All You Need is Heutagogy

Beatles Creativity

I’ve just summarised the 6 blog posts on Beatles Creativity as a graphical slideshare called All You Need is Heutagogy

I think the Beatles Career went through 6 phases;

1. Live 1957-1963 From That’ll Be The Day;

Until Love Me Do

2. Singles 1963-1964 From Please Please Me;

to Hard Days Night Read the rest of this entry »

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Let It Be is the first Beatles album I heard historically rather than at the time. Ironically it was a contractual obligation soundtrack, which was exactly the kind of industry manoeuvre they seemed to have rendered redundant back in 1963, seven years earlier. My response at the time was that this was an expensive boxed set of left overs put together to promote a film I wouldn’t bother going to see.

I didn’t get to hear Let It Be as an album until two years later as my story explains. I was visiting South Wales miners in Maerdy, to report on the 1972 miners strike, and my colleague, friend and boss Terry had brought a tape of Let It Be to keep us company in the days when cars had no soundtrack beyond road noise. I wasn’t enamoured of playing music on the clunky Philips piano key mono tape player which we had at the time, but the long, low-slung journey needed something.

I was intrigued though. I’d loved the singles Get Back and Let It Be, which itself always seemed an appropriate end to the Beatles. But I was buying jazz and progressive rock at the time and preferred artists who played live. But here was an unheard Beatles album, which was interesting; very interesting! Fortunately the Beatles ability to create memorable harmonies cut through our lack of decent sound equipment and Let It Be become the backing track for the visit that weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Got To Be Free

1969. Groups had caught up with The Beatles, so many of them were releasing albums, and ambitious albums at that; the Sgt Pepper template was having an effect. New labels like Harvest were set up to exploit this and Island was growing its artistic dynasty, supergroups like Blind Faith were creating a new kind of musical offer and groups like The Who were taking Art School to the Opera. And all this after 1968 had seen an extra-ordinary flowering of live music across the UK on the new music circuit of Student Unions. They didn’t want variety they wanted rock. I went regularly to York University where a typical gig had four bands such as, Pink Floyd, Yes, Social Deviants and the Idle Race (Jeff Lynne), all on the same bill. Led Zeppelin picked up from Cream, I was obsessed with Jack Bruce, Jethro Tull had matured, the Moody Blues had gone progressive. Having a world class band on the top of their game encouraged the others, check Marmalade Skies for more info, but the Beatles were surrounded. I had just left school and my music tastes had changed. I now preferred live music, by real authentic musicians, who could play their albums live.

However the Beatles, as ever, scored a coup with the release of Abbey Road. They had it previewed on BBC2, on Late Night Line Up, a kind of suave version of That Was The Week That Was, the aesthete’s response to swingin London. And they had made a special film to accompany Abbey Road, which now seems to have been lost by the Beeb!

In a weird inversion of the first time my family sat down and watched the Beatles on the Royal Variety Show the eighteen year old me sat down and watched it with my Mum and Dad. They knew it was acceptable because it was on the “posh” station. This time my Dad didn’t get angry, he got bored, it was late night TV, pretty rare in those days. Mum faithfully kept me company as I watched the colour film in black and white; didn’t work for Magical Mystery Tour either. Kicking off with Come Together, which seems to get better over the years, Abbey Road would reveal itself as a grower. Read the rest of this entry »

Good Morning Good Morning

Sergeant Pepper is easy for me to write about. It came out twelve days before my sixteenth birthday in 1967 and, thanks to Mum, my birthday present was a stereo copy of the album AND a Philips stereo record player. To let you know just how rare and cool this was at the time I was at Windsor Boys School Hamm with 650 other boys and I was the first to get a stereo record player and the first to get Sgt. Peppers; boy was I lucky.

In the weeks leading up to its release the album was widely promoted in the press and without the distractions of an England World Cup win like the year before, there was no chance of overlooking it. Living in Germany the album took a little longer to reach the shops so when my parents turned up at Boarding School on my birthday it felt like there had already been weeks of hype, then down went the needle and up went my popularity.

The track that grabbed me straight away was Good Morning Good Morning, because of the stereo effects and it also sounded recognisably Beatles. Stereo was such a novelty that lots of friends, neighbours and others came to my dorm to hear the album just to “hear the stereo effects, please.” Good Morning Good Morning ends with a great circular dog eats cat sequence where Lennon asked for each animal sound effect to be followed by one of an animal which would eat it! We teenagers lapped it up. Tally Ho!  Read the rest of this entry »

The Word is Love

Nostalgia, the pinpricks of precise memories, can be triggered by certain smells, sensations or sounds. I have my fair share of these and also experience the ghostly effects of deja vu from time-to-time. But I always have strong images associated with pretty much everything in the Beatles catalogue, because they came out when I was young and impressionable. Day Tripper reminds me of the sudden hush descending on the queue I was waiting in for a haircut at Boarding School the day after it was released and we finally got to hear it. We Can Work It Out reminds me of chipping my brother Dave whilst playing football in the garden with him.

Rubber Soul simultaneously reminds me  of being in Boarding School, where I heard it, and of escaping from there, where it pointed; Signpost and direction. Rubber Soul was the first Beatles album I bought and so was the first I took to heart and spent time decoding the unknown world it was revealing to me.  Unlike the couple of other albums I had at the time it didn’t seem to be offering me a bunch of catchy songs for entertainment, but rather to be grappling with the malleable human condition; Rubber Soul indeed. When The Beatles had sung Please Please Me they were actually trying to please us. However, with Unbutchered remaining unreleased,  Rubber Soul was the first album that said, hey we are different and we have something original to say. This time their artistry, and that alchemy which was typical of the Beatles studio work, had something to work on and the quality to realise it. A defining characteristic of the Beatles was anticipating trends and this time the Byrds lookalikes on the sleeve were ahead of the hippie revolution. Consequently for me The Word (Love) is the exemplar track. My story is about hearing it and the actions it inspired.  Read the rest of this entry »

Eight Arms to Hold You

HELP! is a great mid-period Beatles album, they must have had a lot of free time to work on the songs as they hold up so well. This is Rubber Soul; the Prequel with some terrific songs. This time Lennon didn’t hide his personal problems on the album like he did seven months earlier on Beatles for Sale; his cry for HELP! was the single AND the title of the film. In his own write Lennon produced another single overnight. How many classics like this did he knock off when he wasn’t working? Unfortunately for me back then my family had moved to Germany between the release of the single in July 1965 and the release of the album and film in August, so it took me some months before I heard one and saw the other. My story is about the first time I saw HELP! the movie.

I was 14 and I had to go to an British Army Boarding School in Germany (see story) where my dorm was fairly rough and had no record player. We had just one transistor radio between us and, over the British Forces Broadcasting Service heard the Top Twenty chart once a week. Singles remained the best way of hearing what was still called Pop Music. The only way I heard any albums was through Billy, a lad in my year, who was in another house, in a separate building and who had that all important record player. We were highly regimented at school and kept busy doing loads of stuff, especially sport, so it took time to make friends outside of your house. Billy, like Danny in the story, was a bit of a contrarian, but he loved Dylan, Them and I’m A Loser, the B-side of HELP! Luckily he loved HELP! the album too, as he saw it as Dylan influenced and so could assert his primus inter pares. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to 9 After 909

Hi, this is a blog promoting my book 63/68 A Visceral History. It is called 9 after 909 because The Beatles are releasing all their albums digitally for the first time on 9/9/9; the last great symmetric date of the naughties. This blog will be used to publish some of the chapters from 63/68 and to comment on each of the Beatles album’s as I heard them at the time.

move over honey!

9 after 909 will review Beatles albums, tell stories about the twentieth century and promote the book 63/68 A Visceral History