Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie…An Appreciation

We’ve lost another of our Classic Rock artists…singer-songwriter & keyboardist Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac.  She died at the age of 79 on November 30th, 2022.  Christine herself had recently revealed in an interview that she was not healthy, and she died while hospitalized..

Since Fleetwood Mac had such strong personalities…Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood…the general public might not realize how important the quieter Christine McVie was to the popularity of the group.

(John McVie, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham)

Christine McVie (whose birth name was Christine Perfect) was already well known in England when she joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970.  The group was successful in the U.K., but had trouble really breaking through in the U.S.  It was when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band (just as 1975 began) that everything clicked.

McVie met with Stevie Nicks prior to the new lineup being approved, and the two women hit it off.  They knew how unique it was for a Rock & Roll band to have two strong women as primary singer-songwriters, and they were happy to join forces.

Christine McVie also gained the arranging and production expertise of Lindsey Buckingham, and she started writing hits.  McVie wrote the first U.S. Top 20 hit for Fleetwood Mac, “Over My Head” from the group’s 1975 Fleetwood Mac album.  McVie also wrote their third hit, “Say You Love Me” (#11), and the album track “Warm Ways”, which was also played on FM radio.

The phenomenal 1977 album, Rumours was #1 for an amazing 31 weeks.  Two of the four Top-10 hits on the album were written by Christine McVie…”Don’t Stop” (#3) and “You Make Loving Fun” (#9).

As Fleetwood Mac continued through the ‘80’s and beyond, Christine McVie provided their two biggest hits of that time…”Hold Me” (#4) and “Little Lies” (#4), plus Mac’s last big hit “Everywhere” (#14).

It wasn’t just the hits, Christine wrote some great album tracks, including a song that she says came to her in the middle of the night, “Songbird”.  In an interview in 2016 she said “I played it on a little piano I have in my room.  I sang it from beginning to end, everything.  It was as if I’d been visited.  It was a very spiritual thing.”  It’s a beautiful ballad that Fleetwood Mac often used to close their shows…just Christine McVie and a grand piano.  Even though it was never released as a single, “Songbird” became her signature song.

Tributes poured in from around the world and from multiple generations of musicians who admired McVie.  From those closest to her…Stevie Nicks said Christine was her “best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975.  See you on the other side my love.”  Lindsey Buckingham called her passing heartbreaking, and said her spirit will live on through her body of work.  Mick Fleetwood said, “Part of my heart has flown away today.  I will miss everything about you.”

Bonus Material:  A key to the great success of Fleetwood Mac was that they had three excellent songwriters.  Since Christine McVie’s songs are being highlighted in the media, I’m also including the main songs written by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to provide a fuller picture of the band.  The lists include singles and album tracks that made Fleetwood Mac so popular.

Stevie Nicks:  “Rhiannon” (#11), “Landslide”, “Dreams” (#1), “Gold Dust Woman”, “The Chain” (co-written from her demo), “Silver Springs”, “Sara” (#7), “Gypsy” (#12), “Seven Wonders” (#19), and some solo hits that were performed live by Fleetwood Mac.

Lindsey Buckingham:  “Monday Morning”, “Go Your Own Way” (#10), “Second Hand News”, “Never Going Back Again”, “Tusk” (#8), “Big Love” (#5), “Tango In The Night”, and some solo hits that were performed live by Fleetwood Mac.

Christine McVie:  “Over My Head” (#20), “Say You Love Me” (#11), “Warm Ways”, “Don’t Stop” (#3), “You Make Loving Fun” (#9), “Songbird”, “Think About Me” (#20), “Hold Me” (#4), “Little Lies” (#4), “Everywhere” (#14), and “As Long As You Follow”.

Tom Petty…Live At The Fillmore (With Review)

In 1997, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers had a 20-night run at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco.  Some of their performances have been released in the past, but now we get an official box set.

The 4-CD Deluxe Edition has 58 songs, and 35 of them are covers of music by other artists.  Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers loved to include songs by artists who had influenced them.  For example, there are four songs by The Byrds (with guest Roger McGuinn!).  The set includes a 32 page booklet, three initialed guitar picks, a replica all access pass, and a “The Fillmore House Band” patch.  The CD box set lists for $59.98 ($47.99 on Amazon), and the 6 Record Deluxe vinyl set is at $174.98 on Amazon.  Here it is:

This set also includes an art lithograph of the cover, set lists, and a replica of a 1997 news letter.  The release date was November 25th, 2022.  Here are the lists of songs included in both the CD & Vinyl Deluxe box sets:

There is also a 2-disc CD set, or a 3-record vinyl set, for those who only want about half of the songs.  The CD’s are about $20, the vinyl $50.

(Tom Petty with Mike Campbell during those 1997 concerts)

Tom Petty said he thought these concerts represent The Heartbreakers in their peak form.  Their time at The Fillmore followed the 1994 release of Wildflowers, and the 1996 release of She’s The One.

(Tom Petty & drummer Steve Ferrone at the Fillmore in 1997)

Since Tom Petty died in October of 2017, his family, along with members of The Heartbreakers, have been releasing very welcome performances from the past.  Lead guitarist Mike Campbell assisted with this new set.

My copy of the CD box set arrived on the release date (11/25/22).  Here are the two sides of the box:

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were probably the world’s best cover band.  Many of the cover songs are classics from the 1960’s (along with some ‘50’s & ‘70’s rockers) that obviously influenced the band members in their youth.  It’s easy to hear the love they have for these songs, and the box set lets us share in that joy.

The musicianship is just so high…Benmont Tench on Keyboards, Mike Campbell and Tom Petty on lead and rhythm guitars, Howie Epstein on bass & harmony vocals, Steve Ferrone on Drums, and Scott Thurston augmenting it all on multiple instruments & harmony vocals.  These guys tackle every style of music equally well.

Guitarist and songwriter Mike Campbell wrote in the booklet… “Playing The Fillmore West for a month was one of my favorite experiences as a musician in my whole life.  The band was on fire, and we changed the set list every night.  The room and the crowd was spiritual…AND…we got to play with some amazing guests.  I will always remember those nights with joy and inspiration.”

There are 23 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers original songs to remind us of their own great music, but having these 35 cover songs with the spirit they’re played, is what makes this collection essential.  We miss Tom.

Beatles…Revolver Remix Box Set (Review)

Nearly everyone agrees that Revolver is one of the best albums of all time, if not the best.  So let’s get right to the review of the much anticipated remix.

(Klaus Voormann’s cover told us this album was different.)

Although the original Revolver is fantastic, it has an old-fashioned mix with poorly separated voices and instruments.  This was due to the limited number of recording tracks available (four), and the increasingly more complex use of instruments and overdubbing.  The new remix brings a freshness to the whole album!  For the first time, we can hear all the vocals and instruments clearly, and with full stereo imaging.

Instead of some tracks having the vocals on one side and the drums on the other, the new remix centers them better, and spreads them out across the stereo spectrum along with the other instruments.

The preview track released earlier, “Taxman”, was good, but did not prepare us for how great the rest of the album would be.  What a joy to hear “Eleanor Rigby”!  It sounds so open and real, it’s like you’re in the room with Paul McCartney and the string octet.  The strings are spread out.  The “attack” violins are on the left, and the low, more melodic cellos on the right.  Wish it could have always sounded like this.

All the rest of the songs on side one are also impressive.  The voices and instruments are so clear on “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Love You To”, “Here There And Everywhere” (Gorgeous!), “Yellow Submarine”, and “She Said She Said”.  We’re hearing the nuances of the instrumental arrangements for the first time.

(The Beatles performing in 1966)

The quality continues on side two.  “Good Day Sunshine” and “And Your Bird Can Sing” sound great, and then “For No One” is outstanding.  The French Horn sounds like it’s really being played in the corner of the room, and Paul’s perfect vocal is right in front of you.  Paul plays the piano, clavichord, and bass.  Ringo is the only other Beatle on the track, with tasteful drums & percussion.  “Doctor Robert” is the best it’s sounded, and I definitely prefer this mix of “I Want To Tell You”.  George’s voice is fuller, and the dissonant piano blends in better with the other instruments.  “Got To Get You Into My Life” is exciting, with the sound of the horns improved.  “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a treat with John’s voice better, Ringo’s drums fuller, and the psychedelic instrumentation in more effective stereo.

The remixing was again done by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, but they also got approval from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

In fact, McCartney sat at the mixing board with Martin.  Paul switched back and forth between the remix and the original 1966 mix, and then voiced any slight tweaks he wanted.  After listening to Revolver again, McCartney said… “It was such a great time.”

In May of 1966 The Beatles released a single with the songs “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” which were recorded in April during the Revolver sessions.  A separate CD/Record has the new stereo remixes and the original mono mixes.

(On the left is the original picture sleeve that had George & John’s photos flipped so they look left handed.  The one on the right is what the sleeve would have looked like if they hadn’t flipped those photos.)

Although not on the original album, ”Paperback Writer” and “Rain” gave us a preview of the progressive electric sound that was going to be on Revolver in August of 1966.  Here we get a fresh remix of “Paperback Writer”, and the first remix of “Rain”.  They sound the best they ever have. The extra session tracks include the instrumental backing of “Rain” at the original speed it was played by The Beatles.  It sounds like it’s been sped up, and Ringo’s drumming is even more impressive when you know how fast he really played it.  The instrumental was slowed down for the effect they wanted on the song, and that’s the music bed John sang to for the completed track.

Here are the two CD’s/LP’s of outtakes:

Besides the versions of “Rain”, the other outtakes are interesting in how the songs progressed to the finished versions.  “Yellow Submarine” started completely different, with John singing… “In the place where I was born, no one cared, no one cared.”  Of course it eventually became a children’s singalong song.

The unnumbered second version of “Got To Get You Into My Life” is an enjoyable take, just The Beatles, using a fuzz guitar in place of the horns.  Take 5 of “And Your Bird Can Sing” is a little more straightforward, and sounds similar to The Byrds.  Very few of the outtakes will be versions that will be played often, but they help us understand The Beatles’ recording process.

The box set also includes the original mono version of Revolver, and although fans of mono will love it, most people prefer to listen to music in stereo.

The box set also includes a 100 page hard bound book.  It has previously unreleased photos, plus comments & detailed information about the songs on the original album.  Online, the CD set is currently $109, the vinyl $192.

Money saving tip:  The best value is the 2 CD set, online for $22.  You get the remixed album, a second disc with the remixed “Paperback Writer”, “Rain” & 13 outtakes, plus a 40-page booklet.

Revolver and Rubber Soul are the two Beatles albums that were most in need of remixing, with Rubber Soul expected in 2023.

This remix of Revolver is the most important remix so far.  It doesn’t sound exactly like the album we’ve enjoyed for 56 years, and that might bother some people, but the remix sounds better.  It’s the way this innovative album deserves to be heard.

Extra:  Here are some photos of the Super Deluxe CD box set.

The book and album-size CD holder slide out of the cardboard case.

The book, the case, and the open CD folder.

The complete box set.  This 56-year-old album actually made it to #2 in England, and #4 in America after the remix was released on October 28th, 2022.  Revolver did make it to #1 on three of Billboard’s individual charts…Rock Albums, Rock & Alternative Albums, and Catalog Albums.  It was #2 in physical sales.  The album sold 33 1/3 % more CD’s than vinyl records.

Neil Young…Harvest 50th Anniversary Box Set (Updated)

Neil Young’s best-selling #1 album, Harvest, was released as a 50th Anniversary box set on December 2nd, 2022.

This is not a remixed release like The Beatles have been doing, so what’s new?

Prior to the original release of the Harvest album, Neil Young performed many of the songs for a BBC-TV solo acoustic concert.  It’s strange to hear the now famous guitar introduction of the #1 hit, “Heart Of Gold”, and no one applauds, because no one has ever heard the song before!  Both the vinyl box set, and the CD box set include an audio version and a DVD version of that 8-song concert.

There are also three outtakes in each set…. “Journey Through The Past”, “Bad Fog Of Loneliness”, and “Dance Dance Dance”.  What’s sparked the most interest is that each box set includes a DVD of a 2-hour documentary, Harvest Time.  It was filmed in California, Nashville, and London during the recording of the 1972 album.  A hard bound book with rare photos is also included.

Above is the vinyl box set.  It has the original record, the BBC concert record, a 7-inch single that has the three outtakes, the concert DVD, the documentary DVD, a poster, and the book.

And here’s the CD version with the same line-up.  By the way, the audio of the album, the concert, and the outtakes would easily fit on one CD.

The tracks on the two full albums:

CD1 / LP1 Harvest

  1. Out On The Weekend
  2. Harvest
  3. A Man Needs A Maid
  4. Heart Of Gold
  5. Are You Ready For The Country?
  6. Old Man
  7. There’s A World
  8. Alabama
  9. The Needle And The Damage Done
  10. Words (Between The Lines Of Age)

CD2 / LP2 BBC Concert (All songs live)

  1. Out On The Weekend
  2. Old Man (with intro)
  3. Journey Through The Past (with intro)
  4. Heart Of Gold (with intro)
  5. Don’t Let It Bring You Down (with intro)
  6. A Man Needs A Maid (with intro)
  7. Love In Mind (with intro)
  8. Dance Dance Dance

Prices vary a bit on retail sites, but the vinyl box set is about $150, and the CD box set is about $50.

(Neil Young during BBC-TV concert in 1971)

Most hardcore Neil Young fans probably have all 21 music tracks, because the outtakes & concert have been bootlegged for years, but the book and the documentary are new.

An outtake of “Journey Through The Past” was on Neil Young’s Archive I release.  It’s a country version with Neil’s back-up band, The Stray Gators, and it’s excellent.  The outtake on this new set is a different version, no harmonica and more piano, but it’s also a great version.  It’s a shame “Journey Through The Past” wasn’t originally included on Harvest.

The other two outtakes are less successful.  “Bad Fog Of Loneliness” is just an okay song, and “Dance Dance Dance” is a lesser version of “Love Is A Rose”.

The BBC concert has improved audio from any previously available version.  About two-thirds of the way through the first song, “Out On The Weekend”, Neil forgets the lyrics and just fills in with some oohs.  Overall, it’s an enjoyable half-hour set.  What was usual is that Neil performed the new songs he was developing for “Harvest”.  At the time of the concert, he had already released three solo albums, and could have performed better known songs like “Cinnamon Girl”, “Down By The River”, “Cowgirl In The Sand”, “Tell Me Why”, and many others.  But, Neil has always done things his way.

What’s missing from the box set are what had to be many more outtakes or alternate versions of songs that were included on Harvest.  An album this good certainly wasn’t made up of miraculous single takes of each song.  That quibble aside, Harvest (the top-selling album of 1972) deserves its 50th Anniversary celebration.

According to reviews (which have been positive), the film 
Harvest Time has some fascinating moments that show what life was like in 1971…at least for one 25-year-old rock star.  Since the filming was done with no real plan for how to assemble the footage, it’s more a fly-on-the-wall experience than a concise documentary. 

Beatles Cavern Club Photos Found

Now that we’ve hit the 60th anniversary of the start of The Beatles’ recording career with EMI, some early photos of the group are circulating in the media.  Rare photos have been released of a July, 1961 appearance of The Beatles at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.  That’s more than a year before Ringo joined the band, and before they recorded their first single, “Love Me Do”.

This photo (from Tracks Ltd/PA) shows George Harrison (18 years old) Paul McCartney (19), and John Lennon (20).  Drummer Pete Best (19) is behind Paul.  The Beatles had recently returned from playing a marathon gig in Hamburg, Germany.

In the second photo, Paul is rocking a vocal.  As you can see from George’s hairstyle, this was before they adopted their signature Beatle haircuts.  These are the only photos with the group in these outfits, leather pants and cotton shirts.

Here’s a great shot of The Beatles returning to the Cavern Club after another stay in Hamburg.  They added the leather jackets and their hair is on the way to the Beatlemania look…although Pete Best was nonconformist.  As we learned, he didn’t quite fit in with the others, and his drumming was not up the the standards the group needed to record.

(Photo V&A Images, Getty Images)

Ringo’s first performance with The Beatles was on August 18th, 1962.  Above is a backstage photo from that time.  Ringo was on the first Beatles single, “Love Me Do”, which was released on October 5th, 1962 in England.

Here’s a photo of The Beatles’ last performance at the Cavern Club.   It was on August 3rd, 1963, and it marked performance number 292 since The Beatles started playing there in 1961.

Paul’s brother, Michael McCartney, also released photos he took of John & Paul writing songs in 1963 at the McCartney home.  Paul was quoted as saying his writing sessions with John were always successful.  Michael said this session included “I Saw Her Standing There”.

And the rest is musical history.

This is not the Cavern Club.

The Beatles’ 5 Unique American Albums (Re-evaluated)

Capitol Records was heavily criticized for their handling of Beatles albums, but let’s take a fresh look to see if it was actually bad for American Beatles fans.  Five of The Beatles’ albums during the 1960’s were assembled by Capitol Records, and were not released in England.  Those albums don’t match-up with the albums The Beatles themselves planned and recorded.

In January of 1964, Capitol released Meet The Beatles (With The Beatles in England), and VeeJay Records released Introducing The Beatles (Please Please Me in England).  By March, the two albums were at #1 & #2 on the Billboard chart, and Beatlemania was raging.  That month, Capitol executives figured out how to release a third album, even though The Beatles had only released two.

It was mostly possible because British albums normally had 14 songs, and American albums usually had 10 to 12.  Plus, The Beatles didn’t put most of their singles on their albums.  Capitol had added three singles to Meet The Beatles, but they also removed five songs.  To start putting together The Beatles’ Second Album (second Capitol album), they used those five album tracks.  Then, Capitol added four songs from non-album singles, and a couple of new recordings from a British EP (extended play 45 rpm record).  The Beatles’ Second Album was released April 10th, 1964, and in two weeks it replaced Meet The Beatles at #1…at which point The Beatles had three of the top four albums.

Six of the tracks were songs by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and the songwriters from Motown.  The Beatles really rocked these songs, and it’s a solid album even though it’s light on Lennon-McCartney originals.  Of course Capitol was trying to increase their Capital, but if they hadn’t released albums like this, it could have been years before we heard these songs.

The next official Beatles album was A Hard Day’s Night in June of 1964.  In the U.S., it was a soundtrack released by United Artists. They owned the film, and the right to release the seven songs featured in it.  Not to be left out, Capitol came up with one of their least-needed albums, Something New.

This is an easy album to criticize.  In England, the A Hard Day’s Night album had 13 Lennon-McCartney originals.  Capitol could have put the six songs not on the U.S. soundtrack onto Something New.  Instead, they only gave us three of those songs, and repeated five songs we had already gotten on the soundtrack.  They filled out the album with the American single, “Matchbox/Slowdown”, and a German version of “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.  The album was a disappointment, but still made it to #2.

The next album of music by The Beatles was Beatles ‘65, which somewhat matched the British Beatles For Sale from late 1964.  However, Capitol added the single “I Feel Fine/She’s A Woman”, plus “I’ll Be Back” from the British A Hard Day’s Night, and removed six songs they could save for another unique American album.

It was in June of 1965 that Capitol released Beatles VI.  Six of the eleven songs are the ones held off of Beatles ‘65, including “Eight Days A Week”.  The other five songs  are “Yes It Is” (the B-side of “Ticket To Ride”), two Larry Williams rockers, “Bad Boy” & “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” (Lizzy was misspelled on the cover), plus two songs from the not-yet-released British Help album… “What You’re Doing” & “You Like Me Too Much”.  It’s a good album, and another #1.  By the way, we finally know what The Beatles were holding in the cover photo, a knife to cut a cake.

The next releases were Help and Rubber Soul, and they were followed (in June of 1966) by the best, but most infamous, of the unique American albums.

Yesterday And Today has four hit singles…”Nowhere Man”, “We Can Work It Out” (#1), “Day Tripper”, and “Yesterday” (#1).  It also has “Drive My Car”, “If I Needed Someone”, and three songs from the yet-to-be-released Revolver, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “And Your Bird Can Sing” & “Dr. Robert”.  At the time, we in America didn’t know this album had taken songs from Help, Rubber Soul, and Revolver, but The Beatles did.  They decided they didn’t want their albums cut up anymore, so they planned to have their future albums be the same in the U.K. and the U.S.

The other problem with Yesterday And Today was the cover.  The original cover was meant to be an artsy shot of The Beatles in white coats with slabs of meat and pieces of dolls.  It became known as the “Butcher Cover”.

When advanced copies were sent to radio stations, critics, and record stores, the negative feedback caused Capitol to recall the album, and change the cover to the steamer trunk pose.

In 1995, I got a Capitol promo CD with the above two covers on the CD booklet.  It also included this brief “cover story”.

(Click or zoom to enlarge)

Those four albums are the main unique American releases, but in early 1970 (after Abbey Road but before Let It Be) Capitol decided there were just too many Beatles singles that hadn’t been released on any of their albums.  So, the album Hey Jude was put together.

Side One

  1. Can’t Buy Me Love (1964)
  2. I Should Have Known Better (1964)
  3. Paperback Writer (1966)
  4. Rain (1966)
  5. Lady Madonna (1968)
  6. Revolution (1968)

Side Two

  1. Hey Jude (1968)
  2. Old Brown Shoe (1969)
  3. Don’t Let Me Down (1969)
  4. The Ballad Of John And Yoko (1969)

It’s a shame they included and started the album with “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “I Should Have Known Better”, because they were the only singles that had already been on an album (United Artists’ A Hard Day’s Night).  There was also a big gap between the style of those early hits, and the remainder of the album’s songs.  Better fitting songs would be the “Get Back” single and the B-side to “Lady Madonna”, “The Inner Light”.  It seems like a small change, but look how more contemporary and unified the album becomes.

Side One

  1. Paperback Writer
  2. Rain
  3. Lady Madonna
  4. The Inner Light
  5. Hey Jude

Side Two

  1. Revolution
  2. Get Back
  3. Don’t Let Me Down
  4. Old Brown Shoe
  5. The Ballad Of John And Yoko

With this line-up of songs, Hey Jude might even have become an official British version the way America’s Magical Mystery Tour album did when all The Beatles’ CD’s came out in 1987.  It seems better than just throwing the singles on Past Masters (17 years later).  All of these singles deserved to be on an album, and most of them were in stereo for the first time.  Hey Jude was a welcome addition when it was released in February of 1970.  It made it to #2 and sold over 2-million copies in the U.S.

The two cover photos from Hey Jude were from the last photo shoot The Beatles ever did.  There was one plan to have the front and back covers reversed, and the title was Beatles Again.  That’s the title that was printed on the record label when I bought the album in 1970.

There were obviously some problems with the unique American albums created by Capitol, especially with them removing album tracks from the official Beatles albums.  On the plus side, we didn’t know it was happening, and enjoyed having Beatles albums coming out more often.  It also gave us stereo versions of singles that in England were only mono and not on albums.  It could be argued that Americans actually got the better deal by having all those great stereo singles on albums.

And in the end…Americans still got to enjoy The Beatles albums as the group intended.

The Beatles Revolver Remix!

The long awaited remix of Revolver arrived October 28th!

The 5 CD Super Deluxe Box Set is $139.  Disc 1 is the new stereo remix of the original album, discs 2 & 3 are alternate versions, disc 4  is the original mono mix, and disc 5 has the stereo remixes of “Paperback Writer” & “Rain”, along with the mono mixes.  The track listings are below.  There’s also a 100-page hardback book.  Unlike previous box sets, there is no Blue-ray disc included.

The Super Deluxe vinyl box set has all the same songs on four albums and a 7-inch EP for the “Paperback Writer” & “Rain” singles.  The price is $199.98.  The box shows Klaus Voormann’s cover art without the album title.

The track list for the original album.

The track listings for the alternate versions.

(The same tracks are on the vinyl versions.)

Here are the remix versions available as shown on The Beatles’ North American website.

Not pictured is a single CD version for $18.90, but the best deal is the 2-CD version for $25.  It includes a CD of selected alternate versions, plus the remixes of “Paperback Writer” & “Rain”.  There’s also a 40-page booklet.  Here are the tracks for disc two of that set.

Over the years, Revolver has become the Beatles album most often selected as their best.  Unfortunately, the original mix was unable to do justice to the complex recordings, because only four recording tracks were available for multiple voices and instruments.  The remixed separation of instruments and voices was accomplished using new technology developed by Peter Jackson’s team that worked on the Get Back film.  The remix has breathed new life into all the great songs from this groundbreaking 1966 album.  It’s amazing to hear Revolver in a wide-spectrum stereo for the first time.  There’s a full review of the box set on this site.  Here’s the link:


Extra news:  Remix producer Giles Martin mentioned he’s also taken a look at Rubber Soul, and he says there are enough extra song takes for a box set.  Unfortunately, it won’t happen quickly, because Giles Martin said in September 2022 that he’s tied up with other projects for at least six months.  The Let It Be and Revolver remixes were one year apart.  The original photo for the cover would look good on the front of the box:

Bonus Remix:  
Giles Martin said he recently finished a Dolby Atmos remix of The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.

The Beatles…Love Me Do (at 60)

It’s hard to believe, but the first hit by The Beatles is 60 years old!  On August 18th, 1962, Ringo Starr played his first gig as a member of The Beatles.  Then on September 4th, Ringo recorded “Love Me Do” with the band.  The single was released October 5th, 1962 in England.

My 1964 copy of “Love Me Do” (American Version)

That first single didn’t set the world on fire, but it did make it to #17 in England.  Importantly, it was a self-written song…credited to McCartney-Lennon (as you can see on the label).  Producer George Martin had found the group a song he believed would be a big hit, “How Do You Do It”, but The Beatles insisted they wanted to do their own songs.

There are three released versions of ”Love Me Do”.  The first was from when The Beatles auditioned for George Martin on June 6th, 1962.  Pete Best was still the  drummer (that version is on Anthology 1).  Martin was not happy with Best’s drumming, and The Beatles replaced Best with Ringo Starr.  Ringo recorded the song with The Beatles on September 4th, and that is the version that was eventually used for the British single (and can be found on the Past Masters collection).  However, a week later, September 11th, a third version was done with session drummer Andy White.  That’s the version released in America on the single and albums.

The first recording session by The Beatles…Sept. 4th, 1962.

It wasn’t just the choice of songs and drumming that had to be sorted out.  John Lennon sang lead, and also played harmonica.  Since the harmonica part overlapped the vocal at one point, George Martin had Paul McCartney sing the “love me do” at the end of the “ple-e-e-ease” so John could start the harmonica on time.  Paul said he was nervous, and you can hear it in his voice on the first version.  By the way, George Martin was right about “How Do You Do It”.  He produced the song with Gerry and The Pacemakers, and they beat The Beatles to #1 with it.  You can hear The Beatles’ version of the song on Anthology 1.

Starting with their first single, The Beatles included good songs on the flip sides.  “P.S. I Love You” has an excellent Paul McCartney melody.  It would have been considered for the “A-Side”, but the title was the same as a 1930’s song, so it got the “B-Side”.

The three major Beatles singles Capitol turned down in 1963 are “Love Me Do”, “Please Please Me” and “She Loves You”.  The other two records, “Do You Want To Know A Secret” and “Twist And Shout”, were released after The Beatles broke in the U.S. in January of 1964. The original three Beatles singles also charted after “I Want To Hold Your Hand” ushered in Beatlemania in the states.

This mass release of singles resulted in The Beatles dominating the Billboard Hot 100, and having the top five hits in April of 1964.

“Love Me Do” was released in the U.S. in late April 1964, shortly after this record-setting week…and went to #1.

It’s not considered one of The Beatles’ best songs, but “Love Me Do” launched their historic recording career.  The bluesy harmonica, and the fact that nothing else sounded like it on the radio at the time, served as a great introduction to the group.  The most amazing part is that The Beatles’ songs have remained popular for so many decades.

The Byrds…Photo Book 1964-1967

The Byrds have gotten the coffee-table-book treatment.

The Byrds 1964-1967
 was released September 20th, 2022 by BMG.  It’s a large 400 page book, with 500 photos of The Byrds.  It’s not cheap.  It’s listed on Amazon for $149.  But wait, you can spend a lot more!  There’s a deluxe version with the signatures of Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman for $350.  Spend $450, and you’ll also get David Crosby’s signature.  If you really really love The Byrds, you could get the Super Deluxe version for $1,700!  That version will let you choose one art print of one of the those three Byrds.

(Shots of McGuinn, Hillman, & Crosby.  Only the top photo is one of the prints.)

I love The Byrds, but I know I’ll get by without the signatures and the art print.  Along with all those photos, the three remaining original members provide commentary.  Although The Byrds continued on past 1967 (and had some influential albums), their greatest popularity was over three years… ‘65, ‘66, & ‘67.

Here’s a shot of an early ‘60’s folk group…at least that’s what it looks like.  David Crosby, Gene Clark, and Jim McGuinn (who changed his name to Roger in 1967, because a guru told him it would vibrate better with the universe) were all involved with folk music before they got together.  This photo is from 1964.  All three were singers, songwriters and guitarists.  By the time they released their first hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, as The Byrds in 1965, they had added Chris Hillman on bass and Michael Clarke on drums.  By then, they also looked a lot more like The Beatles.  It’s also true that Michael Clarke was chosen because he looked like Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones.

Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, & Michael Clarke.  This lineup was responsible for “Mr. Tambourine Man” (#1), “Turn Turn Turn” (#1), “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”, and “All I Really Want To Do”.

By the third album, singer-songwriter Gene Clark had left the group, partly because of a fear of flying.  Ironically, their next hit was “Eight Miles High”, which McGuinn says was inspired by a ride in a Learjet.

The Byrds’ last album under the time frame of the new book was 1967’s Younger Than Yesterday.

Among the photos BMG sent out to promote the new book is a photo used for the album cover, as shown above.  It was superimposed with another pose and given a psychedelic treatment to complete the cover.  The hit songs from this album were “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”, and “My Back Pages”, which includes the line “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”.

The Byrds in 1967 performing “So You Wanna Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” with trumpeter Hugh Masekela.

Byrds fans can now put on their Byrds albums, while they enjoy all the old photos and first-hand stories by Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and David Crosby.

Extra:  Wanted to add this photo of Roger McGuinn & David Crosby in harmony, plus a couple group shots.

Paul McCartney…Amazing At 80!

The most famous musician in the world turned 80-years-old on June 18th, 2022.  Fans are happy for Paul McCartney, and are also celebrating all the excellent songs he has given us.  Personally, no artist has had a greater effect on my love of music.  He may even have had something to do with our son being named Paul.

Here’s a quick summary of what the above photos represent.  In 1957 Paul McCartney joined John Lennon in The Quarrymen. They added George Harrison to the band, and eventually changed their name to The Beatles.   In 1962 The Beatles’ classic lineup became complete with Ringo Starr, and the music they made in the 1960’s still resonates with audiences.

In 1970, McCartney started his solo career, and then he added various musicians under the band name Wings throughout the decade.  From 1980 on, Paul McCartney has been solo, although he has worked with other artists from time to time.

McCartney might be the richest musician in the world, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to create more music and to tour.  Most people his age have retired.

The 80 milestone for Paul McCartney generated quite a bit of attention, and one article with an interesting angle was published by Stereogum.

They asked 80 musicians to each select their favorite song from any part of Paul McCartney’s career.  Since the question asked for their “favorite”, and not “the best”, there was a wide range of songs.  The article included comments from the artists explaining their selections.  It’s worth checking out.  There was no ranking of the songs, but here’s an analysis.

The most selected song was chosen by five of the artists.  That song is “Blackbird”, and we can all agree that it’s great.  I don’t think anyone could have guessed the song that came in second.  It was selected by four of the artists…“Martha My Dear”.  Singer-songwriter Michael McDonald said “I always loved the melodic structure and the chord progression, the overall harmonic sensibility.”

 Since McCartney’s sheep dog was named Martha, the lyrics are considered light, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the melody and the performance.  The 2018 remix of “Martha My Dear” sounds fantastic, especially the brass arrangement.

The songs that were the third most mentioned (by three artists each) were also surprises… “You Won’t See Me” from 1965’s  Rubber Soul album, and “Waterfalls” from the 1980 solo album McCartney II.  The songs that were selected by two artists included “Let It Be”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Junk”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Here There And Everywhere”, “Temporary Secretary”, “Let Me Roll It”, “Arrow Through Me”, and “The Long And Winding Road”.

The two parts of McCartney’s Beatles career that had the most songs selected were the Revolver sessions from 1966, and The White Album sessions from 1968..  Those songs are “Eleanor Rigby”, “Here There And Everywhere”, “For No One”, “Paperback Writer”, “Hey Jude”, “Blackbird”, “Martha My Dear”, “I Will”, “Rocky Raccoon”, and even “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”.  It was also interesting that the choices were fairly equally divided between Paul’s Beatles career and his solo career…43 selected Beatles songs and 37 chose solo songs.

Paul McCartney has been making music for over 65 years.  His career is unequalled.  He wrote four of the Top-10 most recorded songs of all time (and more that have at one time been in the Top-10).  He was a key part of the world’s most popular band.  According to Billboard Magazine, he was the top artist of the 1970’s, and has had #1 albums spread over six decades.  Impressively, he is still doing 2-and-a-half-hour shows to packed arenas.  And, it’s his birthday too!

When Paul headlined the Glastonbury Festival on June 25th, 2022, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

Happy Birthday Paul McCartney, and thank you for all the great music!  And Happy Birthday Ringo Starr, who turned 82 on July 7th, 2022.

Bonus:  On August 5th, 2022 a new box set was released with the three solo albums McCartney I, II & III.

The set is available in Vinyl & CD formats.  Apple provided this triple photo of Paul McCartney from the years the albums were released…1970, 1980, and 2020:

The first two photos were taken by Linda McCartney, and the third by Paul & Linda’s daughter, Mary.