Monday, December 22, 2008

A Wonderful Christmastime

Season's Greetings! In this post, I've included some of my personal photos along with some scans of Beatles pics. As one can see, my Christmas tree is loaded with Beatles ornaments! I also included a picture of me with May Pang (who was very personable and gracious) taken when I met her in October.

Also among the photos you'll find selections from my Beatles memorabilia collection, including a Worchester Ware metal tray from 1964, my collection of Hamilton figures from the early '90s, a large cardboard stand up promoting MPI's VHS release of The First U.S. Visit, and a tie-dye tapestry bearing silk-screened "White Album" photos.

Of course, I had to include some scans of John and Beatles photos. Hopefully you haven't seen a few of those before. I'd also like to direct you to my "Alison's Wonderland" blog, where you will find a post featuring the 1966 Beatles Christmas flexi-disc, Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May 2009 bring you comfort, joy, peace and love.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Buddies and Pals

I came across this series of Terry O'Neill photographs in the Jan./Feb. 1981 John Lennon tribute issue of Songwriter magazine. I thought the first three photos of John and Paul together, playfully interacting with each other, were exceptionally adorable. The magazine also includes an excerpt from the David Sheff Playboy interview where John discusses songwriting with Paul.

Do any readers happen to know where those three photos were taken? Could they be from a rehearsal for their Feb. 1964 appearance on Big Night Out--I have deduced that the individual portraits presented were taken then. I also think they could have been taken during rehearsals for one of their Christmas shows, since O'Neill photographed them then as well. The last photo is from their Nov. 1964 Ready Steady Go! performance.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sat Singing

Sitting as the noonday sun
Shines high up in a clear blue sky.
While warming me I drift away
No mem'ries of the times gone by.
Oh, the moment that I lose my mind,
You come into my heart and say
"I'm always here for you to love,
Surrender to me, let me stay."

Sinking deeper still inside,
I feel awakened from my dreams.
Resting in some golden flow,
Becoming part of you it seems.

Nothing separates my life
From that which we have called our goal,
It's all in this external world
As results from deep within my soul.

As I open up my eyes,
The sky has changed into a glow.
My sense of time had disappeared,
I see the sun has sunken low.

I feel such joy and call your name,
You're ev'rything my eyes could see.
I'll gladly kiss it all goodbye,
Stay ever in your company.

- George Harrison

To celebrate the extraordinary life and musical career of George Harrison, I've posted scans of the first installment of a Record Collector retrospective, published in the April 2001 issue (given to me by my friend Jeff). It is so hard to believe that we've seen seven years pass since George left the material world.

Reflecting on George's solo career, I find that many gems are buried on obscure releases, such as the song whose lyrics are presented above. Originally intended for the rejected Somewhere in England, "Sat Singing" did not see official release until Genesis published the very expensive books, The Songs of George Harrison, including CDs of previously unreleased songs. Other rejected Somewhere in England songs made their appearance here, including "Lay His Head" and "Flying Hour," both of which are gorgeous songs and among my favorites in the Harrison canon. These three tracks were also remixed in 1987; I prefer the original 1980 mixes, which can be found on numerous bootlegs. In my opinion, George's original SIE album is stronger than what was eventually released. I find the lyrics to "Sat Singing" to be representative of George's vision and goal for his life--to become one with God, at peace within himself.

Another essential Harrison release that has been out of print for many years is Best of Dark Horse 1976 - 1989, which includes the hard-to-find singles and B-sides such as "Cheer Down," "Cockamamie Business," and "Poor Little Girl."Another of my favorite George tracks is "Horse to Water," included on Jools Holland's Small World, Big Band album. Sam Brown did such a fantastic version of this song at the Concert for George; unfortunately, her performance didn't make the cut for the official CD (at least it's on the DVD).

I hope that Olivia and Dhani see fit to reissue and expand the Best of Dark Horse, and include those songs that were on the discs that accompanied the Genesis books, as well as "Horse to Water."

As I type, I'm listening to George with his hero, Carl Perkins, singing and picking "Glad All Over." I can't help but smile.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster

In February of 1965, Beatles Monthly photographer Leslie Bryce captured the Beatles rehearsing for the recording of the Lennon composition, "Yes It Is." During those sessions, John was photographed with his brand new sonic blue Fender Stratocaster. John and George had recently dispensed Mal Evans to procure two Strats for them, and he returned with these gorgeous guitars. Apparently, George had been displeased with the guitar sound he was getting from a Gretch through a Vox amp and was eager for a change. These were the first Fenders owned by the Beatles.

These Strats were also used on the recordings of "Ticket to Ride," "Nowhere Man" and other Rubber Soul tracks, as well as the Sgt. Pepper album. George nicknamed his Strat "Rocky" and gave it the full psychedelic treatment by painting it in vibrant colors (even using a bit of Patti's green nail varnish). He can be seen playing it during the Our World broadcast of "All You Need is Love" and the Magical Mystery Tour film.

Speaking of guitars: Last weekend I was in Nashville for the Fab Four Fest on Cannery Row, and a filmmaker by the name of Seth Swirsky served on a panel, promoting his new film A Year in the Life (which looks fantastic, by the way). The teaser from the film produced a revelation for gear heads such as myself. A few years ago, George's Gibson SG Standard (which he had given to Badfinger's Pete Ham, who subsequently gave it to his brother) went for over $400, 000 at auction to an anonymous bidder. The film revealed that Indianapolis Colt's owner Jim Irsay was that winning bidder.

I'll post more about the Fest at a later date...

(Reference: Beatles Gear by Andy Babiuk)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Screen Caps Galore!

In belated celebration of what would have been John Lennon's 68th birthday, here is a selection of screen captures from various sources:

The captures of John with mussed hair were taken from an interview conducted by George Yateman for a US TV segment entitled, British Calendar: News. The reason John appears with bed-head may be due to the fact that he hadn't planned on coming to the interview at all, opting instead to sleep in. At the insistence of Brian Epstein, John eventually arrived--70 minutes late!

The color captures of the Beatles filming Help! in the Bahamas originates from the home movies of Dr. Walter Strach, the Beatles' financial advisor.

I've included various captures from the 1966 North American Tour, as I've been obsessed with it lately. In the next issue of Ugly Things, I'm reviewing America's Lost Band, a fabulous new documentary about the Remains, the legendary Boston band who opened for the Beatles on this particular tour. The color captures are from the few minutes of circulating silent footage of their Cincinnati concert. I've also included captures from their hilarious L.A. press conference from August 24, 1966.

There are some captures of John singing "I'm A Loser" on Shindig, from October 3, 1964, plus chatting with Keith Fordyce on Ready Steady Go! on Nov. 23rd.

The last set of captures are from the circulating newsreel footage of the Beatles receiving an award from Radio Caroline for being "the most consistent pop stars" on April 6, 1965.

We will love and miss you always, John.

(Reference: John C. Winn's books, Way Beyond Compare and That Magic Feeling, two essential books about Beatles that no fan should be without.)