Monday, March 22, 2010

 

Album of the Day: The Beatles (3/22/63) 47 Years!

The Beatles (playlist here) recorded the bulk of their debut album, Please Please Me at EMI Studios in London in one, 9-hour marathon in February 1963. The album was rush-released in the U.K. on March 22, 1963 to leverage the success of two singles, “Love Me Do” and the title track, both of which came out in late 1962. Beatlemania was bubbling in Britain, but it would be nearly a year before the Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, bringing the brouhaha to the U.S.

Please Please Me contains 14 excellent samples of the Beatles’ early work. You’ve heard them all many times over, but they’re just a fresh today as they were 47 years ago when four brash young guys banged them out for a few pounds pay (but millions more to come in royalties). And it wasn’t that much trouble for them to get it down in 9 hours, as most of the songs were staples of their live shows honed in the clubs of Hamburg and Liverpool. Eight Lennon/McCartney originals mix with six covers, including Motown (“Boys,” featuring Ringo on vocals, and “Baby It’s You,” another Shirelles hit), a Gerry Goffin/Carole King mid-tempo rocker (“Chains,” sung by George Harrison) and “Twist And Shout,” a hit for the Isley Brothers in 1962. Of the originals, there’s a balance of rock ‘n’ roll (“I Saw Her Standing There” and the title track) with sweet ballads (“There’s A Place” and “P.S. I Love You”) and the eternal “Do You Want To Know A Secret.”

Unless they purchased import copies, American listeners would have to endure a 10 month wait for the Beatles’ first U.S. releases, Introducing…The Beatles on Vee-Jay Records and Meet The Beatles on Capitol (both released in mid-January 1964). Even the Canadians got in ahead of their southern neighbors, as Capitol released a Canada-only version of With The Beatles (the second U.K. release) in November 1963. Please Please Me is available as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon, but as with all Beatles music, not on iTunes.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Paul McCartney (12/11/76) 33 Years!


Paul McCartney (click here for Dr. Rock’s playlist) and his post-Beatles band Wings toured the world in 1976. Their epic triple-disc live album, Wings Over America, was released on December 11, 1976 at the end of the tour and quickly became the last of five straight U.S. #1 albums and a favorite of McCartney’s fans (if not critics). The album capitalizes on several of Paul’s biggest hits from the early 70s, including “Live And Let Die,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “My Love,” plus old Beatles’ tunes and a rare live version of Wings guitarist Denny Laine singing “Go Now!,” his big mid-60s hit from his stint with the early Moody Blues.

The triple album was recorded at the Forum in Inglewood outside Los Angeles on June 23, 1976. Rather than include the songs in the order in which they were played during the show, McCartney chose a novel arrangement and batched them on the LP’s six sides by style and the instrument he played. Thus, Side 1 features upbeat rockers with Paul on bass, followed by mellower, mostly piano love songs on Side 2, acoustic-guitar based folk songs on Side 3, and more piano songs on Side 4. Paul returns to the bass on Side 5 and focuses on tracks from Wing’s March 1976 studio release, Wings At The Speed Of Sound. Side 6 completes the package with another round of upbeat rockers with Paul on the bass.

Wings Over America is one of the highest selling live albums of all time. It’s available as a CD from Amazon (click here) and as download tracks on iTunes (click here).

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Friday, November 27, 2009

 

Album of the Day: The Beatles (11/27/67) 42 Years!

Capitol Records released the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour in the U.S. as a full length LP on November 27, 1967, less than six months after their groundbreaking and immensely enjoyable Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album (a shorter 6 song version was released as an EP in the U.K. by Parlophone) was meant to be a soundtrack for a Paul McCartney-directed TV film of the same name, which turned out to be a total bust, was panned by the British press after it aired on Boxing Day 1967 and didn’t air in the U.S. until the mid-70s. But the album did very well in the U.S., becoming yet another #1 album for the Beatles and selling more copies in its first three weeks out than any other Capitol release to that time. Interestingly, the import version in the U.K. only made #31 on those charts.

Side B of Magical Mystery Tour featured five of the Beatles’ great singles from 1967, “Hello Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “Baby You’re A Rich Man” and “All You Need Is Love,” with the sixth, “I Am The Walrus” the last track on Side A. Also on the front side are McCartney’s sobering “Fool On The Hill” and George Harrison’s sweet “Blue Jay Way.”

Despite what its title may imply, Magical Mystery Tour was not a concept album in the vein of its predecessor Sgt. Pepper’s. But it’s a worthy follow-up with similar psychedelic-pop sounds and a wonderful source of the six single tracks and the other two. Magical Mystery Tour is available as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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