With the recent losses of David Crosby 81, Christine McVie 81, and Jeff Beck 78, we’re reminded that the music is running out for many of our favorite artists of the Classic Rock era. Some of us can certainly identify with their situation.
Here are the current ages of the rest of CSN&Y…Stephen Stills 78 (1/3/45), Graham Nash 80 (2/2/42), and Neil Young 77 (12/12/45). Crosby’s friend from The Byrds, Roger McGuinn, is 80 (7/13/42).
Christine McVie’s Fleetwood Mac mates are…Mick Fleetwood 75 (6/24/47), Stevie Nicks 74 (5/26/48), John McVie 77 (11/26/45), and Lindsey Buckingham 73 (10/3/49).
The remaining Beatles are both in their 80’s…Ringo Starr 82 (7/7/40), and Paul McCartney 80 (6/18/42). Both have been very active, with Ringo scheduled for a 2023 tour. John Lennon was murdered in 1980 at age 40, and George Harrison died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.
Eagles singer-songwriter Glenn Frey died in 2016 at the age of 67. The remaining Eagles are all 75…Timothy B. Schmit (10/30/47), Don Henley (7/22/47), and Joe Walsh (11/20/47).
Two of our best solo artists really are 70’s singer-songwriters. James Taylor and Jackson Browne are both 74, and will turn 75 in 2023. James Taylor (3/12/48) and Jackson Browne (10/9/48).
Here’s a selection of some of our classic artists listed according to their current ages. Each one includes their birth date, so you can track their ages as we move into the future.
81: Paul Simon (10/13/41), Art Garfunkel (11/5/41), Bob Dylan (8/14/41)
80: Carole King (2/9/42), Brian Wilson (6/20/42)
79: Joni Mitchell (11/7/43), Keith Richards (12/18/43), Mick Jagger (7/26/43), Steve Miller (10/5/43), Roger Waters (9/6/43)
78: Rod Stewart (1/10/45), Ray Davies (6/21/44), Roger Daltry (3/1/44), Jimmy Page (1/9/44)
77: Van Morrison (8/31/45), Debbie Harry (7/1/45), John Fogerty (5/28/45), Pete Townshend (5/19/45), Bob Seger (5/6/45), Eric Clapton (3/30/45)
76: Linda Ronstadt (7/16/46), David Gilmour (3/6/46), Justin Hayward (10/14/46)
75: Elton John (3/25/47), Jeff Lynne (12/30/47), Carlos Santana (7/20/47)
74: Robert Plant (8/20/48), Steven Tyler (3/26/48), Cat Stevens (7/21/48)
73: Bruce Springsteen (9/23/49), Billy Joel (5/9/49), Mark Knopfler (8/12/49)
As Jackson Browne sang…“All good things gotta come to an end.” We’ve enjoyed an abundance of fantastic music from this generation of musicians. Here are some lyrics from a Cat Stevens song that can be applied to the situation.
“And though you want them to last forever, you know they never will. You know they never will. And the goodbye makes the journey harder still.”
Hopefully, a good portion of our classic artists’ songs will be enjoyed for many decades to come.
In February of 2018, Apple launched the HomePod smart speaker. We bought one immediately, and then added another one as soon as HomePods could be linked in stereo. The price was $350 each. Our old stereo system had well-reviewed components that cost a lot more, but didn’t sound as good as the HomePods. We absolutely love the convenience of just asking for the playlist we want. Here’s our setup in the living room.
About three years later, Apple stopped producing the HomePod, and instead introduced the $99 HomePod Mini. It was a fraction of the cost, and a fraction of the sound quality.
As of February 3rd, 2023, the full size HomePod is back!
The new HomePod (second generation) looks like the original HomePod, but there are some differences. The lighted display now covers the whole top, and the dark color is “Midnight” black instead of a dark gray. Inside is Apple’s S7 chip with “enhanced Siri”. The new HomePod has the same size woofer, but five tweeters instead of seven, and 4 microphones instead of six. It would be hard to believe that the 2nd generation of HomePods could possibly sound better. The original has impressive bass, and balanced midrange & treble, without distortion, even at high volume. We mainly use our HomePods to play our entire music collection we have stored on iTunes, but HomePods can also serve as a hub for smart home devices.
The price of the new HomePod is $299, which is the same price they eventually used for the original HomePod. It’s surprising the price isn’t a bit lower, since price seemed to be the biggest concern in the past. Maybe Apple hopes that since a lot of people have experienced the HomePod Mini, they may be ready to move up to the excellent sound of the full size model.
Buried deep in a report by Luminate on 2022 music buying, was the statistic that only 50% of people who purchase vinyl records even own turntables. What’s going on is that some people are buying records as keepsakes to have a physical connection to the artists and music they’re streaming. Besides being cool souvenirs, buying albums is a way for fans to support their favorite artists.
The 50% “no record player” number was shocking. My guess might have been that 10% of buyers bought records only as souvenirs. But let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to ask Siri or Alexa to play your favorite album than it is to get out a record, play it on a turntable, and flip it over halfway through. A stereo system like the one above costs about the same as three years of a music subscription service. Plus, records are not a portable music form.
The statistic doesn’t mean that half of all records bought go unused. People who have turntables buy a lot more records than those who don’t, and those records are being enjoyed.
No demographic statistics were given, but record company executives believe that some albums being bought as keepsakes are new releases by artists like Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, who had the two biggest selling albums of 2022. Classic albums by artists like The Beatles and Pink Floyd are probably getting played by fans who want to enjoy the original vinyl experience from when those albums were new.
According to the new report, Taylor Swift is the vinyl queen. She has the modern record (since 1991) for most vinyl sold for her Midnights album from October of 2022. It’s the first album in 35 years to sell more vinyl records than CD’s. Overall, Swift sold the most albums in all forms in 2022. Second place wasn’t close. That was Harry Styles, and Swift nearly tripled his sales. She had nine albums simultaneously in the Top 200 in 2022. Third place went to The Beatles, who had the Revolver remix release and their catalog of albums.
Music consumption in the U.S. was up 9.2% in 2022. Streaming accounts for a whopping 84% of music income.
Now, we just need to get turntables to some of the younger music fans.
(Photo & stereo by Mark Gallagher)
We’d be glad to show the younger generations how to set-up stereo systems and use them, as long as they’re willing to keep helping us with our phones and apps.
A good friend, Al Koontz, recently suggested a story idea. He thought I should write an article about the best vocalists. Among those he mentioned were John Lennon, Stephen Stills, and Linda Ronstadt. I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that it’s impossible to separate the vocalist from the music they perform. If you don’t like a particular song or style of music, you’re not going to like the vocalist. If you like the music, you’re certainly more likely to think the singer is good. Plus, some singers are great interpreters of their own songs, but don’t have great voices.
So I’m still thinking about how to write an article along those lines, and Rolling Stone comes out with a list of the “The 200 Greatest Singers Of All Time”. Here’s the artwork they used:
Of course it’s not…”Of All Time”, because you won’t find Bing Crosby on the list (my dad’s favorite singer). They also make it clear they’re not talking about which artists have the best voices, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to include some of the artists I like, such as Neil Young and Bob Dylan. But, it’s really hard (and probably wrong) to not include the quality of a voice…good range, good tone, good pitch…when seeking the “greatest singer”.
The rankings are highly questionable. Is Ozzy Osbourne (#112) really a better singer than Barbra Streisand (#147)? The musical genres are so varied that it’s impossible to definitively rank the artists.
If you’re looking for a Rock artist, don’t look at the top ten, because they’re all Soul singers (it’s a glaring bias). In fact, there aren’t even ten Rock singers in the top 50. #1 on the Rolling Stone list is Aretha Franklin. Aretha had a wonderful soulful style, and an amazing voice. She’s a solid choice, but the Greatest 200 Singers list is basically a joke. Here are the top ten singers on their list. See how many of your favorites are included.
Only two of these artists are pictured in the graphic that accompanied the article. They had to go farther down the list to find any balance for the look of it. The top ten are all good R&B singers, but it would be easy to slot-in Pop and Rock singers who are at least as good as most of them.
The first Classic Rock artist is John Lennon at #12. He was #5 when they did a similar list in 2008. I love John Lennon’s singing. He could rock uptempo songs (“Twist and Shout”), or express the beauty of lyrics in a ballad (“In My Life”). But, was he even the best singer in The Beatles? Paul McCartney could also rock a vocal like “Helter Skelter” or “Long Tall Sally”, and sing ballads like “Here There And Everywhere”. Plus, Paul had a better vocal range, and could make a song soar with his upper register. Paul was ranked the 26th best singer (down from #11 in 2008). Bob Dylan was 15th. He’s a great songwriter, but is he a better singer than Paul McCartney or Frank Sinatra (#19)?…or maybe most of the other 185 singers ranked lower? The people who developed this list often confused “Greatest Artist” for “Greatest Singer”.
Here’s an interesting comparison. About three years ago, Billboard Magazine published a list of the Top Artists Of All Time. It’s based on how the artists performed on the albums and singles charts, which is mostly by sales and now streaming.
The Rolling Stones
Only two artists made both top tens (Mariah Carey & Stevie Wonder). No ranking is perfect, but people spending their time and money on artists is probably more important and accurate than some people sitting in a room making up a list of “the greatest singers” using their own biases as to what makes a great singer.
Without deeply analyzing the list, a couple of omissions jumped out. James Taylor and Alison Krauss are not on the list. James Taylor’s recordings display his excellent baritone voice, and they show his nuanced way of expressing lyrics. James Taylor and Neil Young (#133) are two of my very favorite artists, but James is clearly the better singer. Alison Krauss is a 27-time Grammy winner, with one of the clearest most beautiful voices in music history. There are a lot of country artists on the list who can’t touch her singing ability.
Just a few more who didn’t make the list:
Don Henley, Stephen Stills, Billy Joel
Jim Morrison (Doors), Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
Plus…Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Ann Wilson (Heart), Jackson Browne, Pat Benatar, Sting, Tom Petty, Carole King, Neil Diamond, and so many more classic artists, including many great lead singers of bands.
While I’m thinking about the Classic Rock artists, others in the public were shocked that singers like Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, Jennifer Hudson, and Nat King Cole were left off. Choosing and ranking the 200 greatest singers is a fool’s errand, and apparently that’s who did it.
The list is just designed to get the magazine some publicity, and to generate public discussion over some of the oddball choices and positioning of the artists. The sad part is this list will be cited in other articles as some type of authority that so-and-so is the __th greatest singer ever!
Extra: You won’t believe what Rolling Stone did to the 500 Greatest Albums list, here’s the link:
Some of the best music ever recorded came out of Abbey Road Studios. Now, there’s a 90-minute documentary about the nine decades of recording there.
The film is directed by someone who practically grew up at the studio, Mary McCartney. Early on, we see Mary McCartney as a baby on the floor in Abbey Road Studio Two, which is where The Beatles and her dad, Paul McCartney, often recorded. Mary McCartney was a perfect choice for this documentary because of her affection for the studio, her career as a professional photographer, and her access to the artists who recorded there. The documentary is now streaming on Disney+.
Abbey Road Studios started as EMI Recording Studios in 1931. It was the largest studio in London, and was mostly used to record classical music. The problem with classical music is that it’s not a big money maker. By the mid 1950’s, the studio began recording Pop music, and by 1958 they were recording that new music style, Rock & Roll. Shortly after that, they hired producer, George Martin. He was made the youngest head of one of their labels, Parlophone Records. Let’s see, who could he find to make the label a success?
George Martin signed The Beatles in 1962, and in 1963 Beatlemania was raging in England. By 1964, artists produced by George Martin on Parlophone Records spent 36 weeks out of the year in the #1 position on the English singles chart. Other artists included Gerry & The Pacemakers and Cilla Black.
At the premiere of the If These Walls Could Sing were Giles Martin (George’s son), Mary McCartney, Ringo Starr & his wife Barbara, Elton John, and Paul McCartney & his wife Nancy.
Ringo Starr talked about when The Beatles recorded ten of the songs for their first album in about 12-hours. He said the long session didn’t wear them out, because “We were playing, that’s what’s important.” And in an understatement, he added “It worked out really well for us.” Ringo singled out “Yer Blues” off The White Album as his favorite recording session. He says they were in a small room, and just playing tight as a band.
Paul McCartney said they eventually had in their contract that The Beatles had limitless recording time at Abbey Road. He says, “It was our home”. He also treats us to a bit of “Lady Madonna” on the piano he originally used to record it.
Elton John was known as Reg Dwight in the late ‘60’s. He was a studio musician at Abbey Road in 1969 when he recorded “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” with The Hollies. If you listen closely to the recording, you can hear Elton John’s piano style shine through. Elton’s fondest memory of a session is that he was treated to a live performance of “Hey Jude”. Paul McCartney had stopped into the studio, and the band asked Paul to sing it.
Of the many other artists who commented on Abbey Road were Roger Waters & David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and singer-songwriter Kate Bush, who all recorded there.
Pink Floyd was recording their first album at the time The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Roger Waters said that Sgt. Pepper is “an amazing piece of work.” “It freed a whole generation of young artists.” He said it gave them permission to write songs about real things, and gave them courage to accept their feelings.
David Gilmour talked about recording The Dark Side Of The Moon at Abbey Road Studios. He said the group clashed at times, because they all wanted the album to be as good as possible. He said they recorded the parts separately, and didn’t know what they really had until they finished and finally pushed the play button. He said, “It was absolutely magical. It was the best time I ever heard it.”
The change from EMI Studios to the name Abbey Road Studios came about in 1976, to tie in with The Beatles Abbey Road album, and because artists called it that anyway. It’s hard to believe, but during a slow time at the end of the ‘70’s, Abbey Road was almost tuned into a car park. It was saved by Indiana Jones.
When a London studio that was used for recording movie scores closed, the large Studio One at Abbey Road was fitted with a big screen and a projector. Composer/conductor John Williams recorded the soundtrack to the film Raiders Of The Lost Ark at Abbey Road.
After that, many movies including the remaining Star Wars movies and other John Williams scores were recorded there. Director George Lucas said the recording of the scores was the most fun. He said, Abbey Road was “like a second home”. John Williams said Studio One is the perfect size to get the sound he wants. He calls Abbey Road “a gift to music”.
Mary McCartney interviewed many more musicians, so the hour-and-a-half is filled with interesting stories about Abbey Road and the music recorded there, as well as historic film and photos. If you don’t have Disney+, you might be able to use a free trial to watch this film and the 8-hour Get Back documentary.
The Harvest 50th Anniversary box set is a celebration of a peak time in Neil Young’s life.
(The cover of my box set.)
The vinyl set includes the original album, an album of Neil Young’s 8-song 1971 BBC-TV solo acoustic concert, and a 7-inch single with three outtakes… “Journey Through The Past”, “Bad Fog Of Loneliness” and “Dance Dance Dance”.
There’s a hard bound album-size 50-page book with lots of photos, lyrics, and information about the recording of the album. It’s well done, as you can see by the above pages.
You’ll also find a numbered black & white photo of Neil Young at his ranch, and a poster of Neil and The Stray Gators in the barn where some of the album was recorded.
Included are two DVD’s, the Harvest Time 2-hour documentary, and a half-hour 1971 BBC-TV solo acoustic concert. They store in pockets on the inside of the back cover of the book.
For the first time, I got both the vinyl & CD versions of a box set. Here’s the size difference.
The reason Neil is smiling is because he’s imagining us trying to decipher his handwritten lyrics in that small CD book. The only thing missing from the CD set is the numbered photo of Neil.
The Harvest album is great, the BBC concert is good, and the three outtakes are nice to have, especially “Journey Through The Past”. The real highlights of the box set are the book and the Harvest Time film.
Like Neil Young, Harvest Time is a little rough around the edges, but filled with talent. And that talent includes the Nashville musicians who make up Neil’s backing band, The Stray Gators. In 1971, Neil Young had purchased a ranch near San Francisco that he named Broken Arrow Ranch.
As the film begins, we see Neil Young and The Stray Gators playing in a large old barn on the ranch. It’s not a custom studio built into a barn, but rather an actual barn with a recording truck parked outside of it. There are microphones inside the barn, and the audio is fed to large tape decks in the truck.
The first song we hear is “Alabama”, and it sounds really good, even though they’re recording with the big barn door open and the vocal harmonies are missing. Other songs they play include “Words (Between The Lines Of Age)”, “Are You Ready For The Country”, and several extended instrumental jams. You can see how much all of these guys love playing music.
It’s unfortunate that the filming for this documentary wasn’t started sooner. Neil Young met all these musicians when he went to Nashville to appear on The Johnny Cash Show. After the show, Neil went into a studio with Linda Ronstadt & James Taylor who had also been on the show. The musicians that recorded with them that night became Neil’s backing band for Harvest and other albums. By the way, the two songs recorded that night were “Heart Of Gold” and “Old Man”. Sure wish we could have seen those sessions!
The film moves to a recording studio in New York. We see Stephen Stills and David Crosby join Neil to record the vocal harmonies for the track “Alabama” that was recorded in the barn. At one point, Neil plays a piano as they work on their harmonies. Stephen & David lean in so close that the three singers are almost touching heads. They’re obviously enjoying working together.
Later, we see Graham Nash join Neil & Stephen to record the harmonies for “Words (Between The Lines Of Age)”. The three singers are standing at a single microphone, and Graham and Neil are holding beers. The harmony sounds off, and it looks like it could be because of the beers, but eventually you see them work out the parts, and nail the final take.
We get to watch Neil Young record two songs with The London Symphony Orchestra… “A Man Needs A Maid” and “There’s A World”. Neil recorded the songs live with the orchestra instead of having the orchestra overdubbed. This is a fascinating part of the film. Here’s this long-haired hippie in a flannel shirt playing with a large orchestra made up of men who are mostly in suits & ties. You wonder what they think of Neil. He doesn’t look or sound like the musicians they normally accompany. Initially there’s some trouble keeping the orchestra in synch with Neil, but they work it out. We even see some of the musicians getting Neil Young’s autograph at the end.
The film is not up to today’s technical standards. It’s in the old 4:3 ratio instead of wide screen. It doesn’t have any kind of typical documentary narrative, but Neil Young fans can immerse themselves in the joy of the music. Neil Young is obviously loving being at his ranch, and enjoying this time in his 25-year-old life.
At one point, someone asks if this is a film that will be in theaters. Neil says… “Yeah, maybe pretty soon.”
The Good news is that there will be a new Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young book. The bad news is that it’s going to be very expensive. The name is CSN&Y Love The One You’re With. The release date is June, 2023.
Above is the Collector’s Edition, with the book and a dark red box to hold it. The book has about 1,000 images by renowned Classic Rock photographer Henry Diltz, who is the author. The accompanying text includes comments from Diltz and from past interviews with the band members. I went to the Genesis Publications website to get details. The pre-order price is about $350, and is limited to 1,650 copies. There was a Deluxe Version which was limited to 350 copies, but that is already shown as sold out. I did find it on a different website priced at $1,750.
The Genesis website provided a lot of samples from the book, and here are some of them (enlarge with a click or touch):
No photographer captured the Classic Rock artists of the West Coast better than Henry Diltz.
Diltz was a fellow musician and a friend to the Laurel Canyon artists. He was already photographing the members of CSN&Y when they were still with their old groups…The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies. Graham Nash said…“Henry was part of whatever was going on at any moment. We certainly never thought that this was history as he was shooting us. We thought, there’s Henry with his camera, and we trusted him.”
Here are some of the iconic CSNY photos by Henry Diltz:
Remember, these were taken before the digital age. Imagine how many rolls of film Henry Diltz carried around so he wouldn’t miss a shot. He had to wait to develop the film to even know if the photos were good.
It’s unlikely, but it would be great if there was a less expensive version of the book available as we get to the June, 2023 release. The reality is that these books are made for just a small number of fans who can afford the high price tag. Seriously, only 2,000 books? That’s not serving much of the fan base for a band that used to play stadiums.
A news story on the book said… “This marks the first time Diltz’s photos of the band have been presented in a book format.” That’s not true.
This is my book from 1984. You can see at the bottom of the cover that this authorized biography has photography by Henry Diltz. There were a lot of photos that were mostly black & white, but some color pages were included.
By the way, the price of the book was $13.95. The good part for us is that we’ve enjoyed most of the best of Diltz’s CSN&Y photos through the years on album covers, in articles, and in books.
We’re lucky that Crosby Stills Nash & Young provided so much great music as a band and as solo artists. We’re also fortunate that Henry Diltz photographed them throughout their careers.
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.
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”.
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. If you like the songs you see on the lists, you’ll enjoy The Heartbreaker’s performances.
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.
Update (12/9/22): Tom Petty’s Live At The Fillmore 1997 became his 21st Top-40 album hitting #35 the week of it’s release. It also made the Top-10 in sales.
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 1966 Revolver album 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 Beatles’ 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.
(All the tracks are listed on the box. Click to enlarge.)
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 mix of Revolver. Although fans of mono will love it, most people prefer to listen to music in stereo.
The box set 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. Interestingly, the album sold 33 & 1/3 % more CD’s than vinyl records.