Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ready for Their Closeups: The Top 5 Beatles Music Videos

Let’s put aside their individual mega-hits post-breakup like “Imagine,”
“Band on the Run,” and “Got My Mind Set on You.” Let’s also take out of 
consideration such memorable covers as Marvin Gaye’s exquisite
rendition of “Yesterday” and The Fifth Dimension’s rockin’ “I’ve Got a 
Feeling.” Instead, let’s focus specifically on the official videos on YouTube
— in particular, on The Beatles Vevo channel. What are people watching 
when it comes to Fab Four songs? Well first and foremost, it is not “Let It 
Be.” Below is a list of the five music videos with the most views to date on 
Vevo. At least so far …
1. “Don’t Let Me Down”: 88 million plays and counting
It might not feature their most beloved song or their most popular one but
this video does commemorate the Fab Four’s final public performance via
their immortal rooftop concert at Apple Studios in London circa 1969 —
with both Lennon and Harrison decked out in furs, McCartney sporting a
thick beard, and Ringo upstaging them all with his red plastic jacket. Pay 
close attention and you’ll spot Billy Preston accompanying the guys on 
the keyboards, too.
2. “Hey Jude”: 74 million plays and counting
First seen on the fairly short-lived Frost on Sunday on LWT (a.k.a. London
Weekend Television) in 1968, this video encored in America on The 
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour later that same year. Stick around past
the 47-second intro and you’re brought up close to McCartney’s face
singing straight into the camera, with some cut-aways to the other band
members — most memorably a gum-chewing Lennon who looks to be
making faces at McCartney at one point in an attempt to make him laugh.
The emergence of a studio audience onstage at the end doubles as a
time capsule of period fashions.
3. “Hello, Goodbye”: 56 million plays and counting
The eye-popping, candy-colored, silken military uniforms of Sgt. Pepper‘s
fame may partially distract you from some lip syncing that doesn’t always
sync up and those preposterous hulu dancers who suddenly pop up at
the end. This is actually one of a trio of videos that McCartney himself
directed for the song and it debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show in
November 1967. (It was banned on Britain’s Top of the Pops because of
its illegal use of miming!)
4. “A Day in the Life”: 48 million plays and counting
Given the song pays homage to avant-garde titans John Cage and
Karlheinz Stockhausen among others, the video’s experimental feel —
part light show, part cinema verite, part family home movies — feels
perfectly appropriate. Quick glimpses of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
amid a montage of increasingly hallucinatory power adds a layer of
glamor. Why are the tuxedoed orchestra members wearing
strange noses and silly hats? Because they were asked to!
5. “Penny Lane”: 44 millions plays and counting
Deemed by none other than the Museum of Modern Art to be among the
most influential music promos of its time, this 1967 short was helmed by
Peter Emmanuel Goldman, a now largely-forgotten director who
Susan Sontag referred to as “the most exciting filmmaker in recent years.”
So decades before MTV came into existence, The Beatles were ahead
of their time in yet another art form: the music video.
– The CS Team
Photo: Keystone/Stringer (courtesy Getty Images)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hear Lost Acetate Versions of Songs from The Velvet Underground & Nico (1966)

by , Open Culture:

While the first Velvet Underground album may only have sold 30,000 copies, everyone who bought one started a band. You know, if you have even a faint acquaintance with rock history, that that well-worn observation comes from producer, artistic innovator, and "non-musician" musician Brian Eno.

And whether you could get into it or not, you've no doubt heard at least parts of that first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, the 1967 release that brought together such soon-to-be rock luminaries as Lou Reed, John Cale, and the titular German vocalist/Warhol Superstar Nico.

The whole album, in fact, appeared under Warhol's aegis, and like most works associated with him, it tends to push opinions far in one direction or the other. The Velvet Undergound & Nico may still move you to found a rock band - or to scrap your interest in rock altogether - 45 years after its first release.

I refer to the record's "first release" because it's recently undergone a couple more, both of which originate in a version never even intended for market. "In 2002, a fellow paid 75 cents at a New York City flea market for a curious acetate recording of the Velvet Underground," reports Boing Boing's David Pescovitz.

"Turns out, the acetate contained early recorded takes and mixes of songs in different form." That man had stumbled upon the coveted Scepter Studios acetate version of the album that launched 30,000 bands, bootleg files of which soon began circulating on the net.

The acetate received a legitimate release last year as part of The Velvet Underground & Nico's "45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition," and you can hear cuts from it, like "Heroin" at the top of this post and "All Tomorrow's Parties" just above. For Velvet Underground purists, of course, only hearing the acetate disc itself will do. They'll have a hard time doing so - it last changed hands for $25,200 - but luckily they can now get at least one step closer with its brand new vinyl release.