Episode #23 – ‘Multicoloured Mirrors – The Beatles Christmas Records’

At the suggestion of press officer Tony Barrow, The Beatles ended their first year of national fame by thanking the members of their UK fan club with a flexi-disc single containing a specially recorded Christmas message. So began an annual tradition that not only endured as long as they were together, but also mirrored and encapsulated their career: from the innocent fun of 1963 and 1964 to the biting cynicism of 1965, offbeat creativity of 1966, psychedelic surrealism of 1967, disparate contributions of 1968 and complete fragmentation of 1969. What starts off joyous ends up sad, with much of life in between – and guest appearances by George Martin, Mal Evans, Victor Spinetti, Yoko Ono and Tiny Tim.

Featuring:

  • “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)”
  • 1963: “The Beatles’ Christmas Record”
  • 1964: “Another Beatles Christmas Record” + outtakes
  • 1965: “The Beatles’ Third Christmas Record” + outtakes
  • 1966: “The Beatles’ Fourth Christmas Record: Everywhere It’s Christmas” + outtakes
  • 1967: “Christmas Time Is Here Again!”
  • 1968: “The Beatles’ 1968 Christmas Record”
  • 1969: “The Beatles’ Seventh Christmas Record: Happy Christmas 1969”
  • Dora Bryan – “All I Want for Christmas is a Beatle”

Episode #22: ‘Music That Bleeds – Elvis’s ’68 Comeback Special’.

“There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home,” ‘Eye’ magazine’s John Landau commented when reviewing Elvis’s 1968 ‘Comeback Special’. “He sang with the kind of power that people no longer expect of rock ‘n’ roll singers. He moved his body with a lack of pretension and effort that must have made Jim Morrison green with envy.”

Undertaken by the King as a make-or-break project that would either salvage his career or confine it to the backwaters where it currently resided, the show captured him laying everything on the line – vocally and emotionally. This in spite of manager Colonel Tom Parker’s insistence on an NBC Christmas special that might have appealed to only those still brave enough to watch his legendary client’s lousy films.

Director Steve Binder provided the vision, production partner Bones Howe attended to the music, and the result was a small-screen smash that grabbed viewers’ attention right at the start with a menacing close-up, striking Elvii-filled backdrop and a voice that attacked the songs with raw beauty. Topping the ratings, this show and the accompanying album made Elvis musically relevant for the first time in years.

Binder and Howe are among the interviewees in this 50th anniversary tribute to a timeless TV classic, alongside executive producer Bob Finkel, guitarist Scotty Moore, drummer D.J. Fontana and special guest Allen. J. Wiener, author of ‘Channeling Elvis: How Television Saved the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’.

“It was the finest music of his life,” Greil Marcus wrote in his book, ‘Mystery Train’. “If ever there was music that bleeds, this was it.”

Featured tracks:

  • Trouble/Guitar Man
  • Trying to Get to You
  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • Stuck On You
  • A Little Less Conversation
  • When It Rains, It Really Pours
  • I Got a Woman
  • Lawdy Miss Clawdy
  • One Night
  • That’s All Right
  • Let Yourself Go
  • Blue Christmas
  • Memories
  • Saved
  • If I Can Dream

Episode #21: ‘’The Lennon and McCartney White Albums’ (live at Monmouth University)

This is a new phase STTS episode…

Essential to the concept of the ‘International White Album Symposium’ at Monmouth University, New Jersey, was that we recorded the show in front of an audience, revisiting and merging the much-discussed topics of Episodes #2 and #4 with a couple of our mates: celebrated Beatles author Mark Lewisohn and our resident musicologist Allan Kozinn.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney each contributed 12 songs to the White Album. These could have been justifiably issued as LPs in their own right. And what stunners they would have been; filled with an eclectic array of incredible compositions and unforgettable performances that captured both men—and their bandmates—at the top of their game.

Here we review the Lennon and McCartney White Albums, comparing them with each other as well as with the legendary, recently remixed Beatles opus. In comes the warmth and freshness of a live appearance, captured for you by the STTS team. Featured tracks:

  • Birthday
  • I’m So Tired
  • Julia
  • Dear Prudence
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
  • Revolution