Saturday, December 20, 2008

The "Naked" Truth

The Tone Farm would like to welcome back into the contributor's fold our good friend & part-time cosmic traveler Dave Tea. Over the past week or so, he and I have been corresponding in regards to the "original" super group - i.e. the Beatles. One such exchange involved the "Let It Be . . . Naked" album, which Dave has effectively broken down into a great timeline and story. The aforementioned ensues in the following post, graciously re-printed with his kind permission. Enjoy! - - J.

Not long ago, a new album was released by The Beatles called "Let It Be....Naked", which is a remastering and remixing of the original Get Back project. The track list is nearly identical to the original, but the "Spectorization" (*see last paragraph for an explanation of this term) is removed, leaving a raw, punchy feel to it. I'm sure Paul McCartney wanted it this way all along, and finally got the rest of the Beatles to agree.

Let It Be was the follow up to the White Album, which was the most non-Beatle album of all, meaning just about every track on it did not have all four Beatles participating. Many of them had only one Beatle, or one Beatle with various guest musicians sitting in. I could go on and on about the White Album because I think many of the tracks on it are the best the Beatles, or anyone ever produced, regardless of which Beatle wasn't present on game day.

Let it Be was a project that the Beatles unanimously agreed would be sort of a reunion of the core band. Fuck the frills and orchestras, tape-loopings, backward messages, studio trickery and overdubs that were so innovative on Revolver, Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album. It was time to GET BACK (which is what the project was titled initially) to the basics and function as a four-piece rock and roll band again.

The idea was that it would be a film of the Beatles rehearsing for some monster gig somewhere, and all of these songs would be performed live in concert at theend of the movie, maybe at Stonehenge or the Roman Colliseum, or maybe the Moon. It was never decided where, because after the hours and hours and days and weeks of filming and recording, The Beatles couldn't stand one another anymore. George Harrison actually quit the band and came back during this project.

The big finale concert of songs would be held on the roof of Apple Studios, none of these takes ended up on any released Beatles record.

What was left behind was many hours of takes, all of them live takes, meaning all musicians (including Billy Preston on the later stuff) played at the same timein the same room, just like the earliest Beatles recordings. No overdubs or added tracks. None of the Beatles or producer George Martin wanted to sift through the 50 takes of "Johnny B. Goode" or whatever and try to make a decent album out of this painful shit, so it was all shelved indefinitely. Shelved, I tell you!

"Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down" were released on a forty-five, as was "Let it Be" and "You Know My Name (look up the number)" but the rest of it was canned, most of which needed it badly. The Beatles were breaking up and had better things to do than go through these mostly-shit recordings and try to make a decent album out of them.

After some time away from each other, all of the Beatles agreed that they didn't want their legacy of music to end on such a sour note as the Let it Be sessions. They would go back to Abbey Road Studios and record an album with George Martin one more time, and blow everyone more time. The last recordings of The Beatles together were made and released on the album "Abbey Road".

The Let it Be recordings were later gone through (*over-produced, according to G. Martin) by Phil Spector and released on the Let it Be album. John Lennon thought Spector's improvements were a good thing, Paul McCartney was absolutely pissed, particularily about the added orchestra and girl singers on "The Long And Winding Road". Either way, the "Get Back" project ended up being known as the last Beatles album, because it was released last ("Let it Be" won the Grammy for best movie soundtrack). By the time it was released, it was more than a year old, which in Beatle-time was a long, long, long time. - by Dave Tea

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Smokin' Band

Try this one on for size.

A super-group featuring none other than ex-Beatle George Harrison on lead guitar; Billy Preston on organ; Niky Hopkins (Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Jeff Beck Group, et al) on piano; THE Carole King on electric piano; and backing vocals featuring the trio of Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector, and ex-Mama Michelle Philips. A pretty heavy line-up to say the least.

And what particular song did these folks all collaborate on? None other than Cheech and Chong's "Basketball Jones" (*as featured on their 1973 album Los Cochinos). Lead vocals on the song were, of course, provided by Cheech Marin - - in character as Tyrone Shoelaces.

If you think that's far out - - check out the animated video short on You.Tube. It's like "Schoolhouse Rock" on drugs. Killer.