Friday, 6 November 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #13 - Abbey Road (1969)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Come Together
2. Something
3. Maxwell's Silver Hammer
4. Oh Darling
5. Octopus's Garden
6. I Want You (She's So Heavy)
7. Here Comes The Sun
8. Because
9. You Never Give Me Your Money
10. Sun King
11. Mean Mr Mustard
12. Polythene Pam
13. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
14. Golden Slumbers
15. Carry That Weight
16. The End
17. Her Majesty

So here we are. With Abbey Road, The Beatles' thirteenth, and last, recorded album Beatle-A-Day!!! comes to its end.

Oh, but what a way to end.

For me Abby Road is the fab four's definitive statement - whilst the album's A side displays the way the band functions as the musical outlet for four very distinct individuals (the transition from Octopus's Garden to I Want You (She's So Heavy) still boggles my mind!) it is the B side where Abby Road's magic really is.

And magic is certainly what I would call it; with the band practically non-existent at the time of composition it is amazing that any work was produced at all, let alone something displaying the Abbey Road Medley's cohesion, unity of purpose and all round good vibes.

Of course, I'm not saying that musically the Abbey Road Medley is a well considered whole; with it's unflagged tempo changes, sudden moments of silence and reoccurring musical motifs the song is very much that description's antithesis. Instead I believe that it shows the way the band (and in particular John and Paul) were still capable of writing together, with utterly spectacular results.

With The End The Beatles saga comes to its close and in this one short piece the foursome sum up the entirety of The Beatles' recording career. The song features Ringo's only drum solo, and is then followed by three distinct guitar sounds which gradually work together to become one cohesive guitar line. George's guitar is technically minded and displays an intense interest in rhythmical patterns, Paul comes in second and gives the piece an elegantly simple series of licks, and finally John enters the fray with his buzzsaw distortion and emphasis on rhythm over melody.

This majestic showcase of the band's individual talents then gives way to a vocal harmony in which the band declare that "in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make" - a beautifully succinct summation of The Beatles' entire ideological stance. In this one moment I believe Abbey Road would justify it's place at the end of The Beatles' timeline, but almost every single song on the album is equally as good - I even like Paul's addition of Maxwell's Silver Hammer now!

Through Beatle-A-Day!!! I have held firm to my analogy that The Beatles' lifespan mirror's that of a human life, and nowhere else does this ring more true than on Abbey Road. Whilst writing it the lads from Liverpool knew that it would be their last album, and it shows. The album seems to have been designed to be their definitive statement, and it certainly is that - throughout the album their are musical references to The Beatles' entire history. In pulling these together it serves too allow the four to look over their accomplishments and, in an almost existential fashion, attempt to unearth what their existence meant - and in the final line the four nail it.

I find Abbey Road to be a genuinely cathartic experience, and one which leaves me with a tinge of sadness - in recognizing their own mortality The Beatles reflect that thought back into me. Due to its place in history and its musical content I think that Abbey Road is without a doubt the sixth Beatles masterpiece, and something everyone should have in their collection.

To close Beatle-A-Day!!! I just want to say that writing this feature has redefined my relationship with The Beatles, and made me appreciate them all the more; even going as far to declare that they are in all honesty the band with the greatest body of work that I am aware of. There may be more instant music, and even music I listen to more often, but it doesn't change the fact that The Beatles made much of the music occurring today possible, and went so far as to not only redefine music, but the way it is written, recorded and consumed.

If you haven't already these are the six Beatles albums that I think everybody should at least have heard in their entirety as they are the foundation for much that has come since:

1. Rubber Soul

2. Revolver

3. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

4. Magical Mystery Tour

5. The White Album

6. Abbey Road

...and with that we are done! Hope you enjoyed this feature as much as I did!

sam sam

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

BEATLE-A-DAY!!! #12 - Let It Be (1970)

Hello! As discussed in my post on The Beatles: Rock Band I have decided to embark on a project called Beatle-A-Day, in which I listen to The Beatles' back catalogue in chronological (recorded) order and post about, surprise surprise, an album a day (Weekends and Wednesdays not withstanding!)

Without further delay let's get stuck in!

1. Two Of Us
2. Dig A Pony
3. Across The Universe
4. I Me Mine
5. Dig It
6. Let It Be
7. Maggie Mae
8. I've Got A Feeling
9. One After 909
10. The Long And Winding Road
11. For You Blue
12. Get Back

Let It Be was an album I expected to dislike, just because of the place it holds in The Beatles' back catalogue - officially the last released album I resented the fact that The Beatles' final statement would be seen by many to be a regression, albeit an intended one, in musical style.

Luckily for me there are two things which occurred to make me rethink my opinions of the album; whilst the first surrounds the music's release the second concerns the material itself. Firstly there is much more widespread acceptance that Let It Be was in fact the foursome's penultimate release, something which instantly erases any anal doubts I might have had about the way this album seems out of step with the The Beatles' overall career arc.

Secondly, and after subsequent listens, I actually really enjoy the album; this is in no small part due to the fact that it is a completely fails to accomplish its original goal. Paul pushed incredibly hard after the fracticious White Album sessions for The Beatles to begin playing, writing and recording as a band in an effort to get "back to basics" (Paul's words, not mine!). On principal I tend to dislike instances when bands, or artists, attempt to return to an earlier stage in their development - not only do I find it disingenuous, but I also find it unnecessary. If I want to listen to something akin to The Beatles' earlier work I will just put on an earlier release; after all why should I choose saccharine over sugar?

Having not seen the Let It Be film (in which the album's composition is documented) I can't comment on how organic the music's composition was, but listening to the finished piece it seems fitting that it was handed to Phil Spector to master. As a notorious over producer he seems like an incongruous fit for a "back to basics" approach, but in the light of the way the band dissolved during the writing process he seems perfect the perfect choice for a band who seems to have little faith in Paul's original concept.

Musically the album is certainly less eclectic than the White Album's most tangential moments, but it does seem to maintain that album's cleanliness; at no point does the listener ever feel completely overwhelmed in the same way Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band frequently took pleasure in. Having said this, some may cite Spector's involvement as a contradicting this point, but I think that any such cries ignore the fact that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band felt so excessive not because of the number of instruments involved, but the way they all pulled in different directions.

Spector's overblown additions to the release (including choirs, organs and more) don't actually detract from the release for me; perhaps the most obvious moment of their inclusion is during the titular Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road. For me at least, this theatrical bent seems fitting with the materials' sentimental nature, and, as such, emphasises The Beatles' musical work.

Coming to the content itself there are several classic Beatles songs on this release ; for me songs such as Dig A Pony, I Me Mine, Dig It (what a song title! Yeah!), I've Got A Felling and Get Back stand tall with The Beatles' best, and for that I think Let It Be is in fact a damn fine album.

After the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album debacle it's very nice to find a hidden gem in The Beatles' catalogue - I think that Let It Be will now be getting a hell of a lot more play than I ever expected before embarking on Beatle-A-Day!!!

Of course, in comparison to the band's final offering Let It Be looses a great deal of its lustre - Abbey Road, as I will post tomorrow, truly blows it out of the water.

sam sam


Hello there dog show hello and general Sam Mildner fans!

I'm so sorry I haven't been in touch or posting recently, but I promise there is a perfectly good explanation for this * stares at shoes in an embarrassed fashion*. I haven't even been seeing my London friends or housemates as much as I'd like over the last few weeks, but I can honestly say that THIS IS NOW OVER!!!!!!

My absence from the internet, and life in general, is due to the fact I've spent all this time prepping my portfolio and interview skills (ha!) for my application to the London Film School. I was informed that I was granted an interview on the basis of my admission piece (original three minute script, storyboards and general forms), and its just been go-go-GO!!!!! since then. Long story short I had the interview at the end of last week, and received an email on Wednesday evening stating that I had been accepted onto the Filmmaking MA, starting on January 11th.

With this out of the way I'm planning to carry out the big dog show hello plans I hinted at in the last few entries, hopefully making the blog a lot more of a back and forth between readers and myself - I can't stress enough how useful feedback is to me and the blog's general development.

In addition to this I've also uploaded the RSS feed to my facebook account; if you're reading this on there then well done for finding it, but please have a pop over to the real blog if you become a regular reader; it's where your comments will be truly public, your web-traffic gets the blog more noticed, and also where you get to see all the lovely page formatting I do *sigh*!

Just before I go I'd like to direct your attention to my, now sadly ex, housemate's blog Diary of a Shinjuku Thief. Jules writes mainly about film, and is damn good at it so give his blog a glance and a comment or two - I'm pretty sure that he would, just like me (hint, hint!) appreciate any feedback you give him.

That's a;ll for now folks, hope you're all happy peeps!

sam sam