Thursday, May 24, 2012

Was He Jailed For What He Done?

What a time to take a vacation, and what a time for Mediafire to suspend my account, just as we're getting into the "Nixon Administration harasses John Lennon" era.

Although my last post was titled "Cleanup Time", I didn't mean that literally, but I guess it's as good a time as any to start over. I came back from a brief trip today to find my account suspended, which means that pretty much every link on the blog is gone. I think it was just a case of Mediafire's "three strikes and you're out" policy, because I've gotten individual files removed before, "pursuant to Section 512(c)(1)(C) of the DCMA".

Ironically, they never requested the removal of vinyl Beatlegs, which contain obvious copyright violations, but interview recordings which have never been released or published anywhere. For instance, the file which broke the camel's back was the John Sinclair phone call. The agent claiming copyright on it was "", which is just an anti-piracy website.

In any case, I've opened a new Mediafire account and will use it to carry on from here. I will NOT be going back to reupload three years of posts, so I hope you all got what you needed. Feel free to trade and share old files with each other via the comment sections of older posts.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cleanup Time

As long as we're in the late 71/early 72 era, here are a few snippets from Lost Lennon Tapes episodes which don't seem to be available elsewhere.

The first is a recording from December 13th, 1971, of John Sinclair, newly freed from Michigan prison, talking to John and Yoko on the phone. The latter were in New York at the Record Plant, producing David Peel's LP The Pope Smokes Dope, and Sinclair and his wife Leni were obviously overcome with emotion at the sudden turn of events.

During their stay in Philadelphia to tape their week of Mike Douglas Shows, John and Yoko held a press conference at the Warwick Hotel. This brief recording is probably from that conference, and features John discussing the Ram/"How Do You Sleep" skirmishes with Paul, as well as their recent detente meeting.

On January 30th, 1972, a protest in Derry, Northern Ireland, turned deadly when 26 protesters, mostly unarmed young men, were shot (and 14 killed) by British soldiers. The following weekend, February 5th, John and Yoko participated in a march on the New York headquarters of BOAC airlines, performing an acoustic rendition of "Luck Of The Irish". John also recorded a summary of the day's events, presumably for local radio news.

Interestingly, both John and Paul reacted within days by writing songs about what came to be known as "Bloody Sunday". John's composition, "Sunday Bloody Sunday", would be taped with Elephant's Memory as part of the Phil Spector-produced sessions for the LP Some Time In New York City.

Paul's song was his first recording with the five-piece Wings lineup, "Give Ireland Back To The Irish", taped early in February at Abbey Road and mixed February 6th at Apple's basement studio. It was banned by the BBC when released as a single later that month, but sold well enough to reach the top 25 in both the UK and US.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Henry V

In mid-January, 1972, Wings found its fifth and final (for now) member, guitarist Henry McCullough, who had most recently been a member of Joe Cocker's Grease Band.

Wings spent the next couple of weeks rehearsing at the Scotch of St. James nightclub in London. Disc jockey Kid Jensen stopped by one day to interview Paul about the new band, the Wild Life album, and touring plans. The interview was broadcast January 28th on Radio Luxembourg.

For the first week of February, Wings rehearsals moved across town to the Institute for Contemporary Arts. Cameras rolled as the band ran through songs from Wild Life, oldies such as "Lucille", and new numbers including "The Mess":

At one or the other of these rehearsal venues, BBC reporter Johnny Moran interviewed Paul (most likely for Scene And Heard) about the impromptu nature of the imminent tour.

Meanwhile, Ringo was busy appearing on glamorous chat shows such as this one (taped January 28th and broadcast October 26th):

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Johnny? Be Good.

John and Yoko's final Mike Douglas Show appearances were taped January 27th and 28th, 1972. The first of these shows included the most interesting performances of the whole week, when rock and roll icon Chuck Berry joined the panel.

John's schoolboy excitement at sharing the stage with one of his musical heroes was obvious during their two-song set and conversation (Chuck even joined in with a macrobiotic cooking demonstration!). The haphazard renditions of "Memphis Tennessee" and "Johnny B. Goode" proved anticlimactic, but Chuck liked the backing of Elephant's Memory enough to use them on his 1973 album Bio.

On the evening of January 27th, John and Yoko were interviewed by John Wade, for Philadelphia radio station WIBG. Wade had covered previous Beatle tours for WDRC-AM, and had recently interviewed George Harrison (anyone got a tape of that?). The conversation begins with similar topics to the Howard Smith interview four days prior, but touches on the problems with booking controversial guests during their week with Mike Douglas. Wade also talks about playing copies of "Attica State" and "Luck Of The Irish" on his radio show, and John says they were recorded "in bed", so presumably the VPRO versions were circulating in the US by now.

The final Mike Douglas Show appearance was the blandest of all, with no overtly political guests or avant-garde happenings (although "God damn" was bleeped from a rendition of "Luck Of The Irish"). John took questions from the studio audience, talking a bit about the Lennon-McCartney feud which both sides were now eager to put behind them. A pleasant and low-key way to end the week was with Yoko singing a Japanese folk song, "Sakura", accompanied by her husband on acoustic guitar:

John and Yoko's guest hosting week was aired in most US markets the week of February 14th through 18th and went off without any backlash from sponsors or viewers. Certain eyes in Washington DC, however, had been monitoring the Lennons' every move for the last few months, and things were about to get ugly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

14 Tracks Per Side

John and Yoko's Mike Douglas Show tapings continued on January 18th and 20th, 1972, in Philadelphia. Each show had a controversial guest booked: radical Jerry Rubin on the first and Black Panther Bobby Seale on the second, and Rubin in particular chose to make several outrageous statements which couldn't have endeared John and Yoko to middle America. The highlight of both days was John's rendition of "Imagine" on the 20th, backed by Elephant's Memory:

January 23rd, 1972 was "Beatle marathon day" on WPLJ, with 17 continuous hours of Beatle music and programming. John and Yoko listened in during the afternoon, and were still tuned in when Howard Smith dropped by to tape an interview for airing at 10pm. The result was a unique opportunity to hear John react in real time to blasts from his past, recalling (and often misremembering) bits of trivia about each song for Yoko and Howard.

Among the recordings heard are Fan Club Christmas messages from 1963 and 1965, Eleanor Rigby, A Hard Day's Night, Back In The USSR, Rain, I'm A Loser, Maybe I'm Amazed, It Won't Be Long, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, She Loves You, I Should Have Known Better, Strawberry Fields Forever, Why Don't We Do It In The Road, All My Loving, A Day In The Life, Something, Tell Me Why, Magical Mystery Tour, Day Tripper, I Wanna Be Your Man, I'll Cry Instead, Hey Jude, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Bungalow Bill, and The Fool On The Hill.

Other topics included American vs. British television, the recent Mike Douglas tapings, Arthur Janov, and plans for a new album with Elephant's Memory, as well as their accumulating stockpile of live recordings.

New York Beatles fan Dave Morrell had phoned in to Howard Smith's "radio happening" with John and Yoko on June 6th, 1971; later that year he had picked up a copy of the bootleg Yellow Matter Custard. Curious as to the source of these mysterious recordings, he wrote to Smith, asking if he could perhaps put the question to John sometime.

To his astonishment, Smith called a few days later, saying John had read the letter and wanted to meet Morrell. So on December 7th, 1971, Howard and Dave dropped by the Record Plant, where sessions for David Peel's album were ongoing. Along with some other memorabilia, Dave brought a reel-to-reel copy of Yellow Matter Custard, which he presented to John. In exchange, John traded his personal copy of the "butcher cover" of Yesterday And Today (actually a blank cover with the butcher slick pasted on), which he promptly signed, dated, and adorned with a drawing!

Upon hearing the tracks, John deduced incorrectly that they must be the failed Decca audition tapes, and they were played as such when Morrell dropped by the studio later on the night of January 23rd.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Live From Germany

no label, 1972

This is a copy of a Beatleg from late 1971, The Beatles Last Album. The BBC Radio material (from a Top Of The Pops transcription disc) and Smothers Brothers performances were new to boot, and the rest was from common sources (including the non-Beatles tracks by "John and Paul"). None of it is live from Germany, of course.

- People Say
- I'm Walking
- Hey Jude
- Revolution
- The Beatles' Seventh Christmas Record (excerpt)
- Long Tall Sally

- A Hard Day's Night
- Things We Said Today
- Shout!
- Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas (excerpts)
- Christmas Time (Is Here Again) (excerpts)
- Sie Liebt Dich

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dutch Treat

Here's a special bonus post, featuring a recording I just stumbled across. It has much in common with the "born in a prison" 1972 New Year's Message, and stems from around the same time.

Soon after meeting Paul and Linda on December 15th, 1971, John and Yoko were interviewed at their Bank Street apartment for Dutch radio by Ineke van den Bergen. The topics are familiar for the period: his feud with Paul, the Rock Liberation Front, David Peel, Jerry Rubin, etc. There's also a message to prisoners which apparently aired on the Joe Blow Show, a program for Dutch inmates, in a segment called "Jail Cats Corner".

What sets the interview apart is the inclusion of exclusive acoustic runthroughs of "Attica State" and "Luck Of The Irish". At John's insistence, they were marred by voiceover during the original VPRO broadcast on January 7th, 1972. This attempt to foil bootleggers didn't work, as the tracks were booted four years later on the LP Angel Baby. However, those were awful quality, while this recent upload is in mint condition (although still partially obscured).

UPDATE: Thanks to John McEwen for pointing out this page which has clean versions of both songs, from the Joe Blow Show:

Love Calls

John and Yoko kicked off 1972 with a less-than-cheerful New Year's Message (particularly Yoko's segment). Two events early in January would chart their course for the next few months. First, Yoko appeared solo on the syndicated Mike Douglas Show, taped in Philadelphia (broadcast January 17th in most areas). Along with Mike and his co-host for the week, Robert Wagner, Yoko made "Love Calls" to various citizens chosen at random out of the Philly phone book, telling the unsuspecting strangers they were loved.

Douglas made an offer to Yoko and John to co-host an upcoming week of shows with him, and they jumped at the chance to effectively take over an entire week of American middlebrow television, spreading their political and musical messages. Around this time, they also hooked up with a New York band, Elephant's Memory, who would supersede David Peel and the Lower East Side's role as sideman (and eventually as Apple artists).

After a week or so of rehearsal with the band, it was off to Philadelphia on January 14th to tape the first of five Mike Douglas shows that would air during Valentine's week. In addition to more "Love Calls", they talked about Yoko's conceptual art, and John performed "It's So Hard" with Elephant's Memory (and the ever-present Jerry Rubin). Other guests included consumer advocate Ralph Nader, comic actor Louis Nye, and soul band the Chambers Brothers:

Other than the conceptual art pieces, nothing in the first show was controversial or even out-of-the-ordinary for American TV. The next two appearances would push the envelope a bit further.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Living With The Cockaroaches

John added a few more pages to his FBI dossier by appearing on the syndicated David Frost Show on December 16th, 1971. He and Yoko had been spending much of December producing an Apple LP, The Pope Smokes Dope, for street musician David Peel and his band, the Lower East Side.

Naturally, they brought the band with them for their appearance, and joined in with the opening and closing numbers, "The Ballad Of New York City/John Lennon-Yoko Ono" and "The Hippie From New York City". Jerry Rubin, who had wreaked havoc on Frost's show a year earlier, was also there but wisely kept his mouth shut.

The trouble began when John and Yoko sang "Attica State", which drew the ire of two audience members who accused the Lennons of glorifying prisoners. After a spirited debate, which included a sample chorus from "Luck Of The Irish", Yoko performed "Sisters O Sisters". It was then her turn to complain, accusing Frost of giving her famous husband more airtime on what was supposed to be her forum.

John also performed "John Sinclair", after gleefully announcing that Sinclair had been released. The show was broadcast January 13th, 1972 and survives on video. Here is the soundtrack to a truncated 1997 airing on VH-1 (including all the music and most of the interesting chat).

Far more dignified was their appearance the following night at a benefit at the Apollo in Harlem to benefit the families of the Attica prison riot. Naturally, they played "Attica State" as well as "Sisters O Sisters" and a beautiful acoustic rendition of "Imagine":

John and Yoko's Christmas was spoiled when Tony Cox, now living in Houston, refused to allow them to see Kyoko. After being jailed for contempt of court and released on bond two days before Christmas, Tony and his wife Melinda fled with Kyoko for parts unknown. Worse was yet to come for the Lennons in 1972.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Aminals In The Zoo

Paul and Linda began December 1971 with a brief vacation in Jamaica, and then flew to New York to meet up with the other members of Wings for rehearsals and promotion of Wild Life (issued December 7th in the US).

The group appeared live on WCBS radio December 15th for an interview with Ed Williams. Although he was reluctant to talk about the legal troubles and feuds surrounding his ex-bandmates, Paul did reveal that he had met with John "this very evening". In addition to tracks from Wild Life, Paul and Linda spun a number of reggae singles brought back from Jamaica, as well as Badfinger's new single "Day After Day".

They also premiered a new Wings instrumental, "The Great Cock And Seagull Race", which, based on its appearance on the new Ram reissue, may have been recorded early in the year and overdubbed/remixed in December. Although it remained unreleased at the time, it was being considered as a single B-side.

One potential A-side, "Mary Had A Little Lamb", was rehearsed that month by Wings at the New York headquarters of MPL. WRKO radio visited the sessions, capturing a bit of the rehearsal and taping interviews with the band for a special, Paul McCartney Now, broadcast January 13th, 1972.

In the end, no single was released to accompany the album (although "Love Is Strange" was nearly issued in the UK), and despite the promotion, bad reviews and word-of-mouth kept Wild Life out of the top ten in the UK (it peaked at #10 in the US).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Set Him Free!

John and Yoko's radical activism phase went public in a big way in December, 1971. Sometime during the first week of the month, their Bank Street apartment was visited by a film crew from France's ORTF, shooting an interview for the TV series Pop 2.

Jean François Vallée interviewed the couple in their bed, alongside Jerry Rubin, and John was clearly caught up in the "Rock Liberation Front" movement, railing against capitalism, "British Imperialist pigs" in Northern Ireland, and espousing the immediate release of prisoners across the USA. Luckily, he also had his dobro in hand and treated viewers to some off-the-cuff renditions of new songs "Free The People" (later fleshed out as "Bring On The Lucie") and "Attica State", as well as Bob Dylan's latest single, "George Jackson".

The interview was aired in two parts, on January 8th and January 22nd on ORTF (they can be viewed here and here). While the French broadcast is generally marred by translation, some of the interview was used without voice-over in a British TV show, Aquarius, transmitted on LWT March 11th, 1972.

One cause John mentions in the interview is an upcoming rally to benefit poet/activist John Sinclair, then serving a ridiculous 10-year sentence in Michigan prison for selling two marijuana joints to an undercover officer. John and Yoko, along with Jerry Rubin and David Peel, flew to Ann Arbor on December 9th to participate in the concert. Sometime during their stay (perhaps that night), John was recorded in a hotel room with folk singer Phil Ochs, also on the bill. At Rubin's request, Ochs ran through his song "Chords Of Fame", accompanied by John on the ever-present dobro.

The concert took place the night of December 10th at Crisler Arena. John and Yoko topped the bill, finishing off the concert (accompanied by Peel and his band) with four then-unreleased politically-based songs, including "John Sinclair", penned specially for the occasion:

While the concert may not have been an artistic triumph, it did the trick, as three days later, Sinclair was freed from prison when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the state's marijuana law unconstitutional. This victory only further convinced John Lennon of the righteousness of the path he was heading down, and shaped his actions for the next few months (which would cause him untold problems with the Nixon government).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bip Bop Baby

George continued promotion for Raga and the Concert For Bangla Desh LP (finally released December 20th in the US) with back-to-back appearances on chat shows in New York.

First up was The Dick Cavett Show, taped November 23rd (the night after Raga's premiere). Cavett had a much harder time getting George to open up than he had with John, although George warmed to the topic of Capitol Records' president Bhaskar Menon, and EMI's delaying of the Bangla Desh LP for what he perceived as greedy reasons. George also sat in on a song with Gary Wright and watched Ravi Shankar perform, as well as screening clips from Raga and the in-progress Concert For Bangla Desh film:

The next day, George and Ravi were guests on The David Frost Show, syndicated on American TV December 3rd. George begins this appearance even more reluctant to speak, but by the middle of the show has loosened up, singing snatches of "I Believe", "When The Saints Go Marching In", "Isolation", and even "Bip Bop"! He also introduces guest musician David Bromberg, who performs a song he and George had written the previous Thanksgiving, "The Holdup". And George is even persuaded by Frost to reproduce the first sitar exercise he learned from Ravi!

Unfortunately, the videotape of this show doesn't seem to have survived (only a short silent monochrome clip filmed by a home viewer), but a basically complete audio recording does exist.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Irish Sitar

November 1971 was the month of Beatle-related movies, as 200 Motels opened in New York on the 10th, Blindman premiered in Rome on the 15th, and Raga had a special screening at Carnegie Hall on the 22nd, attended by George and John and their wives.

George was in New York all month, editing the film of the Bangla Desh concert and promoting the Raga movie and soundtrack LP. Near the beginning of November (it's introduced as the 7th, but a comment by George places it nearer the 1st), he dropped by WPLJ's studios and talked with Alex Bennett about Ravi Shankar and Indian music in general, as well as his experiences recording Wonderwall in Bombay.

Meanwhile, John and Yoko were entering the "activist/protest music" phase of their career, spurred on by meetings with Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. As well as producing an album by street musician David Peel, John was writing songs about the Attica prison riot, the jailings of Black Panther Angela Davis and White Panther John Sinclair, and the situation in Northern Ireland.

On November 12th, filmmaker John Reilly videotaped John and Yoko in their Bank Street apartment, working on a new song, "The Luck Of The Irish":

Early versions of "Attica State" and "The Luck Of The Irish" were apparently recorded in the fall of '71 for possible release as a single, or even as part of an LP containing the live Lyceum and Fillmore East concerts. In the end, both numbers were redone during the early 1972 Sometime In New York City sessions with Phil Spector.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Straight Babies

As soon as Ram was released, Paul was already considering his next step, and with the thought of going back on the road, he decided to form a permanent band. Beginning with Linda (for moral support more than her rudimentary keyboard skills), Paul retained drummer Denny Seiwell from the Ram session band, and called upon ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine.

The new group assembled at Abbey Road in August, 1971 to record their debut album, with Paul deliberately keeping the atmosphere loose and undisciplined. The result was perhaps his slightest solo album, Wild Life, containing a Ram leftover ("Dear Friend"), two lengthy jams ("Mumbo" and "Love Is Strange"), a throwaway nonsense ditty ("Bip Bop"), two short instrumental links, and four actual new compositions.

Around the time his and Linda's second child Stella was born (September 13th), Paul devised a name for the band: Wings. He introduced Wings at a launch party on November 8th at the Empire Ballroom in London. Two days later, a Wild Life listening session was held at Abbey Road for members of the press.

One of the reporters, Melody Maker's Chris Charlesworth, taped an interview that day, and rather than introducing his new band and their LP, Paul chose to unload a year's worth of stored resentment at the way Allen Klein and his ex-bandmates had been portraying him since the dissolution lawsuit had begun.

Paul had undoubtedly been hurt by John's song "How Do You Sleep" (on Imagine), and responded to its charges that he hadn't done anything worthwhile since "Yesterday". John had actually written that song partly in response to Paul's veiled attack on him and Yoko in "Too Many People" (on Ram), as he explains in this excerpt from the October 25th David Wigg interview (inadvertantly omitted from the earlier blog post).

In any case, the sniping continued, for after the Melody Maker article was published November 20th, John fired off a point-by-point rebuttal/attack, which was printed in the December 4th issue.

All Paul really wanted at this point was to be rid of Klein's management and set off on his own career, something which he stressed in another November interview with Record Mirror's Mike Hennessy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Nothing Important

With their duties in Syracuse finished, John and Yoko returned to their suite at the St. Regis in New York City. On October 25th, they were interviewed there by David Wigg for BBC Radio's Scene And Heard, broadcast over three weeks in November. Here is a 17-minute composite from two separate broadcasts and the raw tape (as released in 1976 on The Beatles Tapes With David Wigg).

John and Yoko went back into the studio with Phil Spector on October 28th, recording their next single at the Record Plant, as well as mixing the live recording with Frank Zappa's band from June. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" was released as a single in the US on December 6th, probably too late to take advantage of Christmas airplay, as it failed to chart. It didn't even come out in the UK until the following year, but has grown to become a holiday standard:

During the first week of November, John and Yoko moved out of the St. Regis and into an apartment on Bank Street in Greenwich Village. One of their first visitors was reporter Don Singleton, who was preparing a profile on Yoko for the Daily News. As part of his research, he spoke to John at length (and very candidly and profanely) about the Syracuse exhibit and Yoko's standing in the art world, while builders worked in the background.