Nightman Listens To – Electronic Sound – George Harrison!

Electronic Sound - Wikipedia

Trust a Beatle to create dance music. I’ve never heard this, but I know what it is. It’s Harrison experimenting with the new-fangled synthesizer which was threatening to change the musical world forever. It’s two long tracks, which I can only assume will mean a lot of bleeps and blops and not much of anything else. In case you weren’t aware, I also have a Youtube channel where I upload experimental ‘music’. Without the use of any musical instrument. I essentially recorded clips of others sounds, songs, myself talking, and using Text To Speech Software, and mashed it all together using nothing more than Windows Media Recorder on my ancient laptop. I have hundreds of these things, but I’ve only uploaded a handful because I foolishly decided that they each needed an individual video to accompany the noise. And making those videos takes forever. Some day I’ll just upload the noise as it is. I’m assuming Harrison’s album is like that. My stuff is terrible – but probably better than Harrison’s because I can at least get some enjoyment out of remembering how I made a certain sound. FYI – any track/video that begins with a Capital Letter is one I wrote. Anything beginning with a small letter is by a colleague – hence The Spac Twins. Go listen to my stuff. You will regret it.

Under The Mersey Wall: Crowd noise? Boats. Yes, this is precisely what I was expecting. Lasers. Space race. Tinkerbell with a flamethrower. An asthmatic lion. Hearth. Pinging Spac Twin Colleague as I listen. Up the M2. Fondling the knob. Why does all experimental music sound the same? Because we’ve all tapped into God. A man on the street below has arms too wide for his sleeves. Another is draped in a sheet for some reason, looks like a Nun with a mint-head habit. It’s funny because I imagine a pile of Beatles-obsessed kids sticking this on the turntable and 20 minutes later joining a cult. Or letting their dog swallow them. Crack open a MAGA’S skull and this emerges in a puff of dust. A Google Fi ad interrupts at the 10 minute mark. Then a jumpscare WOOOOOP! Mint Nun has vanished. A scale. I assume Harrison was naked while recording. I am naked now. Orb loop. Ghost Banana. Rod Serling.

No Time Or Space: Headbutting a fence. Like a toddler whacking something until Mummy comes. Oh no, here comes Mummy. Now they’re communicating via a series of whirls and open mouthed head-shakes. Mummy has fallen out a window into a wind tunnel. Channel static. Bubbles. Bath farts, but instead of water in the bath, it’s lava, and instead of your ass it’s a giant fly. Prosody. Now there’s a guy whose neck is thinner than a daisy stalk. Even though his skull is like a raindrop I’ve no idea how that neck can support it. Zipper up. Horror. Techno. Dance music would be better if it was just this. An abacus made of snow. Thunder in a cup. Another Youtube Ad – something about a chairboy. Moonraker. Attempting re-entry. Tech blast again. Spoons. Ten minutes left. Crash. Frog spawn. Grand Theft Roboto. A bee in a tube with a magnetic wasp. Cyborg cat leaping off cliff. Tie a whistle to your shlong and spin it around. Fireworks in a keyboard. Silence. Distant. More. BabaYaga O’Reilly. Going up the slippery dip in reverse. Means? Gizzard. Dying. End.

That was everything I hoped it would be, and now I never have to hear it again. For more of this, head on over to my Youtube channel and feel your brain give up. Let us know what you thought of Electronic Sound in the comments!

Nightman Listen To – George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (Non Beatles Series)!

All Things Must Pass - George Harrison

Greetings, Glancers! We’re several albums deep into my Non-Beatles journey and so far we’ve had two pieces of whimsy from Ringo, two pieces of experimental junk by George, one middling effort by Paul, and not a single word from John. I think we are past most of the arsing about and feet-finding now and we might actually get back to the dark art of making good songs. George Harrison’s 1970 effort  All Things Must Pass is at least an album I’ve heard of, but I don’t know anything about it. A glance at the tracklist tells me there’s a few songs I know, and that it features a tonne of songs – there’s a lot to get through. It better be good, otherwise, well… nothing. I just want to year some sweet tunes, yo.

I’d Have You Anytime‘ opens with that near dreary swirl quality which features on many of Harrison’s Beatles works. The first thing to mention though, is that it’s an actual song, not some experimental guff. Solo guitar licks burn at the hairs and that mournful chord series underlays some classic downbeat Harrison vocals. A promising start then – not the best song I’ve heard by Harrison, but at least it’s a song.

My Sweet Lord‘ is of course one I know. I know a lot of… groups have claimed this song. Which doesn’t seem right. It is a lovely song – all the sweet melodies of harmonies of the best Beatles work, but with Harrison’s signature laid-back rhythm. It also follows his tendency towards the cyclical and repetitive, with only a few repeated lyrics and melodies, all which build as more vocals and instruments are thrown into the mix. I think if it went any longer it would begin to wear thin, but it stops at just the right time.

Wah-wah‘ brings the guitar and the latter day Beatles hippy psych sound. It could easily be a cut from one of their final records. It’s nicely chaotic too, and the main riff is groovy. The cyclical sound is present, the lyrics have definite frustration – perhaps at what was going on within The Beatles towards the end. It’s another good one, but I don’t know if it warrants going over the five minute mark.

Isn’t It A Pity’ is over the seven minute mark, so it better be good. It has that familiar Beatles sound, I don’t know if it’s the overall production, the combination of instruments and rhythm, but it feels like I know the song even though I’m certain this is the first time I’ve ever heard it. It builds in a similar way to some of their latter songs – particularly  with respect to the drums. Melodically it’s more of the same from George – mellow, dreamy, no real peaks or wide range. There’s a sort of Eastern swelling of strings in the middle, along with a solo. The instrumental then covers most of the final three minutes, with assorted vocals moments. There’s a solid four minute track here, five at a push, but no real need to pass seven.

What Is Life‘ opens with a horn-like riff and a faster pace. This has a markedly, I guess that’s the right word, sound from everything else. It’s a few steps adjacent from the dreamy slow stuff, and instead sounds jubilant. Neat, tidy verses lead into a lovely, summery, hopeful chorus. There’s a slight Motown vibe in the midst too. I believe I’ve heard parts of this before, in Goodfellas, but this is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for in my journey through the Beatles’ solo work – great songs I had no idea existed.

If Not For You’ is apparently a Dylan song. I haven’t heard his version yet, but given what I think of his vocals I imagine this one is preferable. It’s somewhere in between the ethereal slow and more hopeful up-tempo prior songs. Sweet melodies, very simple, nice accompanying piano and strings – no need for the harmonica but it is Dylan after all.

Behind That Locked Door‘ is… Country? Please no. That pedal guitar sound is almost always instantly depressing to me. It’s unfortunate, because this is a genuinely gorgeous song emboldened by piano and backing vocals. Melodies and emotion… at least it does have some Caribbean flavour to bring down the Country a notch. I’d love to hear a version of this without the pedal guitar.

Let It Down‘ blasts into view like a Bond movie song. It’s huge, then it withdraws into a sweet spot between Floyd and trippy Beatles. The dreamy mellow vibe is there, but it’s countered by louder chaotic moments, swelling vocals and pointed guitars. George’s tone for his lead parts keeps a recurring theme through all the songs so far. This one warrants the five minutes, but could have faded out sooner.

Run Of The Mill‘ opens nicely, another sweet and gentle instrumental followed by a trademark vocal. I would do with a substitute for the horns, that’s just me of course. It feels a little like a Lennon song, lyrically and musically. It does feel slightly Run Of The Mill and doesn’t leave enough of an impression to differentiate it from the songs around it.

Beware Of Darkness‘ features another smooth opening. Lyrically and musically this is more up my alley. I like the switch between minor and major keys too mirror what he’s talking about – the inner struggle over depression and hope. I’d prefer a little more on the minor side, and the middle eighth doesn’t add a lot, but it’s still a good song which shows how much he had grown as an artist and writer.

Apple Scruffs‘ starts with harmonica, which is never good. It’s pleasing enough filler which begins to wear thin long before it ends, but is short enough to not cause too much damage.

The Ballad Of Frankie Crisp‘ surely can’t be good with a name like that. It starts promisingly, with an organ led stomp, ably built up by piano and guitar. The wall of sound production brings more of the dreamlike sensations lending this one a drift away quality – though the same can be said for many of the songs so far. The danger with that tactic is of course that you lose melody, and while the melodies here are light and distant they are still tactile. I’m enjoying the inspirational messages flowing through the album.

Awaiting On You All‘ starts quickly, like a jaunty Swinging Sixties song. I’m not sure about the production on this one, maybe it’s the copy I’m listening to. No, the comments say the same. There is a lot – too too much reverb – to the point that it’s hissing all over the place. A pity as the song is fun, a bit of entertaining pop fluff raised by lyrics and ideas.

All Things Must Pass‘ is one of the few songs I’m familiar with here. The title track and focal point, it’s a good one. I never ranked it as high as others have, but there’s no doubting its quality. The message fits perfectly with what he has spoken about elsewhere and the music echoes the tone and feel of the album.

I Dig Love‘ starts with an amusing down scale piano which makes me think of Boris The Spider. It then climbs up, which also adds to the humour. The opening melodies are fine, but it opens up once the familiar beat and tambourine kick in. It’s another song which could have had a minute or so shaved off to keep the repetition at bay, but that’s a minor quibble.

Art Of Dying‘ is a return to the reverb. Then it suddenly explodes in a glorious fusion of noise, beats, guitars, and if this doesn’t sound like it was recorded today and not 50 years ago, then I’m a monkey’s uncle’s arse. I had no clue this existed, and it’s wonderful. It also has a slight 007 vibe, but it’s a fine blend of rock and dance. Then he pauses in the middle for a bit of metal guitar, which continues as the din rejoins. Great stuff.

Isn’t It A Pity Two‘ is another version of a song that was already three minutes too long. Maybe this is completely different though. It is shorter, and it does feel quieter, less concerned with the wall of sound, more sedate. This allows the vocal melody to come through with more potency. It’s still a little too sleepy and lacking in those peaks I mentioned before.

Hear Me Lord‘ continues with the gentle rock – plenty of piano and horn, plenty of layered vocals and solo guitar lines. This one is a little too slow for me, but it does remind me of some entries from Dark Side Of The Moon. Melodically it’s a little hit and miss for me – the best moments when George really pushes his vocal, but in other places it’s a little too mellow, verging on stagnant. Overall, no doubting it’s yet another good song.

Out Of The Blue‘ is almost 12 minutes long, so I’m going to guess it’s a bit of an experimental mess. It begins in that fashion, an instrumental jam. A touch of blues, some distortion, some funk. It’s not empty, there is a beat and some attempt at coherence. And it goes on like this. And on. With only slight variance. Every band does this stuff. No need to release it, other than as a bonus or hidden track.

It’s Johnny’s Birthday‘ is Congratulations but sung to the name of the track, with added zaniness.

Plug Me In‘ continues as we left off. Another loose instrumental slice of trickery. Some neat guitar, plenty of piano. But it’s an excuse to arse about.

I Remember Jeep‘ goes even more experimental, with hissing and swirling and noise giving way to more standard jam fare.

Thanks For The Pepperoni‘ recalls a bunch of well known rock standards. It’san other instrumental jam. It’s fine.

Well, that was easily the best non-Beatles album so far, though we are fairly early in the journey. It certainly makes up for the prior experimental guff and Ringo’s attempts. Is it overlong? For fans, obviously not, but for me coming to it for the first time there are a few songs I would strip away. Probably that final side would be dropped. It’s not as poppy as The Beatles biggest hits – that was never George’s game, but it succeeds in many ways over what they tried to do from an ethereal, worldly, wall of sound perspective. It sounds like a dude finally releasing what he had known was inside him, and it’s at worst joyous, at best transcendent. A load of these songs already make my playlist, and I’ll certainly listen to the whole thing again to fully absorb the lyrics and allow the music to grow on me. It’s a positive, mature outing, and while I’ve seen many commentators saying it’s the best of all the post Beatles albums, I’m hoping there’s plenty more to come from George, and from the others.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: My Sweet Lord. Wah Wah. What Is Life. If Not For You. Behind That Locked Door. Awaiting On You All. All Things Must Pass. Art Of Dying.

Nightman Listens To – Wonderwall Music – George Harrison!

Greetings, Glancers! Here we are, my first full (fool?) foray into the world of non-Beatles music by members of The Beatles. For a few years in my youth I was an Oasis fan – that’s the first time I heard the word ‘Wonderwall’. I wasn’t much of a fan of the song, but I loved the album it appeared on. Shortly after, Travis asked the question ‘What’s a Wonderwall anyway?’ in their hit ‘Writing To Reach You’, but I was none the wiser. I knew by this point that the Oasis lads were massive Beatles fans and as time went on they were repeatedly accused of nicking off the Liverpudlians. It must have been around this time that I heard about this George Harrison album. This was still before the days of downloading, at least for me, and I had no intention of forking out my pocket money on a Beatles’ bloke’s solo album when I hadn’t even heard a single Beatles album all the way through.

It turns out Harrison was the first to release solo material. In late 1968, The Beatles were already crumbling – Harrison’s rise as a songwriter and desire to do his own thing possibly one of the factors of the band coming to an end. I’ve always had a middling opinion of Harrison’s work with The Beatles – his writing contributions – some good, most average, and certainly not up to the standards of Lennon or McCartney’s day to day stuff. Maybe he felt constricted by them, and going solo would let him soar? I was going to say I had middling hopes for this one – more positive than negative – but then I saw that this is actually an instrumental only album, a soundtrack to a movie nobody has ever seen. My hopes have plummeted. Still, it can’t be much worse than Lennon’s experimental stuff, can it? CAN IT?

Microbes: We begin, as expected, with some sitar. Other Indian instruments too. I’ve never been much of a fan of Indian instruments, but something about the way George uses them does create a trance-like tone and atmosphere. That atmosphere people say they get in general from Indian music, but in most cases it just annoys me or makes me think of Mario 64. This though…. I like it. It very much works in conjuring up images of the movie which I haven’t seen – I’m making up my own opening scene in my head.

Red Lady Too: A plodding piano piece, like someone walking slowly or footering about the house. Credit for making it sound unlike anything The Beatles had written.

Tabla And Pakavaj: As the name suggests, this is mainly a drum led piece, with some sitar in the background. Picks up pace near the end, short enough to not get boring.

In The Park: More Indian strings. Maybe my problem with India music is that I’m so heavily invested in melody, Western melody, and emotion that India stuff typically feels like it has no melody and just a chaotic random selection of notes with no discernible emotion. I’m not saying that’s how it is, that’s just how it makes me feel. For me, this goes nowhere and does nothing.

Drilling A Home: A jaunty, more Western tune. Sounds like something you’d hear in a saloon in a Western movie, only with more dancing. Sounds like something McCartney would write.

Guru Vandana: Lots of horns and sitar.

Greasy Legs: A much nicer tune, with lots of… I don’t know – keyboard stuff of some description. Sounds like a child writing a song on a child’s toy.

Ski-Ing: Finally some honest to goodness electric guitar, with India stuff lurking ominously in the background like a strange stirring pot. It’s just the same riff played on a loop by different instruments with a lot of stuff blasting off around it. Pretty cool.

Gat Kirwani: Fast beats and Indian guitar stuff. If it’s fast, it’s good.

Dream Scene: Backwards stuff and some vocals. India vocals, so I have no idea. Changes halfway through, merging piano with Indian horns. Chaos drums. I assume this is the clash of East and West. Then is suddenly changes again, becoming hungover. Then it goes buck nuts. Sounds nice enough, not sure I need to hear it again.

Party Seacombe: Harry Seacombe? Sounds like the start of Across The Universe. Funky enough. Guitars, wall of sound, piano, drums.

Love Scene: More of what you would expect. I don’t have anything insightful or useful to say about most of this. I’m listening to it, maybe that’s enough. Don’t worry, I’ll have more to say once we get to a more familiar style. Still, it works as a melding of East and West.

Crying: A strange whining piece which almost sounds like a woman wailing in pain – not as bad as it sounds.

Cowboy Music: This is exactly as it sounds. If someone told me to write, in five minutes, a typical cowboy instrumental, this is exactly what I would write. Except it seems to have a slight Caribbean twinge.

Fantasy Sequins: There’s that whining again. This one is a little more jaunty. Like a scene at a fair or a market or a party in a palace.

On The Bed: A bit more of a groove and a tune to this one and the way the drums fade in is something The Beatles would play with.

Glass Box: Another short piece, jangly.

Wonderwall To Be Here: A Western opening, with pianos and triangles, and a vaguely threatening soap opera tone. So this prompted one of the biggest songs of all time, eh?

Singing Om: Organs and voices doing an ‘ahhhh’ mantra. Works as an end credits, I guess.

So what did I think? I’m happy I’ve heard it, but I don’t think I need to ever hear a single track again. It didn’t make me overly interested in ever seeing the movie of the same name. There isn’t a stand out piece but George does a fairly good job of slapping together Eastern and Western instrumental music – at least as he envisioned them at the time. If you’re a regular on the blog you probably know I’m not big on instrumental music, at least when made by ‘regular’ artists or bands, and they rarely feel anything more than an experimental aside, a curiosity to be heard once and forgotten. Pretty much sums this up. What did you think – let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr!


Greetings, Glancers! I know they don’t get nearly as many views as my movie or TV posts, but I’m trying to keep up to date with my musical posts too, bringing you the worst the net has to offer in terms of my opinions on Bowie, Madonna, Jovi, The Stones, The Top 1000 Albums ever, yearly chart music et cetera etc. Many years ago I posted my Amazon Beatles album reviews and recently I’ve been posting updated versions of those along with my Nightman Scoring System (c) comments. In doing all of that I realized that I was missing out on the vast array of non-Beatles work that each of the four members created. Therefore, I’m going to start listening and reacting to all of those too. It’s a massive undertaking but I always planned on listening to them at some point so I may as well write about my experiences too.

It’s obvious that Paul McCartney has done the most out of each member – he has been extremely prolific since 1970, releasing with Wings, other bands, and on his own. Lennon died in 1980 and only managed a handful of albums, while Harrison released here and there up until his death. Ringo, I’ve honestly no idea. What I can say is that I haven’t listened to any of their non-Beatles albums all the way through. Actually, I have listened to Lennon’s experimental records with Yoko, and will not be doing so again for the purposes of this blog or otherwise, thank you very much. I know I’ve heard many of the individual songs by each artist post-The Beatles, but no albums. So I’m going to go through them in some sort of chronological order, I hope I get to listen to some great music for the first time, and I hope you’ll join me on the journey. Coming soon (probably not)!

Feel free to let me know in advance which solo/non-Beatles albums by John, Paul, Ringo, and George I should look forward to in the comments.

The Beatles – The White Album

The White Album

The White Album sees the Fab Four at their most experimental, their angriest, and some would say their best. A true epic, the band enters further into uncharted territory with sounds unheard, ideas expounded never before, lyrical flourishes and weirdness all put to glorious sound and noise. Unfortunately for an album with so many songs and with so many ideas (not to mention the band chasing the dragon around on some plain just above the rest of our heads) it has many flaws. Some things don’t come off well, there is a lot of nonsense, some duff songs, and plenty of filler. Most fans who don’t see this as their best album agree that if this had been cut down it could have been much better. The good stuff that we do have ranges from classic Harrison ballads to McCartney blues romps and Lennon’s drug fuelled madness. There are plenty of fun moments, plenty of offbeat treats, but the days of the happy mop haired lads is long gone. From here on we are left with more coarse and hard edged guitar tracks as the group began to implode.

`Back In the USSR’ opens the album in a fairly rocking fashion with some ye olde fast piano playing slpiced with the modern sounds of a jet plane. McCartney sings in a clearly more gruff way hinting at the maturity, experimentation, and arguments within the band at the
time. Ringo was absent so the rest of the band took up his duties, not that this is noticeable. The lyrics speak of the excitement and relief of flying back home to be with all the ladies and is a clear homage to The Beach Boys. The Californian interlude is quite authentic.

`Dear Prudence’ fades in gently offering an opposite to what the first song displayed. Lennon’s tribute to Mia Farrow’s sister who joined them India only to stay in her room and meditate most of the time. It builds to a jamming climax accompanied by some nice guitar
before coming down to an acoustic fade out.

`Glass Onion’ returns to the heavier feel while referencing many old Beatles hits. The lyrics are deliberately messy and confusing, full of potential mystery and ideas. Mostly it is Lennon having a laugh at obsessive fans and critics obsessing over every lyric, and a challenge for them to decipher.

`Ob La Di Ob La Da’ is a McCartney ditty, a nonsense but nonetheless catchy pop song. It sounds like the band are having fun, contrary to what was actually happening, but also highlights the experimenting mode they were in when they first came up with it.

`Wild Honey Pie’ is an experimental piece with strange guitars, voices and other noises. Basically it is the group stoned, banging together whatever was close to hand and still managing to make a song out of it.

`The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’ features a line from Yoko but is more notable for Lennon’s excellent sarcastic lyrics. He sings of a rich American who they knew for a while who happened to go hunting and kill a tiger. Lennon saw him as an upper class mummy’s boy taking an all expenses paid trip to India for some enlightenment that he could then relate to his equally rich friends. The chorus is catchy enough, the song ends in ironic applause and whistling. With a more interesting verse melody it could have been great.

`While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is Harrison’s famous downbeat sounding song about Eastern philosophy, yin yang, everything relating to everything and everyone. It features Clapton on guitar and is usually included in most lists of greatest guitar songs ever. The organs, effects, and Harrison’s vocals combine to create a trippy mood although it was probably intended to sound other worldy.

`Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ is a constantly evolving song with time and tone shifts as well as each part sounding musically distinct. Each part is linked by the gun imagery, and it inspired countless imitators from Halo Of Flies to Bohemian Rhapsody to Paranoid Android. Many of the ideas on the album don’t come off as well as they should have but on this song everything fits.

`Martha My Dear’ is McCartney’s music hall tribute, evoking images of old couple swirling about to gentle piano led songs. The lyrics oppose the feel of the song with thinly veiled insults to past lovers. Many dispute the song’s reference point- McCartney’s dog, his muse, his ex. As with most things it is a mixture of each influence.

`I’m So Tired’ was recorded at 3am, written about Lennon’s insomnia, and has a clear drowsy feel. There is emotional fatigue, the lyrics are angry, and the chorus livens things up.

`Blackbird’ is one of the better songs on the album, harkening back to simpler, more pop times. It is a typical McCartney song, singing of yearning, freedom, with some racial issues thrown in to satisfy the revolutionaries.

`Piggies’ is an interesting Harrison song featuring harpsichord and strings to give a baroque feel- a time noted for wealth and extravagance. This mirrors the lyrics as Harrison sings Orwell style of the rich people as piggies, rolling around in their opulence. Ironic yes given their own wealth, but at this time the group were rejecting all ideas of materialism. Charles Manson felt this was a large influence on his Helter Skelter plan, leading to the deaths of those he felt needed `a damn good

`Rocky Raccoon’ is a folk style McCartney song with Dylan leanings. There is a Cowboy movie style piano and acoustic guitar played over some storybook lyrics. It rounds off the `animal trilogy’.

`Don’t Pass Me By’ is Ringo’s first solo composition. He does his best with the vocals, though the lyrics are as bad as expected and the song has the same rolling down a hill in a shopping trolley rhythm. The strings offer a different feel from the other album tracks but it’s mostly forgettable.

`Why Don’t We Do It in the Road’ sees McCartney at his most metal, shrieking the lyrics in an attempt to match the sounds of Daltrey and Townsend. The lyrics simply speak of him seeing two monkeys at it, inspiring the primal, animal instincts in all of us.

`I Will’ is a rather simple, soft love song from McCartney to Linda. The lyrics call back to the early days when music was more important than the words. The song is catchy enough but lacks anything truly memorable.

`Julia’ closes the first side, Lennon’s only solo Beatles song. Unfortunately it is mostly tuneless as the lyrics are good and he sings and plays well. With a stronger melody this could have been a much better song.

`Birthday’ opens the second side in heavy style, blasting out with one of the most famous guitar riffs. It builds and changes with chugging chords, distorted notes, and swirling effects laden piano. It was a clear attempt to return to a more simple rock’n’roll and blues style and leads nicely into the next song.

`Yer Blues’ continues the heavier, dirtier feel with an almost Zeppelin-esque song. It showcases Lennon’s personal demons, depression, and suicidal thoughts. It’s a song which it is hard not to jump around to, filled with good drum parts and intertwining guitar solos. Performing this song for the Stones Rock n Roll Circus renewed Lennon’s love for playing live after years in the wilderness.

`Mother Nature’s Son’ is a better McCartney ballad inspired as with most of the other songs here by his time with the Maharishi,
except here it pays off well musically. The lyrics are suitably ideal, the melodies gentle and hard to shake.

`Everybody’s Got Something To hide…’ is Lennon’s view of his relationship with Yoko and all the negative feelings towards it. They felt they were in love while everyone else was paranoid and edgy. The song is quite heavy with a loud riff at the end of the chorus. Some have also claimed that it is more about Lennon’s heroin addiction.

`Sexy Sadie’ has the famous piano part which sounds like Karma Police but it’s almost insignificant. It is an average Lennon song with some nice, angry lyrics, some strange effects on the vocals and an up and down rhythm.

`Helter Skelter’ was McCartney’s main attempt to make the heaviest, dirtiest, most rock song out there in a time when The Who and other English R’nB bands were taking noise levels moonwards. To an extent it works, the drums are great, the guitar is pretty loud and riff laden, and McCartney sings at his loudest. The Helter Skelter motion of the song is notable, everything swirls and comes around upon itself. This song was one of the major influences on Manson’s already destructive mind as he believed the lyrics contained veiled messages and calls to war. The song fades in and out a few times at the end to good effect, and proves that McCartney was more than a ballad writer.

`Long Long Long’ is a soft Harrison ballad with good drum and piano parts. The deliberately bad production is annoying though and makes it too difficult to listen to.

`Revolution 1′ may be the most famous, most popular song on the album. It is a traditional Beatles song, filled with melody and ideology, with a few guitar effects and plenty of instruments clanging together brilliantly. The version here differs quite a bit from the single most people know, but all the hallmarks of a great song lie in both.

`Honey Pie’ is another unusual song from McCartney showing his seeming obsession with older styles of music around this time. There is a clear WWII vibe and I can’t help hear it now without thinking of Allo Allo or Wish Me Luck. The lyrics speak of a young English woman who makes it big in Hollywood only for her old lover back home to call her to return.

`Savoy Truffle’ is a good song to listen to while raiding the fridge. It is quite jazzy, with lots of brass and guitars, lots of timing shifts and is one of the more upbeat songs on the album.

`Cry Baby Cry’ is based on a nursery rhyme from Lennon’s youth, features the Harmonium again but isn’t a very exciting or interesting song. The lyrics are fine but the music isn’t particularly inspired. It segues into an unreleased song at the end which really should have been included instead, but can be found on bootlegs.

`Revolution 9′ is probably the most experimental piece the band ever produced, a collage of sounds, words, clips, effects all smashed together to create something monstrous. It still sounds awesome today, but is pretty difficult to listen to more than once. It is like falling into a sewer and being swept naked at a million miles an hour through various viaducts of time, surrounded by sights you don’t want to see, like Terry Wogan playing golf with Jimmy Tarbuck’s leg instead of a nine. Understandably it still splits fans; it’s great.

`Good Night’ is a rather sumptuous ending, almost like a Disney composition. Ringo does very well here, the strings are beautiful and the backing singers give it all a good night lullaby feel. It is deliberately lovely, cheesy, but looking past all that it is a pretty good song, and a great ending.

The White Album was the final great departure for the band. Break ups and bust ups followed and everyone agreed they should go back to their roots to try to hold on to their success. At times it is boring, at times it is brilliant but on previous albums the brilliance overshadowed everything else. Here there are simply too many songs and many tracks either don’t work at all or don’t live up to the expectation. This is still the favourite of many fans, largely because it tries so much, covers so much, is brave and unlike anything else. Full marks for trying, full marks for breaking new ground, but mostly (for The Beatles) average songs.

Let It Be – The Beatles

This is either the last or penultimate Beatles album depending on how you look at it, but either way it has a sense of loss and ending throughout. The album is almost more famous for the arguments between members which took place on a daily basis culminating in Harrison leaving and coming back. After not touring for years and pursuing various solo projects, as well as the band’s previous album seeming more like a collection of songs from each member, tensions were high. McCartney felt the group should write, record, and tour together to repair affairs and they should make a no frills, no experimentation simple album as they had before. The other 3 like the bare bones approach, but didn’t like the idea of touring and the film crew following them around every second. In the end the movie is more interesting than the album, while the album is a mix of good songs, throwaway bites, and a couple of classics.

`Two of Us’ is a McCartney song which can either be seen as a tribute to himself and Linda, or himself and John. Beginning with the famous Lennon quote it breaks down into a catchy acoustic ditty. The harmonies hark back to the good old days, the guitar is a gentle folk style, the lyrics speak of happier times, freedom, and nostalgia and features a nice bridge section without a chorus. The easy tone and whistling end suggest that everything in the group was fine, contrary to what we know. It is a good first song let down by a few fillers later.

`Dig a Pony’ is Lennon’s nonsense tribute to Yoko full of pointless lyrics culminating in the chorus where he pours his heart out to his soon to be wife. The false start is famous, the verse and chorus melodies are catchy enough, the guitars are good and Lennon sings in a rough fashion. Again it is not the sound the band falling apart, but definitely shows signs of weariness.

`Across The Universe’ may be the best song the Beatles ever recorded, and it is probably my favourite. Beautiful poetic lyrics which fit the sound perfectly, other-wordly guitars, wonderful simple melodies, an effortless meter for the words to float along, and sumptious production. The Eastern influence is stronger here in theme than in music, yet it is full of strange and foreign instruments. This is the song to play to people who do not yet consider themselves fans of The Beatles.

`I Me Mine’ is Harrisons take on both the egotistical problems of the band and his more personal feelings on wealth, personal gains and rejecting all notions of self for the greater good. The song has a bluesy waltz feel with it’s trumpets and guitars, but bursts into a heavy, rocking chorus.

`Dig It’ is a jam of ideas, words thrown in on the spur of the moment, instruments all jangling together- the sort of thing a band does when warming up or severely intoxicated. The version included here isn’t the best, and again it is throwaway filler.

`Let It Be’ is the most famous song on the album, McCartney’s follow up to Yesterday and superior in my opinion. It isn’t as dreary as it’s predecessor and has more emotion. Again the melodies stand out, full of cadences, the piano suits the sound perfectly and the guitar solo stands out; while it is a rather heavy effect for the song it doesn’t grate or sound out of place.

`Maggie Mae’ is a filler piece, a childhood Liverpudlian rhyme based on a modern folk tale about a prostitute. The tune is ok but it’s entirely pointless and should really have been replaced with something better.

`I’ve got a Feeling’ is another McCartney tribute to Linda, a sign that for him at least things were getting better. Of course there were darker truths as John had divorced Cynthia and Yoko had suffered a miscarriage and no-one was really happy within the band. It continues the blues rock feeling and is more hard edged than most of the back catalogue despite aiming to sound light and optimistic.

`One after 909′ is an early Blues attempt by McCartney brought back to fit in with the overall feel of this album. Written around 10 years prior to this release it shows the American influences on the young songwriters, but also exposes the adolescent songwriting. With all their experience since writing it they managed to turn it into a decent tune, adding plenty of extra riffs and instruments to make it a dance favourite.

`The Long and Winding Road’ is the last classic on the album, a wonderful epic from McCartney which is better due to the production. McCartney’s earlier, simpler version is strong but sounds a bit empty after hearing this. Some say it is over produced, but it is nice for the group to have a song such as this which sounds as if it is backed by an entire orchestra. The lyrics were based on the tensions between the band and a hope that they would all get through it.

`For You Blue’ continues the blues influence with the reference to Elmore James and slide guitar. Harrison’s vocals are perhaps too high for him, and I can’t stand the spoken parts. If it had had a few extra guitar parts or an underlying piano part I think I would like this more but for me it is too light.

`Get Back’ closes the album in rocking style, a good song but another one where McCartney’s vocals annoy me. He creates a story about a couple of lovers, the lyrics are fine, the music is suitably bluesy but it just isn’t a personal favourite.

And so the story came to an end, for a while at least; each member’s solo work features many great songs proving that even if the band was no more the spirit would live on. Record companies would continue to churn out re-issues and greatest hits, but it isn’t until the Anthologies, Blue, Red, and Love that fans had anything new to be excited about. Let It Be ends almost as an opposite to Please Please Me, with four older, more tired, more cynical worn out men belting out some great songs with a more weighed down enthusiasm. If you’re only getting into the band now, start at the beginning and work your way through. You’ll be smiling by the end.


If you liked/hated this, feel free to check out my other Beatles reviews in the music section.  

George Harrison MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)

‘Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right’

Beloved Beatle and humanitarian, George Harrison was one of the most famous people of the 20th Century, as one quarter of The Beatles. Going on to further solo success, Harrison found his true calling in the East, following the philosophy and traditions of Hinduism which he would pursue for the rest of his life. An influential guitarist and songwriter, his contributions to The Beatles and his solo efforts only gained greater respect in later years, as critics saw the impact to music which his innovations led to.  

Feel free to share your memories and thoughts of George in the comments section.

Rest In Peace

George Harrison

With The Beatles- The Beatles

With The Beatles

With The Beatles is the inferior follow up to Please Please Me bogged down by average covers similar to the ones that stopped the predecessor from being a classic. That said, there are some terrific originals and plenty of signs that the songwriting partnerships are getting stronger. Harrison writes his first song also which is a good if not outstanding contribution, and Ringo even sings well on I Wanna Be Your Man. The album gets off to an excellent start, but has an average middle section before saving itself with a few good tracks towards the end.

`It Won’t Be Long’ kicks off the album in stonking style, full of call and response vocals, and plenty of `yeah yeahs’. It is a high tempo rocker from Lennon which has both an interesting middle section and ending typical of the Beatles songs of this time. These sorts of flourishes prevented what were essentially simple pop songs from becoming monotonous verse chorus verse types. It shows that the group were trying new things and pulling influences from all types of music into their own.

`All I’ve Gotta Do’ has a distinct Motown feel given a moody tone by Lennon’s vocal and features yet another middle section. The lyrics speak of a powerful, lustful relationship where either party simply needs to call the other, and they will come over.

`All My Loving’ rounds off the opening trilogy of great songs in a fast paced style and is notable for the interesting guitar strumming style. The lyrics are similar to PS I Love You in that they are in the format of a letter being sent to a loved one. A simple tale of faithfulness and love to a partner when being away.

`Don’t Bother Me’ is Harrison’s first song for the group and is a departure from the love songs the others had been writing. It speaks of a need to be alone, and the depression, confusion, desire of reconciliation etc which we feel after a split. It features a jazzy, Latin feel and a strong staccato guitar solo.

`Little Child’ in some ways continues the sullen feel with the `I’m so sad and lonely’ lyrics.

`Till There Was You’ is the first cover on the album and is based on a Broadway song. It is a gentle ballad which fits McCartney’s voice but it is made annoying by him singing ‘Saur’instead of ‘Saw’. Picky maybe, but it gets me every time. George’s plying is pretty good here lifting the song a great deal.

`Please Mr. Postman’ is one of the better covers the band ever recorded and could be seen as the definitive version. Lennon adds to the natural pleading tone of the song with his yearning, desperate vocals.

`Roll Over Beethoven’ however is one of the lesser covers and is less interesting than the original. The whole song sounds like a bit of a joke when they play it and you can almost hear the gang laughing as they sing.

`Hold Me Tight’ is a fine song, but is pretty forgettable. It struts along at a fair pace but lacks any interesting guitar playing and while repetitive is still an ok album track. Any song which features clapping though instantly annoys me.

`You Really Got a Hold on Me’ is another poor cover which doesn’t seem to suit Lennon or Harrison’s vocals. The Michael Jackson version is probably the best as it properly conveys the emotion of the song, while Lennon simply sounds drunk.

`I Wanna Be Your Man’ gets things back on track and is probably Ringo’s best song. It is fast, heavy, with some impressive guitars and shrieks that would blow off a mini skirt at a hundred paces. Simple lyrics and a pretty simple tune with no frills, but done with such energy that it can’t fail but be enjoyed.

`Devil in Her Heart’ is a strong cover and repeats the jazzy, Latin feel of previous tracks. Harrison sings it well and the more cynical lyrics also mirror a few other tracks. The guitar playing is nice throughout and the melodies make it fairly memorable. One of the good early ballads.

`Not a Second Time’ is an ok album track, marked by matching guitar and piano playing and again features cynical lyrics, this time sung by Lennon. The melody throughout is catchy and the ending fades out nicely.

`Money’ closes the album with dual piano and bass/guitar and is probably the best version of the song. It features a few screams and fits perfectly with today’s fame hungry world. Not their best cover but an ok end to an ok album.

Overall With the Beatles is a step down for the band if not a step backwards. There are plenty of great moments, but too many fillers prevent the album from being mentioned in the same breath as those which would follow.

As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Please Please Me- The Beatles

Please Please Me

The Beatles first album is an average affair given the heights they would later reach; a mix of covers and catchy pop tunes it was stronger than most records of the day. However now it sounds in parts dated and naïve but is full of the moments which would soon become hallmarks of the most successful band ever. The most important things to note are the energy with which the songs are played and the fact that the music is so good that it covers the simplistic boy loves girl lyrics. The covers on this and a few albums which follow are a weak point and for now the original song writing is fresh but lacks the quality of later Lennon and McCartney classics.

`I Saw Her Standing There’ is as strong an opener as any band could hope for. It is energetic, catchy, and quick and shows off McCartney’s screech which he would become renowned for. A simple, lustful, fun song it grabs the listener and pulls them back into (if listening now) or opens their eyes to (if listening then) the mood of the early 60s.

`Misery’ is another Lennon/McCartney offering the dark opposite to the first song about losing love and the depression which follows. Although this is staple pop theme stuff it still sounds upbeat due to the tempo and is lifted by the little piano inserts throughout. It also marks the first appearance of the scouse harmonies.

`Anna’ is one of the better covers marked by Harrison’s guitar playing and Lennon’s doleful, yearning vocals. Another song to display the darker side of the group which would crop up in later Lennon penned hits.

`Chains’ is one of the lesser songs on the album, lacking the spark of others. The melody is more irritating than catchy but it improves on the original which was never an interesting song.

`Boys’ is a cover of a Shirelles song but I can’t help thinking an upbeat version of Will You Love Me Tomorrow would have been more suited. It shows early signs of the band’s humour though as it is essentially a song for girl bands. Although the band do what they can with it the final result is still forgettable and made worse by Ringo performing it. Personal preference though as I know it was a firm fan favourite.

`Ask Me Why’ is another upbeat sounding number with some cynical lyrics thrown in. Typically catchy with a memorable refrain it nonetheless includes the annoying too high pitched `anything I can do’ moment.

`Please Please Me’ is the title track and highlight of the album. Everything about the song is perfect, from the harmonica intro, the lustful lyrics, the harmonies, the threefold melodies of verse, bridge, and chorus. It is the obvious partner to Love Me Do with the harmonica use and lyrical intent, and it is these two songs which raise the album into greater status.

`Love Me Do’ is perhaps the most famous song on the album and showcases the growing writing talents of Lennon/McCartney even though Paul wrote the majority as a schoolboy. It is a simpler structured song than Please Please Me but perhaps has the more memorable tune.

`PS I Love You’ is another pleasant McCartney number, slower, softer, and more to do with love than sex when compared to other tracks on the album. It is marked by some unusual strumming which just about covers the simplistic and what would be considered today unfortunately as cheesy lyrics. The lyrics are helped by the fact that they seem incredibly personal yet universal as it is the sort of thing all young lovers would write in a letter to their loved one. It is also notable for the lower repetition of certain words in the `treasure’ these three `words’ when we’re `together’ sequence and others.

`Baby It’s You’ is the strongest cover on the album with Lennon’s vocal adding a certain desperation to the feel, and the backing vocals fit in perfectly with the way they were writing their own songs at the time.

`Do You Wanna Know A Secret?’ is another strong song standing out due to its unusual intro before breaking into the main melody. It is well suited to Harrison’s voice and sounds more scouse than any other song. The `oohs’ of the chorus are particularly great and the bridge helps anything from becoming repetitive.

`A Taste of Honey’ is another poor cover and is mainly album filler. It doesn’t feel much like the rest of the album and could easily be chopped or skipped when playing.

`There’s A Place’ begins with the now familiar harmonica of John before kicking into the child like yearning lyrics which sound as beautiful and innocent now as they did then. The dual vocals stretch and sear and make the song an early classic.

`Twist and Shout’ closes the album and luckily it is one of the better covers. The original song is already strong so it was unlikely the Beatles would either ruin or improve upon it. It fits well with the rest of the album as it is upbeat and catchy and shows of the vocal and musical talents of each member. Probably the definitive version of the track

On the whole this is a good album let down by a few dodgy covers. There were other songs that the band had written at this time which never made it on to any studio albums which would have been more suited. A better album than the follow up and a sign of things to come.