If you are a Beatles fan you will know this, so apologies.
A history lesson
John Lennon died in 1980. George Harrison died in 2001.
Between those two years, the living individual members of the fabs made albums, had bands, retired, made films and did whatever, and at times relations were strained, and at other times not. (And some John Lennon stuff made an appearance.)
But the three came together in the mid-1990s for The Anthology project. It was an attempt to present The Beatles’ history by the Beatles, sanitized and approximate. There was a coffee table book, a tv series and three boxed sets.
The music aspect brought together a load of stuff: old session recordings, live performances, BBC stuff, talking and interviews… Whatever you may think of what was included and what not, and how it was presented (and many people do dislike it), it is better to have it than not.
There were to be three new tracks, based on demos Lennon had recorded, one for each boxed set. Real Love and Free As A Bird got made over, with new material from the three living lads, and help from Jeff Lynne. They did pretty well, sales-wise, but met with a mixed reaction from fans. And it was really only the fans who were interested.
The third song, Now And Then, was started and worked on, but the original recording quality had noise problems and it was abandoned.
Come 2017 and it’s the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Giles Martin is let loose to make it sound more modern and in-your-face, with thumping bass, high volume levels and a lack of sublety. The big package sold well. The Beatles, Abbey Road and Let It Be followed. There’s a market for this they discover.
Whatever you think of these new mixes, yes they do have more detail but I contend that the original vinyl pressings are more pleaserable to listen to.
Other albums, going backwards from Revolver, are going to be difficult to remix because of the way they were recorded.
Then Peter Jackson and his chums appear on the scene with software that can extract the different instruments onto separate tracks so that ‘errors’ can be fixed and the bass gets a boost. So now we have a Revolver box set, 2022.
That brings us to today, I mean literally today.
The Joe Meek story is long and complicated. Mr Meek lived not far from where I live now, and every time I go past his old place I look up at the plaque over the food shop on Holloway Road.
It all ended in tragedy.
The 1960s was the time of the space race. The real Telstar was the first communications satellite, and this tune cashes in on that. It was the best selling single for 1962. The tune features the legendary Heinz Burt (aka Heinz) on bass, Clem Cattini on drums and Geoff Goddard, a Joe Meek composer and collaborator, on keyboards.
The story goes something like this:
In the very early 1970s, the German record label Polydor wanted a new band to rival The Beatles. What they got was Faust, definitely not German Beatles. Faust were one of the leaders of Krautrock, along with Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and many others.
Faust’s first album (1971) had three tracks, Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?, Meadow Meal and Miss Fortune. The first track begins with clips of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. John Peel loved this album, especially for the see through record, cover and lyric inserts.
We have this disc. It plays well, though the plastic sleeve has had more than fifty years of love.
How do we classify Faust’s music? Well, it is dissonant, often tuneless, rather episodic with sound effects, extracts from the radio… a huge patchwork. That’s not totally fair. On the second album, So Far, there were genuine tunes and the whole thing was more accessible.
But Polydor hated it. Faust signed to Virgin, Richard Branson’s label. They often recorded snippets of songs and bits of noise, and Branson ordered a budget priced compilation of some of these bits and pieces, The Faust Tapes (1973).
This sold very well. Perhaps it was the budget price (49p).
The next album, Faust IV (1973) was recorded relatively conventionally and had some success, but the band split and that was that.
…that defined the 60s and are not The Beatles.
The Days of Pearly Spencer
This is one of the absolute great tracks from the 1960s. Look, this is one of THE great songs of any era and it has been covered many times. This is, though, the original.
There’s a lot of clever violin work, a good, memorable tune and the catchy chorus.