The Shelvey Show

Well, it’s been a long international break, but thankfully the real football is back. Liverpool travelled to Swansea in search of another 3 points but came away with only 1 in a thrilling 2-2 draw. Swansea are a difficult team to beat, especially at home, and last night’s encounter was a hard fought battle. Victor Moses got his first goal for us, while The Sturridge Machine bagged another. However, the headlines will go to JJ Shelley, the ex-red who had a hand in all four goals, scoring Swansea’s first early on, and setting up their equalizer late on. These things happen regularly in football, hopefully Torres won’t remember how to play any time soon.

3 wins out of 3!

Well, it has been a fantastic start to the season for Liverpool – 4 games, 4 wins, including 3 League wins. Today’s emphatic win, thanks to another Sturridge strike, was all the more satisfying as it came against the scum. We were unfortunate not to beat them last season, and today, like the other games we’ve played so far this campaign, we commanded the play for long periods. A frenetic start saw Sturridge pounce onto Agger’s flick, and the pace continued throughout a typically fiery derby. Both sides came close, with Coutinho, Sterling, Giggs, and Van Persie all coming close. Thankfully, it wasn’t a dirty game, with mostly fair tackles flying in.

The second half saw the scum having more of the ball as we backed off a little, but our defence held strong with Skrtel giving a fine comeback performance. It’s our best start to the League for some time, and we’re sitting where we should be – at the top. Long may it continue.

A dodgy Cup win, but a win nonetheless

Liverpool’s first foray into Cup football this season ended with a costly win, and 6 goals.Sturridge was the hero again, with another brace, but the headlines will be on the unfortunate injuries to Kolo Toure, Joe Allen, and Aly Cissokho on his debut. Considering Liverpool’s defensive woes at the moment, these are huge losses, just as we were looking like an impressive unit.

First half goals from Sturridge and Sterling and a host of chances made it look like an easy night at the office. However, as we have come to expect as Liverpool fans, the team never makes it easy for themselves, especially in Cup competitions. 2 goals in the 2nd 45 from Nott’ s meant extra time, but Sturridge and Henderson hit the back of the net to make certain that we’ll be in the third round.

Those injuries may be costly throughout the rest of the season so we’ll need a decent defender brought in quickly. Carragher, fancy a game?

A nervy 3 points

2 games, 2 wins, 6 points. 2 goals, 1 in each game. Today’s game had a nervy last 30 minutes with Liverpool making several silly mistakes and handing chances to a Villa team we controlled in the first half. This game them confidence to attack and try to sneak something, and they almost did. The story is almost the same as the last game in most respects – a goal from Sturridge, and late heroics. However, we created few clear chances today.  Once again, we are not killing games off when we are on top. Once again, our defence looks vulnerable and needs improvement. Like I said at the top though, it’s two games, two wins. Keep ’em coming.

Bands I’ve Seen Live- C

Coldplay: With their bland rip offs of Bends era Radiohead, you would be excused for thinking that Coldplay are crap live. And you’d be half right- they’re still performing thier own songs after all. Maybe it was the energy of the crowd, maybe it was the fact that when I saw them at Glastonbury they hadn’t yet become huge, but they put on a decent show.  Thinking back now though it may have been the pear cider. I wouldn’t pay to see them now- in fact, you couldn’t give me a ticket.

The Charlatans: I wish I remembered more of this. I was never a fan of the whole British indie/madchester scene- most of the bands were pouting ponces caring more about fashion than silly things like music, instruments, or lyrics. The Charlatans were one of the better bands though and have plenty of hits.

The Coral: On the other side of Lancashire lies Liverpool, home of The Beatles, King Kenny, Stevie G, Robbie Fowler. The Coral went against most of what other bands were doing at the time, aiming for madcap pop melodies instead of bland stuttering guitars. Critically acclaimed albums never led to great commercial success, so any American music fans reading- have a listen! Anyway, their show was punchy, full of singalong and dancealong hits, and had even those who didn’t know the songs bopping along.

Cooper Temple Clause: A band of invention and great potential, they never really amounted to much. And although I’ve been told I did indeed see them live, I don’t remember any of this. Don’t blame the cider.

The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Night

A Hard Day’s Night

The third album by The Beatles is a massive leap forward for the band in all areas. Gone are the covers, gone are the fillers, and what remains is their first pop rock masterpiece. Their penchant for melodic commercial songs are never better than on this and Help and while they have not yet entered their experimentation phase their songwriting and playing are top quality. From the opening chord (perhaps the most famous ever) the band never look back and have now entered the realm of greatness. While not every track is a joy, they are all perfectly listenable, probably all essential, and there are a few all time classics. Although For Sale is seen as a step backwards I usually consider it part of a trilogy with the first two albums, and that A Hard Day’s Night is the true beginning. The album was a huge worldwide success and paved the way for the influx of British bands into the US, Europe, and Asia. In only a few years the charts would be dominated by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, and Led Zep amongst others, and this album can be seen as a stepping stone.

`A Hard Day’s Night’ kicks off the album in memorable style with a single chord; a chord which when played to anyone around the world will be recognizable as the intro to the song. It is probably their most well-rounded song so far and everything fits together so well. The lyrics are simple as they always were for this period, but the harmonies and melodies were never better. The song is about being so bedazzled by someone that even though you’re exhausted and skint you will do anything for the person in the knowledge that they will make it all better. They continue their style of throwing in an unusual mid section which spices up the song, and the outro is also interesting.

`I Should Have Known Better’ is a typical Beatles rocker featuring a harmonica intro, but Dylan’s influence on Lennon is beginning to show with more personal lyrics. The verse melody is on of the most catchy of the period and the minor shift to the chorus is brilliant with the vocals almost reaching breaking point. Some of the guitar is a bit too distant feeling, but this may have been more of a production issue.

`If I Fell’ is the best ballad the group has written so far, more intelligent musically and structurally while the lyrics are touching and idyllic. The structure is experimental with an interesting introduction which is separate from the rest of the song. The main bulk of the song features a lovely repeating melody which expands and extends every time it is played. The dual vocals have never been so sublime and it sounds similar in parts to The Beach Boys and the guitar playing is gentle and does not intrude.

`I’m Happy Just to Dance with You’ is an up-tempo Harrison number and one of the weaker songs on the album. It’s good, but nothing special.

`And I Love Her’ is a McCartney ballad, not as strong as If I Fell, but a worthy addition. It has a Latin and almost downbeat feel due to the acoustic picking and the minor chord progression. The middle section as with most Beatles songs is the key to lifting it to a higher status than a usual 3 minute pop song. The guitar solo is simple and echoes the central melody. The lyrics are simple yet appropriate, and the repeating riff is memorable. It is also noticeable for the ending chord which goes against all the ones before.

`Tell Me Why’ is a fast paced Lennon song which sounds like a typical happy song while the lyrics are about a relationship going badly wrong with arguing, deception, and confusion perhaps reflecting reality. The middle section is ok apart from the `anything I can do’ line in which Lennon becomes a eunuch.

`Can’t Buy Me Love’ is the best song on the album and the best song the band had written so far. Immediately catchy with a great singalong feel. The verses and chorus blend together immaculately and it is one of those songs that when written you wonder why no-one had written it before. The music takes a background stand to the vocals, yet the guitar chimes in perfectly with dual chords and the screech midway through is the best so far. It is the archetypal McCartney song, although depending on which way you take the lyrics it can mean anything from the price of fame on relationships to prostitution.

`Any Time at All’ is one of the best early Beatles rockers with a high energy similar to songs on `Please Please Me’. The recurring guitar riffs are catchy, the piano middle section adds a different flavour to proceedings and Lennon shouts the lyrics with an almost grungy edge. It doesn’t have quite the melodic quality of their best songs and just misses out on being a classic.

`I’ll Cry Instead’ is another introspective Lennon song about loneliness and the alienation which comes with superstardom. Of course there is humour and irony due to the upbeat sound of the song which flies along at a fair pace and finishes in under two minutes. He may sing about not being able to talk to people he meets, but also sings of coming back in the future to break hearts in two. A good song with a slight country lilt to it.

`Things We Said Today’ is notable for the change from ballad to rock and back halfway through, almost giving birth to the quiet heavy quiet of future bands like Nirvana. The verse melody isn’t one of my favourites, the chorus is better and I like the guitars. The only part that annoys me is McCartney’s `on and on..nah’ dubbing mistake two-thirds of the way through, but I’m being picky.

`When I Get Home’ is a good rocker with nice growly vocals but I can’t help cringing on the `cows come home’ line. Musically and lyrically this is fine apart from the cow bit, and I enjoy the `wow oh I’ parts.

`You Can’t Do That’ is another personal Lennon penned track about jealousy, anger, cheating, and paranoia making it one of the darker Beatles songs along with `Run For Your Life’ and other later songs. Again it has a slightly country feel mostly due to the tone of the guitar. It features an unusual Lennon scream, the sort of thing usually left to McCartney, is less upbeat musically than other album tracks, and has some nice Harrison work in the middle.

`I’ll Be Back’ closes the album, another downbeat feeling Lennon song about the darker side of love. Of course it ends up being hopeful as Lennon admits that he will return to the person who may continually break his heart. He says he be a better partner this time even though the split may not have been his fault. While some of the album tracks have darker lyrics and sound pleasant, this one sounds doleful and has almost uplifting lyrics even though they are ironic. It has a Spanish feeling which adds to the tragic feel and for a 2 and a half-minute pop song it lacks a chorus so has the feeling of a statement of intent. The most interesting thing is the rather sudden ending which sounds chopped, as if there is more to come. The feeling is one of exasperation, of leaving in the middle of an argument, of trying to explain something but being overcome, turning, and walking away. It is a fitting end to a great album.

Overall it would be hard to disagree that this is the first classic Beatles album. It came with their first film, it heralded the start of their revolution and uber-fame, and is filled with songs known around the world. They would continue to mature musically and lyrically until the reached perfection and descended into experimentation to find a new outlet.

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

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.