We’re thrilled to announce that legendary Italian progressive rock band Premiata Forneria Marconi, also known as PFM, have been signed for the 2018 edition of the Rites of Spring festival. They are obviously signed as headliners and will be the band that concludes the festival on Sunday, May 6th.
PFM was formed in 1970 and they released several albums in that decade that are considered classics and cornerstones of symphonic progressive rock in Italian and English. While later albums were met with less of a universal acclaim, the studio albums they have released in recent years have by and large been met with positive reactions from fans and reviewers alike. What has been well maintained all along are the qualities they have as a live band: A concert with PFM has always been an engaging and rewarding experience and many of their live albums are as highly regarded as their most popular studio productions.
The current incarnation of PFM consists of Franz di Cioccio (vocals, drums), Patrick Djivas (bass), Lucio Fabbri (violin, keyboards, guitars), Alessandro Scaglione (keyboards, Hammond, Moog), Marco Sfogli (guitars), Roberto Gualdi (drums) and Alberto Bravin (vocals, keyboards). We know that we are not alone in counting the days until we can see them perform live at ROSfest 2018.
Gregory Stuart ‘Greg’ Lake – (November, 10th, 1947 – December , 7th, 2016)
Label: Island Records Release Year: 1972 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Progressive Rock
Keith Emerson – Hammond organ C3/Steinway Piano/Moog Synthesiser III-C/Mini-Moog Model D/Zurna (listed as a “Zoukra”) Greg Lake – Vocals/Bass/Electric and Acoustic Guitars Carl Palmer – Drums/Percussion
The Endless Enigma (Part One) – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 6:41 Fugue -Keith Emerson 1:56 The Endless Enigma (Part Two) – Keith Emerson,Greg Lake 2:03 From the Beginning – Greg Lake 4:16 The Sheriff -Keith Emerson,Greg Lake 3:22 Hoedown – Aaron Copland (Arrangement). Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer 3:47
Trilogy – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 8:54 Living Sin -Keith Emerson,Greg Lake, Carl Palmer 3:13 Abaddon’s Bolero – Keith Emerson 8:08
Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer were all well known musicians in their own right long before they created what would be progressive rock’s first ‘Supergroup’ ELP or Emerson Lake and Palmer. ELP or Emerson Lake & Palmer would also become one of progressive rock’s Big 5 joining the ranks of Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Jethro Tull.Keith Emerson would come to the band from The Nice,Greg Lake from King Crimson and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster by way of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Emerson Lake & Palmer would form in London, UK in 1970. Emerson Lake & Palmer would go on to become RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) with nearly 48 million + albums sold. After forming in early 1970, the band came to prominence following their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. In their first year, the group signed with Atlantic Records and released Emerson, Lake & Palmer – 1970 and Tarkus -1971, both of which reached the United Kingdom top five. The band’s success continued with Pictures at an Exhibition – 1971. However it was the bands third studio release and fourth album overall Trilogy – 1972 that many believe the band really came into their own as a powerhouse in progressive rock and rock in general. Where most of their contemporaries were totally leveled with the strictest of scrutiny by the progressive rock purists elitist notions, Emerson, Lake & Palmer managed to avoid anything super critical.
Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Trilogy was the band’s fourth album. More surprising it was the third album in 18 months at the time of its release. Trilogy would definitely secure the band on the mountain top of progressive rock and rock in general. Some believe without Trilogy placing the band on the mountain top, that the monumental monterous success of Brain Salad Surgery – 1973 would of not been possible. The Trilogy album and later Brain Salad Surgery would fit the band so firmly on the apex of the mountain where the band were able to place a flag for themselves on the mountain top. So what was it that about Trilogy that allowed the band to be such standard bearer’s within the progressive rock genre? Over the course of this retrospective we will attempt to bring light to this subject.
The musical landscape in progressive rock in 1972 was totally loaded with talent coming out of the United Kingdom. Some even believe 1972 was a ‘Ground Zero Year’ for progressive rock. Among the milestone albums that came out of 1972 from the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe were Yes – Close To The Edge, Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick, Genesis – Foxtrot, Caravan- Waterloo Lily, Gentle Giant – Octopus, Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds, Uriah Heep – Demons And Wizards and Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy. While Brain Salad Surgery – 1973 was their best selling album and saw the band at its peak zenith, it was Trilogy – 1972 that boosted the band to the initial summit where they went from just a ‘Progressive Supergroup’ to a band that transcended the typically cliched ‘Progressive Rock’ banner.
Trilogy is the third studio album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in July 1972 on Island Records. The cover, designed by Hipgnosis, depicts the band attached at the shoulders, while the interior of the original gate-fold sleeve features a photo montage of the three in Epping Forest. Trilogy increased ELP’s worldwide popularity, and included “Hoedown”, an arrangement of the Aaron Copland composition, which was one of their most popular songs when performing live. We are about to revisit Trilogy on a song by song basis. Without over analyzing the album too much or beating the horse to death we will explore how every composition and song made Trilogy the masterpiece it is.
The Endless Enigma (Part’s I & 2)
A two-part showcase for the com positional and improvisational abilities of Emerson Lake and Palmer, “Endless Enigma” holds so many musical wonders that it’s easy to become consumed with the work of Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. Keith Emerson, after all, starts out spooky and dark, then rushes forward into a thunderous outburst while Greg Lake — his vocal instrument at the peak of its powers — moves from sweet reverie to foundation-shaking retorts. And that’s just their co-written Part 1. Keith Emerson then contributes a roughly two-minute fugue that joins the two segments, as “Endless Enigma” comes crashing to a resounding conclusion.
Go back, though, and pay closer attention to Carl Palmer. He’s just as adept at the stick-splintering crashes needed to propel the song to that big finish as he is the song’s angular jazz segments as he is the bass-drum heartbeat that opens “Endless Enigma” — years before the effect became central to albums like Dark Side of the Moon from Pink Floyd and A Passion Play by Jethro Tull. 2112 & Moving Pictures by Rush and areas of both Images & Words and Awake by Dream Theater.
This one is a Classical Music Tour De Force. This comes on beautifully and seamlessly from The Endless Enigma Part 1 and serves as a beautiful classical composition to bridge into The Endless Enigma Part 2. While some people will see this as a filler on the album, some will not. There is a very intended purpose for The Fuge. Keith Emerson does a great job on piano to set The Fuge up to smoothly and seamlessly transition into The Endless Enigma Part 2. You can hear some of The Fuge’s last legacy in Dream Theater’sJordan Rudess, especially on the Dream Theater side project Liquid Tension Experiment 1 & 2 and Feeding The Wheel and The Road Home.
The Endless Enigma Part 2
The band brilliantly composed this in such a way where it was both a continuation form The Endless Enigma Part 1 and seamlessly transitioned off The Fuge. This was handled by Keith Emerson tapping more into the bass chord progressions on keyboards. Then Greg Lake came on board with the bass guitar and Carl Palmer with his multi-dimensional approach to the drums met both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in a more harmonious balance.
From The Beginning
ELP’s formula for successful albums seemed to be a concept covering several songs – a beautiful acoustic number by Greg Lake, and one comedy song per album. For Trilogy,“From the Beginning” was Greg Lake’s beautiful acoustic number that showed his acoustic guitar skills were right up there with his bass talents.
A heartfelt song of devotion, Lake claims that the inspiration for the song has left his memory.
Says Greg Lake:
“Very often lyrics simply come about simply because of the way one feels at a moment in time. There is no earth moving moment of divine inspiration or grand plan and I’m sure that was the case with this song. Although very young at the time I sometimes had moments of reflection and maybe also perhaps a feeling that I could be a better person, I think this was just one of those.”
From The Beginning continues to be a fixture on ‘Classic Rock’ radio to this day. What Lucky Man off the ELP debut in 1970 by putting the band on radio, From The Beginning off Trilogy kept the band in great standing on radio.
In the opening drum solo on the track “The Sheriff”,Carl Palmer accidentally hit the rim of his tom-tom with a drumstick. He responded with the word “shit” which can be heard when listening carefully. “The Sheriff” ends with a honky tonk-type piano solo with Carl Palmer playing woodblocks. Lyrically this was a tribute to the American Old West. The track opens up as if a Mob were after a character. The drums of Carl Palmer simulate the knock of a door very eloquently. Keith Emerson remains very heavy on the Hammond Organ here.
“Hoedown” is a cover of “Hoe-Down” from the Rodeo ballet by Aaron Copland (1942). It became the opening song for both the Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery tours. “Hoedown” is big, brash and showoffy — perfect for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who adapted the piece for their 1972 album Trilogy. It’s the only song on the group’s third album not written by a member of the trio, but they have such fun with it (especially in concert) that it sounds like a natural fit on the LP. In a March, 11th, 2016 article Rolling Stone had this to say about ‘Hoedown’.
March/11/2016 Rolling Stone:
A showstopper that was actually a show starter for two tours, “Hoedown” was the first ELP adaptation of composer Aaron Copland, as brassy a show-off (in his way) as the trio itself. Keith Emerson began work on the piece after returning from a classical festival in Romania, so East European elements find their way into his rollicking organ and Moog arrangement alongside American folk tunes like “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Turkey in the Straw.” Emerson stumbled onto the track’s signature synth sound by chance: “We’d started working on that arrangement and then I hit, I don’t know what, I switched a blue button and I put a patch cord in there, but anyway, ‘whoooeee.'”
In a March, 11th, 2016 article on Ultimate Classic Rock, this is what they had to say –
The nine-minute centerpiece, and title track, to the trio’s highest-charting studio album takes almost three minutes to kick in. The lengthy intro features guitarist / singer Greg Lake getting his classical-music voice on while Emerson pounds away on piano keys. But then a swarm of synths ushers in a typically complicated time signature that eventually gives way to a percussion tour de force by drummer Carl Palmer.
Living Sin is the second song on Trilogy that was written by all three members of the band. Living Sin had a unusual avant garde vibe about it. This track definitely tapped into Greg Lake’s former band and sound in King Crimson, especially with the song 21st Century Schizoid Man. It had a very early proto thrash sensibility about it. Unlike most of the songs on Trilogy that started out and had a steady climatic build in them, Living Sin was a rare song that was to the point make their statement and move forward.
This is a instrumental ‘Tour De Force’.“Abaddon’s Bolero” sounds like a bolero turned into a march (in 4/4 rhythm rather than the usual 3/4). The song was originally titled Bellona’s Bolero after the goddess of war. A single melody containing multiple modulations within itself is repeated over and over in ever more thickly layered arrangements, starting from a quiet Hammond organ making a flute-like sound over a snare drum, and building up to a wall of sound – Maurice Ravel’s famous Boléro uses a similar effect. “Abaddon’s Bolero” is replete with overdubs. Almost every time an instrument comes in, another overdub follows.”. The over abundance of overdubs made the song very hard to perform live and the band only attempted it a few times. Despite the challenges due to multiple overdubs, the instrumental still served a purpose on Trilogy. This was like a soundtrack that would be played at the end of a movie when they roll the credits. This is the more appropriately arranged track to end Trilogy.
I would like to thank Ultimate Classic Rock and Rolling Stone for some of the information used in this article.
Not too many bands can say they got it right with one album let alone two albums. Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery certainly reinforced the notion among fans and critics that Emerson, Lake & Palmer got it right on consecutive releases in the 1970’s. In 2018 I will be back here with a entire 45th Anniversary Retrospective of Brain Salad Surgery. Sadly as the date I prepare this, we have lost two thirds of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Their legacy does live on through Carl Palmer. He has started Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. I am sure at some level we will be talking about Trilogy going forward 45 years from now and its pivotal influence and place in Rock History.
The Beatles | Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band | A 50th Anniversary Retrospective
In Memory Of;
John Lennon – October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980 George Harrison – February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001 George Martin – January, 3, 1926 – March, 8 , 2016
Label – Original Release: EMI Studios and Regent Sound Studio, London Release Year: 1967 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Pop Rock/Psychedelic Rock/Art Rock/Proto-Progressive Rock
Band Members – The Players
John Lennon – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Piano/Hammond organ/Cowbell Paul McCartney – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Bass/Piano/Lowery Organ George Harrison – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Harmonica/Tambura/Sitar/Maracas Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Harmonica/Tambourine/Maracas/Congas/Bongos/Chimes George Martin – Hammond organ/Lowery organ/Piano/Pianette/Harpsichord/Harmonium/ Glockenspiel Mal Evans – Harmonica/Hammond organ/Piano/Alarm Clock Neil Aspinall – Harmonica/Tambura Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, José Luis Garcia, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – Violin’s John Underwood, Stephen Shingles, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – Viola’a Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan, Francisco Gabarro, Alex Nifosi – Cello’s Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce – Double Bass Sheila Bromberg, John Marston – Harp Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy, Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – Clarinet’s Roger Lord – Oboe N Fawcett, Alfred Waters – Bassoon’s Clifford Seville, David Sanderman – Flute’s Barrie Cameron, David Glyde, Alan Holmes – Saxophone’s David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – Trumpet’s Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore, John Lee – Trombone’s Alan Civil, Neil Sanders, James W Buck, Tony Randall, John Burden, Tom (surname unknown) – French Horn’s Michael Barnes – Tuba Tristan Fry – Timpani/Percussion’s Marijke Koger: – Tambourine’s Unknown Musicians – Dilruba/Svarmandal/Tabla/Tambura
Producer – George Martin Engineers – Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson, Malcolm Addey, Ken Townsend, Peter Vince
Track Listing – Original Soundtrack
Side 1 1. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Paul McCartney 2. “With a Little Help from My Friends” Ringo Starr 3. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” John Lennon 4. “Getting Better” Paul McCartney 5. “Fixing a Hole” Paul McCartney 6. “She’s Leaving Home” Paul McCartney with John Lennon 7. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” John Lennon
1. “Within You Without You” George Harrison 2. “When I’m Sixty-Four” Paul McCartney 3. “Lovely Rita” Paul McCartney 4. “Good Morning Good Morning” John Lennon 5. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” John Lennon/Paul McCartney and George Harrison 6. “A Day in the Life” John Lennon and Paul McCartney
It was 50 years ago this monththat what many believe to be the very first concept record was released to the world , depending who you ask. .Some consider this a loose conceptual album while others consider it as a concrete master of concept albums. It is definitely the first proto progressive concept album that would go on to inspire and be ‘The Blueprint’album in which progressive rock and progressive metal bands would use in creating their own respective concept albums. This would also be The Beatles first album made after they retired from touring, thus allowing the band much more studio time and a longer creative process. This retrospective is broken down into three major categories of discussion, the first section is, The Genesis To The Genius – Method To The Madness – Influencing Facts and Factors Of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Journey Through The Trip – A Track To Track Analysis Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Genesis To The Genius – Method To The Madness
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band The Beatles. Released on 26th May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2nd June 1967 in the United States, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. On release, the album was lauded by the vast majority of critics for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and legitimate art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year 1967 , the first rock LP to receive this honour.
In August 1966 , The Beatles permanently retired from touring and began a three-month holiday from recording. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian era military band that would eventually form the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. Sessions for the album began on 24 November in Abbey Road Studio Two with two compositions inspired by their youth, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”, but after pressure from EMI, the songs were released as a double A-side single and were not included on the album.
In February 1967, after recording the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”song, Paul McCartney suggested that The Beatles should release an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. During the recording sessions, the band furthered the technological progression they had made with their 1966 album Revolver. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they adopted an experimental approach to composition and recording on songs such as “With a Little Help from My Friends”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life”. Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick’s innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos. Recording was completed on 21st, April 1967. The cover, depicting The Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.
It’s an analog heirloom that’s still resisting oblivion — perhaps because, even in its moment, it was already contemplating a broader sweep of time. The music on “Sgt. Pepper” reached back far before rock as well as out into an unmapped cosmos, while its words — seesawing between Paul McCartney’s affability and John Lennon’s tartness — offered compassion for multiple generations.
We simply can’t hear “Sgt. Pepper” now the way it affected listeners on arrival in 1967. Its innovations and quirks have been too widely emulated, its oddities long since absorbed. Sounds that were initially startling — the Indian instruments and phrasing of George Harrison’s “Within You Without You,” the tape-spliced steam-organ collage of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” the orchestral vastnesses of “A Day in the Life”— have taken on a patina of nostalgia. George Harrison was also under the ‘Spiritual Tutelage’ of Ravi Shankar. “Sgt. Pepper”and its many musical progeny have blurred into a broader memory of “psychedelia,” a sonic vocabulary (available to current music-makers via sampling) that provides instant, predigested allusions to the 1960s. Meanwhile, the grand lesson of “Sgt. Pepper” — that anything goes in the studio — has long since been taken for granted. Psychedelia is also the organic improvised creation of music that is not really pre written nor preconceived.
Recorded in over 400 hours during a 129-day period, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandhelped define the 1967 Summer of Love, and was instantly recognised as a major leap forward for modern music.
The mood of the album was in the spirit of the age, because we ourselves were fitting into the mood of the time. The idea wasn’t to do anything to cater for that mood – we happened to be in that mood anyway. And it wasn’t just the general mood of the time that influenced us; I was searching for references that were more on the fringe of things. The actual mood of the time was more likely to be The Move, or Status Quo or whatever – whereas outside all of that there was this avant-garde mode, which I think was coming into Pepper. There was definitely a movement of people. All I am saying is: we weren’t really trying to cater for that movement – we were just being part of it, as we always had been. I maintain The Beatles weren’t the leaders of the generation, but the spokesmen. We were only doing what the kids in the art schools were all doing. It was a wild time, and it feels to me like a time warp – there we were in a magical wizard-land with velvet patchwork clothes and burning joss sticks, and here we are now soberly dressed.
Paul Mc Cartney : The Beatles Anthology
Even more so than its predecessor, Revolver, Sgt Pepper saw The Beatles pushing boundaries within the studio, creating sounds which had never before been heard. They made extensive use of orchestras and other hired musicians, and combined a variety of musical styles including rock, music hall, psychedelia, traditional Indian and Western classical.
From the fairground swirls of Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!to the animal stampede that closes Good Morning Good Morning, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandsignaled to the world that The Beatles were no longer the lovable moptops of old, unwilling to sing simple love songs and perform for crowds who were more interested in screaming than listening.
The album was always going to have Sgt Pepper at the beginning; and if you listen to the first two tracks, you can hear it was going to be a show album. It was Sgt Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band with all these other acts, and it was going to run like a rock opera. It had started out with a feeling that it was going to be something totally different, but we only got as far as Sgt Pepper and Billy Shears (singing With A Little Help From My Friends), and then we thought: ‘Sod it! it’s just two tracks.’ It still kept the title and the feel that it’s all connected, although in the end we didn’t actually connect all the songs up.
Ringo Starr : The Beatles Anthology
During The Beatles’ final US tour in August 1966, Paul McCartney noticed the inventive names adopted by many new bands. This was making word play off some of the titles of bands that were primarily coming out of San Francisco, California.
Sgt Pepper is Paul, after a trip to America and the whole West Coast, long-named group thing was coming in. You know, when people were no longer The Beatles or The Crickets – they were suddenly Fred and His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got influenced by that and came up with this idea for The Beatles.
John Lennon, 1980 – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The title came from a conversation between Paul McCartney and Evans about the sachets marked S and P which came with their in-flight meals.
Me and Mal often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P’. Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.
Then, ‘Lonely Hearts Club’, that’s a good one. There’s lot of those about, the equivalent of a dating agency now. I just strung those together rather in the way that you might string together Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. All that culture of the sixties going back to those travelling medicine men, Gypsies, it echoed back to the previous century really. I just fantasised, well, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. That’d be crazy enough because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band? If it had been Sergeant Pepper’s British Legion Band, that’s more understandable. The idea was to be a little more funky, that’s what everybody was doing. That was the fashion. The idea was just take any words that would flow. I wanted a string of those things because I thought that would be a natty idea instead of a catchy title. People would have to say, ‘What?’ We’d had quite a few pun titles – Rubber Soul, Revolver – so this was to get away from all that.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Although the idea was well received by the other Beatles, it wasn’t intended as a concept album; indeed, an early working title was One Down, Six To Go, a reference to their contract with EMI.
As I read the other day, he said in one of his ‘fanzine’ interviews that he was trying to put some distance between The Beatles and the public – and so there was this identity of Sgt Pepper. Intellectually, that’s the same thing he did by writing ‘He loves you’ instead of ‘I love you’. That’s just his way of working. Sgt Pepper is called the first concept album, but it doesn’t go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt Pepper and his band; but it works ’cause we said it worked, and that’s how the album appeared. But it was not as put together as it sounds, except for Sgt Pepper introducing Billy Shears and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.
John Lennon, 1980 – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Having finished touring in August 1966, The Beatles were free to spend time in the studio working on their next masterpiece. As EMI owned the studio at Abbey Road time and costs were of little consequence, and The Beatles knew that the songs recorded wouldn’t have to be performed live.
The first songs to be recorded were When I’m Sixty-Four, Strawberry Fields Forever & Penny Lane. When I’m Sixty-Four actually had its origins in The Beatles’Hamburg days, though it was recorded in December 1966.
Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, meanwhile, were taken for the group’s first single of 1967, a decision which George Martin later described as “a dreadful mistake”.
The album’s monumental closer, A Day In The Life, was recorded from January 1967; the second Sgt Pepper song to be taped. The third was the title track, which was first recorded on 1 February 1967.
I used to share a flat in Sloane Street with Mal [Evans]. One day in February Paul called, saying that he was writing a song and asking if he and Mal could come over. The song was the start of Sgt Pepper.
At my place he carried on writing and the song developed. At the end of every Beatles show, Paul used to say, ‘It’s time to go. We’re going to go to bed, and this is our last number.’ Then they’d play the last number and leave. Just then Mal went to the bathroom, and I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compÃ¨re of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil.’
Soon after The Beatles began recording the song Sgt Pepper, they realised that it could introduce a fictitious concert.
The idea came about gradually. Basically it was Paul’s idea: he came in and said he had the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and that he was identifying it with the band, with The Beatles themselves. We recorded the song first, and then the thought came to make it into an idea for the album. It was at a time when they wanted to concentrate on the studio, and that probably fomented the idea of the alter-ego group: ‘Let Sgt Pepper do the touring.’
George Martin – The Beatles Anthology
George Harrison, meanwhile, was less enamored by the album and The Beatles in general, having lost his heart to India. His main contribution to the album was Within You Without You,although his first offering – Only A Northern Song – was first recorded in February 1967.
I felt we were just in the studio to make the next record, and Paul was going on about this idea of some fictitious band. That side of it didn’t really interest me, other that the title song and the album cover. It was becoming difficult for me, because I wasn’t really that into it. Up to that time, we had recorded more like a band; we would learn the songs and then play them (although we were starting to do overdubs, and had done a lot on Revolver). Sgt Pepper was the one album where things were done slightly differently. A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren’t allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process – just little parts and then overdubbing – and for me it became a bit tiring and a bit boring. I had a few moments in there that I enjoyed, but generally I didn’t really like making the album much.
I’d just got back from India, and my heart was still out there. After what had happened in 1966, everything else seemed like hard work. It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point.
Before then everything I’d known had been in the West, and so the trips to India had really opened me up. I was into the whole thing; the music, the culture, the smells. There were good and bad smells, lots of colours, many different things – and that’s what I’d become used to. I’d been let out of the confines of the group, and it was difficult for me to come back into the sessions. In a way, it felt like going backwards. Everybody else thought that Sgt Pepper was a revolutionary record – but for me it was not as enjoyable as Rubber Soul or Revolver, purely because I had gone through so many trips of my own and I was growing out of that kind of thing.
George Harrison – The Beatles Anthology
During the Sgt Peppersessions Ringo Starr was aware that The Beatles were doing their best work to date, although he learned to live with the sporadic nature of the recording sessions.
Sgt Pepper was our grandest endeavour. It gave everybody – including me – a lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material. John and Paul would write songs at home, usually – or wherever they were – and bring them in and say, ‘I’ve got this.’ The actual writing process was getting to be separate by now, but they’d come in with bits and help each other, and we’d all help. The great thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea (it didn’t matter who), that would be the one we’d use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, ‘Well, it’s mine,’ and getting possessive. Always, the best was used. That’s why the standard of the songs always remained high. Anything could happen, and that was an exciting process. I got to hang out and listen to it unfolding, although I wasn’t there every day.
As we got up to Sgt Pepper, George Martin had really become an integral part of it all. We were putting in strings, brass, pianos, etc, and George was the only one who could write it all down. He was also brilliant. One of them would mention: ‘Oh, I’d like the violin to go “de de diddle”,’ or whatever, and George would catch it and put it down. He became part of the band.
John, Paul and George – the writers – were putting whatever they wanted on the tracks, and we were spending a long time in the studio. We were still recording the basic tracks as we always did, but it would take weeks to do the overdubs for the strings or whatever, and then the percussion would be overdubbed later and later. Sgt Pepper was great for me, because it’s a fine album – but I did learn to play chess while we were recording it.
Ringo Starr – The Beatles Anthology
Influencing Facts and Factors Of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Within this part we will mention many of the facts and factors that influenced Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. These facts and factors have been long agreed upon by The Beatles, those who worked with them on the album and the general pop culture and industry consensus.
The Beatles’ status as the Biggest Music Group in the World was in danger of being taken away from them during the first few months of 1967. The band had announced they were no longer going to perform live because of the growing physical dangers that came with touring, largely thanks to John Lennon’s seemingly blasphemous comments on Christianity, which stoked religious fervor in the United States. Guaranteed sellout audiences—crowds so loud that nobody, not even the band, could hear a note of the music—were replaced by half-empty stadiums by the time the Fab Four performed in San Francisco on August 29, 1966 for what would be their final concert (not counting that rooftop performance in 1969).
When they reconvened in November of 1966, they found themselves with as much time as ever to get their next album as perfect as they could. What John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, producer George Martin, and engineer Geoff Emerick came up with was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a loosely conceptual album that was both a celebration and a piss-take on the psychedelic bands that had been popping up at the time. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandwas released to the public on June 1, 1967—50 years ago today—and served as a confirmation that The Beatleswere not only alive and well, but still at the forefront of pop music innovation; “The Summer of Love” came shortly after. These will be the Top 5 facts or factors that happened leading up to and during the recording sessions , although there are much more.
1. The Title Came From Airplane Salt And Pepper Packets.
By the time The Beatles took a three-month vacation in the latter part of 1966, they were all tired of being The Beatles. Paul McCartney and tour manager/assistant Mal Evans ruminated on this problem as the two traveled together, ending their international adventures in Kenya. On their flight back to London, McCartney was developing an alter ego for the band for their next record.
“Me and Mal often bantered words about, which led to the rumor that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper,” McCartney explained to author Barry Miles about how he came up with the name. “But I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P.’ Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.” McCartney then added “Lonely Hearts Club” to “Sergeant Pepper,” and figured it would be a “crazy enough” band name, “because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band?”
2. The Band Was Under a lot Of Pressure.
Because of the perceived fading popularity of the group, The Beatles manager Brian Epstein and their label EMI put pressure on George Martin and the band to release a “can’t-miss” hit single. Caving in to the pressure, two of the first three songs from the Sgt. Pepper sessions were released as a double A-side single: “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” As was the practice at the time with singles, those two classic songs weren’t included on the album. George Martin later said that listening to Brian Epstein and EMI in this instance was “the biggest mistake” of his professional life.
3. It Was Influenced By The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, And Frank Zappa.
George Martin was quoted as saying that if Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys had not created and recorded their classic album Pet Sounds,
“Sgt. Pepper never would have happened.”
Paul McCartney repeatedly played the album at Abbey Road during recording sessions. Unbeknownst to The Beatles, they were fulfilling their part in a pop group ouroboros, because Wilson was inspired to write Pet Sounds after hearing The Beatles’ Rubber Soul.
In June 1966, Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention came out with the double-record Freak Out!, a satirical album that also happened to contain classical music-influenced movements instead of individual tracks; some consider it to be the first rock concept album. “This is our Freak Out!” Paul McCartney supposedly said during the Sgt. Peppersessions.
4. Dogs Might Go Nuts If You Play Them “A Day In The Life” All The Way Through.
A 15-kilohertz high-frequency tone/whistling noise can be heard—if you have the remastered CD version and not the vinyl repressing anyway—after the iconic final piano chord finishes resonating and before the backwards talking that closes the album. It was John Lennon’s idea to add the equivalent of a police dog whistle after he had an hours-long conversation with Paul McCartney about frequencies. Paul McCartney later admitted to it all in 2013. Some believe the inclusion of the dog whistle was a subtle nod to the influence Pet Soundshad on the album.
5. The BBC BANNED “A DAY IN THE LIFE.”
Sgt. Peppermade its public debut on May 20, 1967 at 4 p.m. on the BBC’s Where It’s At. Excerpts from every song except “A Day In The Life” were played, as the tune had been officially banned the day before for promoting “a permissive attitude toward drug-taking.” BBC believed that Paul McCartney’s singing “found my way upstairs and had a smoke” was a drug reference, and that John Lennon’s line about “Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” might be a reference to a heroin junkie’s arm.
Because of that ban—and the belief that “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”also referenced drugs—the three suspicious songs were omitted from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when it was released in South Asia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.
A Journey Through The Trip – A Track To Track Analysis Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Here we revisit The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band track by track. Within the analysis there will be some factoids that you may or may not have heard concerning the origin’s, recording, production and mastering of each and every track. To those of us old enough to remember they only had a 4-Track process they had to get creative with instead of the multi tracked systems of computer programs such as Pro Tool’s affords both artist and producer today. To those progressive rock fans that credit this as a proto prog album, they only had 3 chords they made useful to their maximum. Food for thought to keep in mind here.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Lead Guitar/Bass John Lennon – Vocals George Harrison – Vocals/Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums James W Buck, Neil Sanders, Tony Randall, John Burden – French Horn
The song itself is just a show intro where the lyrics mimic an MC talking to the audience before introducing the lead singer – Billy Shears.
Just imagine the words – no music – being spoken before a concert starts:
Crowd anxiously waiting for their show to start, then a hush when the lights go all the way down. You begin to hear a voice start with .
“It was twenty year ago today…) and from there the excitement and tension builds until the star is announced with “So let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears…”
If you’re asking who the band is supposed to be, the Lonely Hearts Club Band is the alter ego of John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; Paul McCartney pulls double duty as the Master of Ceremonies doing the introduction and his alter ego Billy Shears.
If you’re asking WHO Sgt Pepper is, it’s been speculated about for years. None of The Beatles have ever said, but some of the speculations are John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Brian Epstein, various singers that influenced them, etc… and also speculated there is no specific person because the Beatles would have been in early childhood 20 years earlier – but that only works if you think SPLHCB is actually The Beatles and not their alter egos.
With A Little Help From My Friends
Written by -John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Tambourine John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Cowbell Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Piano/Bass George Harrison – Lead Guitar George Martin – Hammond organ
The album was recorded as if Sgt. Pepper was a real band. It opens with the title track, then segues into “With A Little Help From My Friends.”Beatles drummer Ringo Starr sang lead, introduced as “Billy Shears,” a name chosen because it sounded good and played up the idea that the group was in character.
The song was never released as a single, but became one of the group’s most enduring tracks. Since it there is no break on the album between the fade of the title track (and “Billy Shears” introduction) and the beginning of this song, radio stations were forced to either play the tracks together or play the awkward open.
This was one of the very last songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney sat down and wrote together in a true collaboration.
They were at Paul’s house messing around on the piano.
The original title was “Badfinger Boogie.” The Beatles got some use out of the name when they signed a group to their label, Apple Records, and named them Badfinger.
The cheering at the beginning was taken from a Beatles concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The Beatles had stopped touring by the time this was recorded.
This hit #1 on the UK chart three times: first by Joe Cocker in 1968, again by Wet Wet Wet in 1988 and finally by Sam and Mark in 2004. >>
John Lennon claimed this was not about drugs, but many people didn’t believe him, including US vice president Spiro Agnew, who once told a crowd that this song was a “Tribute to the power of illegal drugs.”He said the lines, “I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends,” “Is a catchy tune, but until it was pointed out to me, I never realized that the ‘friends’ were assorted drugs!”
The first line was originally “What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?” Ringo did not want to sing it, fearing that if they ever did it live he would be pelted with tomatoes.
The Beatles finished recording this the night they shot the cover for the Sgt. Pepper album. This continued the “Concept” of the album, but until the reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at the end, the theme of the fictional band ends with this.
When Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, he performed this song with many of the evening’s participants, including Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus, Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Lead Guitar Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Lowrey Organ/Bass George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Tambura Ringo Starr – Drums/Maracas
The “Lucy” who inspired this song was Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John’s son Julian Lennon when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said, “Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: “I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant… Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school.”
Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail article that claimed the “Lucy” was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000’s Chocolat and 2004’s The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer.
Many people thought this was about drugs, since the letters “LSD” are prominent in the title, and John Lennon, who wrote it, was known to drop acid. In 1971 Lennon told Rolling Stone that he swore that he had no idea that the song’s initials spelt L.S.D. He added: “I didn’t even see it on the label. I didn’t look at the initials. I don’t look – I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It’s like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don’t know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything.”
John Lennon affirmed this on the Dick Cavett Show, telling the host,
“My son came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.”
It’s not just fans that didn’t believe him: Paul McCartney said it was “pretty obvious” that this song was inspired by LSD.
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineers – Malcolm Addey, Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Bass Guitar/Piano John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Handclaps George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Tambura Ringo Starr – Drums/Congas George Martin – Piano/Pianette
The idea of “Getting Better” came to Paul McCartney while he was walking his dog, Martha. The sun started to rise on the walk and he thought “it’s getting better.” It also reminded him of something that Jimmy Nichol used to say quite often during the short period when he was The Beatles drummer. This song was a true collaborative effort for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with John Lennon adding that legendary part about being bad to his woman. He later admitted to being a “hitter” when it came to women. He said “I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself, and I hit.”
John Lennon had a bad acid trip during the recording. While doing the overdubs, John began to get very sick. He said, “I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going to crack. I said I must get some air.” George Martin took him up on the roof of the studios for air and John started walking towards the edge. Martin panicked, thinking that John would fall or leap off and that would be it. On the roof, when John saw Martin looking at him “funny,” he realized he was on acid. John decided he couldn’t do any more that night, so he sat in the booth and watched the others record. Paul eventually took him home and stayed to keep him company, and he decided to drop some acid with John. It was Paul’s first LSD experience.
George Harrison played the tamboura, a large Indian string instrument. It is the droning noise about 2/3rds of the way through.
The string sound at the end was The Beatles producer George Martin hitting the strings inside a piano.
Fixing A Hole
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineers – Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson
Paul McCartney – Lead & Backing Vocals/Bass John Lennon – Backing Vocals George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums/Maracas George Martin – Harpsichord
Paul McCartney wrote this after fixing the roof on his farm in Scotland. McCartney said the song was “about the hole in the road where the rain gets in, a good old analogy.”
This was the first time The Beatles used a studio other than one owned and operated by their record label EMI. The takes in this new studio – Regent Sound Studio, located in Tottenham Court Road, London – were numbered 1-3. They returned to Abbey Road the next day however, recording “A Day In The Life.”
It was rumored that this was about heroin, as in “getting a fix.” There is no truth to this rumor.
She’s Leaving Home
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Lead Vocals/Backing Vocals John Lennon – Vocals/Backing Vocals Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, José Luis Garcia – Violin John Underwood, Stephen Shingles – Viola Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel – Cello Gordon Pearce – Double Bass Sheila Bromberg – Harp
This was based on a newspaper story Paul McCartney read about a runaway girl. On February 27th, 1967 the London Daily Mail’s headline read: “A-level girl dumps car and vanishes.” That girl was 17-year-old Melanie Coe, who had ran away from home leaving everything behind. Her father was quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine why she should run away, she has everything here.” McCartney said in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutnerand Spencer Leigh,
“We’d seen that story and it was my inspiration. There was a lot of these at the time and that was enough to give us the storyline. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and the parents wake up, it was rather poignant. I like it as a song and when I showed it to John, he added the Greek chorus and long sustained notes. One of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly.”
Melanie Coe, who became an estate agency director, told Dave Simpson her story in a 2008 interview for The Guardian. Said Coe: “London was a very different place in the ’60s. I went to a club called the Bag O’ Nails [Soho] and I met everybody. You sat on the next table to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, because there weren’t many clubs in London. I got in coz I was a cute little girl and I dressed in the latest fashions. I’d go to Mary Quant and Biba, sketch the dress and get my aunt to make my clothes. Ready Steady Go! loved that. They held open auditions. I was 13. It went on what you were wearing and how you danced. I was asked to come every week. I met the Beatles at Ready Steady Go! George was great to meet – I looked a lot like Pattie Boyd, who later became his wife, of course.
I was always going out. I danced the night away and was a face in London. In those days, to be trendy everything had to be French. I bought the T-shirt of the moment, which was my star sign in French. I loved that T-shirt. One day I got home and my mother had cut it to ribbons. She wanted me to look like Princess Anne, not my idol, Marianne Faithfull. When my parents found out I had the pill they grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and made me flush them down the toilet.
I was 17 by then and ran away leaving a note, just like in the song. I went to a doctor and he said I was pregnant, but I didn’t know that before I left home. My best friend at the time was married to Ritchie Blackmore, so she hid me at their house in Holloway Road. It was the first place my parents came to look, so I ran off with my boyfriend, who was a croupier, although he had been ‘in the motor trade’ like it says in the song. I think my dad called up the newspapers – my picture was on the front pages. He made out that I must have been kidnapped, because why would I leave? They gave me everything – coats, cars. But not love. My parents found me after three weeks and I had an abortion.
I didn’t realize for a long time that the song was about me. Years later Paul was on a program talking about how he’d seen a newspaper article and been inspired by it. My mother pieced it all together and called me to say, ‘That song’s about you!’
I can’t listen to the song. It’s just too sad for me. My parents died a long time ago and we were never resolved. That line, ‘She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years’ is so weird to me because that’s why I left. I was so alone. How did Paul know that those were the feelings that drove me towards one-night stands with rock stars? I don’t think he can have possibly realized that he’d met me when I was 13 on Ready Steady Go!, but when he saw the picture, something just clicked.”
No Beatles played instruments on this. John and Paul contributed vocals, which were double-tracked to sound like a quartet, and session musicians played strings. The first female to play on a Beatles album, Sheila Bromberg, played harp.
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Lowrey Organ Paul McCartney – Acoustic Guitar/Bass Guitar George Harrison – Harmonica Ringo Starr – Drums/Harmonica/Shaker Bells George Martin – Piano/Harmonium/Hammond Organ/Tape Loops Mal Evans – Bass Harmonica Neil Aspinall – Harmonica Geoff Emerick – Tape Loops
On 31 January 1967, while The Beatles were in Sevenoaks, Kent, making a promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever,John Lennon wandered in to an antique shop close to their hotel. There he bought a framed Victorian circus poster from 1843.
The poster announced Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal, coming to Town Meadows in Rochdale. It grandly announced that the circus would be for the benefit of Mr Kite, and would feature “Mr J Henderson the celebrated somerset thrower” and Zanthus the horse.
Mr Kite was William Kite, a performer and the son of circus owner James Kite. In 1810 he had founded Kite’s Pavilion Circus and later moved to Wells’ Circus. It is thought that he worked in Pablo Fanques’ fair between 1843 and 1845. Fanque, pictured below, was Britain’s first black circus owner. He was born William Darby in Norwich in 1796.
John Lennon hung the poster in his music room at his home in Weybridge, and began to use it as inspiration for a song. Some of the facts he changed – the circus was coming to Bishopsgate rather than Rochdale; the horse became Henry; the circus became a fair; Mr Kite was ‘late of Wells’s Circus’ rather that of Pablo Fanque (pictured below); and Mr Henderson, rather than Mr Kite, promised to challenge the world.
Minor changes aside, the words of the poster found their way almost unchanged into Lennon’s Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, which closed the first half of the Sgt Pepper album. Lennon sat at his piano and sang phrases from the poster until he had the song, possibly with help from McCartney.
John Lennon was later dismissive of the song, as revealed in a range of interview snippets collated in the Anthology book,
.I wrote that as a pure poetic job, to write a song sitting there. I had to write because it was time to write. And I had to write it quick because otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the album. So I had to knock off a few songs. I knocked off A Day In The Life, or my section of it, and whatever we were talking about, Mr Kite, or something like that. I was very paranoid in those days, I could hardly move.
John Lennon, 1970 – Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
Within You Without You
Written by – George Harrison Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
George Harrison – Vocals/Sitar/Acoustic Guitar/Tambura Anna Joshi – Amrit Gajjar/Dilruba Buddhadev Kansara – Tamboura Natwar Soni – Tabla Unknown musician – Svarmandal Erich Gruenberg, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene – Violins Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan – Cellos Neil Aspinall – Tambura
Within You Without You was composed on a harmonium following a dinner party at the London home of Klaus Voorman, the German artist and musician whom The Beatles first met in Hamburg. Written by George Harrison, it was the only non Lennon-McCartney song on the Sgt Pepper album.
The song was George Harrison’s second full-blown Indian recording, after Revolver’s Love You To. Although regarded by some as a dull interlude in the otherwise masterful Sgt Pepper, Within You Without You encapsulated the exploration of spiritual themes that had become popular in 1967’s Summer of Love.
Clear references to the counterculture (‘Are you one of them?’) and the LSD-related ego death (‘And to see you’re really only very small and life flows on within you and without you’) can be found amid the more other-worldly exploration of spiritual philosophy and religious teachings.
The laughter at the end of the track was Harrison’s idea. While some listeners initially thought it was the sound of the other Beatles mocking his songwriting effort, it was in fact meant to lighten the mood after five minutes of sad, almost mournful, music.
Within You Without You came about after I had spent a bit of time in India and fallen under the spell of the country and its music. I had brought back a lot of instruments. It was written at Klaus Voormann’s house in Hampstead after dinner one night. The song came to me when I was playing a pedal harmonium.
I’d also spent a lot of time with Ravi Shankar, trying to figure out how to sit and hold the sitar, and how to play it. Within You Without You was a song that I wrote based upon a piece of music of Ravi’s that he’d recorded for All-India Radio. It was a very long piece – maybe 30 or 40 minutes – and was written in different parts, with a progression in each. I wrote a mini version of it, using sounds similar to those I’d discovered in his piece. I recorded in three segments and spliced them together later.
When I’m Sixty-Four
Written by – John Lennon/Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Guitar George Harrison – Backing Vocals Ringo Starr – Drums/Chimes Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy – Clarinets
The first of the Sgt Pepper songs to be recorded, When I’m Sixty-Fourwas originally intended to be the b-side to Strawberry Fields Forever.
The song dates back to The Beatles’ earliest days. Paul McCartney had composed it on the family piano at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool “when I was about 15”.
Back then I wasn’t necessarily looking to be a rock ‘n’ roller. When I wrote When I’m Sixty-Four I thought I was writing a song for Sinatra. There were records other than rock ‘n’ roll that were important to me.
Paul McCartney used to perform a variation of the song in their Cavern Club era, on piano, when the group’s equipment used to stop working.
When I’m Sixty-Four was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck a few more words on it like ‘grandchildren on your knee’ and ‘Vera, Chuck and Dave’. It was just one of those ones that he’d had, that we’ve all got, really; half a song. And this was just one that was quite a hit with us. We used to do them when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano.
John Lennon – The Beatles Anthology
The song was dusted down in 1966, the year Paul McCartney’s father Jim turned 64. When I’m Sixty-Fourfocuses on a young man anxiously looking towards old age; the vocals were sped up in the studio to make them sound more sprightly.
The music is suitably old-fashioned, with a music hall melody and an arrangement prominently featuring George Martin’s clarinet score.
I thought it was a good little tune but it was too vaudevillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek.
It’s pretty much my song. I did it in a rooty-tooty variety style… George helped me on a clarinet arrangement. I would specify the sound and I love clarinets so ‘Could we have a clarinet quartet?’ ‘Absolutely.’ I’d give him a fairly good idea of what I wanted and George would score it because I couldn’t do that. He was very helpful to us. Of course, when George Martin was 64 I had to send him a bottle of wine.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
When I am 64 In Studio
On 6 December 1966 The Beatles recorded Christmas messages for the pirate stations Radio London and Radio Caroline. Afterwards they spent some time rehearsing When I’m Sixty-Four, before two takes of the rhythm track were recorded.
Two days later, without the other Beatles being present, McCartney added his lead vocals to take two. The song was then left until 20 December, when McCartney, Lennon and Harrison taped backing vocals and Starr played chimes.
When I’m Sixty-Four was completed the next day, with the overdub of the three clarinets. During the mixing stage, meanwhile, McCartney decided that the song needed speeding up. On 30 December they scrapped all previous mixes and created a new mono one, which raised the key from C to D flat major.
Written by – John Lennon- Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass/Comb and Paper John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Acoustic Rhythm Guitar/Comb and Paper George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Acoustic Rhythm Guitar/Comb and Paper Ringo Starr – Drums/Comb and Paper George Martin – Piano
Paul McCartney’s affectionate tale of a female traffic warden was originally written as an anti-authority satire. As Paul McCartney later explained,
“I was thinking it should be a hate song… but then I thought it would be better to love her.”
Traffic wardens were a relatively new feature of British life in 1967. In America they were colloquially known as meter maids, a term which caught the imagination of McCartney via a newspaper story.
There was a story in the paper about ‘Lovely Rita’, the meter maid. She’s just retired as a traffic warden. The phrase ‘meter maid’ was so American that it appealed, and to me a ‘maid’ was always a little sexy thing: ‘Meter maid. Hey, come and check my meter, baby.’ I saw a bit of that, and then I saw that she looked like a ‘military man’.
Paul McCartney – Anthology
Paul McCartney wrote the words for Lovely Rita in the Wirral near Liverpool, while walking near his brother Michael’s house in Gayton.
I remember one night just going for a walk and working on the words as I walked… It wasn’t based on a real person but, as often happened, it was claimed by a girl called Rita who was a traffic warden who apparently did give me a ticket, so that made the newspapers. I think it was more a question of coincidence: anyone called Rita who gave me a ticket would naturally think, ‘It’s me!’ I didn’t think, Wow, that woman gave me a ticket, I’ll write a song about her – never happened like that.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Lovely Rita – In Studio
Recording began on 23 February 1967 in Abbey Road’s studio two. Eight takes of the rhythm track were recorded, with George Harrison and John Lennon on acoustic guitars, Ringo playing the drums and Paul on piano. Take eight was the best, and onto this McCartney added his bass part.
The next day his lead vocals were taped, following which Lovely Rita was left until 7 March. On that day the song’s distinctive backing vocals and sound effects were recorded. Led by John Lennon, The Beatles made various groaning, sighing and screaming noises, played paper and combs, and added some cha-cha-chas for good measure.
The paper and combs can best be heard immediately before the line “When it gets dark I tow your heart away”. The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans was sent to collect paper from Abbey Road’s lavatory. Stamped with the words, “Property of EMI”, the paper was threaded into hair combs and blown, giving a kazoo-like effect.
On 21 March George Martin recorded the song’s piano solo. It was recorded with the tape machine running at 41¼ cycles per second, and was mixed at 48¾ cycles. This made the solo much faster and higher pitched than it had been during the recording.
Good Morning Good Morning
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Bass George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums/Tambourine Barrie Cameron, David Glyde, Alan Holmes – Saxophone John Lee, Unknown Talent – Trombone Tom (Surname Unknown)– French Horn
Born of John Lennon’s post-touring retreat into suburban daydreaming, Good Morning Good Morning was inspired by a Kellogg’s commercial he heard while working with the television playing in the background.
Good Morning is mine. It’s a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought. The ‘Good morning, good morning’ was from a Kellogg’s cereal commercial. I always had the TV on very low in the background when I Was writing and it came over and then I wrote the song.
John Lennon – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The Kellogg’s jingle went
Good morning, good morning The best to you each morning. Sunshine breakfast, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Crisp and full of fun.
With time signatures varying almost from bar-to-bar, Good Morning Good Morning’s unruly meter was a result of Lennon’s tendency to write words first before fitting the music around them.
John was feeling trapped in suburbia and was going through some problems with Cynthia. It was about his boring life at the time – there’s a reference in the lyrics to ‘nothing to do’ and ‘meet the wife’; there was an afternoon TV soap called Meet The Wife that John watched, he was that bored, but I think he was also starting to get alarm bells.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Bass Guitar John Lennon – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar George Harrison – Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Tambourine/Maracas George Martin – Organ
The idea for a reprise of Sgt Pepper’s title track was suggested by The Beatles’ assistant Neil Aspinall, who thought the album should be bookended with words from the imaginary compère.
I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compère of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil’… That was when I knew that John liked it and that it would happen.
Sgt Pepper (Reprise) was the final music recorded for the album, apart from the strings overdub for Within You Without You. Taped in a single day, it was the perfect rousing performance to introduce the grand finale, A Day In The Life.
The reprise was faster than the previously-recorded title track, and with different lyrics. Opening with Paul McCartney’s 1-2-3-4 count-in and John Lennon’s cheeky “bye”, it featured all four Beatles on vocals and was one of the more straightforward rock songs on the Sgt Pepper album.
Take five of the song, with a guide vocal by Paul McCartney, was released on Anthology 2. A remix of the more familiar version, meanwhile, was used between Hey Jude and All You Need Is Love on theLovealbum.
A Day in the Life
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
The Players John Lennon – Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Piano Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass George Harrison – Maracas Ringo Starr – Drums/Bongos George Martin – Harmonium Mal Evans – Piano/Vocals/Alarm Clock Erich Gruenberg, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – Violins John Underwood, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – Violas Francisco Gabarro, Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Alex Nifosi – Cellos Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce – Double Basses John Marston – Harp Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – Clarinets Roger Lord – Oboe N Fawcett, Alfred Waters – Bassoons Clifford Seville, David Sanderman – Flutes Alan Civil, Neil Sanders – French Horns David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – Trumpets Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore – Trombones Michael Barnes – Tubas Tristan Fry – Timpani/Percussion Marijke Koger – Tambourine
The climax of their masterpiece Sgt Pepper, A Day In The Life found The Beatles at the peak of their creative powers, an astonishing artistic statement that saw them fearless, breaking boundaries and enthralling generations of listeners with the timeless quality of their music.
A Day In The Life – that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said ‘yeah’ – bang, bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully.
John Lennon – Rolling Stone
A 41-piece orchestra played on this song. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest.
This was recorded in three sessions: First the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in.
The beginning of this song was based on two stories John Lennon read in the Daily Mail newspaper: Guinness heir Tara Browne dying when he smashed his lotus into a parked van, and an article in the UK Daily Express in early 1967 which told of how the Blackburn Roads Surveyor had counted 4000 holes in the roads of Blackburn and commented that the volume of material needed to fill them in was enough to fill the Albert Hall. Lennon took some liberties with the Tara Browne story – he changed it so he “Blew his mind out in the car.”
John Lennon stated this regarding the article about Tara Browne:
“I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.” At the time, Paul didn’t realize the reference was to Tara. He thought it was about a “stoned politician.” The article regarding the “4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” was taken from the UK Daily Express, January 17, 1967 in a column called “Far And Near.”
John’s friend Terry Doran was the one who completed John’s line “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill…” Terry told him “fill the Albert Hall, John.”
Paul McCartney contributed the line “I’d love to turn you on.” This was a drug reference, but the BBC banned it for the line about having a smoke and going into a dream, which they thought was about marijuana. The ban was finally lifted when author David Storey picked it as one of his Desert Island Discs.
The final chord was produced by all four Beatles and George Martin banging on three pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds, and the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.
This being the last song on the album, The Beatles found an interesting way to close it out. After the final note, John Lennon had producer George Martin dub in a high pitched tone, which most humans can’t hear, but drives dogs crazy. This was followed by a loop of incomprehensible studio noise, along with Paul McCartney saying “Never could see any other way,” spliced together. It was put there so vinyl copies would play this continuously in the run-out groove, sounding like something went horribly wrong with the record. Kids, ask your parents about vinyl.
David Crosby was at Abbey Road studios when The Beatles were recording this. In an interview with Filter magazine, he said:
“I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear ‘A Day In The Life.’ I was high as a kite – so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down; they had huge speakers like coffins with wheels on that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got the end of that piano chord, man my brains were on the floor.”
As you can see much of this masterpiece has been over analyzed and over commentated on. The entire goal to this retrospective is to open the eyes and hearts to newer generations to this album and to perhaps renew interest for those long time fans who are still seeking more information or tidbits on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s Darkside Of The Moon & The Wall, Yes’ Tales Of Topographic Oceans, Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed, The Who’s Tommy & Quadraphenia, Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention We’re Only In It For The Money, Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell Trilogy, RUSH’s 2112, etc.. may not otherwise exist without The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Neither would all those albums respective influence on future bands and concept albums may not exist either.
The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will never stop being a topic of keen interest within the pantheon of rock. With every anniversary milestone and birthday you will always see articles and retrospectives like this one. This is a testament of the utter generational defying reach The Beatles have had as a band and that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandhas had as a album for the last 50 years and will for the next 50 or so years. ‘It was 50 Years Ago This Month ……’
Towards my preparation in writing the retrospective of this ‘Classic Masterpiece’, I struggled with the fact of where to start. After all Deep Purple’s Machine Head is the band’s sixth album and third album under the classic ‘Mark 2‘ lineup that would cement their place in both rock n roll history and heavy metal history. I even debated whether to even write it at all giving into to my own delusions that this album has been over explained through the last 45 years. However the more I thought about it the more I felt that it still needed to be revisited due to its concrete significance in the history of recorded music in general. Therefore pull up a cup of coffee, cuppa tea or even a pint of ale because you are about to embark on a journey, a retrospective that is Deep Purple’s Machine Head.
Though not without its moments, 1971’s Fireball described something of a non-descript holding pattern for Deep Purple. Not a bad album as such it was, artistically at least, a curious underachiever compared to 1970’s In Rock. What they needed was something with as much impact and which delivered them new standards to ensure their upwards path. With not a lot of spare change in the pocket as far as new material went, the recording session was a fraught affair. Yet out of such adversity, Purple dug deep into their reserves producing their strongest and most consistent set.
The band at this time decided a change of scenery was in order and decided to go to Montreux, Switzerland, and record through out the entire month of December in 1971. The band’s main reasons for a relocation to Switzerland was basically economical. The band could avoid paying some serious recording taxes as none existed in Switzerland much like they had back in England. They were also seeking solace as a band for creative reasons. Third and final reason they relocated there to to having no distractions that home would of provided.
The name Machine Head was inspired simply by the adjustment knobs and the head they rested on with Roger Glover’s bass. All the head at the top of the neck with the knobs has always been a simple machine. Thus the name Machine Head stuck. Released in 1972, Machine Headbecome the benchmark against which everything that followed would be judged against. In the canon of heavy rock this is an album replete with classic tracks. Concise in nature, killer punches are only ever a minute away no matter which song you play. Vocalist Ian Gillan excels himself on “Highway Star,” and “Never Before”, the latter an excellent single, released ahead of the album covering both pop, rock and some righteously funky turnarounds. Blackmore dominates the album turning in some of his most understated and reflective playing on “When A Blind Man Cries” (the b-side to the single and not included on the original album) and of course, “Smoke On The Water.”
Deep Purple’s Machine Head would go on to be consider a prototype album for the origins of a new yet unidentified genre of heavier edged rock. The title would ultimately come to be known as Heavy Metal. Machine Head would also go on to give many current progressive metal bands some very fluent inspiration as well. Bands like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Dimmu Borgir and Arjen Luccassen with (Ayreon & Star One)to name a few, would all take elements away from Deep Purple and Machine Head decades later. Now without any further delay let’s either go down memory lane for those of you that were there or be introduced to one of the top 10 classic hard rock albums in Deep Purple’s Machine Head.
This song is about a man and his love for his high-powered car, which he says can out-race every other car. This was written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Roger Glover. It may have been inspired by Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild,” and along with “Radar Love” is one of the most famous driving songs in rock.
According to Roger Glover, they wrote this song on their tour bus on the way to a gig at the Portsmouth Guildhall (in the UK), on September 13, 1971, where they debuted the song. They wrote it because they were getting sick of their opening number, “Speed King,” and “Highway Star” became the new opener for their shows. The song evolved through live performances, and was recorded for the Machine Head album in December 1971.
Many people consider this the first “Speed Metal” song, a division of Heavy Metal and a genre later popularized by bands such as Venom, Motorhead and Metallica.
The guitar solo in this song was ranked #19 in the List of 100 Greatest Guitar Solos by Guitar World magazine. This has been featured in several episodes of That ’70s Show.
Maybe I’m A Leo
Roger Glover says:
“I wrote the riff to “Maybe I’m a Leo” after hearing John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?”. I liked the idea that the riff didn’t start on the down beat, like 99% of riffs do. Most of the songs on Machine Head were from the first take, or not long after.”
Singer Ian Gillan is a Leo (born 19 August), the only group member at the time with that astrological sign.
The song was rarely played by the band live, but three live recordings of it have been released on albums, Deep Purple in Concert, recorded in 1972, Live at the Olympia ’96, and Live at Montreux 2011.
The SACD version of Machine Head has an alternative guitar solo on “Maybe I’m a Leo”.
Pictures Of Home
According to Classic Rock Magazine Review:
“Pictures of Home” is Deep Purple at their most poignant, a driving rhythm topped by sweeping vocals pushing out deep lyrical motifs, all accented by the distinct, distorted Hammond organ of John Lord. Glover even gets a short bass solo in the middle section before Blackmore warms for lift-off before a surprising false stop and comeback makes the song all the more interesting”.
Ritchie Blackmore says that he was inspired by a short wave radio channel, “probably from Bulgaria or Turkey” when writing the main riff. Ian Gillan’s lyrics were a result of studio paranoia and home sickness.
It is the only song from Machine Head that was not performed live during Deep Purple’s 1972 tour
A song by Deep Purple, which appears as the fourth song on their 1972 album Machine Head. It was also released as a single and reached #35 in the UK. A promo video was made for the song in 1972. The single version of the song is an edit of the album version and lasts 3:30.
The guitar riff in Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” bears a strong resemblance to this song. “Never Before” has rarely been performed live. The only live recording of this song appears on Deep Purple in Concert, which was recorded at the time of the single release, a week or so before Machine Head was released.
Deep Purple performed “Never Before” on tour in 2004, when they played the whole Machine Headalbum.
Smoke On The Water
This song took inspiration from a fire in the Casino at Montreux, Switzerland on December 4, 1971. The band was going to record their Machine Head album there right after a Frank Zappa concert, but someone fired a flare gun at the ceiling during Frank Zappa’s show, which set the place on fire. Deep Purple was in the audience for the show, and lead singer Ian Gillan recalls two flares being shot by someone sitting behind him which landed in the top corner of the building and quickly set it ablaze. Zappa stopped the show and helped ensure an orderly exit. Deep Purple watched the blaze from a nearby restaurant, and when the fire died down, a layer of smoke had covered Lake Geneva, which the casino overlooked. This image gave bass player Roger Glover the idea for a song title: “Smoke On The Water,” and Gillan wrote the lyric about their saga recording the Machine Headalbum.
The band was relocated to the Grand Hotel in Montreux, where they recorded the album using the Rolling Stones mobile studio. They needed one more song, so they put together “Smoke On The Water”using Gillan’s lyric and riff the guitarist Ritchie Blackmore came up with. The result was a song telling the story of these strange events just days after they happened – the recording sessions took place from December 6-21. Frank Zappa, who is mentioned in the lyrics, lost all his equipment in the fire. He then broke his leg a few days later when a fan pulled him into the crowd at a show in England. This prompted Ian Gillan to say “Break a leg, Frank,” into the microphone after recording this for a BBC special in 1972. Deep Purple bass player Roger Glover had some doubts about the title: he knew it was great but was reluctant to use it because it sounded like a drug song. Ritchie Blackmore has an affinity for renaissance music, which he writes and performs in his duo Blackmore’s Night. He says that he first took an interest in the form in 1971 when he saw a BBC program called Wives of Henry VIII, and that there is indeed a trace of Renaissance in “Smoke On The Water.” “The riff is done in fourths and fifths – a medieval modal scale,” he explained on MySpace Music. “It makes it appear more dark and foreboding. Not like today’s pop music thirds.”
The band did not think this would be a hit and rarely played it live. It took off when they released it as a US single over a year after the album came out. Talking about the song’s merits as live material, Roger Glover said in Metal Hammer, “I think ‘Smoke On The Water’ is the biggest song that Purple will ever have and there’s always a pressure to play it, and it’s not the greatest live song, it’s a good song but you sorta plod through it. The excitement comes from the audience. And there’s always the apprehension that Ritchie (Blackmore) isn’t gonna want to do it, ’cause he’s probably fed up with doing it.”
When we spoke with Steve Morse, who became Deep Purple’s guitarist in 1994, he talked about performing this song live. “On a tune that I didn’t write like ‘Smoke On The Water,’ I try to tread a line between homage and respect and originality,” he said. “So, say, on the solo, I take it a out a little bit and do it my way for a little bit, and then bring it back to more like the original, and wrap it up with a lick that everybody would recognize. That’s about as much as I can suggest somebody do because there’s ingrained memories of the song in peoples’ minds.”
“Funky Claude,” as in the lyrics “Funky Claude was running in and out pulling kids out the ground,” is Claude Nobs, a man who helped rescue some people in the fire and found another hotel for the band to stay. He is the co-founder of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival.
Nobs explained to Gibson.com how this song arose out of the ashes: “Deep Purple were watching the whole fire from their hotel window, and they said, ‘Oh my God, look what happened. Poor Claude and there’s no casino anymore!’ They were supposed to do a live gig [at the casino] and record the new album there. Finally I found a place in a little abandoned hotel next to my house and we made a temporary studio for them. One day they were coming up for dinner at my house and they said, ‘Claude we did a little surprise for you, but it’s not going to be on the album. It’s a tune called “Smoke On The Water.'” So I listened to it. I said, ‘You’re crazy. It’s going to be a huge thing.’ Now there’s no guitar player in the world who doesn’t know [he hums the riff]. They said, ‘Oh if you believe so we’ll put it on the album.’ It’s actually the very precise description of the fire in the casino, of Frank Zappa getting the kids out of the casino, and every detail in the song is true. It’s what really happened. In the middle of the song, it says ‘Funky Claude was getting people out of the building,’ and actually when I meet a lot of rock musicians, they still say, ‘Oh here comes Funky Claude.'”
The B-side of the single was another version of the song, recorded live in Japan.
In 1989, Former members Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan released a new version of this with Robert Plant, Brian May, and Bruce Dickinson, Alex Lifeson. They called the project “Rock Aid Armenia,” with proceeds going to victims of the Armenian earthquake. I have included a video of the extended cut specifically done for charity at the time.
Homer is heard crooning to this song in an a episode of The Simpsons in which he uses medicinal marijuana.
Pat Boone covered this on In a Metal Mood. On the album, he performed heavy metal songs with string instruments, pianos, etc., but in this case kept the famous guitar riff and even allowed the guitarist a solo. Otherwise, it’s a very jazzy cover.
The famous guitar riff is performed in the 2003 Jack Black film School Of Rock.
On June 3, 2007 in Kansas City, Kansas, 1,721 guitarists gathered to play this song together and break the record for most guitarists playing at one time. The entire song was played, though only the one lead guitar played the solo. Guitarists from as far as Scotland came out for the event. The event was organized by radio station KYYS.
It’s hard to compete with outsourcing, however, and the record was beaten on October 26, 2007 when 1,730 guitarists gathered in Shillong, India to perform “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.”
This was used in commercials for Dodge trucks. The song plays on a jukebox that a guy is eyeing in an antique store. His wife gets her way and they take home a piece of furniture instead – the point being the large payload capacity of the truck.
According to an interview with Ian Gillian on VH1’s Classic Albums: Machine Head, the band did not have much money when recording this album and were renting a recording studio. They stayed past when they were supposed to get out. As they were recording this song, the police were knocking on the door of the studio to kick them out.
In a 2008 survey of students from music schools across London, this topped a poll to find the best ever guitar riff. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came second and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” third.
According to the London Times newspaper, Ritchie Blackmore was embarrassed to present this song to his fellow members of Deep Purple because it was such a Neanderthal tune for a guitarist of his caliber to come up with.
The lyrics, “Swiss time was running out” meant that their visas were going to expire soon. They wrote the songs and recorded them in a matter of weeks.
Many beginners try to play this when they pick up a guitar, and they usually play it wrong. Here’s how: Use the open G and D strings as the starting point and you pluck the strings with a finger each, not a pick. Lots of people play this from the 5th fret of the A and D string, which is wrong. Smoke On The Water ranks up there with icons like Stairway To Heaven LedZeppelin, Freebird, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dream On Aerosmith and even Tom Sawyer Rush. .
Fender.com asked Ritchie Blackmore how he came up with the song’s famous riff. He replied:
“Ian Paice (Deep Purple drummer) and I often used to jam, just the two of us. It was a natural riff to play at the time. It was the first thing that came into my head during that jam.”
Most definitely not to be confused with the Irving Berlin standard of the same name, this album track is actually quite an uptempo number. Although basically a blues based ego trip for lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboard wizard Jon Lord, vocalist Ian Gillan also chips in on harmonica.
The song’s most noticeable feature is its riff, the words are largely superfluous:
You’re lazy, just stay in bed, You’re lazy, just stay in bed, You don’t want no money, You don’t want no bread.
Etc. “Lazy” was co-written by all five members of Deep Purple Mark II (ie Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice); group compositions being a trademark of this particular line up.
The studio version runs to 7 minutes 23 seconds and was recorded for the Machine Head sessions at Montreaux, Switzerland in December 1971. Being a track that lends readily to improvisation – as well as the aforementioned ego tripping – on stage it would often be spun out for considerably longer. A quarter of a century after it was released, Ritchie Blackmore’s “Lazy” guitar solo was voted number 75 of all time by a readers’ poll for Guitar World magazine.
It is the seventh and final track on the Machine Head album. Its lyrics talk of space travel and it showcases the vocal abilities of singer Ian Gillan and powerful drumming of Ian Paice.
The intro was featured on the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati on the episode “The Airplane Show” (later issues of the episode replaced this track with generic music). The song is featured as a downloadable track for the Rock Band series of music video games as of 30 December 2008.The song appeared in the film Lords of Dogtown, the documentary Warren Miller’s Dynasty and video game Guitar Hero: Van Halen.
The 1997 remix of the song was featured in the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead.
Several cover versions of Space Truckin’ would be done over the years. These are the most notable cover versions throughout the last 45 years.
Dream Theater covered this and the whole Made in Japan album.
Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One covered the song during their 2002 European tour, as seen on the Live on Earth DVD.
American thrash metal band Overkill included a cover of the song on their 1999 album Coverkill.
Serbian hard rock band Cactus Jack released a cover on their 2003 Deep Purple Tribute album.
American industrial metal band Ministry include their version of the song in the all-covers album Cover Up. Tesla’s version is the first track on their album Real to Reel.
American thrash metal band Vengeance Rising covered the song on their 1990 album Once Dead.,
William Shatner covered the song on his album Seeking Major Tom.
Iron Maiden’s cover of this song appeared on the tribute album Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s Machine Head, which was released in September 2012.
Kraus covered this song in 2011.
Original Extended Live Performance by Deep Purple on Made In Japan.
As I said at the top of this retrospective it was a debate whether I was still going to do this here at Power Of Prog as planned. On this day in 1972 Deep Purple unleashed a tempest and monster with Machine Head. As a matter of fact and I will end this here, Machine Head went immediately to No. 1 in the U.K. and remained on the charts for weeks, aided by singles including “Never Before,” “Lazy”and “Highway Star.” Machine Headwas more of a slow burn in the United States, partially because “Smoke on the Water” wasn’t released as a single until May 1973. The song became Purple’s most successful U.S. single (hitting No. 4 on Billboard, as did 1968’s “Hush”) and pushed its parent album to No. 7. In all, Machine Head spent more than two years on the American charts, as Deep Purple become hard rock heavyweights known around the world. Four and a half decades later, it remains the band’s biggest album.
Jethro Tull | Thick As A Brick A 45th Anniversary Retrospective
Original Label : Chrysalis (Europe) Reprise (North America) Release Year : 1972 Country : United Kingdom Genre : Progressive Rock
Original 1972 Band Members Ian Anderson – Lead Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Fute/Volin/Tumpet/Sxophone/Cover Art Producer Martin Barre – Electric Guitar/Lute John Evan – Organ/Piano/Harpsichord/Cover Art Jeffrey Hammond (as “Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond”) – Bass Guitar/Spoken Words/Cover art Barriemore Barlow – Drums/Percussion/Timpani
Additional Guest Musicians
David Palmer – Orchestral Arrangements Terry Ellis – Executive Producer Robin Black – Engineer
Throughout the history of progressive rock, the progressive rock epic has become a staple in the historical record of progressive rock. What do I mean by progressive rock epic. It is simple, a song that is 15+ minutes in length that transcends the original album they appeared on. In the progressive rock community in 1972, we witnessed a year of epics. Various epics that saw that light of day in 1972 are in no particular order, Yes’ Close To The Edge – 18:43 , Genesis’ Suppers Ready – 22:57 , Frank Zappa’s Waka Jawaka – 36:08 , Ash Ra Temple’s Schiwingungen – 38:04 and all four tracks that would make up Tangerine Dream’s Zeit, Birth of Liquid Plejades – 19:54, Nebulous Dawn – 17:56 , Origin of Supernatural Probabilities – 19:34 , Zeit – 16:58, etc …..
A little more history, due to the absolute time constrictions of the vinyl records of the day many of these classics came in 2 to 3 even more disc packages. The was a 22:05 restriction on each side of the vinyl records. It would only be later on Cassette and CD formats that we could really enjoy the progressive rock epic the way is was meant to be heard. Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brickin reality was a 43:48song that had to be divided into two sides due to industry restrictions. Side A was 22:39 and Side B was 21:09. I imagine if CD and Digital technology existed in 1972, the history of progressive rock and metal would be a whole different story.
Ian Anderson did Thick As A Brick as partial satire to where the progressive rock community started to go with longer more detailed compositions. In a interview with with PROG Magazine, Ian Anderson explained that Thick As A Brick was the basically the Monty Python to the progressive rock concept album of the day.
“Monty Python lampooned the British way of life,” says Anderson. “Yet did it in such a way that made us all laugh while celebrating it. To me, that’s what we as a band did on Thick As A Brick. We were spoofing the idea of the concept album, but in a fun way that didn’t totally mock it.” Ian Anderson would go on in same interview and say that progressive rock had become all entirely ‘too serious’ feeling ‘too self important’
“When progressive rock started out, it was all about bands such as ourselves moving beyond merely being influenced by American blues. We stopped trying to be the next Fleetwood Mac or Chicken Shack – in other words, derivative of Elmore James – and began to take on board so many diverse musical ideas. It was exciting and dynamic. But, by the time the 1970s had begun, bands like ELP were a little up their own arses. Everything was too serious and overblown. So, we set out with Thick As A Brick to show up this side of the genre.”
Despite Ian Anderson’s reservations on portions of the industry at the time, Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick would go on to become both a legendary album and a album that now has its own ‘cult like’ following. It is due to those factors alone that I decided to present this 45th Anniversary Retrospective. The above mentioned epics and Thick As A Brick would go on to also influence many many more artists in contemporary progressive rock and metal community.
Conceptual Blueprints # 2
The idea to make Thick As A Brick into a very deliberate concept came from Ian Anderson’s irritation over the general public pigeonholing Jethro Tull’s previous album Aqualung into a conceptual piece. On the contrary it just had a general theme running through over a multiple tracked album. Ian Anderson told Teamrock’s Prog Magazine about the situation in January 2016,
“Not angry, no,” explains the man nearly four decades on. “I was actually mildly irritated and wryly amused. However much I insisted that Aqualung wasn’t a concept album, the media still persisted in treating it as such. They seemed to believe the whole record was a major religious story. The truth was that three or four songs were linked by questioning the nature of religion. But the rest were stand-alone tracks. So, after this whole scenario, I thought, ‘OK, we’ll not only now do a real concept album, but we’re going to make it the mother of all concept albums!’.”
The general story centers around autobiographical events through Gerald Bostock, Ian Anderson’s alternate ego and fictional character he created for Thick As A Brick. As Gerald Bostock, Ian Anderson questions the state of organized religion of the time. Here is what I see going on within this line of stiff scrutiny towards organized religion as it relates to Thick As A Brick.
A young man, full of vigour and not yet beaten down by the system, “sees” what’s wrong with society and can’t believe that the elders don’t see “it” also. I believe that Ian is this young man and that these ideas are illustrations of his opinions of what’s wrong with the world. In Aqualung, the album just before TAAB, Ian attacks organized religion. He also examines the loveless, godless dregs of society. In Chateau D’Isaster, the “lost” album just after TAAB, Ian attacks the Rat Race – the business people whom he charicatures as various types of animals. He also comments on Free Will vs. God-driven pre-destiny by likening Life to a stage upon which the sole actor (you, me, us) goes out onto without a script and has to improvise. In TAAB and Roots to Branches, Ian examines how society and organized religion spread (by imprinting children before they become old enough to think for themselves). In general, I feel that Ian believes in free will and in the humanitarian aspects of modern religions – we can determine our own actions and we are charged with the responsibility to act with compassion towards ourselves, other people, animals and nature. He believes that it is wrong to rely on a personified deity (“God”) – a god who will come riding in like the Great White Knight to “save” us from our own stupid actions. You can see this belief expressed throughout Aqualung, e.g. “He is the god of nothing, if that’s all that you can see, You are the god of everything, he’s inside you and me”.
Now I know there will be a bit of controversy with this. Some will agree or disagree with how God is looked at. That is not my intention to persuade somebody’s faith or religious beliefs. I am merely being as generally objective as possible. Some of the views expressed about the issue and subject of God even conflict with my own beliefs however still, my main focus is the facts and this was how the issue of God was viewed by Gerald Bostock, a.k.a fictional character of Ian Anderson as it concerns Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick.
The Anatomy Of A Epic – A Breakdown Of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick. Thick As A Brick – Sides #1 & #2
This was the only song on the album. Side 1 was “part 1,” running 22:31, and side 2 was “part 2,” clocking in at 21:05. Each side was over 20 minutes long.
A radio edit, running just 3:01, was sent to radio stations and is the version used on most compilation albums. Speaking with us in 2013, Ian Anderson explained: “back in 1972, you had to be aware of what was then called AOR radio – it was a delicate beast. It could only in most cases manage to play music that was in bite size portions. So we had to think about giving the option to American radio playing little edited sections of ‘Thick As A Brick,’ so they didn’t have to delicately drop the needle into the middle of a long track or lift it off after the three and a half minutes. So we did that specially for American radio.
It was never released publicly in that form, but in limited editions which were sent out to radio stations in the US, which is the only place where the record got played, anyway. It never got played in the UK or anywhere in Europe, it was just not that kind of music.”
“Thick as a brick” is a phrase meaning stubbornly dumb, as one’s head is so thick that no new thoughts can enter it. The song starts with Ian Anderson expressing his low expectations for his target (“I may make you feel but I can’t make you think”) before singing about class structures, conformity, and the rigid moralistic beliefs of the establishment that perpetuates it.
The song follows a young boy who sees two career paths: soldier and artist. He chooses the life of a soldier, just like his father. We see him assimilate into the society he once rebelled against, becoming just like his dad.
With minimal meddling, the album took only two weeks to record, and was written in less than a month. The packaging was designed to look like a small-town newspaper called the St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser. When opened, the album revealed 12 pages of newspaper stories, making innovative use of the square foot of sleeve space with a fold-out so the Chronicle measured 12″x16″.
Under the headline “Thick As A Brick,” we learn that an 8-year-old boy genius named Gerald Bostock wrote the lyrics for a poetry competition, but was disqualified on moral grounds by the governing body, The Society for Literary Advancement and Gestation (SLAG). According to the story, Ian Anderson of the “Major Beat Group” Jethro Tull read the poem and wrote 45 minutes of “pop music” to accompany it.
The newspaper also contained ads, recipes, TV listings, a crossword puzzle, and a review of the album. Jethro Tull wasn’t the first to use the newspaper theme for album art: The Four Seasons 1969 album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette was made to look like a newspaper with lyrics to the songs appearing as stories. It even had a comics-section insert.
In 2012, Ian Anderson recorded a sequel called Thick As A Brick 2 – Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? The album presents various outcomes for the now 48-year-old Bostock, including banker, preacher, soldier, and shop owner. Anderson says the album examines how “our own lives develop, change direction and ultimately conclude through chance encounters and interventions, however tiny and insignificant they might seem at the time.”
Anderson had never performed the original Thick As A Brick in its entirety, but later in 2012, he began a tour where he played the entire album and its sequel.
This continued an experimental phase for Jethro Tull. Their previous album, Aqualung, was considered a “concept” album, with characters and themes continuing from one song to the next. This was considered “progressive” rock, with very obtuse lyrics and a great deal of production. This song seems to be a commentary on modern society and the human condition.
In 2001, this was used in a Hyundai commercial. Group leader Ian Anderson recorded a new version for the spot to avoid having other musicians butcher his song, as is often the case in commercials. He improvised an outro which he felt was the best part, but it was edited out. Anderson does not drive a Hyundai. He calls himself a “professional passenger.”
This appears in an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa goes to the “Boy’s School.”
In the digital age, an album containing just one song doesn’t fit the download model. When the 40th Anniversary Special Edition was released in 2012, Ian Anderson divided the album into 8 different pieces that could be sold individually on iTunes and Amazon as $1.29 songs with titles like “The Poet and the Painter” and “See There a Man Is Born/Clear White Circles.” “Some artists choose not to do that – famously Pink Floyd – and don’t want to have their music unbundled to offer it in song length pieces,” Anderson told us. “But I accept that that’s the musical appetite of most folks these days. They don’t really have the time or the concentration to listen to a whole album in one go. They want it in manageable pieces.”
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