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Old 11-04-2009, 10:47 AM   #131 (permalink)
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^Great review, that album surely deserves an entry in here.

One of my favorite tracks on that album:



And very enjoyable extra songs of course, other than Rosalyn, I really like to listen to Don't bring me down and Get yourself Home.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:04 AM   #132 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulysses View Post
I knew it! I said you were sat in the studio stuffing your face with Toblerone. Is there a caravan parked outside Pure FM full of souvenirs of London?
A day in the life



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulysses View Post
I never know what to think of the Pretty Things. On the one hand I think they get too much credit, particularly for S.F. Sorrow but, at the same time, I don't think they get enough credit! I think that comes from the fact that even in England they seem to be a band that is only known by 'afficiandos' or people who have picked-up S.F. Sorrow from yet another band name-checking it - even though none of those bands actually sound like S.F. Sorrow made an impression on them in the first place.

As you say yourself, they beat the early Stones at their own game on their early records and yet how many people who were around during the 1960s are that familiar with them. It seems history really is written by the victors and big-lipped Dartford boys.

I wonder whether they should be filed away with Les Fleur de Lys as one of those bands that perhaps ultimately suffered because of various line-up changes? Both bands created great music at every change they went through but perhaps they were never able to create enough traction for anything to really stick before they'd changed yet again?

Whilst Taylor's guitar playing always gets mentioned on anything about the Pretty Things, for me, some of the musical highlights on the early material actually come from Viv Prince's occasionally ferocious drums.
Was Viv Prince the same drummer who came to recordings "slightly" intoxicated and being violently sick between takes? If so it might not have been him drumming as he usually was well out of it.

I agree with you about this band, they are shockingly undervalued, I started with SF Sorrow and loved it but have quickly moved to their more accomplished R&B period, I find it a lot more engaging, but that Phillippe Debarge lost album aint bad from 69.

I think they are a bit better than Les Fleur De Lys though, but only just.

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^Great review, that album surely deserves an entry in here. One of my favorite tracks on that album:



And very enjoyable extra songs of course, other than Rosalyn, I really like to listen to Don't bring me down and Get yourself Home.
Cheers Number9, these reissues with extra tracks of The Pretty Things sixties output have really highlighted what a cracking band they were back then.
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:30 AM   #133 (permalink)
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Following a rather lengthy quiet spell on this journal, I figured I would give you something to chew over.

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band
(1967)

Tracks

1 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 2:02
2 With a Little Help from My Friends 2:44
3 Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds 3:28
4 Getting Better 2:47
5 Fixing a Hole 2:36
6 She's Leaving Home 3:35
7 Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! 2:37
8 Within You Without You 5:05
9 When I'm Sixty-Four 2:37
10 Lovely Rita 2:42
11 Good Morning Good Morning 2:41
12 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) 1:18
13 A Day in the Life 5:33



After writing these Cellar Tape reviews for a while now, I figured it was about time I confronted and addressed thee album, thee album which to many stands out as the greatest album ever produced, ever recorded, ever listened to, ever held in both hands, ever looked at, ever glanced at or even quite possibly ever to have been heard whispered by an elderly relative, I am of course referring to Sgt Pepper. Judging by my opening gambit, it’s obvious that I am trying my damnedest to dislike this album, it’s not cool to like Sgt Pepper, you’re Grandmother likes Sgt Pepper, hell everyone does, but it truly is impossible to knock this album, after all it has its Godlike status for a reason.
I responded to this elsewhere, at a time when I wasn't aware that Monsieur Cellar Tapes was posting his reviews here. Purely in the spirit of 'a new boy trying to contribute to the board' I thought I'd throw this in the ring as I disagreed with a lot of what he had to say and whilst he's right that Sgt Pepper does draw criticism these days, I think a lot of the criticism has merit.

I agree with the idea that Sgt Pepper, to any fan of either 60s music generally or specifically psychedelia, is pretty much the paisley pachyderm in the room. You can only talk around it for so long before you’ve got to admit it’s there and meet it head on. However, it just so happens I’ve got a pith helmet and an elephant gun with me…

My biggest problem is the idea of Sgt Pepper being genuinely 'ground-breaking'. I honestly believe that the reality is that it’s actually a lull between far more significant points. It's a fantastic lull certainly, and a lull that towers over the high points of many bands of that era but, in Beatles terms, a lull never-the-less.

Much is made of the theme or the ‘concept’ of the album as being innovative but even that doesn’t really stand-up to close scrutiny. It's widely known that Paul McCartney described Sgt Pepper as being The Beatles’ 'Freak Out!’. ‘Freak Out!’, of course, being Frank Zappa's 1966 album of the same name. It’s hard to say exactly what aspect of ‘Freak Out!’ McCartney was referring to as there are several overlapping areas. As well as being a double album, as was orginally intended with Sgt Pepper, and as well as both albums being having a wide stylistic spectrum, it’s worth noting that ‘Freak Out!’ also uses a fictional figure in similar ways to the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper persona(s). ‘Freak Out!’ makes use of the ‘uptight’ and ‘white bread’ Suzy Creamcheese within the actual album, as well as the now-famous reference on the actual record sleeve.

However, what’s even more interesting is the reasoning behind utilising these personas. McCartney, it is claimed, wanted liberation from being a boxed-in mop top. The claim is fairly nonsensical though – and not in a good way! - as the Beatles had long hung-up their tour passes and, following Revolver, it was self-evident that the Beatles could pretty much get away with being as avant-garde as they wanted: so what exactly was so constricting about being a post-1966 Beatle? As far as the rest of the universe was concerned he, along with Nasty, Dirk and Barry, had the world on a plate.

McCartney’s fiction-figures and opportunity to speak (in a way he apparently felt he couldn’t as ‘Paul McCartney of the Beatles) are squandered on often cosy nostalgic references to Victoriana and Edwardiana, whilst Zappa’s is a much more vital stinging satire on American politics and the idiocies of pop culture. As Jane Asher’s boyfriend was appearing to avoid the world about him in favour of an expensive dressing-up box and getting lost in a sepia-tinted past-that-never-was, Frank Vincent was keenly dissecting what was happening around him and was alternately laughing and despairing at what he saw.

Much has been made over years of the innovativeness of Sgt Pepper's Victoriana, as if this was something McCartney personally unleashed from the moustachioed Research & Development lobe of his brain. What’s lost on a lot of people now, particularly now “it was 42 years ago today…” is that this particular nostalgic vein had already spurted scarlet and claret across the streets of ‘Swinging London’ for several years. Lord Kitchener’s Valet and its Great-Coated ilk had been selling military-surplus-made-kitsch clothing for quite a while by that point, whilst Vaudevillian nostalgia generally had been the shoe-spatted bread and butter for bands like the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and the Temperance Seven for a long time.

Even David Bowie’s own cultural antenna had also been picking up 'turn of the century' messages as they bounced back from space: his debut album being released the same day as Sgt Pepper. It's genuinely worth comparing what Bowie manages to do with the lyrics of the transvestite tragi-tale ‘She’s Got Medals’ against the reminiscence-fest of the Sgt Pepper title track and various other McCartney songs of this period. Which is really the more 'ground-breaking' here?

It could also be argued that McCartney and Co. had already played the 'retro quasi-military' card as early as ‘Yellow Submarine’ with the sing-song nautical Captain of his childhood. Even the name of the album, ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, was said to be a tip of the brigadier's hat to what was happening in America with the some of the more wordier San Francisco and L.A. band-names.

It can’t be reiterated enough that much of the amazing things that happen on the album, as with a lot of Beatles music, are down to the staff at Abbey Road. Whilst McCartney famously bemoaned Spector’s supposedly smothering over-production on ‘the Long and Winding Road’ (from ‘Let it Be’), it’s hard to think of a band that has generally benefited more from the sonic sorcery that’s come from a studio control desk. However, for all the hype that surrounds Sgt Pepper, the alleged innovations aren’t actually that innovative. The fairground madness of ‘Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite’ is regularly spotlighted for it’s ‘new’ and clever use of production techniques, however, like a lot of things that appear on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it’s really only a continuation of what they’d already done before. George Martin’s magical musical cut-ups are only a more musically cohesive version of what they’d already done with ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ the year before.

The use of Artificial Double Tracking, a technique that’s always mentioned in relation to Sgt Pepper and the Beatles’ work in the studio generally – as well as generally being a boon for the often Lazy Lennon – began, like a lot of things, on their previous album, ‘Revolver’. Similarly, much is made on the use of microphone placement on the album – particularly on the way this shaped the way drums were recorded for decades to come – however this was once more a continuation of something else that started with ‘Revolver’, that time being the way the ‘Eleanor Rigby’ string section was recorded.

As for the nature of the actual songs, it’s worth remembering the chronology of the recording and writing of the songs as well as the order of their release. Anything that is shown as evidence of Pepper’s much vaunted ‘experimentation’ – whether this is the synched grand piano chords, the unstructured orchestration parts or the mixing magic – it is, time and time again, undermined by what the Beatles had done themselves the previous year. As surreally pretty as ‘Lucy…’ is, it’s neither as breath-taking nor mind-melting as ‘Strawberry Fields for Ever’ on any level, whether as a song or a recording exercise, and perhaps the same can be said for any Sgt Pepper track.

continues...
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Old 11-06-2009, 11:31 AM   #134 (permalink)
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continued from above...

A few of the tracks on Sgt Pepper have a love or hate ‘sponsored by Marmite’ quality to them, and quite often these are the misty-eyed nostalgia pieces. However, it’s not just the doily and tea-pot warmer triteness that is a problem but also that, again, the Beatles are looking backwards in more ways than one and are venturing into all-too-familiar territory. Not only were the themes of getting old and looking back (or even forward!) in ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ covered far more cleverly and musically in ‘Penny Lane’, McCartney had been sitting on 'When I'm Sixty-Four' for years and the Beatles actually recorded it the week previously to ‘Penny Lane’!

In many ways much can be same about the ‘She’s Leaving Home’. Whilst it’s a great song and not quite as saccharine as many suggest, it’s basically ‘Eleanor Rigby part 2’ – or maybe even ‘Eleanor Rigby part 0.5’ if some musicologists are to be believed. Both odes to sad and ruined lives use similar orchestration techniques as a musical foil.

The only time Harrison is let out of his saffron-scented cage on Sgt Pepper by Lennon and McCartney with the wonderful ‘Within You Without You’, the potential shock of the 'new' and the 'exotic' is greatly diminished by 1965’s ‘what’s that wasp?’ eye-and-ear-opener, ‘Norwegian Wood’. Yes, Harrison is turning up both the Indian-ness and cod-philosophy but that’s a very different thing than presenting genuine newness. In many ways this turning the ' Indian-ness up to 11' was as much to do with having to prove himself to his ‘masters’, Lennon and McCartney, than a need to reveal anything genuinely new to a record-buying public as the real 'upping-the-game' motivation followed Harrison's realisation that the bizarre and disturbing ‘Only a Northern Song’ wouldn’t be included on Sgt Pepper as he'd hoped.

Whilst I don’t agree with the idea that Sgt Pepper is one of the greatest albums ever made, it is hard disagree that it is a great album. For most other bands it would be their crowing glory but, unfortunately for the Beatles themselves, this is the Beatles we’re talking about! The problem is, whether one can argue that other bands were equally innovative during this period, Sgt Pepper itself was actually book-ended by some genius work of the Beatles own making, as well as songs that were written and recorded during the Pepper-era but held off, such as the afore-mentioned ‘Only a Northern Song’ as well as ‘It’s All Too Much’ (more ‘back in your cage, Harrison!’ bullying), ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ or ‘All You Need is Love’ and so on.

When you think of the works that were released before Sgt Pepper such as the ‘Paperback Writer/Rain’ single and the ‘Revolver’ album, and then what followed immediately afterwards, it’s hard not think of Pepper as being something that happened in between greater moments rather than being the Beatles’ greatest moment itself.

Perhaps what’s most telling about Sgt Pepper is what did follow on after it. It’s fairly well-known that Sgt Pepper damaged the mind of Brian Wilson beyond repair, that toothsome beardies the Bee Gees went crazy for it in a different way, and it also prompted the Rolling Stones to raid their own dressing-up box but specifically was the influence of this album? How did it really change music? In many respects it didn’t even really change the Beatles themselves. A year after Sgt Pepper the Beatles had started follow a completely musical trajectory themselves anyway, as did popular music and rock in general. Whereas culturally and socially Sgt Pepper made big waves – I’ve long tired of ‘where were you when you first heard Sgt Pepper’ anecdotes – when it actually come to music, music, in a long-game sense, reacted against Sgt Pepper more than anything. By 1968, anyone that was anyone, and that includes the Beatles themselves, was now leaning towards a earthier, stripped-down rock sound as opposed to the ornamentation and psychedelic flamboyance that Pepper was said to have typified. The fact that in 1968 the Beatles gave us ‘the White album’ as opposed to ‘For your Delectation, the Beatles Present: Auntie Nancy’s Cream Bun Whirligig’ speaks volumes.

[/chin-stroking, pretentious twunt]
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:50 AM   #135 (permalink)
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Now you've done it!

To be fair, its so well written Ulysses how can anyone argue. After a few days of being back in love with Sgt Pepper at the time, Im now back to indifference again, its certainly turned into a contentious album with age thats for sure.
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:22 PM   #136 (permalink)
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That was a good read, above.

You really have a point in this. I actually always wondered, how can we call Sgt Pepper's the best album in History, when in my opinion, it's not even the best Beatles album. Tho in many cases, I agreed with it being the best album without considering it my favorite Beatles album (which seems a bit contradicting).

You also have a point in Sgt Pepper's not being the most innovative album, not even remotely innovative as it was all done before in previous Beatles albums. When I think of the most important album of The Beatles, it's between Rubber Soul and Revolver, cause that's when the metamorphosis was happening. And talking about the influence Sgt Pepper's has brought, we can notice that after this album, even The Beatles were doing the opposite by returning to their roots.

But I guess when we want an album to represent the best of the best, the no.1 of a list is never actually the best of that list.
I'll explain: Tho Sgt. Pepper's is not the best album in History, I can't see another album having as much baggage. It's more of a symbol than any other thing. It is the climax of that era, the explosion of what the 60s and The Beatles were doing from the beginning. Of course, after this album, everyone was returning to the roots, because after this album everything was done. It may not be true, but that is what this album represents.
... and to put it in a really cliché manner "it was the end of the beginning, and the beginning of the end".

** Tho I sincerely think, that the most psychedelic and the best of them all was The Magical Mystery Tour, but I guess the movie cursed this album and destroyed the name.
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:05 PM   #137 (permalink)
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** Tho I sincerely think, that the most psychedelic and the best of them all was The Magical Mystery Tour, but I guess the movie cursed this album and destroyed the name.
I actually quite like the film, the sight of John Lennon feeding a sobbing fat lady spaghetti with a shovel is actually pretty funny when you think about it.
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Old 11-08-2009, 01:42 AM   #138 (permalink)
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I don't know what all the fuss about Sgt. Pepper's was all about anyway. The cover was pretty cool but the entire albums sounds like a collection of children's songs except for Within Without and A Day in Life both of which were fantastic songs. Compare Sgt. Peppers to Love's Forever Changes from the same year and song for song Love's album is far better and has a lot more ideas going on than the Beatles album.

I think the White album is the best Beatle's album by a long shot. The songs are darker and far more adult than anything they've ever written. There are 32 songs on the White album and 15 to 20 of the songs are classics. Had the White album been edited down to one album it could have been a perfect album, but the Beatles chose to leave a dozen or so not brilliant songs which probably should have been saved for a future Beatle's outtake album instead of left on the ablum.
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:22 PM   #139 (permalink)
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I think the White album is the best Beatle's album by a long shot. The songs are darker and far more adult than anything they've ever written. There are 32 songs on the White album and 15 to 20 of the songs are classics. Had the White album been edited down to one album it could have been a perfect album, but the Beatles chose to leave a dozen or so not brilliant songs which probably should have been saved for a future Beatle's outtake album instead of left on the ablum.
I don't think The White Album can be edited down in any way to a homogeneous perfect album. It was obviously a kind of compilation between 3 independent artists, with each his very own different style (+ 1 Ringo original).
I guess keeping 32 tracks put together in some slobby way, is better than having a band still in denial of the schism it's going through.

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I actually quite like the film, the sight of John Lennon feeding a sobbing fat lady spaghetti with a shovel is actually pretty funny when you think about it.
From the look of it, the movie seems great (I saw that scene with the shovel ). Still, all the people remember of that movie, is being a huge failure.
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Old 11-08-2009, 04:46 PM   #140 (permalink)
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John Mayall - John Mayall Plays John Mayall
(1965)



Tracks

1 Crawling Up a Hill
2 I Wanna Teach You Everything
3 When I'm Gone
4 I Need Your Love
5 The Hoot Owl
6 R&B Time
7 Night Train
8 Crocodile Walk
9 What's the Matter with You
10 Doreen
11 Runaway
12 Heartache
13 Chicago Line


I had the pleasure this year of witnessing John Mayall live in action for the very first time, still trying for a Cellar Tapes’ interview with the man mind but you cannot have everything. Despite his years, his voice and execution is still as sharp as ever, certainly still deserving of his reputation as the King and Head of State of the British Blues, but where did it all begin?

It all started for John Mayall not far from the Cellar of Pure 107.8 FM actually, in the town of Macclesfield in Cheshire. Infused by his father with a passion for Jazz and the Blues, Mayall after serving three years of the Korean War hit the ground running, first joining Manchester Art College and then setting the local scene alight with his thirst for all things Bluesy. Even in these early days, Mayall found it difficult to hold down a steady band line-up, rotating his choice of company at will. In 1963 however, Mayall made the decision to leave Manchester and head for that Laanden, at the same time creating a new outfit called The Bluesbreakers.

It didn’t take long really for Mayall and his new group (line-up subject to change obviously) to make waves in London, especially at venues like The Marquee. After a brief false start, The Bluesbreakers led by John Mayall settled on a line-up to at least release a debut album. This first line-up was John McVie, a bassist who would later put the Mac in Fleetwood Mac, Roger Dean on guitar and Hughie Flint on drums. This line-up in December 64’ went to a pub in West Hampstead, London, called The Railway Hotel for the Klooks Kleek club night to play a very special gig, it happened to be a recording session for The Bluesbreakers debut album as well.

Released in February 1965 on Decca, John Mayall Plays John Mayall was the debut album for a man who would become the figurehead for the British Blues scene of the 1960’s and beyond, as well as being one of the best live albums of the decade. The first thing to mention about this album is the marvellous way it was recorded; The Railway Pub just so happens to be right next door to the Decca Studios. Miking the band up, feeding the wires out of the pub window, through another window and into a desk in the Decca offices sounds more like a story from the Punk era, but that is precisely how this album was recorded.

The next significant thing to mention is the unexpected number of originally penned material on offer, especially for a debut release. It’s also the type of material on this record which is a bit surprising, Mayall is obviously a blues connoisseur, but on this record he is the ring leader of the hard edged R&B circus with some tender moments, on a backdrop of a very passionate and appreciative audience, this album is a real cracker from start to finish.



This marvellous live debut has some great numbers on it, beginning with an enthralling live version of Crawling up a Hill and finishing wonderfully with Chicago Line. Also for a bit more interest, The Bluesbreakers are joined on stage a few times during the set by saxophonist Nigel Stanger, for me his finest moment is on R&B Time, vibrant stuff.

As with many albums in the Cellar, this album has been reissued over the years, and now includes some extra stuff, including a couple of stunners most noticeably the singles from late 64'/early 65'; Crawling up a Hill and Crocodile Walk. Clearly John Mayall would release a few follow ups to this debut which would heavily overshadow it. But before Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor stepped into the Bluesbreaker revolving door, John Mayall recorded one of the finest live albums from the 1960’s here and surely not a bad debut overall.
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