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Lynnrockets’ Bad News Announcement

Shite! It is with deep sorrow that Lynnrockets must announce that his all time favorite crooner has died. Yes, Eduard Khil will not be coming down to breakfast tomorrow. The legendary performer, known as Russia’s “Voice”, has died in St. Petersburg, reports RIA Novosti. The singer was 77 and he died as the result of complications associated with a stroke.

I thought it was bad when John Lennon died and ended any speculation of a Beatles’ reunion. This is even worse. There will never be a follow-up single to “Trololo” !

In lieu of flowers, please send your generous donations to the “Bilyaletdinov School of Catchy Song and Performance”, c/o Lynnrockets, 1776 Paul Revere Warns The British Drive, Boston, MA  02101.

Tuesday Night Music Byte

Maybe Sarah Palin and the Tea-Baggers should listen to this…

Thursday Night Irish Music Byte

Irish Music Week continues…

In 1972 the Beatles had broken up. John Lennon was now married to Yoko Ono and his solo career was in its infancy. He released an album titled Some Time In New York City which was as un- Beatle-like as one could imagine. No pop songs but a lot of political commentary. One of those songs was Luck Of The Irish. It  was written shortly after the Derry Bloody Sunday massacre by British soldiers and was a sarcastic yet poignent description of Anglo/Irish relations at the time.

Please enjoy this video clip of John and Yoko performing this wonderful song. Also, please recognize that Yoko Ono is a lot better a performer than pop culture has led you to believe.

Friday Night Music Byte

Live Peace in Toronto 1969 is a 1969 live album recorded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, as the Plastic Ono Band, at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival. Featuring Eric Clapton on guitar (fresh from the breakup of Blind Faith), Klaus Voormann on bass and future Yes drummer Alan White (who a few months later would provide the drums on the percussion-driven Plastic Ono Band single, “Instant Karma!”) on drums, the line-up is filled out by Lennon on lead vocals and rhythm guitar and Ono on vocals. The album was credited to The Plastic Ono Band, a conceptual grouping that included Lennon and Ono and whoever happened to be backing them up at that particular moment. Both Lennon and Ono would use the nomenclature for several of their future solo albums.

The album is technically a soundtrack recording, being part of the audio portion of D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary movie Sweet Toronto. Lennon and Ono made a deal with Pennebaker to license their portion of the show for record, in exchange for rights to include their appearance. Unfortunately the deal fell through, with Lennon and Ono changing their minds about the inclusion (Lennon had been ill the day of the concert, and it showed on camera), and the movie was never originally released. (Showtime ultimately presented the performance during the 1980s, and the full movie appeared later on home video and DVD.)

As initially released on LP and later cassette tape, 8-track and on video cassette, side one of Live Peace in Toronto 1969 comprised John’s set, which included his two Plastic Ono Band singles for the year, “Give Peace A Chance” and a preview of the yet-to-be released at the time of the show “Cold Turkey;” “Yer Blues” from the The Beatles; and some favoured covers of 1950s rock and roll. Side two comprised Yoko’s set, including the b-side to “Cold Turkey,” “Don’t Worry Kyoko,” and featuring her trademark freeform stage act, which was not quite as well received as Lennon’s performance. The album ends with Lennon, Clapton, and Voorman leaning their guitars against the amplifiers to create a sustained roar of solid feedback, while Yoko continues screaming as the rest of the band leaves the stage.

Unlike many Lennon and Beatles albums, the individual guitars are clearly distinguishable in the stereo mix, with Lennon’s toward the left channel and Clapton’s toward the right. Also, the movie mix of the soundtrack offers stronger vocals by Ono during “Yer Blues”, and Clapton during “Give Peace A Chance”. On the contrary, Lennon’s guitar is hardly audible on the movie.

Admitting he could not remember the recorded lyrics (“I’ve forgotton all those bits in between, but I know the chorus”), Lennon improvised words to “Give Peace A Chance”:

Everybody’s talkin’ about
John And Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann,
Penny Lane, Roosevelt, Nixon,
Tommy Jones and Tommy Cooper and Somebody!.

Live Peace in Toronto 1969, though not making the British charts, was a US hit album, reaching #10 and going gold. The original LP came with a thirteen-month 1970 calendar. Tape versions of the album included a mail-in coupon for the calendar.

The album was released to quash any bootleg versions that Lennon was sure would leak onto the market. EMI was reluctant at first to issue the album, after two commercial failures in a row (Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions and Wedding Album) from Lennon and Ono. (Their first effort, Two Virgins, was distributed by Track Records, and had also failed commercially.) The album’s success came as a pleasant surprise, changing EMI’s perceptions.

The song “Cold Turkey” was released as a single in October 1969, and was John Lennon’s second solo single (“Give Peace a Chance” being the first). According to Peter Brown in his book The Love You Make, the song was written in a “creative outburst” following Lennon and Ono going “cold turkey” from their brief heroin addictions. Brown also states that Lennon presented the song to Paul McCartney as a potential single by The Beatles, but was refused and released it as a Plastic Ono Band single with sole writing credits to him.

“Cold Turkey” was the first song John Lennon wrote for which he took sole credit; his previous compositions, including his first single release, “Give Peace a Chance”, were attributed to the Lennon/McCartney partnership. (In the 1990s “Give Peace a Chance” was officially credited to Lennon as sole composer.)

In 1969 Lennon returned his MBE to Buckingham Palace saying “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag.”

John Lennon would perform this song, along with “Don’t Worry Kyoko”, live at the Lyceum Ballroom with George Harrison, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, and others. This would be Lennon’s last live performance with any of the other Beatles and this version would be available on his Some Time in New York City album.

The song’s first appearance on a Lennon album was the 1975 compilation Shaved Fish.

In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Cold Turkey” at number 74 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Wednesday Night Christmas Music Byte

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is a Christmas song by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. It was recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York City in late October of 1971, with the help of producer Phil Spector. It features soaring, heavily echoed vocals, and a sing-along chorus. The children singing in the background were from the Harlem Community Choir and are credited on the song’s single.

Although the song is a protest song about the Vietnam War, it has become a Christmas standard and has appeared on several Christmas albums. The lyric is based on a campaign in late 1969 by John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, who rented billboards and posters in eleven cities around the world that read: “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko”. The cities included New York, Tokyo, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Toronto, and some others. At the time the US was deeply entrenched in the unpopular Vietnam War. The line “War is over, if you want it, war is over, now!”, as sung by the background vocals, was taken directly from the billboards.

The record starts with a barely-audible whisper of Christmas greetings to their children: Yoko whispers “Happy Christmas, Kyoko”, then John whispers “Happy Christmas, Julian”. The lyric sheet from the 1982 release The John Lennon Collection erroneously gives this introduction as “Happy Christmas, Yoko. Happy Christmas, John”.

The single was released in the US on 6 December 1971, but never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 charts; the UK release was delayed until the following November due to a publishing dispute. Upon release, it reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was re-released in the UK on 20 December 1980 shortly after John Lennon’s death on 8 December 1980. It is known as the “secret number one”, as it reached the top of the UK Singles Chart for the week ending 3 January 1981, which was unpublished, as was usual for the Christmas week at that time. Thus, it is rarely, if ever, credited as a number one single.

Please enjoy this video-clip of John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band from the John Lennon Anthology collection of videos.

Wednesday Night Music Byte

Tonight’s video clip is from the Beatles. In 1995 the band released both a video and audio anthology of unreleased material. Additionally however, the three living members, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr worked in the recording studio for the first time since the band a broke up in 1970 and produced a new Beatles song. Even more impressively, they actually utilized an unreleased demo tape of John Lennon’s and mixed it with their own contributions so as to create a truly new Beatles song with all four members playing thereon.

That was not all, however. The Beatles even released a new music video for the song which is truly amazing to behold. It looks just like the videos they released in 1967 for Strawberry Fields ForeverPenny Lane. It is mesmerizing to watch the melding of video footage of the band members meandering through a fantasy world reflecting their lives and song catalog. See how many clues to their earlier songs you can find in this video and have some fun.

Thursday Night Music Byte

Not much needs to be said about John Lennon, so we won’t say very much. Here is a great clip of John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band playing Instant Karma on Britain’s Top Of The pops television program in 1970. Yoko Ono and her Dylanesque sign holding is worth the price of admission. Enjoy.

Sunday Night Music Byte

There was some big news for Beatles fans this week. The entire Beatles album catalog (originally released on cd in 1987) has been remastered and re-released. The sound is incredible in that you can hear instruments that were previously inaudible on the older cd’s. To date, none of the Beatles’ music is available on Itunes or any other digital format so cd is the only way to get. Buy them. They are great.

Tonight’s music byte is from Ringo Starr shortly after the Beatles’ break-up. The song is titled, “Early 1970” and is quite autobiographical. Listen closely to the first three sections of lyrics and you will realize that Ringo is describing each of his former bandmates in the order of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison. He does a good job of revealing his relationship with each of them in just a few short lines. He ends the song by implying that he would like to play with all of them together again. Unfortunately that never happened.

Please enjoy: