Friday, 21 October 2016
Thursday, 20 October 2016
GILES MARTIN:"WE REMOVED SOME SCREAMS FRON HOLLYWOOD BOWL,WHICH MEANT WE COULD THEN DIG INTO THE DRUMS A BIT MORE"
Producer George Martin was thrust head first into the eye of the hurricane when The Beatles performed a series of now historic concerts held at The Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965.
Surrounded by thousands of unruly screaming Beatlemaniacs, he witnessed first-hand the mania, excitement and fever pitch generated by the Fab Four, an unforgettable experience he described in the liner notes to the Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl album issued in 1977 on Capitol Records: “The chaos, I might almost say panic, that reigned at these concerts was unbelievable unless you were there. Only three-track recording was possible; The Beatles had no ‘fold back’ speakers, so they could not hear what they were singing, and the eternal shriek from 17,000 healthy, young lungs made even a jet plane inaudible.”
Fast forward almost 40 years since the initial release of The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl album…In connection with the new Ron Howard-directed film The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years, the late George Martin’s son, Giles Martin, a talented producer in his own right, has been passed the mantle and brought the Hollywood Bowl tapes back in life with a double-dose of sonic steroids thanks to dramatic advances in technology.
The result, The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl, serves as a splendid document of The Beatles live onstage knocking it out of the park delivering powerful renditions of future classics She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Help, Ticket To Ride, Can’t Buy Me Love, A Hard Days Night, All My Loving, You Can’t Do That, and more.
RockCellar Magazine:Listening to these historic recordings, what impressed you the most about them on a visceral level?
Giles Martin: Well, I think you have to put into context the fact that the band are playing without any monitors and without really much of a P.A. so that’s an incredibly raw recording of a band. The Beatles, even in their softer songs, never gave less than 110%. I sound like a football manager all of a sudden (laughs).
But the visceral nature and vitality is there. The fascinating thing about recording is it captures people at a certain age and with the Hollywood Bowl recordings, you’ve captured these 22, 23 year-old men right on the zenith or the brink of Beatlemania being recorded live in concert. It’s before Sgt. Pepper, it’s before the consideration happened and they just launch into every song like it’s the last time they’re gonna play it.
Explain the demix technology employed to improve the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl recordings.
Giles Martin: A few years ago Capitol Studios called saying they’d discovered some Hollywood Bowl three-track tapes in their archive. We transferred them and noticed an improvement over the tapes we’ve kept in the London archive. Alongside this, I’d been working for some time with a team headed by technical engineer James Clarke on demix technology, the ability to remove and separate sounds from a single track.
With Sam Okell, I started work on remixing the Hollywood Bowl tapes. Technology has moved on since my father worked on the material all those years ago. Now there’s improved clarity, and so the immediacy and visceral excitement can be heard like never before. My father’s words still ring true, but what we hear now is the raw energy of four lads playing together to a crowd that loved them.
This is the closest you can get to being at the Hollywood Bowl at the height of Beatlemania.
What were the greatest challenges you faced working with this material?
Giles Martin: The greatest challenge is the tapes themselves. My father originally worked on the original album in 1977 and it wasn’t a labor of love for him. When we addressed the tapes this time around–this might be hard to explain—but if you recorded your answering machine message for your voicemail, you never do it on a busy street. Now imagine however many thousands of girls screaming into a microphone.
As John (Lennon) said, “We have microphones but everyone is screaming louder than we are and they’re winning.” So it’s that.
It’s actually getting signal levels from the tapes where you can hear the band. The band are performing great but that’s the biggest challenge, actually producing an album that’s worth listening to and I don’t mean worth listening to in a historical context.
I mean, listening to it as a piece of music than can stand on its own.
Listening to the new Beatles Hollywood Bowl collection, it sounds like the band finally won and can be heard above the cacophony of screaming. Was there anything done to tame the sound of the audience going bonkers this go round?
Giles Martin: Yeah, you know what? It’s funny. There’s a guy at Abbey Road called James Clarke who was playing around with demix technology, which means taking a track and trying to remove artifacts off the track. He was trying various things and he’d been approaching me and I’m always interested in anyone trying to break through with new technology.
What demix technology does is it recognizes a sound and tries to remove it. So I said, “Let’s try it on Hollywood Bowl.” So we did it and we removed some screams from Hollywood Bowl, which meant we could then dig into the drums a bit more. The Hollywood Bowl shows are on three-track so we’re limited in our resources. We have bass and drums on one track. But if I wanted to put more low end onto the drums and to create more kick drum or more snare drum around 2 kilohertz, that’s just gonna decrease the level of screams. So we found new technology in order to get the band to come out more. And actually, one thing that’s noticeable on this new version, is how much more dynamic it is and how much more and how much more you can hear Ringo and the band actually playing.
And Paul’s bass.
Giles Martin: Oh yeah, the bass, yeah absolutely! See, before with my dad, what he’d do is if he added more bass he’d get more rumble. You can add more bass in the room and we managed to clean that up a bit.
Can this demix technology be employed on early Beatles studio recording to improve the sound?
Giles Martin: I played around with it for The Beatles 1 mixes we did. You have to be careful with it. See, the key thing is if anything affects the sound. People play me stuff all the time that is new technology, the answer to everything. If you feel as something is being affected then don’t use it. If it’s doing more than it should be, then don’t use it.
It’s a bit like digital effects in the cinema. You get to a certain stage where you know that someone is not flying through a building and it becomes like a cartoon. It’s the same with sound; it has to be organic. And as soon as it gets overwhelming with an effect we tend to steer away. As the Beatles and my father were, I’m not against using any new technology. I think it’s all about the listener, though. It’s all about what the fan wants.
Here’s the thing; immersion in audio isn’t just stereo and isn’t just surround sound. A mono record can sound very immersive. The original version of Strawberry Fields in mono is an incredibly psychedelic and immersive recording and that’s a mono recording. So I, like my father before me, would always be up for any new technology that would improve the sound quality for the listener.
Were there any tracks that proved particularly problematic?
Giles Martin: Well, first off, there’s a lot of fans saying, “Why can’t we have all the performances from the Hollywood Bowl shows?” One of the reasons is for one of the concerts Paul’s microphone wasn’t working properly so that’s challenging. You can’t do anything about that. Before we had the new technology we did a test on the material and saw what it was like. Without thinking about the original version of the Hollywood Bowl, I chose the best tracks that I thought would work best and I ended up using the same tracks my dad chose in 1977. (laughs)
I guess I learned something off him as I was growing up. (laughs) So the ones that were more difficult we tended to avoid because if there’s a big glitch in the recording or the microphone’s not working or there’s a glaring error in a performance we just didn’t use it.
That ties in my next question. The band performed other wonderful songs during these shows like If I Fell, I Feel Fine and I’m Down and they did not make the cut. Why?
Giles Martin: For If I Fell, the vocals were kind of strange on that one to begin with. I was gonna use I’m Down. If you’ve ever been in a band and you can’t hear each other, it’s the weirdest thing. Ringo said he used to play drums by watching the band’s bums move; watching John, Paul and George’s bums move and that’s how he knew where they were in the song. (laughs) I nearly put I’m Down on there but in one of the middle sections the whole band goes out by a beat and then come back in again and that’s because they couldn’t hear each other.
The funny thing is someone said to me, “Were the Beatles a good live band?” And you go, “Listen to their first four albums, they’re basically live recordings of the band playing.” Paperback Writer was done in one and a half takes and that’s just the band playing. They overdubbed the bass but the drums, guitars and vocals are live. They were a great live band and one of my jobs is to make sure they’re remembered as that. So the fact is there are not any artists around today that would record a three-track recording of a concert and just release it.
Every single live concert that gets released now has been fluffed around with in the studio at some point.
Is there a song on this collection that embodies the excitement of a Beatles live show best for you?
Giles Martin: I mean, there are a number of them; She Loves You and Can’t Buy Me Love are great performances. But in a funny way, there is one song that epitomizes the good and bad about Hollywood Bowl.
This may be a bizarre choice but I’d choose Things We Said Today. George introduces it. He’s saying, “You may know this song or you may not know this song.” Things We Said Today has a strange beginning. The audience are waiting for the shift from minor to major in the chorus and it’s almost like the crowd are creating this wave that the band surf on in the choruses. There’s nothing we could do about the screams; the screams are so loud when they go to the chorus of that song. So in a funny way that song epitomizes Beatlemania at that stage, the visceral excitement and the power. It was all new.
They were the first stadium band. Now the Hollywood Bowl isn’t a stadium but it’s the first recording of its kind.
Have you heard a reaction from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to the new and improved record?
Giles Martin: If they weren’t happy with it we wouldn’t release it. It’s as simple as that. It’s a very simple world, the Beatles’ world.
Yoko and Olivia (Harrison) are the same. Everyone has to be happy. It’s actually less complicated than most other record companies.
Paul had a CD and put it on in his kitchen and he told me he danced around the kitchen; he said it was just great to hear the band play.
And here’s the thing, it is a snapshot of that time. You’re talking about a 45 minute slot in someone’s life. We did a lot of work on this. It certainly took a lot longer than 45 minutes to mix. I think you have to enthusiasm. You have to have enthusiasm in the work and they still have enthusiasm for everything.
Listening to the show, Ringo really drives the band live.
Giles Martin: Yeah, that’s why I’m so pleased about this new version of Hollywood Bowl is you can really hear Ringo hit the drums. You watch the Washington D.C. concert in the new film and he’s really whacking the kit. (laughs) The Beatles were polite in interviews and they are incredibly gracious but however, put them in front of an audience and they really dig in. I’ve worked with Paul a lot and worked with Ringo in a live situation and I worked on the George Harrison film, the Martin Scorsese film, (Living In The Material World) so I knew George very well.
I can’t imagine any of them would ever hold back. It wasn’t a question of warming up or anything; they gave everything for their audience and especially at that time. And with the Hollywood Bowl recordings you can hear that celebration of joy and that celebration of music and that’s what it’s all about. There’s no consideration of image when they’re playing; it’s just about music.
Many speculated upon the release of The Beatles’ Eight Days a Week film, a corollary DVD/CD set with live music sourced from various shows circa ’63-’66 would be forthcoming, are there any plans?
Giles Martin: No, we thought about this. Here’s the funny thing: as soon as you’re watching something the quality moves up a notch, as soon as you have visuals. We all toyed around with this for a long time, whether we should do a soundtrack of the film. The film works really well and I’m very proud of it and I think it takes you on a journey but you need the visuals on some of the live recordings to justify the quality level.
What I mean by that, I say to people, “Imagine taking an iPhone to a concert wherever you live and recording that, that’s way better than the quality we have of Beatles live film stuff.” The Hollywood Bowl was recorded on three-track and that’s the only Beatles performance that there is a multi-track recording of. And I think it’s really important not to release things for the sake of it. Hollywood Bowl is a great document and a really good live album and it captures the Beatles at their zenith. The film is a really fun film to watch. The goal was to make people feel like what it would have been like to be there with them and I think the film does that. But from our point of view it’s really important that we don’t just sell stuff for the sake of releasing it.
Do you have a wish list Holy Grail Beatles project you’d still like to tackle?
Giles Martin: You know what, I’ve got loads but I can’t tell you about them. (laughs) But here’s the thing I’m so proud of and that’s to be part of new generations discovering the Beatles every day and in general that makes them feel better. There are very things in life left that make you feel better and don’t harm you and The Beatles are definitely one of those things. So to be part of that is great, but I’m always thinking up new ideas so one day they’ll unleash me again.
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Following on the heels of its 10th anniversary celebration and a reimagining of the show, "The Beatles Love" by Cirque du Soleil has announced an opportunity for fans to see the show's inner workings.
Starting Oct. 14, the production began welcoming visitors to open rehearsals, offering a chance to see both new and old acts practice their routines before the evening show.
The rehearsals are free to attend, and guests will also get access to special deals on tickets for the full performance.
"We are opening our doors to show fans exactly what it takes to bring 'Love' to life," Melanie Lalande, the show's artistic director, said in a release. "When you experience something as extraordinary as this show, you can't help but wonder how our artists are able to do the things they do, whether it's Lucy flying over the audience or acrobats flipping through the air during the trampoline act in 'Revolution.' It's an amazing opportunity to fall for 'Love' in a totally new way."
"The Beatles Love" opened at the Mirage in 2006, and marked the first time Cirque du Soleil built a show around a catalog of music. It features a cast of 70 artists, dancers and acrobats.
The open rehearsals take place at the Love Theater inside the Mirage every Friday from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., but are subject to cancellation. For more information and to confirm rehearsals, call the box office at (702) 792-7735. All ages are welcome.
An ONLINE AUCTION for a one-of-a-kind Paul McCartney Guitar String Bracelet. Auction produced by Wear Your Music. String donated by Paul McCarney via St. Thomas Lupus Trust. St. Thomas Lupus Trust to receive all auction profits to fund Lupus research and awareness.
Today, 20th October at 2PM EST (7PM GT&11AM PST) ,
Log onto www.facebook.com/wearyourmusic to view the LIVE broadcast.
Auction closes promptly at 3PM.
You will be bidding on the opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable music history. This bracelet will be handcrafted to your specifications out of strings used and donated by Paul McCartney. Includes a certificate of authenticity from tWear Your Music. The profits from this auction will benefit St. Thomas Lupus Trust.
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Minimum auction bid will begin at $500 USD. Bidding increments will be $20 USD each. Bidding will take place in auction comments and will run for 60 minutes. Winner will be required to remit payment within 24 hours. Once winner has paid, Wear Your Music will contact winner via email for size and shipping instructions. Bracelets can take up to two weeks in production before they ship. Ground shipping within the US is included in auction price. Expect the auction to have music, trivia, giveaways and more!
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
As well as being part of the title of Todd Rundgren’s classic album from 1973, A True Star is also a fitting description of the multi-talented musician/producer/ cyber voyager who has been a potent force in popular music since his eviscerating debut single Open My Eyes with his proto-psychedelic garage rockers The Nazz in 1968. Since then Rundgren has worked with a dazzling array of bands, and achieved recognition as an artist with a series of critically acclaimed solo albums.
Here he shares some of his moments and insights from more than 40 years in music, which include some spiky exchanges with John Lennon and experiences with Ringo...
Here he shares some of his moments and insights from more than 40 years in music, which include some spiky exchanges with John Lennon and experiences with Ringo...
I met John Lennon in a place called the Rainbow in Los Angeles during his carousing days with Harry Nilsson. He was sitting in a booth and someone introduced me to him. I said hi but had no conversation; I wasn’t loaded enough. That was the only face-to-face experience I had with him. But there was this infamous exchange we had through a British music paper [Melody Maker]. Someone interviewed me when I was in England, and I’m not exactly sure how John’s name came up but the context was to do with his credibility as a revolutionary. John’s antics were fairly well-publicised at the time. He was going out every night and getting drunk, and there was one particular incident where he got into an altercation with a waitress and apparently was wearing a Kotex [tampon] on his head and acting somewhat boorish.
My opinion at the time was that if you’re going to encourage people to change the world you have to have a certain amount of personal credibility, and if you start going backwards and abusing women when ostensibly you are supposed to be a feminist, it’s time to either be just what you are or drop the revolutionary shtick and clean up your act. So this started a whole faux conflict between us. His take on it – as his take was on just about everything in those days because he and Yoko were involved in this primal scream therapy which had gotten into his music – was that he attributed my commentary down to some issues I might be having with my father. Anything that happened at that time John attributed down to some infantile issues.
Apparently after he was assassinated the police found of copy of one of my albums in the hotel Mark Chapman was staying at. I never had any contact with him and I don’t believe that there’s any evidence that the little spat me and John had any effect on Mark Chapman at all. I’m not even sure he knew about it.
Ringo was the most approachable of all of the Beatles. I have met each of the band in turn. If you grew up on A Hard Day’s Night and Help! and watched The Beatles’ antics, to actually meet them in person was often a let-down. For instance, Paul McCartney was an unusually dour person and John was totally drunk and inanimate. George I met very briefly when I was producing a Badfinger album.
You expected cleverness and a happy-go-lucky demeanour because of the image they projected up until the point they broke up. The only one who seemed to have recovered from any of the effects of that was Ringo. He did the music for fun. He didn’t feel that there was some burden to it, he just liked to play. Any opportunity to sing was fine but I never saw him having any pretence that he was building some giant musical legacy.
My experience with him spans quite a few years. The first time we worked together was for a Jerry Lewis telethon in the late 70s in Las Vegas. Ringo was still something of a drinker at the time. I didn’t really notice; he seemed to be in pleasant spirits. Jerry brought in this fiddle player named Doug Kershaw and made us play behind him, and he started playing Jambalaya and wouldn’t stop. I got up on one of the drum risers and started directing and we just started playing the song faster and faster until the fiddle player couldn’t keep up any more. That’s the way we made him stop.
Years and years later when Ringo started doing his All Star shows, he asked me to join him. By that time he was all cleaned up and very well organised. Ironically he was heading up a group of musicians of whom half were in Alcoholics Anonymous and the other half were completely smashed. I managed to straddle a middle ground; I could drink casually and enjoy it and not get into any shenanigans. But at the time, there was Ringo who was in AA, and Zak, his son, who was the other drummer and definitely not in AA. So there was a whole dynamic going on there.