I’ll tell you what: I’d be bobbing my head up and down really hard and asking George for a cigarette. I don’t even smoke!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Robert Bunter: And it's all the more amazing that this recording was done as a middle finger to the other Beatles, who'd rejected the slow, acoustic Revolution (1) as too slow for a new single. "Oh, it's too slow, is it?" So Johnny Moondog just increases the tempo and cranks up the knobs until every meter is in the red. "Take that, pigs. You can't tell me that's not a single now, can you?" But unfortunately, they could. It's just a B-side, because Paul had written "Hey Jude," one of the highest achievements of mankind, a song inspired by John's horrible abandonment of his first wife and son. Foiled again, John. It's a shame that you're a right bastard, mate. Your stirring political anthem will make a nice Nike commercial someday. This single is the main reason that The Beatles broke up.
Are you into hardcore music? Well, that music stinks and sounds like dirt.
Richard Furnstein: It was getting ugly, that's for sure. John was a few years away from the primal scream, but this song serves as an escape from the rage and frustration that had been developing for years. Even John's appearance at the time suggested a fierceness. His angular Liverpudlian features had sharpened even more; he now looked like his face could open a can of Heniz Beans (soft stomached Ringo's favorite). The Beatles faced a peculiar artistic dilemma after the peaks of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's (not to mention the personal and business issues brewing since the death of Brian Epstein), and The White Album was a band trying to simultaneously strip down while pushing forward. That's certainly a weird road to travel, but they found a way to charge and change in "Revolution." They would certainly go back to the Chuck Berry well again (that was Lennon's default rock mode), but "Revolution" was ultimately their most successful attempt at hairy rock.
Robert Bunter: John makes a good political point along with the sonic assault. If you want to topple the system, what is your plan to replace it? Rebel John liked shaking the foundations of society as much as anybody, but he had enough wisdom to realize that the denim-clad rabble marchers carrying megaphones and peace signs were, all too often, a bunch of callow ego-trippers. Lennon could be a dope, but I'm giving him big points for this one. You want to change the world? Mow the damn yard. Clean up the dishes. Tend the to the washing. That's how you do it. Nice electric piano by studio ace Nicky Hopkins on this track.
Richard Furnstein: I made a promise to myself long ago that I would consider a write up on "Revolution" to be perfect once the stellar piano work of Nicky Hopkins was acknowledged. That day has come. Alright!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Richard Furnsten: I agree completely. Imagine leaving the dank overcoat and toothless grime of London for the cheerful kurtas and toothless majesty of Rishikesh. I'm frankly surprised that The Beatles didn't write more variations on "Butterfly Kisses" in that setting. Mike Love alone could be inspired to write endless Indian fingerpicked fantasies about does gently lapping the pools of an emerald waterfall. "I Will" is a true wonder. Paul's melody is one of his guaranteed red stamp all time "how did this not exist before Paul wrote it" treasures. John throws on a bunch of percussion without slipping in his old British lady voice or making jokes about erections or disabled people. Ringo plays some nice bongos and boy oh boy I wish there were some beautiful photographs of him hitting the calf skins on this session. The visual in my brain is striking and I wish the rest of the world could see it.
Robert Bunter: You know, I don't think "I Will" was among the tracks the boys previewed to each other on the Esher demos. Hold on, let me consult my copy of "From Kinfauns To Chaos" disc one. Wait a sec.
Richard Furnstein: Oh for chrissake. The fact that you still rely on "Kinfauns" for your Esher demos needs instead of something credible like the Acoustic Masterpieces box, the purplechick bootleg master, or one of the lovely Vigotone editions is total proof that you are out of your element.
Robert Bunter: What? I'm back. Nope, "I Will" was not on the Esher demos. That actually makes some sense; two of the White Album songs that sound most like Esher demos ("Blackbird" and "I Will") were not actually recorded on that magical, mythical day. The mostly-solo acoustic presentation, with lo-fi recording ambience and playful background percussion is a beautiful setting for Beatlemusic. I wish they'd done more of it. Luckily I'll always have my copy of "From Kinfauns To Chaos!"
Ringo plays some nice bongos and boy oh boy I wish there were some beautiful photographs of him hitting the calf skins on this session. The visual in my brain is striking and I wish the rest of the world could see it.
Richard Furnstein: Makes complete sense to me. Why do you need to demo "I Will" and "Blackbird"? They both just existed in the magical air before Sir Paul could conjure the collective melody dust and present the gift of vision to the world. You don't need to record loose acoustic versions in George Harrison's house to preserve these fleeting melodies (no offense to John, who dominates the Esher sessions). "I Will" isn't a delicate song despite its wispy qualities. "I Will" was meant to exist eventually. It's structure and lyric were a gift from God. He just decided that the world was ready for this song in 1967. God let a lot of cavemen go to hell before he decided to drop Jesus into their lives. Paul is indeed the light.
Robert Bunter: The placement of "I Will" in the crazy tracklisting of the White Album is worth mentioning. Paul flaunts his bad-boy side with the freaky blues grease of "Why Don't We Do It In The Road," then does an abrupt 180 into cutesy-Romeo mood with "I Will." Our ears are becoming accustomed to the low-key acoustic sound palette, which John proceeds to deploy to devastating effect in "Julia." The Beatles displayed more emotional range and breadth of inspiration in that single three-song excerpt than most other bands manage to conjure in an entire career. I'm talking about limited artists like Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, the Cars, Joni Mitchell, Tribe Called Quest and Radiohead. I'm sorry but it's the real truth.
Richard Furnstein: Sure, but pick any three song stretch on The Beatles and prepare for a mindblow. "Honey Pie"->"Savoy Truffle"->"Cry Baby Cry"? Complete annihilation, man. And that's like the weakest corridor on that album!
Friday, November 18, 2011
George Martin did his best to cover up the corpse stink on the dreadful basic track, dumping lots of woooshing sounds, British jibberish, and klaps and flaps and torts.
Robert Bunter: Ha! You fell for it again. Hey, your fly is down. Whoop! Made you look. Got your nose! It’s so easy to get your goat, you should hang a “free goat available” sign outside your home. OK, fun’s over. Let’s get down to business. “Yellow Submarine” is a drag, but you have to admit, the animated cartoon feature which it inspired was a truly joyful psychedelic romp. Also, the “Eleanor Rigby / Yellow Submarine” single is a fine example of the striking contrasts they deployed to such great effect (“Strawberry Fields” b/w “Penny Lane,” “Lady Madonna” b/w “The Inner Light.”) From the sublime to the ridiculous; fun for the kiddies, the dawning of a new growth. Beautiful!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Richard Furnstein: A frightening thought. The listener is lulled into an exotic world (red wine in cups, suited monkeys clearing tables) where leisure and mental awakening sits next to poverty and bug eating. The Don Flamenco runs that open this particular terror fantasy serve as the soundtrack to some grainy credits. We see the back of a Caucasian hunter ambling up a hill, okapi pelts draped over his corn fed frame. He reaches the apex of the hill just as the gang singalong starts. Ringo once again is the loudest in the room. Tell me more about the campfire, I can't get that image out of my head. Fascination and retreat. The fear of the unknown. Kill or be killed.
Our camp leader has a weird look in his eye behind the granny glasses, this unfamiliar Japanese lady is making me feel uneasy, and who the hell brought a Mellotron out here to the woods?
Robert Bunter: "Bungalow" Bill is actually William "Billy" Shears, the Ringo-esque Everyman from the happier days of Sgt. Pepper's first side. Remember those happy moments? That was back when group singalongs represented heartening declarations of brotherly togetherness. Those days, Mr. Shears, have passed. As the bumbling, mustachioed Englishman trundles his way out of the dusky gloaming, he is confronted by a really large fire. His haunches clench nervously in his colonial hunting garb and drab festoons. The long-haired, bestubbled hippies seated around the fire are garbed in dhotis and saris. He pretends not to see or hear as the lyrics of their hypnotic, pagan song start addressing him directly, mocking his hollow machismo.
Richard Furnstein: The band leader leers at him over his glasses (far sighted?) as he delivers the verse with a chiding tone. The lyrics seem to build up Bill's manly exploits in the heart of darkness while poking at the flabby insecurities hiding under his puffed chest. It's a heavy handed commentary on masculinity in the late 1960s (a hunter is reduced to a cartoon character, much like the fictional Captain Marvel). Way to be a man, Bill. We just couldn't help notice that you brought your mother along, you insecure manchild that can't do your own laundry or heat up a can of soup.
Robert Bunter: "Hey, come on over and join the fun, Bill. We didn't mean to frighten you. No, please. It's just a meditation retreat. Ha ha! Come on, would you like some wine? Look at these lovely girls! Surely a brave, virile hunter like yourself is not afraid of a few scrawny, wild-eyed freaks, are you?" Look, this whole fantasy sequence is a lot of fun, but the truly terrifying implications of the two Beatles songs with characters named "Bill" or "Billy" only becomes fully apparent when you watch every single one of iamaphoney's YouTube videos. Let's wrap this thing up. "Bungalow Bill" is really scary, just like most of Lennon's work from this period. Can we agree on that, Furnstein?
Richard Furnstein: No doubt! "His mommy (mummy?) butted in" always put "Revolution 9" level scares in me. John Lennon didn't need brown acid. He didn't need bad junk. His mind was scarier than any hippie nightmare that mere drugs could conjure.