April 14, 2007

b2 A couple of weeks ago, I picked five great Beatles’ 45s; here are five more to round out a Top Ten lsit of the Fab Four’s best 45 RPM singles:

1) Hello Goodbye/I Am The Walrus (1967)

Has there ever been a more eclectic coupling of tunes on a tiny platter of plastic? Paul’s harmless and innocuous “Hello Goodbye” is the kind of pop confection ‘dude could write in his sleep – and in this case, he probably did. I never much liked the hokey violin that sounds like one of Aunt Edna’s fifth-grade music students doing scales, but after the final verse, there’s a cool sustained organ that appears out of the background (you can hear it at the fade just before the son’s “Maori Dance” tag). And how ’bout those drums on the tag – worthy of the best of Adam Ant twenty years hence.

The only thing I’ll say about “I Am The Walrus” is that it’s one of my favorite Beatles cuts simply because it’s so weird. A quick story: back in the early ’70s, our hi-fi (that’s right, the kind in one of those standing cabinets!) needed fixing, and the repair guy comes over. To test whether his fix worked, he turns on the stereo and lays the needle down on the record that just so happened to be on the turntable. It was the “Magical Mystery Tour” album, and it just so happens he lays the needle down towards the ending of “I Am The Walrus” with all of its chaos and wacky, distorted noise. He tells me there’s still something wrong with the stereo, and that he’ll have to replace the needle because the sound was so awful!

2) If I Fell/And I love Her (1964)

A marvelous snippet of Beatlemania, acoustic style. Two love songs from the Fab Four’s smash “A Hard Day’s Night” motion picture and LP, two timeless and lovely melodies that serve as a precursor of even better things to come…

3) Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down (1969)

“Get Back” is another of those Beatles cuts producer George Martin would fondly call a “potboiler”. I’ve always thought the sonic quality of the record seemed a little too clean and clinical to me, but Lennon plays some marvelous answering lead guitar throughout, and the late Billy Preston‘s tasteful fills and funky solo on electric piano give it a unique sound. Lennon’s passionate “Don’t Let Me Down” not only provides a glimpse into his relationship with Yoko Ono, but also shows just how far apart he and his former songwriting partner have drifted. Features more fine Preston electric piano fills, but the instrumental star of this cut is McCartney’s big and fat melodious bass lines, running up and down behind the keyboards and guitars.

4) The Ballad of John and Yoko/Old Brown Shoe (1969)

“The Ballad of John and Yoko”, Lennon’s travelogue of his and Yoko’s exploits in their attempt to get married, actually features only John (guitar, piano, and percussion) and Paul (drums and bass) – Lennon was so keen to get it out, and George and Ringo weren’t around, so there you have it. Known primarily for it being banned in the U.S. for Lennon using “Christ” in the lyrics (as in, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy…), it’s still a solid, good-natured rocker. Harrison’s “Old Brown Shoe” is a fine “B” side – one of the Beatles’ most unsung, in my view – featuring a rollicking tack piano rhythm and more virtuoso bass playing from McCartney.

5) I Feel Fine/She’s A Woman (1964)

One of the more obscure Beatles 45s, perhaps, but one of my favorites. “I Feel Fine”, with its opening feedback guitar, features Lennon and Harrison milking a fine riff for all its worth, and some exotic Ringo rhythm on the verses. This is the one song, I feel, most hurt by the all-too clean process of digital remastering, as it sounds completely different on CD than it does on the “Beatles ’65” album upon which it was released in the U.S. McCartney’s “She’s A Woman” features a driving rhythm, some awkward rhymes in the lyrics department, but nevertheless is solid, reflecting the early stages of a move away from the innocent themes associated with Beatlemania to the more mature sounds that would arrive with “Help!” and “Rubber Soul”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:10 | Comments Off on 5 More Great Beatles 45s
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