Beatles producer George Martin dies


The Beatles and George Martin in the studio in 1964

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Beatles producer George Martin dies at 90

15 March 2016

Music producer George Martin, best known for his work with the Beatles, died March 8 at the age of 90. Together with the Beatles, Martin crafted some of the most enduring pop music of the 1960s and, indeed, of the twentieth century. His orchestrations and performances, along with his watchful editing and criticism of the group’s work, played a significant role in bringing the compositions of Lennon-McCartney and George Harrison to life.

Martin was born January 3, 1926, in London. In his 1979 memoir, All You Need Is Ears, Martin described his childhood home during the Depression, a three-family house in the Highbury district: “[I]t was just two rooms on a top floor, with an attic room above. There was no electricity: we had gas lights on either side of the mantelpiece. There was no kitchen: my mother cooked on a gas stove on the landing. There was no bathroom: we had our baths in a tin tub.”

Martin’s father was a talented carpenter who nevertheless remained unemployed for 18 months during the Depression before getting a job selling newspapers on the street. While the family may not have had much, they were able to acquire a piano, thanks to an uncle who was “in the piano trade.” Martin’s love affair with music began at the age of six, when he first touched the instrument’s keyboard.

Martin later discovered he had perfect pitch and began teaching himself Chopin pieces by ear. At school, he was treated to performances of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by Adrian Boult. Hearing the orchestra perform Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” was a revelation for the 15-year-old Martin, who later commented: “I couldn’t believe that human beings were making such an incredibly beautiful sound.”

He would go on to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he also studied piano and oboe. Following his graduation in 1950, he worked briefly for the BBC’s classical music department before taking a job with Parlophone records, a division of EMI. By 1955, he was the label president.

Prior to his work with the Beatles, Martin produced comedy albums for some of the more talented satirists of the day, including Goon Show comics Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, as well as Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller of the Beyond the Fringe revue.

But by the early 1960s, Martin wanted to branch out into rock and roll. He signed a contract with a new group of working class kids from Liverpool who had cut their teeth performing night after night in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany, and had just failed an audition with Decca records.

The Beatles were electrifying, and they were somehow different. When they exploded onto the American charts in mid-January 1964, their serious competition came from remarkable performers like the Beach Boys, Ray Charles, and the Four Seasons. Despite the extraordinary (in some cases, greater) musicality of the latter, none of those became a global cultural phenomenon in the way the Beatles did. They certainly struck a chord in the US. Their first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964 was watched by more than a third of the American population (some 73 million people).

There was a rebelliousness about the British band’s music, an aggressiveness and a punch that other groups and individual performers lacked. There are few moments in rock and roll as exciting as hearing the voices of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison climb higher and higher on “Twist and Shout” (1963) until they erupt into frenzied screams. Their recording of the song is more exciting, and crazed, than the original (and very fine) Isley Brothers version from the year before.

The Beatles’ entry onto the musical scene marked and emerged from a period of increasing social and cultural ferment. In Britain, the mood revealed in the “Angry Young Men” trend of the late 1950s took more artistically and socially consistent form in the social realist “New Wave” films of Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and others in the early 1960s. In 1964, widespread working class dissatisfaction with the realities of postwar life brought the Labour Party to power, for the first time in 13 years.

In the US, 1963 witnessed mass protests over civil rights, the largest being the March on Washington addressed by Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the first demonstrations against US involvement in Vietnam. Political violence erupted in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The first major inner-city riot occurred in Harlem in July 1964. Newspaper headlines reported hunger in Appalachia, and Michael Harrington’s The Other America (published in 1962) reported that as much as 25 percent of the US population lived in poverty.

One could perhaps argue that the growing mood of social rebellion in the US first found expression in the field of popular music and, oddly enough, in the mass enthusiasm for British groups. They tended to be more socially and class conscious, generally more savvy. British popular culture had not suffered the same devastation at the hands of—and therefore was not as intimidated by—official anti-communism.

The Beatles appeared sharper, less cowed by the media and less willing to play nice than their American counterparts. Their interviews and press conferences were mocking comedic performances worthy of the figures recorded earlier by Martin. No one, it seemed, could get the better of them. This same attitude found its way into their music.

George Martin’s musical counseling would prove invaluable to the Beatles in the years that followed. McCartney has often spoken of Martin’s good “bedside manner,” providing both a challenging and nurturing environment in which he and Lennon, and eventually Harrison, could develop as songwriters.

And as their music became more complex, Martin contributed more frequently as a composer and performer. His arrangements and orchestrations were featured on songs like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.” There was the brass accompaniment on “Mother Nature’s Son” and “Martha My Dear” from the White Album. Martin performed the haunting electric harpsichord on “Because” from Abbey Road.

He was most frequently heard on piano. He performed the Baroque-style solo on “In My Life,” the saloon piano of “Rocky Raccoon” and the solo in the middle of “Lovely Rita.” On “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” Martin contributed piano, harmonium, organ, glockenspiel and probably the kitchen sink to build the circus atmosphere the song required. He was often tasked with finding practical solutions for the realization of Lennon and McCartney’s more unorthodox musical ideas, splicing together song fragments and manipulating tape loops.

While sometimes portrayed as the stodgy father figure to “the boys,” he actually encouraged their experimentation and joined in with some of his own. When Martin explained to the 40-piece orchestra assembled for “A Day in the Life” the sort of outburst he had in mind for them to perform, he said, “they all looked at me as though I were completely mad.”

While Martin did his best work with the Beatles, he also produced several well-known records for other artists. During the Beatles years there were recordings with Gerry and the Pacemakers (“Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” “How Do You Do It?”), Cilla Black (“Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “You’re My World,” “Alfie”) and Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”). Later he worked with jazz artists Stan Getz (Marrakesh Express) and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (Apocalypse), as well as rock guitarist Jeff Beck (Blow by Blow, Wired).

He collaborated again with Paul McCartney on three albums during the 1980s, including Tug of War (1983) with its beautiful tribute to John Lennon, “Here Today.”

In 2006, Martin collaborated with his son Giles to mix together a selection of Beatles songs in a well-received suite entitled “Love,” which accompanies a special theatrical production of the same name by Cirque du Soleil. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year.

A comment on this article by Robert B. Livingston says:

One of the most significant celebrations of St. Patrick’s day outside of Ireland takes place on the little emerald island of Montserrat. Festivities there last throughout the week and take on a Caribbean flavor with soca bands competing, fancy dress balls, and many other happy events.

How bittersweet that Martin should pass away even as people there, and many Montserratians in diaspora, looking homeward, were gleefully anticipating the coming week.

Martin had personally done much by using his celebrity to plead their cause and raise money for their relief after the island was half devastated by eruptions of the Soufrière Hills volcano after 1995. He had himself in 1989 lost a recording studio, one he had once built there, when Hurricane Hugo swept through.

As a kid, I was mesmerized by the animated film Yellow Submarine. From an allowance I was able to scrape up enough to purchase the LP soundtrack– the first record of many collections hard won and lost– which I listened to for hours on end, admiring the cartoons on the cover. Martin’s classical score on Side 2 was at first a curiosity to me, but grew on me with time.

Imagine the movie without it! Impossible. And what a beautiful and innocent film it is.

Rolling Stones will play in Cuba


Poster for Rolling Stones concert in Cuba

From the site of the band The Rolling Stones:

1 March 2016

The Rolling Stones announce free concert in Cuba!

The Rolling Stones will perform a groundbreaking concert in Havana, Cuba on Friday March 25, 2016. The free concert will take place at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana and will be the first open air concert in the country by a British Rock Band. Always exploring new horizons and true pioneers of rock, the Stones, who have toured every corner of the globe, will bring their high octane performance and incredible music catalogue to the Caribbean for the first time ever.

This once-in-a-lifetime concert event follows the band’s America Latina Ole tour, which is currently receiving rave reviews, playing to huge audiences in stadiums in Santiago, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio De Janeiro, São Paulo and Porto Alegre with Lima, Bogotá and Mexico City following next week. The band are also leading a musician to musician initiative in which much needed musical instruments and equipment are being donated by major suppliers for the benefit of Cuban musicians of all genres. …

The Rolling Stones said: “We have performed in many special places during our long career but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba too.”

This historical concert will no doubt have Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood mesmerizing a new audience of fans with a set packed full of classic Stones hits as well as special gems from their million selling albums.

The Rolling Stones concert, which has been in the planning stages for several months comes only days after President Barack Obama’s recently announced visit to Cuba.

This entire event is being made possible by the benefaction of Fundashon Bon Intenshon on behalf of the island of Curaçao. Fundashon Bon Intenshon initiates and supports international charitable projects in the fields of education, athletics, cultural literacy, healthcare and tourism as well as other attempts to mitigate the impact of general poverty.

It is being promoted by AEG’s Concerts West and Musica Punto Zero who extend their gratitude for the support provided by the Institute of Cuban Music in bringing this event to the people of Cuba.

The Rolling Stones “Concert for Amity” will be filmed and produced by award winning production company JA Digital with Paul Dugdale directing and Simon Fisher and Sam Bridger as producers. Julie Jakobek of JA Digital said: “It’s a great honour to be working with the Rolling Stones again on this hugely exciting and historic event”.

This Cuban TV video, in Spanish, is about Mick Jagger visiting Cuba in October 2015 to prepare the concert.

Muslim girl likes rock concert, photo


Muslim girl at rock concert, photo by Jan Rijk

This photo by Dutch photographer Jan Rijk shows a 17-year-old Turkish Dutch Muslim girl, crowd surfing at a rock concert by the band John Coffey, on 19 December 2015.

This video shows part of that 19 December gig, in concert hall Gebroeders De Nobel in Leiden. Various people in the audience start crowd surfing. At about 0:45, the Muslim girl starts.

Translated from Vincent Frequin at Dichtbij.nl in the Netherlands, 22 December 2015:

LEIDEN – The photo of a Muslim girl crowd surfing at a concert in Leiden goes all over the internet. Photographer Jan Rijk: “It is moving to see that after all the misery of recent times yet there also can be tolerance. Music is obviously the way!”

During the concert of John Coffey in venue Gebr. De Nobel in Leiden the concert photographer Jan Rijk was moved by seeing two girls with headscarves on who turned out to be big fans of the Dutch rock band. “Then a little later one went crowd surfing, and I just had to capture this,” said Rijk.

Photo of integration and tolerance goes viral …

The girl in the picture would prefer not to generate too much fame for her person, but she would be happy if the photograph could bring about a change in the stereotype of ‘the Muslim‘, particularly at this time of hatred and destruction, she told Dichtbij.nl. “I also hope to have an effect on the Muslim community, because I know that there are more Muslim girls who also enjoy such music, but do not talk about it or are not allowed to go to the concerts by their parents.”

“I think my father will find this photo funny, but my mom will get really mad if she sees this, haha,” laughs the Muslim woman. She is proud and pleased with the beautiful picture. “Let’s hope that this, however unexpectedly, will be good for something and that this will lead to something positive!”

Muslim women at John Coffey concert

A comment by Walter Hoogerbeets under the article says (translated):

Funny, an angry tweet by [Dutch xenophobic politician Geert] Wilders on the day that the picture of a crowd surfing Muslim woman went viral. While he hates, we celebrate.

Rock singer Lemmy of Motörhead ‘killed by death’


This 2010 live music video is called Motörhead and Girlschool ~ Please Don’t Touch.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Motörhead star Lemmy dies after cancer news

Wednesday 30th December 2015

THE WORLD of heavy metal was plunged into mourning yesterday by the news of rock legend Lemmy’s death just days after his 70th birthday.

The Motörhead founder, real name Ian Kilmister, died at his Los Angeles flat on Monday, two days after being diagnosed with a highly aggressive cancer.

Born on Christmas Eve 1945, Lemmy once said he remembered when there was no such thing as rock and roll.

He played with the Rocking Vickers, Sam Gopal and Hawkwind — and briefly worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix — before forming Motörhead, the band that would make him famous, in 1975.

Though he was notorious for wearing a German Iron Cross medal and having a collection of nazi memorabilia, Lemmy held strongly anti-authoritarian views.

Last month he lamented the injustice of former bandmate Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor’s death while the likes of George W Bush lived on.

Motörhead rock singer Lemmy dies


This music video is called Motörhead Live – No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith.

From Reuters news agency:

Motorhead Frontman ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister Dead At 70

Lemmy was famous for always turning his amplifiers up to the maximum and for his anthems to hellraising such as Motorhead’s classic “Ace of Spades.”

12/28/2015 09:13 pm ET | Updated 8 hours ago

Dec 28 – Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, the hard-living, hell-raising frontman for British heavy metal band Motorhead, has died at age 70 after recently being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, the band said on its Facebook page on Monday.

On stage with Motorhead, the bassist and vocalist was famed for turning his amplifiers up to the max, and tilting his face, dotted with moles and framed by muttonchops, up to the sky. He growled into his raised microphone with a throat he said he fed for decades with a bottle a day of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools, but that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t wanna live forever,” went his signature song, the 1980s anthem “Ace of Spades.”

This live music video is called Motörhead – Ace Of Spades.

Limp Bizkit rock illegal in Ukraine


This video from the USA says about itself:

5 October 2009

Music video by Limp Bizkit performing Break Stuff.

After the Ukrainian government banned BBC and other journalists … after their theft of Dutch 17th century paintings … after their witch-hunt of a classical music piano player … now this.

From deathandtaxesmag.com in the USA:

Ukraine government bans Fred Durst from entering country for five years

by Joe Veix / December 21, 2015

Limp Bizkit singer and nu metal prince of darkness Fred Durst has reportedly been banned from Ukraine for five years. At least, that is, according to various Ukraine news outlets. Like a chump, heyyy, like a chump, heyyy…

So far two outlets have confirmed the news — both Apostrof and Interfax — but haven’t gone into much detail about why. Apostrof confirmed that according to the country’s national security service, the ban came “in the interests of guaranteeing the security of our state.”

The move came after the singer allegedly expressed interest in purchasing property in Crimea back in October, presumably for the nookie. Either that, or they just really fucking hate nu metal.

British Rock against Racism and photography


This 2013 video from Britain is called Archive in Focus: Syd Shelton, Rock against Racism.

By Bob Oram in Britain:

Rock-steady

Monday 30th October 2015

Syd Shelton’s photographs are a great record of how ‘70s music helped black and white youth stand their ground against racism, says BOB ORAM

Rock Against Racism
by Syd Shelton
(Autograph, £30)

NEXT year marks the 40th anniversary of a heavily intoxicated Eric Clapton blurting out racist crap on stage at the Birmingham Odeon.

“Britain is overcrowded,” he said. “Enoch will stop it and send them all back.”

Music’s response was immediate. Rock Against Racism (RAR), a collective of artists and political activists, came together for the next five years to fight fascism, racism and the rise of the National Front through music.

Syd Shelton, a British photographer and graphic designer, chronicled a unique visual record of its activities and a country gripped in racial and political tension.

This glorious book is a sumptuous collection of his photographs, work he says was a “socialist act,” and a “graphic argument” on behalf of marginalised lives.

From 1976 to ’81 the insubordinate, angry spirit of punk meshed with a rising generation of alienated black youth to find that they both had “no future in England’s dreaming.”

This video is called Rock Against Racism-Nazis Are No Fun Pt1.

And these videos are the sequels.

As Paul Gilroy says in a thoughtful essay accompanying the book: “It is essential that readers who are encountering these images for the first time appreciate how exciting it was to see them at the time they appeared.”

Anyone who lived through that period recognises how life-changing politically infused and committed art can be.

One of the highlights of the era was the April ’78 all-day concert in London’s Victoria headlined by the Clash, which drew thousands from all over the country to march to Victoria Park. RAR publication Temporary Hoarding described it as: “A park full of unity. Right in the middle of depressed, despondent, broke little Britain. Bands playing for free. The pinks and browns melt in sound.”

This music video from Britain says about itself:

Poly Styrene with Helsinki: Oh Bondage, Up Yours : Love Music Hate Racism

2 May 2008

Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex performs Oh Bondage, Up Yours! live at the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival in Victoria Park, London E3 on Sunday 27th April 2008.

Poly was one of a number of special guests appearing with Drew McConnell’s Helsinki. Also appearing were Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69, Fyfe Dangerfield of Guillemots, Jon McClure of Reverend And The Makers and Ed Larrikin, formerly of Larrikin Love.

Poly Styrene appeared with X-Ray Spex at the original Rock Against Racism Carnival in Victoria Park in 1978.

The Bob Oram article continues:

The stunning pictures of the concert —including performances by Misty in Roots, Tom Robinson Band, Aswad, Angelic Upstarts, The Beat, Matumbi, Elvis Costello, Steel Pulse, The Members, X Ray Spex, the Specials and Sham 69 — are counterpoised alongside powerful, intense images of people in Belfast and on the streets in Britain.

They contextualise what was an important moment in our nation’s understanding and history of race relations.

The clarity and directness of RAR’s trademark Love Music, Hate Racism slogan did more than anything else at that time to stop the possibility of any real connection between youth culture and racism and ultra-nationalism in its tracks.

As cultural commentator David Widgery said: “The great thing about RAR was its way of having a revolution without stopping the party.”

Even Cromer joined in the fun when The Ruts on the Militant Entertainment tour descended on the sedate Norfolk seaside town. The image of a punk girl lying on the stage of the West Runton Pavilion was a one-shot moment that Shelton recalls with pride, marking him put as someone who captured “stills from life” not “still life.”

As with all Shelton’s work, the mind wonders what is happening behind the image or just out of sight.

The brilliant picture of Joe Strummer on stage messing around with Paul Simonon’s bass guitar indeed raises more questions than it answers and among the 100 images included are two which at first look like one picture but are actually two bomb sites in which children are playing — one in London’s Brick Lane and one in Belfast.

With images as well from the pages of Temporary Hoarding and concert fliers and posters, this is a truly wonderful treasure trove that needs to be seen by everyone agitating and organising with imagination and passion today.

A perfect seasonal gift.

A free exhibition of Syd Shelton’s RAR photography runs at Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, London EC2 until December 5.

Loved the music, hated the bigots. Forty years ago this summer, when Rock Against Racism was born, photographer Syd Shelton was there to record it. As his new show opens, he explains how a musical youth movement stemmed the rising tide of prejudice: here.