Monday, September 29, 2008

Beatles Seventh Christmas Record, The by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1969

It seems weird that The Beatles even bothered doing a Christmas single this year, as they were essentially broken up. This comes out after "Abbey Road", the "Cold Turkey" debacle, and all that was left for The Beatles was recording "I Me Mine" and the belated "Let it Be" album and film release. Brief clips from the Abbey Road medley appear in the soundtrack.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Beatles’ Second Album, The" by The Beatles - ***

First released: 1964

Capitol was always so imaginative with album titles in the US. I never really got into this one and purchased it a long time later as I heard rumors of inferior sound quality and had purchased the British Beatles Box and grew accustomed to "With The Beatles" over this compilation. The original was reinstated on CD on "The Capitol Versions, Vol. 1".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Beatles Rarities, The" by The Beatles – ***

First released: 1980

There were actually two different versions of this album. The British version merely collected all of the leftover tracks that somehow didn’t make it onto UK albums back in the day, and for that reason, there was a necessity for this album. On CD, the two Past Masters volumes replaced this album, as the 1987 CD issues followed the UK pattern.

In the US, it was an entirely different animal. Even though there were a few left off the album tracks, the majority of the “rarities” on this were goofy things like extra brass on "Penny Lane" and different sound effects on "Don’t Pass My By" and "Helter Skelter". Was it worth it? Probably not, and most of these still haven’t made it onto CD, so there’s no real necessity for them. At the time of release, I passed over this as I had the UK album box and felt the slight variations were overkill. Still do.

"Beatles 1962-1966, The" by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1973

This album is sometime referred to as the "Red Album". This compilation used to be very necessary in the days before all of the single tracks were compiled onto an album. Believe it or not, songs like "Love Me Do" and "From Me To You" were actually kind of hard to find on albums back in the 70s. I remember this was the first time I heard "Love Me Do" and thought it sounded so primitive, even in comparison to "Please Please Me", the very next track. Again there were quibbles about what should and shouldn’t have been included. I would have included "I’m Down" and not included "Michelle". The album was released to CD in 1993.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Beatles 1967-1970, The" by the Beatles – ****

First released: 1973

This album is sometime referred to as the "Blue Album". This is a good compilation and probably the first exposure most people got to the magic of The Beatles in recent times. At least it was for me. It’s good because it takes a little from everything and since it is from the latter years, everything still sounds fresh and new. I still quibble about a few of the selections. I wouldn’t have picked Across the Universe and probably would have added Birthday or The Inner Light or something. The album was released to CD in 1993.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beatles 1968 Christmas Record, The by the Beatles – ****

First released: 1968

This particular Beatles Christmas record might be the reason there’s a hold up to issuing the complete album on CD. Tiny Tim does a rendition of Nowhere Man and there might be some legal issues there. I say pay his estate and get this stuff out! If it’s not the case, then I want to see "The Beatles Christmas Album" for Christmas this year! Dammit!

Also, this year The Beatles recorded all of their comments separately. The “White Album” did its damage and it was, according to George, the “Winter of discontent”.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Beatles Movie Medley, The by The Beatles – **

First released: 1982

I was all excited when this single came out, only because there hadn’t been a “new” Beatles single since 1978. Not that this is anything great. It’s sloppily edited and to date has not appeared on any album, and is probably considered an embarrassment for The Beatles. I much preferred the "Stars on 45" medleys. It could have been added to the "Reel Music" album, but wasn’t.

"Beatles Live at the Star-Club Hamburg 1962, The" by The Beatles – ***

First released: 1977

Released roughly at the same time as "The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl", I purchased this when I first became a Beatles fan, as the price couldn’t be beat. Unfortunately, the sound quality could and I immediately hated it. Nowadays, I fully understand its historical significance despite the sound quality and was happy to discover that it was Ringo with the group on the recordings (I always thought it was Pete Best and even Stu Sutcliffe in tow until I became a more educated Beatlefan). For those trying to compile a complete Beatles live performance collection, this is an absolute must.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Beatles Live at the BBC, The" by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1994

After years of speculation and numerous bootlegs, The Beatles finally issue their first all-new product since 1977’s "Live at the Hollywood Bowl". This one is even better. There were about 30 or so tunes that The Beatles recorded only for broadcast over the radio and since the performances were so good and most of them have no audience reaction, they sound as good as what you would hear on a regular recording. Strangely, The Beatles issued "Baby, It’s You" as the single. I would have issued "Soldier of Love" instead, since it was a totally original recording, not something that could be found in another version on another Beatles album. For true fans, this two-disc set isn’t enough. Completists should seek out the dubiously legal nine-disc set called "The Complete BBC Recordings".

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Beatles For Sale" by The Beatles – ***

First released: 1964

If you go by this UK album, The Beatles look tired and worn out, and even though this album is what The Beatles wanted, it didn’t really paint them in the best light. I much prefer the livelier "Beatles ’65" and "Beatles VI" albums that Capitol put together in the US, partially because of the inclusion of the hit single "I Feel Fine"/"She’s a Woman" and some of the more lively tunes from the upcoming UK version of "Help!" As a result, Capitol preserved the “happy-go-lucky” myth about The Beatles through the end of 1964, whereas in the UK, the same tracks seemed more lifeless. Even the cover photos emphasize this.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Beatles First, The" by The Beatles – ***

First released: 1964

A UK release. In America, this was the same album as "In the Beginning (Circa 1960)" that was released there in 1970. This compiles all of the eight tracks The Beatles recorded with Tony Sheridan in 1961 including the Lennon sung "Ain't She Sweet" and the McCartney/Harrison instrumental "Cry For a Shadow".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beatles Christmas Record, The by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1963

The Beatles Fan Club wanted something to give the fans so the fabs were corralled into the studio to make this little holiday recording comprised of the four of them laughing and gabbing and singing for a few minutes and thanking all of their fans for everything. It is all very humorous and very charming indeed. Later, it was included on "The Beatles Christmas Album". Prior to that, it was not released in the US.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Beatles Christmas Album, The" (aka "From Then to You") by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1970

This is such a fun album. Why oh why can they not reissue this onto a legitimate CD? It would be such a holiday perennial. Every Christmas I look, and every Christmas I am disappointed. Thank God for bootlegs or we’d never get to hear this stuff. Original songs, funny sketches, and an overall good time can be had for all, even on the 1968 and 1969 recordings that were recorded separately.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beatles Chat by The Beatles – **


Umbrella title given to any number of released and unreleased interviews and chat sessions from their BBC radio days. Some was released on 1994's "Live at the BBC", but given other titles.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beatles Ballads by The Beatles - ***

First released: 1980

Nothing very remarkable about this import collection. Try "Love Songs" instead. About the only interesting thing is the cover, which was one of the prototype paintings for the "White Album", and the fact that the "wildlife" version of "Across the Universe" was included.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, The by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1977

After years of speculation, a compilation of the two Hollywood Bowl concerts performed by The Beatles in 1964 and 1965 were edited together to make this album length concert. The story goes that the sound was supposedly so crappy due to the overwhelming screams that the recordings were shelved. This may be an exaggeration or George Martin is just hypercritical. In any case, the next idea was to release this around 1971 as an Apple album, but that never happened either. By 1977, either tastes had changed or technology did, or money was running short. In any case, Martin took another stab at it and produced this almost chart-topping album. Amazing, since it was released in the midst of punk and disco fever. Now, we’ve waited an eternity again for an official release on CD of this album, but as CDs are on the wane, I guess digital download is the best to be expected. It’s a good album and better than it is sometimes given credit, but at this point, the two concerts should be represented in their entirety.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beatles at Shea Stadium (feature) by The Beatles – ****

Unreleased (sort of).

This concert film is the definitive peak of Beatlemania filmed in 1965 at Shea Stadium, home of the Mets baseball team. I say “unreleased (sort of)” as there have been many pseudo-legal releases of this on video over the years, and it did air on television back in 1966. A huge chunk of it was released on "The Beatles Anthology", and it really could be made into a marvelous CD and DVD. I love it when John plays "I’m Down" with his elbows! A sidenote: The Beatles performed the first rock concert in Shea Stadium; 43 years later, Billy Joel played that last rock concert in Shea Stadium with special guest, Sir Paul McCartney!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Beatle Greetings by The Beatles – ****

First released: 1994

The Beatles introduce themselves to radio listeners on "Live at the BBC" in this spoken word recording from 1963.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beat Patrol by Ringo Starr – **


Not the Starship song of the same name, but rather one of the song’s Ringo recorded with Chips Moman and then rejected in 1987. Maybe someday this album will see the light of day. While not great stuff, it’s not the embarrassment Ringo thinks it is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bear Cat by The Beatles – *


The Beatles play a brief snippet of this during one of their frequent oldies medleys during the 1969 "Get Back" sessions.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Be What You See by Paul McCartney – **

First released: 1982

A silly filler that’s a little bit longer than the title itself from Paul’s "Tug of War" and a bit shorter than this review.

Be My Baby by Ringo Starr - **

First released: 1983

Joe Walsh’s influence is strong on this "Old Wave" track for Ringo that includes ample use of Walsh’s vocoder. Not the same song as The Ronettes hit that Lennon did a cover of in 1975. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t really go anywhere after about the first verse. It seems like a half finished song.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Be My Baby by John Lennon – ***

First released: 1975

First released on the quasi-legal Roots compilation that spurred Apple to release Lennon’s "Rock ‘n’ Roll" album in a hurry. For some reason, this was left off of the Apple version and not officially released until 1998’s "The John Lennon Anthology" and is STILL not on the CD version of "Rock ‘n’ Roll", despite "Angel Baby" being added as a bonus track.

The song was penned by Phil Spector and originally a hit for The Ronettes in 1963.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Be Here Now by George Harrison - **

First released: 1973

This sounds suspiciously like an outtake from "All Things Must Pass". Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as since it ended up on "Living in the Material World", George didn’t have the issue of the entire effort sounding over-produced. It’s still a bit ponderous however. Probably because of the subject matter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Be-Bop-a-Lula by John Lennon – ***; by Paul McCartney – ***; by Horst Fascher – **

First released: 1975

Lennon does an excellent version of the Gene Vincent classic from 1956. It’s a great opener for Lennon’s "Rock ‘n’ Roll" album written by Davis/Vincent. It was also on "Instant Karma" from 2001. A demo version appears on 1998’s "The John Lennon Anthology" and "Wonsaponatime".

McCartney does a live take on the song on "Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)" in 1991, and The Beatles performed it live on "Live at the Star-Club, Hamburg 1962" in 1977, with some waiter with the name of Horst Fascher as the lead singer.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Basketball Jones by Cheech and Chong – **

First released: 1973

Cheech and Chong comedy single from their "Los Cochinos" album that features guitar work by George, based on a song called "Love Jones". It’s not my favorite C&C record as I much prefer “Dave? Dave’s not here!”

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baroque Hoedown by Perrey-Kingsley – ****

First released: 1969

A snippet of this song was included on "The Beatles 1969 Christmas Record" as well as on "The Beatles Christmas Album" in 1970. It is not by The Beatles, but rather Perrey-Kingsley, master of the Moog synthesizer. Another significance to this song is that it was the basis for Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade theme song in 1972.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Barbara Ann by Paul McCartney - **


Paul plays along with Brian Wilson in this 2002 live recording from the Century Plaza Hotel. It’s ok, but there have been many, many better versions of this song (The Beach Boys version comes to mind), which is probably why it hasn’t been released.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bang the Drum All Day (aka Bang On the Drum) by Todd Rundgren – ***

First released: 1993

A live version by Todd Rundgren appears on "Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band Volume 2 Live From Montreux" in 1993 (this version reissued on 2000’s "The Anthology…So Far"). On the "Montreux" album, they mistitled it "Bang on the Drum".

It’s kind of stupid song, but is one of those radio perennials they tend to play on Fridays. Ringo and Rundgren had sort of a falling out after this tour as Rundgren only wanted to play stuff like this (though appropriate with the “drum” theme) instead of his bigger hits like "Hello, it’s Me". The original "Drum" was released in 1983 and only charted as high as #63 from an album that went no higher than #66 called "The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect".

What’s amusing about Rundgren is that about a year after this tour, he went on another “All-Starr Band” type tour with others like John Entwistle and did perform his biggest hits!