Sunday, January 28, 2007

AAAH, debate springs eternal in blogdom. I have been taken to task by one who is supposedly 'in the know'. See the comments section of this post. And my response to it. Maybe I'm 'out of the loop' but I still can't help but feel manipulated as a consumer and collector of Beatles music. And I LOVE the Beatles. I just don't like how they're marketed...and marketed...and MARKETED...

All You Need Is Love...
...but wait, you're gonna need CASH too...

I've written before about the "new" Beatles' CD, called "Love". Basically, it's a re-worked pastiche of Beatles songs that consist of songs being melded into each other, even though the songs were never that recorded that way to begin with. As a matter of fact, I don't think Beatles' music was ever meant to be re-worked that way; after all, "music" is the group's monument, and monuments aren't supposed to change, right? Well, it's out of my hands, not that it was ever IN my hands to begin with. Starting with all three "Anthology" albums, Beatles' music was re-worked by earnest engineers, but it was never actually DONE that way to begin with, so in a sense, these producers and engineers are rewriting history, and I'll bet poor old John Lennon is spinning in his grave...wait, he was cremated, so any ashes of his flying around in the stratosphere are probably having nuclear reactions with each other over this.

But I've already written about this in a previous post; you can check the archives for November or December '06, and in that previous post, I commented in detail about the "artificiality" of new "Put-togethers" of Beatles' songs. Nice to hear in a 'fly-on-the-wall' sort of way, but essentially, not needed, and maybe a bit shady. Who needs to hear 8 minutes' worth of "A Day In The Life", where an early take was melded together with a 'middle' take in which you hear Mal Evans, one of the Beatles' assistants counting..."18...19...20...21..." (he was counting the empty bars of the song in which the big orchestral sound would be later inserted)...and all of that melded into a bit of the "finished" version...because I'm a collector, I've bought all that stuff, but at the same time I ALSO think I'm a fool. And I've got the entire "Anthology" series in three 3-record sets, IN ADDITION TO three 2-CD sets of the same thing.

Elsewhere in the "Anthology" series, we are treated to INSTRUMENTAL-ONLY takes of "Eleanor Rigby" and "Within You Without You"...and I was aghast! With all the never-released Beatles stuff that's never been issued, and THIS is what we get? Instrumentals? Good, maybe, if you're doing Karaoke, but otherwise, the bum's rush, indeed. But again, I'm a collector, so I've got the stuff. I suppose if another Beatles collector jumped off a cliff, I would too. There are two "new" songs on the "Anthology" albums; "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love". John was so anti-Beatle when he wrote those songs while under forced seclusion due to paranoia instilled by Yoko, virtually putting the formerly fierce Lennon under house-arrest conditions, that I'm sure, were he not cremated, he'd be doing CARTWHEELS in his grave at how the Beatles, with YOKO'S blessing, went grave-robbing, taking John's songs and letting the other "Threetles" hack away at them. Actually, the songs turned out pretty good, but I can't help but think there's something "Simply Shady" (a George Harrison song title) about this whole deal. Basically, Yoko gave the surviving Beatles old cassettes of some songs John recorded at home in the late '70s, and the Beatles put additional music and vocals in...a Beatles' reunion, even if one of those present actually 'wasn't there'.

Now, if you will, be patient with me here as I re-address the Beatles' "Love" CD, a picture of which you see up above. Not only has the CD been issued at regular price, which means collectors like me have to pay yet once again for songs we already have, there is a SPECIAL EDITION of this CD! "Great!", I thought, "maybe there's a DVD in it so I can SEE what's going on"...well, there IS a DVD in the Special Edition of "Love"...only, the DVD is "AUDIO ONLY"!!! Huh? WHAT? So I asked the clerk, "why do I wanna buy a DVD that I can't WATCH?" And he said, "Well, the DVD's sound is so much better than the regular DVD." Well, maybe if I had super sensitive audio analyzing equipment that costs 3 or 4 million dollars, maybe I could tell the difference. So, there's NO WAY I'm gonna buy the special edition! I'm already getting bilked just buying the standard-issue of "Love", which consists of songs I already have...

You know what got me started on this whole kick? You know, this situation where the surviving Beatles and Lennon's and Harrison's estate are basically spending who knows how many hours a week thinking of ways to gouge new money from the same old repertoire...I was looking at all of my Beatles' CD's. Each CD contains one album. About 30-45 minutes of music, average, for each of their original studio albums. Then, take into account that the average CD can hold almost 80 minutes worth of music. Then, also take into account, that old BEACH BOYS' albums, on the same record label (Capitol) are sold in the form of TWO albums on each CD, for the SAME PRICE (if not actually lower) than the Beatles' single-album CD's on Capitol. It just kinda looks like you'll find no such values in Pepperland, which has been taken over by the Blue Meanies once again.

The Beatles' music always will be great (for the most part). But...ALL YOU NEED are the original Beatles' albums on CD, along with the "Past Masters" CD's (which feature songs--issued on singles--that weren't issued on albums in England. Those English albums are the ones currently available here in the good ol' U.S.A. Originally in England, it was thot "bad practice" to put the same song on an album as well as on a single. American record companies made a MINT from putting singles on albums.) I suppose I run the risk of thoroughly confusing everyone who reads this by saying, that the 'original Beatles' albums on CD' were the song lineups used on their original ENGLISH albums. These ENGLISH albums were then released by the AMERICAN record company. Was this an admission by Capitol U.S.A. that they were wrong in chopping up the Beatles' original English Albums? Well, on, read on...

There were more American Beatles' albums than English Beatles albums, because the U.S.A. label, Capitol, would "shave" 2 or 3 songs off the British release, and once Capitol U.S.A. acquired enough "shaved off" songs, voila, another whole BEATLES album! In short, in England, there was no "Yesterday and Today" album, and neither was there a "Hey Jude" album, two albums made of pilfered Beatles songs from their English albums. Chalk another one up to American Capitalistic Greed. And, those shortened U.S.A. albums are now being released in box sets, the reasoning being, that American listeners will want CD's of the same American albums they used to listen to when they were getting into the Beatles. And I say, "WHAT??? Reissues of REPACKAGED Beatles' music? Ain't this goin' just a bit too FAR?"

The Beatles were actually involved in the song-by-song selection of their English albums, but once the tapes got over here, Capitol U.S.A. hacked away at them, shaving songs off, and the Beatles are all on record as despising the U.S. releases. In short, the argument is that the Beatles' English albums are put together they way THE BEATLES THEMSELVES wanted the music to be heard. And I agree. I will have no part of those Capitol U.S.A. Beatles albums box-sets; yes, I try to get Beatles music in all available configurations, but putting out the U.S.A. albums in box sets smacks me as being little short of utterly AWFUL. Besides...I've had their vinyl U.S.A. albums for YEARS.

AND NOW, I hear that there might be a commercial during this upcoming weekend's Super Bowl, which is going to advertise some sort of NEW BEATLES COLLECTION...don't you know this will just never end? Beatles on Ipod! Beatles on speaker-phone! The strains of the first-few notes of a Beatles song springing forth when you open a can of tomato soup! Criminals confessing their crimes, saying, "I Should Have Known Better"! How about an "Eleanor Rigby's" hi-priced fashion dept. store? Or a jeweler's commercial, saying, "put YOUR 'Lucy' in the sky...with DIAMONDS"!!!

So on one hand, yes, I'm still buying new Beatles' stuff. But it's getting to the place where I'm gonna have to draw the line. And, with my refusal to buy the Capitol Records box-sets of Beatles U.S.A. albums, I have done that. And I'm no skinflint, either. I have CD AND Vinyl copies of their English albums thru "Revolver" (1966) (Beginning with Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles' English and American albums featured the same songs). In addition, I have 2 or 3 copies of each of their American albums. I've tried to acquire "Mono" and "Stereo" copies of each album. Plus, I have their "'62-'66" and "67-70" hits collections, their "rock and roll music" and "love songs" albums (which feature their original songs packaged differently). I have the "Reel Music" album, which features, you guessed it, songs from their movies that I already had on their original U.S. albums which were re-worked versions of their English albums, and on and on and on. Back in 2001, you might remember the Beatles hit big with their album, "1", which is, yer right, a collection of number one singles, songs of which, you got it, are on albums and singles I ALREADY HAVE.

So, how do I end this rambling post about how Beatles collectors are getting SUCKED DRY by all of these duplicitory (is that a word?) releases...I was looking thru Beatles collectables on Ebay last week, and I came to a listing for, you guessed it, The Beatles' "LOVE" album. Only this listing said, "VINYL! ONLY 10,000 COPIES ARE GOING TO BE MADE! THESE'LL SELL FAST!!!" And I didn't want to, but I've plunked down the purchase price and hope to have said TOTALLY UNNECESSARY ALBUM in hand, sometime within the next two weeks. The only reason I'm buying this album is because it is a NEW collection. The Capitol U.S.A. CD box-sets I referred to above...are a duplication of ALREADY-REARRANGED Beatles albums. And I won't buy those. But I'll buy the "Love" Vinyl album, although I already have it on CD. Why? I'm just not sure... but I've read recently that Capitol Records, U.S.A. is going to MERGE with the British VIRGIN label. Which means Capitol will be marketing endless reissues of money-making recycled Beatle product to finance all of the LOSERS who record for the Virgin label. Follow the money!

In proofreading this post, I've come to realize just how insane I just be for putting up with all of this. Any normal person would think I need my head examined. How do I know that? Well, I'm beginning to think that MYSELF.


Anonymous Little Nell said...

Uhhhh, you missed the point of the Love collection entirely. It all began when George Harrison and the creator of Cirque du Soleil began discussing a new show with Beatles music. All Cirque shows have original music, played live. It was Harrison's idea to NOT have a band playing Beatles covers, but to actually take the original music and shape it AROUND the performances.

George Martin is the only person who could have done this. With the blessing of George (before he died), Paul, Ringo, and Yoko, they used the original Beatles recordings to COMPLEMENT the performers. This music was never meant to be some sort of stand-alone Beatles recording. But obviously they knew that people would come to see the show and would want the "soundtrack" to remember it. You could simply say, "Ah, go listen to the original songs." But the original songs would not work for Cirque du Soleil.

Again, this was George's suggestion. He knew that a Beatles soundscape would perfectly match the imagination and surrealness of a Cirque performance.

Personally, I find it rather compelling to listen to, but in no way did anyone intend for it to be viewed as a "new" recording or a replacement for the originals.

All Love does is demonstrate once again the genius of the Fab Four, as well as their producer, George Martin. The sounds that they produced in a little studio during the 60's is still astounding.

1:20 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Nell, I did hear something about George Harrison looking into the Cirque de Soleil thing. Which surprises me all the more, because Harrison was against phoniness and manipulation; I would've thot he'd be the last person who'd want Beatles music twisted, altered and ultimately defaced. John Lennon certainly would've had something to say about this. And who is to say Beatles' songs, as they are, wouldn't work in "Cirque"?

However, there is still the issue of the record company gouging the a DVD that doesn't play audio, that doesn't sound that much different, if at all, from the standard-issue CD. This falls right in with the rampant consumer manipulation exhibited by Macca, Ringo, and anyone else who's involved in this. That issue holds up, and that issue stands. And in 300 or 400 years, people will still find ways to make money off Beatles music.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Buying a DVD that plays audio is a consumer rip-off? Uh, no. That's like a guy with only a turntable buying a CD at the store and then complaining about it.

DVD-Audio is a new technology. If you don't have a DVD-Audio player, then don't buy a DVD-Audio disk. Pretty simple, right?

There's no excuse for consumers not knowing what the products are.

There's nothing phony about the Love soundtrack. It's a soundtrack. The Cirque performances, which are stunning, were not created to fit the length of the songs. George Martin reshaped the music to fit the length of the performances.

Paul and Ringo both said the show was amazing. They loved hearing the music in a new way. But again, this was not some marketing scheme to take people's money. They did not have to release a soundtrack to the show. George, Paul, and Ringo all approved it and understand the artistic license taken with the music.

I don't see where anybody was being fooled by this. You can't walk into a store with eyes closed and then complain about it later. If YOU have a shopping addiction, that's your fault, not the Beatles. Maybe a little self-restraint with the old pocketbook would be in order. Unless you have so much money to just throw around on stupid purchases, like that vinyl version of something you just professed to hate.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

By the way, I don't have DVD-Audio equipment and never plan to. I am by no means an audiophile, and can enjoy music even when it comes out of a tiny little stereo. I have a friend who is such an audiophile that he literally can't listen to music unless it's on his mega-expensive home system. I kinda feel sorry for him. Rather than just enjoy the music, he's all worried about the sound quality. Weird.

I'm a little surprised that you don't know about DVD-Audio since you read so much. I doubt that DVD-A will ever gain mass popularity, though. Consumers seem content with DVDs and digital downloads.

Have a good day!

9:49 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Phil...Every time a new Beatles release comes out, I am compelled to buy it because I am a collector, not because I am rich or anything like that. Far from it. My initial reaction to the "Love" CD was, "oh gawd, another Beatles album has been released; I guess I've gotta go buy it". Again, because I am a COLLECTOR, and not because I especially wantede to buy it.

Not a marketing scheme to make money? Maybe not, but how convenient. "Ooooh, we've got our music in a Las Vegas show, so let's release the soundtrack; people are bound to buy it because it has the Beatles' name on it!" And a DVD that has no video IS a ripoff. To carry your turntable anthology forward, it is more like buying a record you're all excited about, only to find out that the grooves are silent!

I was almost fooled by the CD packaging. I almost bought the deluxe edition of "Love" until I read the fine print. "What, a DVD with no picture? Why the hell would I want THAT?", I thot. How many other people either thot that, or were surprised to get their DVD home and find out it had no picture. "No excuse for not knowing what the product is?" That's one hell of an elitist attitude there, PHIL. The way things are marketed, A person can get tricked. I bought a 3-CD set of YES concerts; the 3cd's came in a DVD-sized case, and I thot, great, I wanna see Yes in concert. Only to find out they were three CD's, not DVD's. In extremely FINE PRINT on the outer jacket, somewhere near the bottom, was info saying they were CD's, not DV's. I was fooled so badly, I'd actually put the first CD into the DVD player and wondered, "what, no picture?" I felt like I was led down the primrose path with that purchase. So, when the fine print says "DVD" on "Love", and the even-finer print says "no video", I didn't buy it. But I'd looked at the CD/DVD for several minutes trying to figure out why a DVD wouldn't have video, and finally asked a clerk, who set me straight. Otherwise, I would've been duped into buying the deluxe edition.

Finally, Phil, you say you're surprised that I'd never heard of DVD-A's before. The technology is changing so fast, and there are so many new things out on the market, and I'd honestly never heard of DVD-A's until last month. Lastly, in your defense of the "Love" CD, you sound angry. And it sounds like yer putting me down. I have no shopping compulsion. I wouldn't have bought "Love" had it been by any other artist. But this is Beatles, I collect Beatles, so this case is DIFFERENT. Get it???

1:03 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Dave, don't be so touchy. I wasn't angry, just defending the Beatles. Maybe I'm just too big of a fan, because I personally think everything associated with them is PURE GOLD.

Plus, I love the Cirque du Soleil shows. They are magical. Every single show of theirs has released a CD soundtrack. No surprise that Love was too. It would be weird if they refused to release the soundtrack.

DVD-Audio has been in the news for several years. It's on DVDs because those discs hold more information, thus better sound.

THere's also Super Audio CD. I'm not interested in any of it, but I'm aware of these new formats.

Yes, it's changing too quickly... Can't afford to keep up.

See ya! Hey, at least I'm commenting on your blog. That's good, right?

1:47 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Hey, Phil...Some of my touchiness might have something to do with the fact I haven't had my morning coffee yet and I got up not feeling too good. Plus, I haven't fed the parakeets yet and they're still squawking at me.

I, like you, think everything the Beatles touched turned into gold. Well, almost everything...I can think of a few of their songs that just weren't all that great. Is "Love" included in that "gold description"? Although for me, it's 'tarnished' a bit...

1:56 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Heck, I even like that CD of Beatles songs played on toy instruments!

3:56 PM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Phil...Beatles on toy instruments? I think the cold & dead of winter is finally gettin' to ya!:-) If you ever get the chance, you've just gotta hear the version of "Hey Jude" by old-time crooner BING CROSBY. You'll laugh yer ass off!

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Beatles fan and ultimately, the "Love" album is amusing but I don't think it's worth getting too excited about. I appreciate the fact that George Martin had one of his elderly pointy fingers in there, but rumor is poor George Martin is basically deaf at this point, so his son Giles was the primary force behind "Love."

There was a recent dance music fad called a "mash-up" wherein a DJ basically plays two or more songs at the same time, using sampling and computers to make them sync up in time and key. This idea was behind the creation of "Love", for better or worse.

I read that Paul McCartney's reaction to this album was that it "didn't go far enough." He wanted it to be even more out there. I actually think that John would have enjoyed the concept - and he would have agreed with Paul's assessment. He was quite experimental and "avant garde", and probably would have liked to hear the songs presented this way.

For a real-deal Beatles "mash-up" I suggest checking out the Jay-Z meets Beatles "The Grey Album" by DJ DangerMouse. Now that's a real trip.

12:32 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

This post has really generated a lot of comment!

Pat, I heard that George Martin's hearing is alive and well; at the time the "Threetles" reconstituted "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" came out, it was said Jeff Lynne produced those because George Martin couldn't hear properly. Yet, it was Martin and his staff who sifted through the myriad tapes that eventually resulted in the "Anthology" albums, according to the "Rough Guide to The Beatles", published in 2003. Is Martin deaf? I honestly don't know.

However, I find it humorous that Paul felt "Love" didn't go far enough. Especially since Paul was a perfectionist on his own tunes, but John Lennon once said that Paul would get lots more experimental on Lennon's tunes; perhaps a form of sabotage, whether conscious or not, I don't know. I love the Beatles' music, but the more I learn about McCartney as a person, the less I like him. It's like part of him never matured.

I really don't plan on hearing any mashups anytime soon; I'm too busy collecting old Beatles releases, as my overabundance of Ebay purchases indicates. Lord willing, if I'm around this planet for another 20 or 30 years (I'm 52), it'll be fascinating to see how many new Beatles' releases there are and what form they'll take. And I did read somewhere that Paul has an unfinished Lennon song, and Paul is going to turn it into some kind of duet thing. And the beat goes on...

4:51 AM  

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