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For Sale: Beatles ‘White Album’ signed by members of the Manson Family, including Charlie
06.08.2015
07:48 am

Topics:
Crime
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Beatles
Charles Manson
White Album


 
A curious artifact recently turned up on ioffer.com. Listed for sale is a copy of The Beatles White Album, allegedly autographed by Charles Manson, and members of his “family”: Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel. If this thing is real, it’s one of the most intense pieces of music/murder memorabilia we’ve ever seen. And it can be YOURS for the low, low price of only $49,005.00

The significance of the item won’t be lost on anyone with cursory knowledge of the “cult” of Charles Manson and the murders associated with the “Manson Family.” It was argued by Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in court and in his book, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, that several of the songs on The White Album were interpreted by Manson as signs to a coming racial revolution that would lead to Manson emerging as a Christ-figure.

According to this UMKC site which also details Manson’s specific interpretations of White Album songs (at least according to Bugliosi):

Manson believed that the Beatles spoke to him through their lyrics, especially those included in the White Album, released in December 1968.  Several songs from the White Album crystalized Manson’s thinking about a coming revolt by blacks against the white Establishment.  He interpreted many of the songs idiosyncratically, believing, for example, that “Rocky Raccoon” meant black people and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was a song about getting firearms to carry on the revolution rather than—more obviously—a song about sex.

The White Album played a key role in forging Manson’s warped ideology. 

According to Family member Paul Watkins, “Before Helter Skelter came along, all Charlie cared about was orgies.”

The listing from seller popculturesignatures seems legit:
 

 

The White Album of course contains the song “Helter Skelter”, very significant to the whole Manson saga.

All are signed in blue ballpoint or biro pen except Leslie Van Houten, who is signed in black. Manson added the inscription: “Can you live in sin or in it LAST WORD-NO easy, Charles Manson” and added a swastika through his signature.

The signatures were obtained by a gentleman who was at one time associated with the Manson family at the Spahn Ranch, I choose not to post his name here. He acquired them at the respective prisons where they are incarcerated in California, including Corcoran State Prison, and the California Correctional Institution for women.

The top and bottom seams are cut through with a knife, as the album was checked for possible contraband as it was brought into the prison. Because the seams were cut, the cover is now separate from the inner gatefold… The album cover shows other signs of wear, including a water stain in the lower left corner, the result of a fire in the previous owner’s home. Both vinyl records are included. There are a number of scratches on both which I expect would affect play.

As further provenance, I have two additional items from the same source: a bible from the prison chapel signed by the same five individuals, and a Life Magazine signed by Charles, see other photos. I am currently offering the bible here also. An iconic image of the sixties, and perhaps the ultimate signed Manson relic. I will also issue a certificate of authenticity with a photo of the item, the signing details, and will have it notarized as I sign it.

 

 

 
The price seems a bit STEEP to us—but it does include shipping, which is very generous of the seller. For spending nearly $50k, we’d hope, at least, for a Squeaky Fromme hand-delivery.

Via ioffer.com

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
John Lennon becomes the first Beatle to admit to taking drugs, in 1965: A DM exclusive

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It was fifty years ago today…well, almost…

While it has been long believed that Paul McCartney was the first Beatle to ever admit taking drugs during an interview with Independent Television News (ITN) in June 1967, it can now be revealed that John Lennon was in fact the first Beatle who owned up to the band being “stoned” two years before this in an interview with an American journalist.

Writer Simon Wells discovered Lennon’s comment in a rarely heard interview while researching his book Eight Arms To Hold You—a definitive history on the making of The Beatles’ second movie Help!. Wells is the best-selling author of Coming Down Fast (a biography of Charles Manson), Butterfly on a Wheel: The Rolling Stones Great Drugs Bust, Quadrophenia: A Way of Life and the drugs, sex and paganism novel The Tripping Horse.
 
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February 1965, The Beatles had just arrived on location at New Providence Island in the Bahamas to film Help!.  On being asked what The Beatles had been up to on their flight over, Lennon replied “We got stoned.” There is a stunned silence before the interviewer says: “Alright. I know you’re only kidding.”

Of course, Lennon wasn’t kidding, as The Beatles had been popping pills since at least 1960 and smoking weed since being “turned-on” by Bob Dylan in 1964. Simon Wells exclusively explains for Dangerous Minds:

The Beatles took a chartered jet to the Bahamas for the start of filming of Help! on Monday 22nd February 1965. Perversely as it may seem, the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had become intoxicated with the idea of tax shelters and havens—and after his dismal performance of selling off the Beatles rights to A Hard Day’s Night for little more than the average house price in Britain, he sensed an idea to set up an offshore interest in the Bahamas, hoping that the money from the film would escape the extortionate financial red tape and punitive taxes that would attract to the film’s future successes.

To defer suspicions, Epstein cooked up the idea of filming part of Help! in the Bahamas and so eager was he to establish a presence there, filming for what would be the finale of the movie was shot first. Temperatures at a constant high for the area, the group would have to shield themselves from the likelihood of considerable tanning – an issue that would have colored (excuse pun) the earlier shots in the film, all set in London. Nonetheless, The Beatles knew little about this, and happily trundled onto the caravan of filming—the shores of Nassau were far more attractive than a gloomy British February. Equally, it meant a break from the rigours of touring, something they had grown to hate.

The group’s plane continued the majority of the film’s attendant circus, plus a few liggers and reporters to help things along. The nine-hour flight requiring more than just alcoholic sustenance, the band happily tugged on a succession of marijuana joints to elevate the time between touching down in the Bahamas. Since August the previous year when Bob Dylan famously turned the band onto the magical herb, the group had indulged heavily in the newly found pursuit. The effects were immediate on their dress and music, heavy shades and dissonant chords were now pitting their senses; introspection tossing “boy meets girl” out of the window.

While the media were well aware that The Beatles (and most of the other groups of the period) took drugs, there was no need for them to spill the beans and spoil the party. By 1965 standards, The Beatles were still good cheeky copy—guaranteed to bring a smile to the nation’s breakfast tables, and still with the consent of Britain’s parents, the girls and boys could shower them with unbridled adoration. Behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace and at (the Prime Minister’s home) Number 10 Downing Street, plans were already afoot to adorn the band with the M.B.E. If an admission of naughty chemical use had surfaced prior to the award announcement, it would have clearly stymied the whole pantomime. The press knew this too—so all was on course to preserve the Fab’s innocence—for the time being.

For those who chart such things, this is the first admission from a Beatle that drugs were now a part of their lives. The evident shock from the reporter is testament to the disbelief that these sweet boys could ever do such a thing. Predictably, the comment was not used in print, and it remained buried on the reporter’s tape – until now!

Simon Wells new book on The Beatles Eight Arms To Hold You is available from Pledge Music, details here.
 
After the jump, hear the recording…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fan photos of John Lennon in London and New York

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Being one of The Beatles meant being mobbed, followed and even stalked everywhere you went. They quit Liverpool for London for its mix of anonymity and excitement—and because everything happened there. Eventually, John, George and Ringo moved on to the stockbroker belt to find peace, quiet and happy isolation. But even there, Lennon had unwelcome visitors who wanted a photo or to say that they understood what his songs were about, and touch the hem of his clothes.

Eventually, Lennon moved again, this time to New York where he said he could walk the streets without anyone bothering him. Going by these fan photographs of Lennon in London and New York, it’s obvious he was just as mobbed by devoted fans in the Big Apple as he had been back in the Big Smoke.

These fan snaps capture Lennon from the late 1960s, through his relationship with Yoko Ono, to just before his untimely death in 1980.
 
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John Lennon signing an autograph outside the Abbey Road Studios, 1968.

More fan snaps of John Lennon, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Did the Beatles’ inventor promise to build them a flying saucer?
02.26.2015
06:57 am

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
The Beatles
Magic Alex


Magic Alex and John Lennon, 1968
 
If you’ve ever read a biography of the Beatles, you’ve probably come across the name of Alexis Mardas, or “Magic Alex,” as John Lennon called him. Mardas worked in electronics—Bob Spitz’s Beatles biography claims Alex was working as a TV repairman when he met the band—and the Beatles put him in charge of Apple Electronics, a company that was to have marketed Mardas’ inventions.

According to the books, Magic Alex was full of gear and fab ideas for the lads from Liverpool. Here’s one Ringo remembers: “He had this one idea that we all should have our heads drilled. It’s called trepanning. Magic Alex said that if we had it done our inner third eye would be able to see, and we’d get cosmic instantly.” My buddy Joel looked it up on wikiHow, and I am undergoing the procedure as I type this.
 

John Lennon and Donovan at Magic Alex’s wedding
 
When the New York Times called Mardas a “charlatan” in 2008, he sued the paper and issued a nine-page statement in which he attempted to set the record straight about his activities at Apple Electronics, his alleged role in the Beatles’ break with Maharishi, and the goodness of his name in general. (“As a result of these connections,” Mardas writes of his subsequent work manufacturing electronics, body armor and armored cars for governments around the world, “I developed personal friendships with the kings of Greece, Jordan, Spain, Morocco, and with the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Canada.”)

The whole statement is entertaining, but point fourteen is a special treat. In that section, to address “various allegations made by certain persons as to alleged promises by me to invent certain fantastical products,” Mardas enumerates every crazy gadget he is supposed to have pitched to the Fabs. I haven’t been able to read this list through once without laughing out loud. Can you?

I have never promised nor discussed, let alone try to invent any of the following:

14.1   an X-ray camera which could see through walls;

14.2   a force field which would surround a building with coloured air so that no one could see in.

14.3   a force field of compressed air which could stop anyone driving into one’s car;

14.4   a house which could hover in the air suspended on an invisible beam;

14.5   wall paper which could plug into a stereo system and operate as a “loudspeaker”;

14.6   an artificial sun which was intended to hover over Baker Street and light up the sky during the gala opening of the Beatles clothes shop, the “Apple Boutique” on 4th December 1967.

14.7   Magic paint which would make objects it was painted on invisible;

14.8   Electrical paint which could be plugged into a wall and would light up the room;

14.9   A flying saucer made from the V12 engines from George Harrison’s Ferrari and John Lennon’s Rolls Royce or

14.10   A force field around Ringo Starr’s drums that would isolate the drum sounds from the rest of the microphones in the studio. In this connection, I once had a discussion with John Lennon about this topic. I said that it was possible, theoretically, to create an ultrasonic barrier generated by ultrasonic transfusers. This would prevent sound travelling over a certain field. I never suggested that I would make such a barrier.

Just what is an ultrasonic transfuser, anyway? For fun, here’s point fifteen from Mardas’ statement:

15. Further, I deny any suggestion that I promised the Beatles in the presence of Liliane Lijn that I could levitate them using “electro magnetism” and also make them “disappear”. For a start, I never met this lady in the presence of any of the Beatles and the suggestion that I could “levitate” anyone is obviously absurd.

When Mardas refers to “certain persons” making these allegations, the Beatles themselves must be included among them. Some of these claims come from Paul, George and Ringo’s own mouths in the Beatles Anthology book. Paul: “He thought of using wallpaper which would act as loudspeakers.” Ringo: “Magic Alex invented electrical paint. You paint your living room, plug it in, and the walls light up!” George: “I was going to give him the V12 engine out of my Ferrari Berlinetta and John was going to give him his, and Alex reckoned that with those two engines he could make a flying saucer.” Faced with Mardas’ strenuous denials, one wonders where the Beatles got all these ideas, and why they attributed them to him.

In the outtake from Magical Mystery Tour below, a person who appears to be Magic Alex allegedly sings “Walls of Jericho.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Lou Reed: ‘The Beatles were garbage’ and the Doors were ‘stupid’
02.17.2015
11:33 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Lou Reed


 
This 1987 interview released by PBS two days ago as the latest installment of its marvelous Blank on Blank series, features Lou Reed in perhaps his best interview form—and the man was a notoriously difficult interview. He’s impatient, imperious, cranky, dismissive of others, and sure of his own self-worth, putting down the Beatles and Doors and, frankly, every other musician in the world.

For, you see, the Velvets were out to “elevate the rock & roll song and take it where it hadn’t been taken before.” (Sure, the Beatles didn’t have anything like that on their resume.) In a particularly damning bit, Reed shits on Jim Morrison’s legendary and influential outfit:

From my point of view … the other stuff couldn’t come up to our ankles, not up to my kneecap, not up to my ankles, the level we were on, compared to everybody else. I mean they were just painfully stupid and pretentious, and when they did try to get, in quotes, “arty,” it was worse than stupid rock & roll. What I mean by “stupid,” I mean, like, the Doors.

The Doors were a great band, but anyone who had a Doors-obsessed roommate in college will understand where Reed’s coming from here.

The capper is surely Reed’s audible contempt as he consigns the consensus world’s best rock and roll band to idiot fodder: “I never liked the Beatles. ... I thought they were garbage. If you say, ‘Who did you like?’ I liked nobody.”

I’m sure on other occasions Reed showed more respect for the creativity of others, but not on this day…....
 

 
With thanks to David Gerlach!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Little’ Joe Pesci sings Paul McCartney’s ‘ode to pot,’ 1968
02.04.2015
06:54 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Joe Pesci


 
Joe Pesci moved in rock circles in the New Jersey of the early 1960s. A friend of the Four Seasons, Pesci also played guitar in Joey Dee and the Starliters several years before Jimi Hendrix’s brief stint in that band. I’m not sure what happened during the intervening years, but in 1968, Pesci released his debut album on the Brunswick label: Little Joe Sure Can Sing! It’s not easy to come by—at the moment, there are a couple of copies on eBay selling for around $100.

Pesci says that he took the name “Little Joe” in imitation of the great jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott, whom Twin Peaks fans will recognize as the singer of “Sycamore Trees”:

Just as he was called Little Jimmy, they were calling me Little Joe. My first album, in fact, was titled Little Joe Sure Can Sing. All I wanted to do was sing like Little Jimmy Scott. I became his disciple. I’d follow him around after gigs, see if I could help him in any way. [...] We’d sing together nonstop for hours, sometimes all night. He’d teach me phrasing and harmony.

The album includes Pesci’s interpretations of three Lennon-McCartney songs, but the only one I’ve been able to find online is his rendition of McCartney’s love song to cannabis, “Got to Get You into My Life.” [“It’s actually an ode to pot,” said Macca, “like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret.” Who knew?] This was the track Rhino chose to include on the fourth volume of their Golden Throats series, Celebrities Butcher the Beatles, which I think explains its relative availability. I hope someday to hear Pesci sing “The Fool on the Hill,” “Fixing A Hole,” and the album’s three Bee Gees covers (“Holiday,” “To Love Somebody” and “And the Sun Will Shine”).

If you’re hearing this for the first time, you’ll notice that there are some salient differences between a George Martin production and an Artie Schroeck production. At some point in this file’s chain of custody, someone bookended the track with snippets of dialogue from Casino and GoodFellas that are probably NSFW.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘No Pakistanis’: The xenophobic roots of one of the Beatles’ most iconic songs
01.12.2015
10:10 am

Topics:
Music
Race

Tags:
The Beatles


 
Get Back” was a bluesy Beatles number so down ‘n’ dirty that it might almost have passed for a Stones song. So it might not be so surprising that in the sessions leading up to the recording of the song, the Beatles, specifically the future Sir Paul McCartney, used the song to spout some racist sentiments that may (or may not) have been intended as satire. The recording of “Get Back” was a protracted affair for the Beatles; as Kenneth Womack notes in The Beatles Encyclopedia, “Over the course of 17 days in January 1969, the Beatles rehearsed some 59 iterations of ‘Get Back.’” One of those iterations would infamously become known as the “No Pakistanis” version, well known to Beatles collectors and xenophobes alike. In the “No Pakistanis” version of “Get Back,” you can hear the familiar melody and chorus, but the verses express a darker vision of the white U.K. underclass. The verses include lines like ‘Don’t dig no Pakistanis, taking all the peoples jobs.”

With a good deal of nonsense words filling out the lines, you also get “Ronan Relimun, was a Puerto Rican, working in another world. / Want it thrown around, Say Puerto Rican, livin’ in the USA. / Pretty Ado Lamb, was a pakistani, living in another world, / Want it thrown around, don’t dig no pakistanis, taking all the people jobs.”

As Andrew Hickey writes in The Beatles in Mono,
 

Yet another blues-based rocker, this track had the most unfortunate genesis of any track on the album, starting out with lyrics including the line “don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs.”

McCartney claims—relatively convincingly—that this was intended as a satire on racist attitudes. But coming as it did straight after conservative politician Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, which ignited a wave of neo-Nazism in Britain that is still unfortunately there today, it would have been ill-judged at best to put it out. At least one neo-Nazi band has in fact performed a cover version of the song with these “no Pakistanis” lyrics, and had it been released that version would be the worst blot on the Beatles’ discography.

 
The best source on “No Pakistanis” is an April 2013 article that appeared in Salon by Alex Sayf Cummings under the title “‘No Pakistanis’: The Racial Satire the Beatles Don’t Want You to Hear.” Per Cummings, the song “tells us much about the limits of what musicians, even hugely popular and politically engaged ones, can say in popular music.” Cummings points out that “in a recording known as ‘Back to the Commonwealth’ or ‘The Commonwealth Song,’ the band blasts the politician by name”—this just a few days before the recording of “No Pakistanis,”

Here’s Womack again:
 

“Commonwealth” finds its roots in a January 9 session in which Lennon and McCartney improvised the song. “Commonwealth” was concocted in protest of the Conservative party’s reptriation movement to limit the sudden influx of thousands of Indian and Pakistani immigrants who had been denied the right to work in Kenya. … While “Commonwealth” never advanced beyond the Beatles’ January sessions, “Get Back” eventually began to take shape in its place, with McCartney originally satirizing Powell’s anti-immigration position, singing “Don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs.”

 
After his “Rivers of Blood” speech, Powell was dismissed from his position as Shadow Defence Secretary in the Shadow Cabinet of Edward Heath—xenophobes and white supremacists in Britain would take up his betrayal as a sort of code, muttering “Enoch was right” as a way of signaling a common understanding of white resentment, rather in the way that conservatives in the U.S. will throw around the terms “Benghazi,” “death panels” or “Kenyan Socialist” to signal fervent allegiance to anti-liberal causes.

Predictably, there’s a thread on (definitely NSFW or anywhere where your Internet usage might be tracked) a stromfront.org forum (“the voice of the new, embattled White minority!”) in which the Beatles are adopted as allies in the white suprmacist cause: “It seems even the Beatles knew that packistani immigrants were bad for the economy!” A white supremacist band called Battlecry has apparently covered the song but I couldn’t find it.

The notion that Paul McCartney harbored racist ideas or was himself a xenophobe seems rather unlikely. The recording sticks out of the Beatles’ catalog like a sore thumb, “rich fag Jew” or no “rich fag Jew.” The Powell speech was clearly rattling around McCartney’s head, he was adopting the persona of a somewhat more “badass” band than the Beatles usually were, and, probably most pertinently, he was somehow enchanted by the magical syllabification of “Pakistani,” which is an unusually interesting word to say out loud. To listen to “No Pakistanis” is to hear a master musician drunk on words, yes playing with personae to be sure but also just really into the sounds of the words, dig? In the line “don’t dig no Pakistanis, taking all the people jobs” you can also, perhaps, hear a multi-millionaire international celebrity doing a certain degree of slumming but then again, it hadn’t been all that long before this when Paul and the gang were stuck in working-class Liverpool wondering what the future might hold.

“No Pakistanis”:

 
“Back to the Commonwealth”:


 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
George Harrison’s White Album-era rarity, ‘Sour Milk Sea’
01.09.2015
07:35 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
George Harrison
Jackie Lomax


 
As every fan of the White Album knows, the Beatles wrote a whole mess of top-notch songs during their 1968 retreat with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh. George Harrison’s “Sour Milk Sea” was one of them. This rough but lovely version of the song comes from the much-bootlegged “Esher tapes,” a collection of demos for the White Album recorded at Harrison’s house after the band returned from India. It sounds like all the Fabs are playing on this run-through: 
 

 
“Sour Milk Sea” didn’t make it onto the White Album: Harrison gave the song to Jackie Lomax, the former lead singer of the Merseybeat band the Undertakers, who was one of Apple’s first signings. According to rock historian Richie Unterberger, this was the only time Harrison gave away one of his songs (i.e., without releasing his own version) during the Beatles’ career. On the Harrison-produced single—Lomax’s solo debut—released in the summer of ‘68, the band consists of George, Paul, and Ringo with Eric Clapton and pianist Nicky Hopkins (who played with both the Beatles and the Stones) sitting in. Not bad for a first single. And check out the pipes on Jackie! The boy could sing.
 

 
The song was included on Lomax’s Apple LP Is this what you want?, also produced by Harrison, whose I, Me, Mine devotes a couple pages to “Sour Milk Sea”:

Wrote Sour Milk Sea in Rishikesh, India. I never actually recorded the song—it was done by Jackie Lomax on his album Is This What You Want. Anyway, it’s based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art (‘what is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere’): it’s a picture, and the picture is called Sour Milk Sea—Kalladadi Samudra in Sanskrit—‘the origin and growth of Jambudvita, the central continent, surrounded by fish symbols, according to the geological theory of the evolution of organic life on earth. The appearance of fishes marks the second stage.’

Well, that’s the origin of the song title—but it’s really about meditation[...] I used Sour Milk Sea as this idea of—if you’re in the shit, don’t go around moaning about it: do something about it.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘The Beatles Never Existed’ is the greatest, weirdest Beatles conspiracy theory of all time
12.04.2014
08:42 am

Topics:
Kooks
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
conspiracy


 
You think you know the truth about The Beatles? I laugh at your ignorance! Perhaps you naively proclaim that “Paul is dead!” but you have no idea. Wake up, sheeple! Paul never even existed! The rest of ‘em, too! At least, this is the claim made by the batshit-crazy/amazing conspiracy website, The Beatles (as they were presented to us) Never Existed. This is truly the holy grail of music conspiracy sites; it appears it is an ongoing project—Alex Jones style—and the theory is premised entirely on the scrutiny of photographic “evidence.”

The premise?

This is a serious subject, not a joke, and this site is here to expose the actions of those who exploited these young men and defrauded us their fans. It is to defend the honor of everyone involved who did not take part in it willingly. It has become apparent to us in this extensive and painstaking research that there were never just four individual people known as “John”, “Paul”, “George”, and “Ringo” who comprised one Rock & Roll band known as “The Beatles”, and rose to fame as the world’s first supergroup. For all intents and purposes as far as we can tell, no one such group ever existed.

We are here to explore whether the original individuals themselves ever existed (and if so, what may have happened to them and by whom), but have not been able thus far to calculate how many of each persona were fraudulently presented to the world. Please join us at the forum if you care to and can be open-minded. This is a highly-emotional topic for many of us, and most of us have very strong feelings about it. We have started this work because we were once fans to varying degrees, and many of us still listen to and enjoy their music.

So yeah, The Beatles were a series of individuals imitating personas. It’s theorized that this is because four lone human beings couldn’t possibly produce the work of such a prolific band, much less meet all their social/media obligations. The blog concedes an uncanny resemblance between various Beatle bodies, but suggests that clones might have been used to keep up the charade (Clones! of course! Why didn’t I think of that?). Clones, the site argues, would only be “95-99%” identical to their source body, which accounts for the slight discrepancies in photographs.
 

 
So far, the three major factors in the site’s argument are height (they don’t seem to understand shoe heels,posture or the concepts of distance and perspective), eyebrows (maybe Paul plucked?!?), and ears, which the site maintains “fluctuated wildly with each Beatle, as to shape, size, placement on the head, and which type of earlobes they had (attached or unattached).”  We are talking about a looooong scroll of Glenn Beck-esque diagramming of Paul McCartney’s eyebrows, crowd-sourced from a community of people on message boards who suspect The Beatles are some kind of elaborate hoax.
 

 

On the list I compiled of what different people around the internet on Beatles forums have said were the features and attributes of the “real” JPM (it’s on 2 or 3 of our forum threads), one thing commonly agreed on was that he had a highly-swooped right eyebrow. They said this was for certain one way to identify him as the true Paul McCartney. I can understand that when someone sees that highly-swooped brow, it stays in their memory, so they would always expect to see it again and again when viewing videos or pictures of Paul. So I ask now, if he has a highly-swooped right eyebrow at any given time, age or era that cannot be proven to be doctored or tampered with, that means it’s really Paul McCartney, right? And if he has any other shape of eyebrows at any given time, age, or era, that means it isn’t Paul McCartney?

Intriguing! It’s advertised that the next feature to be examined is Beatle teeth—I cannot wait. I highly recommend immersing yourself in the Quixotic delusion—if you feel bad for laughing, you can donate to a mental health charity for penance… or maybe your eyes will be opened to a whole new reality! Either way, it’s a win-win, right?
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
After ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’: A gallery of Peter Blake’s pop art album covers

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The ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ tableau
 
British pop artist Peter Blake still receives copies of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the mail with a fan request to add his signature and send the iconic cover back by return of post. It’s because the cover to Sgt Pepper’s is Blake’s most famous artwork, one made in collaboration with his then wife Jann Haworth.

In 1967, the year of Sgt. Pepper’s, Blake was the leading light of the British pop art movement, exhibiting alongside his fellow talents Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier, R. B. Kitaj, Peter Phillips, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney (until he moved to Los Angeles). What made Blake’s work special then (as it is now) was his ability to create an iconic and identifiable style of representation (through collage, paint and installation) that fully captured that swinging decade. His mix of pop culture ephemera (pop stars, soccer players) together with the semi-autobiographical self-portraiture (of artist as lapel-badge wearing kid in grey short trousers) maintains a traditional narrative form within a highly individual and modernist style.

Blake has continued to produce iconic and memorable art over the decades, and long after Sgt. Pepper’s he is still in great demand as a designer of album covers. This selection ranges from his early work for Liverpool Poet Roger McGough, to his work for his former art school pupil Ian Dury (Blake was, by the singer’s admission, his most important mentor) to Oasis and Paul Weller. Blake has also worked with Eric Clapton on three separate projects though briefly thought he had lost the job on his first Clapton commission (24 Nights) when he ‘fessed up to “Slow Hand” that he couldn’t abide long guitar solos.
 
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Roger McGough: ‘Summer with Monika’ (1967).
 
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The Beatles: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ cover designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, 1967.
 
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Pentangle: Sweet Child’ (1968).
 
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The Who: ‘Faces Dances’ (1981). Designed by Peter Blake, with portrait paintings of The Who band members by Bill Jacklin, Tom Phillips, Colin Self, Richard Hamilton, Mike Andrews, llen Jones, David Hockney, Clive Barker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin, Patric Caulfield, Peter Blake himself, Joe Tilson, Patric Proctor and David Tindle.
 
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Band Aid: ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?’ (1984).
 
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Paul Weller: ‘Stanley Road’ (1995).
 
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Various: ‘Brand New Boots and Panties—Tribute to Ian Dury’ (2001).
 
In 1962, director John Schlesinger approached Peter Blake to make a documentary for the BBC about British Pop Art. From the outset, the pair did not get on—Schlesinger had ambitions to make a movie (he did, it was called Billy Liar). Schlesinger left the project and was replaced by the young Ken Russell, who was fast becoming the star director at the BBC’s Monitor arts documentary series. Russell and Blake hit it off immediately and the two developed the documentary into something bigger and better. Russell brought in artist Pauline Boty, who he had wanted to make film with, while Blake brought in artists Peter Philips and Derek Boshier. Under Russell’s directorial guidance the four artists collaborated on a dazzling and highly original film that captured elements of each artist’s personality. The title Pop Goes the Easel was apparently Blake’s suggestion, but the film’s style is all Russell.
 

 
More Blakean covers, after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Beatles play for 18 people in Aldershot, 1961
09.08.2014
01:27 pm

Topics:
Amusing
History
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Aldershot


 
Photos of the 18 damned lucky buggers who got to see The Beatles play at the Palais Ballroom, Aldershot, on December 9th, 1961. The Beatles’ then agent, Sam Leach, effed-up and didn’t advertise the show properly—hence the lousy turnout of less than two dozen people in attendance. Sam Leach was replaced by Brian Epstein as their manager after the Aldershot disaster.

However, according to Beatles’ Source, Sam Leach didn’t screw up, but, “The local newspaper, Aldershot News, neglected to feature Sam Leach’s advertisement for the show.” If this is to be believed, you really can’t blame Leach.

Truth be told, they all look like they’re having a good time regardless of the poor turnout.


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Marxist Minstrels: The Beatles want to sexually hypnotize you into Communism!
08.19.2014
12:15 pm

Topics:
Kooks

Tags:
The Beatles
communism
David A. Noebel

Communism, Hypnotism, and The Beatles
 
If you’re like me, you can’t resist a good piece of moral panic red-baiting propaganda, especially when it’s directed at a social phenomenon that seems so chaste by today’s standards. As luck might have it, I recently came across the 1974 opus, The Marxist Minstrels: A Handbook on Communist Subversion of Music, by the good Reverend David A. Noebel.

Evangelical tracts denouncing rock ‘n’ roll, especially as related to either homosexuality or “race mixing,” aren’t hard to find if you scour antique shops in middle America, but as something of a connoisseur of the genre, I have yet to find a piece of literature that so succinctly combines the collective fears of old, white, crazy Christian dudes. David Noebel, ordained in 1961, started his illustrious career with the above pamphlet, Communism, Hypnotism, and The Beatles. He saw the rise of Beatlemania as the result of Communist indoctrination via hypnosis (yup, just like the title), a thesis he developed more thoroughly in his 1964 book, Rhythm, Riots, and Revolution: An Analysis of the Communist Use of Music, the Communist Master Music Plan. The book transitioned from The Beatles to folk artists, focusing on Bob Dylan, his colleagues, and their earlier influences. This is at least slightly more understandable, when one considers the political leanings of the folk movement, frequently with explicit anti-racist, pro-labor lyrics.

The Marxist Minstrels: A Handbook on Communist Subversion of Music however, synthesizes all of his previous work, citing children’s records, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll as being part and parcel to some elaborate integrationist, free-love, Communist conspiracy. As a rock ‘n’ roll propaganda collector, I’m used to trudging through a lot of this stuff, and the majority of it is incoherent ramblings—the sort of thing you’d read in a madman’s personal manifesto. Noebel is compelling because he’s intelligent, coherent, and well-researched, despite being absolutely paranoid and utterly mad. Aside from some minor comma abuse, he has a clear, if discursive thesis: rock ‘n’ roll is turning kids into gay, Communist miscegenators.

Some of his “evidence” is fascinating. For example, Alan Freed’s “payola scandal”—who was paying him to play all those rock ‘n’ roll records to unsuspecting teenagers? Communist record companies invade the airwaves by bribery, infecting the youth with music that is ““un-Christian, mentally unsettling, revolutionary and a medium for promiscuity.” He cites psychological studies, sociological statistics, numerology, etc. to scientifically “prove” the moral degradation incited by popular music, causing everything from sky-rocketing “illegitimate” birth rates to sexual rioting. Lots of sexual rioting. The appendices are incredibly dense and well-cited.

What follows his strange assessment of rock ‘n’ roll is an (actually, semi-accurate) account of the American Left, including some background of the American Communist Party and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Then of course, Noebel posits that folk artists were inspiring the youth to instigate a race war. He believed acoustic musicians like Malvina Reynolds (her “Little Boxes” is the theme music to Weeds) and Pete Seeger were instructing white students to join with “radical groups of Negro racists” so that they might revolt and achieve racial dominance in America. The weirdest part of all this is that by 1974, integration was (at least, on paper) complete. The folk artists who were most explicitly leftist or Communist weren’t a particular focus of pop culture, The Beatles had already long been broken up, and he never quite explains how these two very distinct fanbases are somehow connected (except that they’re obviously both very Communist). One can only imagine the lovely psychosis that The MC5 would have brought him.

Noebel is still living today, and I recommend checking out his extensive collection of YouTube videos and blog, if you’re looking for a laugh. These days, he’s much more on the “Obama’s a Socialist” train and decrying “Warmism” (Noebel’s evocative name for climate change) than he is into denouncing rock ‘n’ roll. Hell, even Paul Ryan loves Rage Against the Machine. Still, his older words bring an odd comfort, when we read his treatise on rock ‘n’ roll, comparing it to a children’s record that supposedly contained subliminal messages only audible when the record is played in reverse; “the noise that many of our youth call music is analogous to the story tape played backwards. It is invigorating, vulgarizing, and orgiastic. It is destroying our youth’s ability to relax, reflect, study, pray, and meditate, and is in fact preparing them for riot, civil disobedience, and revolution.” Dear god, I hope so.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Electric Würms are ‘Fixing a Hole’: Exclusive premiere from upcoming Flaming Lips album


 
Electric Würms will be making an appearance on the upcoming Flaming Lips album With a Little Help from My Fwends, their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band tribute. In the guise of their Electric Würms alter egos, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd cover “Fixing a Hole” on the album, which comes out on October 28 on Warner Bros. Records. Other participants include MGMT, members of Wilco, Miley Cyrus, My Morning Jacket, Tegan and Sara, Dinosaur, Jr.‘s J Mascis and Maynard James Keenan of Tool.

Some of the proceeds from the album are being donated to the Oklahoma City-based Bella Foundation which helps low-income, elderly or terminally ill pet owners with the cost of their vet bills, because at some point we all might need a little help from our fwends.
 

Posted by Electric Würms | Leave a comment
You gotta have ‘Fwends’: Flaming Lips talk Fab Four
08.15.2014
11:15 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
Flaming Lips
Electric Würms


 
In which Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd discuss The Beatles’ profound inspiration on the way they work and With a Little Help from My Fwends, their upcoming song-for-song tribute album covering Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Heavy “fwends” who’ll collaborate with the Lips include Miley Cyrus, My Morning Jacket, Tegan and Sara, Dinosaur, Jr.‘s J Mascis and Tool singer Maynard James Keenan. As their Electric Würms alter egos, Coyne and Drozd themselves cover “Fixing a Hole” on the collection.

With a Little Help from My Fwends will be released on Oct. 28 with some of the proceeds from the album getting donated to the Oklahoma City-based Bella Foundation which helps low-income, elderly or terminally ill pet owners with the cost of their vet bills.
 

Posted by Electric Würms | Leave a comment
Blank slate: Hundreds of ‘White Albums’ take up residence in LIverpool art gallery
08.15.2014
06:59 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
White Album
Rutherford Chang


 
Dismissing claims by critics that the Beatles’ sole LP from 1968 would have worked better had the songs been curated into a tighter, single-disc release, Paul McCartney commented: “It was great. It sold. It’s the bloody Beatles’ White Album. Shut up!”

Amen to that. I’m a “late Beatles” guy, and, for me anyway, The White Album is utterly central to the Beatles’ allure. Artist Rutherford Chang appears to be a “late Beatles” guy too, and he’s making a decent bid to be regarded as the world’s number-one fan of The White Album and its decidedly minimalist cover by Richard Hamilton. He’s been buying up as many first pressings of the album as he can (the first pressing numbered more than three million). He now owns more than 1,000 first pressings of it, which he exhibits in spaces that are set up to resemble record shops: you can flip through the “inventory” just like at any record shop, and you are permitted to play any of the albums there on the provided record player. Unlike a record shop, however, the relation of consumer to establishment is reversed: You cannot buy anything there, but you can sell a first pressing of The White Album if you have one. The show is called “We Buy White Albums.”
 

 
Chang has exhibited the always-growing collection of albums for the last couple of years. “We Buy White Albums” has appeared in several locations in the United States as well as Shanghai, Denmark, and Ireland.
 

 
Last year, from January to March,  “We Buy White Albums” was exhibited at Recess, 41 Grand Street, New York. I was a resident of New York City during that time, but unfortunately I was out of town the entire period this show was on. I wish I’d been able to see it. Eilon Paz of Dust and Grooves interviewed Chang during that show, and it richly merits its status as the essential Rutherford Chang/White Album interview. Here are a few excerpts:
 

Q: Are you a vinyl collector?

A: Yes, I collect White Albums.

Q: Do you collect anything other than that?

A: I own some vinyl and occasionally buy other albums, but nothing in multiples like the White Album.

Q: Why just White Album? why not Abbey road? or Rubber Soul?

A: The White Album has the best cover. I have a few copies of Abbey Road and Rubber Soul, but I keep those in my “junk bin”.

Q: Why do you find it so great? It’s a white, blank cover. Are you a minimalist?

A: I’m most interested in the albums as objects and observing how they have aged. So for me, a Beatles album with an all white cover is perfect.

Q: Do you care about the album’s condition?

A: I collect numbered copies of the White Album in any condition. In fact I often find the “poorer” condition albums more interesting.

-snip-

Q: Are you collecting as an artist or as a music fan?

A: I’m collecting them as cultural artifacts.

Q: Do you listen to vinyl records on regular basis?

A: I listen to the White Album every day.

-snip-

Q: I’m trying to figure out if you’re a vinyl collector, or a music aficionado or an artist making an art piece with an object that happens to be a Beatles White album? Can you expand on that?

A: I’m making an art piece using White Albums as material. But the process also very much involves collecting vinyl and listening to music.

Q: Do you buy records other than the White Album for your art project?

A: I occasionally buy other records, but I don’t consider these part of my collection. I “collect” only White Albums.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of collecting first edition white albums? and why just first editions?

A: I got into collecting multiple White Albums because every copy tells a story. Each one has aged uniquely over the course of the last half-decade. The pressings from 1968 were numbered, implying that it is a limited edition, although one running in excess of 3 million.

 

 
Today, August 15, 2014, the show opens in England for the first time. Fittingly, the location is the birthplace of all four Beatles, Liverpool: “Presented by FACT and Liverpool International Music Festival, We Buy White Albums will take over FACT’s loading bay space on Wood Street from 15 August – 16 September.” On August 28, at 6pm, Chang will be on hand for a Q&A with FACT director Mike Stubbs.

The true subject of “We Buy White Albums,” it seems to me, is entropy, albeit entropy in the highly pressurized environment of the mass music marketplace. Issue more than three million albums with an almost completely white cover by the world’s favorite rock and roll band and see what happens. Things will happen to them, they will inevitably diverge from one another. The records will get scratched and warp, the covers will get water-damaged, the creamy, inviting white cover will become the home for doodles and graffiti. Chang revels in the strange forms the White Album can take, more than 45 years after its release. Anyone who’s spent any time plundering LP bargain bins can surely relate.

In that vein, Chang has also released a track in which 100 of his White Albums are played simultaneously (side 1 only, alas). The music starts off pretty much in sync; you can hear “Back in the USSR” just fine but the divergence soon sets in with a vengeance. As Allan Kozinn writes:
 

The albums, as it turns out, have also aged with some variety. Some played cleanly, others had scratches, noise from embedded dirt, or vinyl wear. And though the recordings are identical, variations in the pressings, and natural fluctuations in the speed of Mr. Chang’s analogue turntable, meant that the 100 recordings slowly moved out of sync, in the manner of an early Steve Reich piece: the opening of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” is entirely unified, but at the start of “Dear Prudence,” you hear the first line echoing several times, and by “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” the track is a nearly unrecognizeable roar.

 
For me, the high point—by far—is “Wild Honey Pie.” Enjoy.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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