Sunday, October 23, 2016

HOLLYWOOD BOWL REDUX



Fourth time around would best describe the prep that went into getting this time capsule to its present state.

THE BACK STORY

Capitol Records' Voyle Gilmore had the first crack with his team on hand to capture the Beatles Hollywood debut on August 23, 1964. Utilizing a remote sound truck parked several blocks from the venue, they plugged directly into the stereo board at the Bowl. Primitive equipment (3 track machines) mostly picked up gale force screaming that saturated the tapes, with VU meters constantly buried in the red. This exercise was repeated a year later, though technical issues with Paul's microphone on the August 29th show rendered it useless. The set on the following night turned out to be much better and was recorded without incident. Some work was done to prepare a disc for official release at that time. Unhappy with the overall sound quality along with their collective performances, the group vetoed the plan.

Phil Spector, following his work with the output from the Get Back sessions, was asked to do a similar salvage job on these concerts in 1971. His efforts never escaped the Apple vaults.

Overwhelming odds were in favor of the project simply being left for dead.

Enter George Martin and Geoff Emerick

In early 1977, the legendary producer and engineer were tasked with delicately transferring the original masters to 16-track tape for filtering, equalization, editing and mixing. Their major obstacle was finding a 3 track machine that actually worked. With much luck they did so, though it was barely functional. Cold air had to be constantly directed on it to avoid overheating and destroying the precious tapes. Their painstaking work paid off, bringing an exciting document to the masses. All four Beatles received a copy, though only Lennon rated it as fit for public consumption. (Harrison thought that it wasn't very good) Nonetheless, it was shipped to record retailers in May of that year, sailed to number one in the UK, number two in the US and sold over a million copies.



Contrary to myth, they were a solid live act. Caught in relatively decent form here, it is to their credit that there were no major train wrecks considering that they were playing to 17,000 screamers without monitors for reference. Highlights include "She's a Woman", "Things We Said Today" and Lennon laughing in the middle of "Help!", overwhelmed by crowd reaction (or nerves) Everything is taken at a much faster tempo.

Calm down, Ringo.

Cover art features a clever mock up of concert tickets that bear no resemblance to the originals. Here's what a lucky fan would have actually presented for admittance to the 1964 show.



In 1984, the official Hollywood Bowl set went out of print. The vinyl is easily found in second hand record stores and I still have my copy from the early 80s. Bootlegs are out there, too, if you want to hear all three concerts in their entirety. Hollywood Bowl Complete is a good one. (They even got the tickets right.)



For die-hard collectors, Capitol also released "In-Store Only" 8 -track tapes with five songs from the album to record outlets. These listening post promos are now nearly impossible to find.



When the Beatles catalog was repackaged for sale in CD format in 1987, Hollywood Bowl did not make the cut. Since that time, Apple has acted as curator to the most dissected, well loved and marketable collection of music in rock history. Everything from BBC sessions to the Anthology cutting room floor material had been dusted off and dangled in front of willing consumers in the nineties. The re-mastering of their work for the digital age was another massive roll out in 2009, yet this one remained under glass in the museum.

Fast forward to 2016

Giles Martin, with the aid of 21st century advances in recording technology, picked up where his father had left off four decades earlier. Take a moment to find out how this came together.



The general consensus is that the audio update allows the listener to properly hear bass and drums in the mix. "Ticket to Ride" is a completely different aural experience here as are "She's a Woman" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". Overall, the track sequence is identical to the 1977 issue, with four bonus tunes that are tagged on to keep things interesting for the casual fan. Hardcore collectors will likely view this as a missed opportunity to have all three concerts out there, though technical gremlins made certain performances unsalvageable. The energy (and volume) of the crowd still resonates even though over 50 years have passed. Their reaction gives the set an electric thrill, even as they threatened to overwhelm all attempts to preserve these shows for posterity. Very worthwhile addition to your collection.

Monday, September 26, 2016

VOL. 4 at 44



Sabbath's Volume Four turned 44 yesterday. Pictured here is my Korean issued pressing of the disc (sporting blue cover/white lettering). Great record from the "Sab Four"

Friday, September 09, 2016

MCLENMORE AVENUE



Known for being deep in the pocket of universal groove, Booker T and the MGs were the legendary Stax house ensemble that powered countless hit records. They were not faceless session players, touring and releasing their own material ("Green Onions", "Time Is Tight") to great acclaim.

McLenmore Avenue is ideal for those who know the Abbey Road LP back to front and have wondered how it would sound in the very capable hands of this soulful quartet. Their interpretation is a model of taste. Jones and crew opted to rearrange the running order of some of tracks, weaving them into medleys that leave plenty of room for everyone to stretch out and display their chops. "I Want You (She's So heavy)" is a definite highlight of the pack, though their clever arrangements compel the listener to remain seated for the entire journey. It's that good.

How did I stumble across this gem?

In the early 80s, CBC Radio used the version of "Carry That Weight" found here to fill spaces before hourly news breaks. Researching the matter, I discovered who was responsible for this curious cover and eventually tracked down a copy of the disc.

The Beatles themselves contemplated going to Memphis to record in the mid-sixties, with Steve Cropper slated to produce, though the deal fell through due to the asking price for studio time. You can hear the by product of the Fabs fixation with the MGs in the "Rubber Soul" era outtake, "12 Bar Original", which basically rehashes "Green Onions" and wisely remained on the shelf until it was dusted off for the Anthology project.

Born out of a mutual admiration society, this is a classic that fans of both bands will appreciate.

Monday, August 22, 2016

NEW MUSIC FROM DRLNG



On September 10th, DRLNG will be releasing a new single called Cobra, though they want you to check it out in advance.

"Cobra" casts a moody, esoteric vibe with an enchanting melody. Setting the table for more music to come in Fall 2016, the group will also be returning to live performance after a hiatus. The opportunity to recharge creative batteries has paid off. Visit their site for all the latest DRLNG news

Friday, August 19, 2016

GINGER BAKER TURNS 77



Legendary musician celebrates another year in the material world.

Here's the Birthday Boy soloing at the Albert Hall in the fall of '68



Natural timekeeper in his element.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

JOSEPH BRIDGE ON BBC RADIO LONDON



Millions of listeners in the UK had the pleasure to hear Joseph Bridge on the BBC recently. "Phyllis the Parking Meter Lady" was featured on Gary Crowley's program alongside the work of icons such as David Bowie, The Kinks, Elvis Costello, The Clash and Oasis. Sitting comfortably in lofty company, his music continues to be played around the world. Check out my review of his self titled disc
here

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SUGAR PONIES



Little late to the party with this one, though please take time out and listen to this enchanting tune from San Francisco based duo, Sugar Ponies. Clever arrangement, delicate playing and a very fine vocal delivered by Suzanne Kramer. Her partner in this project, Michael McGovern, is responsible for the aforementioned acoustic magic. Full marks to all involved for allowing the song to take precedence and highlighting the understated power of the singer. It is a gentle message that is unencumbered by the often overused, inhuman tools of digital recording software. Very easy on the ears in every respect.



Want to learn more about the Sugar Ponies? Leave this place now to check out their site