Monday, September 24, 2018

Official - hear three versions of "Back in the USSR" from the upcoming Beatles' "White Album" anniversary release

Full details on the anniversary releases here.

Full details: The Beatles' "White Album" anniversary releases

On November 9, The Beatles will release a suite of lavishly presented ‘White Album’ packages including a super deluxe 7-disc set featuring 50 mostly previously unreleased recordings all newly mixed with 5.1 surround audio as well as the much-sought after Esher Demos. The album will be available in super deluxe 7-disc, deluxe 4LP, deluxe 3CD and 2LP editions, all with the new stereo audio mixes.  

In November 1968, millions of double LPs were shipped to record stores worldwide ahead of that tumultuous year’s most anticipated music event: the November 22nd release of The BEATLES (soon to be better known as ‘The White Album’). With their ninth studio album, The Beatles took the world on a whole new trip, side one blasting off with the exhilarating rush of a screaming jet escorting Paul McCartney’s punchy, exuberant vocals on “Back In The U.S.S.R.” “Dear Prudence” came next, John Lennon warmly beckoning his friend and all of us to “look around.” George Harrison imparted timeless wisdom in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” singing, “With every mistake we must surely be learning.” For 50 years, ‘The White Album’ has invited its listeners to venture forth and explore the breadth and ambition of its music, delighting and inspiring each new generation in turn. On November 9, The Beatles will release a suite of lavishly presented ‘White Album’ packages (Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe). The album’s 30 tracks are newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio, joined by 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes, most of which are previously unreleased in any form.

This is the first time The BEATLES (‘White Album’) has been remixed and presented with additional demos and session recordings. The album’s sweeping new edition follows 2017’s universally acclaimed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition releases. To create the new stereo and 5.1 surround audio mixes for ‘The White Album,’ Martin and Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios in London. All the new ‘White Album’ releases include Martin’s new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original four-track and eight-track session tapes. Martin’s new mix is guided by the album’s original stereo mix produced by his father, George Martin.

The minimalist artwork for ‘The White Album’ was created by artist Richard Hamilton, one of Britain’s leading figures in the creation and rise of pop art. The top-loading gatefold sleeve’s stark white exterior had ‘The BEATLES’ embossed on the front and printed on the spine with the album’s catalogue number. Early copies of ‘The White Album’ were also individually numbered on the front, which has also been done for the new edition’s Super Deluxe package. The set’s six CDs and Blu-ray disc are housed in a slipsleeved 164-page hardbound book, with pull-out reproductions of the original album’s four glossy color portrait photographs of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, as well as the album’s large fold-out poster with a photo collage on one side and lyrics on the other. The beautiful book is illustrated with rare photographs, reproductions of handwritten and notated lyrics, previously unpublished photos of recording sheets and tape boxes, and reproduced original ‘White Album’ print ads. The book’s comprehensive written pieces include new introductions by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin, and in-depth chapters covering track-by-track details and session notes reflecting The Beatles’ year between the release of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and recording sessions for ‘The White Album,’ the band’s July 28 1968 “Mad Day Out” photo shoot in locations around London, the album artwork, the lead-up and execution of the album’s blockbuster release, and its far-ranging influence, written by Beatles historian, author and radio producer Kevin Howlett; journalist and author John Harris; and Tate Britain’s Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Andrew Wilson.

Much of the initial songwriting for ‘The White Album’ was done in Rishikesh, India between February and April 1968, when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr joined a course at the Maharishi’s Academy of Transcendental Meditation. In a postcard to Ringo, who had returned to England before the others, John wrote, “we’ve got about two L.P.s worth of songs now so get your drums out.”

During the last week of May, The Beatles gathered at George’s house in Esher, Surrey, where they recorded acoustic demos for 27 songs. Known as the Esher Demos, all 27 recordings are included in the new edition’s Deluxe and Super Deluxe packages, sourced from the original four-track tapes. Twenty-one of the demoed songs were recorded during the subsequent studio sessions, and 19 were ultimately finished and included on ‘The White Album.’

The Beatles’ studio sessions for The BEATLES (‘White Album’) began on May 30, 1968 at Abbey Road Studios. In the 20 weeks that followed, The Beatles devoted most of their time to sessions there for the new album, with some recording also done at Trident Studios. The final session for the album took place at Abbey Road on October 16, a 24-hour marathon with producer George Martin to sequence the double album’s four sides and to complete edits and cross-fades between its songs. The Beatles’ approach to recording for ‘The White Album’ was quite different from what they had done for ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ Rather than layering individually overdubbed parts on a multi-track tape, many of the ‘White Album’ session takes were recorded to four-track and eight-track tape as group performances with a live lead vocal. The Beatles often recorded take after take for a song, as evidenced by the Super Deluxe set’s Take 102 for “Not Guilty,” a song that was not included on the album. This live-take recording style resulted in a less intricately structured, more unbridled album that would shift the course of rock music and cut a path for punk and indie rock.

The Beatles’ newly adopted method of recording all through the night was time consuming and exhausting for their producer, George Martin. Martin had other duties, including his management of AIR (Associated Independent Recording), and he had also composed the orchestral score for The Beatles’ animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, released in July 1968. After the first three months of ‘White Album’ sessions, Martin took a three-week holiday from the studio, entrusting the control room to his young assistant Chris Thomas and balance engineer Ken Scott. Scott had taken the place of engineer Geoff Emerick, who left the sessions in mid-July. On August 22, Ringo Starr also left the sessions, returning 11 days later to find his drum kit adorned with flowers from his bandmates. While the sessions’ four and a half months of long hours and many takes did spark occasional friction in the studio, the session recordings reveal the closeness, camaraderie, and collaborative strengths within the band, as well as with George Martin.

The BEATLES (‘White Album’) was the first Beatles album to be released on the group’s own Apple Records label. Issued in both stereo and mono for the U.K. and in stereo for the U.S., the double album was an immediate bestseller, entering the British chart at number one and remaining there for eight of the 22 weeks it was listed. ‘The White Album’ also debuted at number one on the U.S. chart, holding the top spot for nine weeks of its initial 65-week chart run. In his glowing ‘White Album’ review for Rolling Stone, the magazine’s co-founder Jann Wenner declared: “It is the best album they have ever released, and only The Beatles are capable of making a better one.” In the U.S., ‘The White Album’ is 19-times platinum-certified by the RIAA and in 2000, it was inducted into the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY® Hall of Fame, recognizing “recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance.”

• The band had been in India with the Maharishi, some for 2 weeks and others for up to 2 months.
• While there they wrote an incredible number of songs and so they decided – for the only time in their career – to get together to demo these prior to going into the studio for the recording sessions.
• They went to George’s house in Esher and recorded them in one or two days on his new 4 track recorder.
• Olivia still has the tapes and so Giles was able to re-visit the original tape to work on these demos.
• They recorded 27 songs and we have been allowed to release all of them here.
• 19 of them ended up on the White Album with the rest either being recorded by the band or as solo later or in the case of Sour Milk Sea being given to another singer for his solo album on Apple Records (Jackie Lomax).
• 7 have previously been released on Anthology, but they were mixed with the technology of the time and now Giles has been able to really clean them up and bring out the intimate nature of the recordings.
• Look on this as The Beatles Unplugged!!!
• One of the biggest things we learned through listening to the sessions, and which the fans can hear too via the inclusion of the studio chat and banter between takes, is that while this was certainly a time of change for the guys – growing up and maybe starting to grow apart too, it was NOT the miserable experience that has become history’s view of it. They are clearly having a blast playing as a band again and supporting each other with different ideas, working out how to approach parts, etc. They had FUN in the recording of this album, amongst the angst, and this shines through more than anyone has previously realized.

• The recording of Sgt Pepper the year before had been constructed by working on just a few takes and then adding layer-upon-layer for the final album version.
• They decided to go back to their roots in a way for the White Album by recording lots of takes and working out the song in the studio – by having a demo they knew where they wanted to start and could then play around with options in different takes.
• Many of these takes would break down or be false starts, so we were never going to release all of them – but we never expected to be able to release 50 takes in our wildest dreams!
• Most have never been heard before even on bootlegs, but some of them had been completely forgotten about and were not documented by the historians.
• One of the big discoveries is Julia (Take 10) which was discovered at the end of a tape that was marked up as blank. Our team actually listened to 20 minutes of silence when suddenly this incredible take appeared – it shows John trying to figure out how best to play his guitar and how to sing it. Amazing stuff.
• On listening to all the While My Guitar sessions, it became clear the received history is wrong. People have always thought that Eric was brought in by George towards the end to add his playing, but we now know that he came in for a whole day of sessions and is on all of the takes from that session – over 20 takes!
• Helter Skelter – was recorded in two distinct versions. Originally there was a blues jam that was much slower and more measured – a small sample appeared on Anthology 3 – but they eventually gave up and returned to the song a couple of weeks later when it became arguably both the first heavy rock record AND the first punk record at the same time! There is a 23 minute version of the blues take which we could not include, but we have been able to use a 9 minute take as well as an alternate take of the later version.

• The BD features a brand new 5.1 surround mix by Giles Martin and Sam Okell and provides a totally immersive listening experience.
• It is also possible to listen to hi-res versions of the LP
• The original mono mix is also included – for historical interest since some of the edits and mixes were quite different to the stereo mix, even though it had been recorded in stereo and conceived as a stereo album for the first time in their career.

The book has 164 pages and is made up of 3 themes:
• The bulk of the book is taken up with song and recording notes, all written in exemplary detail by Beatles expert Kevin Howlett. He explains all of the different takes and the actual writing and recording process for every track in the set.
• There is a new scholarly essay on the art of the White Album – explaining that it was actually an important moment in the development of modern pop art and it explodes several myths about what people think had been other cover ideas as well as exploring the way rock music and art were starting to grow together.
• Guardian writer and social commentator, John Harris, has also written a fascinating chapter that looks at the reception of the album when it was released and how that has changed in perception and influence over the decades, concluding that this is in many ways perhaps their most influential album, especially in terms of how it has influenced generations of musicians since.

Super Deluxe [6CD+1Blu-ray set / digital audio collection]

CD 1: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix
  • Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • Dear Prudence
  • Glass Onion
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Wild Honey Pie
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
  • Martha My Dear
  • I’m so tired
  • Blackbird
  • Piggies
  • Rocky Raccoon
  • Don’t Pass Me By
  • Why don’t we do it in the road?
  • I Will
  • Julia

CD 2: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix
  • Birthday
  • Yer Blues
  • Mother Nature’s Son
  • Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  • Sexy Sadie
  • Helter Skelter
  • Long, Long, Long
  • Revolution I
  • Honey Pie
  • Savoy Truffle
  • Cry Baby Cry
  • Revolution 9
  • Good Night

CD 3: Esher Demos
  • Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • Dear Prudence
  • Glass Onion
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
  • I’m so tired
  • Blackbird
  • Piggies
  • Rocky Raccoon
  • Julia
  • Yer Blues
  • Mother Nature’s Son
  • Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  • Sexy Sadie
  • Revolution
  • Honey Pie
  • Cry Baby Cry
  • Sour Milk Sea
  • Junk
  • Child of Nature
  • Circles
  • Mean Mr. Mustard
  • Polythene Pam
  • Not Guilty
  • What’s the New Mary Jane
CD 4: Sessions
  • Revolution I (Take 18)
  • A Beginning (Take 4) / Don’t Pass Me By (Take 7)
  • Blackbird (Take 28)
  • Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey (Unnumbered rehearsal)
  • Good Night (Unnumbered rehearsal)
  • Good Night (Take 10 with a guitar part from Take 5)
  • Good Night (Take 22)
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Take 3)
  • Revolution (Unnumbered rehearsal)
  • Revolution (Take 14 – Instrumental backing track)
  • Cry Baby Cry (Unnumbered rehearsal)
  • Helter Skelter (First version – Take 2)

CD 5: Sessions
  • Sexy Sadie (Take 3)
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic version – Take 2)
  • Hey Jude (Take 1)
  • St. Louis Blues (Studio jam)
  • Not Guilty (Take 102)
  • Mother Nature’s Son (Take 15)
  • Yer Blues (Take 5 with guide vocal)
  • What’s the New Mary Jane (Take 1)
  • Rocky Raccoon (Take 8)
  • Back in the U.S.S.R. (Take 5 – Instrumental backing track)
  • Dear Prudence (Vocal, guitar & drums)
  • Let It Be (Unnumbered rehearsal)
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Third version – Take 27)
  • (You’re so Square) Baby, I Don’t Care (Studio jam)
  • Helter Skelter (Second version – Take 17)
  • Glass Onion (Take 10)

CD 6: Sessions
  • I Will (Take 13)
  • Blue Moon (Studio jam)
  • I Will (Take 29)
  • Step Inside Love (Studio jam)
  • Los Paranoias (Studio jam)
  • Can You Take Me Back? (Take 1)
  • Birthday (Take 2 – Instrumental backing track)
  • Piggies (Take 12 – Instrumental backing track)
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun (Take 19)
  • Honey Pie (Instrumental backing track)
  • Savoy Truffle (Instrumental backing track)
  • Martha My Dear (Without brass and strings)
  • Long, Long, Long (Take 44)
  • I’m so tired (Take 7)
  • I’m so tired (Take 14)
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Take 2)
  • Why don’t we do it in the road? (Take 5)
  • Julia (Two rehearsals)
  • The Inner Light (Take 6 – Instrumental backing track)
  • Lady Madonna (Take 2 – Piano and drums)
  • Lady Madonna (Backing vocals from take 3)
  • Across the Universe (Take 6)

Blu-ray: The BEATLES (‘White Album’)

Audio Features:

: PCM Stereo (2018 Stereo Mix)
: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (2018)
: Dolby True HD 5.1 (2018)
: Mono (2018 Direct Transfer of ‘The White Album’ Original Mono Mix)

The Beatles (White Album) Deluxe [3CD digipak / 180-gram 4LP vinyl box set (limited edition)/digital audio collection]
: The BEATLES (White Album) 2018 Mix
: Stereo MIx : Esher Demos

Friday, September 21, 2018

It's coming! Beatles promo campaign for upcoming "White Album" anniversary set starts with teaser video

Beatlefan has a scoop on the "White Album" anniversary edition contents here.

Previously unseen: John Lennon and George Harrison - How Do You Sleep? (Takes 5 & 6, Raw Studio Mix Out-take)


New & exclusive 2018 Raw Studio Mix video with never-before-seen footage. The IMAGINE Raw Studio Mixes place you in the centre of Ascot Sound Studios with John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band all around you. No reverb or echo, no effects, no strings, just live, unvarnished and raw. Available in stereo and exclusively in 5.1 Surround Sound in The Ultimate Collection Box Set. Imagine you are at the Lennon’s home, Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, England. It's night. It's the last week in May in 1971 and you are their special guest, sat in a chair in the very center of the their recording studio, Ascot Sound Studios. John Lennon is sat in front of you, teaching the musicians one of his latest compositions. He is talking and singing and playing the same wood-finish Epiphone Casino electric guitar he played on 'Revolution'. A bearded George Harrison is in front of you, to the right, playing electric slide on John's pale blue Fender Strat. Just behind you and to your right, Rod Lynton with Ted Turner from Wishbone Ash are strumming chords on twelve string acoustic guitars, and directly behind you to the right, John and George's old friend Klaus Voormann is playing his deep hand-painted Fender Precision bass. Behind you to the left, Alan White (who would later join Yes) is playing his Ludwig silver sparkle drumkit, and in front of you to the left, John Tout from Renaissance is playing chords on the Steinway upright piano, and to his right, Nicky Hopkins is improvising on the red-top Wurlitzer Electric Piano, literally days before he leaves for Nellcôte to play on Exile on Main Street with The Rolling Stones. You are listening to the band playing 'How Do You Sleep' and all the hairs are standing up on your arms. Imagine - The Raw Studio Mixes & Out-takes in 5.1 and Stereo Produced by Yoko Ono Mixed by Rob Stevens Mix Engineer: Paul Goodrich at Merlin Studios Mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, New York & Nashville For the Raw Studio Mix of 'How Do You Sleep?' (Takes 5 & 6) In the Imagine Ultimate Collection Box Set on Blu-Ray Audio Disc 2, the 5.1 Surround Sound positions are: Front Centre - John Lennon: electric guitar, vocal Front Left - Nicky Hopkins: electric piano Front Right - George Harrison: electric slide guitar Surround Left - Alan White: drums Surround Right - Klaus Voormann: bass About ‘How Do You Sleep?’ by John & Yoko excerpted from the 120 page book in the Imagine Ultimate Collection Box Set John: Somebody said the other day ‘It’s about me’. You know, there’s two things I regret. One is that there was so much talk about Paul on it, they missed the song. It was a good track. And I should’ve kept me mouth shut – not on the song, it could’ve been about anybody, you know? And when you look at them back, Dylan said it about his stuff, you know, most of it’s about him. The only thing that matters is how he and I feel about those things and not what the writer or the commentator thinks about it, you know? Him and me are OK. So I don’t care what they say about that, you know? I’ve always been a little, you know, loose. And I hope it’ll change because I’m fed up of waking up in the papers. But if it doesn’t, my friends are my friends whatever way.

Vintage Beatles "Yellow Submarine" switch plate cover

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Paul McCartney's "Egypt Station": Track-by-mostly underwhelming track

The hype engine pushing Paul McCartney's "Egypt Station" is running so furiously hard that you'd think it would've blown a gasket by now.

Over the past several weeks, Paul has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows and provided enlightening (by Paul standards) interviews that have been quoted by hundreds of news outlets around the world (the media sure jumped on that "Churchill" story, didn't they, even though Macca has recounted it before, as far back as 21 years ago in his memoir, "Many Years from Now.")

But does this mean "Egypt Station" is some sort of late period masterpiece or just that the media has jumped on all of these opportunities to spotlight an important, still popular, icon in our midst?

Let me put any confusion to rest: "Egypt Station" is no masterpiece. It's actually a bit of a mess. The album contains far fewer well-crafted and memorable songs than it's immediate predecessor, "New" and is no match at all for his last truly excellent album, 2005's "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."

Paul has called "Egypt Station" a return to crafting "album albums" - carefully sequenced LPs that work well as a start-to-finish listen - and he bookends it "Venus and Mars" and "Sgt. Pepper" style with a repeated theme. Here it's not an actual reprised song, but two bits of ambient sound titled "Opening Station" and "Station II."

The real tunes that fall between these fragments don't cohere at all but represent a typically inconsistent mish-mash of lost opportunities, dashed off ephemera and a couple of tunes that, maybe, will hold up as pleasant-to-hear deep tracks in coming years. But, sadly, there's not a genuinely great tune in the batch. This is no "Ram" or "Band on the Run" by any stretch of the imagination.

Let's take a look track-by-track.

"I Don't Know" is the first real tune on the album. I reviewed it back in June when it was streamed as a non-physical "double A-side" with this album's second real song, "Come On to Me."

As I said back then, the track has a beautiful, pensive melody reminiscent of John Lennon's unreleased "Now and Then." The production is also nice, which excellent piano work and trademark melodic bass both supplied by Paul. There are some nice lyrics in the verses, too - "Crows at my window/dogs at my door." I just wish there was more to the chorus than the song's title being repeated seemingly hundreds of times.

"Come On to Me" is also a great instrumental production, with touches of both the Beatles and Wings, and it's catchy as all get out. But the juvenile, barely-an-entendre title phrase ruins it for me. TMI, Grandpa. It's one of those frustrating Paul songs featuring a great melody that, with a little more work and imagination in the lyrics, could be a great song.

The next tune, "Happy With You," on the other hand, I think is a great track. The arrangement captures Paul in pastoral mode, playing a folkish melody on acoustic guitar joined by flutes.

The lyrics, as on "Early Days" and "On My Way to Work" from "New," seem genuinely autobiographical and, as a result, have a depth of feeling and authenticity missing from the rest of this album. Recounting days wasted, literally, drinking and getting stoned, Paul sings about the simple, yet complex joys of newfound love.

Paul's vocals, which sound quite good on most of the LP considering his advancing years, are naked here. You can hear the age in his voice and how sometimes hitting higher notes is a challenge, but one he succeeds in. There's a nice, and appropriate, vulnerability on display.

Some fans are uncomfortable with "Old Paul," hearing how a 76-year-old man sounds when all the instruments and overdubs are stripped away, but I'd actually like to hear more of him.

"Who Cares," next up, is a craftsmanlike bit of electro-boogie that takes aim at bullies and, I imagine, critics. It's a solid song but without much imagination to it - the sort of thing Paul can do in his sleep. The opening bit of guitar feedback sounds directly lifted from the Beatles' "It's All Too Much."

There are, in fact, lots of Beatley touches throughout the album: arpeggiated and backwards guitar parts, loping piano and drums, and baroque-style keyboards. Sometimes these references work, but often they just seem arbitrary.

There's a looseness in Paul's approach on the LP that's nice, though. He seems willing to give anything a try, such as - on several tracks - "singing" drum and bass parts. The bad thing is when this lacksadaisical approach carries over into his lyric writing.

Case in point, the already notorious "Fuh You," which is embarrassing not just for it's desperately "edgy" title but also for its dated, circa 2005 pop production. This is Paul trying his hand at sounding current but missing the mark entirely.

Maybe the song's gimmicky title will shift a few theoretical units, but it's a worthless piece of music that signals the arrival of the half-baked center of the album. There is a whole string of weak songs trailing in its wake.

"Confidante," for example, is a mainly acoustic tune that starts off intriguingly but never pays off.

"You used to be my confidant," Paul sings, but we never get a clue as to why this person no longer fills this role. It's the type of tune that reinforces my feeling that, too often, Paul latches onto a word or phrase, builds a nice melody around it, and calls it good.

Ditto "People Want Peace." Nice tune, nice sentiment and it all evaporates the moment the song fades out.

"Dominos," on the other hand, is Good Track Number Two on the album. It's a very melodic tune reminiscent of Paul's work on "Flower in the Dirt," opening with a high-sung vocal and acoustic guitar followed by Jeff Lynne-style drums, guitar and keyboards, and Beatley/ Rutley vocal refrains. While nothing special, the lyrics make sense and they work.

This song is followed by "Back in Brazil," truly the oddest track on the album. I suspect that Paul latched onto the vaguely south of the border electronic rhythm the runs throughout the track, was reminded of Brazil and tried building a Desmond and Molly-type story around it. There are some nice jazzy harmonies and chord progressions in the tune, but the lyrics are flimsy to the point of nothingness.

"Hand in Hand," next, sounds like a first draft of "I Don't Know." It's a piano-based ballad about wanting to join a loved one in life, but it's so minor key and sad sounding that you're left thinking this is a relationship best avoided. Again, Paul has a phrase in his head, but doesn't surround it with genuine ideas.

"Do It Now" is an imploring, somewhat annoying tune built on a psychedelic-era Beatles-style harpsichord pattern. The song's title is based on one of the aphorisms Paul's dad used in lecturing his sons. And, you have to admit, Paul is great about getting things done. I just wish Old Jim had expanded on his advice to say, "Do it now. Then sharpen and edit the hell out of it." If that were the case, then maybe Paul might've avoided subjecting us to "Caesar Rock,"a dumb piece of studio jammery that has nothing to offer instrumentally or, especially, lyrically.

Next is the LP's ambitious with a capital A track: "Despite Repeated Warnings." The song has been getting a lot of attention in the media for being about Donald Trump. The lyrics, which play off a metaphor of a ship being steered into disaster by a crazed sea captain, are good.

Paul has said he wrote the tune about his concerns over climate change, but it could pertain to any other failure to provide necessary leadership in times of crisis. "Those who shout the loudest/may not always be the smartest/but they have their proudest moments/right before they fall," Paul sings. Nice line, but the song as a whole is undermined by its arrangement.

"Despite Repeated Warnings" is a stab at producing a long-form tune ala "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" or "Band on the Run." But the different sections Paul stitches together here don't hold the same interest instrumentally or melodically. They actually sound pretty generic, with lots of boring, bluesy guitar fills and cheap-sounding synth licks scattered throughout. Worst of all are the vocal choruses that remind me of Queen, but without the amusing campiness.

Weirdly, there are bits of Queen in "Do it Now," too, which makes me wonder if Paul's been on a belated Freddie Mercury kick.

The final tune on the album is a mash-up of studio filler: "Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link." Nothing but jamming and gibberish. It probably amused Paul at the time of recording, but is a waste of space here.

But that's not all! Dutiful fan that I am, I bought the Target edition of "Egypt Station," which comes with two extra tracks. I was hesitant at first, because is more mediocre McCartney really a bonus? But fans also know that Paul has a history of relegating some of his better tunes to what we used to call B-sides. And that's the case here.

Neither "Get Started" or "Nothing for Free" are great tracks, but they're both enjoyable and better than many of the songs that made it onto the album per se.

"Get Started" has an effervescent, Traveling Wilburys feel to it, with more Jeff Lynne drums sounds and twanging guitar. There are lots of nice harmonies and hooks throughout. The lyrics ... are there.

"Nothing for Free," meanwhile, is another studio goof but with some interesting electronic sounds and dumb-but-fun words. I love the line "my brain stopped working today." The tune is akin to some of the experiments from Paul's Firemen releases or "McCartney II." Sometimes being playful pays off.

So, there you go. Apart from "Happy With You" nothing here will join my list of Paul's best work of the past 20 years, though I'll keep "Dominos" and the two bonus tracks on my digital playlist. As an album, though, I'd have to say "Egypt Station" isn't really a stop worth making.

Vintage pic: George Harrison

Friday, September 14, 2018

Paul McCartney "Under the Staircase" playlist on Spotify

From the news release:

Today Spotify is proud to announce the release of ‘Paul McCartney &
Spotify Singles: Under The Staircase’
, a playlist of exclusive audio and video recordings, all captured at an intimate Paul McCartney gig which took place at Abbey Road Studios over the summer, at which Paul McCartney played tracks from his newest solo album, Egypt Station.

Spotify hosted Paul McCartney at the intimate gig at Abbey Road’s iconic Studio 2, the studio in which so many of The Beatles’ classic tracks were recorded. The session - which was overseen by producer Giles Martin, the son of ‘the fifth Beatle’ Sir George Martin - featured a wealth of iconic tracks from the back catalogues of The Beatles and Wings, as well as tracks from his newest solo album, Egypt Station. The event was attended by around 150 of Paul McCartney‘s biggest fans from around the world, as well as close friends of the star and his family, including Stormzy, Kylie Minogue, Amy Schumer, Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom.

Spotify can now offer all of Paul McCartney’s fans the opportunity to enjoy the session as if they were there in Studio 2, in one new playlist, ‘Paul McCartney & Spotify Singles: Under The Staircase’.

‘Paul McCartney & Spotify Singles: Under The Staircase’ is a first-of-its-kind audio and video playlist, comprising of 17 audio tracks and a feature-length concert film, made up of 34 videos capturing the most special moments of the Abbey Road session.

The audio Spotify Singles track listing includes:
o   A Hard Day's Night
o   Love Me Do
o   Drive My Car
o   Got To Get You Into My Life
o   We Can Work It Out
o   I've Just Seen A Face
o   Lady Madonna
o   Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/Helter Skelter
o   Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five
o   My Valentine
o   Fuh You
o   Come On To Me
o   I've Got a Feeling
o   One After 909
o   Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
o   Back In The U.S.S.R.
o   Birthday

The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" in Datebook magazine, 1968

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Paul's Abbey Road show to screen on Spotify

Spotify will stream Paul McCartney's recent performance in Abbey Road Studios starting this Friday. Here's a trailer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Video: "Imagine (Elements Mix)"

Video: IMAGINE film cinema Extra Feature: :How Do You Sleep (Takes 5&6)"


ONE WEEK TO GO! Get cinema tickets at IMAGINE, fully remastered and remixed in Dolby Atmos and 7.1 Surround Sound and featuring exclusive-to-cinema bonus content, hits silver screens across the globe from September 17! 

John and Yoko's IMAGINE film PLUS 'How Do You Sleep?' and 'How?' Raw Studio 7.1 Surround Mixes PLUS Oh Yoko!' (Bahamas, 1969) A unique sonic and visual experience. 

This is how it sounds in Surround Sound: You are at the Lennon’s home, Tittenhurst Park, in Ascot, England in late May 1971. You are sat in a chair in the very center of Ascot Sound Studios. John is sat in front of you, singing and playing the same wood-finish Epiphone Casino electric guitar he played on 'Revolution'. George Harrison is to the right, playing electric slide on John's pale blue Fender Strat. Behind you to the right, Klaus Voormann is playing bass and to the left Alan White (Yes) is playing his Ludwig silver sparkle drumkit. In front of you to the left, Nicky Hopkins is improvising on the red-top Wurlitzer Electric Piano, literally days before he leaves for Nellcôte to play on Exile on Main Street with The Rolling Stones.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Listen: Paul on Marc Maron's "WTF" podcast


Marc talks with Paul McCartney about, well, a lot: The Beatles and Stones rivalry that wasn’t, his current relationship with Ringo, the influence of Little Richard, The Who, The Beach Boys, how he needs to have an out-of-body experience to really examine the Beatles legacy, the reception of his solo work after the Beatles, recording Band on the Run in Nigeria, what messages are in his songs, which songs still make him emotional when he performs them, and what he brought to the table for his latest album, Egypt Station. 

Listen here.

Video: John Lennon "Crippled Inside (Evolution Mix)"

Paul on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon"

Vintage Beatles concert ticket: Odeon, Lewisham, Dec. 8, 1963

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Paul plans live performance on YouTube this Friday

Via the news release:


YouTube Original Special Will Start at 8:00PM ET
As part of a YouTube Original special, Paul McCartney will perform a concert live on Paul’s YouTube channel to celebrate the release of his highly anticipated new album Egypt Station. Paul will perform songs from the new album alongside classics from his Beatles, Wings and solo catalogues.

The live stream will begin at 8:00PM (ET) on Friday, September 7, 2018.

Fans can watch the intimate show live on Paul McCartney’s YouTube channel.

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Vintage Saturday Evening Post magazine cover