When I saw this little video of Sir George Martin giving martini-making lessons (an excerpt from his 2011 BBC profile documentary, Produced by George Martin), a few things struck me—besides, of course, his obvious foxyness, even at the age of eighty-goddamn-five.
1) A martini is made with gin. There is the (laughable and pale) variation, the “vodka martini,” but anyone ordering simply “a martini,” with no qualifiers, should expect gin. Complaints to the contrary will result in a face full of vermouth.
2) The bolder choice in mixing technique and the not-so-cliché garnish—always keep ‘em guessing, George!
3) Always—and this is pertinent—end with a dirty joke, as George does here. Stay charming! Prurient poetry, wit and wordplay can be the only difference between an insufferable drunk and an enchanting lush!
I hereby declare we rename this particular cocktail (with the lemon rind) the “George Martini”—who’s with me?
The Beatles recorded 25 takes of “Hey Jude” at Abbey Road Studios in two nights, 29 and 30 July 1968. These were mostly rehearsals, however, as they planned to record the master track at Trident Studios to utilize their eight-track recording machine (Abbey Road was still limited to four-tracks). One take from 29 July is available on the Anthology 3 CD. The master rhythm track was recorded on 31 July at Trident. Four takes were recorded; take one was selected. The song was completed on 1 August with additional overdubs including a 36-piece orchestra for the song’s long coda, scored by George Martin. The orchestra consisted of ten violins, three violas, three cellos, two flutes, one contra bassoon, one bassoon, two clarinets, one contra bass clarinet, four trumpets, four trombones, two horns, percussion, and two string basses. While adding backing vocals, the Beatles asked the orchestra members if they would clap their hands and sing along to the refrain in the song’s coda. Most complied (for a double fee), but one declined, reportedly saying, “I’m not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney’s bloody song!”
Ringo Starr almost missed his drum cue. He left for a toilet break—unnoticed by the other Beatles—and the band started recording. In 1994, McCartney said, “Ringo walked out to go to the toilet and I hadn’t noticed. The toilet was only a few yards from his drum booth, but he’d gone past my back and I still thought he was in his drum booth. I started what was the actual take, and ‘Hey Jude’ goes on for hours before the drums come in and while I was doing it I suddenly felt Ringo tiptoeing past my back rather quickly, trying to get to his drums. And just as he got to his drums, boom boom boom, his timing was absolutely impeccable.”
I like the bit about two minutes in when George Harrison is rambling on and on about something and he finally asks George Martin “You know what I mean?” but it’s obvious that even though Martin nods his head in the affirmative, that he was no idea what Harrison meant.
Imagine if there was this sort of documentation of all of their recording sessions, eh?
The famous “Hey Jude” live promo film directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg as it aired on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
I was about to write that “Theme One” is a “seldom heard” classic by Beatles producer George Martin, but seeing how for years, every single morning when Radio 1 began its broadcasting day this was the ceremonial first song, that really wouldn’t be the case for our UK readers. In fact, people of a certain age in England heard this all the time as Wonderful Radio 1’s signature fanfare.
What a brilliant and glorious way to start the day hearing this song must’ve been at the time. It’s like waking up with the warn sun on your face, even in rainy Britain. Really an inspiring and amazing track. “Theme One” also closed Radio 1 and 2 at the end of the broadcast day at 2 am. This is one of my favorite pieces of music ever. I wish it had been developed into a full symphony. (I love the George Martin side of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. It’s incredible!)
“Theme One” was phased out during the mid 1970’s. The composition was later used for the Sounds of the Seventies radio show, but this version was done by the Van Der Graaf Generator! Renowned heavy metal drummer Cozy Powell recorded a disco metal version as well. I can’t help wondering if PiL’s calming “Radio 4,” which closed Metal Box, was a sort of oblique Cubist homage to “Theme One.” (Lydon was a huge Van Der Graaf Generator fan, don’t forget).
Van Der Graaf Generator performing their progrock version of “Theme One” live in concert.
Another couple of rarities from Beatles producer George Martin. He collaborated with Maddalena Fagandini on these two songs, Time Beat and Waltz in Orbit, the A & B sides of a single released on the Parlophone label. They were released under the pseudonym “Ray Cathode.” Fagandini, who was a part of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, worked alongside Delia Derbyshire on Doctor Who sound effects. This would have been recorded mere weeks before Martin met the Beatles in 1962. (Audio for Time Beat is here)
The Beatles remasters have finally hit the street and all across the world, music fans are gorging themselves on the most fabled and revered repertoire in pop music history. This may well prove to be the last hurrah of the CD age and certainly the marketing gurus at Capital have been working overtime to make sure we’ve all very aware of the Beatles as we approach this holiday season. It’s highly likely that the Fab Four will prove to be the best selling artists of this decade, an incredible feat for a group that disbanded nearly 40 years ago. So the question—the only question, for the Beatles are hardly an unknown quantity—is simply are these new versions worth it? Are they that much different? Should people who’ve already bought these albums umpteen times buy them again? I’ll try to answer that question here for those of you who still might be on the fence.
As loyal Dangerous Minds readers have probably already figured out, I am both a “rock snob” and a bit of an audiophile. So it should come as no surprise when I tell you that the 09/09/09 street date of the remastered Beatles albums—in both stereo and mono—has me counting the hours until I can get my hands on them.
What you might not know if you are of a certain age (or have forgotten if you are of another!) is that the Beatles albums sounded WAY better in mono than in stereo. Both the group and George Martin preferred mono and the stereo mixes back then were often afterthoughts with severely panned stereo mixes that had most of the instruments on one side and the vocals on the other! The stereo mixes always seemed very peculiar to me.
The 1987 CDs were the pits. Just awful, flat aural experiences. And nothing’s been done to rectify that situation until now. It always been ridiculous that the Beatles and the Stones had the worst sounding CDs. A lot of people don’t rate the Stones ABKCO reissues highly, but I thought they were (mostly) done pretty well and it was nice to be able to hear that material with fresh ears. Most of us who grew up with the Beatles, Stones and Led Zeppelin probably probably don’t listen to them all that much now, because it’s so easy to conjure their music up in our “mind’s ear,” but the Love mash-up album from the Circe du Soleil show helped me get back into the Beatles again and I’m really looking forward to hearing the remasters. If I can manage to score some promo copies of these sets, I’ll offer up reviews of stereo vs. mono daily on the site.
Meanwhile, here’s a song that sadly didn’t make it to any Beatles CD ever, their uniquely comic turn—it’s very Goon Show, isn’t it?—on Rossini’s Barber of Seville Overture taken from the credits of Help!: