Sunday, May 29, 2011

Time and A Half For Weekend Work: The Music of Shonen Knife

Super Group




11/7/2008





With the insanely adorable Etsuko Nakanishi taking over behind the drums.





"Super Group"--Still at it...in fact addicts.





Naoko Yamano is the rare lyricist whose words jump into the air, into your ear, and tickles the hairs. "Their recordings are the best/Super pop songs touch everybody's heartstrings."





Intention and satisfaction in a wall of riffage and occasionally flashy bottom end...soloing simple as sun beams...the modern Shonen Knife in full force here.





On paper, the Traveling Wilburys were the greatest super group ever. George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, that other guy. Where from concept to execution did it all go so horribly wrong? I bet Naoko loves that record though. Just a guess.





"Slug"--Youth is served with the increased musicianship exhibited by the rhythm section. The intro makes me think someone's about to bust out a sped-up "I Will Follow Him," but alas alack. The fuzz axe-wielding behemoth saves it for its wedding night here. Very cool song, and I co-sign the sentiment fully. I remember being a young girl (not a little girl; I was once "young," but I have never been "little") staying with my family in Kentucky some random sweltering summer night and stepping out on the back porch to witness a veritable slug family leaving trails all over the steps. Then my grandmother made me eat tapioca pudding. I fucking loathe tapioca pudding. More than slugs? I dunno, it's not a contest! They're both terrible, horrible, no good, very fucked up things to be endured in this world.





"Muddy Bubbles Hell"--The obligatory devil-horns to the sky anthem, and with a title like that, how could it be anything but such? It's like if you see a song called "It Will Be a Good Time (Jah So)," you know it's gonna be reggae, and it's gonna suck.





When the temptresses pull back the hellfire curtain, cannons do not boom, pits do not spit up lava, demonic laughter does not escape Satanic lungs, and Rob Halford does not take the stage on a motorcycle. Speed and slash is forsaken, leaving ample room for spooky pewter-hued shadows to haunt your every step underneath a sky that shifts shades by the second.





Shit is Sabbath-ian.





"Deer Biscuits"--Yet another song on Super Group reminds me of well-spent youth in KY. Not 'cause of any deer, but 'cause of biscuits. For all the crap people from the American South get from other Americans--lazy, uneducated, insensitive, hateful, intolerant, obese, unwashed--you cannot deny that they do three things at a higher level of outstandingness than any other people in any other region of the U.S., and those things three are: drinking, storytelling, and eating. And they eat plenty biscuits. Plenty cornbread. Plenty buttered up and washed down.





Lest I fall into a snare decorated all pretty-like, however, I will be the first to say that the music taste of the average citizen who has to crane their neck to see the Mason-Dixon line lacks a tad. Play some Shonen Knife for the average Tennessean, and it will not go over well.





Naoko is not the mistress of metaphor. This song is about how she visited a deer park and gave a deer some biscuits. She also dispenses some advice for those listeners who may one day visit a deer park: "Make sure it's a sunny day."





"BBQ Party"--Super Group is, by far, the most Southern album Shonen Knife will ever do. How goddamn yee-haw y'all is a barbecue? Mind you, Naoko lists tofu and squid among the edibles at her particular git-down.





"Pig out pig out!" the chorus exhorts. Ah gluttony, the most universal of the deadly sins! "Don't worry about your diet." I hear that; see you in muddy bubbles hell, closely monitored daily caloric intake!





(Quiet as kept, Etsuko is the MVP. She's the classic mini-dynamo, contained in fresh-lock containers when at rest.)





"Pyramid Power"--Naoko's tone is kinda wicked...it's probably the most notable aspect of 21st century SK albums, all told.





"Earth Wind and Fire made a 'Fantasy'/Pyramids on the stage." She's right, you know.





"Time Warp"--Let's do it. Again and again. And again and again!





"Na Na Na"--I won't lie, we're hitting a rough patch here, that inevitable skid on most latterly Knife records featuring songs that are utterly unremarkable. This is the band that did "Public Bath," the racket-gang that is exactly what the Ramones would be as Japanese women, mediocrity cannot be accepted.





"Your Guitar"--This is better. Meaningful volume has returned, and so has heart. Naoko beseeches a woman who has abandoned her rock n roll fantasies to walk over to that corner, dust off that Fender, plug in the amp, and re-commence to the fuckin' rockin'. Naoko, see, she never stopped. She knows how good it can always be.





"Jet"--I am a feverish fan of Paul McCartney. Yeah, I'm one of those. "Jet" is one of the man's finest several minutes, so I was kinda apprehensive at the prospect of Shonen Knife running it through their popcorn mower. And while it's not a tragedy, nor is it a triumph. The vocal harmonies bring visions of three singing Hello Kittys and no, I don't want that in my head. The ooh-woo's are far too subdued.





Super Group...just another product from the factory. It's what I expected.


























Free Time




1/6/2010





This cover is one of the few immaculate creations to spring forth from Earthly minds. CATS IN SPACE, a sight so spectacular that fish burst through the ocean, through the sky, through the planet to gaze adoringly upon it!





I picked up both Super Group and Free Time at Amoeba Records, the Hollywood record store that really needs to annex a small house for me to live in. Trick and I were staying with our friend Kar, and if we couldn't make it out anywhere else, we had to pass through Amoeba. Just one of those decisions that's "no brains required."





We blasted Free Time in the car the next day, and it was like reuniting with your life's love after a week with no contact.





"This doesn't sound like them," Patrick claimed.





"Sounds good to me," I said.





"This fucking rocks," Kar averred.





"I never said I didn't like it!" Poor Patrick. Kar and me each have two X's, you only have one.





"Perfect Freedom"--Limber and lucid, the perfect freedom granted to crack planks underfoot in the attic, instead of cheekily checking reflections in a spic'n'span kitchen floor.





"Rock N Roll Cake"--Malt shop sells fuzz-rimmed drinking glasses and wicked tasty cake by the slice.





"I want to sleep inside it/Like hibernation." Kinda like Slayer do between albums!





The contrasting guitar parts make this a near-rival for red velvet.





"Economic Crisis"--Feed is back! Back to stay! Metallic Knife is here early baby, the gleam...the dream...the not-quite scream that makes me rip off an arm, tie a shirt around it and wave it violently in the air like GOOOOOOOOOO TEAM!





Naoko is raging and incomprehensible. Aren't we almost all, in these shaky fiscal times? We need money for food, gas, concerts, Snoopy, leggings, lodging. Enunciation suffers.





"Do You Happen To Know"--Etsuko's drumming is so on point that point had to kindly ask her to move a bit to the left so it could breathe. Pop that is immediate, warm, and sharp.





"Capybara"--Cowgirls with backbone sing 'bout barrel-shaped rodents with webbed feet. Do you think all the animals Shonen Knife have serenaded over 27 years really appreciate their efforts? I mean, I'm sure an underappreciated creature like the capybara is deeply grateful for the affectionate attention, but do you imagine similar thankfulness from bison? Hell no. Bison are looking out for bison.





"An Old Stationary Shop"--This song is about a stationary shop that has some years on it.





Free Time is the perfect name for this album. 'Cause SK got plenty of both. Breathing out the jive and breathing in the love. They eat a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream once a week, three spoons deep in that bitch, and feel no apprehension, shame, guilt or remorse.





"Monster Jellyfish"--Rambunctious, ramshackle, and who cares what jellyfish think? Stingy bastards, ruining beach experiences. Not to fret; Etsuko's got the death roll down. Smash 'em, smash 'em, smash 'em with yer fist!





"P.Y.O."--Pretty Young Oysters? No.





Purse Your Ovaries? No.





Pick Your Own? Yes.





This one's made to be listened to with a fellow Knife-head (even if they don't know they are yet) and sing along with, even if the rousing chorus occurs only in a hastily-assembled playground of your own mind.





Pick your own what? Berries. "Cranberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, gooseberry, Chuck Berry." Oh Naoko.





"Love Song"--Uninspired title, but listen. No hitting the wall on Free Time. "I don't want cheap love songs/But people in the world like to listen to love songs/I don't know why/Maybe I have a strange mind." The chorus is so fabulous it's practically creme-filled: "I need you/I want you/Musty phrases embarrass me."





What makes this song extra amusing is its resemblance to early Beatles records--namely chord structure and vocal harmonies--the lyrics of which were packed sick with "musty phrases" of yearning and devotion.





"Star"--How you gonna be a star without love songs? The problem is the star that longs to shine alone, that sees the congregation of a constellation as compromise. Gaseous and distant, indeed.





After a few pleasant but average full-lengths, Shonen Knife delivered the greats with Free Time. This doesn't bode well for the next album, as the band have not to my ears released back-to-back powerhouses since Pretty Little Baka Guy and 712 but I can't know that for sure, can I?. Naoko's still so damned determined to live every second of her life in thrall to rock and roll, she may surpass herself with the next one. To quote the legendary Japanese comedian Hosei Yamasaki: "It's a surprise. Look forward to it."

Monday, May 23, 2011

May I Interest You In Some Words?

Reviews of Super Group and Free Time by Shonen Knife will appear in this space this week, as the work at the factory never really ends, does it?

Daily updates on this blog have given way to more ambitious, wordier projects, and I don't see this changing anytime soon. Off-line writing is taking up most of my time (as I feel it should) so when I put something up here, it's got to be worth my efforts. Discography reviews, Peanuts reviews...big girls do things big, right?

The sequel to No Setlist will be called Spirit Desire, and two things have to happen before it can be published: I need to attend/write up 'round 20 more SY shows and I need to have my first novel published. I'll begin shopping 415 101 next month. Will it get accepted by a publisher before I reach my show goal? I dare not dream.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

You Know the Name: The Music of the Beatles, Pt. 14--Future Servants




3/7/1988

DISC TWO (December 1965 to March 1970)

"Daytripper" (A-side released 12/3/1965)--One of the most instantly-identifiable riffs in rock kicks off this call-out of those "half-a-hippies" who want all of the pleasure but none of the danger that comes with counterculture involvement. Is it unbelievable on any level that the promise of the sixties was never realized? If we each look at our individual selves as microcosms of the larger world, how can we expect justice and peace as the rule?

"We Can Work It Out" (A-side released 12/3/1965)--What a pair! There are few finer ways to spend five minutes. A top tier Mario galaxy...some choice Flannery O'Connor pages...standing out on the dock, gazing at a sky's five o'clock shadow, watching cardinals flitter branch to branch.

Harmonium warm as cornbread sopping up the succulent honey barbecue sauce as it streams slowly from the fat pile of ribs. This is a true collaboration, with Paul and John putting their personalities into their parts: Paul sweetly imploring and hopeful, John tapping his wristwatch and foot in frantic annoyance.

I've always associated "We Can Work It Out" with ferry rides, without ever having actually been on a ferry. Something about the flow of the verses brings to my mind a vessel moving slowly and surely across the water. Could possibly be related to the classic symbolism of water as life.

"Paperback Writer" (A-side released 6/10/1966)--So how come there exists a replica of the poster that inspired "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" available for purchase on Amazon (among other online vendors) but I can't pick me up a laminated reproduction of the Daily Mail article that drove Paul to pen this propulsive piece? "The aspiring author is a unique being," it no doubt began. "Feeble-bodied yet able-minded, bright-eyed but somehow world-weary, a cynic who will begin purring love sonnets if scratched just so behind the ears--what would life be without the earnest pensmith?"

John referred to "Paperback Writer" as the "son of 'Daytripper'," but really, this is the better song. "Daytripper," great as it is, still sounds like it's taped up in a cardboard box. "Paperback Writer" teems with the power of teamwork, taking huge gulps of air, lungs working like a bellows, it just needs a break! Just the one.

Even if the ink-stained protagonist is but a mere hack, he's still a writer, and it's pseudo-scientific half-fact that we the scribblers are superior to 98% of the rest of the galaxy just because we traffic in the multi-colored magic of letters to words to sentences to paragraphs. The heartbeat of a writers life is sensational, loosening the kickstand and riding roughshod over seemingly-barren land ahead. No EKG can measure it, but "Paperback Writer" powers along purely on the sound of its echos. "Why do you want to be a writer?" I've been asked. Same reason I breathe, actually. Kinda got to.

"Rain" (B-side released 6/10/1966)--Released two months before Revolver, "Rain" is a definite precursor to the new shades of sound that album would unveil for a not-so-hip-as-they-thought public. The rhythm section is traditionally the epicenter of a song, but not here. Paul and Ringo run this town. Detachment as an expedient to self-discovery. Imagine blowing bubbles whilst inside a plastic bubble.

"When it rains, and shines, it's just a state of mind." Cool, but people're still gonna bitch about the weather.

"Lady Madonna" (A-side released 3/15/1968)--Macca's tribute to the world's mamas--"How do they do it? Bless 'em"--from the ones who would rather see their child's skin tanned by the sun rather than a screen to the ones who let their brats get fat off Dominos.

Mom-love is the best, 'cause um moms are the best, but just the very title of this song reminds me of the line, thin as a junebug's legs, that mothers have to toe every day. Especially their sons. I can't imagine many women want their boys to grow up viewing other females in black and white terms, as either delicate creatures to be protected or unscrupulous, devious whores to be used like a wet wipe. Anybody that knows me, knows I am a fierce advocate of the middle. It's where the cream is, after all.

"The Inner Light" (B-side released 3/15/1968)--Esoteric text yet again lights a fire under George Harrison's righteous ass (Tao Te Ching)--"See all without looking, do all without doing." Okay, so how do I conjure up a nice plate of lamb biryani without actually looking up the phone number of the Indian place downtown? All things are possible, except when they're not. "The farther one travels/The less one knows." This is true. Disney lied to us, kids; it ain't a small world, after all.

"Hey Jude" (A-side released 8/30/1968)--Paul apparently wrote this song as a comfort to young Julian Lennon, whose parents were in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. The lessons of patience, grace, and repetition as the secret of happiness are heard in every line. Julian's dad, however, heard a message to himself, one that Paul couldn't bring himself to say in a voice without melody. "You have found her/Now go and get her" struck John's ears as a tacit admission of approval re: himself and Yoko Ono, and it makes sense. It's an odd line to say to a young boy struggling through the shitstorm of emotions stirred up by a broken home, anyway.

More of those superbly imperfect J and P harmonies yet again. Funny how two wildly divergent personalities prone to violent clashes can end up stronger for it all and others, well...

The four-minute "na na" chorus is the perfect way to determine who is a Beatles fan and who isn't.

For the truly obsessed: check out 2:57 to 2:59 in headphones if you have not already. An entire blog post could be made here--and has been made elsewhere--about the apparent "undeleted expletive" heard here.

"Revolution" (B-side released 8/30/1968)--Heard this before on an album, have you? No you haven't. See, this is the good version, with guit-fiddles distorted as a Tea Partiers worldview, and featuring the best pre-verse scream not from the throat of Tom Araya. John's delivery is much stronger, and his ending refrain, those defiant "All right!"s, is acerbic enough to twist your face.

"Revolution" is relevant still in a world gone madder by minute from an abundance of information without an accompanying increase in discrimination, with the end result being that the minutiae of matters is either completely ignored or unjustly aggrandized.

"Get Back" (A-side released 4/11/1969)--A chronic tape echo effect, false start, and pleas to some wayward chick named Loretta set this version apart from the album track.

"Don't Let Me Down" (B-side released 4/11/1969)--John's impassioned declaration of love. This is almost too exposed to air to withstand--if you're a weak pussy.

"The Ballad of John and Yoko" (A-side released 5/30/1969)--Listening to celebrities detail their travails is almost as satisfying as hearing them bitch about having to pay exorbitant taxes. Or having an electrode placed on a vaginal wall getting shocked till burns appear. Despite the repeated evocations to God's lad throughout, the track is quite non-acerbic and tedious. I'm not even a Christian, but I find saying you are/you will be "crucified" is a poor choice of words, intended to strike up controversy and cover up mediocrity.

"Old Brown Shoe" (B-side released 5/30/1969)--Just the title makes me think of "Little Brown Jug," which makes me think of how much Homer Simpson loves a hoedown and I didn't say stop.

A grower that busts through the roof before you even know what's what, I'd call this one of the Beatles' most overlooked tracks. "I want a short-haired girl who sometimes wears it long" makes far more sense (and is far more alluring a lyric) than anything from "Within You Without You."

There exists some controversy over the bass track, which is to "Old Brown Shoe" as heat is to popcorn kernels. Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn credits "a fine combination of matching lead and bass guitar notes played by George and Paul." However, George told Creem in 1987 that he and he alone was responsible for the bottom end. Pretty convo-ending, hmm? Yes...except I could also point to an interview where George seems to forget he played bass on "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight," crediting Paul with it instead.

Don't trust artists, y'all. It's all sex lies and muddy memories.

"Across the Universe" (No One's Gonna Change Our World)--Picked by Spike Milligan to appear on a charity album for World Wildlife Fund. Bird chirps bookend the track (did "Blackbird" teach us nothing?) and the song itself is inexplicably sped up. Not comically so, but noticeable. And terrible.

"Let It Be" (A-side released 3/6/1970)--The orchestra drank some decaf, George demanded a do-over, and Linda McCartney had something to say. Other than that.

"You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" (B-side released 3/6/1970)--A pastiche recorded over three sessions in 1967 and one topper turn in 1969.

Patrick hates this one more than any other Beatles original. What strikes many as endearing--the shameless style-jumping and self-conscious goofiness--is what makes him twitch, itch and pitch a bitch. "Do you hate fun?" is all I can say in response.

Paul has referred to this as his favorite Beatles song, although that may have as much or more to do with the joyous frivolity of the recording sessions as the actual finished product.

If the nightclub and lounge sections bug you it's not so hard to grasp why, but if you can't enjoy the first part, I cram to understand you. The piano! The yelling! More Pinkus, please, and leave it in the bottle this time! It's music to rattle the glasses on a table to.



The 2009 mono box set featured "Mono Masters," which matched Past Masters Volume One perfectly but omitted those tracks from Volume Two that never had a mono mix. So goodbye to "The Ballad of John and Yoko," "Old Brown Shoe," and "Let It Be." Hello four previously unreleased mono mixes of four Yellow Submarine songs.

"Only a Northern Song"--See, 'cause Northern Songs Ltd. was the publishing company that handled all the Beatles songs. While Macca and John each had 30% shares in the company, George had a paltry 1.6%. Thus, "It really doesn't matter what chords I play/What words I say/It's only a Northern song." Nice to see ol' GH with a sense of humor.

The end is like someone took the walrus and fed it burritos till it exploded.

"All Together Now"--Paul is for the children. The children who still don't know the alphabet. Everybody join in! Oh no, won't be doing that.

"Hey Bulldog"--I feel the earth! Move! Under my feet! "Hey Bulldog" is one of those classics that virtually every rock band has run through once in rehearsal or rewrote subconsciously. A jackknife in a sweaty palm, slitting open bags for booty.

"It's All Too Much"--I got a Catholic block! No? Just me? Listen to that guitar up front, that is dead on! Aw man. Li'l feedback parade happening, too.

Thankfully, I as a listener never feel compelled to say at any point, "Well, the song tried to warn me." Considering that this is a six and a half minute George song, that is an amazing feat. "All the world is birthday cake/Take a piece but not too much."

Sifting through the debris of a wrecked cruise ship, where are all the bodies? Small issue, that. Accoutrements ahoy, matey, collect as much as you can.






And on that note of crass thievery, I bid this review series farewell. Thank you for reading. No band in rock history has had more words dedicated to them than the Beatles, and I hope you found mine entertaining, enjoyable, and maybe even educational. For me at least, it was certainly a thrill.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You Know the Name: The Music of the Beatles, Pt. 13--Look What We Found







3/7/1988

The Beatles regarded albums and singles as two separate entities, valuing the former above the latter, and even refusing to release individual sides from two of their most beloved albums (Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles). As a result, some of the group's most well-known tracks never made it onto any official album.

In 1987, the Beatles discography was made available on CD for the first time, and an additional treat was in store when a two-volume collection arrived not long after that compiled all these lonely hearts. Past Masters is, at the very least, a tidy history lesson. The band's growth and progress is on display, from the hit factory that aspired nothing loftier than to break a sweat, to drugged-up pioneers of exceptional artistic bravery, to stubborn malcontents on the verge of collapse.

DISC ONE (October 1962 to July 1965)

"Love Me Do" (original single on Parlaphone Records)--The main difference between this and the version that appeared on Please Please Me is who's playing drums--Ringo here, Andy White on the album. In their never-ending pissing match with the English, the Scots should never fail to at least once a week bring up how Andy White just killed Ringo Starr. Holy shit. But why stop there? Everything about the Andy White version sounds better. (And lest you believe I'm just throwing darts at Starkey, "Love Me Do" just isn't "Love Me Do" without his tambourine part.) There's a dearth of energy here that makes me wonder if the fellas had to do a show in Azkaban before hitting the studio.

"From Me To You" (A-side, released 4/11/1963)--The title was inspired by "From You to Us," the name of the NME's letters column. Irrefutable proof that once upon a time, said rag was not just tolerable, but influential as well.

Patrick and I get our fight caps on over two songs on Past Masters. "From Me to You" is one of them. I believe it started when he said that the song was the weakest one featured on the 1's album. My forebrain could not process this fully.

"Weaker than 'She Loves You'? 'The Ballad of John and Yoko'? Is this some sort of elaborate attempt to get my systolic blood pressure reading up to match my body weight? You can't believe that."

Oh but he does. Patrick regards "From Me To You" as a pure yawn, whereas I feel it's just as catchy as one. Some of the Beatles most impeccably realized melodies are in here, sweet yet powerful, heartwarming without being gut-churning. It smacks my gob to realize it isn't universally beloved by the fandom.


"Thank You Girl" (B-side, released 4/11/1963)--For defending "From Me To You"? No problem.

A brief missive of appreciation to the estrogen brigade, because frankly, they made the Beatles. Of all the things a group of young men could bestow upon a woman, a half-assed song beats gonorrhea any day.

Yeah, this one's standard as a knock-knock joke, right down to the harmonica, but John and Paul find some more space here to show off their yelling ability. Girls, when a guy starts shouting platitudes, you are the recipient of a love most divine. "And eternally/I'll always be/In love with you." Really, you will never require panties again.

"She Loves You" (A-side, released 8/23/1963)--Sly to use the third person, 'cause hearing someone talk about what they're feeling, doing or about to do can get trite.

One of several that John and Paul knocked out side by side, ear to ear, nose to nose, whilst cooped up in an artless hotel room, hurling ideas teeming with what they knew and what they thought they knew up against walls painted some horrid shade of impending death, over and over, till they either stuck or shattered.

The quality disparity from the verses to the chorus is jarring to me personally. The chord pattern is P to P for pied to piper, but that legendary refrain NO NO NO.

"I'll Get You" (B-side, released 8/23/1963)--You got A-sides. You got fuckin' A-sides. There's B-sides, and then there's hysterical B-sides that win again. Is this the worst Beatles song to feature the word "You"?

Well, love songs are like love affairs. They can't all be winners. Some of them will result in the fabulous exchange of thoughts and fluids and make you dream of immortality. Still others will make you want to bludgeon your paramour with a cement block you left in the freezer overnight.

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" (A-side, released 11/29/1963)--Washing the brains of chickadees after conjuring up a mischievous lather, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was The One, the first Beatles song to hit number one in America, and as much as that chafes Brit crotch, said feat was and in many minds still is the barometer of true success for musical acts.

If I'd been a young lass in 1963, I would've been right there in love. I wouldn't have been screaming myself hoarse, but still. How could I resist three cute English fellas (and the drummer) and their innocent yearnings. You wanna hold my hand, you wanna get some milk too and share it? Music to sensibly shake my modestly skirted booty to.

"This Boy" (B-side, released 11/29/1963)--While I was typing out "B-side," I thought, Yeah, no shit. Really nothing else to say.

"Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" and "Sie Liebt Dich" (released 3/5/1964)--If you wonder why the Beatles would redo two of their early singles in the language of romance, I suggest you do the history. They got traces of black, red and gold in their collective DNA, baby. So when EMI's West German branch called, the boys were like, "What the bloody hell is Odeon Records?" Then when they found out, they got to work creating songs that are funny to listen to once (much in the way it's amusing to watch a video of yourself having sex, laughing to keep from screaming in horror) and then never again. Now, if they'd switched the yeah's for ja's, the replay value would be insane.

Certain facts about these novelty songs are far more interesting.

"Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" actually translates to "Come Give Me Your Hand," which is far more in the German spirit (although not as much as "Give Me Your Hand Or I'll Rip It Off" would have been).

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" was resung over the original track, but "She Loves You" had to be replayed, as the original two-track tape could not be located. Some listeners claim this is apocryphal, and both tracks are the original with new vocals, but just listen: "She Loves You" is played at a faster tempo while retaining the original key of the song. The key would have changed if it was just a matter of the tape being sped up.

Finally--I speak German. You are a pastry. It should be said "deesh," not "dick." Come on, guys. Whoever helped them with the pronunciation brought a catheter along.

"Long Tall Sally" (1964 EP of the same name)--Check out one take Paulie over here. Macca's Little Richard turn--especially the "Wooooo!" does a fan proud. Intimidation is always a factor when you're tackling the track of an in-fact master, but "Long Tall Sally," from toes to eyeballs, is one of the best covers the Beatles ever did. Put this 'un on next time you have to clean a room or two. You won't actually get any cleaning done, but you won't care.

"I Call Your Name" (Long Tall Sally EP)--"I can't sleep at night/Since you've been gone."

"'Cause I've been too busy shagging/Countless other birds/WOOOOO!"

"Slow Down" (Long Tall Sally EP)--Turning Larry Williams' original into an Uncouth Joseph (Sloppy Joes to certain Americans, steamers to others).

I don't even know what that meant. I'm sorry.

"Matchbox" (Long Tall Sally EP)--This was Pete Best's vocal turn live, so of course it goes to Ringo here, all you drummers sound alike to me! Goddamn, most boring EP ever.

"I Feel Fine" (A-side, 11/27/1964)--Ah, so much better! A country-tinged (not -tinted) foot tapper with a verse structure that both looks and sounds like a fresh chain link (you know). The sheer quality of the track itself is often overlooked due to its place in music history; "I Feel Fine" was the first song to use feedback as a recording effect. (Hilariously, they had to tell Parlaphone that it was accidental, or its inclusion would have been disallowed, as feedback violated the label's stringent sonic standards code or some such.)

"She's a Woman" (B-side, 11/27/1964)--Roaming soulfulness, so forgive it for treading the path most traveled by, won't you?

In 2008, neuroscientists discovered that the heart has its own independent nervous system--its own "brain", if you will, or even if you won't--and can thus send messages to and receive messages from the traditional brain. And the brain obeys! That's pretty cool.

Heart to brain: "Keep doing what you're doing!"
Brain to heart: "Back at'cha."

I bring this up because I think that my heart reacts rather strangely to love, and the manner in which it does reminds me of this song. Your heart may react to the novelty of love with fireworks, rainbows and pizza, compelling your brain to compel you to go nuts and get some new clothes, new music, new furniture, all the better for the new you! Don't stay indoors, the heart implores, enjoy the vast expanse of the world and convince yourself it's all a visual metaphor for your life at this moment.

My heart, however, processes love by suddenly making me very sleepy. And I don't say that to dis this song. It's fine. But I kinda just wanna curl up and think about how romantic love would be the best thing ever if you never got out of bed.

"Bad Boy" (Beatles VI, US LP)--The US releases were like a shit pickle that swam in piss instead of brining liquid. Just because the record companies sought the validation of the voracious American super-consumer doesn't mean they actually liked any of them. Another Larry Williams redo, the intro is suggestive of the edgiest sixties rock made by unkempt vandals, but that's where it stops.

"Yes It Is" (B-side 4/9/1965)--"Ticket To Ride" was the A-side. Damn. Some superlative tri-harmonies on display but little else of note.

"I'm Down" (B-side 7/23/1965)--The flip of "Help!" fares better, with one of my favorite vocal arrangements to appear in a Beatles song. Embodies no less than four formulas of the music scene at that time, but executes each one perfectly.


As Rubber Soul to Help!, Past Masters Volume 2 is to the first compilation. Check this space tomorrow for the final post of the Beatles Discography review.