Cultural Sonar had this article Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already. The premise that Dave Dexter Jr “understood the American record market.

“He knew that the UK Beatles albums, with their subtle, artsy cover photos and astute liner notes would not grab the attention of American teenagers. He replaced them with splashy photo collages and BIG, BOLD TYPE, USUALLY IN ALL CAPS… He also tweaked the music itself… to make The Beatles positively jump out of American transistor radios, car stereos, and phonographs.”

The biggest contention about the US albums is this: “Dex took even greater liberties with the track listings. In Britain, Beatles albums contained 14 songs each [except A Hard Day’s Night, which had 13], and never included singles… But in America, anything above 11 songs on an LP meant higher royalty payments to the artist, and singles were used to drive album sales. So while EMI in Britain released seven Beatles albums and thirteen singles between 1962 and 1966, it only took Dex half as long (from 1964 to ‘66) to carve all that material into ten Beatles LPs for Capitol!”

Meh. I will concede that Meet the Beatles, Capitol Records’ initial foray into Beatlemania – totally acting as though the VeeJay album Introducing the Beatles album did not exist – was/is a fine album.

I’ll allow for the value of the American version of Rubber Soul, which, to this day, my friend Fred Hembeck prefers. This quote got my attention, especially since both Brian Wilson (June 20) and Paul McCartney (June 18) are celebrating their 75th birthdays this month. “When… Wilson says that Rubber Soul inspired him to make Pet Sounds, he’s referring to the folkier, acoustic-heavy American version that Dex assembled.”

I’ll even make the case for the Help soundtrack, with the seven songs from Side 1 of the UK Help album plus five instrumentals.

But these three albums have something in common: they have 12 songs, rather than the 11 that the other albums before Sgt. Pepper contain. So Side 2 of the other albums seemed inadequate to me much of the time, just a bit too short.


Moreover, for reasons too complicated to go into here, the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack on United Artist and the misleading title Something New, the third Capitol album, have several tracks in common, which bugged me. Yet certain songs were never on a Capitol album in the 1960s.

Notably, From Me To You was an early, pivotal UK single that could have been on The Beatles Second Album or The Early Beatles (Capitol’s variation on Introducing…); Misery and There’s A Place; and I’m Down, the B-side of the Help single that should have been on Yesterday and Today, between Act Naturally and Day Tripper, which are in the same key.

Other songs never on a Capitol/Apple album before the group broke up: the Love Me Do single version; A Hard Day’s Night; Sie Liebt Dich, a German-language version of She Loves You; The Inner Light, the B-side of Lady Madonna; and the single version of Get Back.

So I’ll still listen to those American releases, but mostly, I have been won over by the original UK versions.

americanflagclothingAfter the election last year, my friend Steve noted: “I’ve only got one thing to say about the American flag:
We’ve been ‘burning’ it as a culture for decades via commercialized use of the image on everything —and I mean everything.” I totally agree, and have mentioned it on these pages before.

He pointed to section 176 of the U.S. Flag Code:

§176. Respect for flag

…(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. Read the rest of this entry »

Among the wealth of artists that performed on the Motown labels in 1960s, I probably know about Junior Walker the least. He was born Autry DeWalt-Mixom, Jr. in Blythesville, Arkansas on 14 June 1931. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

He started his band, the Jumping Jacks, and his good friend, drummer Billy Nicks, had a group, the Rhythm Rockers, but the two would play on each other’s gigs. Since Nicks had a local TV show in South Bend, he asked Walker to join his band.

When Nicks got drafted, Walker convinced the group to move to Battle Creek, Michigan. After some personnel and name changes, the All Stars were signed by Harvey Fuqua to his Harvey records. “Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars [the usual spelling] became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.”

The group’s first big hit was “Shotgun” in 1965, which “uses only one chord throughout the entire song — A-flat seventh. Other songs featuring this same structure (or non-structure) are Chain of Fools and Land of 1000 Dances.” The song is in the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. The All Stars were in a particular groove. The song appeared in several movies, including Malcolm X.

I have this Motown LP box set that explains that there was a songwriter – it doesn’t identify who, but it was either Johnny Bristol, who discovered the group; Fuqua, who took Bristol’s suggestion; or a guy named Vernon Bullock. The songwriter pitched the song to Junior, but he said it wasn’t his thing.

The next year, the songwriter said he still had that song, and Walker reluctantly agreed to record “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969. “A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single.”

Junior Walker died of cancer on 23 November 1995 at the age of 64 in Battle Creek.

Listen to:

Shotgun, #4 pop, #1 rhythm & blues for four weeks in 1965 here or here

(I’m A) Road Runner, #20 pop, #4 r&b in 1966 here or here

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), #18 pop, #3 r&b in 1966 here or here

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), #4 pop, #1 r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

These Eyes, #16 pop, # r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

Urgent (Foreigner, with Jr. Walker on sax solo), #3 pop in 1981, here or here

Urgent, 1983, appears in 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, here or here

Round 20 of ABC Wednesday.

I guess I’m not zeitgeisty enough – no, I don’t think it’s a word – because the anticipation over former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 made me oddly uncomfortable.

As an old poli sci major who sat in front the TV set for HOURS taking in all the nuance of the various committees investigating Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal back in the 1970s, I suppose I should be happy that the American public is interested in a civics lesson.

But it was more like theater, specifically a movie theater, where comedian/late night host Stephen Colbert is seen eating from a bag of popcorn. As the Boston Globe put it, “Comey’s testimony puts Washington in party mode.” As some conservative website noted, “The hearing was treated like a major sporting event by D.C. locals, who lined up to gain entrance to local establishments for standing-room only viewing parties.”

And it wasn’t limited to the District of Columbia. “Festivities” seemed to be particularly popular on the West Coast, with folks at bars in time for the 7 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time event.

At the end of the day, almost no one was convinced of anything they hadn’t been thinking before except that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) seemed befuddled. Those who dislike the regime think that impeachment is just around the corner. Those on the other side believe they’re, in the words of Lou Dobbs, “No crime, No evidence.” Comey was just a “disgruntled employee.” I saw that specific description a lot.

At the end of the day, it’s what Bob Woodward, Washington Post editor, and one of the reporters who helped bring down Nixon said on CBS News This Morning: “We know 5, maybe 10 percent of what we will know” when the various investigations are over.

No, there was no smoking gun, yet. Nor was the regime “vindicated”; saw THAT word a lot, especially on the Twitter feed #MAGA, where I actually read:
“He is bringing back respect and class to this country
#proudAmerican #TRUMPPENCE2020 #MAGA #BUILDTHEWALL #YESTRAVELBAN #DTS#JOBSJOBSJOBS #OBAMASFORPRISON2017 #CLINTONSFORPRISON2017 #STOPTHELEAKS#STOPFAKENEWS #CNNVERYFAKENEWS #MSNBCFAKENEWS #CBSFAKENEWS #ABCFAKENEWS#NYTIMESFAKENEWS #WASHINGTONPOSTFAKENEWS #LATIMESFAKENEWS #USATODAYFAKENEWS#GOOGLEFAKENEWS #YAHOOFAKENEWS”

Regardless of the results of the investigations, his secret isn’t that he lies. It’s that he crowds out the truth. “The question isn’t whether you’re winning the argument — it’s whether you’re dominating and driving the coverage of the argument.”

I will acknowledge that clearing the room of other people, then being asked by a person in a superior position if you would consider taking a particular action reeks to high heaven, to my mind.

Watergate took a LONG time to unravel, over two years from the break-in to the resignation. This Russia influence/election rigging thing is going to take awhile too. It won’t be solved with a few hours of testimony, but people want more rapid gratification when it simply not how these things work. Or, as some folks interviewed on NBC News this week acknowledged, “It’s too complicated.”

I think, like those in the slow cooking movement, we ought to take our time and let the facts simmer, with the evidence determining the results of the investigation. Because no one still supporting the regime will convince those who don’t of a damn thing, and pretty much vice versa.

A friend of mine asked me if I remembered the name of some guy I knew and who she went out with briefly many years ago. I remembered his first name, but, alas, not his last.

So I went into this briefcase have in the attic that has a bunch of diaries I kept. They are incredibly, and sometimes boringly complete, starting in the early 1970s and ending in the mid-1980s. But the period of this brief romance is not covered, in large part because a whole bunch of these notebooks were destroyed in a flood in the storage area of my apartment building in the mid-1990s.

Having opened them up, I’m trying to ascertain what to do with them. On the one hand, there is a treasure trove of dates when I saw various concerts, movies, plays, and what I thought of them at the time. I saw Judy Collins in 1982 in Glens Falls. How did I get there and who did I go with?

Or the 1987 Comic Con in San Diego, where I wrote about various panels I attended and who I hung out with.

On the other hand, a lot of it, I expect, is boring as heck.

On the third hand, maybe it’ll be surprising and insightful.

On the fourth hand, I was 19 in the early books. How insightful could I possibly have been?

On the fifth hand, it might remind me of people, people I once cared about, lost in memory and time.

On the sixth hand, it might remind me of people, people I once cared about, lost in memory and time for a reason.

I could come up with more hands, but you get the idea.

Some of it, I imagine, would be fodder for that roman a clef I once threatened to write. Or for this blog. Figuring out the cost/benefit analysis is difficult.

I’ll probably wade into one of these when totally bereft of content here and see what, if any, I’d wish to share, then probably burn it.

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