Jason Falkner – Bedtime With The Beatles Part Two

Bedtime With The Beatles 2Arriving as a bit of a surprise in between albums of sublime original material, Jason Falkner’s original Bedtime With The Beatles had a curious mandate of its own: recasting Lennon-McCartney classics as lullabyes for little Beatle-fans-to-be. And so help me, it worked – I always thought it was an incredibly relaxing album, but I didn’t realize the true power of it until years later when my own first child came along. Bedtime With The Beatles was a godsend. The arrival of this second volume of Falkner’s lullabye arrangements came out of nowhere too; maybe it’s because I don’t keep up with very many artists via fansites or MySpace or what have you, but I didn’t know it was in the works, and eagerly picked it up, because now I knew how handy it could be. It wasn’t just a matter of my personal tastes for enjoyment – I had a kid who desperately needed some new sleepytime material.

The problem there, however, is that Falkner’s arrangements on this second volume are much more “involved.” Great from an active listening standpoint, but there’s simply too much going on for it to reach quite the same level of relaxation as the first volume. In places – I’m looking at you, “Penny Lane” – Bedtime Part Two almost ceases to by lullabye music and slides its toes adventurously over the line into downtempo lounge arrangements of the Beatles.

That’s not to say that nothing here lives up to the sleepytime potential of the first volume. “She’s Leaving Home” – which was very nearly a lullabye to begin with in its original form – is positively inspired, with “Here Comes The Sun” coming in a close second as my favorite. “Hey Jude” has low-key vocals-as-instruments that really straddle the line between relaxing and active enough that they demand attention. Some songs, such as “Norwegian Wood”, “Something” and “I Will” try very hard to reach for the sound of the original recordings, with more elaborate guitar work or production, and as such they become “active listening” material. With its back-tracked keyboards and chiming guitar chords, I can’t really imagine anyone drifting off to Falkner’s cover of “Norwegian Wood”.

3 out of 4And what does the little E think? Maybe it was just because it was new music to his ears, combined with his general tendency toward trying to avoid sleep at all costs, but my attempt to introduce him to Bedtime With The Beatles Part Two confirmed my suspicions: he got too involved with listening to it to really relax. But in the end, soft-pedaling my one-year-old into his indoctrination as a potential Beatles listener can’t be all bad – but it’s not all meant for bed either.

Order this CD

  1. Norwegian Wood (3:28)
  2. Something (3:37)
  3. She’s Leaving Home (4:33)
  4. Penny Lane (4:27)
  5. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (4:38)
  6. Here Comes The Sun (3:33)
  7. I Will (2:07)
  8. Hey Jude (5:08)
  9. Yesterday (2:36)
  10. Good Night (4:54)

Released by: Adrenaline
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 39:01

The Beatles Anthology, Volume 3

The Beatles Anthology, Volume 3My feelings for this final epic selection of rare Beatles material are bound to be influenced by the fact that, aside from Abbey Road, I just didn’t care all that much for the Fab Four’s latter-day output. Something about it just never quite set well with me. Was it the meditational influence of the time they spent with Maharishi? No, I don’t think so…there were more overt Indian influences earlier on with George’s sitar dabblings. Was it the increasing rift between the Beatles? Nope…unlike a lot of scholars who spend a lot of time trying to psychoanalyze the Beatles, I really can’t tell by listening. Somehow it was a simultaneous lack of musical daring, and a propensity to occasionally go too far out (this I largely attribute to John). But there are still plenty of items to like on this double disc, including a number of Abbey Road demos, rehearsals and outtakes, so I had to spring for it. One notable song is George Harrison’s demo of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which is almost unrecognizable without the trademark Clapton slide guitar. It seems like a lot of my favorite late-era Beatles tunes, and my favorites on the third Anthology, are Harrison numbers, including “Not Guilty” and “Something” (both again in early stages of development). But there are other buried treasures here as well, including Paul McCartney’s never-before-released demo of “Come And Get It” (which made stars of the band Badfinger), and my favorite of the 3 out of 4entire third Anthology, an a capella rendition of “Because” in nine-part harmony. Wow. Even with my skepticism and reservations about the Beatles’ last few albums, hearing this version of Because instantly reminds me of why the the Beatles were great, especially once they sequestered themselves in studio and concentrated on musical ideas.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. A Beginning (0:50)
  2. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (2:15)
  3. Helter Skelter (4:37)
  4. Mean Mr. Mustard (1:58)
  5. Polythene Pam (1:27)
  6. Glass Onion (1:51)
  7. Junk (2:24)
  8. Piggies (2:01)
  9. Honey Pie (1:19)
  10. Don’t Pass Me By (2:43)
  11. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (2:56)
  12. Good Night (2:38)
  13. Cry Baby Cry (2:46)
  14. Blackbird (2:19)
  15. Sexy Sadie (4:06)
  16. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (3:27)
  17. Hey Jude (4:21)
  18. Not Guilty (3:22)
  19. Mother Nature’s Son (3:17)
  20. Glass Onion (2:09)
  21. Rocky Raccoon (4:12)
  22. What’s The New Mary Jane (6:12)
  23. Step Inside Love/Los Paranoias (2:31)
  24. I’m So Tired (2:30)
  25. I Will (2:11)
  26. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road (2:13)
  27. Julia (1:55)
    Disc two

  1. I’ve Got A Feeling (2:49)
  2. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (3:37)
  3. Dig A Pony (4:18)
  4. Two Of Us (3:27)
  5. For You Blue (2:23)
  6. Teddy Boy (3:18)
  7. Medley: Rip It Up / Shake, Rattle & Roll / Blue Suede Shoes (3:11)
  8. The Long And Winding Road (3:41)
  9. Oh! Darling (4:08)
  10. All Things Must Pass (3:05)
  11. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues (1:56)
  12. Get Back (3:08)
  13. Old Brown Shoe (3:03)
  14. Octopus’s Garden (2:49)
  15. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (3:50)
  16. Something (3:19)
  17. Come Together (3:40)
  18. Come And Get It – Paul’s Demo (2:30)
  19. Ain’t She Sweet (2:09)
  20. Because (2:23)
  21. Let It Be (4:06)
  22. I Me Mine (1:47)
  23. The End (2:51)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1996
Disc one total running time: 74:04
Disc two total running time: 71:30

The Beatles Anthology, Volume 2

The Beatles Anthology, Volume 2Slightly more accessible than the first volume of the Anthology, this collection covers what is likely more familiar and beloved ground to many – the years that spanned Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper in which the Beatles abandoned the stage and ensconsed themselves in the studio. And it’s good. It’s really good. For every interesting live/early piece on Anthology 1, Anthology 2 has an unreleased or remixed studio track (and a few live ones too, from Blackpool Night Out and Shea Stadium).

First things first. Not having heard anything but the album masters of the many songs heard in different forms here, the main reason I bought Anthology 2 was “Real Love”, a song which has been stuck in my head since November 1995 when it aired on TV. This is a beautiful song. I thought “Free As A Bird” sounded just like what it was, a Lennon solo piece with overdubs from the other Beatles. “Real Love”, though it is also an incomplete Lennon demo, sounds and feels more like a Beatles song. It hits that soft spot in everyone’s heart, that corner of everybody that – despite all cynical efforts to deny it – is a hopeless romantic. What a great song. On the technical side, great production by my musical hero, Jeff Lynne.

The rest isn’t bad, either. Included are such interesting items as a no-vocals mix of “Eleanor Rigby”‘s string quartet, an instrumental rehearsal of “I’m Only Sleeping” (one of my personal favorite Beatles tunes), the basic rhythm tracks and vocal of “I Am The Walrus” sans overdubbed strings and effects, truly weird takes 4 out of 4of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Your Mother Should Know”, and some very nice stripped-down takes of “Across the Universe” (another beautiful song), “Hello Goodbye”, and many others. The booklet is, again, wonderful to read whether you’re listening to the CDs or not.

How could they top this one with Anthology 3? I asked myself…

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. Real Love (3:54)
  2. Yes It Is (1:50)
  3. I’m Down (2:54)
  4. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away – false starts (2:45)
  5. If You’ve Got Trouble (2:48)
  6. That Means A Lot (2:26)
  7. Yesterday – first take, guitar only (2:34)
  8. It’s Only Love (1:59)
  9. I Feel Fine – live TV appearance from Blackpool Night Out (2:15)
  10. Ticket to Ride (2:45)
  11. Yesterday (2:43)
  12. Help! (2:54)
  13. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – Shea Stadium, 8-15-65 (2:46)
  14. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) – first take (1:59)
  15. I’m Looking Through You (2:54)
  16. 12-Bar Original – instrumental (2:55)
  17. Tomorrow Never Knows – first take (3:14)
  18. Got To Get You Into My Life – no brass (2:54)
  19. And Your Bird Can Sing – second take, blooper (2:14)
  20. Taxman (2:32)
  21. Eleanor Rigby – string quartet only (2:06)
  22. I’m Only Sleeping – instrumental rehearsal (0:41)
  23. I’m Only Sleeping – first take (2:59)
  24. Rock ‘n’ Roll Music – Bukodan, 6-30-66 (1:38)
  25. She’s a Woman – Bukodan, 6-30-66 (2:55)
    Disc two

  1. Strawberry Fields Forever – John’s demo (1:42)
  2. Strawberry Fields Forever – first take (2:34)
  3. Strawberry Fields Forever – seventh take (4:14)
  4. Penny Lane (3:13)
  5. A Day in the Life – no orchestral overdubs (5:04)
  6. Good Morning, Good Morning – no brass (2:40)
  7. Only a Northern Song (2:44)
  8. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite (1:06)
  9. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite – seventh take (2:33)
  10. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (3:06)
  11. Within You Without You – instrumental tracks only (5:27)
  12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – reprise (1:27)
  13. You Know My Name, Look Up The Number (5:44)
  14. I Am The Walrus – no orchestral overdubs (4:02)
  15. The Fool on the Hill – Paul’s demo (2:48)
  16. Your Mother Should Know – 27th take (3:02)
  17. The Fool on the Hill – fourth take (3:45)
  18. Hello Goodbye – 16th take (3:18)
  19. Lady Madonna (2:22)
  20. Across the Universe – recorded 2-68, John & guitar only (3:28)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1996
Disc one total running time: 63:37
Disc two total running time: 64:21

The Beatles Anthology, Volume 1

The Beatles Anthology, Volume 1It’s not every album that gets six hours of advertising on national television…and I can’t think of many artists who need less publicity! We’re talking about the Beatles. Just the mere rumors of a double CD with lots of unreleased early material would have sold millions of copies of this…but the six-hour television miniseries probably didn’t hurt sales. The first two CDs in the six-disc Anthology collection are rife with early material, including the first notes ever recorded by the Beatles and a huge number of live tracks, many of them quite good since they predate the era of the huge stadium shows where the fans were too busy screaming at the top of their lungs to allow the band to be heard. Of course, one of the main draws is a reconstructed version of an unreleased Lennon demo recording, “Free As A Bird”, co-produced by Jeff Lynne, though my favorites aside from that one include the almost silly-3 out of 4sounding “Ain’t She Sweet” and the clips from the Morecambe & Wise show. There are also versions of “Love Me Do” and “And I Love Her” that I like better than the masters to which we’re all so accustomed. A lot of the material on here makes no sense without the accompanying text of the CD booklet, and there’s probably a lot of it that has no value to any but the most die-hard Beatles listeners.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. Free As A Bird (4:24)
  2. speech – John (0:13)
  3. That’ll Be The Day (2:07)
  4. In Spite Of All The Danger (2:45)
  5. speech – Paul (0:18)
  6. Hallelujah, I Love You (1:13)
  7. You’ll Be Mine (1:39)
  8. Cayenne (1:14)
  9. speech – Paul (0:07)
  10. My Bonnie (2:42)
  11. Ain’t She Sweet (2:13)
  12. Cry For A Shadow (2:22)
  13. speech – John (0:11)
  14. speech – Brian Epstein (0:18)
  15. Searchin’ (3:00)
  16. Three Cool Cats (2:25)
  17. The Sheik of Araby (1:43)
  18. Like Dreamers Do (2:36)
  19. Hello Little Girl (1:40)
  20. speech – Epstein (0:32)
  21. Besame Mucho (2:37)
  22. Love Me Do (2:32)
  23. How Do You Do It (1:57)
  24. Please Please Me (1:58)
  25. One After 909 – false starts (2:22)
  26. One After 909 (2:54)
  27. Lend Me Your Comb (1:49)
  28. I’ll Get You (2:08)
  29. speech – John (0:12)
  30. I Saw Her Standing There (2:48)
  31. From Me To You (2:05)
  32. Money (That’s What I Want) (2:52)
  33. You Really Got A Hold On Me (2:58)
  34. Roll Over Beethoven (2:22)
    Disc two

  1. She Loves You (2:50)
  2. Till There Was You (2:54)
  3. Twist and Shout (3:05)
  4. This Boy (2:22)
  5. I Want To Hold Your Hand (2:37)
  6. The Beatles appear on the Morecambe & Wise Show (2:06)
  7. Moonlight Bay (0:50)
  8. Can’t Buy Me Love (2:10)
  9. All My Loving (2:19)
  10. You Can’t Do That (2:42)
  11. And I Love Her (1:52)
  12. A Hard Day’s Night (2:44)
  13. I Wanna Be Your Man (1:48)
  14. Long Tall Sally (1:45)
  15. Boys (1:50)
  16. Shout (1:31)
  17. I’ll Be Back – demo (1:13)
  18. I’ll Be Back (1:58)
  19. You Know What To Do (1:58)
  20. No Reply – demo (1:47)
  21. Mr. Moonlight (2:47)
  22. Leave My Kitten Alone (2:57)
  23. No Reply (2:29)
  24. Eight Days a Week – false starts (1:25)
  25. Eight Days a Week (2:47)
  26. Kansas City / Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (2:44)

Released by: Capitol
Release date: 1995
Disc one total running time: 65:23
Disc two total running time: 57:31