Friday, August 31, 2007

Brian Epstein Blues

Forty years ago on Monday, Brian Epstein passed away and the Beatles lost something they were never able to replace--a manager who loved them and always tried to do what was best for them, even if he made some mistakes along the way. Of course, the Beatles had extraordinary talents, but it was Epstein who made them accessible to the pop music market and thus set the course for their future successes. He knew how to present them, how to make them idols to teens worldwide, and yet still be liked by some parents and grandparents, too. It's a disgrace that he has not been recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for all that he accomplished.

I honestly think if Brian had lived, if the Beatles had still broken up, the situation wouldn't have been as nasty as it was. Who knows--they might have stayed together longer. Brian's death started the downward spiral because someone had to step up and be the "daddy" figure--Paul did it, and the others resented it. (Such a complex situation!) I hope they would have still retained Epstein's management services; I think he could have been a guiding force for them throughout the years. He could have reigned in their excesses, calmed them down when they were angry, and helped heal relationships. Brian was a very special person--he may not have been the best at securing money and making deals, but I think he was a manager with integrity, unlike a Don Arden or an Allen Klein!

The footage of John, George and Ringo being interviewed after finding out about Brian's death is very heartbreaking. I don't think we ever see John in that state except here--he seems so choked up, scared, lost. It's like his heart is pounding in his throat.

Enjoy the photos of Eppy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

John's Psychedelic Home Movies

Tonight's post is comprised of screen captures from the unique edit of the "A Day in the Life" promo as it appears in the film Imagine: John Lennon. These Kenwood home movies have a decidedly psychedelic flavor to them. I particularly love the frame of John and Julian, both dressed in orange, embracing with their backs to the camera. We also see John's beautiful black cat Pepper, who is also featured in the 1968 Ethan Russell photographs of John and Yoko. By slowing down the video and capturing certain frames, I noticed things that pass by so quickly for the first time. I hope you enjoy this closer look.

Seeing John and Ringo together at Kenwood during this time period immediately brings to mind the hilariously stoned skits/songs they recorded in John's home studio. Terry Doran (from the motor trade) also appears on the tapes. John noodles on his Mellotron, and all engage in nonsense humor and song. Some titles include "Pedro the Fisherman," "Chi-Chi's Cafe" and "Daddy's Little Sunshine Boy." A few of these home tapes are in circulation, though some remain privy to only a select group.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

With A Little Help From John, Paul, George, Harry, Elton...

I've always felt that Ringo was the member of the Beatles most hurt by the break up. He always appeared to have a genuine love for the other three, and they seemed to return the sentiment. Even at the height of John and Paul's acrimony toward each other, Ringo wrote an affectionate song pleading for a sort of reconciliation between the factions. "Early 1970" is among his most endearing songs, written from the perspective of the affable drummer on the sidelines, enhanced by George's signature slide. The self-deprecating way Ringo sings about his limited musical abilities certainly adds to the charm of the song.

Throughout his solo career, Ringo's life-long friends have encouraged and supported him, contributing songs, producing, singing, playing. Often the party atmosphere of the sessions emanate through the tracks--everyone seems to be having fun, enjoying each other's company, and that joy is translated to the listener.

I've been very fortunate to have received a promotional copy of Ringo's forthcoming greatest hits CD entitled Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr. What immediately struck me as I began listening is how I found myself smiling uncontrollably as the music played. I think that most will be pleased with the remastering on the CD (I do not know who did the mastering)--although the songs have been mastered louder than on the previous '90s issues, it is not excessive. Several of the songs are improved--"Photograph" is particularly different, almost as if remixed. The background vocals are more upfront, and subtle elements of the instrumentation are more noticeable, i. e., I think I hear castanets in the mix!

Harry Nilsson sounds fantastic in the new mastering of "You're Sixteen," and the double-tracking on Ringo's lead is more prominent as well. (The beloved Nicky Hopkins' really rocks on this track!) The same can be said for "Only You"--Ringo's voice is stronger on the remaster. I love hearing John's voice peek through as the song draws to a close.

As for the track listing, I feel that the best of Ringo's later output was selected, including the Beatlesque "Weight of the World" and his tribute to George, "Never Without You." (Hearing George's melodic solo on "King of Broken Hearts" gets me every time.) Only two tracks from the '80s were selected-- the Harrison-penned "Wrack My Brain" from Stop and Smell the Roses and a remake of "Act Naturally," a 1989 duet with Buck Owens.

I highly recommend the deluxe edition CD/DVD of this title to any Beatles fan. It's an essential addition to the canon of solo recordings. Here are links to pre-order the Photograph Deluxe Edition or the Photograph Standard CD.

Press Release:
Photograph: The Very Best of Ringo Starr

On August 28th EMI is set to release Photograph: The Best of Ringo Starr which celebrates the entire solo catalog of one of the world's brightest musical luminaries, Ringo Starr. The album features 7 top ten hits from Ringo's catalog and for the first time in Starr's career his entire EMI catalog will be available digitally. Aside from Photograph, the other albums set to be released include Sentimental Journey (1970), Beaucoups of Blues (1970), the platinum-certified Ringo (1973) and gold-certified Goodnight Vienna (1974) as well as six Ringo Starr ringtones will make their global digital release debuts across all the world's major digital sales providers.

Track listing:
1. Photograph
2. It Don't Come Easy
3. You're Sixteen (You're Beautiful and You're Mine)
4. Back off Boogaloo
5. I'm the Greatest
6. Oh My My
7. Only You (And You Alone)
8. Beaucoups of Blues
9. Early 1970
10. Snookeroo
11. No-No Song
12. (It's All Down To) Goodnight Vienna
13. Hey Baby
14. Weight of the World
15. Dose of Rock 'N' Roll
16. King of Broken Hearts
17. Never Without You
18. Act Naturally - Buck Owens, Ringo Starr
19. Wrack My Brain
20. Fading in and Fading Out

I should be back to posting more regularly. Not only did I have to endure a hard drive crash, but as soon as I installed a new drive, my modem was hijacked by an insidious dialer called "Delsim" which proceeded to prevent me from connecting to the Internet as it dialed expensive long distance phone numbers to foreign countries! Please protect your own computers from trojans, viruses, and spyware so you won't have to go through this nightmare yourself. (I recommend AVG Anti-Spyware 7.5 and avast! anti-virus.) I still need to reinstall screen capture programs, and a new scanner is headed my way. Until then, I'm posting some Ringo pictures I found at the LiveJournal Beatlepics community--a wonderful resource! Thanks to all who share their pictures there. The picture below the cover of the new CD was taken May 31, 2000, the night I saw Ringo & the All-Starr Band in concert in Nashville.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My Hard Drive Crashed

I suppose some of you have been wondering why this blog hasn't been updated recently. My hard drive crashed on Thursday, and I'm patiently awaiting a new one to arrive. I am posting from another computer at the moment. Once I get everything up and running again, I have some very special posts planned.

Stay tuned this week for a sneak-peek review of Ringo Starr's upcoming greatest hits release (due to arrive in stores and on iTunes August 28th)!

Thanks for your patience and understanding. I'll see you in a few days...