Tuesday, December 22, 2020



There is a new incarnation of Ride out there, and it consists of Steve Queralt and Laurence Colbert calling themselves ID. They have gloriously reimagined and remixed four classic tracks (out of boredom!) and released them on Bandcamp.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Get Back


I watched Peter Jackson's footage of the Beatles making their Let it Be record and I had a number of horrific thoughts.

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has offered the first look at his upcoming Beatles documentary.

Entitled The Beatles: Get Back, the blockbuster documentary chronicles the making of the band’s penultimate album, 1970’s Let It Be. Jackson was given access to 55 hours of never-released footage and 140 hours of audio taken from the recording sessions, which he then restored using the same techniques developed for his acclaimed World War 1 documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old.

We are really never supposed to see such things. This is footage of the Beatles making a record they weren't even thrilled to be making. No amount of Beatlemania-style mugging for the hired film crew is going to change the fact that we know they were in the midst of fighting each other tooth and nail. They were fighting over choices and sounds and ideas. They were fighting over the presence of lovers and girlfriends and wives in the studio. They were fighting over whether to hire Allen Klein or let Yoko tell Paul where to put the bass parts. You can't erase what they were actually doing by making a documentary where they're all smiling for 90 minutes. That's absurd.

There's a lot of bullshit that goes into making music and no one needs to see every brain fart that never made it onto the album. The actual album is what you're supposed to listen to. No one is really supposed to hear every take, every false start, every mistake, and every blind alley that a band wanders into. This is the mentality of completists who think they have to hear all 112 versions of a song that the band ended up throwing out.

Having Peter Jackson take a pass at such a thing is fine. I don't really care who examines the footage because anyone can pick through the best parts and make a documentary. We'll use this, this, and John looks funny here, there you go. How is that going to tell the real story, which is, why did the Beatles let Phil Spector ruin their songs with his incompetence? How is it going to explain the diminished effort of the whole affair, the meandering takes that went nowhere? 

Interestingly, there are two narratives that are at work here. There's Jackson's belief that everything was actually sunny and happy and he has over 60 hours of film footage to prove it! Then there's Chad Gayle's version of events:

The idea behind the Get Back project was fairly simple: the Beatles would get back to their roots, eschewing the studio “gimmicks,” like overdubbing, that they’d used so successfully on their last three albums. By doing so, they would rediscover the common thread that had tied them together in their early days; a film crew would document the recording sessions and any associated live performances, and there was even some talk of touring again, something the Beatles hadn’t done for three years.

Recording started in January 1969. With Yoko Ono perpetually in the studio and the band mates often at each other’s throats, the Get Back project was an unqualified disaster, and the album that McCartney originally envisioned was never released. When the Beatles disbanded in the fall of 1969, Let It Be was the orphan stepchild of Beatles’ albums, a record that no one wanted to be involved with, and Phil Spector was brought in to rescue the session tapes from oblivion. The re-mixed album and the corresponding film were finally released on May 8, 1970, nearly a year and a half after recording began, and Let It Be became the last official Beatles album to be released by the band.

So, which is it then? It's pretty clear that the cameras forced the Beatles to act one way when they were around, being good hosts and telling jokes and laughing and smiling with girlfriends and wives there as well. The reality is, when those cameras were tucked away, everything went south. They ended up creating such a poisonous atmosphere that it led to enough acrimony to compel George Harrison to walk out part of the way through, tired of the bickering. Not much got done, other than a handful of classic songs that had to be salvaged from being ruined. The only thing that saved the album was bringing in Billy Preston, to be absolutely honest.

You'll never get to the truth is what I think and why do you need to? You have the records. Go listen to them. The rest is none of anyone's business.

Will There Be a Summer Festival Season?


I'm thinking we're not out of the woods yet.

Emily Eavis has reassured fans that Glastonbury 2021 is “not cancelled yet” amid concerns that the festival won’t take place due to coronavirus concerns. 
Last week, Eavis said the festival was “a long way” away from being able to confirm next year’s event.  
Glastonbury 2020 was cancelled back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the event’s lawyer Ben Challis said recently that plans are moving ahead for the festival’s 50th anniversary event to be staged in June 2021.

In terms of things that matter, music festivals rank near the bottom. But, if your livelihood is music and if you've been sitting on your hands for the last year, another lost festival season in Europe and elsewhere is probably going to be devastating. It's absolutely critical for people to be safe, and if that's not going to be possible, then there can't be a major music festival season anywhere. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

How Hard is it to do Something Nice?


This is good, but more needs to be done:

Bandcamp have announced that their Bandcamp Fridays initiative has raised over $40 million (£29.68 million) in 2020 for artists and labels during the coronavirus pandemic.

The online music platform and distribution service launched the initiative back in March to aid those musicians whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic, with Bandcamp waiving their revenue share to ensure that as close to 100% of the profits as possible from fan purchases, downloads and merch goes directly to artists and labels.

You would think that streaming companies would realize that their business model is based on a healthy, productive, happy music industry but you'd be wrong on that front. They are perfectly fine with desperate artists trying to make as much music as they can for as little revenue as possible. That's the world they want to live in.

The reality is that people want the old hits. Stuff made fifty years ago has more value than the music being made today. So, when an old Fleetwood Mac song is resurrected from the dead and played a billion times, the vaunted business model of a large streaming service is reinforced and justified. Fractions of a penny and abuse for speaking out for someone who put out a record this year, hush money payments for the classic artists who get all the attention.

So, good for Bandcamp, but where's the rest of the industry's effort to help people make some sort of living wage for their efforts? Looks like that's out the window. Again.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

All You're Dreaming Of


I'm really digging the new single from Liam Gallagher, and it hit me that this is probably the most prolific and accomplished phase of his entire career. He's made great records, played a slew of great shows, and done everything that could ever be asked of him, all as a solo artist. Will anyone acknowledge how good his stuff is? Will he ever get out of the shadow of Oasis and be assessed for what he's done?

It doesn't seem fair because anyone else would be enjoying a lot of accolades right now.

I mean, this is more McCartney than Lennon, but it's a killer ballad.