Friday, October 25, 2013

Fans in photo by Ringo Starr ID'd

As reported in this week's pop culture roundup, Ringo Starr was hoping to learn the identities of a car full of fans he shot a picture of while on tour with the Beatles in 1964.

Now, it looks as if those fans have been ID'd:
“All this craziness over a picture — it’s pretty darn wild,” said Charlie Schwartz, 67, who lives today in Sonoma, Calif.

That’s him in the back seat of the car, hand partially over his mouth, staring intently — along with five others — at the car that’s pulled alongside. It is carrying, of course, The Beatles.

“It’s just a great shot,” Starr writes in “Photograph,” released earlier this year as an e-book and out in print on Nov. 22. “They’re looking at us, and I’m photographing them.”

BBC airs Tintin radio shows

BBC Radio 4 is re-running its series Tintin radio dramas, starting with "The Black Island." Check them out here.

New pics: X-Men - Days of Future Past

Empire mag has some new shots from the upcoming X-men flick, which sees the merry mutants in the swinging 60s and today. Here's Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and the gang.

Pop culture roundup: Ringo Starr! Mad Monster Party! Mel Blanc!

All he has is a photograph: Ringo Starr is hoping to identify this carload of fans, whose photo he snapped out a limousine window while touring the U.S. with the Beatles back in 1964. The snap is included in Ringo's new e-book "Photograph" and also will appear in a high-priced collectible version of the tome from Genesis Publications.


Ringo's got another book to plug, too:


Read the Mad Monster Party comic book!


Via BoingBoing: Download more than 40 episodes of the great Mel Blanc's old time radio show!
Mel Blanc's success on The Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS Radio Network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946 to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner of a fix-it shop, as well as a wide range of comical support characters.

Other regular characters were played by Mary Jane Croft, Joseph Kearns, Hans Conreid, Alan Reed, Earle Ross, Jim Backus, Bea Benaderet and The Sportsmen Quartet, who would supply a song and sing the Colgate Tooth Powder commercials.

For 50 years, Mel Blanc was the voice of many popular cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, The Tasmanian Devil, Pepe LePew, Marvin the Martian, the RoadRunner ("Meep, meep!"), Barney Rubble, and Woody Woodpecker.


Fab Friday: Halloween with the Beatles!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trailer for Captain America; Winter Soldier

Review: New by Paul McCartney

Where does Paul McCartney's latest album rate in the grand scheme? Obviously, he's not topped his Beatles work. It's also no McCartney, Ram or Band on the Run or even Back to the Egg or McCartney II.

But New does fit in comfortably among his better albums from the past 25 years or so, including Flaming Pie and Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, works which saw McCartney becoming increasingly interested in and referential of his past work.

This results in tunes that reflect elements of his various music with the Beatles and Wings and sometimes brings about good new songs, but also material that can be uncomfortably derivative and self-aware.

New is basically just that: Several tunes that enjoyably comment on McCartney's past while also sounding genuinely current and inspired, and other tunes where the inspiration's just not there.

But at age 71, after so much great music, turning out an LP with even a handful of worthy songs on it isn't a bad accomplishment at all.

Those good tunes includes a trio of songs that come early on the album. "Alligator," distinguished by a repeated synthesizer squiggle, acoustic guitars and shuffling drums, sounds fresh and new and, somewhat surprisingly, has a nice set of lyrics, including a couple of playfully saucy ones. It shows that, even now, McCartney is capable of turning out a memorable phrase, it's just that he rarely puts the time into coming up with one.

"Queenie Eye," reportedly inspired by a Liverpool playground chant, features lyrics about the game of life, accompanied by a driving piano riff that will put you in mind of "Lady Madonna" and other late-period Beatles tunes. There on some nice lyrics here, too: "There were rules you never told me...Life's a game, rags from riches, dogs and bitches hunt for fame, difficult to know which way to turn, lay the blame on the snitches, wicked witches fan the flame."

"New," the album's title the tune, has one of the surely-this-can't-have-always-existed melodies McCartney seems to pluck from the air. It's the most backward-looking (in a good way) tune on the record, sounding like a lost cousin to "Good Day Sunshine" and "Penny Lane." It's got a hummable, sauntering-down-the-summer-sidewalk tunefulness to it and a great arrangement  harpsichord, mellotron and horns, along with a fantastic Beach Boys-"psychedelic barbershop quartet" tag at the end. It's a should've-been summer hit.

Not as strong, but still compelling are a couple of songs that look way back to McCartney's growing up years in Liverpool.

"On My Way to Work," like many of the tunes here, carries the theme of  love as salvation, a longing to be with a loved one who will help life's problems go away. In other songs, such as "Alligator," the theme is romantic love, but this song, it struck me, may be McCartney as a young man talking about losing his mother, who died when he was a teen. It's a tender tune, broken up periodically and unexpectedly by a big guitar riff that detracts from it's overall feeling of quiet reflection.

"Early Days," meanwhile, sounds like something Johnny Cash might've sung on his last few albums. There's a country sound to it, with acoustic guitar and McCartney singing in a lower register in a voice that shows its age. It's sometimes rough and his once flute-like falsetto sometimes struggles and sounds thin, but he hits the notes he wants to hit. The song betrays a singer concerned about his legacy, irritated at being categorized and explained by those who, he feels, claim to know more about his history than he does himself. "They weren't there, and they will never know," is his response.

"Appreciate" is the LP's most "modern-sounding" tune, featuring loops and lots of electronic processing and instruments. If any other artist his age ventured into this territory, the results could be embarrassing - an old guy trying to sound hip. But McCartney has always been a sonic adventurer and, in fact, was the first guy to use loops (on tape, on "Tomorrow Never Knows" in 1966) in a pop song. McCartney II, way back in 1979, was essentially an early electro-pop album. It's the lyrics, though, that ultimately lets this tune down.

The same is true of many of the other tracks, to varying degrees. "Road," as you might expect, uses the done-to-death metaphor of travel and one's life. I'd rather take a long and winding one. "I Can Bet" and the lead-off track, "Save Us," are essentially the title phrases set to music. The bonus songs on the Amazon edition of the LP, "Turned Out" and "Get Me Out of Here," aren't much better, though the former has a nice melody and arrangement. The latter is a blues-based, knocked-out tune that might as well have been written and recorded at the same time.

Other songs are a bit stronger, notably "Hossana" and "Out There," but are also weakened by slipshod lyrics. You just wish Macca would take the time to match words worthy to his melodies.

Much has been made of McCartney's use of multiple producers on the album -- Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse), Ethan Johns (son of Glyn), Giles Martin (son of George) and Paul Epworth -- and the result is a refreshing eclecticism that's lacking on too many LPs these days. It's nice to hear the variety of styles, tones and instrumental lineups in play. It's not a case of too many cooks at all - despite the variety, it all sounds like Paul - sometimes at his best, sometimes not, but certainly worth a listen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Video: Paul McCartney live at the BBC

New Captain America: Winter Soldier pics

A couple new pics from the upcoming Captain America film.

Somebody's bright idea: Batman ear cuff

WTF is an "ear cuff"? And why is it so ugly?

Official Beatles site streaming tracks from new BBC collection

Hear a version of "She Loves You" from the Beatles' upcoming On Air: Live at the BBC Vol. 2, out Nov. 11.

Video: Making of Paul McCartney's Queenie Eye

"Queenie Eye" is one of the best tracks on Paul McCartney's new LP, New (I hope to have a review posted here tomorrow), and a star-studded video for it is set to debut soon.

In the meantime, and maybe even better, here's a making of video for the video, which shows Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and various other folks wandering around the famed Abbey Road recording studios.

What I want for Record Store Day Nov. 20

Record Store Day is set for Nov. 20 to capitalize on "Black Friday" post-Thanksgiving shopping.

Here are a few items I'm interested in checking out. Can't afford 'em all, though!

The whole list is here.

Various Artists
Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! 
Format: LP
Label: Water Tower Music
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

The beloved holiday classic, featuring Boris Karloff's narration and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" for the first time ever on green colored vinyl.

Bob Dylan
Side Tracks 
Format: LP
Label: Columbia Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

A compilation of tracks that have never appeared on a formal Bob Dylan album. 180 g, numbered, triple LP package.

Flaming Lips
Peace Sword 
Format: CD
Label: Warner Bros.
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Six tracks created for the Ender's Game soundtrack, with a bonus track, "Assassin Beetle--The Dream Is Ending" exclusive to the physical vinyl and CD

John Denver & The Muppets
A Christmas Together  
Format: 12" PIcture Disc
Label: Windstar
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

The soundtrack to the beloved holiday special, on picture disc for the first time.
1. "Twelve Days Of Christmas" 2. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" 3."The Peace Carol" 4. "Christmas Is Coming"  5. "A Baby Just Like You" 6. "Deck The Halls" 7. "When The River Meets The Sea" 8. "Little Saint Nick" 9. "Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913" 10. "The Christmas Wish" 11. Medley: Alfie, The Christmas Tree/ Carol For A Christmas Tree/It's In Every One Of Us" 12. "Silent Night" 13. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas"

Ernie Kovacs
A Percy Dovetonsils Chrithmath 
Format: 10" Picture Disc
Label: Ominivore Recordings
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Five previously unissued performances from the classic Kovacs Unlimited show.
Side One: "The Night Before Christmas on New York's Fashionable East Side", "Winter Is About Nigh Upon Us" (from Kovacs Unlimited 11/14/52), "Ode To Our First Snowfall" (from Kovacs Unlimited 12/5/52) Side Two: "Ode To The Christmas" (from Kovacs Unlimited 12/16/52), "The Night Before Christmas On The East" (from Kovacs Unlimited 11/27/53), "Ode To New Year's" (from Kovacs Unlimited 1/5/52)

Nick Lowe
Quality Street 
Format: 12" PIcture Disc
Label: Yep Roc Records
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

Yep Roc is proud to present Quality Street: a sublime new Nick Lowe album, holiday-themed for your convenience.  Born out of an idea hatched at Yep Roc 15 last fall, Quality Street features three new Nick Lowe originals including one co-written with Ry Cooder. Also featured are a new song by Ron Sexsmith written expressly for Nick, plus other holiday favorites by Roger Miller, Roy Wood, and even a few traditional chestnuts-- all performed in in Nick's singular style.
This picture disk LP is available exclusively for Record Store Day Black Friday 2013 and is limited to 1,000 pieces.
"Chldren Go Where I Send Thee", "Christmas Can't Be Far Away", "Christmas At The Airport", "Old Toy Trains", "The North Pole Express", "Horses On The Roof", "I Was Born In Bethlehem", "Just To Be With You (This Christmas)", "Rise Up Shepherd", "Silent Night", "A Dollar Short of Happy", "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day"

Vince Guaraldi Trio
Linus and Lucy 
Format: 7" Vinyl
Label: Fantasy
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release
More Info:

A faithful recreation of the 1964 Fantasy Records single also includes a new picture sleeve featuring many of the Peanuts characters. Gold vinyl, small hole 7" that includes music from the famed "A Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack.
"Linus and Lucy"/"Oh Good Grief"

Miles Davis
Kind of Blue 
Format: LP
Label: Columbia Records
Release type: 'RSD First' Release
More Info:

A Cornerstone of recorded music.  The Greatest Jazz album of all time now on 1 LP, 180g, individually #'d and in MONO.  Features the stellar lineup of John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly.
This LP will be exclusive to indie stores through 1/6/14

Miles Davis
Jazz Track  
Format: LP
Label: Columbia Records
Release type: 'RSD First' Release
More Info:

The Brilliant reissue of 2 classic recording sessions on 1 LP, 180g, Mono, #'d.  Side 1 is The Miles Davis Quintet performing the soundtrack to the French film L'Ascenseuer Pour l'Echafaud.  Side 2 is highlights from The Miles Davis Sextet recording session of May 26, 1958.
This LP will be exclusive to indie stores through 1/6/14

BBC Radio 4 presents the Frank Zappa Story

Listen here.


Germaine Greer presents a profile of Frank Zappa, the 1970s icon of eccentric rock whose range of work included serious orchestral composition, film-making and social activism, particularly in the field of anti-censorship.

Contributors include Gail Zappa, son Dweezil, guitarist Steve Vai, family friend and author Peter Occhiogrosso and David Butcher, chief executive of the Britten Sinfonia.

BBC radio this week

Click the links to hear the following programs.

Paul McCartney in Concert. An intimate recorded concert from Maida Vale, performed by Paul McCartney.

Fear on Four.  Series of horror and suspense tales, hosted by the Man in Black.

The Goon Show. Classic material from one of the all-time radio comedy greats.

The Man in Black. A creepy raconteur, played by Mark Gatiss, introduces spooky tales.

Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone. Strange and unusual sounds in music both old and new.

Between the Ears Celebrating 20 years of innovative and thought-provoking features that make adventurous use of sound and explore a wide variety of subjects. Made by leading radio producers.

Late Junction A varied mix of music, ranging from the ancient to the contemporary.

World on 3 Lopa Kothari and Mary Ann Kennedy present an eclectic mix of sounds from around the world, with exclusive sessions and concerts by leading musicians in world music.

(NOTE: I plan to discontinue this regular listing after this week and will instead just plug shows of interest on the Beeb as they come up. If you want to follow any of these regular shows, you'll find them via BBC iPlayer site here.)