October 29
Music Review: George Harrison - Living In the Material World (Remastered W/Bonus Tracks, DVD)
by Glen Boyd

George Harrison was always my favorite Beatle. Even though his pals Lennon and McCartney got the lion's share of the attention back in those days, there was just always something really cool about George's quiet intensity I really liked. So after the Beatles broke up, there was nobody happier than me for George when he — albeit, very briefly — became the most commercially successful ex-Beatle.

Harrison didn't just score back to back chart-topping albums with his first two post-Beatle sets, both of them were triple albums. That's three-record sets. Nobody did three-record sets back then, not even the Beatles themselves. Hell, nobody does three-record sets now.

But All Things Must Pass, powered by "My Sweet Lord," the single he would later be sued for plagiarism over, was a bona fide smash. Not long after, George Harrison's media profile would also soar when he put together the all-star benefit Concert For Bangla Desh, which would spawn yet another best selling three-record set.

But let's get back to All Things Must Pass, for a second. This was truly a great record, and it still holds up quite well today. In addition to its two best known songs, "My Sweet Lord" and "Isn't It A Pity," there are plenty of other gems spread over those three original records. "Wah-Wah," "Beware Of Darkness," "What Is Life," and the list just goes on and on. Of all the post Beatles solo albums — and as much as I love Lennon's Plastic Ono Band and most of McCartney's stuff with Wings — that first Harrison album remains the most consistent and satisfying of the lot.

Which is why, at the time, its studio followup, Living In The Material World, seemed like such a letdown. Not that it was a bad album, because it wasn't. But after an opus like All Things, the record just seemed really — and how can I put this? — well, small. Although the record sold well, it didn't do near the numbers of its predecessor. A lot of people felt George had pretty much shot his creative wad with All Things Must Pass.

The concert tour he embarked on a short time later — the first ever by an ex-Beatle — didn't help matters much either. By the time the tour arrived for a stop in Seattle, George had pretty much blown his voice out and for the entire concert it sounded more like Tom Waits singing the songs than George. If memory serves me correctly, several later shows had to be cancelled because of George's chronic throat problems.

But in all fairness, Harrison set the creative bar pretty high with All Things Must Pass, and I'm not sure anything could really have followed it up. So after some thirty years, I've decided to come back and give Living In The Material World another try.

The new remastered version is pretty cool, too. It comes in a nice box, with a nice booklet filled with lots of nice pictures, lyrics, and handwritten notes. There's also a bonus DVD with four tracks, although the only real item of note here is a live performance of the album's lone hit, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)."

The thing about these remastered versions of classic albums we're seeing so much of these days is they tend to favor bigger, more grandiose albums like Born To Run or, in George's case, All Things Must Pass. And like I said, compared to the grand sweep of that album (it's no coincidence Phil Spector was twisting some of the knobs on that one), Living In The Material World is a much smaller sounding record. So the remastered version doesn't really do a lot to enhance or otherwise uncover anything you didn't hear the first time around.

However, a second listen years later does reveal that maybe this record just didn't get a fair enough shake way back then in the first place. Some of George's best post-Beatles work can be found right here on this album.

You can start that list with "Give Me Love," which is just a damn fine little pop tune with one of those ever distinctive Harrison guitar signatures carrying the hook. "Give Me Love" wouldn't sound at all out of place on All Things Must Pass and it remains a classic rock staple today, even if not quite on the order of "My Sweet Lord" or "Here Comes The Sun."

Likewise, the title track, "Living In The Material World" is a perfectly serviceable rocker that still allows enough room for George to rail away at the evils of greed and materialism that were the hangover we all woke up to after the sixties.

The previously unavailable "Miss O'Dell" is one of those bluesy sounding little gems that Harrison every so often came up with over the course of his career. Think "Old Brown Shoe" and you pretty much get the idea.

The thing that stands out most the second time around, however, on Living In The Material World, is Harrison's ever so tasty guitar playing. In a rock and roll universe that revolved around the likes of Clapton and Hendrix at the time, Harrison was often overlooked in this regard.

On this album, George basically does what he has always done as a lead guitar player and that is tastefully punctuate the melody. Whether it's a bluesy slide or just a simple acoustic guitar, Harrison's playing throughout this album is the very definition of economic taste. One thing you can never accuse George Harrison of is overplaying his parts.

Being George Harrison, he is also backed up by some of the best. His band on this album includes Nicky Hopkins and a pre-Dream Weaver Gary Wright on keys, and the ever rocksteady Ringo sharing drum chores with Jim Keltner. Klaus Voorman, who seemed to be a favorite among ex-Beatles for their solo projects, completes the rhythm section on bass.

As for the lyrics? Well, if it were anybody but George Harrison, I'd be all over the hippy-drippy Hare Krishna sort of sentiments expressed throughout here. But hey, it's George Harrison. So he gets a pass.

If you were going to buy only one of George Harrison's solo albums, I'd still have to go with All Things Must Pass. But this is also a very decent, if somewhat lower key, record for George. And it comes very nicely packaged.

© by Glen Boyd, 2006


October 22
Paul McCartney spaces out in A&E concert special
by Jay Bobbin

Keep it simple.

For all his fame and fortune, that's still the rule Sir Paul McCartney lives by. Clad in a T-shirt and slacks, with guitar in hand, the music legend displays his unassuming style -- even during a live serenade to the crew orbiting in the International Space Station -- in the new A&E Network special "Paul McCartney: The Space Within Us" Saturday, Oct. 28.

Principally a concert performance filmed last November in Anaheim, Calif., during the former Beatle's 11-week U.S. tour.

Notables including former President Bill Clinton, Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs, Tony Bennett and filmmaker Cameron Crowe comment on McCartney's impact, not just on the music industry but as a social force.

The ever-active McCartney has comments of his own on the show and also on his life and times.

Q: How was it to play for fans who were in outer space?

A: That was just so cool! It was absolutely stunning. Over the years, you've seen broadcasts from space, and none of us have ever been part of it. Originally, the Discovery crew had been welcomed back to Earth with "Good Day Sunshine," and that led to a relationship between our people and NASA. Suddenly, it was put to me that we could do this live thing, and I went, "Whoa!"

I felt like sort of a global TV presenter, actually being able to interact with guys who were in space. I had 17,000 people (the Anaheim concert attendees) saying "Good morning" to these two guys who were 220 miles directly above us. It was very exciting, and you can see it on the audience's faces.

Q: Did you have any fear that at the last minute, the logistics wouldn't work out?

A: You know what? The strangest thing is that it was not in my mind at all. I'm sure it was in the minds of some of my crew, since they're the ones who had to do it, but I've got such faith in them. They had high-tech linkups and all that stuff, but when it came down to it, I just had a monitor in front of me and I said, "Flick it on when you've got contact. I don't need any other cue than that." It was so low-tech, it was ridiculous -- but it went so magically, it was one of the highs of my lifetime.

Q: How do you feel about being onstage and seeing the effect your music still has on people of all ages?

A: When I started this tour and realized I was going to go deeper into the Beatles songbook, I thought people my age and slightly younger were really going to like that. The big surprise was seeing the 10-year-olds who are completely up with it. They know the words better than I do.

American audiences are very warm and very receptive. It's always an amazing pleasure to play to them. The feedback you get, there's nothing like it. It's why you go on tour.

Q: Do you ever reflect on the depth you had in your songwriting at such a relatively young age?

A: Yeah, that's something I often think about. At the time, you're just writing something -- but now, having written so much, I can look back and think, "Wow, that phrase really pinpointed that emotion." Without being too immodest, I must say I'm proud to look back at the quality of the work of guys who were actually just young boys then.

Q: Given last winter's comparatively intimate PBS special filmed at London's Abbey Road Studios, were you purposely aiming to vary your performances during the past year?

A: I wouldn't like to be the kind of guy who just plays small clubs all the time, or the kind of guy who just plays big stadiums all the time. I like the idea of mix-and-match. It's a great luxury, but it keeps things fresh.

I've just done the classical album "Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart)," and at the same time, I've been working on a new album of (contemporary) songs. To be allowed to work in all these different fields, but with the same thread running through them, keeps me energetic and interested in the whole thing.

Q: Does such present creativity make you feel more free in returning to the many Beatles classics ("Let It Be," "Got to Get You Into My Life," "Eleanor Rigby," "Please Please Me," etc.) you perform in "The Space Within Us"?

A: With (the group) Wings, I was always trying to avoid the Beatles stuff, because we had to establish Wings. I'd throw in a couple of little things, but I didn't want to suggest we couldn't get Wings going unless we pulled in the Beatles material. Once I got that out of the way, I was able to draw from both the Beatles and Wings, as well as new stuff.

I could look at it all and think, "Now, what does the audience want to hear?" I want to give them the best show they could imagine, and obviously, that involves Beatles stuff. It's a thrill going back to it, to re-examine it.

Q: How do you maintain the energy that keeps you going back out on the road and into the studio?

A: It's just that I love it. That's really what it is. I've never gotten bored; it continues to thrill me, and I'm very lucky. I have a job that intrigues me. It would be my hobby if it wasn't my job.

© readingeagle.com, 2006


Planned re-release of the Traveling Wilburys Volume 1
by Archer, The Mountain, 99.5 FM, Colorado

Olivia Harrison is overseeing the remastering and re-release of Traveling Wilburys material.

Olivia says George started the remastering process on Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 before his death in 2001. The first album features George, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

Olivia is also involved in remastering the band's follow-up, Traveling Wilburys Volume 3, recorded after the death of Orbison.

Bonus material is expected to include the charity single "Nobody's Child," B-sides "Runaway" and "New Blue Moon (Instrumental)" plus a demo for the unfinished song, "Maxine."

The supergroup began in 1988 when George and Jeff Lynne asked Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison to collaborate on a B-side for George's "When We Was Fab" single. Their first song, "Handle With Care," was taken from a sticker on a crate George spotted in Dylan's garage, where they wrote and recorded the demo.

"Handle With Care" was such a strong song, the quintet decided to secretly record an LP under the assumed surname Wilbury. On the first album, George was Nelson Wilbury, Petty was Charlie T., Orbison went by Lefty, Dylan became Lucky and Lynne was Otis. They changed their first names for the second album.

© by Archer, The Mountain 99.5 FM, 2006


October 19
The Beatles Love Tracklisting Announced
by Paul Cashmere

The Beatles ‘Love’ album, the soundtrack to the Las Vegas production, will be released on November 18th.

The album will feature new music, classic songs and experimental mixes produced by Sir George Martin, the producer of the original Beatles albums.

The project has the full support of original Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison on behalf of the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison.

“This album puts the Beatles back together again, because suddenly there’s John and George with me and Ringo,” said Paul McCartney. “It’s kind of magical.”

“George and Giles did such a great job combining these tracks. It’s really powerful for me and I even heard things I’d forgotten we’d recorded.” commented Ringo Starr.

“The album has the feeling of love and that’s why the title is Beatles LOVE,“ added Yoko Ono Lennon, "They have let everything that is beautiful and daring come out.”

“The music is stunning. I think the most amazing thing about it is that you can pull it apart and all the elements carry with it the essence of the entire song,” said Olivia Harrison.

The album will be released as both a CD and audio DVD.

The tracklisting is:

1. Because
2. Get Back
3. Glass Onion
4. Eleanor Rigby
Julia (Transition)
5. I Am The Walrus
6. I Want To Hold Your Hand
7. Drive My Car/The Word/What You’re Doing
8. Gnik Nus
9. Something
Blue Jay Way (Transition)
10. Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!/I Want You
(She’s So Heavy)/Helter Skelter
11. Help!
12. Blackbird/Yesterday
13. Strawberry Fields Forever
14. Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows
15. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
16. Octopus’s Garden
17. Lady Madonna
18. Here Comes The Sun
The Inner Light (Transition)
19. Come Together/Dear Prudence
Cry Baby Cry (Transition)
20. Revolution
21. Back In The U.S.S.R.
22. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
23. A Day In The Life
24. Hey Jude
25. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
26. All You Need Is Love

© Undercover, 2006


October 18
The Walkmen do cover version of the "Pussy Cats" album to be released on October 24

During John Lennon's separation from Yoko Ono in 1974, he romped around LA with his buddy Harry Nilsson, getting drunk and getting thrown out of nightclubs. In the midst of the party, Lennon, Nilsson, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and a rag-tag gang of others headed into the studio with Lennon as producer. The result was "Pussy Cats", a fascinating and often misunderstood album featuring a mix of classics and originals rearranged by Nilsson and Lennon to suit the wild mood of those infamous days. In January 2006, after finishing the final mix for their new record, "A Hundred Miles Off", The Walkmen decided to recreate "Pussy Cats". After all, it's the great buddy record of the 70's; a celebration of rock 'n' roll, good friends, alcohol, and excessive instrumentation that's right up the Walkmen's alley. So they recruited a team of friends to record and visually document the sessions. The limited edition bonus DVD features a 20-minute psychedelic documentary on the making of "Pussy Cats".

Track Listings
Disc: 1
1. Many Rivers to Cross
2. Subterrannean Homesick Blues
3. Don't Forget Me
4. All My Life
5. Old Forgotten Soldier
6. Save the Last Dance for Me
7. Mucho Mungo/Mr. Elga
8. Loop de Loop
9. Black Sails
10. Rock Around the Clock
Disc: 2
1. In Loving Recollection: The Making of "Pussy Cats"

Official website: The Walkmen


October 13
"La France et les Beatles - Volume 2" is now available through Magic Records...

Dear John,

I am particularly glad to send you the second volume of the 5 CD series La France et les Beatles, collecting French covers of Beatles songs only published in France between 1963 and 1971.

Several years of research have been necessary to gather these covers and bring them to light through Martial Martinay's famous French reissue label, Magic Records (www.magic-records.com).

All five CDs will finally represent an astounding total of more than 100 tracks, one third of which is absolutely new to CD! And it also constitutes the most complete collection of this kind ever published until now.

It will not only appeal to the general public, already familiar with the names of some artists, but also to the collectors seeking for real rarities such as the Blue Notes (Tout peut s'arranger), The Serendipity Singers (Et je l'aime), Bruce Scott (Yesterday) or André Vasseur (Un monde sans amour) as far as the second volume is concerned.

Every track has been carefully selected from the best possible sources and remastered in 24 bits.

I thank you very much for your help in promoting this CD.

Yours sincerely,

Laurent Giacomelli ( laurent.giacomelli@wanadoo.fr )

PS: Volume 3 is scheduled for a mid-October release!

Click on the above "Magic Records" logo for more information on the
"La France et les Beatles Vol. 2"

Quick News Picks:

Paul McCartney applies to trademark his name (from the C.B.C. news website). And we've been waiting patiently for this CD release featuring a guest appearance from Ringo Starr with rocker Jerry Lee Lewis: "Last Man Standing - the Killer" (rave review); Jerry Lee Lewis debuted at Number One on the Billboard Top Independent Album Chart.


October 3
My Work: Yoko Ono
by Gallery owner Deborah Colton, as told to Susan Buchanan

"I contacted Yoko Ono through L. Brandon Krall, the curator of Word, the show currently at my gallery. The show is about the power of language to make meaning.

"Brandon and I have worked together for about six years and she suggested Yoko's art. The billboard is a piece Yoko Ono created in New York City after 9/11.

Imagine Peace by Yoko Ono will be on view at the intersection of I-45 and I-10 through Oct. 20. The billboard is part of the show Word at Deborah Colton Gallery.

"We worked with CBS Outdoor to get just the right place for it because we wanted it in a high-traffic area. We were able to rent a commercial billboard on I-45 and I-10 East going into downtown Houston, so it works with the beauty of the downtown skyline. It's 14 feet by 48 feet, so it'll be visible to thousands of commuters every day through Oct. 20.

"Imagine Peace speaks on so many levels: peace in your own being, peace in your relationships or global peace. It also comes back to John Lennon's song Imagine. It's simple but powerful. It's not confrontational, but it's about promoting change.

"I sponsored the billboard myself because it was something I absolutely had to do. Through my gallery I'm trying to help create a better world through art. I'm a mother: I have a 21-year-old and a 13-year-old. I want the next generation to have a better world."

- Article first published: Sept. 29, 2006 and appeared on Chrone.com


October 2
The Beatles "Love" Album to be Released

Apple Corps Ltd/EMI Music proudly announces the release of LOVE, the new CD from The Beatles, due November 2006.

After being asked by the remaining Beatles, Ringo and Paul along with Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, to make experimental mixes from the original master tapes for a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, Sir George Martin, The Beatles legendary producer, and his son Giles Martin have been working with the entire archive of Beatles recordings to create LOVE.

The result is an unprecedented approach to the music. Using the master tapes at EMI's Abbey Road Studios, Sir George and Giles have created a unique soundscape. The release of this album, which is also featured in the Cirque Du Soleil/Beatles collaborative production of the same name at the Mirage in Las Vegas, has been much anticipated.

"This music was designed for the LOVE show in Las Vegas but in doing so we've created a new Beatles album" said Sir George. "The Beatles always looked for other ways of expressing themselves and this is another step forward for them."

Giles continues, "We took all the Beatles' catalogue from tape, the original four tracks, eight tracks and two tracks and used this palette of sounds and music to create a sound bed. What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period".

The album will be released worldwide in November 2006. Additional information, including a track listing will be available shortly.

Many thanks.



October 1
Missing Peace: John Lennon's Legal Battles With the U.S.

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 1, 2006; Page N03

Was John Lennon the naive sloganeer of the '70s antiwar anthem "Give Peace a Chance," or the troublemaker who had turned the Black Panther Party slogan into the song "Power to the People"? Was the ex-Beatle a pro-peace dreamer who could "Imagine" a world with no countries or religions, or the radical that the Nixon administration saw as a threat to national security and, more importantly, to Richard Nixon's reelection in 1972?

That was the first presidential election following the passage of the 26th amendment to the Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18, creating a huge new block of voters in the key demographic of both rock music and the movement to stop the war in Vietnam. Perhaps that's why the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Immigration and Naturalization Service were drafted to "neutralize" Lennon by deporting him as an "undesirable alien" over a misdemeanor drug conviction in England?

Lennon and Ono in a scene from the film, which revisits the musician's legal fight to avoid deportation from the United States in the 1970s.

David Leaf and John Scheinfeld's documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" revisits a conflict that is now mostly forgotten, not least because it produced a long legal battle that Lennon ended up winning in 1975 -- a year after Nixon had been forced to resign over the dirty tricks of Watergate. Talk about "Instant Karma." Or as Lennon himself put it at the time, "I believe time wounds all heels."

According to co-director Leaf, "While some know this story, to the vast audience of people under 30, maybe under 40, John Lennon is some guy who was in the Beatles, he wrote 'Imagine' and he was murdered -- they don't know much more about him."

The ex-Beatle vs. Big Brother was, of course, covered widely at the time, and Jon Wiener's 2000 book, "Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files," chronicled the UC-Irvine history professor's 15-year battle to secure those files under the Freedom of Information Act -- a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Wiener is one of many voices in the new documentary, though the dominant ones are rightfully Lennon and Yoko Ono, the love of Lennon's life and his co-conspirator in politically provocative, socially conscious art.

"They're co-protagonists," Leaf notes. "And they're going to get to tell their story as to how this campaign for peace turned into a battle royal with the Nixon administration."

That battle royal was fought on two fronts, the first in the early '70s when Nixon miscalculated the power of an ex-Beatle (who couldn't vote) to sway the American electorate. Perhaps Nixon was still grating about "Give Peace a Chance." A top 15 hit, it was first commandeered in 1969 during Vietnam Moratorium Day on the Mall, with Pete Seeger leading half a million demonstrators in song while Nixon sat in the White House, watching a football game. Newsweek noted, "The peace movement has found an anthem." Nixon must not have liked that.

What really set the White House off was Lennon's appearance at a December 1971 rally for imprisoned "White Panther" John Sinclair. Speakers included Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale as well as several other members of the Chicago 7, charged with disrupting the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. When the Michigan Supreme Court released Sinclair three days after the concert, a paranoid White House began to view Lennon as a potential threat, particularly after reports he was planning an anti-Nixon, get-out-the-vote tour that would culminate at the 1972 Republican convention. That never happened and, in fact, Lennon never toured again.

The FBI, which began its surveillance right after the Sinclair concert, closed the Lennon file after Nixon's landslide victory over George McGovern. By then, the far more dogged INS was on Lennon's case at the behest of Sen. Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina Republican who suggested revoking Lennon's visa as a "strategic countermeasure." Deportation proceedings began in February 1972, dragged out by appeals and countersuits until Oct. 7, 1975, when a federal judge overruled the INS. Nine months later, Lennon got his green card.

"The U.S. vs. John Lennon" uses Lennon's music, 37 of 40 tracks from his solo career, most predating the controversy. "We're using the music as a dramatic device," says Leaf, "to advance the story, as counterpoint or to comment on what's going on." As in the use of "Gimme Some Truth" and its denunciation of pro-war politicians as "short-haired yellow-bellied son of Tricky Dick" over scenes of the Watergate hearings, which Lennon and Ono attended during one of their frequent Washington visits.

The utopian anthems -- "Give Peace a Chance," "Power to the People," "Imagine," "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" -- have proved lasting, as well as popular. But when Lennon wrote political material ("John Sinclair," "Attica State," 1972's "Sometime in New York City" album), the results were often awful, as well as uncommercial.

All the White House had to do was "look at the charts and see that people weren't buying overt political messages from John," says Leaf. "They were buying 'Imagine,' but not the more strident material."

In fact, Lennon never seemed particularly comfortable in the role, admitting that "being political interfered with my music." "I'm an artist first and a politician second," he told Dick Cavett, amending that in Rolling Stone to "I'm a musician first, not a politician."

By the time Lennon got his green card, he'd withdrawn from the public eye. "I think it's fair to say that this experience exhausted him," says Scheinfeld, "and by 1975 he was feeling the need to get some balance in his life."

Lennon would return with "Double Fantasy" in 1980, the year he was killed, and the album's paeans to fatherhood and married life. In a handful of interviews done not long before his death, the ex-Beatle distanced himself from his '70s political activities, staying on point with just one issue: "Our duty or our position was to keep on about peace until something happened, you know, and it was in the tradition of Gandhi, only with a sense of humor."

He'd said much the same thing at the 1971 Sinclair rally that started his troubles: "Apathy isn't it. . . . Okay, so flower power didn't work; so what? We start again."

© The Washington Post 2006