Tag Archives: George Harrison

Wonderwall

Apple Years

 

Between 1968 and 1975, George Harrison released six albums on the Beatles’ record label, Apple. The first record Harrison released was called Wonderwall Music, it was the soundtrack to a film directed by Joe Massot called Wonderwall. Maybe I should watch this film then.

Wonderwall tells the story of obsession. A scientist is obsessed with his work. His life revolves around it and he doesn’t notice anything around him. Not his coworkers, not his apartment. He lives amongst the stacks of papers that line the walls of his apartment.

Suddenly, in a rage, Professor Collins knocks a frame off his wall, exposing a hole. Through this hole he spies in neighbour. His boring life is exposed, and Professor Collins gets a glimpse into the swinging sixties.

Collins begins obsessing over Penny Lane, the woman next door, and the life lived by her and her boyfriend. Collins wishes he could be there living that life. Instead he’s stuck inside his own life. Living alone.

Wonderwall is more of a sketch than a film. There’s an unfinished quality to the story. There’s very little dialogue, Lane never speaks1, and we drift off into these fantasies of Collins’ mind. The fantasies are more reflective of the hippy genre than it is of the character’s senses. While he wishes to be a part of swinging London, he’s not on acid, leaving the audience wondering where these drug-fueled visions are coming from.

While Jane Birkin gets top billing as Penny Lane, she never speaks. Her role is to look beautiful and for Collins to leer. The brief moments of semblance of a characters are glossed over. We learn a brief moment of her life, slightly more than Collins knows. There’s an interesting question there: should the audience see more than Collins sees or should the audience see everything? I’d opt for everything make her a full character, but Massot goes for neither. The director instead shows us a quick glimpse into a possible world of Lane’s; never making her a full character, but making her more than Collins’ obsession. It’s a strange middle ground to be in, a horrible middle ground.

WonderwallConsent is barely touched upon within the film. We see that Collins understands what he is doing is wrong, but continues to invade Lane’s privacy. Collins has a vision of his dead mother shaming him for his inappropriate actions, but never touches upon this again.

Making matters worse, Massot has Collins become the hero of the film. He saves Lane’s life seemingly justifying his actions.

This is where we truly see how poor of a filmmaker Massot is. None of the characters evolve or change, and the actions they take, the bad, horrible actions they take, never go unpunished, instead get rewarded. These actions are not rewarded for social commentary, but seemingly are rewarded due to lazy writing. Collins becomes a hero for breaking into Lane’s apartment, he ends up calling the police and cheating the woman out of the death she desires.

Collins doesn’t break into Lane’s apartment to save her. Instead he breaks in to be a creepy stalker. He just happens to come across her dying.

I don’t think the film will ruin my appreciation for the album Wonderwall Music. Well it’s not a well known album, it’s a great one. It’s nothing like any of George Harrison’s other works and shines because of it. Harrison experiments with Indian ragas and musical tropes he never had the ability to experiment with in The Beatles or as a pop musician.

Harrison’s work fitted the film quite wonderfully. While much of the film didn’t have any form of dialogue, Harrison’s soundtrack created a soundscape that helps transport the viewer away from the mundane as Collins’ wonderwall does for his boring life.

  1. I’ll get back to that shortly []

Recollection Volume 33 – Real Love

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Real Love
Artist: The Beatles
Released: 1996
Format(s) I own it on: CD

Real-love1This four song CD single was released in 1996 along-side The Beatles’ collection of bootlegs and rarities. The Anthology project was huge. My family watched the documentary as it aired on ABC, I bought the VHS box set and watched it over and over and over again. I bought all three double-disc Anthology CD sets. When I was in Vancouver, I saw a record store selling both the CD single for Free As A Bird and Real Love.

Those two songs were recorded from demos made by John Lennon. These unfinished songs were handed to the surviving Beatles by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono. After Lennon’s murder on December 8, 1980, there was no hope The Beatles could ever reunite. There’s absolutely no way The Beatles could exist without John Lennon. The Beatles were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr and without one of them, it wouldn’t be The Beatles.

This was the next best thing. A home recording of John Lennon’s which surviving The Beatles could clean up and overdub onto. The final result was… okay. It’s a good song. It’s not brilliant, but it’s a good song. Is it as good as the output that made the band legendary, probably not, but it’s enjoyable.

The three B-sides on the record are a live rendition of “Baby’s In Black” which is often overwhelmed by the screaming of teenage girls, a remix of “Yellow Submarine,” and a basic track of “Here, There and Everywhere.”

“Baby’s In Black” was recorded at Hollywood Bowl in 1965, but that song wasn’t included on the American released Live At The Hollywood Bowl. Lennon introduces the song in a very John Lennon fashion.

The remix of “Yellow Submarine” puts the sound effects more prominent. It’s not anything you’d want to listen to when you have the proper release of the song.

“Here, There And Everywhere” is a stripped down recording. Paul McCartney’s guiding vocals really illustrate how sweet his voice is. There’s a few bum notes on the recording, but you can really see what makes McCartney one of the great songwriters and singers. Near the end of the song, the Beatle harmonies come in and prove just how good those Beatles really were.

Men 25.625 (78%) | Women 7.375 (22%)
CD: 18.5 (56%) | Vinyl: 11.5 (35%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (6%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 4 (12%) | 1970s: 2 (6%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 9 (27%) | 2000s: 16 (48%) | 2010s: 1 (3%)
Canada 9.8 (30%) | USA 14.2 (43%) | UK 7 (21%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 4 (40%) | Quebec 1 (10%) | Nova Scotia 3 (30%) | New Brunswick 1 (10%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (10%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 6 – Vertical Man

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses… 

Album: Vertical Man
Artist: Ringo Starr
Released: 1998
Format(s) I own it on: CD

dj.vxvdcdxk.600x600-75Oh god.

Back in 1998, The Beatles were riding high on the post-Anthology wave. They made a huge TV event out of a documentary on their career and released three double albums of rarities and outtakes. Included were two new songs “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” both of which did quite well in the charts. It was the motherflippin’ Beatles.

Ringo Starr, famed Beatle drummer, released this record of new, mostly terrible, songs.

Amongst them, Starr felt the need to perform a cover of The Beatles song “Love Me Do.” Sigh. Okay. “Love Me Do” is actually an enjoyable song when The Beatles performed it, but I feel that Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields put it perfectly when he reviewed the album for Time Out Magazine, “Even his version of Lennon-McCartney’s “Love Me Do” only points up the insipid lyrics.” It’s true. Somehow Lennon & McCartney made “Love, love me do, you know I love you” repeated ad nauseum enjoyable… Starr does not repeat this success.

Yet, the list of credits on this album is incredible. Just look at the tags for this entry. It’s kind of incredible. And yet… we have the results that we have.

Highlights

“La De Da” is actually a decent and catchy single.

Lowlights

“I Was Walking,” “Love Me Do,” “Mindfield,” “Puppet” are all tedious.

Men 4 (67%) | Women 2 (33%)
Canada 2 (33%) | USA 2.33 (39%) | UK 1.66 (28%)
 0 (0%) |  (0%) |  2 (100%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%)
 0 (0%) |  0 (0%) |  0 (0%)

Jackie Lomax on Apple

Jackie Lomax was playing in the Merseyside area while the Beatles were up and coming. He knew the band while Stuart Sutcliffe was playing bass. He signed with Brian Epstein’s management company NEMS, and was convinced by John Lennon to go solo.

After signing with Apple Publishing, George Harrison heard Lomax’s demos, and promised to record Lomax’s debut record when he returned from India.

Jackie Lomax writes good songs dripping in the tradition of American R&B with a smooth voice that could be pulled right out of the late ’50s South or is it Motor City?

Harrison’s production is a heavy-handed wall of sound layered and muddy.

Eleven of the twelve songs are Lomax originals, the other is Harrison’s “Sour Milk Sea,” and unsurprisingly is the highlight of the record. That’s not to say that Lomax’s compositions don’t stand out on their own, they most certainly do. “Sunset” and “Take My Word” specifically are fabulous songs that help to make this a fabulous record, and among Apple’s best.

Music Roundup

Come and Get It:
The Best of Apple Records

In 1968, The Beatles formed Apple Corps. Ltd., a new home for the records, and of the amazing and strange records of their contemporaries.

Recently released is Come And Get It: The Best of Apple Records a record that can only be described as mis-titled. This is definitely not the best of Apple, as it doesn’t feature The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” or Lennon’s “Mother.” Instead it could more aptly be titled “Assorted Single, and such.”

Though The Beatles, as a cohesive unit, do not grace the record, they are still in sight. The album features Lennon/McCartney compositions such as “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight”1, “Thingumybob”2, Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance”3, “God Save Us”4, and more George Harrison songs than you can shake a stick at.

The Beatles don’t sit back comfortably only in the role of songwriter. The legendary band also often produce, or perform with their labelmates. The genres are never a pre-defined thing, going from Francophone hillbilly5 to shmaltz6, soul7, gospel8 and much more.

It’s pretty easy to list all the brilliant on this record, “Those Were The Days,” “Carolina In My Mind,” “Maybe Tomorrow,” “Sour Milk Sea,” “New Day,” “Come And Get It,” “Try Some, Buy Some,” “Ain’t That Cute,” “Govinda,” “Saturday Night Special,” and “Day After Day.”

There’s also a lot that can be described best as… interesting. The Lennon/McCartney9 composition “Thingumybob” would not sound out of place as the backing music for a Looney Tunes cartoon. There’s Brute Force’s comedy song “King of Fuh,” who apparently was “called the Fuh King;” Lennon must have chosen this one.

The only thing bad on the record is Hot Chocolate Band’s reggae cover of “Give Peace A Chance.”

While a lot of this appears on other newly remastered Apple discs, it does feature a lot of material only previously available on singles.

Grit
by KUMONgA

While this might only be a three-song demo, I feel I must give it some space on this here blog. KUMONgA is a new band featuring Dan Walters, who used to be in The Brown Hornets, a pretty damn good band. While The Brown Hornets were a lot more punk, KUMONgA is a bit more focused on soul rock; to the point where the opening track has definite Rolling Stones vibes, specifically “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The other two tracks continue on this theme, creating a rather cohesive and easily digestible three songs. I’m not sure if the title Grit is a reference to their dirty soul sound, or if it’s to display an affection towards the Liberal Party of Canada.

Looking forward to potential live KUMONgA shenanigans.

  1. Performed by Trash []
  2. Performed by The Black Dyke Mills Band []
  3. Performed by Hot Chocolate Band []
  4. Performed by Bill Elliot & The Elastic Oz Band, listeners will hear Lennon count in. []
  5. The Sundown Playboys []
  6. Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were The Days” []
  7. Jackie Lomax []
  8. Billy Preston []
  9. Really Paul. []

Music Monday

Music Monday

George Harrison sings on Rutland Weekend Television

Neil Innes sings “The Children of Rock and Roll” on Rutland Weekend Television

The Rutles’ seminal music video “Cheese & Onions”

Top 50 Albums of the Aughts

1) Sleater-Kinney – The Woods (2005)
2) The Magnetic Fields – i (2004)
3) Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)
4) The Flashing Lights – Sweet Release (2001)
5) Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby (2000)
6) The Joel Plaskett Emergency – Down At The Khyber (2001)
7) Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up (2007)
8) Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall 1971 (2007)
9) Valery Gore – Avalanche To Wandering Bear (2008)
10) God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl (2009)

11) Wilco – A Ghost Is Born (2004)
12) Joel Plaskett – Three (2009)
13) Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2005)
14) The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns (2008)
15) Valery Gore – Valery Gore (2005)
16) Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire – The Swimming Hour (2001)
17) Elevator – A Taste of Complete Perspective (2000)
18) The Guthries – Off Windmill (2000)
19) The Magnetic Fields – Distorion (2008)
20) Cuff The Duke – Cuff The Duke (2005)

21) Matt Mays – Matt Mays (2002)
22) The Apples In Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder (2007)
23) Neko Case – Canadian Amp (2001)
24) Local Rabbits – This Is It, Here We Go (2001)
25) One Hundred Dollars – Forest of Tears (2007)
26) The Guthries – The Guthries (2002)
27) The Joel Plaskett Emergency – Ashtray Rock (2007)
28) Amy Millan – Honey From The Tombs (2006)
29) Elliott Brood – Ambassador (2005)
30) The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2000)

31) Rufus Wainwright – Poses (2001)
32) The Superfantastics – Pop-up Book (2007)
33) Dan Mangan – Nice, Nice, Very Nice (2009)
34) George Harrison – Brainwashed (2001)
35) Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit (2006)
36) Sleater-Kinney – One Beat (2002)
37) Final Fantasy – Has A Good Home (2005)
38) K’naan – The Dusty Foot Philosopher (2005)
39) The Bicycles – The Good, The Bad & The Cuddly (2006)
40) Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill (2004)

41) Peter Elkas – Wall of Fire (2007)
42) Gentleman Reg – Darby & Joan (2004)
43) Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (2008)
44) Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
45) k-os – Joyful Rebellion (2004)
46) Matt Murphy – Bring It Back Home: The Life And Hard Times of Guy Terrifico (2004)
47) Cuff The Duke – Life Stories For Minimum Wage (2002)
48) Tom Petty – Highway Companion (2006)
49) Travis – The Boy With No Name (2007)
50) Ruth Minnikin – Marooned And Blue (2004)