|The Beatles - White Album, poster photos (1968) (Courtesy: nkw)|
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YER
Birthday is a song from The Beatles or The White Album (1968), and is credited to Lennon and McCartney. According to Chris Thomas, who produced the track in George Martin‘s absence, the song was mainly Paul McCartney‘s because it was improvised at Abbey Road studio and he arrived first. As the others gradually appeared they added their parts. McCartney said he and John Lennon made a 50-50 contribution, but Philip Norman, in his book Shout! (2003), has claimed these were rare. More likely one wrote about half the song and then asked the other for help. It has been claimed that Lennon said the song was rubbish and his input was minimal, but I have not seen a reliable source for this at the time of writing.
Birthday has a repetitive speeded-up blues riff, giving the feel of rock ‘n’ roll or even hard rock. The track begins with Ringo Starr‘s drums, rapidly joined by the bass and some rock ‘n’ roll guitar. I have not named the guitarists, as it is claimed McCartney played lead, with Lennon, while George Harrison was unusually on bass. McCartney is a very good guitarist and George Harrison is thought to have played bass on a few Beatles and solo tracks, but again I have seen no verification for this regarding Birthday. Lead vocals, on the first verse, are by Paul McCartney in a raw style, with block harmonies from Lennon, Harrison, Patti Harrison and Yoko Ono. There is a lengthy drum fill and brief guitar part, followed by Lennon taking lead vocal on the verse, ‘We’re going to a party, party’. McCartney again takes lead vocal for a frantic ‘party’ passage, which is accompanied by distorted piano (through a guitar amp) and high-pitched harmonies. Throughout, one can hear handclaps and random shouts. The sound effect at the end is also the piano.
Few would say Birthday ranked among The Beatles great songs, but, like Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, it is a bit of fun and was ahead of its time as an early hard rock or even ‘power pop’ track. Birthday‘s frivolity balances the more meaningful songs on the album, such as Dear Prudence, While My guitar Gently Weeps or Blackbird. Engineer Ken Scott kept it in mind when he went on to produce hard pop by David Bowie, Supertramp, Kansas, Cliff Richard and The Tubes, as well as hard rock by Ronnie Montrose and Gamma.
ITV WORLD CUP RUGBY NEEDS A NEW THEME
This evening, hosts England played Wales, at Twickenham, in a Group A match of the Rugby Union World Cup. It brought to a head the controversy over the current version of the theme song, World in Union, recorded by British ‘singer’ Paloma Faith for ITV’s presentation of the tournament. World In Union was commissioned by the International Rugby Board (now World Rugby) for the second Rugby World Cup, in 1991, and was written by lyricist Charlie Skarbek, who for the melody borrowed the middle part of Jupiter from The Planets by Gustav Holst. Previous singers of the piece include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Bryn Terfel, Dame Shirley Bassey, Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, Lesley Garrett, Aled Jones, Blake, Hayley Westenra and Laura Wright.
Newspapers have carried front page stories, rugby fans were moved to start online petitions, viewers wrote directly to ITV and even Paloma Faith fans have complained about her, ‘Screeching like a tortured cat, so you can’t make out the words.'(1) Defending herself, Faith further inflamed viewers, when she told BBC Newsbeat: ‘I mean I’m quite pleased with it, so that’s all that matters really.’ ITV continue to insist that the theme tune will continue until 31st October, when the World Cup ends, and add that it features on the official album! There are five weeks to go, so it will be interesting to see the outcome.
At Twickenham, the half-time score was England 16 – Wales 9. By full-time the result was England 25 – Wales 28. The Welsh go to the quarter finals, the hosts are in trouble.
FROM GREG LAKE TO STRICTLY
Earlier this evening, BBC 1 broadcast live the third part of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing pro-celebrity competition. Musical director, Dave Arch has the difficult task of re-scoring the songs for his orchestra, and adjusting the timings for the dances. In 2005, Arch played keyboards for The Greg Lake Band, following in illustrious footsteps, and later toured with Paul McCartney in support of the Memory Almost Full album (2007). Dave Arch’s orchestra includes percussionist Frank Ricotti and singer Lance Ellington, son of Ray and former member of the duo Koffee ‘n’ Kreme with Beth Hannah.
(1) From the Daily Telegraph comments: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/rugby-world-cup/11888395/Rugby-World-Cup-fans-petition-ITV-to-replace-truly-awful-Paloma-Faith-theme-music.html