Friday, November 28, 2014

John Lennon and Elton John- Live, Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1974, 40 years ago today

On November 28th, 1974, 40 years ago today, John Lennon joined Elton John on stage for a Thanksgiving Day concert at Madison Square Garden.

Elton who was a fan of John's, had struck up a friendship with him. Elton had sang and played with John on the Whatever Gets You Through the Night single, which was culled from the Walls and Bridges album. He had also joined John for one other song on the album, Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox). John in turn played and sang on Elton's cover versions of John's songs,  Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and One Day (At A Time).

Elton had asked John to join him on stage, half-jokingly. John had not performed live for a couple of years, and was very reticent to join his friend on stage. But John agreed to do so provided his current single, Whatever Gets You Through the Night, went to number #1 on the charts. John said in an interview that he made this promise to Elton "never thinking in a million years [Whatever Gets You Through the Night] would go to #1." But of course, the single did reach #1 on the Billboard Charts, on November 16th, and John kept his promise.

John and Elton performed three songs- Whatever Gets You Through the Night, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, and I Saw Her Standing There, which John said was "written by an old fiancee of mine called Paul."

It was also at this concert that John and Yoko reunited after John's so-called "lost weekend". Yoko met John back stage after the show, and they ended their year and a half of estrangement.

Two years after the concert, Elton served as godfather for John and Yoko's son, Sean. And a mere six years later, John was murdered. Elton eulogized him in the song Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).

This performance of two musical legends was a rare and memorable event in the history of rock and roll.


Below I have my Youtube play list of the performance, which is great. After Elton introduces John, they launch into a lively version of Whatever Gets You Through the Night, then Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, and finally I Saw Her Standing There. I also included a second version of Whatever Gets You Through the Night. It has the actual audio from the concert and video from a movie called John & Yoko, a Love Story, with actors playing John, Elton and Yoko. It is well done and looks very real. Finally, there is a clip highlighting this momentous event from a 50th Anniversary program for Madison Square Garden.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Beatle's Acappella vocals on the Abbey Road Side 2 Medley- voices like Angels

This is beautiful. There can be no question that the Beatles are the greatest pop/rock group of all time. The clever song writing, and here, the beautiful singing and vocal harmonies, isolated, from the Abbey Road side 2 medley. I thought I was hearing angels sing.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It was U.S. capitalism that nearly brought the world economy down

"It wasn't Argentinean populist economics, Eastern European crony capitalism, or African kleptocracy that threatened the world economy with the worst recession since the 1930s; It was no-holds-barred American capitalism that did that."

- Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J., professor of ethics and global human development at Georgetown University.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

25th Anniversary - Paul McCartney's Flowers in the Dirt (June 5th, 1989). Also, remembering the 1989-1990 Tour and Tripping the Live Fantastic live album

Today, June 5th, is the 25th Anniversary of the release of Paul McCartney's Flowers in the Dirt album in 1989, arguably his best since 1973's Band on the Run. It is my personal favorite.

Paul's career had hit a plateau in the mid-Eighties. Paul found he was not selling as big as he was in the 1970's, when he enjoyed multi-platinum success with Wings. In 1984, he had a charming, but somewhat amateurish movie called Give My Regards to Broadstreet flop at the Theaters. Paul was booed on stage when his microphone was accidentally disconnected during his performance of Let it Be during Live Aid. His 1986 album, Press to Play, even though clever and well-performed and produced, did not even certify Gold in the United States.

Elton John suggested to Paul that he needed to go on tour to give a boost to his career. Paul had not toured since 1980, and that tour was cut short by Paul's infamous drug bust in Japan.

Paul listened to his friend, and decided to record a new album, and to go on a major world tour.

Paul assembled a crack band for his new project. Led by Average White Band alum Hamish Stuart, the new Paul McCartney band included Pretenders veteran Robbie McIntosh on Guitar, Paul “Wix” Wiggins on keyboards, Chris Witten (Dire Straits, Waterboys) on drums, and of course, Linda on keyboards. This band was arguably better as a unit than any of the configurations of Wings. Paul toyed with the idea of naming the band Wings for his tour, but decided against it. He wanted to write a new chapter.

Paul and the band recorded Flowers in the Dirt in 1988 and 1989. There was some work left over from the 1986 Press to Play sessions. Joining Paul and his band for the album were several other luminaries such as David Gilmour, Trevor Horn, and Elvis Costello, who also co-authored with Paul several songs on the album, including the hit, My Brave Face.

The album and the tour were a big success. The album reached #21 in the US, and quickly went Gold, and was #1 in the U.K. The tour was huge, garnering record ticket sales. The tour was called the Get Back Tour. Originally booked in arenas, Paul found he had to quickly move to stadiums to accommodate the large fan demand for tickets. On this tour, Paul performed several songs from his Flowers in the Dirt album, but also was comfortable again playing Beatles songs, some of which had never been performed live before. Such Beatle hits as Back in the U.S.S.R., Things We Said Today, Get Back, Eleangor Rigby, Let it Be, Fool on the Hill, Hey Jude, and many others were performed on the tour. Many Wings and solo McCartney hits such as Maybe I'm Amazed, Band on the Run, Ebony and Ivory, Coming Up and others were also performed. 

There is no doubt that the success of Flowers in the Dirt and the tour that supported it from 1989-1991 rejuvenated Paul's career, and put him back on a level where his subsequent albums began selling gold and platinum again.

There are two live CDs that capture the excellent performances from the tour, Tripping the Live Fantastic! (GOLD) and Tripping the Live Fantastic! Hightlights (Platinum). I have both CD versions, and the single record vinyl version of the album.

There is also an award-winning performance video of the Tour, Get Back, produced by Richard Lester, who also produced A Hard Day's Night and Help!

Flowers in the Dirt  is my favorite Paul McCartney album. I have this album both on vinyl and CD. Much of it sounds very Beatle-esque, and the hit single, My Brave Face, can stand up to anything Paul did with the Beatles. One critic compared it favorably with She Loves You, the Beatles biggest selling single in Britain of all time.

For the tour and album, Paul used, in addition to his famous Hoftner Beatle-Bass, a five-string Wal Bass Guitar that Linda bought him for his birthday. It provided a deep powerful bass line for the song, Rough Ride.

Below is my video play list for both albums and the tour. I do not feature all the songs, but four of what I think are the best ones- My Brave Face, This One, Figure of Eight, Rough Ride.

Flowers in the Dirt Track List:

1. My Brave Face
2. Rough Ride
3. You Want Her Too
4. Distractions
5. We Got Married
6. Put It There
7. Figure of Eight
8. This One
9. Don't Be Careless Love
10. That Day Is Done
11. How Many People
12. Motor of Love
13. Ou Est le Soleil

Buy Flowers in the Dirt here.

Tripping the Live Fantastic! Track listing

All songs by Paul McCartney, except where noted.

Disc one
"Showtime" – 0:38
"Figure of Eight" – 5:32
Recorded in Rotterdam, 10/11/89.
"Jet" – 4:02
Recorded in Wembley, 17/01/90.
"Rough Ride" – 4:48
Recorded in Paris, 10/10/89.
"Got to Get You into My Life" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 3:21
Recorded in Dortmund 17/10/89.
"Band on The Run" – 5:09
Recorded in Wembley, 16/01/90.
"Birthday" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 2:43
Concurrently released as a single to commemorate what would have been John Lennon's 50th birthday, recorded in Knebworth, 30/06/90.
"Ebony and Ivory" – 4:00
Recorded in Rotterdam, 08/11/89.
"We Got Married" – 6:38
Recorded in Wembley, 16/01/90.
"Inner City Madness" (Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney/Hamish Stuart/Robbie McIntosh/Paul Wickens/Chris Whitten) – 1:22
A soundcheck jam by McCartney and his touring band, recorded in Birmingham, 02/01/90.
"Maybe I'm Amazed" – 4:41
Recorded in Rotterdam, 08/11/89.
"The Long and Winding Road" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 4:18
Recorded in Rio de Janeiro, 19/04/90.
"Crackin' Up" (Ellas McDaniel) – 0:49
Recorded in Los Angeles, 23/11/89.
"The Fool on the Hill" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 5:01
Recorded in Wembley, 13/01/90.
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 6:23
Recorded in Los Angeles, 23/11/89.
"Can't Buy Me Love" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 2:14
Recorded in Munich, 21/10/89.
"Matchbox" (Carl Perkins) – 3:09
Recorded in Wembley, 21/01/90.
"Put It There" – 2:43
Recorded in Gothenburg, 28/09/89.
"Together" (Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney/Hamish Stuart/Robbie McIntosh/Paul Wickens/Chris Whitten) – 2:17
Another soundcheck jam, recorded in Chicago, 05/12/89.

Disc two
"Things We Said Today" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 5:01
Recorded in Madrid, 02/11/89.
"Eleanor Rigby" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 2:36
Recorded in Worcester, 08/02/90.
"This One" – 4:28
Recorded in Detroit, 01/02/90.
"My Brave Face" (Paul McCartney/Declan MacManus) – 3:09
Recorded in Wembley, 19/01/90.
"Back in the U.S.S.R." (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 3:15
Recorded in Tokyo, 05/03/90.
"I Saw Her Standing There" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 3:25
Recorded in Montreal, 09/12/89.
"Twenty Flight Rock" (Eddie Cochran/Fairchild) – 3:09
Recorded in Wembley, 13/01/90.
"Coming Up" – 5:18
Recorded in Tokyo, 03/03/90.
"Sally" (Haines/Leon/Towers) – 2:03
Recorded in Wembley, 21/01/90.
"Let It Be" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 3:53
Recorded in Miami, 14/04/90.
"Ain't That a Shame" (Fats Domino/Bartholomew) – 2:40
Recorded in Tokyo, 09/03/90.
"Live and Let Die" – 3:11
Recorded in Gothenburg, 28/09/89.
"If I Were Not upon the Stage" (Sutton/Turner/Bowsher) – 0:36
A faux beginning to the next song, Recorded in Cincinnati, 26/09/89.
"Hey Jude" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 8:03
Recorded in Cincinnati, 12/02/90.
"Yesterday" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 2:06
Recorded in Worcester, 09/02/90.
"Get Back" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 4:11
Recorded in Tokyo, 13/03/90.
"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 6:41
Recorded in Toronto, 07/12/89.
"Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" (Greene) – 4:31
Recorded in Montreal, 09/12/89.

Tripping the Live Fantastic: Highlights!
"Got to Get You into My Life" – 3:15
"Birthday" – 2:43
Concurrently released as a single to commemorate what would have been John Lennon's 50th birthday
"We Got Married" (McCartney) – 7:09
"The Long and Winding Road" – 3:48
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" – 6:21
"Can't Buy Me Love" – 2:14
"All My Trials" (Traditional) – 3:14 (UK only)
"Put It There" (McCartney) – 2:44 (US only)
"Things We Said Today" – 5:01
"Eleanor Rigby" – 2:36
"My Brave Face" (McCartney, Declan MacManus) – 3:09
"Back in the U.S.S.R." – 3:15
"I Saw Her Standing There" – 3:25
"Coming Up" (McCartney) – 5:18
"Let It Be" – 3:53
"Hey Jude" – 8:03
"Get Back" – 4:11
"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" – 6:41

Tripping the Live Fantastic: Highlights! Single Record Vinyl limited edition

Side One
The Long And Winding Road
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Can't Buy Me Love
All My Trials

Side Two
Eleanor Rigby
My Brave Face
I Saw Her Standing There
Coming Up
Let It Be
Hey Jude
Get Back

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sister Simone puts the smack down on Tea Party favorite Dinesh D'Souza

 Dinesh D'Souza shows his true colors. He can barley hide his contempt for Sister Simone, and is extremely condescending ("you're bleeding all over me.") He says "the minimum wage is not that important," but Sister Simone schools him on values and holds her own against his scoffing. She definitely wins the argument and put him in his place. The conservatives just can't face that they are the ones who are thrusting aside Gospel values in their political goals. Pope Francis' recent statements expose the gulf between Gospel values on one hand, and the current conservative positions. Christians need to decide which side they are on.
On this weekend’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Tea Party “darling” and Obama conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza was taught a brilliant, eye opening lesson by Sister Simone after he dared to call the Republican Party’s refusal to raise the minimum wage a “minor issue”, a comment that left the famous “Nun on the Bus” visibly bothered, and she didn’t let him get away with it:

“Excuse me, it is not a minor issue. It is at the heart of people’s struggle. I met Robin at the White House and she works full-time for minimum wage. And Robin, who works full-time at minimum wage for a profitable chain, she has to live in a homeless shelter because she does not have enough money to pay rent. That is wrong in the richest nation on Earth. It is wrong and it’s a big deal!”

Then, she schooled him on the harmful, immoral, and economically detrimental effects of poverty wages and corporate welfare, providing a golden exchange between a knowledgable nun and a purposely ignorant Tea Partier. Her lesson was so powerful and truth-packed, that D’Souza was left laughing nervously and waving the white flag, even proclaiming, “I give up!”

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Beatles held the top 5 spots on the charts, 50 years ago today

50 YEARS AGO TODAY day in 1964, The Beatles made music history by holding the top five places in the singles charts. No one else has done it before and likely no one ever will. Also, the same week, they had a dozen songs spread across the chart, setting a record they broke a week later with 14. That record also still holds.
The Top Five Songs, held by the Beatles on April, 4th, 1964 were:

1)      Can't Buy Me Love

2)      Twist and Shout

3)      She Loves You

4)      I Want to Hold Your Hand

5)      Please Please Me.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Stanley Clarke Live at the Cedar Cultural Center February 27, 2014 Minneapolis Minnesota- School Days Tour

Here is some pictures and video I took last night of Stanley Clarke at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis Minnesota (February 27, 2014). I had the extraordinary pleasure of a front row seat to see Stanley Clarke at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis MN. Stanley is an enormous talent, and he blew the audience away with his virtuosity on upright and electric bass. I have been a huge Stanley Clarke fan since I was a teenager, and I play bass in part because of his influence, so this was a treat for me.  – Lance
Stanley’s current tour is called the School Days tour, because the show consists mostly of songs from his 1976 album, School Days. It was his first album to cross over into the pop charts and enter the top 40.

Here was the play list from last night (not sure about exact order between School Days and No Mystery):

1.      School Days (School Days album 1976)

2.      Quiet Afternoon (School Days album 1976)

3.      Lopsy Lu (Stanley Clarke album 1974)

4.      The Dancer (School Days album 1976)

5.      Song to John Parts 1 & 2  (Journey to Love album 1975)

6.      Desert (School Days album 1976)

7.      No Mystery (from the Return to Forever album No Mystery 1975) 


Hot Fun (School Days album 1976)


Stanley Clarke Bass solo on Song to John Part II


Stanley Clarke slaps and pops the upright


Monday, January 27, 2014

Beatles at the Grammy Awards: Paul McCartney takes home four Grammy Awards; Paul and Ringo Perform together; Sean and Yoko, and Olivia Harrison also in attendance.

I very much enjoyed watching Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr perform last night on the 2014 Grammy Awards. Paul won a Grammy for best Rock Song last night, along with

Last night, Paul McCartney took home four Grammy Awards:
  • Best Rock song: "Cut Me Some Slack," with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear.
  • Best Long-form music video: "Live Kisses."
  • Best Surround Sound Album Live Kisses (Al Schmitt, surround mix engineer; Tommy LiPuma, surround producer).
  • Best boxed or special limited edition package "Wings Over America (Deluxe Edition)", with Wings — (Simon Earith & James Musgrave, art directors).
Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon were also there. Sean looks hauntingly like his father, circa Hey Jude Album. Olivia and Yoko co-presented an award last night, along with Alicia Keys.





Sunday, January 26, 2014

Honoring Angela Davis on her 70th Birthday

Today, Angela Davis turns 70. I want to honor her legacy. Angela Davis was one of the prophetic voices to come out of the sixties and seventies for social change. She was, and still is, a mighty voice for black liberation, feminism, and social equality. In 1969, Davis began publicly speaking, voicing her opposition to the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and the prison industrial complex, and her support of gay rights and other social justice movements. Davis was a member of the Communist Party and the Black Panthers.
Davis was fired in 1969 from her teaching post at UCLA and was barred from teaching anywhere in California at the behest of Governor Ronald Reagan, because of her involvement in the Communist Party and radicalism. Although Davis was fired from her position, she actually showed up to teach her class anyway. Fifteen hundred people showed up for her class, in an expression of support for her. Only 150 people had signed up for the class, which was on themes in black literature.

Davis was once on the FBI's most wanted list. A young African American man named Jonathan Jackson took control of a Federal courtroom, kidnapped a judge and three other hostages. He got into a gun fight with police, and in the resulting melee, Jackson, the judge, and hostages all died. Davis had purchased the guns used by Jackson (which she had for her personal protection at a time she had received many death threats). Davis was charged with kidnapping and murder, and she fled California, but was arrested by the FBI in New York.
She was seen by her supporters as a political prisoner, and she was eventually acquitted of all charges and released. John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote a tribute song for her called, Angela, which was on their 1972 album, Sometime in New York City. The Rolling Stones did the same with their song, Sweet Black Angel on their 1972 album, Exile on Main Street.

After her release, Davis visited Cuba, where she was so well received that she could barely speak amid the applause. After visiting Cuba, she said “only under socialism could the fight against racism be successfully executed.”

Davis continued to work for social change after her release from prison throughout the 1970's and in the decades that followed. She gave lectures in schools, universities, and parks. She authored several books, some of the most well-known ones are: Angela Davis: An AutobiographyWomen, Race, & Class; Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Torture, and Prisons; Blues Legacies and Black Feminism; Are Prisons Obsolete?, and others.

She ran for Vice President of the United States on the Communist Party ticket, in 1980 and 1984, along with Communist Presidential candidate Gus Hall. However, she also urged people on the left to vote for Democrats, as a practical matter. “Revolutionaries must be realists,” said Davis. Although she is no longer a member of the Communist Party, she is on the advisory board of the Committees for Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

In recent years, she has spoken out against the U.S. Prison system, which she calls the “prison-industrial complex,” and a modern “form of slavery.” She helped form with others the African American Agenda 2000, an alliance of Black feminists.

Davis is prominently featured in the new movie, the Black Power Mix Tape. 

Although retired from teaching, she continues to be a force today for social change, being a strong advocate for the abolition of the U.S. Prison system, which she calls a “form of slavery,” and for the Occupy Wall Street Movements.

Angela Y. Davis has been a person of consistent courage and conviction, who has spoken powerfully for social justice and change.

I still find Angela Davis very compelling. I am deeply moved by her speech at Occupy Oakland. I applaud her call for free health care and education, and to resist the global capitalist system. I have the Youtube video of her appearance at Occupy Oakland below.

Angela Davis has been willing to champion ideas that may not be popular with many Americans. She has exercised her democratic rights fully in advocating for her views and causes, and example of a person realizing the full potential of the American ideal. 

Some links:

Democracy Now! Program with Angela Davis. (this interview with Angela is terrific!)

Interview of Angela Davis from prison in 1970 on Black People defending themselves. 

Angela Davis speech in the 1970's

Angela Davis at Occupy Oakland, using the People's Mic to support the world wide Occupy movements, and to speak against police violence and hierarchies of class, race, gender, and sexuality. 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Angela:

The Rolling Stone's Sweet Black Angel (about Angel Davis):

Finally, this excellent tribute to Angela Davis: