Monday, 20 October 2014
Stephen Stills/Manassas "Down The Road" (1973)
Isn't It About Time?/Lies/Pensamiento/So Many Times/Business On The Street//Do You Remember The Americans?/Down The Road/City Junkies/Guaganco De Vera/Rollin' My Stone
Hello again dear readers...Will you stop that 'The Who Sing My Generation!'...we're in a bit of disarray here today...Will you put that gong down the Roger Waters solo discography and stop beating David Gilmour's records over the head with it!...so you'll have to bear with us I'm afraid...not the custard pie, 'Beggar's Banquet', I've just had that wall cleaned!...I'm beginning to regret...put that tv down 'The Other Side Of Keith Moon!' I'm not retrieving it from the window again!...ever suggesting it....please keep the noise down 'Beach Boys Party!', you'll have the neighbours complaining...but we're busy holding a party...I'll Morning Glory you my Oasis CDs if you don't stop it AT ONCE!!!...for all the Alan's Album Archives records...come back my Ray Davies and Alan Hull CDs - don't you dare go down the pub again without asking me!... and it's all gone a bit haywire...what illegal substance have you just taken my Grateful Dead discography? Spit it out now!....and we're not quite as slick as usual...who laughed? Oh, it's you 'Smile' and your friend Nils Lofgren's 'Grin', I might have known...in fact it's all a bit chaotic!...oh no, now the Janis Joplin CDs have woken up and are doing a drunken conga round the living room...yes, that's right, out you go - just be back in my CD unit by tomorrow morning or I'll put Spice Girls CDs in all your boxes, you hear?! I hope that wasn't a rude gesture you were giving me 10cc!
Phew I'm not doing that again: that's the last time I ever wish my CD collection would come to life while falling asleep watching The Twilight Zone and accidentally brushing past a genie's lamp! Peace and quiet at last...but what's that CD I see hiding under the table and whimpering? Why I recognise her: it's my old friend 'Stephen Stills' Manassas Down The Road' crying her eyes out. That's odd - it wasn't two minutes ago she was the life and soul of the party, busy telling all the other records about all the drugs and booze she's taken and telling me to mind my own business and 'roll my own stone' - and now here she is, bedraggled, full of post-party five o'clock shadow, toxic breath and grim remorse. I've never seen a vinyl record with a hangover before dear readers (the Keith Moon and Janis Joplin albums haven't started their come-downs yet, although they seem to be playing at the wrong speed already, if you know what I mean) and let me tell you it's not a pretty sight. You see 'Down The Road' tried so hard to have a good time and forget the carefree joys of the world, but somehow that front crumbled and gave away what an insecure and shy little record it is. A confessional Cat Stevens style album full of hopes and fears and doubts who should have stayed up late navel-gazing into the night on my roof with my George Harrison and Moody Blues collection (vinyl records have a great navals to gaze at seeing as they're one empty big hole - I hope they come down from there soon, my Neil Young Arcjives box set is so fat she made a hole in it!), all she wanted was to party with the 'big boys', but it isn't really a record that way inclined. All Stephen Stills records have this tendency of course. That combination of a rather military you-do-it-this-way manner that's regimental and rigid and makes people uptight masks a soul that beats deeper and more sensitively than most other discographies I own. The CSN/Y records dilute it to some extent, but it's always there - and more so on the solo albums where Stills' tendency to feel hurt and regret and love and loss so deeply comes through so often you almost forget the poppy salsa you've just been jiving to in your arm-chair. 'Manassas Down The Road', a difficult record to make and often a difficult one to understand, is the most extreme rollercoaster ride in Stills' career.
The first Manassas record, of course, (already covered years ago on this site) is fabulous. A seven-man collective with the chops to play any style fluently at the drop of a hat (and the ability to segue country songs into blues, rock, folk, prog rock and whatever the hell 'Move Around' is all about at a telepathic nod) makes it one of my favourite LPs by anyone. A double LP set with hardly a duff song on it, it's a record that covers more ground than most careers. Manassas' one and only follow-up 'Down The Road' tries hard to be like that record. There are ten very different songs, including two Stills Latin-influenced songs balanced out by rock, country and whatever the hell 'Do You Remember The Americans?' is all about. At times its as whizz-bang-whirling esoteric and precocious as the first record, starting with the heavy political rhetoric of 'Isn't It About Time?' and ending with the fizz and fire of the bluesy 'Rollin' My Stone', a song born for stadium crowds, with the title track perhaps Stills' blandest look-at-me-I'm-a-rock-star boogie shuffle. But at other times this is Stills at his most naked, vulnerable and hurting - which is saying something for an artist who seemed to spend most of the 1970s in that state. The two Latin songs - one of them sung entirely in a foreign language - is a clue to the fact that Stills is pouring out a story that he doesn't want us to know so badly that he's 'hidden' it from our view, making it sound impersonal and unintelligible unless you have the 'key' to what he's saying (a trick used by Stills for the first time here but one he'll use again). Even other songs though have Stills lost and hurting, if only for a chorus or a line: this is the sound of somebody wondering just what road they're travelling down, enjoying it while it lasts but fully expecting to end up lying in a drunken soggy heap the next morning.
The biggest clue to what's going on in this album comes not from any of the tracks on this album but the masterpiece that didn't make the album (and was later covered by Stills' Manassas partner Chris Hillman) rejected for being 'too honest', 'Witching Hour' (Manassas' version was later issued on 'Pieces' in 2009 - in fact in many ways the rarities set seems to have existed solely as a chance to release this song). Given that Stills had seen fit to release such personal songs as 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' '4+20' 'Church (Part Of Someone)' 'Sugar Babe' and 'So Begins The Task' before this (to name just a few) this song must have really spooked him. It's certainly a spooky song, sung with the bleary eyes third person narrator style of The Beatles' 'Nowhere Man', a person 'so confused that he thinks he's being used and it hurts him...so' and who, while he can wear a mask of confidence and even aggression during the day, melts every time the nightly 'witching hour' comes around and he's alone again. Many of the songs that did make this album refer to being 'used' too - so what exactly was going on for Stills in this period? Well, as anyone whose read any of our Stills-related reviews will know by now, Stills' love life is what facebook created the 'it's complicated' relationship symbol for. His soulmate Judy Collins has after years of playing hot and cold finally said an emphatic 'no', the other great love of his life Rita Coolidge has just been charmed out of his arms by Graham Nash and he's just got married to his first wife, French singer Veronique Sanson, during a whirlwind romance on the first Manassas tour. While the pair go on to work together lots as musicians (on next records 'Stills' and 'Illegal Stills') and had a largely wonderful time during their brief marriage, with Stills, loving the idea of finally becoming a family man at the relatively late rock-star age of 30, it's the blazing hot-tempered rows that everyone remembers. Thankfully next record 'Stills' will prove that, however briefly, Stills did the right thing and was really, genuinely 'happy'; writing his most contented batch of songs and adoring the idea that after years without roots he now had a family who needed and cared for him. The earlier 'Down The Road', however, sounds like Stills waking up from a long wedding/honeymoon binge, reflecting on the last turbulent four years (when Stills wanted to get married twice) and thinking 'what have I done?'
'Down The Road', should, perhaps, have been an acoustic confessional: the kind of thing he'll finally do on 'Stills Alone' in 1991 (but with better songs). But that would mean breaking up Manassas, one of the greatest bands that ever lived and one that record critics and a lot of the public took to so quickly that for a moment their fame even rivalled CSN's. Driven by the twin-piece percussion partnership of Dallas Taylor and Joe Lala, held together by Calvin 'Fuzzy' Samuel's strong fat bass lines, augmented by Byrd Chris Hillman's delightful guitar and harmony parts and augmented by Paul Harris' decorative piano and Al Perkins' evocative pedal steel guitar, Manassas are a band born to party. Part of Stills wants to give them something to party to: that's why we have songs like 'Down The Road' 'City Junkies' and 'Do You Remember The Americans?' that resemble perhaps the dumber side of Stills' writing style: simple hard-driving rock songs that don't have much to say except 'I'm having a good time!' The rest of the album, though, finds Manassas - that wonderful rolling runaway train who can navigate anything with aplomb - with the brakes on.
There are an awful lot of 'natural' ballads here for a Stephen Stills album (with one of Chris' two superb compositions adding to the slow and mournful flavour), but somebody somewhere (perhaps Stills himself?) seems to have baulked at the idea and the only ballad on the entire album comes from Hillman, perhaps in an effort to make everything sound upbeat and happy when it isn't (even the first 'Manassas' had its slow moments, career highlight 'So Begins The Task' being one of them). 'Guaguanco De Vera' is a song about a man whose 'lost', hiding behind a 'shell' with a chorus - it ought, on paper, to sound like 'Yesterday' or 'Let It Be'; instead it sounds like 'Get Back'. 'Pensamiento' is a wrist-slashing lyric whose title translates into English as simply 'My Thought' and lines like 'forgive me if I have been wrong' treated to a nice upbeat bossa nova samba. 'Isn't It About Time?' sounds like a threat, but it reads like a self-help manual, pleading with the self not to be taken in again in a way that's more 'Help!' than 'Won't Get Fooled Again' or 'Ohio'. 'Business In The Street' is a booze-fest strutting rocker where the entire band sound ready to drop after one great binge too many - but is really a cry for help, asking 'how did it get so big? Can I really live up to my persona as a booze-festing strutting rock star? ('The biggest fool of all is me, I play the music for the music you see'). Even 'Rollin' My Stone', long dismissed as a rather boring generic rock song, is a song about a 'twisted' world about a man whose life is out of control, running away without him like a stone 'rollin' on down the road' (was the glorious 'Myth Of Sisyphus' - released on 'Stills' in 1975 but performed in concert from 1974 - written now? Both songs are about being doomed to carry a great weight only to do it all again over and over). Most songs on this album also have lyrics about 'keys' fitting 'locks', a kind of desperate search for happiness that can't quite be found: the whole record at times reads like a puzzle where we have to ignore what Stills sounds like he's telling us and read between the lines. 'Down The Road' is a confused and lost album, trying to pretend he's alright really honest don't worry me, while crying buckets inwardly over lost opportunities and frustrated circumstances. What's always fascinated me about this record is that you'd expect these two Manassas albums to be the other way around: that this rather tentative single album came first and the all-cylinders-firing debut came after Stills heard the band's strengths and realised what they could and couldn't do. 'Down The Road' sounds like a man trying to fit his material to a band he doesn't know and having them re-shape it for him: 'Manassas' is the sound of a man with a vision spilling out in several directions at once.
Perhaps another reason the album turned out as 'schizophrenic' as it does is that it was 'unbalanced' at a late hour. While always planned as a single set (Stills had worn himself out on the double album), 'Down The Road' was intended initially as a much more collaborative affair. Chris had more songs written for the album (although sadly we don't know what they are - perhaps his pair from the Byrds reunion album later in the year, in which case we had a happy escape!) Al, Fuzzy, Joe and Dallas had come up with the funky 'Mama Told Me So' for the album. Stills also had an early, rather fast version of 'Thoroughfare Gap' (later the title of his 1978 solo LP) ready that he was never quite happy with. In the end Atlantic boss Ahmet Ertegun baulked at having so many 'other' members writing songs and pleaded Stills to come up with more, quickly. Usually Stills is great at deadlines ('Carry On' and 'Waiting For You', highlights of CSN albums in 1970 and 1994 respectively, were written in a hurry) but for whatever reason he turned in some rather bland songs to fill the gaps: we know 'City Junkies' was one and it seems likely the title track and 'Business On The Street' were the others. Certainly these three sound like the most 'rushed' recordings on the album - it's probably these Stills was thinking of when he declared 'some of the vocals and things should have been done over, but I was lazy', adding that the record was a 'turkey' for good measure. That quote has always bothered me about this record, both because it's not something the generally conscientious 'Captain Manyhands' would usually say about himself (on the contrary, it was getting Stills to stop work that was the problem for most of his colleagues) and because on a good half of the album that's clearly nonsense: recordings like 'Guaguanco De Vera' 'Pensamiento' 'Lies' and 'So Many Times' sparkle with clarity (even on my old battered vinyl copy, whose now gone to bed by the way) and are clearly made with heart and soul, not rushed bodge jobs. The rest of the album works less so, but this kind of haziness is surely meant to be there on tracks like the urgent 'Isn't It About Time?' and the drug-fuelled title track and 'City Junkies'. Was Stills simply down on this record because it didn't sound as 'happy' as he wanted it to? Either way, the loss of these songs - and 'Witching Hour' - is Manassas' loss. Replace these lesser three songs (and perhaps 'Rollin' My Stone) with 'Hour' 'Gap', a scintillating first version of future CSN classic 'Daylight Again' (improvised on stage one night!), a long bootlegged collaboration with Jimi Hendrix on 'White Nigger' (recorded in 1970 but remixed for possible including on the album), a couple of Stills songs included on 2009's 'Pieces' (the slow blues 'High and Dry' possibly about Rita Coolidge and Graham Nash which isn't great as it exists here but could have been with a bit more rehearsal and the electric but similarly unfinished sounding 'I Am My Brother'), a couple more songs from Chris (including the rather ordinary Souther-Hillman-Furay tune 'Love and Satisfy' also included on 'Pieces') and that 'band written blues' discussed earlier and 'Down The Road' might have been a cracking 14-track 45 minute value-for-money record only a fraction away from the first LP, instead of a poor-selling barely 30 minute follow-up that's often forgotten and presently rather hard to find.
Ah yes, Chris Hillman. The revelation of the first Manassas record, the break from having to keep first the Byrds and then The Flying Burrito Brothers together as more wayward and less committed band members had clearly done him good. Hillman's fingerprints are all over that album (usually while wearing country gloves, bringing out a side of Stills we rarely see on his own or with CSN but was occasionally there in Buffalo Springfield) despite the fact that, in total, he gets just two co-writes with Stills and no actual lead vocals (though there are lots of majestic soaring harmonies). On 'Down The Road' he gets two songs and two whole vocals (with Stills returning the favour with some delightful harmonies), yet feels 'less' a part of this record somehow (the lack of co-writes with Stills suggests the two weren't spending quite as much time together). The 'number two' role has always suited Chris best and he's at his best as Stills' foil, not withstanding all his marvellous Byrds and solo songs (I never did take to the Burritos much) and his songs very much do what they used to do for Roger McGuinn in his first band: they parrot the rough theme and style of Stills' songs whilst still having a distinct (and country-ish) personality. Unusually, Hillman's feeling rather bitter about something; dismissing someone whose got 'everything they need' yet still feel deeply empty fallen for the 'lies' of a rumour-monger of a girlfriend on 'Lies' and then adding his own song of regret and remorse on the very Stills-ish 'So Many Times' (on which Stephen might have played a bigger role than we fans have always thought) that merges the pair's favourite lyric 'themes' - Chris throws in two of his own song titles on the line 'It doesn't matter at all who rises and falls' while surely it's Stills adding his favourite theme 'when we live in the darkness and hide behind walls'.
Both songs sound like a pointed message to someone. As ever on this site until Stills and Hillman write their own books this is only speculation, but is Chris writing about Stills? Chris was furious with first Gene Clark, then David Crosby (well, he was pushed out but in the bassists' eyes his behaviour may have forced the band into it) and finally Gram Parsons left The Byrds, always at the worst possible moment. He then formed the Flying Burrito Brothers, a potentially great band, with Gram Parsons - who after the first few months simply stopped turning up (he was always at the Stones' place hanging out with buddy Keith Richards). Chris isn't really the 'quitting' type - yes he left The Byrds too but they were getting flack about playing in South Africa and at the time he left in 1968 were at their un-coolest and poorest-selling and was most likely amazed when McGuinn soldiered on - and losing two bands this way must have made him furious. His partnership with Stills should have been different: the Buffalo Springfield were if not quite 'discovered' by Hillman then certainly heavily helped by him (Crosby famously got involved too, of course, starting a friendship and career that will runs for decades but at first couldn't see what all the fuss was about) and at his essence Stills, too, is a conscientious hard-worker. 'Manassas' had seen both men thrive knowing they could rely on each other in a way that Chris never could rely on soulmate Gram and Stephen Could never rely on Neil Young. Here, though, it sounds by Stills' own lyrics as if he'd getting into 'bad ways' too - the shock of his three relationships ending up with his first child, the split of CSNY and the heavy Manassas touring adding yet more pressure to his ever-busy mind. Are Chris' songs (especially 'Lies') a warning that he's walked before and he'll do it again? The chorus of that song 'what you see is what you get' is normally what we'd associate with the straight-talking Stills, but on this album in his own lyrics he's 'hiding behind walls' and a 'shell' - perhaps Hillman's subtle way of telling his friend he's changing and not for the better. Incidentally there's an only slightly less cracking laidback alternate take of 'Lies' on 'Pieces' too, without any of the venom of the finished product: was Hillman softening the blow at first before fully getting into it?
In the end Chris didn't need to walk: Manassas kind of fell apart by mutual consent. With a record that everyone seemed to agree was a 'failure' after the first record, the seven-piece Manassas would have been too hard to sustain touring-wise for too long without substantial hits. As it happened Stills got invited to a CSNY reunion and Hillman got an invite from David Geffen who'd just formed his own label 'Asylum' to create yet another 'super-group' made out of Byrds and Buffalos (this time the Souther Hillman Furay band with Stills' old partner Richie Furay - I bet they swapped some stories! - which ended in an even more miserable and frustrating tale of missed chances and lost opportunities than Manassas, only making half a great record before the rot set in). Manassas were, technically, put on hold rather than disbanded, with Stills adamant that the band would get together again at intervals the way that CSN always did. Sadly, all these years later, we're still waiting for that elusive third album (and interesting as parts of it were, the unexpected outtakes set 'Pieces' doesn't count). That's a shame: we've raved and raved about the first record already on this site until we're blue in the face, but even this second lesser record has some fabulous moments. Stills' two latin songs are exceptional, perhaps not quite up there with Stills very best but even Stills' nearly-best is a pretty spectacularly high level. 'Isn't It About Time?' - the one single from this album and the only track included on Stills' 'Carry On' set suggesting he still likes it - is a great 'almost' song that's 90% of the way to being a classic protest song from a writer who, despite his reputation and early success with 'For What It's Worth', generally leaves political songs to his colleagues. Hillman's 'Lies' and 'So Many Times' are exquisitely constructed pop songs. 'Business In The Street' is a curious song-within-a-song: the heartfelt lyrics at the centre of a riddle are terrific, even if the song they've been randomly stuck inside (about blanket media coverage and drugs) isn't. Now that I hear it again for the first time in a wee while 'Rollin' My Stone' is more interesting the more you play it, an angry panther ready to attack in the skin of a sleepy cat. Even the remaining four songs in the middle of the album aren't that bad - we just know that Stills and co could have done better (reaching lower heights than even the worst songs on the first double album).
'Down The Road' may be the ugly little sister of a real beauty, but look at her when her crooked smile lights up the room or when her tears make her soft and vulnerable. If this really was a party (and I think it was...my memory has gone a bit hazy now, what was in that packet of grass seeds handed out with free copies of The Kinks' 'Village Green Preservation Society'?!) then in truth I'd have got bored of the all-singing all-dancing turn-my-hand-to-everything 'Manassas' album pretty quickly - goodness knows she'd have got bored of me. While there are better albums, greater albums, happier albums, friendlier albums, more open albums than this, 'Down The Road' is a very lovable confused and human kind of an album. I may have spent more time with 'Stephen Stills' 'Stephen Stills II' and 'Stills' down the years (he never was one for titles was he?!), I still find myself returning like clockwork to 'Down The Road' every so often and it will always be there for me, slouched until the table with its raucous laugh and running mascara, long after the other albums have left home and moved on without me. While she isn't perfect and the warm contented glow of 'Stills' is more my style of life partner (I love 'Manassas' and 'Stills II' to pieces as well, but they'd wear me out in a week!), there are plenty of worse companions to have: 'Down The Road' is a friend on a much deeper level than those superficial party-goers and in truth isn't quite as boring as that lot upstairs making up songs about the moon. Geez that was a party and a half. Where am I? And why does 'Down The Road's even younger and more aggressive sister 'Man Alive' have me in a headlock?...Help!
'Isn't It About Time?' is a cracking start. We're deep into Nixon territory now (he was re-elected about the time this album came out, making it odd that there aren't more political digs on this record or on Nash's 'Wild Tales' from not long afterwards) and Stills isn't happy that all the warnings CSN gave us between 1969 and 1970 have turned true. Sarcasm isn't something the heart-on-his-sleeve Stills resorts to much but he does so brilliantly here, sending up his ignorant audience with the opening lines 'Don't look now, don't heed the warning, it's really of no concern...' with a spiky sinewy guitar riff purloined from his earlier classic 'Word Game' (though not quite as intense). Like a lot of this album's lyrics the tone is questioning asking 'isn't it about time we learned?' and started putting things right, with a particularly ringing middle eight ('Why does it have to take so long? Is it easy not to care?)' that comes out of left-field and adds a great deal of tension to the song. Stills turns in a great guitar part too, at the end of his love affair with the wah-wah pedal and the sound he's been mining since the 'Super Session' in 1968 sounds particularly apt here: it's a slow whine that turns frenetic by the end. By the standards of the first Manassas album, though, nobody is really on it here: the sudden switch into double-time near the end of the song should be amazing, with the wah-wah growing in majesty and the song building up to a froth of steam (the band pulled it off easily on their earlier 'It Doesn't Matter') but instead sounds muddled and unclear. The chorus too needs an extra...something 'Isn't it about time? Isn't it about time we learned?' works fine as a beginning but it needs an extra couple of punches the way 'Ohio' and 'Word Game' just kept coming and coming with so many arguments you couldn't help ut get 'on-message'. Still, even as a 'nearly' song there's much to admire about 'Isn't It About Time?' which has a great groove and some fine lyrics. Sadly this piece is still as relevant now as it was in 1973 (perhaps more so thanks to Bush Jnr and Cameron) but sadly it's the last time Stills will get political until 'Daylight Again' in 1982 - and that's about the American Revolution rather than a modern war (perhaps he was put off by this song's dismal performance as a single which deserved better than a limp #56 on Billboard. The anti-Nixon rallies lost a great voice right here.
Hillman's 'Lies' is a typical mix of country and rock, which again sounds less polished and tight here than the first Manassas LP or the similar recordings Hillman will make with the Souther-Hillman-Furay band the next year. Most fans tend to ignore it and it's not up to 'Both Of Us (Bound To Lose)' or 'It Doesn't Matter' - the two Chris 'n' Stephen collaborations from the album before - but I'm rather fond of this straightforward song. 'You live in a dream - you got everything you need!' cackles Hillman on a second straight sarcastic song, with a delicious vocal that captures the irony of the narrator in a dream world rather well. The song's melody tries hard to stick to a tight Chuck Berry-style groove (not that far removed from Crosby's 1975 song 'Low Down Payment', interestingly - chances are he'd have heard this album at least once to keep an eye on what his two ex-partners were up to!) but Manassas have such a wide expansive sound that they don't all play the riff at once, giving us the feeling of the ground moving underneath our feet. The sudden switch of keys in the chorus ('I know that it's hard to believe') shows that Hillman had learnt well from the 'tricks' Stills showed him in their earlier songs together, Hillman vocally trying to shake his friend out of his ignorant stupor and see the light. Manassas are at their tightest here (the earlier 'Pieces' version is a little sloppy like most of the other 'Down The Road' recordings but this is tight and powerful), neatly straddling the country and rock elements of the song and ending on a samba-ish percussive rhythm. Hillman has written better lyrics and once again this song needs a better and longer chorus than simply 'what you see is what you get', but I find 'Lies' one o the most powerful songs and recordings on the album: a turbulent chaotic song that somehow has one of Hillman's greatest vocal sitting over the top of it, on the outside looking in with disgust, an effect that works rather well. I've just consulted the excellent Johnny Rogan 'complete guide to CSN' for this track and he makes the point that this song is loosely based on my favourite Flying Burrito Brothers song (their opening song in fact) 'Christine's Tune': a tale of a woman who isn't all she seems to be with a quick-snapping rhythm, that makes perfect sense - I should have picked up on that before.
'Pensamiento' started life as the Latin-style instrumental 'Tan Sola Y Triste' (as heard on 'Pieces') - indeed that cut may well be the same backing track used for the full song (or near enough to make no difference to my ears anyway). Even this early on Stills seems to be into hiding his true feelings under the guise of another language (that working title translates roughly as 'I'm Lonely And I'm Sad', while the final version comes out roughly as 'My Thought'. Sung entirely in Spanish (a language Stills would have known well growing up) as far as I know the full translation hasn't been given anywhere else on the internet so thanks to the wonders of 'Google Translator' (with a few additions from a Spanish-speaking colleague) here it is in full: 'Tell me you love me and forgive me if I have been wrong, Thinking about it and my heart from that day I just mourn, thinking if she Llegara (?!) forget, leaving my soul incredibly sad and lonely, I think I'll never live without it, because my dear it's my life. Dearest girlfriend, if you knew my pain you'd write to me my love and ease my suffering'. As you can see, this is a very sad song for all of Manassas' subtle Latin groove and driving forcefullness. My guess is that it's yet another sad song written in Judy Collins' direction, like 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' thought too personal to send as a letter so it got turned into a 'song' instead. Stills really doesn't want her to know, though, so he got his collaborator Nelson Escoto to roughly translate a few phrases and throw in a few things he probably remembered from his own childhood (surrounded by Latin-American school friends). This song is even phrased like a letter - and remember 'Suite: Judy' ended with a Latin American 'doo doo doo' finale - it may have been a running joke between the pair that he could only express himself succinctly in another language. Sadly it's almost a goodbye for an on-off partnership that's been inspiring some of Stills' greatest songs down the years as after this both sides stop seeing each other (Stills' lightning marriage to Sanson probably put paid to that as much as anything, although Collins' moving autobiography 'Judy Blue Eyes' admits it was she who re-buffed him and since regretted it). Even at their lowest point the pair admitted that they'd told each other things they'd never told anyone else: a lot of this 'Down The Road' album seems to Stills thinking 'well, if I can't pour all of this out to Judy I'll just to have to write it to her in songs instead - and then disguise it somehow'). Even without the lyrics or the translation, this would be a great song: of all the genres Manassas cover the Latin grooves are their most convincing and Al Perkins (their most 'country' member) is particularly great her, nailing the groove (which unusually isn't played by Stills who may not even play on this song). The solo of 'Pensamiento' is played, for the first time, not on guitar but on flute by Sydney George, a lovely little part that ties this song back into the dim and distant folk past and makes it universal (George will be back for the Stills-Young Band album 'Long May You Run' in 1976 and is about the only person to come out of that album with his reputation intact!) Mysterious yet fun, 'Pensamiento' may well be the highlight of the album alongside Stills' other Latin track 'Guaguanco De Vera'.
'So Many Times' is a Stills/Hillman collaboration that would have slotted in well on the second 'country' side of the Manassas debut album. I'd never realised how well the pair's voices go well together, with Stills putting his CSN education to good practice with a gorgeous falsetto harmony that wraps around Hillman's harsher lead like a glove. A neat mixture of Stills' heartfelt and wordy style and Hillman's straightforward pop and country mournfulness, it's another of the greatest things Manassas did, with Al Perkins turning in a second note-perfect solo (this time back on the pedal steel). 'Why do I even bother?' is the theme of the song, with a series of rhetorical questions about a relationship gone wrong that's deeply moving (Hillman's first marriage hadn't broken up much before this either). A gorgeous sad slow melody tries to sound sad and pathetic but like the narrator it's made of stronger stuff than that and by the end has revealed its teeth. You know that somehow the narrator will pick himself up when all this is over and the last note of the song flies into the sky, the closest Stills came to re-capturing that astonishing last moment on 'Everybody We Love You' from 'Deja Vu' in 1970. A song that's not only pretty but pretty deep, 'So Many Times' is a lovely song that shows just how compatible these two great writers were and how sad it is that, ironically for a track titled 'So Many Times' this is only their third and their final song together. Another album highlight.
So far 'Down The Road' has been more or less up to the level of the first Manassas record. Alas 'Business On The Street' is the start of a run of songs that for a variety of reasons don't quite come off. 'Business In The Street' is a real curio from Stills that perhaps betrays its rushed circumstances (this is the one track we know for sure was written at the last minute at Ertegun's request). The song starts out as a 'warning' to Stills' 'brothers' not to put their 'business in the street' and reveal too much. Few writers revealed as much of their lives in song as Stills (which is exactly what he'll do again in this tracks' second half): is this a 'don't do as I do but do as I say? kind of song? If so is it directed to the band in general (who would on the whole have been new to the sudden spotlight Manassas' success cast on them), Hillman in particular (his songwriting protégé, oblivious of the fact that the first Byrds album came out before the first Springfield one), his CSN buddies (whose split in 1970 wasn't helped by angry tirades about each other in the press - someone like Stills was always going to feel hurt by the fall-out) or the 1970s rock star generation at large? 'When you get a little bit older you're carrying too much weight on your shoulders' papa Stills wearily warns us all before recounting how he'd learnt the hard way to keep his mouth shut. The best lines are of his own guilt over what he's done in the past and his witty lines that 'The biggest fool of all is me, I play the music for the music for me - for money I do publicity!' A superstar for perhaps the third time in his life, at the age of 30, Stills is determined not to waste his money this time the way he sees his (generally younger) colleagues doing, admitting that he only splashes out for 'some guitars, a studio in the backyard. The line 'do you know what it cost me to find another key?' might be a typical Stills pun - on the one hand he means having to buy another house to store all this stuff; on the other he's referring to the fallout from the CSNY and Springfield years when he's had to find yet another band to work with and start from scratch. An intermittently clever lyric can't make up for the fact that, by Stills standards, there's not an awful lot going on here though: this isn't much of melody, more of a riff and not a very exciting one at that. AS a recording this is the song that suffers worst from the kind of blurriness shared by so much of 'Down The Road' - Stills ressurrects the high-pitched harmony part from 'Marianne' that's uncomfortable (the rest of Manassas should have sung along) and harmony parts come and go in the mix without a by your leave. The song deserved better.
'Do You Remember The Americans?' opens side two with a musical re-write of 'Fallen Eagle' but with distinctly lesser lyrics. Stills has fun getting his banjo out of the loft, with Al Perkins on pedal steel and Hillman on ukulele right at home, but this is a weak slab of social protest that must have sounded very out of time in 1973. This is the kind of song that would have slotted right in on the soundtrack of 'Easy Rider' in 1968: the narrator is a passing hitch-hiker be-moaning the fact that people just aren't as nice as they used to be and feeling rather paranoid when a trucker stops to let him in ('Hope he don't mind long hurr!') I the olden days everyone would have stopped, nowadays everyone just rolls on past 'lookin' kind of mean'. Stills may be wondering what happened to the community spirit of 'Woodstock', but if so then he should have written another verse saying exactly that: instead this short four-verse song ends on a deeply unusual slab verse that from anyone else might have been accused of racism ('Who are all these strangers in my home? Where are the Americans - where did they go?') You'd hope that the writer of the classic racism-challenging 'Word Game' simply came up with an unfortunate choice of words there and what Stills really meant was that the kind helpful co-operative America he knew in his teens has now turned into snarling uncaring slobs, but by his standards it's not that well worded. The melody, while strong, still isn't quite up to the delightful 'Fallen Eagle' either.
The title track of 'Down The Road' sounds better: P P Arnold makes yet another fine guest appearance on an AAA album (following stints with The Small Faces, Cat Stevens and Roger Waters) and Stills always suits these kind of slow blues-rock hybrids. However, there's something distinctly one-note about this song too, which is one of those novelty songs about drugs that could only be written in the 1970s. In fact, given that this period is the start of Crosby's addiction getting out of control it's all rather uncomfortable as lyrics like 'hookah makes me crazy, believe I'm gonna have to pass' and 'then your cocaine starts to move fast' passing by in a blur. The whole song sounds a blur, actually, with Manassas not their usual tight selves and Stills a little too convincing in his stoned persona. One wonders what the famously anti-drugs Hillman thought of it all: he's notable by his absence in the harmonies and most likely isn't here at all. The song reaches a ridiculous peak in the last verse when Stills speculates about how 'some people into Jesus, some people into zen' before adding that 'I'm just into every day, don't hide where I've been' (blatantly untrue as the foreign languages to 'Pensamiento' make clear!) Either way, it's all a tad ordinary by Stills standards: the Manassas album had him singing great songs about life, evolution, prejudice, love and every great subject there is; finding him reducing his vision to his next high from drugs is a bit of a come-down in all meanings of the word. Note too the sloppy running order for the album which means we go directly from this song with it's opening line 'When I was a young man...' into...
'City Junkies', which begins with the exact same words. A 'warning' drug song that sounds faintly ridiculous coming so hard on the heels of the last track, it makes me wonder - were these two songs originally a pair or perhaps part of the same song? The melodies and tempos aren't really similar, but then this song has such a generic tune it could have been sung along to any tune - including the above one. The lowest of 'Down The Road's lowest moments, it's a rather over-written song with every rhyme for 'New York City' going ('pretty' 'pity') and a sad tale of a girlfriend turning into a junkie and leaving the narrator behind. I stress that neither Judy Collins or Rita Coolidge were that big on drugs and that bit is surely fictional, but once again you can hear the very real autobiographical hurt as Stills laments how 'New York City took my love away' and how 'I fell in love so hard you know' but that now 'we're better off you now'. Then again, perhaps this is another pre-fame relationship we don't know about - Stills stresses that it was 'long ago' and neither Rita nor Judy had much of a connection with New York. Either way it seems 'real' and Stills' lines about turning into a 'dancing guitar man' are sung with the wry smile of similar lines across this album. However Stills' unusually blurred vocal makes the best feature of this song - the lyrics - hard to hear, there's little or no melody and this kind of all out-rock attack was the one thing the multi-headed Manassas beast could never quite pull off (not with all the band playing anyway). This could have been another great Stills song about loss and heartbreak, but it sounds like a revved-up knees-up and that's all wrong. No wonder Hillman saved most of his wrath for the album on this song in particular - it's probably the weakest song Manassas released in their short time together.
Thankfully the catchy Latin singalong 'Guaguanco De Vero' puts us right back on track. I'm less sturdy on this translation but it seems to be possibly 'Late Summer' or something on those lines. A mixture of English, Spanish and French (the language of his new wife) it might be Stills' most autobiographical song of them all, reflecting on how he 'doesn't know' his older self who was 'lost' and 'hid in a shell' with 'every song a cry'. However now he's met his true soulmate, Veronique, in France and is now a contented family man, 'somebody else' who appreciates him for who he is - he no longer has to 'open and close' his feelings when he's around her. The much repeated Spanish chorus translates as 'Now I go back to not wanting' and like the bulk of this record's true much-delayed follow-up 'Stills' (1975), it's wonderful to hear Stills so happy and contented with his life. For all that, though, and this song's conga singalong over the hypnotic chorus Stills sounds lost and lonely here, wide-eyed and scared throughout, even on the verses where he's found contentment at last. A gorgeous song that ends with the upbeat line 'know I know who we are, who is we and we're together', it's another classic Stills song turned into a great recording by a particularly Latin-style Manassas backing.
Perhaps the album should have ended there instead of the rather disappointing 'Rollin' My Stone', a song that some critics find boring, others a little smug. Me, I like what Stills is trying to do: another 'warning' song from the recent convert to family life and abstinence ('Looking back it all seems ridiculously insane!') it finds Stills also coming to terms with the fact that he'll never be fully rid of this darker side of his personality either. We've already mentioned that the idea of 'rollin' a stone' reflects the later song 'Myth Of Sisyphus' about the man of legend cursed to do just that; the difference here is that 'rolling a stone' should be a good thing: it's an oft-used image in blues and rock, from Muddy Waters to 'rolled' marijuana cigarettes to the name of the Rolling Stones. The usual image is of an unstoppable force getting bigger with each 'rocking' and 'rolling' and is typical rock star slang for a good time. Stills cleverly inverts this idea though with a chorus that includes the scathing line 'you're lying!' and the feeling that he's looking down on all this with heavy disapproval (no one, surely, believes the rather timid line at the end of this tirade that 'No one's trying to tell you what to do!') The problem with this song comes not from the song itself, which is a clever pastiche of the kind of blues/rock thing every other boozed up rock and roller writes (including Stills on the album's title track) but with the performance: Manassas seem to think 'blues' means 'playing slowly and sadly' - this song should be an electric gut-wrencher, not a rather bland song only occasionally spitting out sparks. The Stills band revived this song - the only track from this record played much in concert - during Stills' 'breakdown' years of 1979 but rather than Stephen singing it was given over to soulful keyboardist Mike Finnigan and turned into a rather OTT cat-and-mouse Stax style recording (sadly only available currently on bootleg). While Finnigan's voice is an acquired taste, had Stills done this arrangement with his voice for Manassas then this track might have been better remembered. Sadly, left as it is, it's rather a limp ending to the album.
Overall, then, 'Down The Road' isn't the great classic that 'Manassas' was and puts an end to an unbroken run of staggering releases for Stills between 1966 and 1972 that are all terrific and remarkably consistent. Many critics picked up on this and at last had an opportunity to get out the knives and dismiss this record as bland fodder. But that's unfair: there's a lot more going on in this album than later, blander LPs like 'Right By You' 'Stills Alone' and 'Man Alive' and to tar a promising and generally deep album that simply needed two more good songs and a couple of extra takes with the same brush is unfair. No wonder 'Down The Road' is under the table, in a drunken stupor, looking a mess: I would be too with a reputation like that album has. But I know talent when I see it and far from being the low-point of Stills' career this might be his record that keeps on giving the most: every time I hear this album and wade past the lesser tracks in the middle I'm always surprised how good it is. In fact I must confess that back in the days before I owned either album on CD I added the five best songs from this record onto the end of my 'Manassas' LP when putting them both on cassette - and low and behold if it wasn't 'Isn't It About Time?' 'Lies' 'Pensamiento' 'Guaguanco De Vero' and 'So Many Times' that turned into my favourites from the entire set. 'Down The Road' ended up being a bit of a cul-de-sac and Stills and Hillman will both be back, sans Manassas, with better albums still in their careers. But 'Down The Road' is still an important destination on Stephen Stills' journey and is a much more interesting place to visit than you might remember.
You Can Buy The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Beatles By Clicking Here!
The AAA Beatles Youtube Playlist is now up and running at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlzWxNlf9PORpLCLpPDllTSxubCMfWvSv
As ever, we've had to make few qualifications about what we mean by 'existing clips', otherwise this would be a full book in itself. A Beatles TV appearance has to include all four members (so there's no Lennon on 'Not Only But Also' or Ringo on the 'Cilla' show - though the first of these will no doubt make our future 'Lennon' volume). It has to have been made with a broadcast on television in mind (so there's no press interviews, no home movies - though there are loads of them on Youtube if you wish to have a look - and no sign of John Lennon and Bob Dylan being sick in the back of a taxi-cab in 1966, unaware that a passenger is filming their rather queasy looking night out -although we have made honourable exception for the last ever footage taken of the band, which they must surely have known was going to be used in something at some point). We're once again accepting music videos, although there aren't actually that many of them: despite pretty much inventing the idea in 1965 (when there were simply too many demands on The Beatles' time) the mop tops used the method sparingly. As with the last two times we've done this, I'd rather not give you the Yotube links (they'll only get deleted or get me into trouble) but I do have an ever growing Beatles playlist at the Youtube username Alansarchives, so come and give me a follow! Right, with that lot over with, here we go back in 1962...
1) People and Places (TV Appearance 1962)
Granada had no idea they were filming history when they popped into the Cavern Club in August 1962 to catch the sort of things local teenagers were 'into'. They didn't know then that they were filming history, the first moving footage of the band that were about to change their world, as well as the only film of The Beatles at home in their natural habitat or what was either their second or third ever gig with Ringo, who'd joined the band just the week before (George is still sporting the black eye where a Pete Best fan slapped him a few days earlier!) Taped during a quite lunch-time break when fewer fans were around (or troublemakers - you can still someone yell 'where's Pete'?!), it shows a quietly confident band playing one of the two songs they were already renowned for around Liverpool (along with 'Twist and Shout') - a Richie Barrett composition that was one of Lennon's favourites (and was re-recorded to less effect than this by the band for a radio show in 1964). A great confident performance with all the Beatles' heads bopping up and down in rhythm, you wonder why the producer didn't simply scrap the intended programme and show half an hour of this footage. Instead reportedly only a few seconds of it were ever shown, though thank goodness the rest of the footage was kept safe. Anthology episode one screened most of the two minute performance (and boy was that a relief after 45 minutes of talking heads and still pictures), but a slightly longer edit with a concerned Lennon asking if they want to shoot it again is doing the rounds on Youtube
2) The Beatles Come To Town! (News Reel 1963)
The earliest colour footage, meanwhile, comes courtesy of a Pathe Newsreel from shortly after the release of 'She Loves You', which seems amazingly quick for a newsreel to understand just what a big phenomenon this was (to put that in context it's like Pathe filming The Spice Girls a year in and looking pretty silly when the fad finished a month before!) While The Beatles, nominally playing a gig in Manchester although the filming seems to be rather random, don't speak they are their normal charming selves: 'a natural four bubbling over with fun' as they goof around with a giant panda and wave to fans. There is a nice two-song performance of 'She Loves You' and 'Twist and Shout', though, a full year before you can see either of them in colour on the Ed Sullivan show. The film is shown with the 'permission of their generous manager Brian Epstein' by the way - good on you Brian! Oddly none of this footage was ever used in Anthology.
3) On Tour In Dublin (News Reel 1963)
The Beatles only ever played once in Ireland, so for any Irish fans this is a big moment! A clearly jet-lagged Beatles are waylaid outside an airport as they try to get into a car but still manage a bit of banter with a typically hapless local TV presenter (there'll be a lot of these as the list goes on!) For some reason he thinks that George is Irish, which is a source of great hilarity to the others (it turns out his mum has a distant Irish cousin), while an only slightly more serious interview inside later features the band talking about their haircut, the Liverpool sound and how well they get on (a line that ends in a terrific mock-fight!) Lennon is unusually quiet, by the way, with Paul and George doing most of the talking. The best quote is from Paul: 'Well, if we stayed that surprised at everything that happened to us we'd be off our heads all the time, wouldn't we?!' Sadly this clip has never been officially released either and for now remains available solely on Youtube.
4) Late Scene Extra (TV Appearance 1963)
Well, it was inevitable really wasn't it? In 1963 the most famous Liverpudlian outside of The Beatles was Ken Dodd so some bright spark at ITV decided to put them together. The result is rather edgy, with Dodd away in his own world and the Beatles (Lennon especially) keen to bring the programme back to them. The band are oddly serious at times, Lennon recounting how they want to build a 'house on wheels' to take around with them because touring is beginning to get them down. However, while neither sides' humour is a natural fit together, separately there are some fine lines in this often hilarious interview. The famous line is when Ken pretends to become a rock star like The Beatles and asks them for an earthy name ('How about Sod?!' John mischievously replies), as seen in Anthology episode two. However the full clip lasts some ten minutes, includes many more jokes about each other's 'hurr', a Dodd script where John is a 'peasant' George is 'evil' Paul is a 'jester' and Ringo is a Martian. Unlike half of the world by late 1963, Dodd clearly doesn't know The Beatles that well and gets John and George confused (referring to both of them throughout as 'thingy'). Look out for Ringo taking offence when Ken Dodd asks to join their band and rename it 'Ringo and the Layabouts' (personally I prefer the other suggestion Kenny and the cockroaches!)
5) Ready Steady Go! (TV Appearance 4/10/1963)
The Beatles may be miming and they might have recorded better interviews over the years, but the band's ten minute appearance on ITV's rival to 'Top Of The Pops' is one of my favourite moments on this list. Firstly, the band seem really pleased to be home again after a long time away touring and act as if they're among 'friends', laughing at the antics of Dusty Springfield struggling with a one-off presenter role and regular Keith Fordyce's weird patter. All four Beatles talk in turn and 'Gorgeous George' is in particularly great form ('How did you feel when the door of your airplane suddenly opened?' 'Cold!' 'Is your hair real or is it a wig?' 'It's a real wig!') Next is Ringo's turn ('I wear these rings on my fingers because I can't get them through my nose'), with the fascinating knowledge of the Beatles' shoe sizes: Ringo's a 7, Paul's 8 and 1/2 George 7and 1/2 and John 42 if you're wondering (although I sense the drummer's having us on with that last one!) Paul, meanwhile, talks about sleeping with his eyes open and wishing the crowds wouldn't scream quite so much during their gigs, whilst John gives his silliest reason yet for coming up with the band name ('I just thought of it!') and denies that he's got false teeth (in return he asks to look at Dusty's scabs!) In between The Beatles' old friend and headliner Helen Shapiro then tries to mime to a her new single 'Well, Look Who It Is' while the band tries to make her laugh (except for Ringo, who gets in a sneaky kiss!) Most poignantly though is shots of Paul judging a miming contest of four teeny-boppers dancing to Brenda Lee's 'Jump The Broomstick'. Little does Paul know it but the girl at the end who wins - Melanie Coe - will in two years' time become the runaway whose story in the papers inspires Paul to write the song 'She's Leaving Home', a fact that was only discovered in the 1990s during the researching of Steve Turner's book 'A Hard Day's Write'. Along the way we get mimed performances of 'Twist and Shout' 'I'll Get You' and 'She Loves You, although for once it's the in-between songs bits that are best. Like all the Ready Steady Go footage, this episode was bought up by Dave Clark (of the Dave Clark Five) and rarely gets shown: it's only been out on video once in the late 1980s and wasn't used in Anthology (which was a real shame).
6) Drop In! (Swedish TV Concert 3/11/1963)
Proof that The Beatles really were an international phenomenon, even before America got hold of them, comes when a Swedish interviewer, translating for a local crowd, struggles to get his tonsils around unfamiliar words and phrases like 'Liverpool, England' and 'Ringo Starr'. Playing live without screams for the first time in a while, The Beatles sound a bit rough with some real imbalances in the sound (John is too loud, Paul is too quiet, which rather ruins the harmonies). Still this is one of the earliest live performances of the band we have and it's a good one, too, with the band having fun on the in-between song announcements (in retrospect a clear rehearsal for the forthcoming Royal Variety gig) and gamely part in 'clapping' along to the Swedish show's rather odd theme-tune over the closing credits. The Beatles perform 'She Loves You' 'Twist and Shout' 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Long Tall Sally', with extracts from the second and fourth of these included in 'Anthology' episode two.
7) Royal Variety Show (TV Appearance 4/11/1963)
This was the big one. Even Her Majesty turned up, although given the grumpy look on her face she should have given her ticket up to her hipper sister Princess Margaret! At the time there was outrage that a clear flash-in-the-pan should be chosen for such a prestigious event - but the last laugh is one the Beatles, as theirs is the single most talked about performance in 60-off years of the show. Several audio clips and a few TV ones were used in various 'Anthology' releases although for reference the full set list was 'From Me To You' 'Til' There Was You' and 'Twist and Shout'. The joke you might not get is the band's favourite 'American group' who recorded 'Til There Was You' being 'Sophie Tucker' - she was a rather large lady but certainly wasn't a band as Paul mischievously suggests! The show will forever go down in history, though, for one of the greatest jokes in the history of show business: 'Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And would the rest of you just rattle your jewellery?!' A nervous Brian Epstein, teased by Lennon that he was going to swear live on stage, is meant to have collapsed with relief that Lennon didn't go any further!
8) Morecambe and Wise Show (TV Appearance 2/12/1963)
The general rule of thumb on the Morecambe and Wise show was that if they liked the guest they would get teased more. The pair of comedians must have really liked The Beatles ('the ones with the short fat hairy heads - get out of that one!') as this show - early in the careers of both halves - is full of some great gags including Ringo's re-christening as 'Bongo', Lennon's riposte that 'my dad used to tell me about you' complete with arm gesture that Eric ad libs as 'Only got a little dad have you?' and a terrific finale where the band do the old music hall number 'Moonlight Bay' while Eric dances around in a Beatles wig quoting lines from 'She Loves You' 'Twist and Shout' and, oddly enough, Gerry and the Pacemakers' 'I Like It'. The best extracts from the show were used on both the soundtrack and video of Anthology (Volume One and Episode Two respectively) although the full show has never been released (even on a Morecambe and Wise set, sadly) and runs about 15 minutes in total. Apart from a surprisingly good rendition of 'Moonlight Bay' The Beatles play 'This Boy' 'All My Loving' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' , all but the middle of which appeared on 'Anthology One'.
9) It's The Beatles...Live At The Liverpool Empire Theatre (TV Concert 7/12/1963)
How terrific that The Beatles' much anticipated home-coming for Christmas 1963 survived the taper's cull, as its about the closest thing we have to a full Beatles set list without screams in the time before the 'Hollywood Bowl' and 'Shea Stadium' even though little thought has clearly gone into the show (the camera-work is very dodgy, often zooming in from a distance, while the sound is a bit woolly and the captions at the end laughably amateurish. Paperwork referring to a sea of complaints about the show lead to an inquest: it turns out that the director got very little camera-rehearsal and the sheer mount of screams meant no one could hear him when he shouted instructions!)The band are on particular tight form here, with a real swing about the performances that can only come from a band who have been doing these songs for so long they're nearly doing it in their sleep. The band perform 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' 'Money (That's What I Want)' and 'Twist and Shout', with a unique instrumental performance of 'She Loves You' underneath the end credits. This is also the show where John yells at the audience to 'shut up!' during Paul's announcements of the final song. To date none of these clips have ever been seen officially, although weirdly enough it does appear on the official Beatles Apple channel on Youtube, so they clearly own the rights to it - who knows, it might be out on a shiny disc one day soon.
10) Ed Sullivan Show #1 (TV Appearance 9/2/1964)
This is the big one. Hired on the spot unseen and unheard by compere Ed Sullivan after passing through Heathrow Airport the day The Beatles flew back home to hordes of screaming fans, this show went down in history as the moment that American caught Beatlemania. To this day the viewing figures of 73 million people are among the highest ever known (and back then there were less Americans on the planet to watch it) and the date of 9th February 1964 saw the lowest teenage crime rate ever. Ed Sullivan didn't actually like The Beatles much - in fact he doesn't seem to have liked music very much and his awkward stage patter and interaction with The Beatles makes for often uncomfortable viewing (it was revealed after he died that Sullivan was on strong tablets and was usually asleep between takes, with a production assistant hired to give him a prod when needed). The Beatles, however, are unstoppable, performing terrific versions of 'All My Loving' 'Til' There Was You' 'She Loves You' 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. Someone has clearly been having fun with the caption-writer too, adding a 'sorry girls - he's married!' sign under Lennon's name. Huh, as if that's going to deter the groupies... As a bit of trivia, also performing on The Ed Sullivan Show that day was the cast of 'Oliver', including a ridiculously young looking Davy Jones two years before he was a Monkee playing the part of the Artful Dodger (in this context and his later comments that seeing that many people screaming made him want to become a popstar his performance of 'I'd Do Anything' seems entirely apt). Three months after the assassination of JFK, the youngest president ever at that time, and at last the nation's youth had not just one replacement but four - no wonder they screamed! 'All My Loving' and various Ed Sullivan linking pieces made it to 'Anthology' episode three, while the whole uncut show can be bought on DVD.
11) Washington (Concert 11/2/1964)
One of my prize possessions is a bootleg of the entire Washington DC gig, filmed just days after the first 'Ed Sullivan Show' appearance. The show was filmed with Brian Epstein's permission, but on the condition it would be shown on just two days in one particular cinema (he's clearly not thinking big yet) and then junked: thankfully it never was. On the one hand this gig is chaotic: George's microphone doesn't work properly during his big opening number and in order that the large crowds can see everybody lovable Beatles roadie Mal Evans stops the show every three songs for a painfully slow turn of Ringo's drum platform (by hand!) that slows the gig down to a crawl. For all that, this is as good as it gets, with a chance to see The Beatles up close performing not for the cameras (as on the other gig we have complete, 1965's 'Shea Stadium') but for their fans and having a great time while they do it. The full setlist is as follows: 'Roll Over Beethoven' 'From Me To You' 'I Saw Her Standing There' 'This Boy' 'All My Loving' 'I Wanna Be Your Man' 'Please Please Me' 'Til' There Was You' 'She Loves You' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' 'Twist and Shout' 'Long Tall Sally'. Footage of 'She Loves You' I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Please Please Me' were included in Anthology as part of episode three.
12) Ed Sullivan Show #2 (TV Appearance 16/2/1964)
A week later and word of mouth was so strong that the audience to the show was gate-crashed and pandemonium broke out! This time though the show wasn't held in the usual theatre in New York but in a makeshift one on Miami Beach, as part of the coverage of a much-publicised fight between Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Sonny Liston (where the boxer and band re-acquainted themselves after a famous publicity shot of Ali holding a frightened looking Ringo aloft had been taken a few months before). Because of the crowd, security was tight and instead of ambling onto the stage The Beatles were told to 'run' to their instruments, which is why they seem to start playing in haste. In truth this second show isn't as good as the first but is still a good 'un with confident performances of 'She Loves You' 'This Boy' 'All My Loving' 'I saw Her Standing There' 'From Me To You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. None of these clips were used in Anthology, but you can see the whole uncut and increasingly forced show complete on DVD.
13) Ed Sullivan Show #3 (TV Appearance 23/2/1964)
The Beatles were busy the night of show three and didn't appear live but did agree to the use of some film shot earlier in the month. This time the band only did three songs: 'Twist and Shout' 'Please Please Me' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and all in all seem rather muted. That might be because, contrary to the hints given in the introduction, this entire segment was filmed the afternoon of the first Ed Sullivan show when the band don't yet know what superstars they are (by their standards the crowd is rather muted here). The weakest of the four shows, unused on 'Anthology' but the complete show is available on DVD.
14) Big Night Out (TV Appearance 23/2/1964)
Meanwhile, the wonders of pre-recorded television meant that the same night The Beatles could be seen on the latest programme to star brothers Mike and Bernie Winters, both of which appear with Beatle wigs throughout and laugh about the 'other four' holding them back. The Beatles make an explosive entrance through a wall before and have to sit through an insufferably poor sketch about the Winters being given lots of requests to sing Beatles songs before finally getting a chance to do what they came for. The band mime to some unusual songs, some of which were the only time they were ever 'played' on TV: 'Please Mr Postman' 'All My Loving' 'I Wanna Be Your Man' 'Til' There Was You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. All of these are played under what looks like a 'spoof' of the Ed Sullivan set, although instead of a plain big arrow pointing at the camera this one is painted to look like a Union Jack. Apparently 'Money (That's What I Want)' was taped at the same show but never shown - so they could fit another two minutes of excruciating laughs with Mike and Bernie probably. Throughout the fab four seem strangely happy to be there though: they're clearly still enjoying being in America by this point. A short clip of the opening 'explosion' made it to Anthology but the rest has never been released to date.
15) NME Pollwinners Concert 1964 (26/4/1964)
A scruffy concert by Beatles standards, which starts off with John and Paul singing different verses of 'She Loves You' and goes downhill from there. Perhaps the band were perturbed to be back in their homeland - or perhaps they were nervous of playing alongside some of the other 'big names' on the bill (something the Beatles hardly ever did): Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Rolling Stones and The Who to name just four (why were The Kinks and The Hollies never at these things by the way?!) The Beatles' shortened 15 minute set includes 'She Loves You' 'You Can't Do That' 'Twist and Shout' 'Long Tall Sally' and 'Can't Buy Me Love'. Perhaps because of the rough playing and sound none of these tracks were used in Anthology and to date this concert has never been officially released (unlike the similar poll-winners concert from the following year!)
16) Around The Beatles (TV Special 28/4/1964)
One of the strangest things The Beatles ever did in their television career was this half-concert, half-sketch show for an Easter bank holiday in 1964. The title comes from the fact that The Beatles play in a mock-up 'theatre in the round', of the type used in Tudor England ('The Globe Theatre' is the most famous example). That's quite apt because the opening is a truly strange take-off of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer's Night Dream' featuring Paul as the hero Pyramus, George (with lamp) as 'Moonshine', Ringo as the 'Lion' and John as the surprisingly fetching female lead 'Physbe'. For all The Beatles' good intentions and the hysterics coming from the crowd, this scene works better on paper than it ever did on telly and guest star Trevor Peacock is awful in his role as 'Quince'. Fear not, o languid Alan's Album Archives readers though because, verily, this show doth get much better. The 'support acts' are chosen with more care than most Beatles shows and Sounds Incorporated, Cilla and P J Proby are put on strong shows. The Beatles 20-minute mini-concert is the highlight, though, with classic performances of 'Twist and Shout' 'I Wanna Be Your Man' 'Long Tall Sally' 'Roll Over Beethoven' a 'Hits' medley and a brand new song, 'Can't Buy Me Love'. The bigest talking point, though, is what The Beatles do as a closer: a unique cover of Lulu's recent hit single 'Shout!', the only time where all four Beatles swap lines in a single song. The audio of this song was, sensibly, added to Anthology One' although sadly none of the actual video clips were used in the series (again, Dave Clark owns the rights to this set and has only ever let the music-half of it out, once, in the mid 1980s, with the 'Shakespeare' sequence currently only available on Youtube - and goodness knows where they got it from to upload because it hasn't been seen on TV at all since an American repeat broadcast the week after the UK one).
17) The Beatles In Melbourne (News Reel 17/6/1964)
"Well now, isn't this the most exciting evening of your lives?!" Less interesting but still nice to have is a 'mini-concert' taped as part of yet another Pathe News Reel, this time all about the band's adventures down under. This is the famous show when Lennon goes through his 'mock cripple stamp your feet' routine, much to McCartney's incredulity! Unfortunately, this show is incomplete: one of Brian Epstein's little 'deals' meant that the producers could only use six songs even though they filmed the whole show. Luckily an enterprising fan taped the audio of everything, which one kind Youtuber has stuck together in their 'proper' running order, alternating between visuals and sound. Video clips of 'All My Loving' and 'You Can't Do That' were used in Anthology episode three (yep, they got their dates wrong!), with other clips surviving for 'I Saw Her Standing There' 'She Loves You' 'Can't Buy Me Love' and 'Twist and Shout'. Meanwhile audio exists for 'Til' There Was You' 'Roll Over Beethoven' and 'This Boy'.
18) Live At The Hollywood Bowl (Concert 23/8/1964)
This is, famously, the one Beatles concert you used to be able to buy legally (although it hasn't been seen since 1977 and never did come out on CD). I was always surprised that Apple chose that one to re-release because, while professionally recorded, neither the 1964 or 1965 shows in the arena are amongst the band's best and neither sounded that good (bootleggers, who spend more time on things than record labels, have done a great job at cleaning up the sound, incidentally, and putting the two entire shows back in the right order). The actual footage video of the 1964 shows is similarly rough and wild but still an important historical document, with more shots of the hysterical crowd than most other examples in this list. Sadly the show also seems to be incomplete, but I live in hope that the whole thing might be out on Youtube one day. The songs performed include 'You Can't Do That' 'All My Loving' 'She Loves You' 'The Things We Said Today' 'Roll Over Beethoven' 'Boys' 'A Hard Day's Night' 'Long Tall Sally'. Clips of the second and third of these songs were included on Anthology episode four.
19) Shindig! (TV Appearance ?/1964)
"And now, the entertainment phenomenon of the century!" 'Shindig' was the American equivalent of Britain's 'Ready Steady Go', made with teenagers rather than casual music fans in mind. Perhaps that's why The Beatles decide to go for some of the more recent numbers in their setlist rather than their 'hits', performing fascinating versions of 'Kansas City' (with a great wild guitar solo from George and John having a great time on the backing vocals), a witty 'I'm A Loser' (sung with a grin throughout) and a funky 'Boys'. The middle of these is introduced as a song that 'John and Paul have only just written and has never been heard anywhere before tonight'. Sadly none of this footage has ever been officially shown again and none of it was included in Anthology - shame on you!
20) NME Pollwinners Concert 1965 (11/4/1965)
What a great little line-up there was for the NME Pollwinners of 1965: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Searchers, The Moody Blues...It's like a 'Who's Who' of Alan's Album Archives! The Beatles' set is particularly interesting, both for the unusual material they didn't often play ('I Feel Fine' 'She's A Woman' 'Baby's In Black' 'Ticket To Ride' and, inevitably, 'Long Tall Sally') and for the fact that it's the last-but-one show The Beatles ever did in their homeland (and the very last is, of course, not for another four years when The Beatles have been playing on the roofs again). Fresh from Shea Stadium, The Beatles turn in a rather out-of-tune gig with yet more sound issues (Ringo sounds like he's playing down a tunnel) and the camera is distressingly far from the action for much of it. But this is still a fun gig, with the only surviving performances of some of these songs and some terrific little moments (such as the grungy finale to 'She's A Woman' which George - absent on the studio take - turns into a 'Cream' style workout and Paul's announcement of 'Baby's In Blackpool'!) 'I Feel Fine' and 'She's A Woman' appeared on episode four of Anthology, while the whole concert - with appearances by the other groups - was made available on one of those semi-official DVDs a few years back.
21) Blackpool Night Out (Concert 1/8/1965)
"And now for Paul McCartney of Liverpool, opportunity knocks!" From here-on in the Beatles' UK TV appearances get less and less. In contrast to the endless plugs for 'With The Beatles' and 'A Hard Day's Night', the band only did one show to promote 'Help!' Blackpool's Night Out seems an odd choice for it too - while admittedly it was a bigger show back then than has been remembered, it was hardly on the level of a 'Royal Variety' or 'Ed Sullivan'. You'll know the show if you've seen any of it though - it's the one where The Beatles play in front of what look like cut-out paper dolls (for reasons best known to Blackpool!) There are some gems in the dialogue tonight: John keeps interrupting Paul's announcements ('Evening Paul!'), Paul gets in a muddle about when 'Ticket To Ride' came out ('The record before...you know!'), Ringo admits to being 'all out of key and nervous' during his own introduction! (he is on both counts, by the way, with some truly awful drumming!) and John declares 'Help!' to be 'our latest release - or electronic noise, depending whose side you're on!' The show's most famous moment, though, is the first ever live performance of 'Yesterday', played by Paul solo against a pre-recorded string part. It's a good, if slightly nervous performance and is good enough to invite Lennon's wicked comment 'Thankyou Ringo - that was wonderful!' The Beatles' segment lasts for only 17 minutes and features rather ramshackle versions of 'I Feel Fine' 'I'm Down!' 'Act Naturally' 'Ticket To Ride' 'Yesterday' 'Help!' All in all, one of the better Beatles TV appearances of 1965. The whole of 'Yesterday' and parts of 'I'm Down!' and 'Ticket To Ride' were featured in Anthology episode four, but the rest of the show hasn't officially been seen since broadcast.
22) Ed Sullivan Show #3 (TV Appearance 14/8/1965)
By 1965 The Beatles were too big even for Ed Sullivan, but Brian Epstein felt some loyalty to the show and promised at least one appearance in 1965. This is it, a show that for some reason was held over till September and was almost as popular as the first three (60% of the eligible American viewers that night watched this show!) By now Ed Sullivan and management are wise to The Beatles' popularity and keep their spot for the end of the show, so that people don't switch off! The Beatles turn in rather raw versions of their biggest songs since the last time they appeared on the show: 'I Feel Fine' 'I'm Down!' 'Act Naturally' 'Help!' 'Ticket To Ride' 'Yesterday' and 'Help!' None of these clips were used in Anthology but the entire show was released along with the other three as the DVD 'The Beatles: The Complete Ed Sullivan Shows'. And a very good watch it is too.
23) Shea Stadium (Concert 15/8/1965)
Little did The Beatles think, when they were playing to a packed house of a hundred at The Cavern Club in 1962, that three years later they'd be playing in a packed baseball stadium to a screaming crowd of 20,000 people (a record that held all the way until 1974 when CSNY beat it at Wembley). Everything about this show is 'big' - the band are so far away from their audience that they're waving their arms and jumping on stage - which looks pretty daft to us seeing the band filmed in close-up but does get across just how massive this gig was. In many ways it's the pinnacle of the band's touring experience - after the fall-out from the 'Beatles bigger than Jesus' thing the following year they were never going to reach these sorts of figures again. As well as the audience there are some great shots of the hysterical audience of teenagers, actually doing pretty well to outwit the security staff and try to get near the stage (shame they got carried off to where they couldn't hear the music, though!) Much fun can be had guessing which girls are going to make a run for it and how far they will get! The Beatles are clearly keen to alter their usual (and by now slightly tired) setlist, with John adding 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy', George adding 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby', Ringo adding 'Act Naturally' and Paul his recent B-side 'I'm Down', the set highlight thanks to a ridiculously OTT organ solo that nearly causes the rest of the Beatles to break down from laughter. The complete half-hour setlist was: 'Twist and Shout' 'She's A Woman' 'I Feel Fine' 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy' 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby' 'Can't Buy Me Love' 'Baby's In Black' 'Act Naturally' 'A Hard Day's Night' 'Help!' and 'I'm Down!' Anthology episode five opened with a 20 minute discussion of the concert plus five of the songs. However the entire show, put together by the ever resourceful Ed Sullivan as a cinema feature, complete with backstage clips and audience interviews, was screened twice: in America in 1966 and in Britain in 1980, in a whole host of Beatles repeats in the wake of John Lennon's sad death.
24) Top Of The Pops (TV Appearance 1965)
As anyone whose watched any of the recent BBC4 'Top Of The Pops' repeats or compilations will know, the archivists got it wrong: while most things screened on the show post 1977 are of no interest or use whatsoever, most of what went out in the 1960s was fabulous, given the small handful of gems that have survived the cull. Sadly only about a minute's worth of 'Ticket To Ride', one of the bands' two live appearances (the other is 'Paperback Writer') has survived, bizarrely thanks to the fact it also appeared in an episode of Dr Who - episode one of 'The Chase' (ironic because, as all fans of the series will know, Dr Who is the other big BBC programme that was so badly hit by 'wiping'). As fans of the show, The Beatles were naturals to appear in an episode where William Hartnell's first Doctor acquires a 'space-time visualiser' and the original plan, agreed to by Brian Epstein, was to have the band dress up as old men for a 'reunion' concert in 2004. Sadly their commitments that year meant they never had the time so instead they gave permission to a minute's clip of them performing 'Ticket To Ride' - and a fine performance it is too. Apparently 'Yes It Is' was also performed on the show - possibly the only time the Beatles ever played it live - but no video or audio clips have survived, sadly.
25) The Music Of Lennon and McCartney (TV Show 1/11/1965)
I really don't understand the BBC sometimes. There they were dumping 'Juke Box Jury', one of the most watched programmes on their main (or only as it was then) channel and then they keep this odd little programme centring on not The Beatles exactly but lots of bands who'd covered a Beatles song (and even in 1965 there were lots of them - although sadly most of the obvious ones like the Stones and Ella Fitzgerald were too busy to appear!) John and Paul play awkward comperes, not quite sure whether to bathe in all this new-found acceptance or remain their usual irreverent selves and feedback for the show suggests that most viewers were equally confused. Still, it's good fun to see John and Paul doing something a bit different and there are some good jokes in the rather stilted script ('Oh, I thought the Stones wrote that!' giggles Paul as 'I Wanna Be Your Man' plays 'No, we wrote it when we were only this high!' quips John; 'That's not Peter and Gordon!' says Paul as some ghastly horror plays at the wrong speed 'Oh, I thought you said Pinky and Perky' laughs John). You do, however, worry for John who has to (like most of this programme's guests) walk across a narrow platform balcony without his glasses (you can see the look of concern in Paul's eyes as he walks behind him!) The Beatles themselves appear singing what was then their new single - although interestingly they only perform one side, not 'We Can Work It Out'. The real highlight, though, is a 16-year-old still clearly in awe of her musical surroundings who turns in a rocking version of 'I saw Her Standing There' while navigating the same treacherous balcony (sadly she never did release this cover on record). The full line-up: George Martin and Orchestra 'I Feel Fine', Peter and Gordon 'World Without Love', Lulu 'I Saw Her Standing There', Alan Haven 'A Hard Day's Night', The Beatles 'Day Tripper', Marianne Faithful 'Yesterday', Antonio Vargas 'She Loves You', Dick Rivers 'The Things We said Today' (in French!), Billy J Kramer and Dakotas 'Bad To Me', Esther Phillips 'And I Love...Him!', Cilla Black 'Its For You', The George Martin Orchestra 'Ringo's Theme (This Boy)', Henry Mancini 'If I Fell', Fritz Spiegl 'She Loves You' in the style of Mozart (!) and Peter Sellers 'A Hard Day's Night'. Strangely, none of this 45 minute TV special was used in 'Anthology' and to date it has never been re-broadcast or made available on DVD.
26) Day Tripper (Music Video 1965)
Tired of appearing on dozens of TV channels around the world, The Beatles hit upon a brainwave: why not just perform the song once, in front of the cameras, and then lease this clip all over the world? In one go The Beatles invented the music video and in a way MTV (but don't hold that against them!) For now, though, this revolution in the way music was plugged doesn't seem that spectacular. 'Day Tripper' is simply a straightforward mimed performance against a bland set that could easily have been shot anywhere. Interestingly, George plays off on his own to the left, perched on top of a big rostrum, while John and Paul sing together on the right. This video was later used in episode five of Anthology.
27) We Can Work It Out (Music Video 1965)
Ditto the other side of the single, which was shot a couple of weeks later (suggesting, perhaps, that The Beatles originally intended 'Day Tripper' to be the lone A-side, instead of part of the world's first 'double sided hit single'). This video, played against a similar but not identical set, is most notable for John trying to mime to an organ part that was actually played by Paul on the record. He also gets the giggles when the camera cuts in to him and Paul in close-up, with Lennon 'doing' an 'Eric Morecambe' and breaking the 4th wall to the audience back home! This time George is sitting down at the base of Ringo's rostrum!
28) Live In Munich (Concert 1966)
We're getting to the end of the touring years now and The Beatles are visibly less happy with the whole experience of playing before a screaming crowd. Sadly this German concert isn't that well filmed (was it done by a member of the crowd rather than professionally shot as there's no evidence it was ever shown on TV anywhere?) However it's one of only two shows that were ever filmed on this final Beatles tour and as such is fascinating, albeit offering rather strong proof that the band were right to stop touring when they did. The setlist includes a few surprises as you can see: 'Rock and Roll Music' 'Baby's In Black' 'I Feel Fine' 'Yesterday' (which sounds rather nice played with twin guitars and bass!) 'Nowhere Man' and 'I'm Down!' (in which Macca forgets the opening words and has to be prompted by Lennon, who actually gives him the second verse by mistake - causing them both to giggle when they come to the next bit of the song they've already sung!) A fun show that sadly has never been made available officially, with the exception of a snatch of 'Nowhere Man' which appeared in Anthology episode five.
29) Paperback Writer (Music Video 1966)
Forget Oasis, forget Bruce Springsteen, stuff Madonna and ha ha ha Spice Girls, this video is the height of 'cool'. The Beatles are more prepared for their second music video, filming it outside in London's Chiswick House (a major deal in 1966 before mobile film cameras and electrics and so on!) I had a poster of The Beatles filming this and 'Rain' on my wall for years and it's still the definitive mop top look: long hair, sunglasses and lots of attitude! This clip was premiered on The Ed Sullivan show as a kind of 'apology' from Brian Epstein that he couldn't get time for The Beatles to go there in 1966 along with a special greeting by the band which wasn't shown anywhere else. Both the video and the 'greeting' were featured in Anthology episode five.
30) Rain (Music Video 1966)
Interestingly The Beatles also filmed a video for the single's B-side (did they - or more likely Lennon - intend this as another double A Side? We're on record elsewhere on this site saying that 'Rain' is one of the key Beatle songs of 1966 and an improvement even on this fun, riff-filled A side). This video was shot a few hours earlier the same day in the same location, with lots of shots of a surprisingly sunny English sky (how ironic would that have been if 'rain' had stopped the shooting of 'Rain'?!) and Ringo whalloping a plynth instead of his drums. In case you were wondering, no Lennon doesn't mime his 'backwards' part, which instead plays while the band 'walk out' of the gardens, their back to the camera. This video was also used in Anthology episode five.
31) Nippon Budokan Hall (Concert 1966)
Returning to the last filmed Beatles concert seems like a backwards step - which is why The Beatles stopped touring in the first place. Japan's most famous concert hall (Bob Dylan will make a record there three years later and Neil Young recorded one of his best bootlegged shows there in 1976) plays host to a rather blurry set from a band clearly past their best but gamely carrying on anyway. I'd love to know if the full concert for this exists - to date all we have is a bit of silent 8mm home footage of the band arriving and briefly playing at the show and three clips that were included on Anthology episode five: 'Rock and Roll Music' 'Paperback Writer' and 'Yesterday'. The middle of these three songs is particularly interesting - it was the last Beatles single to be introduced to the set lists before the band gave up touring and is the only video footage of it we've got. The performances, though, aren't great.
32) A Day In The Life (Music Video 1967)
One of the band's more promising ideas for what became 'Sgt Peppers' was to release it as one long video - building on the experience of the last two singles and, hopefully, to be edited together as a TV special one day with the minimal amount of effort required. Sadly that idea was abandoned after 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Penny Lane' were released separately (interesting thought: what happened to the only other song filmed in this period, the highly visual 'When I'm 64'?!) and after 'A Day In The Life' was banned by the BBC this clip was never shown at all, until Anthology episode six (where it's one of the highlights of the entire documentary). The video footage is of the famous day when a 40-piece orchestra walked into 'Abbey Road', improvising their now famous crescendo while wearing a whole lot of 'bald wigs' (McCartney may have 'borrowed' the idea from Brian Wilson, who slightly earlier than this was getting his orchestra to wear fireman's hats for 'Smile'). As well as some typically photogenic Beatles - all with moustaches in this period that need to come back into fashion now - there are a whole hosts of guests and onlookers too (including two Monkees and two Rolling Stones!) The result is a 'trip' and would have caused a sensation had it ever been shown on national television - which might be the main reason behind why it never was. The video ends with a black and white picture of the 'Sgt Peppers' cover which slowly turns into colour over that famous crashing chord.
33) Strawberry Fields Forever (Music Video 1967)
Despite being very much two songs about the band's Liverpool childhoods, the two videos for this double A side feature the band larking around Sevenoaks with Swedish director Peter Goldman (recommended to the band by Hamburg friend Klaus Voormann). The result is a surreal and colourful as the song, full of images straight out of left-field and possibly the only footage we have of Lennon 'tripping' on LSD (his eyes are somewhere else completely!) The most memorable sequences include a reversed film of what was originally Paul leaping out of a tree (only now he seems to be getting 'higher', ho ho), George concocting a home-made harp out of some piano strings and all four Beatles blinking one by one into the camera (although whether to hypnotise us or to reveal they're on some other dimension now is never quite made clear). As a bit of trivia, it was during a break from making these two films that Lennon walked into a local junk shop and bought a Victorian circus poster, the inspiration behind 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite'. Sadly the promo doesn't have the 'false ending' of the single. This video was featured in Anthology episode six.
34) Penny Lane (Music Video 1967)
Like the music, 'Penny Lane' is a little more together - though only just. We see lots of shots of The Beatles going for a walk, talking and - most memorably - riding a fleet of snow white horses (goodness knows how the director persuaded them to do it - at this point Paul was the only Beatle who'd learnt to ride!) However, this amongst the most visual of all Beatle songs, is treated suitably surreal - the band don't often sing the words and when they do they're deliberately askew of where the lines of the song actually are; also there's no fireman with an hour glass, fish and chip shop or a barber shaving another customer for instance. This video was featured in Anthology episode six.
35) One World Telethon (TV Appearance 25/6/1967)
More trivia for you now - which Beatles clip was seen by the biggest amount of people on first broadcast? Easy! 'Our World' was a night celebrating on the one hand 'peace' (yeah right, tell that to soldiers in Vietnam and Korea!) and on the other hand new technology that meant hat tv stations around the globe could now show the same programme if they wanted to. The satellites were the real stars of the night, enabling viewers in the comfort of their own homes to see ancient tribes in their natural habitat and artwork by some long dead European painters. The Beatles, recognised the world over, were a natural for the British segment, which duly became one of the most revered and celebrated moments of the night. The band were tentatively asked to come up with a song for the event that was simple enough for anyone from any country to understand and, just like the old days, John and Paul tried to compete for the coveted spot. In the end Lennon won easily, the very of-it's-time message of 'All You Need Is Love' eclipsing Macca's contribution (the rather silly 'Altogether Now', later booted off onto the Yellow Submarine film soundtrack). Bedaubed in flowers, with signs demonstrating the title in five languages and with several famous guest stars at their feet (look out for Graham Nash, then still just about a Hollie, and Paul's brother Mike) The Beatles put in a confident display. The 'idea' behind the video was to be 'present when The Beatles record their latest number at Abbey Road' - naturally, though, that would have been too difficult and the band only got one shot, so instead George Martin's opening playback bit is 'false' and only Lennon's lead vocal (which he sings alongside one recorded earlier) is actually live. The Beatles may have written and recorded better songs, but you cannot underestimate the importance of 'Our World' to their TV canon and it's pretty much the last time you see a clip of The Beatles where all four truly believe in what they're doing. This video was featured in Anthology episode seven, although we're still waiting for the whole of the 'Our World' broadcast to be released: it would make for fascinating (if occasionally boring) viewing for anyone interested in what the world was like in the colourful year of 1967.
36) Hello Goodbye (Music Video 1967)
Without much of a message to give, 'Hello Goodbye' fell a bit flat as a follow-up (although the bootlegged backing track is terrific and completely changes the way I used to view this song). This video of the band in their Sgt Pepper costumes simply tries too hard and none of the band seem to be enjoying themselves too much. Even a coda with some dancing girls (and John and Paul linking arms as they do a twirl) can't liven up one of the band's lesser TV ideas. Actually it could have been worse: the finished promo is actually edited together from three separate videos (one of the band in their old grey suits - the last time they wore them incidentally - another in their Sgt Peppers costumes and another surrounded by dancing girls). Interestingly, Lennon doesn't have his glasses on (unlike the last four entries on this list and most of the remaining entries). A worldwide ban on miming meant a lot of countries didn't show this clip anyway, although wouldn't you know it - The Ed Sullivan Show was the first to screen it. The video, along with Ed Sullivan's linking piece, was featured in Anthology episode seven.
37) Lady Madonna (Music Video 1968)
Sadly the least seen Beatles music video is arguably the most interesting - with no other ideas and a new song of John's the band fancied recording, they simply set a few cameras up in Abbey Road and tries to forget about them, recording as normal. The song they were actually playing was 'Hey Bulldog', a song later released on 'Yellow Submarine' in January 1969 and an enterprising Beatlefan has stuck as much of the song back together as he can based on what words John and Paul are actually singing. For my money it's a better song than 'Lady Madonna' anyway, although either version of the video works quite well as a kind of 'fly on the wall' documentary (the band seem to have enjoyed the experience and it may be this video that let to 'Let It be' the following year). The original 'Lady Madonna' version was featured in Anthology episode seven.
38) Frost On Sunday (TV Appearance 8/9/1968)
Another bit of trivia for you now - did you know that David Frost's TV theme (officially known as 'By George! It's David Frost') was written by none other than George Martin? That might be why Lennon especially takes such a glee in vamping up the signature tune as the 'world's greatest house band' make their only official TV appearance of 1968. This is the only time you can see the whole band perform 'Hey Jude' and is the only time any Beatle ever performed B-side 'Revolution' and so for that reason is rather special. These are good performances too, with live vocals set against pre-recorded backing tapes in both cases and reveal how together The Beatles could sometimes be even this late into their career. Both clips appear in Anthology episode eight.
39) All My Loving (Interview 1968)
Documentary maker Tony Palmer figures that rock music had already been through so many changes that it deserved its own documentary series. Naturally his first port of call were The Beatles, where Lennon was an especially enthusiastic backer of the idea (even loaning Palmer his address book, allegedly). The Beatles only appear in the 'pilot' named above and only a few old clips appear in the actual series (which was titled 'All You Need Is Love'). Alongside live appearance by The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Beatles pop up in various interview clips (most notably John and Paul talking about Apple), although most fans look on this DVD most affectionately for the one and only surviving video interview with George Harrison's mother! Released on DVD both separately and as part of the 'All You Need Is Love' box set.
40) Something (Music Video 1969)
Nothing sums up the split at the heart of The Beatles better than their last music video (of the 1960s anyway - see below!) All four Beatles walk with their girlfriends/wives, but all four are now separate, filmed in their own back gardens rather than together as before. While the idea is fitting (George wrote this song for wife Patti after all), something about this video doesn't quite work: it's a little too static by fab four standards and runs out of ideas long before the end. It's also a shame they couldn't get together one last time. This video was featured in Anthology episode eight.
41) Final Photo Session (Linda McCartney, 22/8/1969)
However the actual last bit of moving footage of The Beatles does feature them all together. Unfortunately it only lasts 90 seconds and was very much a 'secondary project', shot hastily by the now Linda McCartney alongside the last official Beatles photo shoot (rather sweetly, it's not for some big faceless corporation but for the Beatles Book magazine). Linda had a right to feel upset that she wasn't in the video when Yoko was (Lennon's condition of appearing in it at all) but used her time wisely, coming up with a few grainy seconds of The Beatles posing one last time and lots of footage of her hubby sweetly waving to her. Sniff, it's actually all very moving! This footage was also used in Anthology episode eight, although unusually no one comments where it came from!
42) Free As A Bird (Music Video 1995)
That's all for The Beatles' lifetime but there's still a handful of leftovers to go through. The video is moving for anyone who knows enough about The Beatles story to link up all the images and work out what songs each bit links up to (some are weirder than others: the car crash is from 'A Day In The Life' if you're wondering and even the film-makers didn't understand why Ringo insisted on putting an elephant in one scene!)The highlights are sudden cameos from two blue meanies (added much later as an afterthought to fill up a rather dull sequence) and Pauk's English sheepdog, Martha ('My Dear'). Apparently the original plan was to see the bird in flight, but as no one could agree on what a Beatles bird should look like (what's wrong with a dove, the bird of peace?) they simply showed a 'bird's eye view' of The Beatles' story instead. Apparently George offered to play the part of the ukulele player heard at the end (a part he played on the record too) but go turned down by his own camera crew (the nerve!) The result is, a bit like the song, a little corny and not as engaging as it ought to be, but could have been a lot worse. Naturally, this video features prominently in Anthology where it appears right at the very end of episode eight.
43) Real Love (Music Video 1996)
'Real Love' was directed by Kevin Godley (once of fellow AAA band 10cc) and there's a terrific bootleg clip of Kevin singing the vocal (EMI wouldn't let the full tape out of their sight in case it got bootlegged, so gave him the backing track to work to instead!) The result is a nice video that's slightly more engaging than the first (again, a bit like the songs themselves), with shots of contemporary Beatles as well as a history lesson. There are actually two videos: one (screened in America and not seen since) opens with a 'strawberry' (as in 'Fields Forever'); the other with a white piano (as featured in the Anthology box set but sadly never in the actual series which was off air by the time this single came out). It's nice to see footage of the band working together once more, although it really hits home in this video that Lennon isn't around to take part.
44) Within You, Without You-Tomorrow Never Knows (Music Video 2006)
I'm not sure whether this counts or not - there's technically no new footage here and only two of The Beatles were left to give their blessing to the project. However I've included it here partly because the film-makers sensibly used only mash-up from the 'Love' album that came anywhere close to matching the originals and partly because it so successfully invokes the psychedelic experience (the two songs it combines date from 1966 and 1967). Multiple Georges sing while multiple John, Paul and Ringos play, to a bunch of graphics that looks much like 'Yellow Submarine' would if it was commissioned now (the same goes - if you can stomach it - for the nine minute video of Oasis' 'All Around The World') Sadly a brief screening on a Top Of The Pops compilation was the only place I ever saw it (apart from Youtube) and to date it hasn't been released officially (not even on the 'Love' Cirque De Soliel documentary DVD release and let's face it - there aren't many other reasons worth buying it for!)
45) Words Of Love (Music Video 2013)
Sadly only two Beatles were around in 2013 to promote the 50-years-of-copyright extending 'Live at the BBC Volume Two' and both Paul and Ringo had better things to do. Luckily, though, the wonders of modern technology meant that The Beatles themselves could promote the new release thanks to recycling existing newsclips of The Beatles which showed one and for all how much bigger they were than any modern fad (Justin Bieber will only be counted as popular when he gets half as big a crowd as this turning out for him!) In a sort of real-life version of 'A Hard Dat's Night' The Beatles do a lot of running/jumping/sitting in cars and areoplanes, while meeting the world celebrities (including the Queen, in a shot not taken from the Royal Variety Show because she's looking too happy!) Throughout the band are in black-and-white but in a clever idea a box of coloured confetti floats out of the back of the Beatle-mobile and gradually turns the screen to colour. It's a clever update on an old idea about The Beatles coming to life again in front of our eyes in a more modern world and would have been a lot more fitting than most of the gimmicks used in 'Anthology'. There's also a clever ending where the camera pulls back to reveal that The Beatles have brought 'words of love' across the whole of the British Isles - which presumably means they didn't travel by the bus or train routes I use! Sadly, though, this song didn't get much of a screening - the UK premiere on BBC One's 'The One Show' was cut short so they could fit in more infantile links from the inane Chris Evans and to date the only place most of the world has seen it has been from Apple's official Youtube video.
And that's that for another issue of News, Views and Music. Join us for more moptops next week!