The holidays are here. There are many cool Beatles-related items that I find to be great gifts for people of all ages and for all occasions. The links to these items are displayed at the bottom of this blog post.
Last year on December 15, 2017 saw the release of the new CD box set Happy Christmas Beatles People!, a compilation of the special Christmas recordings that the Beatles sent each year to dues-paying members of the official Beatles Fan Club. This new box set encompasses the Christmas records from 1963 to 1969. This innovative special Christmas box set was reviewed in major publications throughout the world. Rolling Stone published a comprehensive article on December on the Christmas recordings to coincide with the release of the box set. The article is entitled “Beatles’ Rare Fan-Club Christmas Records: A Complete Guide“. This is the Amazon link to Happy Christmas Beatles People!
A great gift for Hanukkah is A Shabbat in Liverpool by Lenny Solomon and Schlock Rock.
In recent years, I have found that I cannot go wrong in terms of a baby gift with giving a Beatles CD for babies. The parents of the babies tell me it turns out to be a gift that they use over and over again. I have given the CDs for other occasions, too. The ones that I have given have been Beatles for Babies of the “For Babies” series, Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of The Beatles, and Rockabye Baby! More Lullaby Renditions of The Beatles. In addition, Baby Road: The Beatles Lovely Songs for Babies also seems to be popular.
Not only does ordering these CD’s online from Amazon.com save time in terms of going out to shop for a gift at store, but also you can be assured that no one else will be giving this kind of gift.
In the same regard, I have found success in giving a different kind of Beatles CD as a gift to my family and friends. Some of these people I know have many Beatles CDs in their collections, if not all of them. I surprise them with a unique gift of a different style of Beatles CD. There are numerous tribute CDs with an ethnic flavor. For example, people have loved The Beatles in Bossa Nova by The Brazilian Tropical Orchestra. Also, I get great feedback when I give another CD, Tribute In Bossa Nova To The Beatles.
Beatles music in the Cuban style is also a great novelty gift that people will enjoy. Here Comes … el son – Songs of The Beatles with a Cuban Twist is a CD that I listen to sometimes in the car.
The widest selection of Beatles CDs in different flavors can be found in reggae. There are no shortage of titles. The ones that I have given as gifts have been thoroughly enjoyed by the recipients. They are Here Comes The Sun: A Reggae Tribute to The Beatles, Tribute to The Beatles Reggae Style, and Vol. 1 – Reggae Tribute to Beatles.
Another genre that provides for neat gifts is classical music. The 2009 CD Classical Beatles is one that has worked out well, as has Beatles for Orchestra, and Blackbird: Beatles for Orchestra. Naturally, Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Play The Beatles, a digitally remastered CD released in 2000, is popular.
Two other titles that will intrigue your families and friends are Beatles in Classics: The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philarmonic, and The Beatles Arranged for a String Quartet by Wihan Quartet and various artists.
If you have friends who love The Beatles, giving gifts of this type will prove to be something that they not only will use, but also will remember for sure. The links to these CDs are below. Also, if you like this blog, please use our Amazon box when ordering from Amazon.com. Muchas gracias!
It is no surprise that last July 21 came and went with no mention that it was the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, which is considered one of the biggest flops of a high-budget movie in film industry history. It did extremely poorly at the box office and received universally terrible reviews. Many could not believe that the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Steve Martin, Aerosmith and others would participate in such a farce. When asked about the film in a 1979 interview, George Harrison expressed his sympathy for Stigwood, Frampton and the Bee Gees, acknowledging that they had all worked hard to achieve success before making Sgt. Pepper. He said of Frampton and the Bee Gees: “I think it’s damaged their images, their careers, and they didn’t need to do that. It’s just like the Beatles trying to do the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones can do it better.” Furthermore, the great George Martin, the former producer of the Beatles, shockingly served as musical director, conductor, arranger, and producer of the film’s soundtrack.
However, surprisingly, two songs off of the soundtrack have stood the test of time and still receive widespread airplay some forty years later. The soundtrack rerecorded every song from the original 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album except “Lovely Rita” and “Within You, Without You” as well almost every song from the Abbey Road album. Though the 1978 album has been a joke for the last four decades, the songs “Come Together” by Aerosmith and “Got to Get You into My Life” by Earth, Wind and Fire received abundant critical acclaim at the time and so many years later receive regular airplay.
In simple terms, the screenplay, written by New York Times pop critic Henry Edwards, involved the Pepper Band – Frampton and the Bee Gees – becoming corrupted by the record business and the victim of a plot by the Furure Villain Band, played by Aerosmith, to turn music fans into mindless drones consuming product. The day is saved by a weather vane, played by Billy Preston, coming to life to save the day.
“We realized our involvement with this could look cheesy, but we looked at it as another adventure. The real hook was being able to work with George Martin on our cover of “Come Together.” We flew to New York to work at the Record Plant. Our idea was not to stray too far from the original. We had too much respectfor John Lennon’s classic to go changing it just for the sake of change. We ran it down and waited for the arrival of George Martin.
When the tall and elegant Mr. Martin arrrived, we said quick hellos over the intercom and ran dowen the song for him. We sat there nervously, waiting for words of wisdom from the genius producer.
‘It sounds good, boys. Please procced.’
We were shocked. We’d figure he’d have a lot to say – either adding or subtracting from our interpretation. But he had no suggestions whatsover. So we kept playing until we formulated a good basic track.
When we went to the control room to reach him face-to-face, he was the same genial gentleman as ever. ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, boys, and I shall see you shortly.’
And with that he left.
When the movie came out, no one could believe how bad it was.”
“There was a lot of Beatles revival stuff in the air back then. People missed the Beatles. Steve Leber put together a show called Beatlemania: four musicians impersonating the Beatles. Aerosmith were investors in that. Then we got offered parts in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band produced by Robert Stigwood , who had paid the Beatles $500,000 for the rights to use their songs. Stigwood had just made all this money with Grease and Saturday Night Fever movies and soundtracks, two of the bestselling albums in history. I don’t remember why, but we did it, probably because it gave us a chance to work with George Martin when we cut our version of “Come Together” for the soundtrack.
Ray Tabano, an original member of Aerosmith who left in 1971 and assumed a managerial role with the band, put forth:
“The funny thing was that George Martin knew two things about Aerosmith: They took forever to record, and they loved Jeff Beck. George had produced Beck’s two biggest records [Blow by Blow, and Wired] and knew Beck was in town. So when they got into the studio, Martin told them that Jeff was playing that night at Trax and that they could all go see him when they finished. Aerosmith cut “Come Together” in two takes, George Martin flees with the tape, Aerosmith gets to the club, and no Jeff Beck. It was a hoax.”
Joey Kramer, the band’s drummer, offered this insight:
“The Sgt. Pepper? Are you kidding? It was a disaster. A real debacle. The Stones refused to do the part that was offered to us. Now we know why. It was just a pretty silly movie. Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees played the band, there was a girl named Strawberry Fields, and we and Alice Cooper were the bad guys, which was great because everyone looked so silly that we looked cool when we wanted to kill them. The only ones to get any airplay out of it were us and Earth, Wind and Fire, who did a great version of “Got to Get Your into My Life.”
In the three years previous to the release of “Come Together” in August 1978, Aerosmith had five songs in the Top 40, two of which – “Walk This Way” and “Dream On” – were top ten hits. “Come Together” reached number 23 on the Top 40 section of the Billboard Hot 100, staying in the Top 40 for seven weeks. Ironically, it would be over nine years until Aerosmith reached the Top 40 again on November 14, 1987 with the number 14 hit “Dude Looks Like a Lady”. Of course, the band was fractured in the 1980s, until all original members returned in 1984, which earned the band a new contract with Geffen Records. In the most dramatic comeback in rock history, Aerosmith collaborated with rappers Run-D.M.C. for their rendition of “Walk This Way”, the video of which on the MTV network exposed the band to a new generation of fans; this high-profile collaboration with Run-D.M.C. in 1986 was followed by their highly successful comeback album Permanent Vacation, which brought Aerosmith to the level of fame they experienced in the 1970s en route to an even higher plateau of fame than they had cultivated in the 1970s.
In fact, in his 2014 autobiography Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire, Philip Bailey, one of the band’s two lead singers, stated, “We didn’t just cover a Beatles tune, we transformed it, the EWF way. The folks at Columbia Records went crazy, and so did Paul McCartney who wrote the song. Everybody was pleased.” However, he continued later:
“As the movie inevitably tanked – along with the other singles- soon afterwards the Robert Stigwood Organization’s RSO label and movie empire went down with us. The Bee Gees were pissed! They wouldn’t speak to us because they thought we stole their thunder. Although Barry Gibb is cool with us now, back then they gave us no love at the gala premiere. There was a red carpet welcome for Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb, but by the time EWF got off the plane, they had already rolled up the red carpet! But we were the ones with the number one record.”
Maurice White, the band’s other lead singer, seemed to echo those very sentiments in his own 2016 autobiography My Life with Earth, Wind and Fire. He stated, “Beatles producer George Martin, who also produced the soundtrack for the film ran to me the second we finished shooting and said to me, ‘Damn, we should have done the whole soundtrack like!'”. White continued:
“In essence, the other musical acts in the film tried two hard to be true to the Beatles’ orginal songs, which I beleive was their creative undoing. I revereed the Beatles, too, but I decided to remain true to our rallying cry: any material that EW&F touched, we had to put our own spin on it. In the case of “Got to Get You into My Life,’ we swumng it – hard.I think it’s one of Verdine’s best bass performances on trecord, and, according to Paul McCartney, it’s his favorite Beatles cover……….. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band did turn out to be a complete bust in every way. Critics panned it as one of the worst films ever – but we got another big hit out of it. “Got to Get You Into My Life” had to have been the only successful thing associated in that film.”
Earth, Wind and Fire’s rendition of “Got to Get You into My Life” entered the Top 40 on August 5, 1978 and reached the number nine position, spending a total of nine weeks in the Top 40. The success of “Got to Get You into My Life” sparked a succession of three top ten hits for the band over the next year – “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, and “After the Love Has Gone”.
If you have not seen the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you should definitely avoid it at all costs. While this 1978 farce has been rightfully forgotten, the songs “Come Together” and “Got to Get You into My Life” are rightfully still staples of FM airplay.