Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finding Beatles music

I’m back on a Beatles kick again. For about a year, I had almost no Beatles tunes on my iPod, having excised them to make room for newer music. I have one of the original iPods with just 4 GB of space. That’s room enough for about 1,000 songs, which is plenty, but when I fill it up with every Beatles song, every Bing Crosby song and all my jazz stuff it leaves little room for everything else.
So this week I redid my song list and put most of my Beatles music back on the iPod. I have what I consider to be most of the essential Beatles recordings on cd - Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers, White Album, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Help!, Hard Day’s Night, Let It Be, Yellow Submarine, Magical Mystery Tour - and in addition I have all three volumes of the Beatles Anthology series and the two-disc Beatles Live at the BBC collection. But that still leaves out a lot of their early music including some of my favorite songs on the Rock & Roll Music compilation that got me hooked on the Beatles in the first place.
This is the track listing for Rock and Roll Music:

1. “Twist and Shout” (Medley-Russell)
2. “I Saw Her Standing There”
3. “You Can’t Do That”
4. “I Wanna Be Your Man”
5. “I Call Your Name”
6. “Boys” (Dixon-Farrell)
7. “Long Tall Sally” (Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell)
8. “Rock and Roll Music” (Berry)
9. “Slow Down” (Williams)
10. Medley: “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey” (Leiber/Stoller)/(Penniman)
11. “Money (That’s What I Want)” (Bradford/Gordy)
12. “Bad Boy” (Williams)
13. “Matchbox” (Perkins)
14. “Roll Over Beethoven” (Berry)
15. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” (Williams)
16. “Any Time at All”
17. “Drive My Car”
18. “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” (Perkins)
19. “The Night Before”
20. “I’m Down”
21. “Revolution”
22. “Back in the U.S.S.R.”
23. “Helter Skelter”
24. “Taxman” (Harrison)
25. “Got to Get You into My Life”
26. “Hey Bulldog”
27. “Birthday”
28. “Get Back” (album version)

I have mentioned my facination with the Beatles before and particularly my introduction to the band through the Rock and Roll Music compilation. The songs are all fast-paced and upbeat and full of energy. Some of the best rock vocal performances of all time are here in my opinion - John Lennon on Twist and Shout and Slow Down - Paul McCartney on Long Tall Sally and I’m Down. And even the tunes sung by George and Ringo simply give John and Paul ample opportunity for excited screaming and background harmonies.
I wore that album out a long time ago and have been trying to replicate it ever since. Of course, being a cheapskate I didn’t want to spend $20 a pop buying the albums I would need to get all of those songs, so I have scoured the used cd bins at Half Price Books and searched online. Alas, Beatles recordings rarely show up in the used record shops and the songs are conspicuously unavailable on iTunes. Although many of the songs I needed are on the Anthology collection or the BBC Live series, they are alternate recordings and not the ones I remembered listening to over and over and over again.
So I finally decided to break it all down and see what I would need to buy to get the songs I wanted. As it turned out, I really only needed to to get two more albums - Please Please Me, the Beatles first album which has Twist and Shout and I Saw Her Standing There; and Past Masters Vol. 1 which collects all the songs that were issued as singles or EPs and never appeared on any of the Beatles’ albums. Using some Barnes and Nobles gift cards I got for Christmas, I was able to finally get the cds I needed. There are still a handful of songs I don’t have, but the alternate versions on the Anthology or BBC recordings are satisfactory for right now.

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