Archive for The Beatles

50 Years Out: The Beatles’ “Please Please Me”

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by 30daysout


Fifty years ago today (March 22), EMI/Parlophone released Please Please Me, the debut album release by The Beatles, in the United Kingdom.

The New Music Express said on March 8th 1963: “Things are beginning to move for the Beatles, the r-and-b styled British group. The disc Please Please Me follows closely on the heels of their first hit ‘Love Me Do’ written by group members John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It looks like a bright future for the Beatles, but knowing them I don’t think they’ll let it go to their heads.”

George Martin recalled, “Please Please Me was done in a day – we started at 10 o’clock in the morning finished at 11 at night, and that was the record made.”

In the United States, most of the songs on Please Please Me were first issued on Vee-Jay Records’ Introducing … the Beatles in 1964, and subsequently on Capitol Records’ The Early Beatles in 1965. Please Please Me was not released in the United States until the Beatles’ catalog appeared on CD in 1987.

The Beatles official web site

SXSW Preview: Behind A Great Band, There Was A Great Woman

Posted in SXSW, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 10, 2013 by 30daysout
GOF still FK - photo credit Austin Hargrave

Freda Kelly, subject of the documentary Good Ol’ Freda, which will premiere at SXSW. (Photo by Austin Hargrave)

When Freda Kelly began her job as a secretary in 1963, the shy 17-year-old believed she was merely going to work in a cramped office. She couldn’t have known she was about to step into history. Kelly was hired to work for an up-and-coming rock group based out of Liverpool, England, just a few months before that band would conquer the world.

Freda had faith in her boys, The Beatles. And The Beatles had faith in Freda: she managed the band’s fan club and served as the secretary for their Liverpool office, often working side-by-side with their manager Brian Epstein. She worked for The Beatles for 11 years, longer than the band was together. Then she faded into obscurity, loyally protecting the stories and people she kept close to her heart.

But now, after 50 years, Freda Kelly steps up to tell some of those stories in a new documentary, Good Ol’ Freda, which will make its world premiere this week at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.

GOF still 2 - courtesy of Tripod Media

Ryan White (courtesy of Tripod Media)

The film’s director Ryan White had an inside track to Freda – his uncle is Billy Kinsley, a founding member of the Merseybeats, which also came from the 1960s Liverpool music scene. “I grew up going back and forth to Liverpool all my life,” says White. “My aunt and uncle are very good friends with Freda.”

He spoke to us just as he completed a last-minute frenzy of finishing his movie before the trip to Austin. Even before its premiere, Good Ol’ Freda has received accolades that suggest this film may be something special.

After Austin, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has dibs on a showing of the film in April during the Cleveland International Film Festival. The movie is also scheduled to be shown at the Atlanta Film Festival later this month.

Getting Freda to sit down for his camera was a bit of a coup for White, who admits he’s still amazed at the unshakeable loyalty and love this woman has for her former employers. “She is simply a remarkable woman with a very remarkable story,” he says. “For 50 years she has resisted numerous offers and even lots of money to do a ‘tell-all’ book or film. She’s just that loyal and protective.”

So why did she decide to step before a camera now? “Freda likes to say that she is living on borrowed time,” explains White, “and she jokes that she can go at any moment.  But when her first grandson was born I think she re-evaluated her life and decided this was something she wanted him to know about his grandmother.”

White conducted 30 hours of interviews with Freda, and also talked to other surviving members of The Beatles’ inner circle: former press officer Tony Barrow, journalist Larry Kane and even Angie McCartney, Paul’s stepmother.

“Freda was really more than a secretary … she really became part of The Beatles’ family, and did so much for them,” says White. “But she also did so much for the fans, on The Beatles’ behalf. She gave the fans personal attention, collecting autographs and even snipping little locks of hair to send off.  She would get different Beatles to chew a bit of gum which she’d stick to a letter and send it off to some girl on the other side of the world.

“Freda is amazing, and this story is a time capsule … a look into an era that will never happen again.”

GOF still - courtesy of Freda Kelly

“Good Ol’ Freda” with Paul McCartney, back in the day. (Courtesy of Freda Kelly)

Good Ol’ Freda takes its name from a recorded aside by one of The Beatles, likely John Lennon, in a 1963 Christmas recording sent to members of the group’s fan club. George Harrison thanks the people running the fan club by name, and when he thanks Freda the shout “Good Ol’ Freda” can be heard in the background.

Of course White got the approval of The Beatles themselves, but in a very unique way. He asked to use some of the group’s songs in his film and approached the two surviving Beatles and the estates of Lennon and Harrison for permission. The Beatles’ music is one of the most sought-after, and fiercely protected, catalogs in popular culture. The actual recordings have only rarely been licensed for use in movies or TV; when the show “Mad Men” used a snippet of a Beatles song in an episode last season, it cost the producers $250,000.

But White got permission to use four Beatles songs, including “Love Me Do” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” He won’t say how much he paid, if anything, for their use but consider this: the entire film was produced for around $58,000.

“It just demonstrates the respect that the living Beatles have for Freda,” White says. “She never sold out the four guys … her story is a study in ethics and the meaning of true loyalty.”

White will be on hand to introduce his film to audiences at SXSW in Austin, and he is excited to share this moment with Freda herself, who will also go to Austin for the premiere. The director had to talk Freda into making the trip, not because she is shy … but because she had to take time off. She still works as a secretary, for a law firm.

“It’s going to be a great moment,” White says. “It will be fun to experience this alongside Freda.”

Good Ol’ Freda official web site

SXSW official web site

The What If? Files – Fantasy Rock Team-ups

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2013 by 30daysout
Gary Clark Jr.

Gary Clark Jr.

I love those new apps for the smartphone, especially the ones that let you listen to terrestrial radio anywhere in the world. Lately I’ve been digging WDST-FM, Radio Woodstock, operating out of the New York town that shares its name with the festival.

WDST is one of those rare stations whose DJs will say something like “Boz Scaggs has a new album out …” and they will actually play a song from that new Boz Scaggs album. Amazing – you don’t usually hear that on those big-box corporate radio stations. It’s an awesome radio station.


Janis Joplin – a teamup with Gary Clark Jr.? Hmmm …

Anyway, the other day a Radio Woodstock DJ on the morning show – Ron VanWarmer, I believe – said something intriguing. He’d just spun a song from Texas guitar wonder Gary Clark Jr. and after giving the background info on the tune, added: “Wish we could pair him up with somebody like Janis Joplin … that would be so cool.”

He never explained what would make this particular fantasy pairing so great, aside that they’re both Texans and represent a certain authenticity in the music from different eras, but it was a provocative thought nevertheless.

So today we thought we’d carry Ron’s idea a bit further, and suggest a few more fantasy team-ups that would most certainly result in some great music. If only …

Levon Helm with Mumford & Sons – A father of modern folk music and one of America’s greatest singers (and drummers) fronting a foursome of English folk strummers and pickers would be a happy experience for fans on both sides of the Big Pond. Levon in his prime would anchor the Mumford boys with his Arkansas accent on vocals – and Helm’s steady backbeat on the drums would give Marcus Mumford’s right foot a serious break, not to mention a run for the money. If Levon had held on for just a few more years, this dream pairing may have actually taken place. Ah, Levon – we miss ya.

YouTube: “Ophelia” by Levon Helm

Stevie Ray Vaughan with Bruce Springsteen – This could have happened, but sadly never did. They both recorded for the same label, and both worked with the legendary producer John Hammond Sr. Such a New Jersey-Texas connection could have blown anyone else off the stage, and once Stevie Ray warmed up on guitar he probably would’ve left even the Boss in the dust.

Iggy Pop with the Sex Pistols – Another one that might have taken place had the stars been right. Hell, the Pistols even covered the Stooges’ “No Fun.” How much fun would it have been with Iggy on vocals for that one?

YouTube: “Search and Destroy” by Iggy and the Stooges

Jim Morrison with the Flaming Lips – Two different departments of the psychedelia branch, surely this matchup would make heads explode. Or implode – guess it depends on the drugs.

MP3: “When The Music’s Over’ (live) by The Doors

Pee Wee Herman with the Beatles – Think about it. Some of the Beatles’ best songs were so simple as to be nearly childlike, and how cool would it be to hear Mr. Herman warbling along to “Yellow Submarine” or “Octopus’ Garden” or “I Want To Hold Your Hand”? OK, maybe that last one would be really creepy.

Jim James with the Jefferson Airplane – Never thought about it till now, but possibly Mr. Yim Yames is this generation’s Marty Balin.

YouTube: “Know Til Now” by Jim James

Otis Redding with the Roots – A no brainer. These guys share the stage, and it could make heads explode AND blow the roof off the sucker. For that matter, wouldn’t you like to hear Janis Joplin wail a few with Questlove and company? Somewhere up in snowy New York state, Ron VanWarmer’s head is exploding.

MP3: “I Can’t Turn You Loose” (live) by Otis Redding

YouTube: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding

Video Du Jour: The Beatles

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by 30daysout

The Beatles, atop Apple Studios in 1969. Those were the days.

On this day in January, 44 years ago, The Beatles climbed to the rooftop of Apple Studios in London to give what would be their last public live performance.

The unannounced live show was a bit of a stunt, and an improvised ending to the documentary movie they were filming at the time, Let It Be. The movie was to be a fly-on-the-wall look at the Fabs working in the studio, cranking out songs for the planned Get Back album. What it turned out to be was a look at the world’s most famous rock band deteriorating in front of our eyes.

The rooftop show was a temporarily happy ending – the short set included “Get Back,” with Billy Preston on keyboards, “Don’t Let Me Down,” letitbee“I’ve Got A Feeling,” “One After 909,” a snippet of “Danny Boy,” “Dig A Pony,” then finally another run-through of “Get Back.”

We all know what happened: the cops came up and shut ’em down for making too much noise in the middle of a busy work day. And John Lennon’s signoff  “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition” neatly capped the era for the Beatles.

That quote appeared at the end of the Let It Be album from 1970, released after the group had already broken up. But in reality, the 1969 rooftop concert wasn’t the Beatles’ last work. They eventually got together in the spring and summer of that year to record what would become Abbey Road, arguably their best album.

YouTube: The 1969 rooftop concert (Part 1)

YouTube: The 1969 rooftop concert (Part 2)

Live: Paul McCartney, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by 30daysout

Paul McCartney’s stage filled the outfield of Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Paul McCartney’s recent set of concerts on his current “On The Run” tour are epic, full of breathtaking singing and instrumental virtuosity on faithful renditions of some of the greatest songs in the rock and roll canon. His show last night (11/14) at Houston’s Minute Maid Park was exactly that.

But there’s also a sense – certainly fleeting – of wistfulness and summing up of a brilliant, unparalleled career belonging to one of the greatest entertainers of all time. At one point of the show in Houston, Paul said “These events are so cool … I just want to take a moment for myself and drink it all in.”

Then he stepped aside from the mic and just stood there, surveying the nearly sold-out crowd (about 39,000) as it cheered him on.

He did that same thing when we saw him in 2011, at the beginning of this tour in New York’s Yankee Stadium. I can’t help but think this may be a victory lap for the 70-year-old ex-Beatle but who knows? He can keep this going for quite a while.

Because it’s obvious McCartney is clearly invigorated by staging these grandiose rock shows. He played for three hours in Houston, staying on stage virtually the entire time and never once sipping a drink of water or wiping sweat with a towel. It helped that the ballpark’s roof was open, and it was a crisp, cool Houston evening.

The voice is still there: on “All My Loving,” hitting the same notes he did in 1963, crooning on the goofy “My Valentine” and rocking out on “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “Paperback Writer.”

And the dude can play: he strapped on an electric guitar eight songs into the set to take the lead on “Let Me Roll It,” which morphed into an impressive instrumental rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady.” He pounded the piano keys for Band On The Run deep cut “1985” and the Beatles warhorses “Lady Madonna” and “Hey Jude.”

Video screens made the Beatle’s show feel intimate, even from the cheap seats.

McCartney has proudly accepted the mantle of keeper of the Beatles’ flame, and in addition to his own compositions he paid deeply touching tribute to his fallen fellow Fabs George Harrison and John Lennon. Harrison was remembered fondly with a great rendition of “Something,” which started out on ukulele and wound up with a full-on band treatment.

After that highlight, McCartney mentioned that George wrote that one “all by himself.” And he capped it with “Frank Sinatra once said that ‘Something’ was his favorite Lennon/McCartney song,” Paul shrugged.

Lennon’s tribute consisted of the acoustic ballad “Here Today,” written by McCartney after his mate’s murder in 1980. Then, later, Paul wound up with Lennon’s “A Day In The Life” appended to a singalong “Give Peace A Chance.”

Fireworks both figurative and literal peppered the homestretch: “Get Back,” “Helter Skelter,” “Let It Be,” and the James Bond theme “Live and Let Die,” punctuated by an impressive pyrotechnics display.

Say what you want about McCartney’s cute/pop/cloying tendencies over the past 50 years – in 2012 this is the Cadillac of rock shows. To steal from another James Bond song (not written by McCartney), nobody does it better.

Paul McCartney setlist from Houston Minute Maid Park 11/14/2012

Found on YouTube: “Paperback Writer” from Houston (thanks pokabeb)

The pyro goes off for “Live and Let Die.”

‘Magical Mystery Tour’ Video Arrives at Theaters, DVD This Fall

Posted in News with tags , on August 23, 2012 by 30daysout

Roll up! The Magical Mystery Tour is returning!

Following on the heels of the recent re-release of Yellow Submarine, The Beatles’ third movie Magical Mystery Tour will return this fall on DVD and Blu-ray with a remixed soundtrack and special features. Long out of print, the Magical Mystery Tour feature film will be released Oct. 9 in the United States, a day earlier around the rest of the world.

A special, boxed deluxe edition will also be available, and, for the first time ever, there will be a limited theatrical release from September 27. This new release also features three new edits of some of the song performances, as well as scenes cut out of the original film.

In September 1967, The Beatles loaded a film crew onto a bus along with friends, family and cast and headed west on the A30 out of London to make their third film, this time conceived and directed by The Beatles themselves.

Read more about the Magical Mystery Tour DVD and theatrical release

YouTube: Roll up! Roll up! The Beatles invite you to make a reservation for the Magical Mystery Tour!

The Beatles official web site

Radio Daze: Rock Hype on the Airwaves

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2012 by 30daysout

Back in the day, radio was the only way to get out the word about a new album. Of course, it helped that disc jockeys actually played songs from a new album – but record labels wanted to rack up sales right out of the box. And movies too – what better way to get the word out to the “kids” than through that boss, groovy local radio station?

So they worked up little spots to play on the hip-cool radio station in your town. Nowadays, with traditional terrestrial radio pretty much dead, these old radio spots are fodder for CD re-releases.  Let’s queue up a bunch and spin ’em!

MP3: The Monkees Present radio promo (The Monkees)

MP3: Live Dead radio promo (The Grateful Dead)

MP3: Help movie promo (The Beatles)

MP3: Cahoots radio promo (The Band)

MP3: Sweetheart of the Rodeo radio promo (The Byrds)

MP3: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere radio promo (Neil Young)

MP3: I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! radio promo (Janis Joplin)

MP3: Head movie promos (The Monkees)

MP3: Electric Warrior radio promo (T. Rex)

MP3: Aqualung radio promo (Jethro Tull)

MP3: Ballad of Easy Rider radio promo (The Byrds)

MP3: Easy Rider movie promo

Art Project: LP Covers On The Wall

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , on July 9, 2012 by 30daysout

If you can’t play ’em, frame ’em! All of the LPs shown in this post each contain the original vinyl.

Somewhere along the way, my hobby just got out of control. At one point I had literally more than a thousand vinyl LPs on my hands, and no way to listen to any of them.

That was more than a decade ago – now I have a spiffy new turntable, and I’ve cleaned house by unloading box loads of LPs at our friendly neighborhood record store. But I stumbled upon another tactic, and my kids really appreciate it.

You can take your old LPs and turn them into art objects – frames made especially for 12-by-12 albums are easy to find, and with just a small investment you can make every day Record Store Day.

My daughter’s Beatles shrine.

Those old album covers, often with eye-popping photography and graphics, are a lost art. A few years ago I found some of those frames on sale at the great Waterloo Records in Austin, and in my house that art is no longer lost.

My daughter created a Beatles shrine with a Rubber Soul LP and some vintage Fab Four press photos. My son is now the proud owner of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Clash and Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, all displayed above his Spider Man bedroom curtains.

You can find the LP frames (look for that designation on the packaging) for as little as $9.98 or for as much as $14.99. Try Urban Outfitters, Half Price Books (in some states), Hobby Lobby or your local record seller. You can also try shopping online, but the price goes up with shipping and such.

And one other thing: when I frame an LP cover, the original vinyl goes in with it. Who knows, one day one of my kids may lift the album out of its frame and play the record inside. What a great time capsule.

Makes a nice time capsule, too!

Psychedelia meets Spider Man.


Happy Birthday, Paul!

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by 30daysout

Sir Paul McCartney is 70 years ago today.

One of the greatest songwriters and singers in rock and roll, Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 today (June 18). With the Beatles and later as a solo performer and bandleader, McCartney created some of the best (and worst) music in rock and roll history. He isn’t as cool today as he was in the 1960s or in the early part of the 1970s, but even at the twilight of his career McCartney is still a formidable talent.

In 1965 McCartney wrote “Yesterday,” which the Guinness Book of World Records says is the most covered song ever. It has been covered more than 3,000 times and in the 20th century alone the song was performed more than 7 million times.

Here you have a handful of tunes to represent Sir Paul’s long and fruitful career. McCartney may be rather unfairly judged by his output over recent years, but most of this shit rocks. Happy birthday!

MP3: “Yesterday” by Frank Sinatra

MP3: “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin

MP3: “Blackbird” by Billy Preston

MP3: “Hey Jude” by Wilson Pickett

MP3: “Maybe I’m Amazed” by The Faces

MP3: “Smile Away” by The Krayolas

MP3: “Let It Be” by Aretha Franklin

MP3: “Michelle” by Iggy Pop

MP3: “On The Wings Of A Nightingale” by the Everly Brothers

MP3: “All Together Now” by Jim White

MP3: “Come And Get It” by Badfinger

MP3: “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” (alternate version) by Wings

MP3: “Every Night” (live) by Wings

MP3: “Scrambled Eggs” by Jimmy Fallon (feat. Paul McCartney)

MP3: “I Saw Her Standing There (Take 9)” by The Beatles

MP3: “The Fool On The Hill (Take 4)” by The Beatles

MP3: “Yesterday” (live, 1965) by The Beatles

MP3: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (live, 1989) by Paul McCartney

Video Du Jour: The (Cartoon) Beatles

Posted in News with tags on May 17, 2012 by 30daysout

The Beatles, circa 1968.

Yellow Submarine, the Beatles’ 1968 animated movie, will be released in a remastered/digitally restored version for Blu-ray and DVD on June 5. They’re also going to re-release the excellent Yellow Submarine songtrack, also remastered, on CD.

The official Beatles online store has these and plenty other Yellow Submarine items for sale (and pre-order). Here’s an extended video trailer, to remind you how cool Yellow Submarine was – and is.

The Beatles official website