Wednesday, January 22, 2014

When You Play It, Say It!

A New Podcast That's All About Music... Except When It's Not

Click Here to stream Episode 2 of When You Play It, Say It

Those who are acquainted with me already know that I am at my best/worst when I get a few drinks in me and start talking about music. I am known to seize control of the jukebox at bars or the stereo at parties, and engage in lively discussion of (pontification about) songs and artists as they come up. My favorite “house-hangs” tend to be just one or two friends, a bottle of something, my record collection, and a lot of arguing. Opinions are indelicately asserted, connections are discovered between artists and songs, personal stories and associations are shared. Sometime there is crying.

Sounds fun, you say? How can I get in on one of these, you ask? Well, it is tough. With much regret I have had to turn down requests from celebrities, royalty, and heads of state. In fact, just last week the King of Laputa dropped by unannounced bearing gifts of a bottle of Henri IV, Cognac Grande Champagne and an original 8-track cassette of Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy. I had to turn him away, as my apartment is not very big and I have few chairs.

That embarrassing episode did get me thinking, however. How can I share this marvelous experience with everyone? How can I insure that everyone who wants to can have a little time with a verbose, slightly tipsy, pretentious music freak like me? I felt sad contemplating the huge masses of people who were bereft of my knowledge and company. It was while pondering this question that I was looking through a stack of records at one of the few still existing vinyl shops in New York and came across a DJ copy of The Best of Marcel Marceau bearing a white sticker that read: “When you play it, say it.” The sticker, a common sight during the mid-eighties (when DJs often would play blocks of songs with no introduction or commentary, only interrupting the music to announce the time and weather), was a reminder from the record company to the DJ to stop now and then and actually tell the listeners the name of the songs and artists (this was particularly important in the case of the Marcel Marceau record in question, as many people listening on the radio thought it was John Cage).

Holding that record in my hand, I had an epiphany. A radio show… or something like it. Anyone who wants to be can be a fly on the wall while I’m joined by a rotating cast of characters and we engage in inane banter about music and musicians and make complete assholes of ourselves. My living room, my records, my friends, probably some cheap tequila, and maybe some beer nuts.

So now for your entertainment and edification, the second ever episode of “When You Play It, Say It.” (Yes, there was a first, but we’re just going to say it’s like an unaired pilot for now.) On this occasion, I was joined by me old friend, actor/musician and front man for the band The Trembling Turncoats, Brett Warwick, for a lively discussion of that obscure little English band, the Beatles. Enjoy!

(For those who get through the whole thing and want additional information about the tracks discussed, as well as where Brett and I may have fucked up, click below to read more...)
A few notes on the tracks discussed:
“From Us to You”: From Live at the BBC.  A truncated version of “From Me to You.” Recorded February 28th, 1964 at the BBC Paris Theatre.
“I Want to Hold Your Hand”: - Unreleased live recording from concert at the Hollywood Bowl on August 23rd, 1964.
“I Saw Her Standing There”- BBC recording from October 16th, 1963. Available on Live at the BBC.
"The Equestrian Statue"Herhjkhjknjk – Performed by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. From their first album, Gorilla.
"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"- Original studio recording from Rubber Soul.
“Get Back” – From the “rooftop concert” on January 30th, 1969. The third “take” of “Get Back” that day, it was the last song of the concert before being shut down by the police. As such, it was the final song the Beatles ever played together before a live audience. Brett and I were listening to a bootleg recording of the complete concert. However, the track is available commercially on Anthology 3.
“Maggie May”- From the Get Back sessions. On the evening we were recording the show, we were listening to the unreleased Glyn Johns cut of the album. However, the song was commercially released, without the fade-out, on the album Let It Be.
“Every Little Thing”- From the 1964 album Beatles for Sale (in America, featured as the last track on Beatles VI). Though I referred to it as “a failed single” it never was released as such. McCartney had stated that he had hoped for it to be a single, but it ended up being an album track. I guess I just remembered wrong.
“Every Little Thing”- Cover performed by Yes on their 1969 self-titled debut.
“Michelle” – Performed  by Riccardo Cocciante (credited as Richard Cocciante) on the album All This and World War II, the soundtrack to a ludicrous film that spliced together WWII footage set to covers of Beatles song covered by prominent artists who should have known better. For my money, the most comically awful Beatles cover. My girlfriend told me, to her chagrin, that Cocciante was one of her mother’s favorite singers. Aside from what appear to be dubious and expensive Japanese re-pressings, the album is justifiably out of print.
“Strawberry Fields Forever” – Performed by Peter Gabriel, also from All This and World War II. Though it is an emotive vocal performance, I always wondered what a cover by the classic Genesis line-up would have sounded like. More thoughts on this train wreck of an album can be found elsewhere on my blog:
“Down by the Sea” – A Harry Nilsson tune produced by John Lennon. Though Brett mentioned that it was a cut from the Pussycats album, it was actually a bonus track on the CD reissue.
“You Can’t Do That” – Another cover by Nilsson. The Beatles original cut was the B-side to “Can’t Buy Me Love” and featured on the UK release of Hard Day’s Night. A few things to say about this one: Firstly, when Brett introduced it as Beatles medley, I was unaware of the original version by the Beatles (unadorned by the teases and references of Nilsson’s version) as the American version of Hard Day’s Night (an album I listened to a lot when I was a kid) did not feature the cut, instead adding in a bunch of orchestral underscoring. In America, the song was released on The Beatles’ Second Album, but I did not have that one growing up.
“Taxman” – Opening track on Revolver (1966).
“A Taste of Honey” – Recorded live at Aeolian Hall Studios on July 10th, 1963. This version is commercially available on Live at the BBC. What Brett and I did not know about this song was that it was written for the 1958 British play of the same name as a reoccurring instrumental theme. The website The Beatles Bible says that it was written for the 1961 film adaptation, however, on Wikipedia it is stated that it was written for the 1960 Broadway production (which starred Angela Lansbury, Joan Plowright, and Billy Dee Williams). Arguably, the Beatles’ version is the most popular vocal version, but the most popular version overall (as I argued and the numbers and Grammys back me up) has to be the instrumental version by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. erHerhjkhhHHhhAn interesting note: The Beatles’ version first appeared on their debut album Please Please Me, released in England on March 22nd, 1963. Their American record label, Capital, released the song on the album The Early Beatles on the same date in 1965 (though the song was originally released in America on the album Introducing... The Beatles, on Vee-Jay Records). Twelve years after that, on the same date, I was born.
“Dedicated Follower of Fashion” – Classic Kinks tune. Released as a single in 1966.
“Long Long Long” – The last cut off side 3 of the album, The Beatles (1968), popularly known as The White Album (as if there is anyone reading this who didn’t know that).
“Birthday” – The first cut off side 3 of The White Album.
“Bright Side of Life” – Harry Nilsson’s cover of the song.  The final song off of Nilsson’s last album, Flash Harry. Written by Monty Python’s Eric Idle (who later created the Beatles spoof band, The Rutles), the song was originally featured at end of the Monty Python film, Life of Brian (a film which was basically financed by George Harrison who created the company, HandMade Films when the original backers bailed out). The album was finally released in America in August of 2013, 33 years after its original limited release in England and Japan.

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