My brother loves music the same way we love to breath. Next to his family music is his life and it fuels his soul. One of my brother's great gifts is his ability to write about and convey his excitement and love of a new song, album or band he's just discovered or rediscovered. After reading one of Stephen's emails you immediately want to listen to the attached song as loud as you can.
Here's example of a recent music email Stephen sent me and his friend Nick. This time his subject is the Beatles.
Yo, Paul & Nick...
In the recent wave of Beatles product ("Beatlemania '09" as I like to call it), I'm reminded of Let It Be and it's legacy. I've always been a supporter of that LP--in its Phil Spector form--but for mostly nostalgic reasons (I had a thing for gatefold LPs when I was really young, something to study while I listened to the music).
Stories about the damn Get Back sessions are everywhere on the internet and so damn depressing I won't belabor it with a history lesson. Suffice to say I have something like 80 hours of music from that first month in January '69 and will never listen to much of it. And the Let It Be...Naked CD from a few years ago was a snooze (I thought), too polished and too late for me to really enjoy.
But have you guys heard Get Back
? If you look up Let It Be
in Wiki you can get the whole story, but in a nutshell, the great engineer Glyn Johns--one of the only people to be at all of the Get Back
Sessions (not even George Harrison can say that) was given the daunting task of making an LP out of a month's worth of hostility and ugliness that should have been called Get Away
. He made one version and they shot it down. The second version, which for some reason is known as "Version 2 & 3," was approved by all four Beatles for release. He assembled it in April and May '69, it was supposed to come out in July '69 and they even made a cover:
Well, needless to say, they pulled it and focused on Abbey Road. Then it came back, went to Spector and an orchestra and a choir and blah, blah, blah, we all know the rest of this story.
So, to get back to the Glyn Johns version. I think--and many generally agree--that his version is the closest approximation to what they were trying to do with those sessions. It sounds, on one hand, nothing like the contrived, overproduced psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper's, but it also doesn't sound at all like the "one man band" sound that pervades the White Album. Which means it accomplishes what Paul was aiming for: the sound of a band getting back to their roots, playing together in an world without overdubs. It's loose, it's fun. The chatter inbetween songs feels like a band playing and laughing (whereas the stuff Spector included is intriguing but also frequently just weird and esoteric). Johns's version is more cohesive.
Now, I think what I just wrote above about this version is very factual (listing it's obvious differences from Pepper, the White Album and the Spector version), but I'm not gonna tell you guys too much about how I personally feel about it. We've all have too much of an individual relationship with the Beatles for me to try to say this song is better than that song, or this take is better than that mix. You'll have to come to your own conclusions. (I will say this: opening with "One After 909" does make it clear they this is a Back to Our Roots LP [if only to those who know they wrote it in '63], but it's not a great LP opener; "Teddy Boy" is as bad as it is elsewhere; Johns's resolutions for "Get Back" confound me; I think he used the wrong take of "Don't Let Me Down"; I always thought 40 seconds of "Dig It" was plenty and I still feel that way; and two McCartney ballads back-to-back, to end the LP is a mistake. But those are just my opinions.)
Check out the attached. Give it a listen whenever you like.
Posted via email from Paul Altobelli
Labels: Beatles, Stephen Altobello