here Again" BBC House
  • "Christmas Time Is Here Again"
  • Audition; Tap Dance
  • Commercial
  • Interview with Sir Gerald
  • "Christmas Time Is Here Again" with laughter from the band
  • "On The Next Round"
  • Dedication; "Plenty Of Jam Jars" by the Revellers
  • Game Show
  • Commercial
  • News report
  • "Christmas Time Is Here Again"
  • Game Show 2
  • Victor Spinnetti giving thanks
  • "When Christmas Time Is Over" a poem by the very talented John Lennon



Christmas Record (Happy Christmas) (1968)

Recorded: November- Various times and places
Released: 20 December
Total Time: 7:55

During this time The Beatles were drifting apart and hardly talking as much as they used to. Kenny Everett, BBC presenter allowed each member to record separately. Most recording were done at home, except for Ringo who decided to do his in the back of a van.

The album went as followed;
  • Merry Christmas from Ringo
  • Paul sings "Happy Christmas, Happy New Year"
  • A sped up version of "Helter Skelter"
  • "Jock and Yono" story/poem by John
  • Perrey and Kingsley's "Baroque Hoedown"
  • Merry Christmas from George Harrison
  • Merry Christmas from Mal Evans
  • John and Ringo skit
  • "Once upon a Pool Table" by John
  • George introduces Tiny Tim
  • Tiny Tim sings "Nowhere Man"



The Beatles Seventh Christmas Record (1969)

Recorded: Fall various time and locations
Released: 19 December
Total Time: 7:42

There was a lot of heat at the end of The Beatles which not only affected their albums. In the last Beatles Christmas album George hardly appears, Ringo spends his time talking about his new movie, The Magic Christan, Paul plays acoustic songs at his home, and John is all about his new wife Yoko Ono.  The cover features another Beatles kids artwork, Zak Starkey's drawing.

The albums highlights;
  • John and Yoko
  • John's Christmas wishes
  • George says Happy Christmas
  • Ringo sings "This is to Wish You A Merry Christmas"/ Paul's Christmas and New Years Wishes
  • Incidental holiday music
  • John and Yoko discuss peace and the 1970s
  • John and Yoko sing "Happy Christmas"
  • Ringo says "Merry Christmas" and speaks on The Magic Christian 
  • John and Yoko discuss Christmas presents
  • Incidental music "The First Noel"






On the evening of 28 October, 1971 to the morning of the 29 John and Yoko Lennon composed "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" saying they were "Sick of 'White Christmas'". The song includes the Harlem Community Choir singing "War Is Over, If You Want It". Credited to The Plastic Ono Band and The Harlem Community Choir. Three years prior to the song the couple had started the "War Is Over" campaign having displaying billboards promoting the message in eleven major cities. 

In 1979 Paul McCartney had released 'Wonder Christmastime" which appeared as a bonus track on Wings Back To The Egg. The song was done by Paul McCartney himself during the solo album, McCartney II sessions. 

Ringo Starr released a Christmas album on 19 October, 1999 called I Want To Be Santa Claus. The album featured songs by Ringo and Mark Hudson like "Dear Santa" and "Christmas Eve". The album features twelve songs making the album a total of 44:59.

Check out The Beatles Christmas Shows here.
Happy Christmas Beatles People!









Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Beatles Christmas Shows

6:00 pm on 24 December, 1963 at Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park, London The Beatles preformed in their first Christmas Show along with several other acts.

Tickets for the show went on sale 21 October, 1963 and by 16 November all 100,000 tickets were sold out. The shows went from 24 December to 11 January with three days off ( 25 December, 29 December, and 5 January) making a total of 30 shows, preforming two shows a day except for 24 December and 31 December were only one show was preformed).

The night went as followed;
First Act
  • Barron Knight and Duke D'Mond
  • Tommy Quickly and The Foremost
  • Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas 
Second Act
  • Barron Knight and Duke D'Mond
  • Cilla Black
  • Rolf Harris
  • And The Beatles 
The Beatles ended the show preforming nine songs;
  • Roll Over Beethoven 
  • All My Loving
  • This Boy
  • I Want To Be Your Man
  • She Loves You
  • Till There Was You
  • I Want To Hold Your Hand
  • Money (That's What I Want"
  • Twist and Shout
The Beatles during the show
Throughout the night The Beatles would appear in between acts putting on little skits.

"The Beatles were never much for rehearsing. That never really mattered as far as songs were concerned, but the fact that they were so bad at doing the sketches was an added extra for the show- it was organised chaos but it was very funny chaos." -Tony Barrow
The Beatles spent Christmas with their families in Liverpool on a private viking aircraft provided by Brian Epstein and returned back to London on Boxing Day.


"The big trick was to get them out of the theatre before the national anthem had finished. The audience dutifully stayed, chanting "We want The Beatles,' by which time they were in their car and away'."- Tony Barrow



Right: John Lennon dressing room for The Beatles first Christmas Show











Left: Cast of the show











Another Beatles Christmas Show

The following year, 24 December, 1965 Brian Epstein promoted another Christmas Show except this time at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. It was very much like the previous year in which The Beatles would preform skits in between acts then close the show with several of their songs.
The night went as followed:

First Act:
  • The Mike Cotton Sound preforming Georgie Fame's "Yeh Yeh"
  • Michael Haslam joining the Mike Cotton Sound singing "Scarlet Ribbons"
  • The Yardbirds
  • The Beatles dressed as Antarctic Explorers searching for the Abominmal Snowman
  • Freddie and The Dreamers singing "Rip it Up", "Bachelor Boy", and "Cut Across Shorty"
Drawing by John on the back of the programme
Second Act:
  • Elkie Brooks
  • Sounds Incorporated
  • Jimmy Savile introduced The Beatles
  • The Beatles
The group once again ended the night singing;
  • Twist and Shout
  • I'm A Loser
  • Baby's in Black
  • Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
  • Can't Buy Me Love
  • Honey Don't
  • I Feel Fine
  • She's A Woman
  • A Hard Days Night
  • Rock And Roll Music
  • Long Tall Sally
Two weeks later at a press conference in Toronto the group was asked if they were preforming in a third Christmas Show for the following year where John replied;
"Ask Mr. Christmas Epstein"
and George added,
"Mr. Epstein, may have a Mr. Epstein Christmas Show"


"Because it was new to them they didn't make a fuss. But as the run went on I think they relised it wasn't really working. They wanted to be songwriters and pop stars, they didn't want to be actors." -Barron Knights, Pete Langford.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"All Things Must Pass inducted into Grammy Hall of Fame

Today (December 4, 2013) George Harrison's facebook page posted the following;

"We were thrilled to learn today that The Recording Academy has announced 'All Things Must Pass' is to be inducted into the legendary GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2014.

The GRAMMYs Hall of Fame honours both singles, and album recordings of all genres that are at least 25 years old, and which “exhibit qualitative or historical significance”. This year – the 40th anniversary of the Hall of Fame – there are to be 27 inductees, bringing the total list to 960 titles (this list is on display at The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live).

Neil Portnow (President/CEO of The Recording Academy) described these recordings as “memorable and inspiring, [they] are proudly added to our growing catalog — knowing that they have become a part of our musical, social, and cultural history.”

The newly revealed inductees will be acknowledged during the 56th annual Grammy Awards, which will air January 26, 2014, on CBS. "
 The album is being inducted along with many other albums from The Joshua Tree (U2)  to singles like B.J Thomas's single "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head" and The Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Women"  and many others!

The Beatles as a group have been nominated for 25 Grammy Awards and won 8 ( Bold on the following list) out of the 25;

1964; 

Beatles Grammy For "Best Performance By Vocal Group"
  • Record Of The Year- "I Want To Hold You Hand"
  • Best Contemporary Song- "A Hard Days Night"
  • Best New Artist
  • Best Performance by a Vocal Group- "A Hard Days Night"
1966;
  • Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Vocal Preformance- "Help!"
  • Album of the Year- Help!
  • Vocal Group Performance- "Help!"
1967;
  • Album of The Year- Revolver  
  • Song of The Year- "Michelle"
1968;
  • Album of The Year- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Best Contemporary Album- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Group Vocal Preformance- "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
  • Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)- "A Day in the Life"
1969;
  • Album of the Year- Magical Mystery Tour
  • Record of the Year- "Hey Jude"
  • Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals- "Hey Jude"
 1970;
  • Album of the Year- Abbey Road
  • Contemporary Vocal Group- Abbey Road
1971; 
  • Record of the Year- "Let It Be"
  • Contemporary Vocal Group- Let It Be
1996;
  • Best Historical Album- Live at the BBC
1997;
  • Best Music Video, Long Form- The Beatles Anthology
  • Best Music Video, Short Form- "Free as a Bird"
  • Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal- "Free as a Bird" 

George Harrison alone and after The Beatles has won a few other Grammy's such as ;
  •  Album of The Year- The Concert For Bangla Desh [1972] (Read more about the concert here ).
  •  Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group Vocal- Traveling Wilburys Volume One [1989]
  • Best Pop Instrumental Performance- "Marwa Blues" [2003]

This coming February to honor The Beatles 50th year anniversary of being on The Ed Sullivan Show The Grammys are presenting  "The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles."  It will be a 2- hour showing and brodcasted on the CBS Television Network on Sunday February 9, 2014 ( the exact date The Beatles first played Ed Sullivan, read more about their performances here) from 9-10 p.m ET/PT.


Read more about the Ed Sullivan Grammy event on their website, here


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

McCartney Success 2013


If you're unfamiliar with Sir Paul McCartney's new album, NEW, read about them here  and here .

This past year, ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney, went back into the studio to start recording his first solo album in six years! It was released today (December 3, 2013) that this new album was voted the fourth album of the year by Rolling Stone magazine.

"The sound of a 71-year-old Beatle getting back in the ring. McCartney plays to his strengths: Wings-like glam rock, Little Richard howls and, yep, some remarkably Beatlesque pop tunes and George Martin-ish arrangements (thanks partly to Martin's son, Giles, who produced several tracks). "Early Days" challenges lingering misconceptions about McCartney's role in the Beatles ("I don't see how they can remember/When they weren't where it was at"). Sir Paul also engages 21st-century pop with sharp ears, bringing in young-gun producers like Paul Epworth, Mark Ronson and Ethan Johns. He even rocks a quasi-rap flow and some giddy, Gaga-style stadium chants on "Queenie Eye." As Macca understands better than almost anyone, rock & roll is fueled by a hunger for good times and an ageless exuberance.
 
In late October, right after the albums release, NEW hit #3 in Billboard charts. Not only has NEW been successful for McCartney, but Paul was also awarded the "Best Individual Achievement of the Decade" by Vegfest UK Awards.

"The accolade was presented to Paul in recognition of his continued championing of vegetarianism, such as through his work with the Meat Free Monday campaign. The award was voted for by members of the public prior to the London Vegfest which took place recently at Kensington Olympia." -Paul McCartney via Facebook
Congrats Paul!

Rubber Soul

Recording Dates: October 12, 1965- November 15, 1965
Total Album Time: 34:50
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Released: December 3, 1965 (UK)
                 December 6, 1965 (US)
John Lennon:
vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Vox Continental organ, tambourine
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, sitar, tambourine
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, cowbell, tambourine, maracas, percussion, bells, Hammond organ
George Martin: piano, harmonium, tambourine
Mal Evans: Hammond organ

Rubber Soul was The Beatles sixth released album in the UK and eleventh US long-player. It was, as Paul once called it, the 'Grown up album'. In the early days the group was highly influenced by American singers and songwriters like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. The whole American rhythm-and-blues but now they were being influenced, or becoming more aware of Motown and black music  and then into apparent classical and modern music as George Martin said.
"By the time of Rubber Soul they were ready for new musical directions." -George Martin
Beatles producer, George Martin, has also spoken about recording with The Beatles during the Rubber Soul time as the group always searching for a new sound and always willing to try any new instruments (which could be factored in with George Harrison's interest in the sitar) even if they didn't know how to play it or anything about them. 

Drugs:
Throughout their musical careers The Beatles were always being introduced to drugs,
"It was like pills influenced us in Hamburg, drink influenced us in so and so, I mean, we weren't all stoned making Rubber Soul, because in those days we couldn't work on pot. We never recorded under acid." -John Lennon (1972)
John even says in that Rubber Soul was the pot album and Revolver was the acid. Ringo even said that,
"There was a lot of experimentation on Rubber Soul, influenced, I think by the substances."
He continues to say that because of these substances recording and things would take longer. George even reflected saying it made them feel ill. It's no secret that the group used drugs, especially pot after being introduced to it by Bob Dylan in 1964 (Read more Bob Dylan and The Beatles first experience with marijuana here).  George Harrison describes one recording session as,
"Mal and Neil would sit in Studio No. 2 behind the sound baffles while we were working, rolling them up and smoking. You can hear on one of the tapes from the sessions a song starts and John goes, 'Hang on. 'ang on...' and Paul starts filling in for him. Then John comes back; 'Ahhhhh. OK, OK.' And by the time the engineers have rewound the tape you're thing, 'I'll just go and have another hit.'"
"When we did take too many substances, the music was shit, absolute shit. At the time we'd think it was great, but when we came to record the next day we'd all look at each other and say, 'we'll have to do that again..'"- Ringo Starr
Songs:
  1. Drive My Car;
The album starts with "Drive My Car" a song that can be interrupted in many different ways. As Paul says, "What's is it? What's he doing? Is he offering a job as a chauffeur, or what?" McCartney even says that the song was one of the 'stickiest' songs he ever wrote. It started with this one phrase, "You can buy me golden rings" and says he struggled with the song for hours, too long. Suddenly it hit McCartney and Lennon, "Baby, you can drive my car!" and that's how the song came to be. They were glad with the fact of how ambitious the song was and is and how many different scenarios. 
     
       2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown);

John had written "Norwegian Wood" about an affair he was having and said he was very 'careful' and 'paranoid' about writing it and the affair itself because he didn't want his first wife, Cynthia Powell, to find out (Read more about Cynthia here). Saying he was always having some kind of affair and this was a way to be sophisticated about writing about the affairs. During this time George Harrison had already been introduced to the sitar, first really seeing it when filming "Help!" in a restaurant scene where he first started messing around with the instrument.The group went through many versions of the song because it wasn't coming out like John wanted and he was getting angry.
"It was such a mind-blower that we had this strange instrument on the record. We were all open to anything when George introduced the sitar; you could walk in with an elephant, as long as it was going to make a musical note. Anything was viable. Our whole attitude was changing. We'd grown up a little, I think." -Ringo Starr
         3. Nowhere Man

Paul McCartney recalls the sang as a song written by John after coming in from a big night and not going to bed till about five in the morning. John had come to Paul telling him that he had just started a song the previous night.
"It turned out later that it was about me." -Paul McCartney
Although Paul says it was written about him John really says that the song was inspired by himself,
"I was just sitting, trying to think, and I thought of myself sitting there, doing nothing and going nowhere," he continues, "I thought of myself as a Nowhere Man sitting in this Nowhere Land" -John Lennon (1967)
It was one of those songs, like "Across The Universe" on Let It Be, that came all at once, music, words, the whole thing. 

          4.Think For Yourself

          5. The Word

          6. Michelle 
A song that started with John and Paul walking and Paul humming the first few bars with the words  then turning to Lennon for help.  Where John remembers how he was listening to Nina Simone and a refrain from "I Put A Spell On You" that went, " I love you, I love you, I Love you." which became the middle eight: "I Love You, I love you, I l-o-oove you" in "Michelle".
When it was released Paul describes it as a 'walking on pins and needles', it was different then what they were playing and that's what makes it unique. McCartney compares it to Cliff Richards "Living Doll" and how when it first was released it was so out of left-field.
        
            7. What Goes On
The only song credited to Lennon-McCartney-Starr

            8. Girl
"'Girl' is real. There is no such thing as the girl; she was a dream, but the words are all right, it wasn't just a song, and it was about that girl- that turned out to be Yoko, in the end- the one that a lot of us were looking for."- John Lennon
In the same interview (from 1970) John says that he was trying to say something about Christianity. Saying that it was heavily on the church but was never picked up. It's about having to be tortured to get to heaven, the Catholic and Christian concept. "Be tortured and then it'll be all right.; which seems to be true." John didn't believe in that, the whole having to be tortured to be accepted into  anything.



            9. I'm Looking Through You
Just like other Beatles songs during this time, "You Won't See Me" and "We Can Work It Out"  this song was based off of a fight Paul had with his current girlfriend, Jane Asher.
"As is one's wont in relationships, you will from time to time argue or not see eye to eye on things, and a couple of the songs around this period were that kind of thing. This one I remember particularly as me being disillusioned over her commitment. She went down to the Bristol Old Vic quite a lot around this time. Suffice to say that this one was probably related to that romantic episode and I was seeing through her fa├žade. And realising that it wasn't quite all that it seemed. I would write it out in a song and then I've got rid of the emotion. I don't hold grudges so that gets rid of that little bit of emotional baggage. I remember specifically this one being about that, getting rid of some emotional baggage. 'I'm looking through you, and you're not there!'"- Paul McCartney
            10. In My Life
One of the greatest songs John Lennon has ever written. George Martin even says it's one of his favorites because its 'so much John'. John even calls it his 'first real song'.
"It was the first song that i wrote that was really, consciously, about my life."
The song came about when John released his first book, In His Own Write when a journalist asked ' Why don't you put some of the way you write in the book in the songs? or Why don't you put something about your childhood into your songs?'  The song goes through a bus route from his aunt and uncles home at 251 Menlove Avenue to the town.
"'In My Life' a remembrance of friends and lovers of the past."- John Lennon
            11. Wait

            12. If I Needed Someone
Up to this point the songwriting was mostly the Lennon- McCartney duo. George Harrison had been writing since With The Beatles and when he did start writing he had to suddenly just jump into it saying, "John and Paul had been writing since they were three years old."
"I had to come from nowhere and start writing and have something with at least enough quality to put on the record."- George Harrison
           13. Run For Your Life
 A song that John never liked because it was a song that was 'just knocked off'. Although it was always one of George's favorites.
John said that the song was inspired by "Baby Let's Play House" by Elvis. There was a line that went " I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man." The rest of the song was based around that line.

Charts and Release: 
The album was released on December 3, 1965 in the UK and entered the UK charts on December 11 and soon replaced Help! on December 25. The album was number one for nine weeks straight and remained for another forty-two weeks.

The LP was released three days  after the UK release and joined the US charts on the same day as the UK. It stayed in the charts for fifty-nine weeks. Even the following year on January 8, 1966 spent six weeks at number one.

Cover: 

Like With The Beatles to Rubber Soul all of the album covers had been taken by Robert Freeman. The photo session was taken at John's Weybridge home. The Rubber Soul album cover has a unique feature caused by a card that the picture as projecting fell backwards and stretched The Beatles faces.
"I liked the way we got out faces to be longer on the album cover, we lost the 'little innocents' tag, the naivety and Rubber Soul was the first one where we were fully-fledged potheads."- George Harrison

Fun Facts:
  • It sold 1.2 million copies in nine days of it's release in the US
  •  There were two different stereo version released in America. "Dexter stereo" and "East Coast" Version. 
  • The US released added a double-tracked vocals on The Word by John Lennon. 
  • "Golden Rings" from the original 'Drive My Car' became "Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Yeah!"
  • Paul says that when it came to song writing, the melody, "In My Life" was the only song that John and him really disagreed on.
  • In "Girl" The Beatles were singing "Tit-tit-tit-tit' In the background and nobody noticed. 
  • Rubber Soul was George Harrison's favorite album 
"A lot was changing- our attitudes, our lives- at this time, and the Rubber Soul session were the start of the building- up to the end, in away we were doing great stuff and the results were great." -Ringo Starr