Things I Love on the Internet

* A new blog on the Oscars and Instant Runoff Voting — http://oscarvotes123.blogspot.com/. Here’s a post about the new voting system for Best Picture, written by the Chair of FairVote Board of Directors, Krist Novoselic.
* The last new Johnny Cash album, American VI: Ain’t No Grave is being released on February 23, during what would have been his birthday week. Am buying, sound unheard, if I don’t get for my birthday.
* Brian from Coverville turned me on to Deanne Iovan’s mission, inspired by Julie & Julia, as well as the 09/09/09 Beatles’ releases, of covering The Beatles’ White Album, track by track, putting out a new song every nine days. She just put out Julia, which is at the end of side two. (Side 2? Hey, I grew up with the vinyl version of this album.)
* 500 cartoons on life in biology research.
* The Business Librarians listserv helped me answer a question this week. Apparently the doohickey on the tops to plastic containers, where the grated cheese comes out, one side being a shaker while the other side you can use a teaspoon to dish it out, is called a spice lid or a dispensing closure.
* Valentine’s Day/Census tie-in campaign with a selection of electronic postcards in Spanish and English.
* New CPR on YouTube: Continuous Chest Compression CPR – Mayo Clinic Presentation, sent to me by a nurse friend of mine, who thinks it’s terrific.
* A recent study outlines the health benefits of having more sex. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen has the details.
* My medical reimbursement company, only this week, has FINALLY decided to accept e-mailed PDFs, GIFs, etc. as well as mailing and faxes. This is particularly helpful since our fax at work does not seem to work. (When someone announced “Fax is dead!””, they weren’t kidding.)
* Found several places: The Muppets: Beaker’s Ballad – the Internet is SO mean.
* Thom Wade points to Hey! It’s That Guy!? It’s a page “dedicated to the character actors collectively known as ‘That Guy’.” Simon Oakland was one of the first ones I knerw by name as a kid.
* Betty White for host of SNL. My only problem is the notion that it’s a resurgence; she never really left.
* Arthur@AmeriNZ found a video response to the Google Super Bowl ad done from a gay man’s POV.
* An old friend accidentally pushed some button that sent an email to EVERY address in her e-address book, which allowed us to reconnect. I’ve had a child and she’s had two since we last communicated.
*Local school catches Olympic fever. “Events have included ring toss, rock climbing, hockey, boggle, hang man, reading comprehension, and math facts.” I’ll pick math facts.
* The 9th Annual Underground Railroad History Conference, Friday, February 26 at 8:30am through Sunday, February 28 at 2:00pm at Russell Sage College, Troy, NY, where I’ll be one of many presenting on that Saturday. Register now!

ROG

B is for Beatles Butchers


If you grew up in Great Britain or many other countries in the 1960s, your collection of Beatles albums looked one way, but if you were coming of age in the United States during that period, your Fab Four LPs looked very different. And, regardless of country, if you are younger, with your first exposure to Beatles albums the 1987-era CDs or later, which followed the British system, those albums made for the American market might mystify.

Here are some cogent facts:
1. The Beatles first (British) album, Please Please Me, on Parlaphone Records, was rejected by its US affiliate, Capitol Records, in the summer of 1963. It was then released, missing two songs, in the US as Introducing the Beatles, on Vee-Jay Records; it was a dud.
2. When the Beatles finally DID make it big in the US, early in 1964, Capitol put out the album Meet the Beatles, featuring nine songs from the Beatles’ SECOND British album, With the Beatles. (The covers are similar, with the lads partially in shadow.)
3. American albums were almost always a) shorter – 11 or 12 songs, rather than usually 14, and b) almost always had to have a single – in the case of Meet the Beatles, I Want to Hold Your Hand plus a couple B-sides – because the American packagers figured the kids wouldn’t buy the albums without the hit song. Conversely, in Britain, the single and the album were largely separate entities.
4. As a result, there were more US albums than British ones. The Beatles Second Album on Capitol consisted of the remaining five songs from With the Beatles, plus various singles – notably, She Loves You, plus B-sides and EP cuts. This is why, when you heard live recordings of the Beatles in the United States, they would inevitably refer to a song as from “our last album” or the “album before last.” They knew the package they had put together was going to inevitably be rearranged in the States.
5. Even albums with the same NAME didn’t always match up. Help! in the UK had 14 songs, seven from the movie (on Side 1, for those of us old enough to remember vinyl) and seven others (on Side 2). Help! in the US included only the seven songs from the movie, interspersed with instrumentals from the movie soundtrack. Some of those other songs landed on an earlier US album called Beatles VI.
Rubber Soul, US and UK, had 10 songs in common. The US version included two songs from Help!
Which brings me to an album that did not exist at all in the UK, Yesterday and Today (or “Yesterday” …and Today, as it was often rendered. It is the very first album I ever bought in a store; previous albums I got from the Capitol Record Club, by mail. It cost $2.99 at the Rexall drug store/pharmacy.

Here is the song list (with YouTube links that I know all of you unfortunately cannot access); all songs by Lennon-McCartney, except as noted:

Side one
Drive My Car (from Rubber Soul) – 2:30
I’m Only Sleeping – (from Revolver) – 3:01
Nowhere Man (from Rubber Soul; also released as a US single) – 2:45
Doctor Robert (from Revolver) – 2:15
Yesterday (from Help!; also released as a US single) – 2:08
Act Naturally(Morrison-Russell) (from Help!; also released as B-side to “Yesterday”) – 2:33

Side two
And Your Bird Can Sing (from Revolver) – 2:01
If I Needed Someone (George Harrison) (from Rubber Soul) – 2:24
We Can Work It Out (released as a single) – 2:15
What Goes On (Lennon-McCartney-Richard Starkey) (from Rubber Soul; also released in the US as B-side to “Nowhere Man) – 2:51
Day Tripper (released as flip side of “We Can Work It Out” single) – 2:50

That’s right. The Capitol compilers cynically took three songs from the NOT-YET-RELEASED Revolver album to fill out this package. Worse, they took three Lennon songs of the 14, leaving John only two lead vocals on the 11-song US Revolver album. I had wondered about that at the time.


Which is why, when Yesterday and Today was released with the cover that looked like what was pictured on the left, it was thought that the Beatles were rebelling against the folks at Capitol for butchering their albums. This was NOT the case. As the Wikipedia narrative suggests the Beatles were merely tired of doing another set of conventional pictures and agreed to photographer Robert Whitaker’s ideas for more avant garde imagery.

The covers were printed, and at least a few were sold before Capitol pulled the album. They made replacement pictures that went over the controversial image, but they weren’t flush with the cover underneath. Thus the “butcher cover” has become very valuable. The album lost money for Capitol because of all the extra work and expense.

I recall reading in some pop music magazine of the time that John Sebastian, then from the American rock group The Lovin’ Spoonful, said that his favorite song on Rubber Soul was Drive My Car. Well, I snooted, EVERYBODY knows that Drive My Car was on Yesterday and Today. Yes, I was right, but so was John Sebastian, who must have had access to the UK version.

I liked Y&T well enough, though TWO Ringo leads (Act Naturally AND What Goes On) was one too many. But in retrospect, I wish Capitol Records had put other songs on there instead of the songs from Revolver, such as I’m Down (B-side of the Help! single), and/or the single Paperback Writer/Rain, or even earlier songs that had never shown up on a Capitol album prior to the band’s breakup, such as There’s A Place, Misery, From Me To You, or A Hard Day’s Night.

It should be pointed out that the Beatles were not the only British artists to receive this treatment from their American label. Donovan also had his catalog altered, as did the Rolling Stones. Check out the playlist for the different versions of the Stones’ Aftermath album, for instance.

Interestingly, after Revolver, Capitol started putting out the UK albums (Sgt. Pepper, the white album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be) as the Beatles had originally imagined them. Perhaps they were finally realized the albums weren’t just commodities.

There were two box sets called The Capitol Albums. The 2004 release contained the first four albums, and the 2006 edition the next four. Y&T was the ninth Capitol album. I never knew why they didn’t release the first FIVE albums, then the second FIVE.

ROG

Lennon


Sometimes I think about acknowledging the day John Lennon died, but something always draws me in.

This year, it’s the fact that he is on the top 10 list of dead celebrities. According to Forbes:

No. 7: John Lennon
$15 million

Musician
Died: Dec. 8, 1980
Age: 40
Cause: Murder

It was a big year for the Beatles, especially for the songwriter behind many of the band’s most famous songs. In September, Electronic Arts and MTV Games released The Beatles: Rock Band, allowing fans to jam along with a virtual version of the band and download additional albums for $17. As well, the Fab Four’s music was repackaged and remastered in a 16-disc box set that went on sale in September. LOVE, the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show featuring the group’s music, still reels fans into The Mirage

Add to that John’s widow Yoko Ono licensing his song “Real Love” to be used by JC Penney in television ads, and her giving Ben & Jerry’s ice cream permission to release a Lennon-inspired flavor called “Imagine Whirled Peace.”

Oh, since I know you need to know, the top-earning dead celebrity is French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who “earned $350 million in the past year. Much of his estate was auctioned off at Christie’s in February. Laurent died of brain cancer in June 2008.” So his #1 status probably won’t be maintained.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein rank second with combined earnings of $235 million. Why are they considered as one unit, I don’t know. Both of them composed with others. Anyway, I imagine the revival of South Pacific did not hurt.

Michael Jackson is third with $90 million; I have to assume it’s a reflection of moneys in, since, before his death in June, there were numerous reports about his mounting debt.

Elvis Presley, the perennial leader in this category, is fourth with $55 million, though he made more than in previous years. He’s followed by J.R.R. Tolkien ($50 million), Charles Schulz ($35 million), John Lennon ($15 million), Theodor Geisel -Dr. Seuss ($15 million), Albert Einstein ($10 million) and Michael Crichton ($9 million).

The interesting thing about the Beatles 09/09/09 revival is that it has gotten me newly interested in the Beatles, again. Not that they ever fell very far from my heart. But watching all the specials reinvigorated my ears. Seeing the Paul McCartney ABC special on that aired Thanksgiving night reminded me of Lennon playing the organ with his elbow on I’m Down at Shea Stadium in 1965.

I haven’t actually GOTTEN any new music – the Beatles in Mono box set is on the Christmas list – but just reading about the differences in the recordings, especially the white album has gotten me excited.

Did I ever mention that, years ago, I received a picture of the Imagine square at Strawberry Fields in NYC? It sits over the entryway from the living room to the hallway.

Ah, the picture above is from LIFE again. It’s from 1980, but I didn’t need the caption to know that.

ROG

Meme of Solace

I’m sure the title refers to a James Bond film; I’m swiping this from SamauraiFrog.

List 10 musical artists (or bands) you like, in no specific order (do this before reading the questions below). Really, don’t read the questions below until you pick your ten artists!!!

There is something to be said for following the instructions in this case.

1. The Beatles
2. The Beach Boys
3. David Bowie
4. The Rascals
5. The Rolling Stones
6. Linda Ronstadt
7. The Supremes
8. The Temptations
9. Talking Heads
10. The Police

What was the first song you ever heard by 6?

Something early, probably “Different Drum”.

What is your favorite song of 8?

“I Can’t Get Next To You”. From the rowdy opening to the Sly Stone-inspired shared vocals.

What kind of impact has 1 left on your life?

Massive. I have a ton of their albums, both as a group and as solo artists. I know arcane things about their album releases. People say to me, “What album is X song on?” and far more often than not, I’ll say “American or British album?” And then peg both of them. There’s a picture of Lennon in my office and a photo of the Imagine imagine from NYC in my house.

What is your favorite lyric of 5?

Probably the chorus of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. “But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” From Let It Bleed, probably my favorite Stones album. The organ noodling of this song during the early funeral sequence of The Big Chill cracked me up, while others in the audience wondered why.

How many times have you seen 4 live?

Never, though I’ve seen them live on TV once or twice.

What is your favorite song by 7?

“Love Is Like An Itchin’ In My Heart”. What an insistent bass line. there’s a version that’s about 30 seconds longer than the single I particularly enjoy.

Is there any song by 3 that makes you sad?

Ashes to Ashes
Time and again I tell myself
I’ll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
Oh no, not again

What is your favorite song by 9?

“Making Flippy Floppy”, probably because I saw the Talking Heads during the Speaking in Tongues tour in 1983 or 1984 at SPAC in Saratoga.

When did you first get into 2?

It’s really odd, actually. I had a compilation album with I Get Around and Don’t Worry Baby in 1965, and the Pet Sounds album in 1966, both of which I liked. But I never considered myself a real Beach Boys fan until I got Surf’s Up, which was a mainstay of my freshman year in college, 1971-72. THEN I went back and got into the earlier music, and bought the retrospective albums that came out in the mid-1970s.

How did you get into 3?

I was in my dorm room in my freshman year and somehow won Hunky Dory from my college radio station, WNPC on a radio call-in contest. I liked almost all of it; my roommate Ron only liked Changes.

What is your favorite song by 4?

“It’s Love”, the last song on the Groovin’ album, featuring flute by Hubert Laws, plus a great bass line. When I got a new turntable in 1987, the track ran so close to the label that the album would reject before the song would end; drove me nuts. Actually bought the CD five years ago largely for this one song.

How many times have you seen 9 live?

Once, but it was one of the two greatest shows of my life, along with the Temptations in 1980 or 1981.

What is a good memory concerning 2?

A mixed memory actually. I had this friend named Donna George, and I bought her the Beach Boys box set. Before she died of brain cancer a few years ago, she assigned another friend of hers and me to divvy up her music. I took the Beach Boys box, and I always remember her when I play it.

Is there a song by 8 that makes you sad?

The Temptations with a Lot o’ Soul is full of melancholy songs, but I’ll pick No More Water in the Well.

What is your favorite song of 1?

A truly impossible question. Seriously. It’s dependent on mood, what I’ve listened to recently. I’ll say Got to Get You Into My Life, but reserve the right to change that.

How did you become a fan of 10?

Almost certainly listening to WQBK-FM, Q-104 in Albany, NY, a truly great station that also turned me onto the Talking Heads, the Clash and a lot of other music of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
ROG

Twist and Shout

STILL stuck in my mind: that great dance sequence from the movie 500 Days of Summer which makes more sense in context.
The song namechecks the song “Twist and Shout”.


Then there’s this new show on Nickelodeon the daughter is watching called The Fresh Beat Band. They were originally called the Jumparounds, plugged so often in the commercials as such that my daughter still refers them that way. (Also, she knows I think that their initial name was goofy, but the new moniker is boring – generic is what I actually said, but boring is a reasonable translation.) Think the Monkees aimed at four-year-olds. The Hispanic guitarist goes by Kiki and the red-haired percussionist is Marina. But it’s the guys’ names that I should note. The preternaturally tall guy is the beat boxer Twist, while the black keyboardist is named Shout. Twist and Shout? I expect that if this program catches on, the players will be replaced as though they were in Menudo. (None of them go by their real names.)

Which of course brings us to one of the great cover songs of all time, by the Beatles. Just saw this clip again on the Beatles Anthology, which I have on VHS. Don’t know why this song doesn’t get more respect in those “best covers” polls.
***
Speaking of covers, I’ve really gotten into the new television show Glee, but I must admit there are some 21st century songs I couldn’t tell you the original artist without looking it up. One piece I did recognize instantly, was Queen’s Somebody to Love. Probably my favorite cover thus far on the show.

But I still prefer the original. I own only Queen album, a greatest hits collection, and that on vinyl. (And unlike my CDs, my LPs are in great disarray.) Any Queen album recommendations?

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact,
try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”

— Johan Bruyneel
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VOTE

ROG