Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Beatles The Beatles’ White Album captured the spirit of ’68, but it’s right for 2018 too

Two months remain of 2018 – but if you view some of the events of this strange, volatile year from a certain angle, it might just as well be 1968. In the US, social and political divisions suggest a replay of tensions that exploded at the time of the Vietnam war, with a paranoid and unhinged president only heightening the similarities. Two weeks ago, African-American former athlete Tommie Smith was pictured recreating the clenched-fist salute that caused such controversy at the ’68 Olympics; today’s US athletes take the knee.

Across the west, there is rising anxiety – and no little deja vu – about Russia interfering in affairs beyond its borders. Earlier this year, student protests and strikes by railway workers and pilots in France triggered comparisons with the unrest that had gripped the country 50 years before. On and on the echoes go: the reactionary prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has told his followers that if next year’s European parliament elections go the way he wants, they will say “goodbye not simply to liberal democracy … but to the 1968 elite”.

This Friday will see the release of an array of 50th anniversary editions of the epic creation its authors simply titled The Beatles, but that instantly became known as The White Album – now given an impressive remix, and complemented by often revelatory unreleased material. I have spent quite a lot of the past nine months thinking about all this music, while writing a long essay that will appear in the most expansive of the reissues. And what has hit home again and again is the duality of an album that wondrously channelled 1968’s tumult, while also being so open and universal that it would repeatedly chime with events that happened long after its release – a quality accidentally captured in Richard Hamilton’s famously blank cover art and its sense of an artefact whose meaning is open to endless change and interpretation.

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John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr created what would be the longest Beatles album (around 93 minutes) between May 30 and October 14, 1968.

Released a month later as simply The Beatles, it became, for obvious reasons, better known as The White Album. Produced by George Martin, the album ambitiously merged rock, blues, folk, country, music hall and avant-garde music; its scaled down production and monochromatic cover were intended as a dramatic departure from the trailblazing psychedelia of 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Upon release, some critics found the approach scattershot, the quality of songs dramatically uneven. But most raved. The Observer’s Tony Palmer called Lennon and McCartney the greatest songwriters since Schubert. Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times wrote, “Musically, there is beauty, horror, surprise, chaos, order. And that is the world; and that is what the Beatles are on about.” And it has continued to thrill. In 2009, Chuck Klosterman called the album “almost beyond an A+.”

And yet The White Album is also the sound of a great band splintering, with three solo projects jostling for space in the same studio. “Every track is an individual track,” Lennon reflected in a 1970 Rolling Stone interview. “There isn’t any Beatle music on it.” Lennon and McCartney had found themselves creatively and personally at odds. By all accounts the experience was supremely challenging—more fraught, McCartney later stated, than the recording of any other Beatles album.

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Soho venue famous for Hendrix gigs to become private members’ club

The legendary Bag O’Nails venue in Soho where Jimi Hendrix performed and The Beatles socialised is to be transformed into a private members’ club.

The venue, which until closing earlier this month was a private members’ karaoke bar, will be run by a team of London’s leading hospitality gurus.

The site in Kingly Street has been acquired by a consortium led by entrepreneur Harry Mead, who has bought the leasehold of the 3,500 sq ft property from a private investor and plans to commit £2 million to the project.

He will personally host members each night when the site reopens as The Court early next year. Mr Mead said: “This venue is dripping in history, with The Beatles, the Stones, The Who and Jimi Hendrix either performing or hanging out there in the Sixties.”

Paul McCartney also met future wife Linda Eastman at the venue. Mr Mead added: “Me and my team plan to revive the charm and intimacy that made it so famous, but with modern food and drink menus created by some of the industry’s biggest names, and an unbeatable live music programme.” Annual membership will start from about £600 per year.

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[Blogger’s note – if the venue is so famous – WHY CHANGE ITS NAME??

Paul McCartney celebrates Halloween in Tokyo

Sir Paul McCartney put on a spooky display at his Halloween concert at Tokyo Dome in Japan, marking his 23rd solo gig at the venue

Sir Paul McCartney celebrated Halloween with his 23rd solo concert at Tokyo Dome.

The Beatles legend took to the stage at the Japanese city’s iconic venue as part of his ‘Freshen Up Tour’ on Wednesday (31.10.18), and broke yet another record by playing the most concerts ever as an international artist at the 55,000-capacity stadium.

The ‘Come On To Me’ hitmaker and his band donned freaky masks and waved the flags of Japan, the Union Flag and the LGBTQ+ rainbow.

The 76-year-old megastar has been touring in country following his latest solo record ‘Egypt Station’ topping the charts.

On his arrival to the capital’s Haneda Airport, the ‘Penny Lane’ songwriter was greeted by hundreds of fans, some of whom had been camping outside in the hope of meeting their idol.

Paul’s tour will move to Europe, before he returns to the UK in December for his first shows on home soil in three years.

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