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Any Major Beatles in Italian

March 15th, 2022 8 comments

 

The two editions of Beatles in French (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) turned out to be more popular than I had expected. So now we turn the music of the Fab Four over to the Italians, though this time in only one volume.

The French Ye-ye movement found some imitators in Italy, but that didn’t find expression in a wave of Beatles covers, as it did in France. Some beat groups, however, seemed very keen on the Liverpool band. I Meteors, who hailed from Bologna and started out in 1961 as a support act for Gene Vincent on his tour of Italy, issued a whole album of Beatles covers (and of songs The Beatles themselves had covered), including even the relatively obscure Misery. Truth be told, it wasn’t very good and has aged even less well. Their version of She Loves You, which features here, is at least inoffensive.

The collection kicks off with a track by Dino e I Kings, who return as few numbers later. Why does Dino and his backing group get two tracks when the rules usually allow for only one song per artist? Because both tracks were arranged by none other than Ennio Morricone, who’d go on to become one of the great composers of the 20th century. As for Verona-born Dino Zambelli, he was one of Italy’s biggest teenage stars between 1964-68, on record, stage and film. He retired from music in 1973 and ended up becoming an oil executive.

The original Italian beat band was I Fuggiaschi (The Fugitives), featured here with a cover of If I Fell, who were led by Don Backy, one of several, artists who shared the scene with the ubiquitous Adrian Celentano (whose own Beatles covers came many years later and aren’t very good). Backy is still active at the age of 82.

Another pioneer of Italian rock was Ricky Gianco (aka Ricky Sanna), featured here with his version of All My Loving, who got his start backing Celentano and was known as one of urlatori, or “screamers”.

Also in that pioneer group were I Ribelli, who started out in 1959 as Celentano’s backing band. They soon struck out on their own and were regulars on Italian TV in the 1960s. But by the time they covered Oh Darling, competently so, their commercial appeal had declined. They split soon after, reforming a couple times, most recently amid a beat revival boom.

I Ribelli backing the ubiquitous Adriano Celentano in 1961. (Photo from Wikimedia)

 

Among all the Italians, there’s one Englishman: Mike Liddell. Born in India and raised in northern England, the singer and drummer came to Italy in the 1960s. With his band Gli Atomi (The Atoms) he had some success on the beat scene. Their version of We Can Work It Out was the flip side of the debut single, an Italian take on The Sound Of Silence. The single reached #3 on the Italian charts in 1966. By 1968, the band split, and Liddell went on to dabble in psychedelic rock.

Patrick Samson is also not your average Italian name; nor is the guy’s real name, Sulaimi Khoury. The Lebanese-born singer, featured here with Let It Be, has had a long and productive career. Having started his career in France, where his family had emigrated to from Lebanon, Samson moved to Italy at the age of 19 in 1965. He soon had success, first as leader of the R&B-infused Patrick Samson Set and then as a solo artist. His career came to a halt in 1973 when he took time out to care for his ill brother. His return to music was not accompanied by success.

Also not engaging in Italian nomenclature were The Rogers, who nevertheless were all Italians. At around the same time they released Tam-Tam, their delightfully onomatopoeic rendering of Come Together, the group enjoyed a million-seller with Guarda. The Rogers split in 1980.

 

Patty Pravo

One of Italy’s biggest singing stars is Patty Pravo, featured here with her take from 1970 on And I Love Her. Pravo, whose career has spanned more than 50 years, has the distinction of being the first pop act to be played on Vatican Radio, with her Italian version Sonny & Cher’s But You’re Mine. She is still recording and performing today. Likewise, Gianni Morandi has had a hugely successful and lasting career as a singer, actor and TV presenter. On this mix, he croons Here, There And Everywhere.

When Don Miko committed his version Michelle on record, the former duet partner of Timi Yuro wasn’t a big star yet. That would change in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, when he became an Italo-Disco star as Miko Mission. He’s still recording.

The best-known artist here might be Pino Donaggio, a classically-trained music prodigy who put down his violin to become a rock & roller in the 1950s. He has featured here before as the singer and co-writer of the 1965 hit Io che non-vivo on Any Major Originals 1960s Vol. 1, which later became a hit for Dusty Springfield and Elvis Presley as You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. By that time Donaggio had found his calling as a composer of film scores, becoming a favourite of Brian De Palma, scoring films like Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, and Raising Cain.

Another singer-turned-film-composer was Fred Bongusto, an easy listening vocalist featured here with his take on The Fool On The Hill. Bongusto, who died at 84 in 2019, incorporated Latin rhythms in his music, and was popular in South America, especially in Brazil. When he wasn’t crooning or writing film music, Bongusto was involved in local politics, standing for Italy’s Socialist Party.

Also well-known, but rather for her movies, is French-Italian actress Catherine Spaak, featured here with her version of Help. As a singer, she styled herself on Françoise Hardy, with whom she shared a producer, Ezio Leoni, one of the fathers of Italian pop.

 

Two acts here created full versions of bits of songs on Abbey Road’s Side 2. Chriss and The Stroke (another act featuring twice) of whom I know nothing, do a nice version of Golden Slumbers, and I Nuovi Angeli of Carry That Weight. Both incorporate snatches of You Never Give Me Your Money. I Nuovi Angeli, who were founded in 1966, went on to have international success — in Europe with their 1971 hit Uakadi Uakadù, and also in the US, where they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I’ve found almost nothing on The Bushmen, who do a rather good version of Rain here. They might have been a quintet from Kenya, in which case they’d be this set’s most interesting story… Does any reader know more about them?

The remarkable thing, especially for your local In Memoriam merchant, is that of all the solo artists I’ve written about above, all are still alive except for Fred Bongusto (and I don’t know about Mike Liddell)!Come sempre, il mix si adatta a un CD-R standard. Il testo sopra è anche in un PDF illustrato. Password nei commenti.

1. Dino e I Kings – Torna con me sulla luna (I Saw Her Standing There) (1965)
2. I Meteors – She Loves You (1965)
3. Giovani Giovani di Pino Donaggio – Ma voglio solo te (I Want To Hold Your Hand) (1964)
4. Ricky Gianco – Non cercarmi (All My Loving) (1965)
5. I Fuggiaschi – Se mi pensi un po’ (If I Fell) (c.1965)
6. Patty Pravo – La tua voce (And I Love Her) (1970)
7. Dino e I Kings – Cerca Di Capire (I Should Have Known Better) (1964)
8. The Ingoes – Se Non Mi Aiuti Tu (Help) (1965)
9. Meri Marabini – Mi manchi (I Need You) (1966)
10. Catherine Spaak – Ieri (Yesterday) (1966)
11. I Camaleonti – Se ritornerai (Norwegian Wood) (1966)
12. Gianni Morandi – Una che dice di sì (Here, There And Everywhere) (1970)
13. Augusto Righetti – Il paese che non c’è (Nowhere Man) (1966)
14. Don Miko – Michelle (1966)
15. Mike Liddell & Gli Atomi – Nelle Mani Tue (We Can Work It Out) (1966)
16. The Bushmen – Pioggia (Rain) (1966)
17. I Castellani – Penny Lane (1967)
18. Mark e Martha & The Splash – Un Piccolo Aiuto Dagli Amici (With A Little Help From My Friends) (1970)
19. I Soliti Ignoti – Cerchi Solo Amore (All You Need Is Love) (1967)
20. Fred Bongusto – Tranquillità (The Fool On The Hill) (1971)
21. I Bit-Nik – Hello Goodbye (1968)
22. I Gleemen – Lady Madonna (1968)
23. Uh! – Non Sono Solo (I Am The Walrus) (1970)
24. Chriss and The Stroke – Torno in Russia (Back In The USSR) (1969)
25. The Rogers – Tam tam (Come Together) (1969)
26. I Ribelli – Oh Darling (1970)
27. Chriss and The Stroke – Per Niente Al Mondo (Golden Slumbers) (1969)
28. I Nuovi Angeli – Il dubbio (Carry That Weight) (1969)
29. The Juniors – Chi è (Get Back) (1969)
30. Patrick Samson – Dille di si (Let It Be) (1970)

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Any Major Beatles In French Vol. 2

November 18th, 2021 9 comments

 

 

Here’s the keenly-awaited second volume of The Beatles in French. How do I know it is keenly-awaited? Because The Beatles in French Vol. 1 was unexpectedly popular, with some readers saying they can’t wait for Volume 2.

This second volume covers the French versions of Beatles songs from years 1965 to 1970, or from Rubber Soul to Let It Be. And this means that the new volume includes the French cover of the one Beatles song which practically every Beatles fan of any rank wants to hear performed in French: Michelle. Or, in the case of the cover version, Michel, for in the 1966 rendering by Danielle Denin, Michelle becomes a Michel, and Danielle inserts herself into the proceedings as well. Cependant, les mots vont-ils encore bien ensemble en Français?

The first mix covered the Beatles output over just three years, and the second covers almost six. The compulsion to cover The Beatles was clearly driven by the Yé-yé sub-culture; once that faded, the need to record Beatles songs apparently diminished. One might think that the more mature Beatles songs might lend themselves to the stylings of the chanson, but that doesn’t seem to have panned out that way. There a few exceptions: Johnny Hallyday, still rocking furiously on Volume 1, pulls Girl into that direction on his 1966 recording, Eddy Mitchell (whom we met on Vol. 1) gives us a hint of how good a Gilbert Bécaud version of Fool On The Hill might have been, and Canada’s Gérard Saint Paul shows why The Long And Winding Road is really a chanson. But was there no chansoneer to tackle Something?

If it is your opinion that it is impossible to drag the regrettable Yellow Submarine from the bottom of the ocean, I commend to you the cover by veteran entertainer Maurice Chevalier, who gives the maritime vessel a new coat of paint, and is now travelling on the Green Submarine.

Almost all songs here are more or less contemporaries of the Beatles originals. Anne-Renée took her time, releasing her take of You Won’t See Me nine years after the original appeared on Rubber Soul. By far the newest cover kicks off this mix: Drive My Car, covered in 1998 as Tu peux conduire ma bagnole by German-French synth-pop duo Stereo Total, whose singer Françoise Cactus we lost in February this year.Comme toujours, la compilation est programmée pour tenir sur un CD-R standard, comprend des pochettes faites maison, et ce texte au format PDF. Mot-de-passe dans la section Commentaires.

1. Stereo Total – Tu peux conduire ma bagnole (Drive My Car) (1998)
2. Anne-Renée – Je veux savoir (You Won’t See Me) (1974)
3. Stone – Seul (Norwegian Wood) (1966)
4. François Fabrice – Les Garçons sont Fous (Think For Yourself) (1966)
5. Danielle Denin – Michel (Michelle) (1966)
6. Johnny Halliday – Je l’aime (Girl) (1966)
7. Erick Saint Laurent – Eleonor Rigby (1966)
8. Renée Martel – Entre tes bras (Good Day Sunshine) (1969)
9. Johnny Hallyday – Je Veux Te Graver Dans Ma Vie (Got To Get You Into My Life) (1966)
10. Olivier Despax – Dis-Moi (Here, There And Everywhere) (1967)
11. Maurice Chevalier – Le sous-marin vert (Yellow Submarine) (1967)
12. Les Blue Notes – Tout peut s’Arranger (We Can Work It Out) (1966)
13. F.R. David – Il est plus facile (Strawberry Fields) (1967)
14. Dominique Walter – Penny Lane (1967)
15. Donald Lautrec – L’amour quand tu es là (With A Little Help From My Friends) (1969)
16. Le 25ième Regiment – Lucie Sous un Ciel de Diamants (Lucy In The Sky…) (1967)
17. Erick Saint-Laurent – C’est Devenu Un Homme (She’s Leaving Home) (1967)
18. Marcel Amont – Dans 45 ans (When I’m 64) (1967)
19. Les Baronets – La même chanson (Your Mother Should Know) (1968)
20. Eddy Mitchell – Le fou sur la colline (The Fool On A Hill) (1968)
21. Les Intrigantes – Hello, Goodbye (1968)
22. Bruce Huard – Lady Madonna (1968)
23. Francoise d’Assise & Michel Pagliaro – Hey Jude (1968)
24. Patrick Zabé – Oh! Darling (1969)
25. Marie Jane – Suis-moi (Two Of Us) (1972)
26. Gérard Saint Paul – Let It Be (1970)
27. Gérard Saint Paul – Le Long Chemin Vers Toi (The Long and Winding Road) (1970)

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Any Major Beatles In French Vol. 1

September 21st, 2021 14 comments

 

The Beatles, to state the obvious, made a big impact throughout Western culture. And in places like France and Spain, they helped give a name to a subculture of 1960s followers of pop culture: Yé-yé. The name derived from the English “Yeah Yeah”, such as in the hit She Loves You.  Building on the already existing rock & roll scene, spearheaded by Johnny Hallyday, yé-yé initially drew from the British “Beat” scene, but expanded to incorporate different genres, from bubblegum pop to baroque pop.

The leading exponents of yé-yé included the likes of Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan (who married Johnny Hallyday in 1965), Claude François and France Gall, with Serge Gainsbourg one of the brains behind the scenes. Hardy actually was the first to sing the words “Yeah yeah yeah yeah” on a French recording, on La fille avec toi in 1962, giving birth to the term yé-yé. The yeahs in She Loves You in 1963 cemented it.

Unlike many other European countries, France had a thriving scene of songs in their own language. This meant that many English-language songs would be recorded in French. As the two collections of The Beatles in French show, that didn’t necessarily extend to only the big hits but also to lesser-known album tracks, such as There’s A Place, It Won’t Be Long, I’m A Loser, The Night Before, You Won’t See Me or Your Mother Should Know.

For the yé-yé period, which lasted till roughly 1967, there was an abundance of Beatles covers. After that, they became less frequent. This first mix covers songs which The Beatles issued between 1962 and 1965, and most of the French covers come from the same timespan.

The majority of the acts here are from France, or, like Petula Clark, recorded in French for the French market. But a few performers represent Québec, which had a thriving beat scene itself. The Canadian acts here are Les Bel Canto, Pierre Lalonde, Les Hou-Lops, Les Baronets, Christian & Getro, Les Monarques, and  Jacques Salvail.

Also not French but a star in France was Nancy Holloway, a US jazz singer who in the late 1950s performed at the Moulin Rouge before opening her own nightclub in Paris. But in the 1960s, already in her early thirties, Holloway had a line of hits with French covers of English-language pop hits, such as Don’t Make Me Over, My Guy, Hit The Road Jack, Sealed With A Kiss, and The Beatles’ She Loves You, which features on this mix. She died in 2019 at 86.

Holloway is not the only black act here. Les Surfs, a group of siblings, were stars in Madagascar when in 1963 they tried their luck in France — and after a TV performance became stars, topping the charts with a French cover of Be My Baby. They also had a string of hits in Spain and Italy before breaking up in 1971.

Two other acts came from afar. Tiny Yong was born in 1944 in present-day Cambodia of Vietnamese ancestry (her proper name is Thiên Hương). After her family moved to Paris in 1958, Yong was a teenage actress on the stage and recorded as a singer of chanson and cabaret. She hit her stride, however, as a yé-yé singer, having a string of hits before quitting the recording studios in 1966 and show business altogether in 1970. She then started a new career as a restaurant owner.

You might think that a group named Les Chaussettes Noires might have black members, but the noir in the name refers to socks. The band helped pioneer rock & roll in France in the early 1960s, with future star Eddy Mitchell as their frontman. Mitchell left in 1962 to pursue his solo career, so by the time the black socks recorded I Wanna Be Your Man in 1964, he was gone. And soon after  recording that, Les Chaussettes Noires split. Eddy Mitchell also features on this mix, with his version of You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.

Les Gam’s was an attempt at a French girl group. The quartet emanated from a popular youth choir called Les Djinns, which even made a couple of appearances of The Ed Sullivan Show. Les Gam’s — their name was an acronym of the members’ first names, plus a gratuitous apostrophe — mostly recorded French of covers of English-language songs, such as All My Loving, which attracted some attention, but by 1964 their time was already up.

In their time, Les Gam’s occasionally collaborated with Les Lionceaux (The Lion Cubs), who were founded in the early 1960s as a mostly instrumental band. They backed Johnny Hallyday, and enjoyed some popularity in the slipstream of The Beatles’ success. By 1965, they split.

Given the war France waged against Algerian independence from 1954-62, the name of the Algerian group here seems, well, interesting: Les Missiles. I haven’t been able to find much information about the group, but they were the sons of colonialism rather than local. The group was active from 1963-68. Their best-known song, Sacré Dollar, is a cover of Hoyt Axton’s Greenback Dollar, but the French lyrics are far more militantly anti-capitalist than those of the original. They feature here with their version of I’m A Loser.

As always, the mix fits on a standard CD-R, includes fait-maison covers, and illustrated PDF of the above text. PW in comments.

1. Les Bel Canto – J’en suis fou (Love Me Do) (1965)
2. Petula Clark – Tu perds ton temps (Please, Please Me) (1963)
3. Claude François – Des bises de moi pour toi (From Me To You) (1963)
4. Lucky Blondo – J’ai un secret a te dire (Do You Want To Know A Secret?) (1965)
5. Les Surfs – Adieu chagrin (There’s A Place) (1964)
6. Johnny Hallyday – Quand je l’ai vue devant moi (I Saw Her Standing There) (1963)
7. Nancy Holloway – Elle t’aime (She Loves You) (1964)
8. Pierre Lalonde – Oh! Donne moi ta main (I Want To Hold Your Hand) (1964)
9. Les Gam’s – Toi l’ami (All My Loving) (1964)
10. Chaussettes Noires – Je Te Veux Toute A Moi (I Wanna Be Your Man) (1964)
11. Martine – Il Faut Revenir (This Boy) (1964)
12. Les Lionceaux – Le temps est long (It Won’t Be Long) (1964)
13. Thierry Vincent – Je n’peux l’acheter (Can’t Buy Me Love) (1964)
14. Frank Alamo – Je me bats pour gagner (A Hard Day’s Night) (1964)
15. Les Hou-Lops – Ces mots qu’on oublie un jour (Things We Said Today) (1965)
16. Richard Anthony – La Corde au Cou (I Should Have Known Better) (1964)
17. Michèle Torr – Et le l’aime (And I Love Her) (1965)
18. Les Baronets – Si je te donne mon cœur (If I Fell) (1964)
19. Christian & Getro – Je suis revenu (I’ll Be Back) (1969)
20. Les Monarques – Elle est si belle (No Reply) (1965)
21. Les Missiles – Il faut oser (I’m A Loser) (1965)
22. Tiny Yong – Huit Jours Par Semaine (Eight Days A Week) (1965)
23. Akim – Hum! Qu’elle est belle (I Feel Fine) (1965)
24. Olivier Despax – Ne me mets pas du bleu (Yes It Is) (1965)
25. Dick Rivers – Prends un ticket avec moi (Ticket To Ride) (1965)
26. Eddy Mitchell – Tu Ferais Mieux De L’oublier (You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away) (1965)
27. Les ‘Faux’ Frères – Une fille pour deux garçons (I Like Too Much) (1965)
28. Renée Martel – Un certain soir (The Night Before) (1970)
29. Jacques Salvail – Y’a pas d’mal (It’s Only Love) (1975)
30. Michèle Arnaud – Je croyais (Yesterday) (1966)

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With The Beatles Recovered

December 8th, 2020 6 comments

 

Forty years ago tonight I decided to give the “Blue Album” of The Beatles, the 1967-70 compilation, a spin. Strawberry Fields Forever still skipped, and I still skipped Old Brown Shoe, a song I have never liked. I don’t recall what made me revisit The Beatles that night, but the LP was still on my turntable next morning.

That morning I had just awoken to the news on the radio alarm clock. I was in the motion of sitting up when the news reader announced that John Lennon had been murdered overnight. I sank back. How on earth do Beatles get assassinated? And John Lennon, my favourite who had just released his long-awaited comeback single? Unthinkable.

But I had to rouse myself to go to school. At the age of 14, you don’t have the option of exercising discretion in making grief over the murder of a celebrity the reason for your absence from the reception of an education. True to form, the assholes I went to school with “congratulated” me and the other Beatles fan in our class on the death of Lennon.

That other fan, let’s call him Tommy (it’s close enough), and I had never been friends. Now we bonded over the death of Lennon, and became very good friends, a friendship that lasted until I moved away two years later and we lost touch. Tommy, whom I have encountered again of Facebook, is still a dedicated Beatles fanatic, unconditionally loyal to the cherished memory of St Lennon. I never lost my love for The Beatles, though I’d be hardpressed to join Tommy in canonising John Lennon.

Lennon’s canonisation was inevitable, given his charisma, his musical genius, and the nature of his death. He was one of music’s martyrs, and hagiography allowed for no taint on his tale. I won’t go into the complexities of Lennon’s character, but I’ll say as much as that there was much to admire, and some things that were not. Like JFK, John Lennon had feet of clay.

Two months ago, on Lennon’ 80th birthday in October, I posted the Please, Please Me Recovered mix. Now, on the 40th anniversary of his murder, I offer the final Beatles Recovered collection, of With The Beatles, the group’s second album which was released in the UK on November 22, 1963. This brings to a close a six-year-long series of all Beatles albums in cover versions, in the song sequence of the original LPs (and posted on the 50th anniversary of their release).

It all started in 2014 with Beatles For Sale, which many regard as The Beatles’ weakest album. But it features so many superb tracks that it can’t be dismissed as easily as that. To my mind, With The Beatles is the group’s poorest album, but the one with the best cover (I wrote about the making of the cover some years ago).

Six of the 14 tracks were covers (those featured in this mix all came out after the Beatles versions). Of the own compositions, two of the first three tracks stand out — All My Loving and It Won’t Long — thereafter it’s hard to spot any classics, other, perhaps, than I Wanna Be Your Man, which The Beatles lent to the Rolling Stones for their first Top 20 hit. But, with one exception, those uncelebrated tracks aren’t bad. They just are not the level of genius as some of the songs that followed, and a coupler are improved in the cover versions here. The exception is Harrison’s Don’t Bother Me is a contender for worst Beatles song of all, in lyrics, musically, in production, and in George’s off-key singing. One night argue that Hold Me Tight is not very good either, but on this mix Count Basie turns it into great jazz tune.

I Wanna Be Your Man is represented in this collection by Suzi Quatro, in her 1973 glam rock pomp. Suzi didn’t bother to adapt the gender, though she sings the word “man” with a knowing wink. Well, Ringo sang The Shirelles’ Boys without changing gender, so why shouldn’t Quatro?

Two Beatles classics of songs didn’t find their way on to the album: I Want To Hold Your Hand, with the flip side being the gorgeous This Boy (in the UK and Europe). The former is represented on this mix by the Sparks, but I include another version as a bonus. It’s by Enoch Light and His Orchestra, who I like to think inspired for the name Electric Light Orchestra (who also feature here). This Boy closes the mix, and in Joe Bataan’s version, it is perhaps the highlight of this collection.

And with that, all Beatles albums have been recovered. Homebeatled covers and this whole text in illustrated PDF included. PW in comments.

1. Billy Cross – It Won’t Be Long (1986)
2. Louise Goffin – All I’ve Got To Do (1979)
3. Matt Monro – All My Loving (1965)
4. Gregory Phillips – Don’t Bother Me (1965)
5. Sonny Curtis – Little Child (1965)
6. Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston – Till There Was You (1965)
7. Carpenters – Please Mr Postman (1975)
8. Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven (1972)
9. Count Basie and His Orchestra – Hold Me Tight (1966)
10. William Bell – You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me (1977)
11. Suzi Quatro – I Wanna Be Your Man (1973)
12. Los Reno – Con el diablo en mi corazón (Devil In Her Heart) (1965)
13. Pretenders – Not A Second Time (1990)
14. Flying Lizards – Money (1979)
15. Sparks – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1976)
16. Joe Bataan – This Boy (1972)
Bonus Track:
Enoch Light and His Orchestra – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1964)

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On earlier versions, the Matt Munro track was corrupted. If your version has a long silence, try this one.

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: Please, Please Me
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

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Beatles Recovered: Please Please Me

October 8th, 2020 8 comments

On 9 October, John Lennon would have turned 80. It’s a troubling math: the original rock & rollers are all octogenarians, or are inexorably heading that way (some, of course, already are nonagenarians). But then, almost all original punks are in their sixties now. And the punks would have been children when The Beatles first hit the scene in 1962/63.

After the initially stuttering success of first single, Love Me Do, the four lads from Liverpool suddenly exploded to become a phenomenon. Nobody had an idea about what incredible history would be launched when The Beatles — aged between 22 and 19 — entered the EMI studios in London’s Abbey Road in 1962 to record their first couple of sides, nor even when they returned on 11 February to record the rest of their debut album.

For the accomplished George Martin, it apparently was an act of penance to be assigned the job of producing these raw amateurs. It didn’t matter much that they didn’t have much material of their own; it was standard to record cover versions as fillers, and that first album was full of them: Anna, Chains, Boys, Baby It’s You, A Taste Of Honey, Twist And Shout (hear the originals of these at …..).

But they also had self-written songs which suggested that these boys McCartney and Lennon had something special. Love Me Do, Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There, Do You Want to Know A Secret, or PS I Love You are all excellent to very good songs. Even Ask Me Why, There’s A Place and Misery are not bad, though quite forgettable.

Most of the album was recorded, almost as a live set, on that single day on 11 February 1963. By then, Love Me Do had peaked at #17, and Please Please Me was climbing up the charts, were it would peak at #2. The album cover still suggested Love Me Do was the drawcard, but more or less coinciding with the LP’s release, From Me To You broke big, the first of 11 consecutive #1s.

So here we have Please Please Me recovered, with Carole King singing her composition Chains — which The Beatles covered from The Cookies — and Sonny Curtis giving Do You Want To Know A Secret a flamenco treatment. Towards the end it all becomes a bit novelty, with Mae West drawling her way through From Me To You in the Christmas spirit — you want to hear it, but not for the appreciation of excellence of vocal.

I’m adding the non-album single tracks of the Please Please Me era, particularly She Loves You. Here it is performed by 1980s English comedian Ted Chippington, whose stand-up relied on his delivery of jokes so bad that some idiots would heckle him — and these trapped dupes would be the subject of his jokes. Seeing Chippington in action was a delight. As is his She Loves You, which fuses the Peter Sellers of the past with the Richard Cheese of the future. (The teutonic Sellers version is included as a bonus track.)

As always, CD-R length, home-yeah-yeahed covers. PW in comments.

1. Jerry Garcia – I Saw Her Standing There (1982)
2. Flamin’ Groovies – Misery (1976)
3. The Tams – Anna (Go To Him) (1964)
4. Carole King – Chains (1980)
5. Lee Curtis & The All Stars – Boys (1965)
6. Les Lionceaux – Je suis fou (Ask Me Why) (1964)
7. Mary Wells – Please Please Me (1965)
8. Sandie Shaw – Love Me Do (1969)
9. Keely Smith – P.S. I Love You (1965)
10. Smith – Baby, It’s You (1969)
11. Sonny Curtis – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1964)
12. Sarah Vaughan – A Taste Of Honey (1965)
13. The Smithereens – There’s A Place (2008)
14. The Miracles – Twist And Shout (1963)
15. Mae West – With Love From Me To You (1966)
16. Ted Chippington – She Loves You (1986)
17. The Merseyboys – I’ll Get You (1964)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Let It Be

May 8th, 2020 8 comments

Fifty years ago on May 8, the final Beatles album was released, almost a month after Paul McCartney had announced that the band had split. If proof was needed that The Beatles had reached the end of the road, this uneven set seemed to provide it.

Of course, most of it was recorded before the masterful Abbey Road, so who can tell how much juice was still in that apple. Be that as it may, Let It Be was the swansong. The last bit of work was done in February 1970, with Paul and George doing some tinkering with I Me Mine, which had been recorded in January 1970, without John’s contribution.

Few fans will list Let It Be as their favourite Beatles album, and only a few tracks on it were widely covered. Naturally, the three stand-out McCartney were liberally covered: Get Back, The Long And Winding Road and the title track. Others found few takers: Dig A Pony, I Me Mine, One After 909, For You Blue…

Still, what we have here is a pretty decent compilation. Even the superfluous Dig It, from Laibach’s song-by-song copy of Let It Be, is, at least, interesting.

One of the artists featured here as a cover act actually played with The Beatles during that period. Billy Preston was even co-credited on Get Back, though that song is featured here in the cover by Motown songstress Chris Clark (released after the single was out and before the LP was released). On his 1970 LP Encouraging Words, Preston covered I’ve Got A Feeling (he also played, uncredited, on the Beatles version), as well as Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and the first recording of My Sweet Lord.

Harrison’s song For Your Blue is covered here by his son Dhani; and on David Bowie’s cover of Across The Universe, we have John Lennon playing guitar.

One track here isn’t even a cover, but precedes Let It Be by 13 years. The version of Maggie Mae — a traditional song from Liverpool which was the first non-Beatles composition the group recorded since Act Naturally on Help! — is by the The Vipers Skiffle Group, a very popular skiffle outfit in the 1950s that was at times produced by… George Martin. Their Maggie May was the b-side of the Top 10 hit The Cumberland Gap; it seems plausible that the young Beatles were familiar with this recording.

So this brings to an end this series of Beatles albums covered song-by-song, all posted on the 50th anniversary of each album. But I got into it only in 2014 with A Hard Days’ Night. I’m playing with the thought of recovering the first two albums.

1. R. Dean Taylor – Two Of Us (1970)
2. California Guitar Trio – Dig A Pony (2016)
3. David Bowie – Across The Universe (1975)
4. Beth Orton – I Me Mine (2010)
5. Laibach – Dig It (1988)
6. Bill Withers – Let It Be (1971)
7. The Vipers Skiffle Group – Maggie Mae (1957)
8. Billy Preston – I’ve Got A Feeling (1970)
9. Willie Nelson – One After 909 (1995)
10. Ray Charles – The Long And Winding Road (1971)
11. Dhani Harrison – For You Blue (2013)
12. Chris Clark – Get Back (1969)

GET IT!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles

Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)
Beatles Reunited: ’77 (1977)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

More Beatles stuff

Categories: Beatles Tags:

Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

April 9th, 2020 9 comments

On 10 April it’ll be 50 years ago since Paul McCartney announced that The Beatles had split up. In our alternative Beatleverse, the Fabs never split.

They did their solo things, but released LPs throughout the 1970s: Everest in 1971, Live ’72 the following year, Smile Away in 1972, the classic double-album Photographs in 1974, and the lazily-titled 77 in 1977.

Now it’s 1980 — three years after the last album — and after a hiatus (remember, John contributed only two tracks to 77), John was raring to go again. By now Linda and Yoko were welcome guests in the studio. Occasionally they were even allowed to pitch in; it did keep the peace.

Those three years were fertile, with enough music to fill a double-album. Yoko suggested calling the set “Double Fantasy”, but our four friends thought it would be more amusing to riff on the tenth anniversary of the Let It Be album, a dark time when the group was on the verge of splitting up, with its black cover serving as a metaphor for those dark times. Punster John has come up with the lame title “Let It See”, Paul proposes “Back To The Egg”. Harrison wants the album to have no title at all and simply sport a symbol of some kind (maybe even renaming the group The Band Formerly Known As The Beatles), and Ringo doesn’t care either way.

With the marketing department nixing George’s bizarre proposal, and everybody thinking that “Back To The Egg” is the most rubbish title ever conceived, John’s shockingly bad title wins out. Even the cover is a lazy reference to the Let It Be cover.

John got his stupid title through, but Paul got more songs on to the double-album, though it’s likely John held some tracks back for his upcoming collaboration with Yoko (maybe that album will be called “Double Fantasy”, possibly featuring a hit titled Woman, whhich doesn’t feature on this set).

Paul has been experimenting with disco, on Goodnight Tonight, Coming Up and the soulish Arrow Through Me. On Old Siam Sir, Paul rocks out a bit, on Deliver Your Children he goes folk, and his retro vibes are still evident on Baby’s Request.

George Harrison is at his melodious best, especially with catchy tunes like Blow Away and Here Comes The Moon.

But it’s John’s material that catches the eye (and perhaps also the ear). The set starts with the theme song for middle-age marriage, (Just Like) Starting Over and closes with his love song to his little son, Beautiful Boy. In between, Watching The Wheels extols the virtues of getting out of the rat race just as presidential candidate Ronald Reagan proposes a free market agenda that will intensify that very rat race.

John Lennon as the spokesman for domesticity and tuning-out; “Strange days indeed”, as he notes on another song. The political spokesman has retired.

For innovation, you’ll be better better look elsewhere, but this is well-crafted pop for the people who have grown older with The Beatles. Who knows how long the Fab Four will continue…

Side 1
1. (Just Like) Starting Over (John)
2. Old Siam, Sir (Paul)
3. Here Comes The Moon (George)
4. With A Little Luck (Paul)
5. Nobody Told Me (John)
Side 2
6. Blow Away (George)
7. Watching The Wheels (John)
8. Getting Closer (Paul)
9. Old Time Relovin’ (Ringo)
10. Deliver Your Children (Paul)
Side 3
11. I’m Losing You (John)
12. Not Guilty (George)
13. Arrow Through Me (Paul)
14. Goodnight Tonight (Paul)
15. Real Love (John)
Side 4
16. Coming Up (Paul)
17. Love Comes To Everyone (George)
18. I Don’t Wanna Face It (John)
19. Baby’s Request (Paul)
20. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (John)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Beatles Reunited albums:
Everest (1971)
Live ’72 (1972)
Smile Away (1972)
Photographs (1974)
77 (1977)

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: Beatles Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road

September 26th, 2019 6 comments

 

September 26 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road, the album which many regard as The Beatles’ true masterpiece. I count myself among those, even as I prefer to listen to Help. Abbey Road certainly was an audacious album, with its collection of half-finished songs on Side 2.

And what a collection of half-finished songs they are. Because none of them were singles or feature on compilations, they are The Beatles’ “hidden” treasures. The people who feature here obviously saw the genius that runs through the medley, and most covered these tracks as songs in their own, full right.

It is Side 2 that deserves genius status, from Here Comes The Sun — the side’s only fully-fledged song — to The End (we’ll disregard McCartney’s silly coda to the queen as the unnecessary gimmick of a royalist toady which it was). Side 1 is rather hit-and-miss. Of course, Something is a stone-cold classic, and Come Together is great, if you don’t get annoyed by it. But until the great slow-burning blues of I Want You, with its moog-created wind effect, there’s a trio of entirely dispensable songs.

Of those, Paul’s attempt at doing soul, Oh Darling, can be said to have some value, but the Yellow Submarine sequel Octopus’s Garden is a weak point on the album. Some suggest that Ringo’s song is still better than Paul’s murder ballad Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Here Paul again went into dancehall mode, as he did on Sgt Pepper’s with When I’m 64 and on the White Album with Honey Pie.

Not surprisingly, few artists have bothered to cover Maxwell’s Silver Hammer with great seriousness. The version here is in German by a Brazilian singer called Teddy Lee who seems to have been part of The Rotations, who had an early 1970s hit in Europe with Ra-Ta-Ta. His version is what the song deserves: not lacking in respect, but nothing that merits huge respect either.

On the other hand, the great a cappella band The Persuasions deliver an appealing version of Octopus’s Garden, and Oh Darling produced three strong contenders. In the event, I picked Roberta Flack’s slow-burning version over those by Joy Unlimited and The Persuasions (whose lead singer Jerry Lawson died shortly after I compiled this mix).

There are four bonus tracks of songs which The Beatles released on single during the Abbey Road timeframe. Of those, Get Back gets a gratuitous airing, since it will reappear (in a different version, obviously) on Let It Be Recovered.

As ever, CD-R mix, home-zebracrossed covers. PW in comments.

1. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Come Together (1975)
2. Isaac Hayes – Something (1970)
3. Teddy Lee – Maxwells Silberhammer (1969)
4. Roberta Flack – Oh! Darling (2012)
5. The Persuasions – Octopus’s Garden (2002)
6. George Benson – I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (1969)
7. Nina Simone – Here Comes The Sun (1971)
8. Gary McFarland – Because (1970)
9. Sarah Vaughan – You Never Give Me Your Money (1981)
10. The Bee Gees – Sun King (1976)
11. Cornershop – Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam (2009)
12. Los Lonely Boys – She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (2009)
13. Carmen McRae – Golden Slumber/Carry That Weight (1971)
14. London Sympathy Orchestra – The End (1987)
15. Tok Tok Tok – Her Majesty (2005)

Bonus Tracks
Jessi Colter – Get Back (1976)
Randy Crawford – Don’t Let Me Down (1976)
Teenage Fanclub – The Ballad Of John And Yoko (1995)
Leslie West – Old Brown Shoe (2004)

GET IT!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles

Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)
Beatles Reunited: ’77 (1977)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

Categories: Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

The Originals: Beatles

July 25th, 2019 9 comments

 

With the Beatles’ incredible achievements in mind, it is easy to forget that three of the Beatles’ first four albums were topped up with fillers, many of them cover versions — which is quite ironic since the Beatles went on to become the most covered band ever. Some of these covers are better known in their original versions; the Little Richard and Chuck Berry compositions and Motown classics, for example. Some are generic classics (A Taste Of Honey; Till There Was You), and some are fairly obscure, or would become so.

In this instalment of The Originals, we look at the lesser-known first recordings of songs covered by The Beatles on their albums or singles.

 

Twist And Shout
Twist And Shout is probably the most famous cover by The Beatles, and is most commonly associated with them. And rightly so: their take is rock & roll perfection. It was based on the 1962 cover by the Isley Brothers, who introduced the rhythm guitar riff (which borrows heavily from Richie Valens’ La Bamba) and the “ah-ah-ah” harmonies, to which the Beatles added the Little Richardesque “wooo”.

The song was written by the legendary Bert Berns (sometimes credited to his pseudonym Bert Russell) with Phil Medley. Berns gave Twist And Shout to The Top Notes  —  a Philadelphia R&B group which might have been forgotten entirely otherwise  —  whose recording was produced by a very young Phil Spector.

The result did not please Berns, who accused Spector of “fucking it up”. He was a bit harsh on young Phil; the Top Notes’ version is not bad, but Berns had hoped for something a more energetic. So he took the song to the reluctant Isley Brothers, who had scored a hit two years earlier with the driving Shout, which had the kind of sound Berns imagined for his song.  Their Twist And Shout, which Berns produced, became a US #17 hit and is included here as a bonus track. Read more…

Categories: Beatles, The Originals Tags:

Beatles Reunited 77 (1977)

April 11th, 2019 3 comments

 

In our alternate Beatleverse it’s 1977, and three years after 1974’s classic double album Photographs, the Fabs are finally releasing a follow-up.

By now John is concentrating on his home-life more than he does on The Beatles, and Ringo is enjoying his forays into the movies. Between them, they provide only three songs to the new album, and John.s are hold-overs from the Photographs sessions [real life aside: the featured Lennon tracks are from the Menlove Ave. album of outtakes from the Walls & Bridges sessions]. One might’ve thought that John’s Rock & Roll shtick was something of an anachronism, but by 1977 it was in line with the 1950s revival which a year later would find full expression with the film Grease.

Paul and George have been prolific, however, and their contributions to this LP are quite lovely. Remarkably, The Beatles have not yet succumbed to the influences of disco.

The album title, 77, is a bit lazy. Obviously it refers to the year of its release. One wonders whether it is also an oblique reference to the year being the tenth anniversary of the year in which Sgt Pepper.s was released. The plain red back cover and the font on the front-cover more than hints at that.

This series of alternate history mixes pay tribute Peter Lee’s commendable alternative-history novel The Life And Death of Mal Evans which is available in print or eBook from avonypublishing.com or from Amazon or Kobo.

The set fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers (and if you don’t like them, take it up with The Beatles’ arts department). PW in comments.

Side 1
1. Let ‘Em In (Paul)
2. Cracker Box Palace (George)
3. Silly Love Songs (Paul)
4. Rock And Roll People (John)
5. Beautiful Girl (George)

Side 2
6. This Song (George)
7. Lady Gaye (Ringo)
8. Girls’ School (Paul)
9. Old Dirt Road (John)
10. You (George)
11. Letting Go (Paul)

GET IT! or HERE!

Previous Beatles Reunited albums:
Everest (1971)
Live ’72 (1972)
Smile Away (1972)
Photographs (1974)
77 (1977)
Let It See (1980)

More Beatles stuff
More Mix-CD-Rs

Categories: Beatles Tags: