Monday, October 19, 2020

Chapter 61: Heart of Glass (October 1978 - June 1979)

Warning: The following chapter contains content which may be inappropriate for those who are sensitive to subjects such as murder and violence. Reader discretion is advised. Also, in light of recent racial unrest in America, I believe that what you're about to read about in this chapter is relevant to the real world of today. Black Lives Matter.

October 12, 1978
Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, 1978.
At Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York, there was a lot of activity going on. The most recent patient to turn up was a woman with frizzy blond hair, no older than the age of twenty. Her case? A single stab wound to the abdomen to which she narrowly survived. The woman's boyfriend, about a year older than she was, had awoken from a drugged stupor and was suspected to have attempted to murder her. Despite owning the knife that was used in the attack, the man had denied trying to kill her, but he did state that he didn't remember what had happened next. As the woman had survived, her boyfriend was not arrested, nor was he charged for the attempted murder. But there were still a lot of unsolved questions.

If he didn't try to kill his girlfriend, then who did? What was their motivation? What connections did they have with the couple? Those questions were just the tip of the iceberg, and an investigation would take place concerning the actions of the man who called himself Sid Vicious, as well as his girlfriend, "Nauseating" Nancy Spungen.

Nobody knows what was going on in Nancy's mind after she had been admitted to the hospital. The oldest of three children under a middle-class Jewish family living in Philadelphia, ever since she was a baby, Nancy was known for being a problematic child, often exhibiting violent, anti-social behavior, and at the age of fifteen, she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Two years later, she moved to New York City to work as a stripper and prostitute, and then in 1977, she met John Simon Ritchie, who preferred going by Sid Vicious, during a Sex Pistols show and they began relationship. They moved back to New York together, and their relationship could be best described as tumultuous.

And now, here Nancy was in hospital, having nearly died when a knife went through her abdomen. A couple of nights after she was admitted, although it couldn't be proven or disproven, one of the hospital staff (who had long since asked to remain anonymous) could swear that they heard these words coming from Miss Spungen: "The fucking asshole tried to murder me."

November 14, 1978
Diana Ross, 1978.
October had been a busy month for Diana Ross. For a whole week - the fifth through the eleventh - she had taken up performance residence at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and The Wiz had just been released in theaters and was trashed by critics.[1] Soon, she would be back in the recording studio for another album and then a series of concerts afterward. But alas, fate often seemed to have other plans in store...

At the time, Diana Ross lived at the Beresford, a pre-war apartment building at 211 Central Park West in New York City, between 81st and 82nd Streets. It was a cool November evening, and she was about to head inside when it happened.

Nobody could really explain how it happened, but one minute, Diana Ross was about to talk up to the front of the Beresford, and the next, a young man and woman both in their early twenties leaped out of nowhere and began attacking her, one of them was holding a knife. One of the doormen on duty quickly rushed inside and reported the attack to the staff of the Beresford, who then quickly phoned the police.

But it was already too late to help Diana Ross out. There were many stab wounds all across her body, and she had quickly lost blood. By the time the police had arrived at the scene of the crime, the attackers were both also deceased. The young man had a stab wound near his neck, and blood was dripping out like a fountain from his mouth. The other woman seemed to have been the last to die; there was a deep gash in her neck, and the knife she was holding lay right beside her. The police had come to the conclusion that the attack was a murder-suicide.

JOHN LENNON: "Maddy, Freddie and I were home at the Dakota when he heard the news of the murder. When we heard that it had been Diana Ross of the Supremes, I felt sick to my stomach. In the mid-60s, they had rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity, and the fact that someone as twisted as Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen would kill Diana just like that... it-it made me angry, but I didn't show it. I called up Paul, George and Ringo about the attack, and they too were shocked at what had happened." (1997)

The Supremes, 1968. From left to right: Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Cindy Birdsong.
The Supremes, 1968. From left to right: Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Cindy Birdsong.
The murder of Diana Ross had sent shockwaves across the world. Sales for the Supremes' music, even after Ross' departure in 1970 to pursue a solo career, skyrocketed, and The Wiz had suddenly gained positive reviews, with many of them praising Ross' performance as Dorothy Gale. Her co-stars from the film such as Mabel King (Evillene the Wicked Witch of the West) and Richard Pryor (Herman Smith/The Wiz) and former members of the Supremes like Mary Wilson and Betty McGlown delivered short statements dedicated to her.

MICHAEL JACKSON: "When I heard about what had happened to Diana, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. She was a good friend to me and my siblings, and the fact that someone could be so twisted as to murdering her for no reason... it made me want to throw up. I couldn't speak to anyone for days after that, and I had to go through a lot of therapy in the wake of her death. Not just with therapists, but with many people at Apple." (2011)

As one of the people most affected by the murder of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson would later dedicate his first post-Motown album on Apple Records, Off the Wall, in her memory. Back at Motown, they would put out Diana Ross Sings Songs from The Wiz the following year, as had been the intention following the release of the film's original soundtrack.[2] Plans were nearly cancelled due to the then-negative critical response, but they were quickly reinstated upon her death. In the past few months since the attack, there was still a big question on everyone's mind.

Why would Sid and Nancy want to go after a big name like Diana Ross?

Well, upon further investigation, a journal was discovered belonging to Nancy Spungen, and what was revealed exposed some extremely disturbing thoughts - I shan't repeat them verbatim for your sake, but the short version is that Nancy was plotting for her and Sid to go after someone famous living in New York and after murdering them, they would kill themselves to avoid arrest. What Nancy never did tell Sid, however, was that she would kill him herself, thinking that he tried to murder her that October and wanted to take revenge on him and then kill herself. They had considered killing Cher of Sonny & Cher, who was just about to start a solo career of her own on Casablanca Records, but they opted for Diana Ross instead, as they felt she was the nearest convenient target. (It seemed strange to many that John Lennon was living in New York at the time, and yet Sid and Nancy never thought about attacking himself instead; then again, it's hard to tell what goes on in an insane person's mind.)

Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, 1973.
When Glenn Danzig of the American horror punk band Misfits heard the story, he wrote a song in the perspective of Nancy Spungen, her near-death, the killing of Diana Ross and the murder of her boyfriend Sid before finally killing herself. Titled "Horror Business", it was released as a single on June 26, 1979 but did not chart. Many people in the black community were enraged by the murder of Ross, and this would soon lead to a social movement called Black Lives Matter, advocating against racial discrimination.[3]

Among the many supporters of the movement would include John Lennon and his wife Madeline Kahn, the remaining three Beatles and their families (and John's as well), Freddie Mercury, Brian May, David Bowie, Eric Clapton (in repentance for his racist remarks on stage in 1976), Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. After narrowly surviving getting shot at by his father in the midst of a physical altercation in 1984, Gaye was inspired to write the 1985 hit song "Dodging a Silver Bullet" not only about his personal experience and Diana Ross' death, but about how black people have been mistreated for the color of their skin.[4] This would later go on to become the official anthem for Black Lives Matter and hit #1 for several weeks in the United States, being regarded as one of the greatest ever protest songs.

John Lydon - stage name Johnny Rotten - was a friend of Sid Vicious and was disgusted by his actions. By the start of 1979, he had become isolated from the rest of the Sex Pistols and even refused to pick up a microphone, let alone perform live. Despite the assurance from many at Apple that he was not to blame for what Sid and Nancy had done, Lydon ultimately chose to retire from the music scene altogether, marrying German publishing heiress Nora Forster and becoming the step father to Ariane Forster, better known by her stage name Ari Up for her post-punk band, the Slits. As a result of Lydon retiring from the music business, the Sex Pistols had broken up by mid-1979, leaving many wondering what could have happened had Lydon not chose to retire early.

December 15, 1978

Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps
Released: December 15, 1978
Recorded: 1978
Producer: Neil Young, David Briggs and Tim Mulligan

Track listing[5]
Side A
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Thrasher
Cryin' Eyes
The Ways of Love
Sail Away

Side B
Shots
Welfare Mothers
Sedan Delivery
Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)

Neil Young had gone on a lengthy tour, dubbed "Rust Never Sleeps", in which he would perform a wealth of new material in two sets; one being a solo acoustic set, and the other being an electric set with Crazy Horse, no doubt it was influenced by the punk rock zeitgeist at the time. In turn, this would later influence many grunge artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The studio album based upon the tour, Rust Never Sleeps (#13 UK, #8 US), would come out in mid-December for the Christmas rush, with the sole single "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" / "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" (#79 US) being released in February 1979.

Rust Never Sleeps would mark Neil Young's final album of the 1970s, as shortly after its release, he announced that he would be taking a hiatus from recording new music to look after his newborn son Ben, born November 28, 1978. Ben was born with cerebral palsy, which would affect his physicality and speech as he grew older. Because of these medical concerns relating to Ben, it would be a while yet before the music world would hear from Neil again.[6]

4 May 1979

David Bowie - Despite Straight Lines
Released: 4 May 1979
Recorded: September 1978, March 1979
Producer: David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Track listing[7]
Side A
Warszawa
Beauty and the Beast
Joe the Lion
Sons of the Silent Age

Side B
Fantastic Voyage
Moss Garden
Neuköln
The Secret Life of Arabia

Side C
DJ
Move On
Yassassin
Red Sails

Side D
African Night Flight
Look Back in Anger
Boys Keep Swinging
Repetition
Red Money

After completing Wish You Were Here, the swan song of Hunky Dory, David Bowie quickly returned to the studio with Tony Visconti to record the songs he had written in Berlin but did not make it on any of the Hunky Dory albums, as well as some new material. The result of his first post-Rolling Stones solo album was Despite Straight Lines (#4 UK, #20 US), sometimes better known as "the Berlin Album". The subtitle also referred to the fact that the flag of Germany was painted on Bowie's face for the cover.

Bowie would spend most of 1979 on his Straight Lines Tour[8], bringing the music of the Berlin Album to about a million people in countries such as the United States, Austria, Norway, Belgium, New Zealand and Japan. Every now and again, he would inject songs he wrote for the Rolling Stones and Hunky Dory into his performances such as "'Heroes'", "Suffragette City" and "Rebel Rebel". By now, Bowie had broken free from his drug addiction and his mental condition was healthy enough for him to make friends. Recordings from the tour would result in the live album Stage, later released in 1979.

Thirty-four years later, Bowie would reuse the cover to Despite Straight Lines for his comeback album The Next Day.

18 May 1979

The Yardbirds - In Through the Out Door
Released: 18 May 1979
Recorded: November - December 1978
Producer: Jimmy Page

Track listing[9]
Side A
In the Evening
South Bound Suarez
Wearing and Tearing
Hot Dog

Side B
Ozone Baby
Darlene
All My Love
I'm Gonna Crawl

JOHN BONHAM: "Things were pretty shitty for all of us after Rob had his car accident in Greece. Achilles' Last Stand sold well, but we didn't go on tour cause Rob was still recuperating. Then shortly after Swan Song Records got sort of taken over by Apple, Peter [Grant] wanted us to go on tour in North America, but none of us were in the right state, mentally and/or physically. Peter Brown and Brian Epstein both talked him out of it, feeling that if we did end up touring for '77, our problems would only get worse. Thank goodness that many of us at Apple, Highway 61 or Swan Song are like one extended family." (1997)

The cancellation of the Yardbirds' 1977 North American tour had positive repercussions for the band members. Robert Plant was able to spend far more time with his family than he would've been able to less than a decade ago, even helping out his son Karac when he was infected by a stomach virus. Karac narrowly survived in hospital, and feeling grateful that his son was still alive, the elder Plant wrote "All My Love", inspired by his relationship with Karac.[10]

Meanwhile, Jimmy Page and John Bonham had entered rehab. The band's guitarist and drummer, respectively, had been dealing with drug and alcohol-related problems for quite some time, and so it was advised that they seek help before they reached the point of no return. At first, both men were reluctant, but by the time the Yardbirds had reunited to rehearse some new material for their next album, Keith Moon had died from Heminevrin overdose, which had sent chills through Page and Bonham's bodies.

JIMMY PAGE: "Rehab turned out to be a good thing for both me and Bonzo. Had Swan Song Records not been bought out by Apple, and if the folks there weren't so understanding, I dread to think what could have happened." (2009)

The Yardbirds, 1979.
With sober minds, the Yardbirds had arrived at Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden to record their first album under Apple. Bassist John Paul Jones and Plant had a great influence over the sound for what would become In Through the Out Door, but with Page and Bonham contributing ideas of their own, the album would contain a mix of their hard rock roots as well as some artsy influence. "We were no longer two distinct camps," Jones later recalled. "We were now one whole unit."

In Through the Out Door would soon hit #1 in both the United States and the United Kingdom despite the extended absence from the spotlight and divisive reception among critics upon release. Three months after the album's release, the Yardbirds would begin their tour in North America and Europe in support of both Achilles' Last Stand and In Through the Out Door with two concerts at the Knebworth Festival. (This excluded two warm-up shows at Falkoner Theatre in Copenhaen, Denmark in July.) The tour for both albums would continue into 1980.

ROBERT PLANT: "Going on that tour for both Achilles and Out Door was a whole lot of fun for everyone involved, but goddamn, was it tiring by the time it ended. We all felt five years younger, and the rust had just shaken off of us by the time the 70s came to a close. I dunno how long this will last; we're not young boys anymore. It all depends on how seriously Jimmy and Bonzo take their sobriety." (1981)

15 June 1979

Kim Beacon - Ravenna
Released: 15 June 1979
Recorded: January - March 1979
Producer: Kim Beacon and David Hentschel

Track listing[11]
Side A
My Blues Have Gone (It's a Miracle)
Baltimore
Vancouver
Ooh Child
Imagine

Side B
Ballad of Big
It Takes Time to Find Love
Ravenna
Lonely

Kim Beacon was the first member out of the current Genesis lineup to release a solo album under Swan Song Records. He had initially been uncertain about his own skills as a drummer (Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford believed that he was simply too modest about that), but when it came to recording for Ravenna, Beacon decided to try and put his drumming skills to the test. He had considered asking Phil Collins to play drums on some tracks, but given the latter's duties with the Who, Beacon ended up playing all the drums himself. Among the first tracks recorded with him on drums were "My Blues Have Gone", "Lonely" and a cover version of "Imagine".

Ravenna was released on 15 June 1979 (#5 UK, #14 US) and received positive reviews from critics, citing the album as a strong start to a solo career of Genesis' new front man. The first single released alongside the album was "My Blues Have Gone"/"Ballad of Big" (#8 UK, #7 US), the B-side of which was co-written with Banks, Rutherford and Collins during the sessions for And Then There Were Four. The next subsequent singles - "Vancouver"/"Ravenna" (September; #19 UK, #15 US) and "Imagine"/"It Takes Time to Find Love" (January 1980; #11 UK, #10 US) - were also Top 20 hits, with John Lennon praising Beacon's take on "Imagine".

Later that same year, Tony Banks released his first solo album A Curious Feeling on 8 October (#8 UK, #97 US) featuring Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band on lead vocals. On 15 February 1980, Mike Rutherford would come out with Smallcreep's Day (#6 UK, #73 US) which featured former Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips on keyboards. Together with Ravenna, they showcased some promise for side careers for the members of Genesis, proving that there was more talent than just Kim Beacon. When Genesis reunited at the end of the 70s to record one of their greatest musical achievements, Chester Thompson had been invited by Beacon to be their touring drummer to which he accepted, staying with the group until 1992.

Footnotes
  1. Coincidentally, the day before Nancy Spungen died, Diana Ross performed her last of seven concerts at Radio City Music Hall in New York (October 5-11, 1978). In OTL, her next performance would not be until April 7, 1979 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, less than two months before the release of The Boss.
  2. Diana Ross Sings Songs from The Wiz would not be released until 2015.
  3. Black Lives Matter was formed in July 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi (none of whom were born in 1978) following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 and the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing him. The movement returned to national headlines following the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, and peaceful protests are ongoing as of October 2020.
  4. "Dodging a Silver Bullet" has no OTL basis. I envision that the song would've been released in early 1985 and have a dance-rock sound with some soul and funk influence.
  5. All tracks are sourced from Rust Never Sleeps, excluding "Cryin' Eyes" from Life, "The Ways of Love" from Freedom, and "Shots" from Re-ac-tor. The aforementioned three tracks were written in the late 1970s, but were later put out on their respective albums throughout the 1980s.
  6. In OTL, when Neil Young was signed with Geffen Records, he constantly fought with the label and released uncommercial music throughout the 1980s. For TTL, he won't release as many albums as he did, preferring instead to focus on caring for little Ben.
  7. Tracks are sourced from Low, "Heroes" and Lodger, collectively known as David Bowie's Berlin trilogy. Despite Straight Lines was also a working title for Lodger.
  8. OTL's Isolar II world tour from 1978.
  9. All tracks are sourced from OTL's In Through the Out Door excluding "Wearing and Tearing", "Ozone Baby" and "Darlene", all sourced from Coda. The aforementioned three tracks were recorded in 1978 during the same sessions but were left off the final album in favor of "Fool in the Rain" and "Carouselambra". In addition, TTL's "All My Love" is much happier in tone due to Karac Plant surviving his stomach virus in 1977.
  10. In OTL, because Led Zeppelin was touring in North America, Robert Plant was unable to see Karac prior to the latter's death. This resulted in the tour being cut short, and the elder Plant retreating to his home, questioning his future.
  11. All tracks are sourced from OTL's Ravenna excluding "Vancouver", originally part of a double B-side to "Many Too Many", and "Ballad of Big", originally from And Then There Were Three. In addition, "Vancouver" is a co-write between Kim Beacon and Mike Rutherford while "Ballad of Big" is credited to both Kim and Mike, as well as Tony Banks and Phil Collins.
Author's Comments

Wow, there was quite a lot to cover, wasn't there? Since John Lennon doesn't die in this timeline, someone else had to take his place, and that, sadly, went to Diana Ross of The Supremes. There are quite a lot of parallels between the pair; both were part of popular music groups during the 1960s, both had solo careers after leaving them in the 1970s, both were living in New York by the start of the 1980s, and both of them had their killers moving to New York around the late 1970s (Chapman in OTL, Vicious and Spungen in TTL). Not only that, I believe that no matter what timeline we're in, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were destined to die young. Same applies to the Sex Pistols not lasting up to 1980, let alone beyond. though it doesn't mean we can't try to imagine what they could have done had they stayed together!

Not much to talk about with Neil Young or David Bowie; the former will likely end up with two albums up to 1985, and the latter's solo career will continue more or less as it did in OTL, but maybe with a few changes here and there.

The Yardbirds will continue into the 1980s with John Bonham alive and (hopefully) sober, and I've already got ideas as to how their first two albums of that decade will go down, and hopefully their performance at Live Aid won't suck like it did in OTL. Like OTL, however, the members of Genesis will have solo careers alongside being part of a band, but they'll be far more successful this time around.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Chapter 60: Mr. Blue Sky (September 1978 - May 1979)

In Honor of John Lennon's 80th Birthday
Without Whom, The World of Rock and Roll Would Be a Much Different Place
1940 - 1980

15 September 1978

Electric Light Orchestra - Light Years
Released: 15 September 1978
Recorded: 1972 - 1977
Producer: Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood (1972-1975 tracks)

Track listing[1]
Side A
Ball Park Incident
Momma
Roll Over Beethoven
See My Baby Jive

Side B
Showdown
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Daybreaker
Rock and Roll Winter
Illusions in G Major

Side C
Can't Get It Out of My Head
Are You Ready to Rock
Strange Magic
Evil Woman
Indiana Rainbow

Side D
Turn to Stone
Wild West Hero
The Whale
Sweet Talkin' Woman
It's Over

Concerto for a Rainy Day had inevitably led to an extensive, nine-month, 92-date world tour, which would later become the highest-grossing live concert tour in music history up to that point. There was no room for Jeff Lynne to write music for a new album in 1978, and so, as a stop gap release, the Electric Light Orchestra instead put out the compilation album, Light Years (#3 UK, #25 US), covering their non-album singles and B-sides from 1972 ("Ball Park Incident") to 1978 ("Sweet Talkin' Woman"). The follow-up album, Discovery (#1 UK, #2 US), would be released on 31 May 1979 and include Top 10 hits such as "Don't Bring Me Down", "Last Train to London", "Shine a Little Love", "Confusion" and "The Diary of Horace Wimp".

10 November 1978

Paul McCartney & Smile - Rockestra
Released: 10 November 1978
Recorded: June - October 1978
Producer: Paul McCartney, Roy Thomas Baker and Chris Thomas

Track listing[2]
Side A
Rockestra Theme
Fat Bottomed Girls
Getting Closer
Spin It On
Again and Again and Again
Old Siam, Sir
Arrow Through Me

Side B
Weep for Love
Goodnight Tonight
Fun It
Leaving Home Ain't Easy
Baby's Request
More of That Jazz

FREDDIE MERCURY: "Mary [Austin, his girlfriend from 1970-1976] broke off our engagement when I came out to her as bisexual; she insisted that I was gay, and I was heartbroken when she left. She was the love of my life, and I almost felt lost without her, even if we remained friends. That was where Elton came in." (1995)

ELTON JOHN: "I had come out in 1976 as bisexual, the year after I broke up with John Reid [his manager up until 1998]. I'd known Freddie since he joined Apple in 1973, and I was good friends with Paul, Denny, Brian and Roger as well. I took pity on him when I'd heard about his breakup with Mary, and wanted to do something to make him feel better. I went over to his house one day in 1977, and... well, things got a bit 'hot' between us, let's just say. *chuckles*" (2004)

The sexuality of both Freddie Mercury and Elton John was a mystery to the public, although the latter wouldn't fully come out as gay until 1988. There were rumors from the music grapevine that both men were now in a relationship and had been kept in secret for the past year or so. The members of Smile - Paul McCartney, Brian May, Roger Taylor and Denny Laine - were among the first to be told about the relationship and supported them for it. Mercury himself soon felt more comfortable about his own sexuality, as could be heard in his music from 1978 such as the Top 10 hit "Don't Stop Me Now". The relationship between Elton and Mercury would last up until 1983, although they still remained friends; the former would marry Renate Blauel in 1984 but would divorce in 1988, and the latter would become partners with Irish hairdresser Jim Hutton in 1985. Mercury and Hutton would remain together until Hutton's death in early 1996 from complications with AIDS.[3]

"Mary and Jim were the only real loves of my life," Freddie would say years later. "The rest have been occasional flings."

Paul McCartney and Keith Moon, 1978.
Paul McCartney & Smile's sixth album, Rockestra, featured varying musical styles, whether they included hard rock ("Old Siam, Sir", "Fat Bottomed Girls"), R&B and funk ("Arrow Through Me"), disco ("Fun It", "Goodnight Tonight") or instrumental rock ("Rockestra Theme"). The album was given both praise and criticism for its varied music styles, with the defenders even noting that "never, at one point, do Paul and his bandmates ever sit still." Roger Taylor was critical of the album in later years, despite liking a select few songs on it.

The title track, credited to the Apple Rockestra, was composed by McCartney to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the formation of Apple Records, and featured various members from its artists including Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Rat Scabies of The Damned, Steve Jones of Sex Pistols, and Mike Gibbins of Badfinger. While the variety of artists from the past decade was praised, there was criticism over artists from Highway 61 and Swan Song Records having little representation, as the only prominent musicians from either label were Jeff Porcaro from Toto, Nancy Wilson from Heart (both from Highway 61), John Paul Jones from The Yardbirds and Gerald Casale from Devo (both from Swan Song).

Personnel for The Apple Rockestra, 3 October 1978
  • vocals - Paul McCartney
  • bass - Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, Gerald Casale, Steve Jones
  • piano - Vangelis, Elton John, Graham Nash
  • keyboards - Christine McVie, David Bowie
  • electric guitar - Denny Laine, Brian May, Stephen Stills, Eric Clapton, Nancy Wilson
  • drums - Roger Taylor, Mick Fleetwood, Rat Scabies
  • percussion - Jeff Porcaro, Nicky Headon, Paul Cook, Mike Gibbins
  • horns - Howie Casey, Tony Dorsey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard
Summary of Paul McCartney & Smile releases, 1978 - 1979
  • "With a Little Luck" / "Children Children" - 20 February 1978 (#5 UK, #1 US)
  • "It's Late" / "Name and Address" - 8 May 1978 (#39 UK, #17 US)
  • "Goodnight Tonight" / "Fat Bottomed Girls" (double A-side) - 6 November 1978 (#5/#3 UK, #5/#12 US)
  • Rockestra - 10 November 1978 (#2 UK, #6 US)
  • "Getting Closer" / "Dead on Time" - 19 March 1979 (#14 UK, #6 US)
  • "Arrow Through Me" / "To You" - 9 July 1979 (#10 US)
  • "Wonderful Christmastime" / "Daytime Nighttime Suffering" - 19 November 1979 (#6 UK)

December 15, 1978
Christopher Reeve as the titular superhero in Superman, 1978.
The first film in what would later be known as the Appleverse, Superman, was released with wildly positive reception from critics and fans alike. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made, on a budget of $55 million, but it was still a box-office success by earning $300 million for Apple Films. Christopher Reeve's performance as the Man of Steel himself was met with acclaim, as were the performances of Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor) and Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) and the score of John Williams, having achieved similar success with Jaws and Star Wars earlier that decade.

The film begins on the fictional planet of Krypton, which is under threat of destruction when its red supergiant sun goes supernova. Jor-El sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth on a spaceship, where his dense molecular structure would give him superhuman strength and other powers. Kal-El is raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville, Kansas, and given the name Clark Kent. After his father dies, Clark journeys to the Fortress of Solitude where he meets a hologram of Jor-El, living there for twelve years to learn about his reason for being sent to Earth. Returning to society, Clark Kent becomes a reporter for the Daily Planet in Metropolis, where he meets Lois Lane and develops a romantic attraction for her. When she gets involved in a helicopter accident, Clark uses his powers publicly for the first time and rescues her before helping other citizens in need and stopping criminals in their tracks, being given the name "Superman" by Lois.

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in Superman. In his hand is a kryptonite necklace which he uses to weaken Superman to prevent him from ruining Luthor's evil plans.
Meanwhile, criminal genius Lex Luthor, along with his minions Otis and Miss Teschmacher, learns of a joint nuclear missile test between the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy and reprograms one of the missiles to detonate in the San Andreas Fault. Knowing that Superman could defeat him, Lex and his accomplices retrieve a piece of unknown mineral from a meteor from the planet Krypton and expose it to Superman after luring him to their lair, weakening him. Teschmacher betrays Luthor upon learning that the eastbound missile could kill her mother, who lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, and she frees Superman, who sends the eastbound missile into outer space. Not fast enough to stop the westbound missile from hitting the San Andreas Fault, Superman is still able to mitigate the effects by sealing the fault line, and even saves Lois from suffocating when her car falls into a crevice from one of the aftershocks. Afterwards, Superman brings Luthor and Otis to prison.

After the end credits played, there was a brief teaser to Superman II, which was to feature General Zod, Ursa and Non (respectively played by Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O'Halloran) as the villains.[4] The Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky" was included twice in the film; the first time was during the montage sequence of Superman helping citizens in times of trouble and catching criminals in the act, and the second time was during the end credits following John Williams' "Superman March", shortly before the ending stinger. (Jeff Lynne was reported to have spoken very positively about its inclusion.) Already, fans were anticipating what Richard Donner had in mind for the next Superman movie, and wondering if Apple was going to produce movies featuring their other favorite DC superheroes, including Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc.

16 February 1979

The Dark Horses - Backless
Released: 16 February 1979
Recorded: March - November 1978
Producer: George Harrison and Glyn Johns

Track listing[5]
Side A
Love Comes to Everyone
Watch Out for Lucy
Breakin' My Heart
Wings
Roll It
Faster

Side B
Who Needs a Heart
Tell Me That You Love Me
Your Love is Forever
Early in the Morning
If You Believe

As far as music business was concerned, 1978 was mostly quiet for George Harrison and Ringo Starr. The former, along with Apple Films president Denis O'Brien, had helped to finance Monty Python's next film, Life of Brian, which was due for a summer 1979 release; Harrison had mortgaged Friar Park just to finance the film, which to Eric Idle would later call "the most anybody's ever paid for a cinema ticket in history."[6] Life of Brian would later go on to gross $21 million at the box office in America, and be regarded as one of Apple Films' greatest features alongside Willy Wonka, Superman and Young Frankenstein, affirming the production company's status as one that brought out "everything for everyone".

On 1 August 1978, George and Olivia Harrison's first-born child, Dhani, was born at Princess Christian Nursing Home in Windsor, Berkshire. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo, as well as their respective families, sent their congratulations to the man who people used to believe was "the Quiet Beatle".

In between these developments in Harrison's personal life and business affairs, along with Starr, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood and Vangelis, he was able to record the second Dark Horses album, Backless, co-produced with Glyn Johns. The album and its singles reflected on the positive feelings he was going through at this point in his life, having written his own songs in the tranquil setting of Maui in Hawaii. However, the Dark Horses would not go on tour for the album, as Ronnie Wood was busy recording new material with the Rolling Stones, Vangelis had been given the invitation by Jon Anderson to consider joining Yes (as well as thinking about joining Swan Song Records at the start of 1980), and Slowhand himself was about to get married...

Summary of Dark Horses releases, 1979
  • "Wings" / "Golden Ring" - 12 February 1979 (#47 UK, #12 US)
  • Backless - 16 February 1979 (#18 UK, #8 US)
  • "Love Comes to Everyone" / "Buried Alive" - 16 April 1979 (#10 UK, #4 US)
  • "Watch Out for Lucy" / "Soft Touch" - 16 July 1979 (#37 UK, #9 US)

19 May 1979
Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton on their wedding day, 19 May 1979.
GEORGE HARRISON: "It felt very strange, going to Eric and Pattie's wedding. I mean, we're talking about my best friend marrying my first wife, and in the early 1970s, we sort of fought for her heart, but in the end, Eric won the battle. But as long as both were happy with each other, so was I, especially after marrying Olivia a couple of years before. Now me and Eric were husbands-in-laws." (1997)

At the wedding reception, George was not the only ex-Beatle to make an appearance. Paul McCartney (along with Linda and their kids) and Ringo Starr soon turned up, shortly followed by John Lennon along with Madeline Kahn and their son Freddie. Feelings between all four members of the world's biggest band were highly positive, and they even played a little jam session together along with other musicians like Pete Townshend, Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce and Elton John.[7] The four caught up on how the others were getting on, with John commenting, rather cryptically but with a bit of a smirk, "Maddy and I just filmed a scene or two for a movie about puppets." He was, of course, referring to The Muppet Movie, not due for release until June in America (May in England), and he and his family were big fans of the characters created by Jim Henson.[8]

None of them knew this at the time, but this little jam session at the wedding would eventually pave the way for something even bigger in the next decade. However, that almost would not have happened, because the prior month, Starr had become severely ill with intestinal problems relating to his childhood bout of peritonitis and had been rushed to the Princess Grace Hospital in Monte Carlo, Monaco. During an operation on 28 April, several feet of intestine had to be removed, and Starr narrowly survived this health scare. To this day, he's lucky to still be alive.

Footnotes
  1. Tracks are sourced from Wizzard Brew (1, 4 and 6), ELO 2 (2 and 3), On the Third Day (5 and 7), Introducing Eddy and the Falcons (8 and 11), Eldorado (9 and 10), Face the Music (12 and 13), Mustard (14) and Out of the Blue (15-19). "Roll Over Beethoven" is the single edit as can be found on the compilation album Light Years: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra.
  2. Tracks are sourced from Back to the Egg, Jazz and McCartney II. "Weep for Love" is sourced from the bootleg Studio Rarities Volume 2.
  3. For TTL, Freddie Mercury never meets with Paul Prenter, let alone get into a relationship with him. As a result, he doesn't catch AIDS in the 1980s, although Freddie does contract it much later in the mid-1990s, some time after he and Elton John have broken up, but are still friendly with each other. In addition, Jim Hutton died in 2010 from cancer, having been diagnosed with AIDS in 1990 and living with them until his death.
  4. For TTL, Richard Donner will be able to complete his vision for Superman II, and it is released December 1979 as was intended. In addition, Superman is able to rescue Lois Lane in time, as explained in the synopsis for the film, which prevents the infamous moment in which Superman reverses time by spinning the Earth in reverse.
  5. Tracks are sourced from George Harrison's eponymous album from 1979, Backless, Gimme Some Neck, Ringo the 4th and Bad Boy. "Love Comes to Everyone" is the single edit sourced from Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989.
  6. Verbatim.
  7. Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all played together for a jam session at Eric Clapton's wedding with Pattie Boyd in OTL; why John Lennon never joined the others remains unclear to this day. The next time all three would be together would be for "All Those Years Ago" on Somewhere in England.
  8. John Lennon plays the pianist at El Sleezo (done by Paul Williams in OTL) while Madeline Kahn plays the patron who hits on Kermit, much like in OTL. Her first involvement with the Muppets was on the ninth episode of the second season which premiered on September 30, 1977. By that point, she had married John and had little Freddie with him. Madeline would later record inserts for Sesame Street in 1978 (various episodes between 1106 and 1174), played herself as a bird watcher in 1981 (episode 1576) and then the Commissioner of Fun in 1993 (episode 3136). She even made appearances in episode 2370 (during season 19) and Sesame Street, Special in 1988. All of these will still happen per OTL.
Author's Comments

So here we go with another milestone reached for the story; sixty chapters! Four more, and there's going to inevitably be a Beatles reference in play. As the 1970s draw to a close, we're getting closer and closer to the long-awaited Beatles reunion. We won't be seeing much of them for the next few chapters, but I'm fairly certain that the wait is going to be worth it.

Hopefully, I'll be able to finally do something for Yes in the 80s; Jon Anderson left the group in 1980 to pursue a solo career, and that affected their music when he did so. This time around, he won't leave, he'll be joined by Vangelis, and Yes will end up on Swan Song Records (though I need to figure out how that will play out). Why is there so much idealism in this chapter? Well, it's to counter what is to come for the next chapter...

Album cover for Rockestra designed by Auran.

Friday, October 9, 2020

An Alternative Beatles Discography - No Covers (1963-1966)

In honor of what would have been John Lennon's 80th birthday, I present to you all how the Beatles' discography may have been if they had done all originals from the get-go. Back in February, The Reconstructor did his own take on With the Beatles with all Lennon/McCartney originals (with one song by George Harrison), and he even said that for A Hard Day's Night, "What Goes On" would've been track nine as Ringo's vocal spot. I even recall that Auran had been planning on rebooting Something Creative, for which it'll start around 1962/1963, inspired by a Rate Your Music list that did its own Beatles albums with all originals.

So that is where my own take on how the Beatles' discography would be like if they did all original compositions rather than also recording cover songs as filler comes in. We can say that they did cover songs for extended plays released alongside the main albums. Some of you may disagree with the choices I made, and that's perfectly fine; I'll try and explain the choices I made as best as I can, but I'm willing to make some changes to the track listings based on your suggestions. And without further ado, here's my personal take on the revised 1963-1966 discography by the Beatles! You can also listen to them on the playlist I made to see what you guys think.

All tracks are credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney (Lennon/McCartney), excluding those marked with an asterisk (*) by George Harrison. "Don't Pass Me By" is credited to Richard Starkey and "12-Bar Original" to all four Beatles.

Please Please Me (April 12, 1963)
Side A (15:27)
1. I Saw Her Standing There - 2:55
2. Misery - 1:49
3. Hello Little Girl - 1:40 (Anthology 1)
4. Thank You Girl - 2:04 (Past Masters)
5. Like Dreamers Do - 2:36 (Anthology 1)
6. Ask Me Why - 2:24
7. Please Please Me - 1:59

Side B (14:56)
8. Love Me Do - 2:24 (Past Masters)
9. P.S. I Love You - 2:04
10. One After 909 - 2:56 (Anthology 1)
11. Do You Want to Know a Secret - 1:56
12. Love of the Loved - 1:47 (I Saw Her Standing There)
13. There's a Place - 1:51
14. From Me to You - 1:58 (Past Masters)

Described as innovation upon release, Please Please Me was regarded as a pioneering example of bands' debut albums consisting of all original material rather than simply doing covers of songs by Chuck Berry. But not wanting to abandon covers all together, the Beatles released their Twist and Shout extended play the month before the release of their debut album.

Singles:
  • "Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You" - October 5, 1962
  • "Please Please Me" / "Ask Me Why" - January 11, 1963
  • Twist and Shout EP - March 22, 1963
    • Side A: "Anna (Go to Him)" / "Besame Mucho" / "Boys"
    • Side B: "Chains" / "A Taste of Honey" / "Twist and Shout"
  • "From Me to You" / "Thank You Girl" - April 12, 1963
New additions:
  • "Hello Little Girl", "Like Dreamers Do" and "Love of the Loved" - All were performed by the Beatles at their unsuccessful audition for Decca Records in 1962. "Hello Little Girl" was written by John Lennon in 1957 and "Like Dreamers Do" and "Love of the Loved" were both written by Paul McCartney in 1959 and 1961, respectively.
  • "Thank You Girl" and "From Me to You" - Both were recorded in early March 1963 shortly after the bulk of the album in OTL was recorded. I took some liberties and went with the assumption that they were last-minute inclusions for the album, which would've delayed it by two or three weeks.
  • "One After 909" - First composed by John Lennon in 1959 (some sources say as early as 1957) and was recorded during the same sessions as "From Me to You" and "Thank You Girl". The song stayed in the vaults for several years before it was finally brought back for Let It Be in 1969. It is contemporary with the other recordings, so why not?
Lastly, "Love Me Do" is the single version that has Ringo on drums, which I think adds a little variation to the album. I could've included "Tip of My Tongue", recorded 1962, but bootlegs of that have yet to surface.

With the Beatles (November 22, 1963)
Side A (14:31)
1. It Won't Be Long - 2:13
2. All I've Got to Do - 2:02
3. All My Loving - 2:07
4. Don't Bother Me* - 2:28
5. Little Child - 1:46
6. I'll Follow the Sun - 1:49 (Beatles for Sale)
7. I'll Get You - 2:06 (Past Masters)

Side B (15:40)
8. She Loves You - 2:21 (Past Masters)
9. Hold Me Tight - 2:32
10. This Boy - 2:16 (Past Masters)
11. I Wanna Be Your Man - 1:59
12. I'll Be on My Way - 1:58 (Live at the BBC)
13. Not a Second Time - 2:07
14. I Want to Hold Your Hand - 2:27 (Past Masters)

Considered an ever better follow-up to Please Please Me, With the Beatles brought these four lads to superstardom by featuring the big hits "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You", and even landed themselves a gig on The Ed Sullivan Show upon arrival in America in February 1964. What was the next step for the Fab Four? By starring in their own movie, of course!

Singles:
  • "She Loves You" / "I'll Get You" - August 23, 1963
  • Roll Over Beethoven EP - September 6, 1963
    • Side A: "Roll Over Beethoven" / "Till There Was You" / "Please Mr. Postman"
    • Side B: "You Really Got a Hold on Me" / "Devil in Her Heart" / "Money (That's What I Want)"
  • "I Want to Hold Your Hand" / "This Boy" - November 29, 1963
New additions:
  • "I'll Follow the Sun" - First written by McCartney in 1958 and later recorded for Beatles for Sale.
  • "I'll Get You" and "She Loves You" - Both were recorded in July 1963 and released as a single in August that same year.
  • "This Boy" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" - Both were recorded in October 1963 and released as a single in November that same year.
  • "I'll Be on My Way" - Given away to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas who released it as a B-side to "Do You Want to Know a Secret" in April 1963. The Beatles' version was recorded live for the BBC that same month and then broadcast in June on "Side by Side".
Overall, this track listing follows The Reconstructor's closely. I did consider including "I Call Your Name", which had been written by then and was even given to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, but I left it off to avoid having too many John lead vocals.

A Hard Day's Night (July 10, 1964)
Side A (16:23)
1. A Hard Day's Night - 2:34
2. I Should Have Known Better - 2:43
3. If I Fell - 2:19
4. I'm Happy Just to Dance with You - 1:56
5. And I Love Her - 2:30
6. Tell Me Why - 2:09
7. Can't Buy Me Love - 2:12

Side B (16:34)
8. Any Time at All - 2:11
9. What Goes On - 2:47 (Rubber Soul)
10. I'll Cry Instead - 1:45
11. Things We Said Today - 2:35
12. When I Get Home - 2:17
13. You Can't Do That - 2:35
14. I'll Be Back - 2:24

The album of the same name was recorded in conjunction with the Beatles' debut flick, A Hard Day's Night, and showed the Lennon/McCartney duo at their most creative. But with that being said, it did lead to a bit of a burnout.

Singles:
  • "Can't Buy Me Love" / "You Can't Do That" - March 20, 1964
  • Long Tall Sally EP - June 19, 1964
    • Side A: "Long Tall Sally" / "Baby It's You"
    • Side B: "Slow Down" / "Matchbox"
  • "A Hard Day's Night" / "Things We Said Today" - July 10, 1964
New addition:
  • "What Goes On" - Has origins tracing back to the Quarrymen days and was considered as a follow-up to "Please Please Me" in March 1963. It was eventually finished up for Rubber Soul with songwriting contributions from Ringo Starr, but I went with the assumption that they did finish it up a year earlier.
A Hard Day's Night always felt a bit short for my liking, and I've personally thought of replacing "When I Get Home" (my least favorite track on the album) with "Matchbox" and "Long Tall Sally", not only to cut down the number of John vocals, but also to give Ringo a vocal spot and Paul even gets an extra one on side two. I even picture "Long Tall Sally" as the album closer. But for this post to work, we'll have to stick solely with original compositions.

Beatles for Sale (December 4, 1964)
Side A (16:39)
1. No Reply - 2:15
2. I'm a Loser - 2:30
3. Baby's in Black - 2:04
4. I Call Your Name - 2:09 (Past Masters)
5. You Know What to Do* - 1:59 (Anthology 1)
6. When I'm Sixty-Four - 2:39 (custom edit)
7. She's a Woman - 3:03 (Past Masters)

Side B (17:03)
8. Eight Days a Week - 2:43
9. Yesterday - 2:05 (Help!)
10. Don't Pass Me By - 2:48 (custom edit)
11. Every Little Thing - 2:04
12. I Don't Want to Spoil the Party - 2:33
13. What You're Doing - 2:30
14. I Feel Fine - 2:20 (Past Masters)

After a creative spurt with A Hard Day's Night, the Beatles found themselves feeling creatively drained, and so George Harrison and Ringo Starr brought forth a couple of compositions of their own, but it wasn't quite enough to fill up the album. So John and Paul had to resort to bringing back a couple of older songs, with the latter bringing forth what would later be regarded as one of the best songs ever written, though it wouldn't be released as a single until next year. The Beatles did get back into a creative spurt the following year, with a couple of surprises.

Singles:
  • "I Feel Fine" / "She's a Woman" - November 27, 1964
  • Rock and Roll Music EP - February 1, 1965
    • Side A: "Rock and Roll Music" / "Mr. Moonlight" / "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey"
    • Side B: "Words of Love" / "Honey Don't" / "Leave My Kitten Alone"
  • "Eight Days a Week" / "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" - February 15, 1965
New additions:
  • "I Call Your Name" - John Lennon wrote it prior to the formation of the Beatles, suggesting that it was during the Quarrymen days. It was later given to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas in 1963 along with "Bad to Me", and the Beatles eventually recorded their own version for the extended play Long Tall Sally in 1964.
  • "You Know What to Do" - Written by George Harrison and recorded alongside "No Reply" in June 1964 but was not considered for album inclusion. The official version is obviously unfinished, so I imagine that it would've been polished up in the studio.
  • "When I'm Sixty-Four" - Written by McCartney in 1958 and even played by the Beatles whenever the amplifiers broke or the electricity went off. It was eventually revisited for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1966. For my edit, I used Take 2 as a basis, cut out the studio chatter, and sped it up to sync with the vocals from the official version.
  • "She's a Woman" and "I Feel Fine" - Recorded in October 1964 and released as a single in November that same year.
  • "Yesterday" - Paul McCartney claimed that he had first written the song in 1964 during the Beatles' tour of France, the same year that A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale came out.
  • "Don't Pass Me By" - Originally written by Starr in August 1962 soon after he joined the Beatles. It was mentioned in a 1964 interview but never fully recorded until 1968 for The White Album. I utilized Take 7 and cut it down to less than three minutes, as was the norm by then, eliminating the "A Beginning" intro, the instrumental break and a repeat of the first verse and chorus at the end, as well as fading it out earlier.
Coming up with material that the Beatles had written by that point was not easy, which is probably no wonder that they resorted to using cover songs in OTL. Hopefully I managed to make it work out in the end.

Help! (August 6, 1965)
Side A (17:01)
1. Help! - 2:18
2. The Night Before - 2:34
3. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - 2:09
4. I Need You* - 2:28
5. Another Girl - 2:05
6. You're Going to Lose That Girl - 2:18
7. Ticket to Ride - 3:09

Side B (16:46)
8. If You've Got Trouble - 2:48 (Anthology 2)
9. It's Only Love - 1:56
10. You Like Me Too Much* - 2:36
11. Tell Me What You See - 2:37
12. I've Just Seen a Face - 2:05
13. Wait - 2:12 (Rubber Soul)
14. I'm Down - 2:32 (Past Masters)

Another creative spurt had hit the Beatles when they did their second feature length film. For the first time, George Harrison had two lead vocals on an album, as well as two compositions of his own. From there, his songwriting skills would get recognized by the rest of the Beatles camp. But as for Ringo? It would be a few years before he wrote another song by himself.

Singles:
  • "Ticket to Ride" / "Yes It Is" - April 9, 1965
  • Act Naturally EP - June 4, 1965
    • Side A: "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" / "Act Naturally"
    • Side B: "Bad Boy" / "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"
  • "Help!" / "That Means a Lot" - July 23, 1965
  • "Yesterday" / "I Need You" - September 13, 1965
New additions:
  • "If You've Got Trouble" - Recorded February 1965 during the Help! sessions but was discarded in favor of "Act Naturally" as Ringo's vocal spot.
  • "Wait" - Originally recorded for Help!, but it was rejected for inclusion and instead ended up on Rubber Soul with overdubs.
  • "I'm Down" - Recorded June 1965 and later released as the B-side to "Help!" in July that same year.
Unlike Beatles for Sale, it was much easier picking out material to replace cover songs for Help!. I was going to include "Yes It Is" and "That Means a Lot", but as you can see, they're non-album B-sides; just not enough room for everything.

Rubber Soul (December 3, 1965)
Side A (18:01)
1. Drive My Car - 2:25
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - 2:01
3. You Won't See Me - 3:18
4. Nowhere Man - 2:40
5. Think for Yourself* - 2:16
6. The Word - 2:41
7. Michelle - 2:40

Side B (17:01)
8. Day Tripper - 2:50 (Past Masters)
9. Girl - 2:30
10. I'm Looking Through You - 2:23
11. In My Life - 2:24
12. We Can Work It Out - 2:16 (Past Masters)
13. If I Needed Someone* - 2:20
14. Run for Your Life - 2:18

Rubber Soul broke new ground and showcased the Beatles' increasing maturity as lyricists. Once again, George Harrison had two songwriting spots on an album, and many were wondering what he and the other Beatles could come up with next.

Singles:
  • "We Can Work It Out" / "Day Tripper" - December 3, 1965
  • "Nowhere Man" / "12-Bar Original" - February 21, 1966
New additions:
  • "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out" - Recorded October 1965 and released as a double A-side single in December that same year.
Since Rubber Soul had lost two songs, I had to bring in the double A-side single to fill the gaps. Otherwise, the album is unchanged from OTL.

Revolver (August 5, 1966)
Side A (18:33)
1. Taxman* - 2:36
2. Eleanor Rigby - 2:11
3. I'm Only Sleeping - 2:58
4. Love You To* - 3:00
5. Here, There and Everywhere - 2:29
6. Yellow Submarine - 2:40
7. She Said She Said - 2:39

Side B (19:00)
8. Good Day Sunshine - 2:08
9. And Your Bird Can Sing - 2:02
10. For No One - 2:03
11. Doctor Robert - 2:14
12. Isn't It a Pity* - 5:02 (custom edit)
13. Got to Get You Into My Life - 2:31
14. Tomorrow Never Knows - 3:00

Despite the controversy over John Lennon saying that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus", Revolver further showcased their developing songwriting and sound. This was especially the case for George Harrison, who boasted three tracks on the album. One of them, "Isn't It a Pity", caused a bit of friction in the studio because of the complex way George had wanted to arrange it (even explaining how it should go on a blackboard), almost to the point of either re-recording it from the ground up or rejecting it altogether. Thankfully, however, it all worked out in the end, and the personnel was as follows:
  • George Harrison - vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, backing vocals
  • John Lennon - acoustic guitar, organ, harmonium
  • Paul McCartney - bass, acoustic guitar
  • Ringo Starr - drums, tambourine, maracas
  • George Martin - piano, orchestral and choral arrangements
Once again, the Beatles have reached a new musical peak, most likely spurred on by the innovation of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds released earlier that year. And perhaps indirectly, George had thrown down the gauntlet in John and Paul's way, as if he was challenging them to write an epic of their own running at least five minutes. John would later respond with "A Day in the Life" the following year, but it would take Paul two years before he finally wrote "Hey Jude". Since then, there have been discussions as to which of the three should be regarded as the Beatles' greatest epic. (Well, one of them or "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", another Harrison-penned epic.)

Singles:
  • "Paperback Writer" / "Rain" - May 30, 1966
  • "Eleanor Rigby" / "Yellow Submarine" - August 5, 1966
New addition:
  • "Isn't It a Pity" - Originally written in 1966 prior to the Revolver sessions, but it was rejected by the other Beatles. George would later revisit the track for All Things Must Pass, even including two versions. Ringo played drums on both versions. My edit uses the longer version as a basis, but the outro removes an extra "forgetting to give back, isn't it a pity" line and the song fades out earlier, running fifteen seconds longer than the second version. (Although the second version will work just as well.)
Revolver hasn't differed much from OTL apart from replacing "I Want to Tell You" (though that track will not go unused). I've felt lately that George Harrison was the unsung hero of the Beatles; had he gotten recognition for his songwriting earlier, perhaps they would've continued into the 1970s.

Rock 'n' Roll Music (December 3, 1976)
Side A (17:36)
1. Rock and Roll Music - 2:31 (Chuck Berry; Beatles for Sale)
2. Searchin' - 3:00 (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller; Anthology 1)
3. Three Cool Cats - 2:25 (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller; Anthology 1)
4. Words of Love - 2:04 (Buddy Holly; Beatles for Sale)
5. Please Mr. Postman - 2:34 (Georgia Dobbins/William Garrett/Freddie Gorman/Brian Holland/Robert Bateman; With the Beatles)
6. Honey Don't - 2:57 (Carl Perkins; Beatles for Sale)
7. Long Tall Sally - 2:05 (Enotris Johnson/Robert Blackwell/Richard Penniman; Past Masters)

Side B (18:26)
8. Roll Over Beethoven - 2:45 (Chuck Berry; With the Beatles)
9. Slow Down - 2:56 (Larry Williams; Past Masters)
10. Baby It's You - 2:40 (Mack David/Barney Williams/Burt Bacharach; Please Please Me)
11. Till There Was You - 2:14 (Meredith Wilson; With the Beatles)
12. Leave My Kitten Alone - 2:57 (Little Willie John/Titus Turner/James McDougal; Anthology 1)
13. Anna (Go to Him) - 2:55 (Arthur Alexander; Please Please Me)
14. Matchbox - 1:59 (Carl Perkins; Past Masters)

Side C (18:11)
15. Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey - 2:38 (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller/Richard Penniman; Beatles for Sale)
16. Dizzy Miss Lizzy - 2:54 (Larry Williams; Help!)
17. Chains - 2:23 (Gerry Goffin/Carole King; Please Please Me)
18. Boys - 2:24 (Luther Dixon/Wes Farrell; Please Please Me)
19. Besame Mucho - 2:37 (Consuelo Velázquez/Sunny Skylar; Anthology 1)
20. Money (That's What I Want) - 2:49 (Janie Bradford/Berry Bordy; With the Beatles)
21. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - 2:26 (Carl Perkins; Beatles for Sale)

Side D (17:31)
22. Act Naturally - 2:30 (Johnny Russell/Voni Morrison; Help!)
23. You Really Got a Hold on Me - 3:01 (Smokey Robinson; With the Beatles)
24. Bad Boy - 2:21 (Larry Williams; Past Masters)
25. Devil in Her Heart - 2:26 (Richard Drapkin; With the Beatles)
26. Mr. Moonlight - 2:38 (Roy Lee Johnson; Beatles for Sale)
27. A Taste of Honey - 2:03 (Bobby Scott/Ric Marlow; Please Please Me)
28. Twist and Shout - 2:32 (Phil Medley/Bert Russell; Please Please Me)

"From their first session to their last, The Beatles would often record covers in the studio for fun and personal satisfaction but never with the intention of them ever being released to the public, preferring to let their albums consist of wholly original material. Now for the first time, 28 of these cover songs have been rescued from the vaults and gathered onto a special double album! Just in time for Christmas!" (quote provided by Uncle Dan in the comments)

Rock 'n' Roll Music is a straight forward compilation of the twenty-four cover songs that the Beatles had put out between 1963 and 1965, along with two covers from the fabled Decca audition - "Searchin'" and "Three Cool Cats" - "Besame Mucho" from the initial EMI session in June 1962, along with a Beatles for Sale outtake, "Leave My Kitten Alone", all from Anthology 1. I had originally arranged it in a similar way to the actual Rock 'n' Roll Music compilation, but after a suggestion from Matthew Firth, I re-arranged it do that the Chuck Berry song was first and "Twist and Shout" came last. What I tried achieving was having each Beatle open and close a side, and never having more than two songs sung by the same Beatle in a row. John sang lead vocals on twelve of the covers (almost an entire album), Paul sang six, George sang five and Ringo sang four, with "Words of Love" being jointly sung by John and Paul. Re-arranging the tracks was not an easy task; your results may vary.

I know that I didn't include "How Do You Do It", but that doesn't really count since it was offered to the Beatles and they rejected it. Personally, there were a lot of songs that they could've still done around 1962/1963 like "I Lost My Little Girl", "You'll Be Mine" and "In Spite of All the Danger", and yet they never thought about bringing them forth for consideration. Well, they did try out "I Lost My Little Girl" during the Get Back sessions but it was never completed in the studio, and Paul didn't play it live until 1991. Who knows how things would've gone had they actually been recorded in the studio in the early 60s?

So how would these changes to the Beatles' earlier albums have affected the later ones? Well, since "When I'm Sixty-Four", "Don't Pass Me By" and "One After 909" have been recorded and released earlier, that means Sgt. Pepper, The White Album and Let It Be each lose a pivotal track, but could those losses be made up for by including more of George's material on the albums? And would that in turn have led to the Beatles lasting up to at least the mid 1970s? Would John and George still be alive? We may not be able to say for sure, but it sure as hell would've been one magical mystery tour to take across another universe...

EDIT: (10/11/20) Revised the track listing to Rock 'n' Roll Music to include every cover song from 1963-1965, along with a few outtakes. Also included "Isn't It a Pity" on Revolver, which is now the album's five-minute epic.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Chapter 59: I Will Survive (June - December 1978)

June 16, 1978

Andy Gibb - Flowing Rivers
Released: June 16, 1978
Recorded: October 1976, December 1977 - February 1978
Producer: Barry Gibb, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson

Track listing[1]
Side A
One More Look at the Night
Flowing Rivers
Dance to the Light of the Morning
Fool for a Night
Good Feeling
Let It Be Me
Starlight

Side B
Melody
I Go For You
Come Home for the Winter
Too Many Looks in Your Eyes
Waiting for You
In The End

Andy Gibb's solo debut album had initially been set for a release in 1977, but when some tracks ended up on the Bee Gees' Night Fever that same year, it was put on hold. Starting with December that year and lasting up to February 1978, some new tracks were recorded, along with some tracks co-written with his older brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice (and sometimes with just Barry) that would later end up on the Bee Gees' next album.

Flowing Rivers (#15 UK, #7 US) was finally released in June, backed with the title track as the sole single along with "Let It Be Me" as the B-side (#32 UK, #9 US). The album received generally positive reviews from critics as a solid first attempt from what many have dubbed "the baby Bee Gee". Andy's follow-up album, After Dark, would not be released until February 2, 1980.[2]

July 21, 1978
Peter Frampton performing at Oakland Coliseum Stadium, July 2, 1977.
Several weeks following the release of Andy Gibb's Flowing Rivers, the Bee Gees' film based upon their 1969 album Odessa had been released as a joint production between Apple Films and RSO Records. Directed by Lindsay Anderson, written by Henry Edwards and cinematography by Gilbert Taylor, Odessa was made on a budget of $13 million and made roughly $28.4 million in the box office, just breaking even and with a mixed critical reception. With Odessa having been released the same year as The Wiz (a co-production with Motown) and Superman: The Movie, both scheduled for release later in the year, 1978 was expected to be a big year for Apple Films.

Alongside the Gibb brothers, they were joined on the big screen by Sandy Farina as the love interest, George Burns as the kind-hearted captain of the Odessa, Donald Pleasence as the ambitious chief engineer, Frankie Howerd as the ship's cantankerous cook, Paul Nicholas as the jealous love-triangle rival, as well as guest appearances by Steve Martin as the slightly eccentric doctor (a role he would later repeat for Little Shop of Horrors) and Peter Frampton in a posthumous role as a crazed stowaway.

On June 29 in the Bahamas, Peter Frampton had been involved in a car accident that resulted in him being killed immediately. Prior to his death, Frampton had been in the midst of a commercial peak after having released the then-biggest-selling live album of all time, Frampton Comes Alive in 1976. After that, it was downhill from there; it had started when Frampton had taken a shirtless photo for Rolling Stone, which resulted in critics labeling him as a shallow teen idol. The commercial disappointment of his fifth solo album from 1977, I'm in You, further accelerated Frampton's fall from grace, despite reaching platinum.[3]

With Frampton's unexpected death at the age of 28, his solo career was given a critical reevaluation, and both Odessa and Grease (for which he played guitar on the title track sung by Frankie Valli for the soundtrack of the same name) were dedicated to his memory. His former band, Humble Pie, would later reunite the following year for a concert dedicated to Frampton.

September 15, 1978

Kiss - G.A.P.P.
Released: September 15, 1978
Recorded: February - July 1978
Producer: Kiss (all sides), Sean Delaney (Side Gene), Eddie Kramer (Side Ace), Vini Poncia (Side Peter) and Jeff Glixman (Side Paul)

Track listing[4]
Side Gene
Radioactive
Burning Up with Fever
See You Tonite
Tunnel of Love
Living in Sin

Side Ace
Rip It Out
Speedin' Back to My Baby
Snow Blind
Ozone
What's on Your Mind?

Side Peter
Don't You Let Me Down
That's the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes
Kiss the Girl Goodbye
Hooked on Rock 'n' Roll
I Can't Stop the Rain

Side Paul
Tonight You Belong to Me
Move On
Wouldn't You Like to Know Me
It's Alright
Love in Chains

By 1978, heavy metal rock band Kiss, consisting of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, was at a commercial peak. Alive II had become their fourth platinum album in under two years, and the tour that followed had the highest average attendance of 13,550 to date, with the gross income being $10.2 million. So where do they go from there?

PAUL STANLEY: "We wanted to do a solo album each and put then them all out on the same day. Tensions were rising between us at the time, and so doing solo projects and exploring our personal interests in other music genres seemed like a good idea at the time." (2004)

GENE SIMMONS: "Somehow, Casablanca Records [Kiss' label since 1973] didn't like that idea, though we did have a contract that called for four solo records. I don't want to delve too deeply into what went on behind the scenes, but come September 1978, we got half a solo album each on a double album that was credited to Kiss. Not Gene, Ace, Peter and Paul individually. Just Kiss as a collective unit." (1994)

Kiss performing live in Tokyo, Japan, 1978.
ACE FREHLEY: "It just felt like some kind of marketing gimmick, as if they were copying what the Monkees achieved with The Monkees Present back in the late 60s." (1997)

G.A.P.P. (with each initial standing for the first names of the band members) managed to reach #22 in the United States and received divisive opinions from critics and fans alike, with some wondering what they would've been like as solo albums. Others tried to trim it down to make a single band album instead of a collection of solo albums packaged together.

PETER CRISS: "We then wanted to do a movie that would cement our image as larger-than-life rock and roll superheroes, almost like a cross between A Hard Day's Night and Star Wars [released last year on May 4, 1977]. But after hearing of a scrapped Bee Gees project in which they sang Beatles songs, Phantom of the Park never got off the ground. Now that I'm thinking about it, it was probably for the best we canned the project altogether; I dunno what the hell we were thinking trying to accomplish such a movie like that." (2015)

17 November 1978

The Sex Pistols - The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle
Released: 17 November 1978
Recorded: February - September 1978
Producer: The Sex Pistols and Chris Thomas

Track listing[5]
Side A
No One is Innocent
Just Another Dream
Religion II
Cheap Emotions
Silly Thing
Annalisa

Side B
The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle [ft. Edward Tudor-Pole]
Empty Words
1-2-3
Attack
Burning Sounds
Fodderstompf

In January 1978, Johnny Rotten announced that the Sex Pistols would return to the studio to record a second album. The first single off of their upcoming album, "No One is Innocent" backed with "Cheap Emotions", was released on 30 June and topped out at #3 in the United Kingdom. It had been recorded at an unknown 16-track studio in Rio de Janeiro and was among the first songs to be recorded for the Sex Pistols' sophomore album.

STEVE JONES: "By that time, we had become associated with Edward [Tudor-Pole] and his band, Tenpole Tudor. When we were recording for 'Swindle', Johnny's voice was not in great shape, so we asked Eddie if he could fill in for the recording, and he agreed. The track was credited to both the Sex Pistols and Tenpole Tudor, but we probably should've credited it to the Tenpole Pistols." (2002)

The members of Tenpole Tudor, 1979. Edward Tudor-Pole (stage name Eddie Tenpole) is on the far left.
Tenpole Tudor was later brought to the attention of Apple Records A&R Director Jake Riviera by Paul Cook, who would then have the group signed onto the label by the start of 1979 along with English ska band Madness. The former group would put out their debut single "Who Killed Bambi?"/"Rock Around the Clock" (#14 UK) in March and the latter their debut album One Step Beyond... (#2 UK, #128 US) in October.

The Sex Pistols' second album, The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle (#7 UK) was finally released in mid-November, and was backed with the second single "Silly Thing"/"Attack" (#6 UK), before being followed up by the third and final single "The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle"/"1-2-3" (#4 UK) in February the following year. While Never Mind the Bollocks would receive wildly critical acclaim in later years, Swindle would be seen as "a slight step down, but with an interesting look into what they could've done had they stayed together into the next decade."

Yes, with new directions the Sex Pistols was taking with their music, it looked as if they were destined to continue for another decade or so. But tragically, the actions of a mentally disturbed fan, as well as his equally disturbed girlfriend, would not only throw a wrench in their works, but shake up the world...

December 15, 1978

The Bee Gees - Spirits Having Flown
Released: December 15, 1978
Recorded: March - November 1978
Producer: Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson

Track listing[6]
Side A
Tragedy
Too Much Heaven
Love You Inside Out
An Everlasting Love
Reaching Out
Spirits (Having Flown)

Side B
Search, Find
Why
Stop (Think Again)
Living Together
I'm Satisfied
(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away

Following the modest success of Odessa, the Bee Gees' next album was pushed forward from the initial January 1979 release to December 15 for the Christmas rush. Spirits Having Flown was preceded that October by the double A-side "Too Much Heaven" and "An Everlasting Love", marking yet another #1 hit for the Bee Gees in the United States. This was followed up by two more #1 hits, "Tragedy" and "Love You Inside Out", and then "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away", although that reached no higher than #7.

Spirits Having Flown hit #1 in both the United States and the United Kingdom (their first album to do so for the latter country) and was met with positive reviews. Their next album, Living Eyes, would not come out until October 1981, and it would mark their final album for six years.[7]

Summary of Bee Gees releases, 1978 - 1979
  • "Night Fever" / "Down the Road" - February 7, 1978 (#1 UK and US)
  • "Shadow Dancing" / "Warm Ride" - April 17, 1978 (#42 UK, #1 US)
  • "Too Much Heaven" / "An Everlasting Love" (double A-side) - October 24, 1978 (#3 UK, #1 US)
  • Spirits Having Flown - December 15, 1978 (#1 UK and US)
  • "Tragedy" / "Until" (non-album B-side) - February 12, 1979 (#1 UK and US)
  • "Love You Inside Out" / "Desire" - April 30, 1979 (#13 UK, #1 US)
  • "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" / "Spirits (Having Flown)" - July 9, 1979 (#16 UK, #7 US)
  • Bee Gees Greatest - October 19, 1979 (#6 UK, #1 US)
Footnotes
  1. A straightforward compilation of songs from Flowing Rivers and Shadow Dancing that did not end up on Night Fever or Spirits Having Flown (see footnote 4 below).
  2. On After Dark, "Me (Without You)" (from Andy Gibb's Greatest Hits) replaces "Desire", which is now a Bee Gees B-side. The song was worked on during the sessions for Spirits Having Flown, but it was left off for sounding too similar to "Too Much Heaven". Andy Gibb later added in his vocals in May 1979. For TTL, I simply pretended he recorded his vocals earlier.
  3. In OTL, Peter Frampton narrowly survived his car accident. Because of the critical failure of the Sgt. Pepper film, he hit a severe career slump and never reached the heights of Frampton Comes Alive again.
  4. Each side consists of an abridgment of the Kiss band members' respective solo albums from 1978. I arranged the album by picking out the solo tracks that were generally more popular among Kiss fans; your mileage may vary.
  5. Tracks are sourced from the compilation album Flogging a Dead Horse, the Professionals' intended debut album from 1980, Public Image Ltd's Public Image: The First Issue and Rich Kids' Ghosts of Princes in Towers. In addition, for TTL, the tracks have Johnny Rotten primarily on lead vocals with Glen Matlock and Steve Jones occasionally stepping up to the microphone, and they have a more punk edge akin to Never Mind the Bollocks, although with a more experimental sound akin to their individual projects from the late 1970s/early 1980s.
  6. All tracks are sourced from Spirits Having Flown, excluding "An Everlasting Love", "Why", and "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away", all sourced from Andy Gibb's Shadow Dancing. "Until" is released as a non-album B-side.
  7. On Living Eyes, "Time is Time" (also from Andy Gibb's Greatest Hits) replaces "Soldiers", which also ends up becoming a non-album B-side.
Author's Comments

Not much to discuss here; the Bee Gees' story will more or less continue as it did per OTL, only with Andy Gibb as a member and surviving past 1988. Also, since the Sgt. Pepper film doesn't happen, the Bee Gees don't go through the commercial slump like they did in OTL.

I've been planning for Kiss and Yes to have storylines for Strawberry Peppers; in the case of the latter, Jon Anderson doesn't leave the band, and Vangelis will join Yes. I've even thought of having them sign up for Highway 61 Records. I was going to do something regarding their 1978 album Tormato, but I ended up cutting it because I couldn't think of something to do with it. Hopefully when I get to doing Drama (or its equivalent), I'll have something in mind. Other than Kiss having an album in 1978 and not doing Phantom of the Park, I don't know what else to do with them as a result of these changes, but I suppose that change isn't immediately obvious so it could be one of those cases.

Lastly, there's the Sex Pistols; since they've never run into Malcolm McLaren (and with Lord Beeching having told him to sod off like he did with Don Arden), they haven't broken up... yet. I don't think anyone's ever attempted to answer the question of what a follow-up to Never Mind the Bollocks would've sounded like had they not broke up, and if that's the case, then it looks like I might be the first. Your results may vary, and it'll be interesting to see what others can come up with. There will be more to do with them in a later chapter, and chances are it may not be pretty...