Friday, January 30, 2009

It Was 40 Years Ago Today...

40 years ago to the day, January 30, 1969, The Beatles made rock history by performing on top of the Apple headquarters building. It was their last gig that they would ever perform, and their first since 1966. The police deemed the gig a public disturbance, and they were ordered to shut it down. Several police officers were sent to the rooftop. They were seen unplugging George's amp, but he didn't hesitate to plug it right back in. The police threatened to have them arrested, but they ultimately were able to shut them down by turning off the building's power. The set list of the gig included a couple songs from "Let it Be."

Here is a video of a song performed at the "Rooftop Gig". You can see the police trying to shut them down:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beatles Unreleased Tracks

Since the birth of the Internet, there have been rumors floating around about unreleased songs by The Beatles. This includes your average story about bootlegs, or "beatlegs" as fans call them. Most of these stories end up being false. They are usually audio recordings of bands that have a similar style to The Beatles. However, there are some unreleased songs that you should know about.

"Carnival of Light" is perhaps the most famous of these songs. McCartney says that it isn't really a song, but an experimental mix of Beatles jams and sound effects. The track is 14 minutes long. It was recorded in 1967. Don't expect to find it anywhere on the Internet. Paul McCartney has it, and he is pushing to release it. He will need to permission of Ringo Starr and the estates of Lennon and Harrison. It was supposed to be put on the Anthology, but this never happened. Hopefully it will be released soon.

"Helter Skelter," take 3 is another track that has been subject to interest. This version of "Helter Skelter" is said to be 27 minutes long. It is basically just a long jam of "Helter Skelter." This is not available on bootleg, and there are no current plans to release it.

Recently, a man in Liverpool (the birthplace of The Beatles) discovered something amazing in his attic. It was a tape of various Beatles hits including "I Feel Fine," "I'm A Loser," and "I'll Follow the Sun." Nothing great, other than the fact that they were unreleased alternate versions of the hits. The 30-minute tape was auctioned off last year.

That is all I know of for now. I have heard of some other tapes, but I forget the stories. If you have any more information feel free to post it here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Woodstock No-Shows

How would you feel if you were invited to play at Woodstock? The answer is obvious. Woodstock was one of (if not) the greatest concerts of the 1960's. And probably the most famous. However, before the actual concert took place, many bands did not perform because they were either advised not to, or they thought it wouldn't be a big deal.

The Beatles were reportedly invited to play at Woodstock. They obviously did not. Why? Surely this would have been a great performance. But at this point in time, mid-to-late 1969, The Beatles were collapsing. They had spent most of the summer out of the collaboration that they all were accustomed to. Not to mention that they had not played a real live show together since 1966. So needless to say, The Beatles turned down their offer. John Lennon thought that his side project, the Plastic Ono Band, would be a suitable replacement. The Woodstock organizers declined.

Led Zeppelin were also reportedly offered an invitation. Why did they not play? Well, their manager, Peter Grant, turned it down for them. He didn't just want to be "another band" performing at the festival. If Led Zeppelin were to have played it could have been very good for them. It could have also been bad though. Zeppelin was a fairly new band on the scene, forming in 1968. I, for one, think that they should have played the show. Although they were fairly inexperienced, it would have added a whole new dimension to an already amazing concert.

The Doors were originally scheduled to perform at the festival. They were very popular, and their performance would have certainly been one of the main spectacles of the 3 days. So why didn't they perform? They canceled. There have been many rumors as to why they canceled. One of the rumors is that Jim Morrison was having legal altercations at the time due to his arrest for indecent exposure. This was not why they canceled, however. They stated that they disliked outdoor venues. This may connect with another rumor that Morrison was afraid that someone would take a shot at him. This has not been confirmed as one of the reasons they did not play Woodstock.

Bob Dylan planned on making the show. However, his son had medical problems, and this caused him to cancel his suspected performance.

Jethro Tull refused to perform. They said that Woodstock wasn't a big deal, and they likely thought it would have been a waste of time. Oh, how they were wrong.

The Jeff Beck Group was invited, and they intended on performing. That is until they disbanded one week before the event. Ouch, bad timing.

Iron Butterfly were fully intending on showing up and performing. Unfortunately, they were stuck at an airport and they never arrived in time to play.

Joni Mitchell wanted to play, but her agent insisted that she did not. Instead, he wanted her to play on The Dick Cavett Show. Ironically, the two other bands that performed on the show with her did play at Woodstock.

So there is a list of bands that had the chance to perform at the historic event. Just imagine how they felt after the saw the turnout of approximately 500,000 people. Joni Mitchell's agent said that there would only be 500 people. Try 1000x that. Of course we find this shocking because we know how Woodstock turned out. They had no idea.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Country Joe & The Fish: A Largely Underrated Band

"Country Joe & The Fish?" you ask. "Oh, that's that band that played that Vietnam song at Woodstock!" Yes, but that (amazing) performance only captures the smallest idea of what the band was. The band formed in 1965 in Berkeley California. It consisted of "Country" Joe McDonald and Barry "The Fish" Melton, as well as other assortments of great bassists, drummers, and keyboardists, etc.. Their first real studio album was Electric Music for the Mind and Body. It perfectly captures the essence of what psychedelic rock is. Here is "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" from the album. It is live at The Monterey Pop Festival (1967):

And here is "Section 43" from the same show:

Many just thought that they only preached their political beliefs. This is not at all true. Although many of their great songs are about their political beliefs, there are also other songs about love and life. Their most famous performance was at Woodstock as I mentioned earlier, but they did not get the recognition they deserved for their other works. There is a petition to get them (as well as Canned Heat) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here:

I highly encourage everyone to further explore their brilliant music. You can buy their albums on or you can find a torrent.

The Rise and Decline Of Great Music

As many know, music is not nearly as great as it once was. For many this is baffling, considering the great technological upgrades. Musicians of the 1960's were much more limited in the studio. One would think that with better technology comes better music. This has obviously not been true. Today, musicians have everything they could possibly need to make amazing music. But most of them do not (in my opinion). Sure, there are some good artists today (which perhaps I will cover in a future post) but there should be many more.

Above is a graph of my opinion of the decline of great music. It started with the huge leap of popularity of rock 'n roll. Artists such as Chuck Berry came and changed everything. John Lennon once said "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'." Rock and roll was something new. It exemplified a young, rebellious spirit. The youth caught on and ran with this new style of music. Four of those young people that enjoyed this music would soon after change the world of music forever. We now know those four boys as "The Beatles." They easily were the greatest band of all time in my opinion. THEY were the reason that so many great bands sprouted in the 1960's. They helped many bands gain popularity, including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals, and many more. These were all bands that influenced artists. So as you can see, there became a long line of bands influencing bands. A new youth spirit started to arise.

In the late 1960's, great music was at its peak of popularity. Many used drugs, and other illegal substances such as marijuana and LSD to enhance their enjoyment of music. Many devoted their mind, body, and spirit to music. Rebellion and opposition to the Vietnam war sparked creativity and passion through music. The Monterey Pop Festival, and Woodstock were points of popularity in this musical movement. Hippies and those who enjoyed great music came to these festivals by the thousands. In Woodstock's case - hundreds of thousands. A lot of this optimistic attitude was cut off at Altamont, where a young man was beaten to death by the Hell's Angels.

Starting at this music has slowly declined. The 1970's was an era that had some good music. I suspect that this was just what was left over from the 1960's. The Beatles had broken up. The hippie movement fell apart. The war in Vietnam was over. So what became of all this? The creative and great hits that were seen only years before were becoming hard to come by. Glam rock formed. Disco formed. Great music was declining. And then a huge blow to music: The death of John Lennon. Lennon, in many ways, represented great music. It is arguable that great music died along with him.

The 1980's was a time in which the "bad" music started to take over. Glam rock and metal began to take over.

The 1990's moved slowly with great music just as the 1980's did. Grunge, metal, and alternative rock were at the top of their popularity.

Today? Great music is nearly non-existent anymore. Everything is generic pop punk, rap and pop. There are very few bands that would have survived in the 1960's.

What are your opinions? I realize that not everyone shares the opinion that music has gotten worse. Thanks for reading! This is my first blog post.