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22nd May, 2020

#PaperbackWriter - You Did Pass The Audition

Former Liverpool resident Ketith Hooson explains how we was introduced to The Beatles with a 'wow', shares his take on each album and explains why 'She Loves You' is his favourite track. 

I was introduced to The Beatles, with my friend (and Liverpool Artist), Tony Brown, via a copy of the Hard Day’s Night LP. “They are meant to be good? (little did we know?) – Let’s play it”. Something in that first play was, simply … “Wow”. That’s how it all started for me. 21 years later I was walking along a promenade, adjacent to a fair ground. The opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night sounded out from one of the stalls and, no lie; the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention. I never tire of their music and still, I get a tingle of excitement, when I hear something on a track that I have never noticed before: That, despite having have heard the song(s) hundreds of times.

Music to me is like books; each one a story where the words and sounds paint a great picture. Norwegian Wood – A beginning, middle and end; all amazingly there in just 2 minutes and 1 second. The Ballad of John & Yoko – This really happened and Penny Lane – A reflection of 1960s Liverpool life at its finest.

Staggering today to think that The Beatles ‘conquered the world’, not by on-line hype, but mainly by ‘word of mouth’ moving slowly across towns, cities, countries and continents – The original and finest social media did its job so well. Add that to the brilliance of their music, their so likeable personalities and their humbleness over their success; the reality was: “No master plan – It just happened like that”.

Of course the difference and the content between the Please, Please Me and Abbey Road albums are huge; The musical progression, variety and production, over what was, only 6 years, is astounding.

I always see ‘6 Beatles’; all crucial to The Beatles success. Manager, Brian Epstein saw their raw talent. He moulded that; putting them in suits’ getting them to do simple and courteous things, like bowing and saying thank you. He took this and had the belief, faith and confidence in them. This, despite setbacks to secure them a recording contract. And it was Brian who ‘sold’ The Beatles to America in 1964 and then … ‘The World’.

Producer (Sir) George Martin saw something; he admitted “as much personality as any musical talent they (initially) had”. Sir George nurtured their musical skills, adding sounds and ideas progressing their musical talent, through 9 singles and 4 albums, when in 1965 they went from simpler pop to produce the Rubber Soul Album and then onto Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and Abbey Road.

A Selection of Great Sounds and Variety: The first album, Please Please Me; essentially “The Beatles Live Show”, polished up at Abbey Road Studios was recorded in just 585 minutes! Needle down and it’s “1, 2, 3, 4” and we are heading, excitedly, to the (bang!) finale of “Well shake it up baby”. Listening back to that album’ I am struck by just how good John’s voice is on Anna (Go To Him), Baby, It’s You and of course Twist & Shout.

She Loves You is my favourite Beatles Track; the beginning of the rise to worldwide fame. The drums at the start signal ‘your attention’ to this great little story with its positive end message; “Just see sense lad and say you’re sorry”. The instrumentation like most Beatle songs has a lot going on to get “that sound”. I can’t play any musical instruments, but I do enjoy watching many of the great Beatles Tribute bands and seeing ‘so that’s how they got that great sound’ and that includes Ringo’s drumming, which adds so much, so well.

The A Hard Day’s Night album is still my favourite album. It sounds a much more ‘production polished album’ than their first two albums. The most famous opening cord in musical history kicks the album off and an even spread of rock and ballads take you through to track 13 in next to no time. The film is brilliance too. The music, the humour, the individual personalities, not taking themselves seriously is there and for musicians … the acting is pretty good too.

Rubber Soul is the ‘musical directional game changer’ that catapulted their creativity towards 1969. ‘Boy meets girl’ is still there, but it’s more sophisticated now and reflects, that even in 1962, The Beatles were adults not teenagers. The harmonies for me are the real standouts on the album. Just listen to Nowhere Man in Stereo on good headphones and we have John and Paul sounding as good singing together as the beauty of The Everly Brothers do.

The Sgt Pepper Album: There are no words that adequately describe the album, as ‘A Production First’. Recorded over a then unheard of six months with Sir George showering his talents and mastery at this album, big time …. along with The Beatles themselves. The 50th Anniversary re-master by Giles Martin is like hearing a new Beatles album, but then you think “No it isn’t”. Giles has magically bought out what was always there, without losing anything from the original release. And there is the most famous ending chord in music on ‘A Day In The Life’.

The White Album: A little disjointed (?), but what a variety of music on this double album.

Then there is Abbey Road – Exuding a welcome return to happy musical production times. Oh and that (old school) side 2 – so well put together, moving and ‘Pure Heaven’.

I often think ‘The first track of Please Please Me should have been Magical Mystery Tour’ because? That it what we got for the next 6 years.

And doesn’t every Beatle fan just love the end of The Let It Be Film Rooftop Concert? Awesome final gig: Then “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition?” Their humour and humility … at their success, still shining through.

Beatles – You did pass the audition. Thank you.

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