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Entries in John Lennon (3)

Thursday
Jul162009

A tour of my studio

One for the musical nerds amongst you: a video tour of my little studio, where I'm recording my latest (ahem) opus. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/chrissingletonmusic#play/all/uploads-all/0/amvSKMQ5GBI. It features me commenting on bits of recording equipment, an old organ, guitars and photographs of John Lennon.

I'm hoping to make a few more of these little videos; future ones might actually involve some music...stay posted and I'll try to make the videos a bit more exciting in future...maybe some tap dancing or something is in order, to liven them up a bit.

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Thursday
Oct092008

The Beatles didn't break up

Post Beatles break-up, John Lennon said that those people clamouring for a Beatles reuninon could just put their own Beatles album together - one track from a Lennon solo album, another from one of Paul's, one from George's and so on...

In this age of iPods this is now an intriguing possibility, and putting together 1970s Beatles albums is surprisingly satisfying. To my ears, for example, the first 1970s Beatles album, possibly called 'Instant Karma', would have had the following tracks on it:

Side 1
1 Instant Karma
2 Every Night
3 Isolation
4 My Sweet Lord
5 Junk
6 Jealous Guy
7 Maybe I'm Amazed

Side 2
1 Too Many People
2 Love
3 Imagine
4 Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey
5 All Things Must Pass
6 The Back Seat of My Car
7 Oh My Love

And I think it would have made a good album too.

This little exercise got me thinking about why Lennon and McCartney's 70s solo albums ended up being inferior to their Beatles ones. Rock critics usually attribute this to the lack of the Lennon-McCartney dynamic and intra-band competition; I think this is partly true, but I also have a slightly different angle on it.

As a proper solo artist (i.e., not seven-writers-on-my-record James Blunt), you have to write 10-14 songs on your own. But whilst in the Beatles, John and Paul only had to contribute 5 or 6 tracks to each album (and let George get a couple in). Obviously it's much easier to write 5 good songs a year than 14, and you can devote more time to producing them. When the Beatles broke up, the demands of putting out one solo record a year (or sometimes two) meant that John and Paul had to fill whole albums with material - something that is much more difficult to do and which they weren't used to. Which invariably led to fillers like Lennon's Oh Yoko (which has the same melody as Three Blind Mice), or McCartney songs with titles like Single Pigeon (classic).

But when you take 5 or 6 of their better efforts from their solo albums and put them in the same pot, as I did above, you do end up with a record that shapes up pretty well, and had George Martin been at the wheel, might have sounded damn good. Don't think Single Pigeon would have ended up on a 70s Beatles album somehow though.

Feel free to post your own 1970s Beatles albums below.

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Wednesday
Jun062007

Desert Island Discs

As you know, I'm currently writing and recording a lot of new material at the moment, and as a consequence, I'm listening to a lot of music, looking for stuff to rip off - I mean influence me.

In the midst of all this I've been thinking about what my Desert Island albums would be - the ten albums I couldn't live without on a er, desert island. And since this is the naughties, I thought I'd post them up here for people to comment on (or ridicule me with). It's impossibly hard to come up with a list. Having made one, I already want to change it (and probably will...)

Anyway, in no particular order:

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
Well, this is on most of those greatest albums of all time lists...and I'm not going to dispute its greatness. It's got very dark themes but it's bloody funny at times - particularly when the guy singing 'Money' decides he needs a football team.

The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
At times it sounds like it was recorded in a shed but I love it. My favourite track is 'Sugar Spun Sister'. What a melody.

The Beatles - Abbey Road
This doesn't sound like it was recorded in a shed. It sounds like it was recorded in Abbey Road. I prefer side 2 to side 1, and it contains my favourite Beatles track, 'You Never Give Me Your Money' - a poignant description of the band breaking up.

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
Hard call whether tp put this on my top ten list or 'Hunky Dory' but I opted for this one because of the lyrics in 'Five Years'. They are hilarious, particularly the one that goes

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long / Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don't think you knew you were in this song

and the one about the cop kissing the feet of a priest and a gay guy getting sick at the sight of that.

The Stranglers - Rattus Norvegicus
This album is what I call 'chunky', with big fat drums and dirty guitars mixed with sublime organ playing. And it was recorded by the most musical punks ever. I don't think they were punks at all, I reckon they were just pretending because it was cool to be a punk back in 1977.

Paul McCartney - Band on the Run
The first of my 'uncool' choices, but it was a great return to form in terms of melodies and production for Paul McCartney, even if the lyrics about Sailor Sam leave a slightly yucky taste in the mouth. 'Mrs Vandebilt' is probably my favourite track, followed by '1985'.
Lou Reed - TransformerOkay, I'm cool again. Bit of Lou is always good for the cool stakes. Although this album is more camp than cool. I probably listen to this album more than most records...don't know why exactly, it just always seems to suit my mood. Which, given what I've written above, probably makes me out to be camp. Anyway, darlings, this is a great record and it's got Bowie and Ronson production all over it. Lovely.

John Lennon - Walls and Bridges
Despite being a massive Beatles fan, I only got a copy of this album last year. And it's great...sounds fantastic. A load of great session guys making John Lennon go funky. Favourite tracks are 'You Don't Know What You Got' and 'Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out'. Infinitely prefer this record it to 'Imagine'.

The Seahorses - Do it Yourself
This record was slated when it came out, which I guess makes it the second of my 'uncool' choices. I think everybody slagged it because they were pissed off that John Squire had left the Stone Roses. Admittedly, it does have some daft lyrics on it (about giant squids and Weetabix) but it's also got Squire's fantastic playing all over it, and it's produced by Tony Visconti (Bowie, Bolan et al). What's not to like?

Supergrass - Supergrass
In my estimation this is their best album - it's got some fantastic 70s sounds on it and it's slightly darker than some of their other stuff. Whilst I like Supergrass' sense of humour, sometimes they overdo it a bit and things get a bit silly. That's not to say the record lacks a bit of healthy silliness - that song about Jesus coming from outer space travelling in a second-hand car provides all that. But most importantly the album has some fantastic melodies on it. And big sideburns - you can hear them on most of the songs.