Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BQRH #20: "Kastchei's Spells are Broken" (Igor Stravinsky)

Dear readers,

Just in case anybody happens to visit this, I have decided to add another entry to my poor abandoned blog. It has been almost two years to the day since I last updated it, and this is an appropriate (albeit belated) moment to do so.

Enjoy the beauty of Stravinsky's "Kastchei's Spells are Broken", from The Firebird :)


Thursday, February 19, 2009

BQRH #19: "Medley: 10538 Overture / Do Ya" (Electric Light Orchestra featuring Kelly Groucutt)

Sad news:

It is with great sadness that I communicate to the readers of this blog the death of Michael "Kelly" Groucutt, former backing vocalist and bassist of ELO between 1974 and 1983, due to a heart attack today. He was 63 years old.

He will be sorely missed.

In order to pay tribute to his musical legacy, I have decided to share with you this video that features him singing most of the lead vocals for ELO during a medley that combines "10538 Overture" (from the band's first single and leading track of their 1971 self-titled debut album) and "Do Ya" (from the final single released by The Move in 1972). This performance is from 1976, shortly after Kelly had completed recording his first long player with the band, "Face The Music." It is Kelly himself who does the introduction to this track.

I had the chance to attend two of Kelly's concerts, once with ELO Part II and once with The Orchestra. An amazingly talented singer, and a beautiful human being.

God bless you, Kelly. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BQRH #18: "Two Of Us" (The Beatles)

Dear all,

I am writing this a few minutes before my Time Series Econometric Theory class begins. I am so happy! I finished my homework early, so I have the exact amount of time to share with all of you this very nice video.

When The Beatles released "Let It Be...Naked" early this decade, Apple prepared this beautiful promotional video for "Two Of Us" to promote the event. It takes excerpts from the "Let It Be" film and syncs them to the track. Very nicely done!

Today's commentary was brief, but the video is very good. Hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BQRH #17: "Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die!" (Jethro Tull)


Time to show some fun in order to fight against the grim Winter weather....

Recently I have been thinking a lot about future, and about how the years seem to pass me by. I am 26 years old, and for some reason, while my lifelong friends are getting engaged, and/or married, and raising kids, I am still in this indeterminate stage of life called Graduate School. Thankfully, the University Park/State College area is not necessarily a bad place to experience this.

Looking at the birth date of my classmates, I can't help noticing I am the oldest single person in my incoming PhD class (two are older, but they are married). And seeing this town so full-packed with young people (who, mind you, refer to me as 'sir', as if I was much older than them...wait, I AM almost 8 years older than them!) makes me try harder and harder to remain young for as long as I can.

Apparently, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull was concerned about these same topics when he wrote this lovely ditty, dedicated to the process of getting older while clutching desperately to youth, back in late 1975. The best therapy seems to try to take the subject humorously. That's exactly what "Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die!" attempts.

The song is here presented in two versions. One is a live version from the "Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die!" tour, performed July 31st 1976 (exactly two years before the very day my mom became my dad's girlfriend: they were 23 and 22 y/o). The other is the video clip/promo film for the song recorded in 1980 (for the "Slipstream" video), with the sound of the original mid-70's studio version.

The performers on the live version (as well as the soundtrack of the promo video) were Ian Anderson (voice and acoustic guitar), Martin Barre (electric guitar), John Evans (keyboards), John Glascock (backing vocals and bass), David Palmer (sax) and Barriemore Barlow (drums). The promo film features the miming contributions of Anderson and Barre plus Mark Craney (drums), Dave Pegg (bass) and Eddie Jobson (translucent violin, and keyboards).

The two videos serve different purposes: while the first seeks to show the band live during its prime (it's hard to find mid-70's live footage from Jethro Tull), the second vid depicts the band having a blast while portraying the lyrics. If you don't know what to watch first, I recommend you to go with the second clip below. It is so much fun!

Too old to Rock 'n' Roll? What do you think?
Come on, make me some company and leave your comments below!

Best to everybody,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BQRH #16: "Onward" (Yes)

Dear all,

British group Yes is probably, together with ELP, Genesis and King Crimson, one of the Progressive Rock bands that defined the genre. With a career spanning 40 years, they have managed to produce some of the most beautiful melodies in rock music, played with a virtuosity few could afford.

The piece I selected from them is called "Onward", written by Chris Squire, first released on their 1978 album "Tormato", and here in a version from their 1996 "Keys To Ascension" video and album recorded live at San Luis Obispo, CA. "Keys To Ascension" marked the return of the classic lineup of the band: Jon Anderson (lead vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and Alan White (drums). This lineup's last album together had precisely been "Tormato", and this particular song had never been performed live before these 1996 shows.

To Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman, all suffering from different health conditions around these days, I dedicate this offering from BQ's Radio Hour. May all of them fully recover, so they can perform together again. Get well soon, guys!

I strongly believe in the healing power of music.....

Until next time, and God bless you all.

Onward through the night,

Saturday, February 14, 2009

BQRH #15: "Damage" (Sylvian/Fripp)

Dear all,

A special thank you to Mr. Robert Fripp (guitar, soundscapes), Mr. David Sylvian (vocals, keyboards) and Mr. Trey Gunn (Chapman stick) for writing and performing this beautiful piece of poetry called "Damage", taken from the Sylvian/Fripp album of the same name.

Sweet Valentine's day to you all,

(Written by Robert Fripp/David Sylvian/Trey Gunn)

I found the way
By the sound of your voice
So many things to say
These are only words
Now I've only words
Once there was a choice

Did I give you much?
Well, you gave me things
You gave me stars to hold
Songs to sing
I only want to be loved

And I hurt and I hurt
And the damage is done
You gave me songs to sing
Shadow and sun
Earthbound, star blind
Tied to someone

Why didn't I stay?
Why couldn't I?
So many lives to cross
Well I just had to leave
There goes everything,

Can I meet you there?
God knows the place
And I'll touch your hand
Kiss your face
We only want to be loved
We only want to be loved
I only want to be loved

And I hurt and I hurt
And the damage is done
You gave me songs to sing
Shadow and sun
Earthbound, star blind
Tied to someone

(c) Copyright control. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BQRH #14: "When I Live My Dream" (David Bowie)

Dear audience,

BQ is shy as always, but has been noticing you for a very long time (I am stunned, flattered and thankful at the counter progress of the last few days). I think you're pretty and funny, so I would like to ask you to spend Valentine's day with me and my blog. Here's my first gift, indeed...couldn't wait any longer to give it to you... :-)

Originally from his first (1967) self-titled album, David Bowie included "When I Live My Dream" also on the soundtrack of two films he worked at the time during the second half of the sixties: "The Looking-Glass Murders" and "Love You Till Tuesday". During this period, Bowie was merely a budding musician, mostly a mime/visual performer, and for a period of five years tried to make a chart appearance, without much success. Only in 1969 he would enter the charts with his exquisite "Space Oddity", and wouldn't experience proper worldwide success and recognition until 1972, when his Ziggy Stardust alter-ego first emerged. It was a long way from 1967....

"When I Live My Dream" shares the naïvety of much of his material at the time. The music, if pleasant, doesn't seem too memorable to these ears. But the lyric is the most beautiful plea from a not-corresponded (or worse, not-corresponded any more) lover you are likely to experience.

Young David depicts a loving scene where he invites his beloved one to his dream of living in a castle with happy servants, golden horse-riding and dragon-slaughter activities. Nothing too inviting, right? But wait...

After the cheesy first verse and bridge, we get to more interesting things:

"When I live my dream, I'll forgive the things you've told me
and the empty man you left behind;
It's a broken heart that dreams, it's a broken heart you left me!
Only love can live in my dream

So this guy was left by the girl. And despite this, he keeps dreaming about her. Although the subject has been covered a million times, it's getting interesting. However, the real meat (and proper climax) of the song rests not too far ahead:

"Till the day my dream cascades around me
I'm content to let you pass me by
Till that day, you'll run to many other men
But let them know it's just for now
Tell them that I've got a dream
And tell them you're the starring role
Tell them I'm a dreaming kind of guy
And I'm going to make my dream
Tell them I will live my dream
Tell them they can laugh at me
But don't forget your date with me
When I live my dream

What a storming statement, isn't it? He implicitly "allows" her to go to other men in the interim (yeah, if she was going to ask for his permission), as long as it's understood it's something momentary... the dream of happiness lays ahead for both our hero and his lady, no matter how fool the rest of the world might think he is. Why do fools fall in love, indeed?

Happy Valentine's day!

Lovingly yours,

Monday, February 9, 2009

BQRH #13: "If Not For You" + "Just Like A Woman" (Bob Dylan)

Back into Valentine's mood :)

Two Bob Dylan classics, showing two sides of the coin regarding Dylan's relation with the ladies in his life....

A personal favorite of mine, "If Not For You" was recorded by Bob Dylan for his 1970 LP "New Morning". One of the most beautiful love songs written by Bob Dylan, here we have it performed by its composer during rehearsals for the Concert for Bangla-Desh, together with George Harrison (who covered this himself for his "All Things Must Pass" album in 1970.

"If not for you my sky would fall / rain would gather, too / without your love I'd be nowhere at all / I'd be lost if not for you." Innocent, yet absolutely straightforward (perhaps too straightforward for Dylan's standards).

On the other side of the coin, we have this whole other perspective on a completely different female. "Just Like A Woman" originally closed the first vinyl LP of the "Blonde On Blonde" double set in 1966, and was also released as a single. It tells the story of a girl the narrator was very passionate about, but who ultimately didn't correspond him because of her immaturity.

"It was rainin' from the first / and I was dying there of thirst / so I came in here; / and your long time curse hurts / but what's worse / is this pain in here / I can't stay in here / ain't it clear that I just don't fit / yes I believe it's time for us to quit / and when we meet again / introduced as friends / please don't let on that your knew me when / I was hungry and it was your world / Ah, you take just like a woman, yes you do / you make love like a woman, yes you do / and then you ache just like a woman / but you break just like a little girl."

My oh-so personal take on this piece of the lyric is that basically our hero can't stand the rejection of the lady. The previous verses show how she has not realized yet she's a normal lady —"baby can't be blessed till she finally sees she's like all the rest"—, but in the end these feelings look more like a bitter move on behalf of this rejected man. Apparently he was very needy of affection when he met her, and nevertheless, her rejection works as a curse on him. He actually can't get over her, so he accepts a social friendship, but wants her at the same time not to acknowledge their relationship for the very pain he described he feels.

Thankfully, about Dylan's lyrics we could make as many digressions as we want. He probably just wrote a good lyric... and it is there in the shape of a song we all can enjoy.

I was fortunate enough to witness Bob perform this song at the two concerts of his I have attended. It was one of the very few he performed at both shows in Santiago of Chile, first in 1998 (while promoting "Time Out Of Mind") and last in 2008 (touring for "Modern Times"). Most of the setlist differed between the two dates, but I enjoyed them thoroughly. The second time around, I felt a very strong connection with the stage, almost spiritual-like; such was the power and intensity of the performance. The best performance I have ever witnessed. I was really hoping that he was going to play this song when he did (as the previous song was ending), and almost broke in tears when it happened 10 seconds later. My best concert experience so far.


Love and peace, BQ

Sunday, February 8, 2009

BQRH #12: Three Oldies-but-Goldies - "Runaway" (Del Shannon) + "The House Of The Rising Sun" (Eric Burdon & The Animals) + "It's Over" (Roy Orbison)

A break from the Valentine's anticipation? Well, kind of....

Anyway, this delivery is brought to you courtesy of my mom, Carmencita, who is crazy about the songs that follow here. With all my love to you, Muñita.

Nostalgia is the keyword tonight. Three great performances by three amazing artists from the 60's. The Last VJ had to come to save newer generations from overlooking these gems.

Del Shannon's "Runaway" (1961) was his debut single, his first #1 record, and certainly his most sucessful recording overtime. The synthesizer solo in the middle (written by keyboardist and electronic wizard Max Crook) goes together very well with these aching lyrics about poor Del losing his lover for good after she escaped from him. "I wonder, I wa-wa-wa-wa wonder / why, ah-wa-wa-wa-wa why / she ran away / And I wonder, where she will stay? / My little runaway / oh, ran ran ran ran runaway". For this mid-80's performance in Japan, he changed the lyrics from "where she will stay?" to "where you gonna stay?", shifting from third to second person in the interim. It's still a huge rocker.

"The House Of The Rising Sun" is a traditional folk song which was recovered, adapted and arranged by Bob Dylan for his debut album in 1961. British rock group The Animals took this folk ditty and transformed it into the ripping bluesy number that sent them to the highest part of the charts everywhere. The original lyric (as sung by Dylan) made reference to a bordello girl who ruined her life at this place, with her sweetheart being a gambling, drunk man who basically led her to waste her existence, and ultimately she had to kill him and spend the rest of her life in prison. The Animals' version is sung from the standpoint of a boy (the drunk man was the father in this case). However, the transformation made the story less dramatic, and at the same time it made less sense (Was the guy a client of the brothel? Or did he just happen to live there? What else?). Solution? Place a mean-sounding organ everywhere. Voila! You got yourself a smash hit.

At last but not least, the best voice of rock & roll according to Elvis Presley: Roy Kelton Orbison wrote the soul-ripping "It's Over" with his long-time collaborator William Dees back in 1964, and released it as a non-LP single. This version was recorded live in Holland. The track's structure is one of those typical Orbison songs (so atypical in pop music) where instead of verse/chorus/verse, a storytelling approach is favored, where the emotion in the story is matched by the instrumentation and, specially, the vocal delivery. Roy's vocal range is unparalleled, and It's Over makes it more evident. The narrator is telling the story of his beloved one's infidelity, and subsequent leaving. The climax of the song is reached when the cheating is unveiled by the woman herself:

"It breaks your heart in two / to know she's been untrue / but, aw, what will you do / when she says to you 'there's someone new, we're through'... / We're through! / It's oooover!".

Whoever doesn't feel like hell is breaking loose at that point has no soul.

Three gems from the early sixties to enjoy....

Love to all, BQ

Friday, February 6, 2009

BQRH #11: "Wave" (David Sylvian and Robert Fripp)

Hello, everybody:

As we approach Valentine's day, I will try to keep up with the romantic themes. Tonight I wanted to present you with one of my most worthwhile personal musical discoveries of 2007: the Sylvian/Fripp collaboration.

Well, I had already become a Robert Fripp fan via King Crimson long before, and by 2007 I was beginning to discover Bob's solo career. One day, I found two discs filed under Robert Fripp/David Sylvian at the local CD store: "The First Day" and "Damage". Clueless about this Mr. Sylvian, I bought the CDs anyway, and when I got home, I was hit by the beauty and quality of the music, in particular the absolutely earth-shattering vocal delivery courtesy of David.

So, after some brief research, I learned that Sylvian was the leader, vocalist and writer of a new wave group called Japan, and when they broke up, he began a successful solo career. One of his landmark solo albums from the 80's, "Gone To Earth", featured contributions from Mr. Fripp.

Moving forward to the early 90's, David was approached by Bob Fripp in order to make him the new vocalist of a reformed Crimson. Sylvian's voice is highly seductive, with a definite sexiness and silky quality that makes girls melt, and guys dream about having such pipes.

But as history would tell us, Sylvian rejected the offer, and in lieu of participating in such a King Crimson reunion, Sylvian and Fripp got together and released this pair of majestic albums, where in particular "Damage" is a true masterpiece of intelligent pop music, with the freshness of a live performance of a group of virtuous musicians all playing in tight connection.

The song featured here is called "Wave", and is included on "Damage", as well as on Sylvian's "Gone To Earth". A lovely romantic song, performed with a feel which in some senses was a precursor to Crimson's "One Time" from their 1994 "Vrooom" EP single. This version was recorded in Tokyo, and showcases the same band that performed on "Damage": Fripp on lead guitar, Sylvian on guitar and keyboards, plus future King Crimson members Pat Mastelotto (drums) and Trey Gunn (stick), and also featuring luthier Michael Brook on his "infinity guitar."

About the song itself, it must be among the most beautiful the pair perfomed during the collaboration. The hypnotic electronic soundscaping serves as platform for an achingly touching set of lyrics that refer to dreams, love, passion and commitment.

Look at the small sample of the verses below:

"It seems that I remember / I dreamed 1,000 dreams: / We'd face the days together / no matter what they'd bring; / A strength inside like I'd never known, / opened the door to life and let it go."
"I'll run to you / nothing stands between us now / Nothing I can lose / This light inside can never die; / Another world just made for two / I'll swim the seas inside with you / and like the waves, without a sound / I'll never let you down"
"A hilltop paved with gold, / we shut our eyes and made / the promises we hold; / a will to guide and see us through; / I'd do it all again because of you"

And do not miss the passionate coda "I'd tear my very soul to make you mine", crowned by Fripp's ondulating electric guitar solo. Not your run-of-the-mill love song in any case.

What kind of idealistic man wouldn't want to express such feelings to his beloved lady? And what kind of girl wouldn't surrender to such a partner?

Hope you enjoy this as much as I always do...

Love is real, real is love,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

BQRH #10: "I'll Get You" (The Beatles)

Dear readers,

Another one from the Fab Four. Today we'll take a look at another of those obscure Beatles tracks people rarely talk about: "I'll Get You".

Imagine the setting: United Kingdom, 1963. The Beatles had hit the top of the singles charts with their singles "Please, Please Me" (#2) and "From Me To You" (#1), and with their first LP also hitting the top one spot. The band needed to keep the momentum, so a fourth single had to be prepared. From those sessions, the monster hit "She Loves You" was culled, with "I'll Get You" stuck on its b-side.

And what a joyous piece! The Beatles could not sing your usual traditional pop love songs at this point. No. Less than a year after, the innocent days of "Love Me Do" were over, at least lyrically.

"Imagine I'm in love with you / It's easy, 'cuz I know / I've imagined I'm in love with you / Many many many times before."

Here the singer defies the girl, even not admitting at first he is head over heels in love with her. The girl likes the boy, but she will not give him a true chance.

He confesses he wants to stop the b.s. rather quickly, and he makes his main statement ("It's not like me / to pretend / and I'll get you, I'll get you in the end"). So now, the time has come to (kinda) confess his true feelings to her.

"I think about you night and day / I need you and it's true... / When I think about you I can say / I'm never never never ever blue."

And now he defies the girl who rejected him with a very direct, almost arrow-like, statement that hits the climax of the song:

"There's gonna be a time / when I'm going to change your mind / so you might as well resign yourself to me."

To me, the message to the girl is clear: STOP RESISTING ME, HONEY - you might think I'm not right for you, or perhaps you are interested in some different archetype, or you're ambivalent with your feelings towards me. No matter what, you're going to be mine, so why don't you make things easier for the both of us and accept that you like me, and since I'm as passionate as I can be, you're helpless because I will not let you go?


Note that this song was never a part of any British LP for The Beatles, relegated to a single b-side release only. In the US, it was included on the long-player "The Beatles' Second Album" on Capitol in 1964, after the a-side "She Loves You" topped the charts worldwide. Other bands and artists would have based their whole careers on songs like this. For the Fabs, this was "just a b-side". Thoroughly enjoyable!

Love to you all, BQ

Monday, February 2, 2009

BQRH #9: Two for the price of one - "The Diary Of Horace Wimp" + "Need Her Love" (Electric Light Orchestra)

Dear readers,

Tonight, I have posted two viddies together, so that you can enjoy and comment. Also, I would like to shamelessly plug my non-musical blog, much more personal and randomly built, if you want. Not everything in life can be music.

Well, tonight we are enjoying two songs from a British band from England called The Electric Light Orchestra. These songs come from their 1979 elpee, "Discovery", their only album to top the charts in their homeland.

The first song here is called "The Diary Of Horace Wimp". I have been thinking that I had the unconscious idea that I was going to become at a certain point some variety of Horace Wimp, when the girl of my dreams would arrive. You know, the guy is pretty quick: he meets the girl on Wednesday, dates her on Thursday, proposes on Friday, and then they marry on Sunday. But, in my case, we first dated one Saturday, began our relationship that Tuesday, and kept going until she dumped me on Wednesday ten days later. In the end, it was as similarly rushed, but clearly not quite as successful.

The apparent cheesiness of the arrangement really contributes in my opinion to the success of the song. And it is cute to think of Mr. Wimp as a romantic who still believes that love and marriage are two things that should go together. Certainly he wasn't afraid of commitment. He found the girl, and made her his wife (for the rest of his life, as the song makes clear). Awesome. Horace is one of those many heroes who deserve recognition for their bravery and fighting for their beliefs, despite the fact it happens during a poppy and syrupy song. Go, Wimp!

The second song is one of those romantic ballads that at the same time maligned this band and their undisputed leader/songwriter/vocalist/guitarist/producer, Jeff Lynne, and also became their signature. "Need Her Love" has all those elements that make these kind of tracks the musical equivalent of eating a spoonful of honey. I am quite happy I can enjoy so much honey every now and then. The same holds true musically speaking.

The band: Jeff Lynne (lead vocals/guitars/synths), Richard Tandy (assorted keyboards), Bev Bevan (drums), Kelly Groucutt (bass/backing vocals), plus the string section miming along (as they were not part of the band when the album was recorded): Mik Kaminski (violin), Hugh McDowell (cello), Melvyn Gale (cello). Strings were arranged by Lynne, Tandy and conductor Louis Clarke. Both tracks were written and produced by Jeff Lynne.

Comments and requests are welcome as always.

Love (is real), BQ

Saturday, January 31, 2009

BQRH #8: "Mull Of Kintyre" (Wings)

Happy birthday, Old Dog!

Today is my dad's birthday. Therefore, today's broadcast of BQRH is devoted to one of his favorite songs: "Mull Of Kintyre", by Wings.

Written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine, it was released as a single in 1977, witnessing its first LP issue on the hits collection "Wings Greatest" one year later. Later editions of Paul's 1978 LP "London Town" tagged the song onto the end as a bonus track.

Note that while this song was a *huge* international hit for Wings, especially in the UK (where it became the biggest selling single ever up to those days, defeating the record established by The Beatles with "She Loves You" almost 15 years before), in the US it basically bombed. However, my guess is that the record company made a mistake, and pushed promotion for the other side of the single ("Girls' School", a fairly generic Rock & Roll track with punk-ish winks) instead.

Well, this is a performance at the BBC, with Paul wearing an awesome military band attire. I want one of those uniforms! He, he, he.

Ready to be served with a nice piece of birthday cake.

All you need is love, BQ.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

BQRH #7: "Hey Bulldog" (The Beatles)

The seventh one....

A deeply symbolic number in the Torah, seven alludes to the infusion of spirituality and Godliness into the creation. Seven is the number of perfection, and thus, it seemed fitting that the seventh report had to include the first proper Beatles video of this new era of the BQRH.

This footage --dated early 1968, prior to the Beatles departing to India-- was filmed for the promo film of another song ("Lady Madonna"), and was synced up with the song the Beatles were actually working on, "Hey Bulldog", and released as a promo for the album "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" in 1999. This offers the quite rare opportunity to witness the Beatles at work in the studio.

Can't help thinking that this song was just a deep cut, lost in a contractual obligation album like "Yellow Submarine", after being discarded (together with "Across The Universe", no less) as a contender for the single release they were to issue before their departure (they chose "Lady Madonna" and "The Inner Light" instead). While this song would be a milestone in the career of any other band, for the Beatles it was almost a leftover. And what a strong leftover it was!

Enjoy this cool video...

(Real) love, BQ.

Monday, January 26, 2009

BQRH #6: "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (Elton John)


This past weekend Sir Elton John played in Santiago, Chile. I am currently waiting for a full report on that show, but in the meanwhile, let me celebrate the event from the distant University Park, PA.

This video is from John's appearance at Cher's TV show in 1974. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was his current hit single (he recorded the studio version with the collaboration of John Lennon himself).

Let me confess that I am not a fan of Sir Elton. I find him talented, funny and extremely gifted, but for some reason his music has never grown on me. I own a hits compilation that I usually enjoy (a 1DVD+2CD combo), but I have yet to become a proper fan. Maybe someday.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this....don't forget to send requests, to become followers and to leave comments. Watch this space.

Love comes to everyone, BQ

Sunday, January 25, 2009

BQRH #5: "Strawberry Fields Forever / Help! / Give Peace A Chance" (Paul McCartney)

Hiya, guys and gals!

Promises are made to be fulfilled. So, this is the surprise that I had announced during the previous delivery of this blog.

It was 1990. Paul McCartney was leading his first solo tour ever, 10 years after the demise of Wings and John Lennon's assassination, and 20 years after the Beatles' breakup. When he and his band played their concert in Liverpool, Paul chose to close the show with a tribute to John Lennon, by playing three Lennon compositions (all three credited to Lennon/McCartney, by the way). He started off with "Strawberry Fields Forever", stripped off its well known mellotron intro and favoring a more contemporary rock sound. The medley carries on with a slower tempo version of "Help!", not too different from the approach followed by Deep Purple on their 1968 cover version of that track. Finally, McCartney closes with the coda to "Give Peace A Chance", even allowing for a reprise after the crowd kept chanting the coda acapella. Very impressive!

Almost 19 years after this event, the tearjerking factor still plays a role. It must have been quite an experience to be there...

The band? Paul on piano, Robbie McIntosh on lead guitar, Chris Whitten on drums, Wix Wickens on synths, Hamish Stuart on bass guitar, and Linda McCartney on additional keyboards.

Enjoy this delivery, and keep those comments coming. And for those who complain (or just simply wonder) about the English language of this blog instead of my native tongue, please keep in mind that it is harder to write in proper Spanish with a keyboard that doesn't have those tiny slashes we put on top of vowels sometimes. Besides, English also allows me to reach a wider audience. When I get more time, I can make a parallel bilingual version of the blog, but for now, the English version will have to do.

Love to everybody, BQ

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BQRH #4: "In The Court Of The Crimson King" (King Crimson)

Hi there,

When I departed from the Aqui Sgt. Pepper radio show in 1998, I was a naïve 15 year old kid who only listened to The Beatles and very little else (at least the naïvety still remains).

The very fact that back then I rarely listened to the radio (that's true even now) didn't exactly contribute to change the situation, but I was never somebody who could leave a noise pollution unit on (paraphrasing Robert Fripp) just for the remote chance that a lost gem might pop up. Thankfully, college wasn't far away in time, and with that the acquaintance of my current group of friends, who would introduce me to most of the non-Beatles and non-Traveling Wilburys related music I became a fan of.

However, I became a fan of King Crimson by myself, and coincidentally, it happened thanks to a particular radio broadcast. One day in 2002, I was driving to the San Joaquin Campus of PUC in Santiago, a very cold morning, and the bombastic introduction to "In The Court Of The Crimson King" blasted through the speakers of my 1994 Honda like it was the last piece of music I would ever listen to. The station was FM 88.9 Radio Futuro.

The lyrics, while nonsensical, evoked to me a mysterious parallel universe not unlike depictions of fantasy authors like JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis, only more somber, unintelligible and, to this particular soul, much more seductive.

And then there's the vocal performance. God, I always wanted to sing like Greg Lake. A very masculine voice with an awesome range, to me he is the only singer capable to give this song justice, despite respectable trials from later Crimson vocalists like Boz Burrell and John Wetton. It is just that, to me, the soul of those early Crimson albums was not the omnipresent Robert Fripp (who would sail the Crimson ship to much more sharp-edged sonic territories and textures in the coming 40 years) but Greg Lake and his unique voice. To me the key to the later success of Emerson, Lake and Palmer was not Emerson and Palmer's virtuosity, but Lake's vocal deliveries.

This is a fan-assembled video of "In The Court Of The Crimson King", from the 1969 album of the same name. Very well edited, this short film definitely fits the mood of the song. A loving, careful execution, indeed.

Enough talking for me for today. I leave you with Lake, Fripp and co. As always, your comments are welcome.

Love, BQ

PS: Stay tuned for the next delivery of BQRH, as it will be a special gift for Beatles aficionados everywhere.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BQRH #3: "Room At The Top" (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)

Hello, all good people...

Ever since I moved here, I have become more and more emotional. And the songs I have learned to love these past few years have acquired a new meaning. It is definitely the case for the song I bring to you today.

This song is from a member of the extended Beatles family. Tom Petty is best known for his classic rock band, the Heartbreakers, although for Fab Four lovers, he is also one of George Harrison's siblings on the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. And Mr. Petty has also collaborated repeatedly with one certain Mr. Richard Starkey, MBE. (Tom provided vocals to "Drift Away" from Ringo's 1998 album "Vertical Man" and bass guitar to Starr's 1990 version of "I Call Your Name", while Ritchie drummed on a couple tracks from Tom's solo album "Wildflowers" and the soundtrack to the film "She's The One").

This song is called "Room At The Top", from Petty's 1999 album, "Echo". This album came after Petty's divorce from his wife of over 35 years, so it is his equivalent to Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks". I got this album as a birthday gift from my mommy back in 1999 (Note: can you realize how hard is to buy a Tom Petty album in Chile, where nobody knows who the hell is TP? More merit to my loving mom), and it was my first Petty album (besides the Greatest Hits compilation which I already had).

I fell in love with this song as soon as I first heard it, but it didn't get a proper meaning until the first girl I had truly fallen for broke up with me: "I wish I could feel you tonight / Little one, you're so far away / I wanna reach out, and touch your heart". And Petty continues: "Yea, like they do in those things on TV / I love you, please love me / I'm not so bad / And I love you so". This is a specially significant feeling, particularly when your family and friends are so many miles away from you for the first time in your life. One too many first times for one poor soul....

Extra kudos to Petty and his "co-captain", the Heartbreakers' lead guitarist, resident sound engineer and co-producer Mike Campbell, for the arrangement they designed for this track makes an incredible use of changing moods and shifting tempos that make the song switch from a gentle ballad to a barnstorming rocker and then back again to the slow ballad before culminating with the powerful double guitar riffing courtesy of Campbell and 2nd guitarist Scott Thurston. This is not a very complex song, but the results are too effective to be ignored, and Campbell delivers one of the best guitar solos of his career, fitting perfectly the mood of the song. Literally, one of the best songs about loneliness and abandon ever written, in my humble opinion.

Enjoy this live, raw, great version, recorded in Germany during one of the promotional shows for "Echo" in 1999. The Heartbreakers' lineup at this time consisted of Petty on rhythm guitar, Campbell on lead guitars, Howie Epstein (RIP) on backing vocals and bass, Ben Tench on keyboards, Steve Ferrone (who played with George Harrison during his Japanese tour of the early nineties) on drums, and Scott Thurston on backing vocals, guitars and keyboards.

Comments are welcome....

Love, BQ

Saturday, January 17, 2009

BQRH #2: "Thursday's Child" (David Bowie)

Dear readers, former listeners.

BQ's aim has always been to keep expanding everybody's musical horizons. So, we are presenting today our first non-Beatles related song, ever. David Bowie collaborated with Lennon in 1974 (they wrote Bowie's #1 hit "Fame" together, and also recorded a version of "Across the Universe" during the same sessions), but this particular song is as removed from The Beatles as it can be. Be prepared for more....

Well, today's song is called "Thursday's Child", and was first released on Bowie's 1999 album "...hours". This song was the lead-off single. That album is important from an historical standpoint, as it was the first album ever to see its first release as a commercial digital download (on the now quasi-defunct Liquid Audio format). But also, this was a very laid back effort from this artist, probably his most melodically beautiful album since his Berlin trilogy of the late 70's. However, this album resembles very little of those releases. This is a strong pop album, full of nice melodies, but also great lyrics. In particular, "Thursday's Child" offers a lot more than just a reference to the traditional superstitious rhyme in which an individual's character and fate is determined by the day of the week they are born (by itself a pretty banal concept in my opinion, by the way). This song has quite a bit to do with feeling out of place everywhere, as if the narrator (to whom I can easily relate) felt he could have enjoyed life a lot more had he been born in a different time.

This song also strikes me personally, as a hopeful song from somebody who has been hit hard and who can, despite all shortcomings, find happiness in the hope of the new day. Surely, lyrics can hit people in different ways, but the verse "Lucky old sun is in my sky / Nothing prepared me for your smile / Lighting the darkness of my soul / innocence in your arms" found me in a very emotional mood. And those who know me are aware that I am a romantic....

And the main melody is quite beautiful. Bowie delivers an all-time classic vocal interpretation, as well. This particular live version was culled from VH1 Storytellers in 1999.

Stay tuned for the next episode.....

Love, BQ

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

BQRH #1: "Any Road" (George Harrison)

Hi, everybody!

OK, people. First post here. This video is something I wanted to share with you, especially those who followed me on the radio show back in 1997-1998. A real tearjerker, this is a tribute to George Harrison: his latest and posthumous single "Any Road", from his album "Brainwashed". I get emotional whenever I watch it, and all you Beatles fans will know why when you watch it yourselves.

Love, BQ