Category Archives: Capitol Records

B is for Beatles


In honor of the 45th anniversary of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan next month, where most of America first saw the Fab Four, I thought I’d track down my development as a Beatles fan.

Yes, I watched Sullivan on February 9, 1964, and I thought the group was all right. But I really couldn’t hear them or enjoy them over all of that SCREAMING. I went to school the next day and it appeared that my female classmates in the fifth grade had also been riddled by a mild form of what came to be called Beatlemania. This really turned me off from the group.

Beatles at the Indiana State Fair

But as I saw them (twice more on Sullivan) and heard them on the radio (a lot) I began to soften towards them. Don’t know exactly when, it was some point after the movie A Hard Day’s Night came out, because I had had zero interest seeing it at the time, whereas I eagerly watched 1965’s Help! as soon as it was released. Eventually, both my sister Leslie and I clamored for some music by the Beatles, and so my father brought home this:

Apparently, parents all over the country were fooled were fooled by this knockoff. Frankly, I don’t recall how, or even if, we expressed our disappointment.

In 1965, I started a paper route, which meant I had my own money. At some point after June, I joined the Capitol Record Club. 12 albums for only a penny! (If you buy 12 more at the club’s inflated retail price, plus shipping.) I ordered all the Beatles’ albums that were out at the time, and was horrified to discover that my Meet the Beatles was in stereo, rather than mono, since the warning on the stereo albums was that they were incompatible with a mono player; ultimately, I played it anyway.

That year and the next, we would lipsynch Beatles’ albums, especially Beatles VI, which was the first of the full-price albums I bought, using brooms and mops as guitars and Quaker Oats boxes as drums. . I was John, the literate, intelligent one; Leslie was Paul, who was left-handed and she thought he was CUTE; our neighbor Mary Jane was Ringo, because she thought he was CUTE; and our baby sister Marcia was George, because he was the only one left.

I started reading all the magazines about the Beatles. One article stood out: John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful indicated that Drive My Car was his favorite album on the album Rubber Soul. EVERYBODY knows that Drive My Car was on Yesterday…and Today, didn’t they? It wasn’t until a couple years later, possibly until after the breakup, when I discovered that the British albums and the American albums were not the same.

I quit Capitol Record Club when I realized I could buy the albums not only cheaper, but sooner from the stores. I got Rubber Soul and Revolver from the club, but Yesterday…and Today from the Rexall Drug Store ($2.99) and Sgt. Pepper at W.T. Grant’s for the outrageous amount of $3.67. I noticed I was at least a little colorblind because it took me forever to find the word Beatles on the Magical Mystery Tour cover. I recently discussed the white album.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, I started reading books about the Beatles and became rather expert at what was on which album in the UK and the US, and even Italy. Recently, a colleague went to a funk concert and asked about a song called Bad Boy. I could tell him, without looking it up, that it was a Larry Williams song from my beloved Beatles VI in America, but that it didn’t show up in Britain until the mostly singles collection A Collection of Beatles Oldies But Goldies in late 1966. It’s on the Past Masters 1 CD.

I decided, probably foolishly, that in the next couple weeks, at random intervals, I will rank the entire list of Beatles songs, based on how much I would enjoy a piece if I haven’t heard it in, say, six months. It is NOT necessarily a list of BEST songs, though quality can enhance enjoyment. The list will punish perfectly good recordings that, from overplaying, I just don’t want to hear anymore.

I’m going to limit the list to the canon; that is, the songs released on Beatles singles, albums and EPs through 1970. In other words, the tunes from the British Beatles CDs and from the Past Masters CDs. There will be no songs from the Anthology albums.

If I were a purist, I would have separate listings for the single and album versions of Love Me Do, Let It Be and Get Back or the alternative and album versions of Across the Universe; I don’t. While the single version of Get Back is what I had in mind, the coda on the album version has its charm.

NASA beamed a song — The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” — directly into deep space at 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 4, 2008. The transmission over NASA’s Deep Space Network commemorated the 40th anniversary of the day The Beatles recorded the song, as well as the 50th anniversary of NASA’s founding and the group’s beginnings.

ROG

Knocking at the door

Why do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war?
– The Moody Blues (written by Justin Hayward)
LINK.

So the old winter or summer solstice has arrived, depending on where you live. It’s once again time to Ask Roger Anything. Anything at all, and I’m honor-bound to answer it honestly. It has to be the truth. It does not have to be the WHOLE truth; to the surprise of some, I do have my limits.

One person I do not know asked:
“Surfing around looking for old copies of ‘keynotes’, the Capitol Record Club catalog, I came upon your references.
Any chance you have old issues with which you’d part?”
Why, no, I don’t. I was a member of the Capitol Record Club in 1965 for a couple years, which is where I originally got all my pre-Sgt. Pepper albums, save for Yesterday…and Today, which I bought from the Rexall for $2.99. I also got Daydream-Lovin’ Spoonful; the Best of Herman’s Hermits; and most notably, Pet Sounds-Beach Boys. Most of the albums I still have, except for the LPs that were stolen in the Great LP Theft of 1972. But anything like Capitol catalogs? Long gone.
(Hey, anyone out there have ‘keynotes’ you’re willing to part with, e-mail me and I’ll hook you up with the collector.)

I’ve had people ask about the Barack Obama/Rick Warren thing. Well, I wouldn’t have done it. A gay friend of mine felt “hurt” by it.
Still, this little piece from Steve Bissette’s blog gave me some perspective.
…while liberals are howling over President-Elect Obama’s decision to include homophobic pastor Richard D. “Rick” Warren (founder and senior pastor of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California) in his upcoming inauguration ceremony [and conservatives are howling that Warren accepted],, the far more damning news that “alone among major Western nations, the United States has refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the United Nations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality” is being ignored..

So, questions, please.
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“Inspired by Christ is an apparel company formed to convey the Good News of Jesus Christ while providing the world with an alternative in today’s popular fashions. Inspired by Christ’s goal is to propagate the Word of God via style and stimulated discussions brought about through our Christ inspired designs.” WWJW?
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Artificial Virginity Hymen. WTF?

In the old days, it was not called the ‘Holiday Season’; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall.’ – Dave Barry

ROG

The twins

“In the 1960’s, there were two groups on Capitol Records – one American, the other British – whose name began with the letters ‘B-E-A-.’ Each of these groups featured a bass playing songwriter born in June of 1942, and each group made records that have withstood the test of time to become classics of popular culture.”

I started delivering the Press, the Binghamton evening and Sunday morning newspaper, back in the days when there were actually evening newspapers, in 1964 or early 1965. (The M-Sa morning paper was the Sun-Bulletin; the two papers subsequently merged into a seven-morning Press & Sun-Bulletin.)

So, I had money of my own. Naturally, because I wanted to get all of the Beatles albums (I had some singles), I joined the Capitol Record club in 1965. My first album was Beatles VI, and I worked backward and forward from there, including this weird mostly talk album called The Beatles Story. I got Something New relatively early in the process. I distinctly remember getting Meet the Beatles in STEREO, which was a problem, because I only had a MONO player! There were directives about not playing a stereo record with a mono needle, lest you wreck the album. I didn’t play Meet the Beatles for weeks, then I did, and it SEEMED OK…

I also got Daydream by the Lovin’ Spoonful, Herman’s Hermits’ Greatest Hits, the Hollyridge Strings performing Beatles tunes, some instrumentalist named Billy Strange, and, of course, BIG HITS FROM ENGLAND AND USA. One side had two songs each from BEATLES (England), BEACH BOYS (USA), and PETER & GORDON (England), the “kids” side; the Peter & Gordon cuts, not so incidentally, were by Lennon & McCartney. The other side contained 2 tunes by NAT KING COLE(USA) and CILLA BLACK (England), plus “Tears and Roses” by AL MARTINO (USA), the “adults” side. I probably still have it upstairs in the attic.

Thus, my very first album I owned that featured the Beach Boys was on an album that also featured the Beatles. “I Get Around” was a great song that I had heard on the radio. But it was the other song, “Don’t Worry Baby”, a lovely ballad with exquisite harmonies that I don’t think I had been familiar with, which really intrigued me. I’d heard many of the beach/girls/cars songs on the radio, but this was something special.

So when it became available, I bought the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. As Paul McCartney noted, “Pet Sounds was my inspiration for making Sgt. Pepper’s…the big influence. That was the big thing for me (in 1966). I just thought, ‘Oh, dear me. This is the album of all-time. What are we going to do?'” Eventually, Paul gave a copy of Pet Sounds to all of his children. At the end of 1966, a year-end poll in one of England’s music papers found The Beach Boys topping The Beatles as the #1 vocal group in the world.

And, of course, the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, one of my next record club purchases, inspired the Beach Boys’ would-be legendary SMiLE, the album with a 37-year gestation period, finally released last year by the primary songwriter.

So, here’s to Paul McCartney, whose 63rd birthday was two days ago, and Brian Wilson, whose 63rd natal day celebration is today. Twins separated only by 48 hours and 6000 miles.

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And speaking of vintage music, the 25th Annual Old Songs Festival is this weekend at the Altamont Fairgrounds near Albany. There was a stretch when I used to go every year, but that pattern has been altered. We PLAN to attend this year, and I hope to meet up with a friend (SKA) I haven’t seen in about three years.

Of course, yesterday, for Father’s Day, we PLANNED to go out miniature golfing, but then Lydia fell asleep on her mother’s lap for two hours, then she was hungry, then she needed changing, etc., etc. Was it Bobby Burns who said something about plans and rodents and people?