Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flight Of The Butterfly

September 27th, 1974 saw two McCartney-related titles go on sale in the UK.

First was the LP McGear, which Paul and members of Wings had worked on at the beginning of the year. Paul had co-written most of the numbers with his brother Michael, and played and sang backing on many of the tracks.

Released the same day was Rod Stewart's album Smiler, featuring the song "Mine For Me". Paul had written it specially for Rod and added a harmony vocal.

Also in stores (released September 20th in the UK) was Adam Faith's new LP, I Survive. Paul contributed synthesizer parts to four numbers (uncredited on the sleeve), singing backup on one of them, "Star Song":

Last but not least was Peggy Lee's album Let's Love, released October 1st in the US. Paul had brought the title song to a dinner with Peggy as a gift (in lieu of a bottle of wine) and played piano on the track, recorded in Los Angeles during the spring.

John Lennon was not idle on September 27th, either, continuing his Walls And Bridges radio phone-ins with a call to Mark Parenteau at WABX in Detroit. The two chatted about John moving to Toronto (a false rumor spurred by his CHUM interview the previous day), "Steel And Glass", Aunt Mimi, the UFO sighting, and Eddie Lawrence, the performer who had narrated the Pussycats TV spot.

Also dated September 27th (I'm not sure if it's the recording or air date) is John's appearance on BBC Radio One's Rock Speak. Tape of a Lennon interview was played, with DJ Michael Wale overdubbing the questions; topics covered include nostalgia, the inaugural Beatlefest, Mind Games, and a track by track description of the new LP.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It Was 38 Years Ago Today

Thus far, John Lennon's promotional radio tour for Walls And Bridges had taken him to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Rather than continue to drag himself across North America, he consolidated his efforts by doing phoned-in interview appearances with FM stations from his base in New York, taking 10 or 20 minutes to talk with disc jockeys in major markets.

On September 26th, 1974, John's busy day began at Capitol Records' offices, where he spoke with EMI's British managing director, Bob Mercer. The recording was meant for the ears of EMI's sales staff, to inspire the troops in promoting the new single and album; it was pressed as a white-label promo single (with "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" on the flip) and included on the remastered Walls And Bridges CD.

John then sat down at the telephone and began doing the radio phone-ins. First up was WMMS-FM in Cleveland, whose Denny Sanders asked John about the latest trends in lavish rock stage and studio productions, his duet with Julian on "Ya Ya", the chances of doing benefit shows, and the recent Beatles fan conventions held in Boston and New York.

For Toronto's CHUM-FM, John talked about paying taxes, choosing musicians for his projects, his trip to Colorado to record with Elton John, his UFO sighting, and most interestingly, the status of his relationship with Yoko, which he sums up as "we're just good friends".

Alan Stone from WQRS in Minneapolis also spoke with John; their conversation touches on Little Richard, driving across the USA, immigration, Elephant's Memory, Badfinger's new album, and John's imminent 34th birthday.

PS: I've realized that the mysterious "1975 RKO interview" I posted yesterday actually consists of excerpts from the 1977 RKO radio documentary series From Liverpool To Legend. I do have this in better quality, so I may post John's interview pieces again when I get to 1975 (or 1977).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bloody Giraffes

OK, here's a bit of a puzzler. I had this John Lennon interview identified as an RKO Radio broadcast from September 25th, 1974.

It circulates in two versions: here is the unedited recording, complete with questions, from a rebroadcast in 2005 (on Black Cat's CD Oh Yeh?). There is also a much shorter and lower-quality version, with questions removed and music included, presumably from the original airing.

Internal clues date the interview to the first few days of August 1974. So far so good, right?

Well, there is another interview out there claiming to be a September 25, 1974 RKO broadcast. It does indeed contain a couple of snippets from the above (which I have removed). But the bulk of it seems to be from a completely different date (or dates), possibly 1975, based on the reference to Allan Williams' book. Several pieces of it will be familiar to viewers of the Beatles Anthology documentary.

Can anyone clear up just what was recorded and/or broadcast when and where? We may have to wait for Lennonology to solve this mystery.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Len & Horses

Let's see, where were we...

Oh yes! John Lennon was in the first stage of a massive media campaign promoting his new album, Walls And Bridges. The first single, "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" came out September 23rd, 1974 in the US, with the album following a week later. On September 21st, John traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco and stopped by KSAN-FM to appear during Tom Donahue's evening shift.

In addition to plugging the album heavily, John played a number of songs by other artists, old and new, often to illustrate a musical point or highlight some of his newer favorites. During the three-hour show, John talked about the title and cover art of Walls And Bridges, his work with Phil Spector, his invitation by WNET to introduce Monty Python's Flying Circus, the deportation case, George's upcoming tour, recording Sgt. Pepper, Doc Pomus, and the Maharishi.

Speaking of George, back in England he was busy starting up his new record label, Dark Horse, officially launching the project with a press conference on September 6th. He had begun to record his solo LP of the same name back in the winter of 73-74, but most of the sessions took place in a rushed fashion during August and September amidst other projects.

The most important to George was producing an album and arranging a concert tour for Ravi Shankar and a host of Indian musicians. His home studio, FPSHOT, was used to record the LP Ravi Shankar's Music Festival From India (eventually released by Dark Horse in 1976), as well as being a base for tour rehearsals.

On September 23rd, the concert at London's Royal Albert Hall was filmed by Dark Horse, with George present to introduce the proceedings: