Thoughts and music of double J x

Thoughts Of Chairman J..

Some words and pictures out of my head.. :) x


Free: ‘Fire & Water’


June 1970 was a breakthrough month for Free. After two years of critical success and building their name as a live attraction, they were finally getting a commercial foothold. ‘All Right Now’ marked their first time on the UK charts, on 6 June, and was already a Top 10 hit by the time the band’s third studio release, Fire And Water, was released on 26 June, leading to their first UK album chart appearance in early July.  The British quartet were now deservedly winning much more widespread recognition as one of the best blues and soul-influenced rock bands of that, or any, era. Free produced Fire And Water themselves after daring to tell Island’s Chris Blackwell that they thought his production of their previous, self-titled, 1969 album was “too clean”.

The engineer on the sessions was a then-unknown Roy Thomas Baker, later to find fame via his work with Queen. The Free album that he contributed to culminated in ‘All Right Now’, which thus started its journey to the anthemic status it enjoys today. “It stood out because it was happy,” said Simon Kirke. That single was preceded by a solid half-hour showcasing the vocal presence of Paul Rodgers, the strident lead guitar solos of Paul Kossoff and the terrific rhythm section of Andy Fraser’s bass and Simon Kirke’s drums. Also listen for Fraser’s great piano playing on ‘Heavy Load’, and his bass runs underpinning Kossoff’s guitar on ‘Mr Big.’ The band had started recording their third album in January, and Rodgers later explained that he and Fraser had the great soul man Wilson Pickett in mind when they wrote the title track. They were spot on, because he recorded ‘Fire And Water’ himself the following year.

‘All Right Now’ stayed on the UK singles chart well into September: the perfect advertisement for an album that duly went into the chart at No.8. It spent three of the next four weeks at No.2 and was still in the Top 40 at the end of October. By then, the album was in the US top 20, with Free’s reputation now further enhanced by their performance in late August at the Isle Of Wight Festival.

Free_2059Fire And Water is available as part of the stunning Abbey Road Half Speed Mastering series. Purchase your copy here:*/*/Fire-And-Water/4ZB70000000

Fire And Water was the third and most successful album by the revered English rock band. It was their breakthrough album, sending them to number 2 in the UK charts and number 17 in the US. “On this album,” notes bass player Andy Fraser, “our confidence came from our total belief in each other. It was like a team of commandos where you knew we were all watching each other’s back.” Much of the album’s success was driven by the smash hit single All Right Now, an unimpeachable classic which has become one of the songs that define what is widely regarded as one the most creative eras in rock music.Boasting a fantastic rhythm section (Fraser and drummer Simon Kirke), exquisite guitar work from the late Paul Kossoff and soulful vocals by Paul Rodgers, Free are rightly considered to be one of the greatest post-Beatles blues-rock bands, hard rock pioneers alongside such outfits as Cream, Led Zeppelin and Derek and the Dominos. This record represents perhaps their high water mark and is perfectly suited to the half speed process. The original cut for this record was half speed mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

Free-poster1.What is ‘Half-Speed Mastering’?

This is an elaborate process whereby the source is played back at half it’s normal speed and the turntable on the disc cutting lathe is running at 16 2/3 R.P.M. Because both the source and the cut were running at half their “normal” speeds everything plays back at the right speed when the record is played at home.

2.What are the advantages of Half-Speed Mastering?

The vinyl L.P. is an analogue sound carrier. Therefore the size and shape of the groove carrying the music is directly related to whatever the music is doing at any particular point. By reducing the speed by a factor of two the recording stylus has twice as long to carve the intricate groove into the master lacquer. Also, any difficult to cut high-frequency information becomes fairly easy to cut mid-range. The result is a record that is capable of extremely clean and un-forced high-frequency response as well as a detailed and solid stereo image.

3.Are there any disadvantages?

Only two, having to listen to music at half-speed for hour after hour can be a little difficult at least until I get to hear back the resulting cut when it all becomes worthwhile. The other dis-advantage is an inability to do any de-essing. De-essing is a form of processing the signal whereby the “sss” and “t” sounds from the vocalist are controlled in order to avoid sibilance and distortion on playback. None of the tools I would ordinarily employ on a real-time cut work at half speed as the frequencies are wrong so the offending “sss” does not trigger the limiter and everything is moving so slowly there is no acceleration as such for the de-esser to look out for. This has always been the Achilles heel of half-speed cutting until now (see below).

4.What was the source for this record?

Digital transfers from the original ¼” tapes, recently prepared by Free remastering engineer Andy Pearce. This album was cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the best known analogue tape in existence. Only minimal sympathetic equalisation was applied to the transfer to keep everything as pure as possible. Also, as this was an analogue, vinyl only high quality release, I did not apply any digital limiting. This is added to almost all digital releases to make them appear to be loud and is responsible for “the loudness war” and in almost every case is anything but natural and pure sounding.

5.Why could it not be cut ‘all analogue’?

The biggest variable when cutting from tape is the replay machine. Every individual roller in the tape’s path will have a direct effect on the quality of the audio emanating from the machine. In addition to this, there is the issue of the sub 30Hz low-frequency roll off on an advance head disc-cutting tape machine which in effect will come into play at 60 Hz when running at half speed. In addition to this, there are also some unpredictable frequency anomalies in the 35-38 Hz region with analogue tape that will double up at half speed. These are all problems if you want to hear as originally intended the lowest register of the bass end on a recording. There is also the lesser potential problem of tape weave that effectively increases at lower speeds and leads to less high frequency stability and the possibility of minor azimuth errors. Analogue tape becomes degraded with each pass over the replay heads. These tapes are getting old and it is no longer considered good practise to play and play and play precious old original masters for fear of wearing them out. I can completely understand the reasons for the concerns that some people have when cutting classic albums from digital sources. Historically, there have been some horrible digital transfers used as a vinyl cutting source. This has absolutely not been the case with this series. Micro-management of the audio and attention to detail has been the order of the day.

6.Are there any advantages to this working method?

Yes, any problems with the tape can be treated far more accurately digitally than they could be by using traditional analogue techniques. For example de-essing. I can, by clever editing, target just the offending “sss” and leave intact the rest of the audio. Therefore high-hats, bright guitars and snare drums are not affected or reduced in impact. Using an analogue scatter-gun de-esser approach would also trigger the limiter in many parts of the audio that do not need to be worked on. The de-esser cannot tell a bright guitar from bright vocal and will smooth everything out leading to dull guitars or soft snare drums and weak hi-hats. Targeting the “sss” sounds in the vocal as I have done in this series is time consuming but is worthwhile in the pursuit of the very best possible sounding record. Also if there was any damage to the analogue tape (drop-outs and clicks for example) this can by and large be restored using modern digital methods in a way that is unobtrusive and this would be impossible using analogue methods. For the record, none of the albums in this series have been de-noised. Only clicks and drop-outs have been repaired.

Miles Showell – Mastering Engineer, Abbey Road

Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown! Live!

WP_20170613_10_24_22_ProTyler Bryant & The Shakedown / The Bad Flowers / Black Cat Bones: Chester: 12:06:17

Rolling into Chester Monday night after the weekend of Download Festival feels like the whole Rock world is either still in a field near derby or recovering in their bed after washing away the mud! So it’s with pleasant surprise that I’m greeted by a smiling Dan at The Live Rooms & a good crowd already sampling the delights of the bar..

_ND41292_00003Unfortunately I’ve missed the opening act Ben Roberts as I’m late due to a wardrobe malfunction (huge rip in the arse of my jeans. Check shirt around waist needed) but just as I walk in Liverpool’s Black Cat Bones are getting their groove on.. last time I caught the band was in Manchester opening up for The Answer where they not only gave that night’s headliners a run for their money, but beat them at their own game.. They are a band on the rise.. Tonight they seem slightly subdued, this makes for a more ‘real’ performance and they still manage to find their gears and as the set rolls on they hit their stride when the ‘harp’ comes out for the title track of their recent EP ‘The River’ in a blink of an eye their beer & sweat soaked rock ‘n’ roll is done & dusted.. I notice that nobody leaves the room while they play & the merch stall is busy after.. So job done good guys.. They tour with Massive in July.. Set List: Seen Better Days, Headcase, Lust, Give You The World, The River, Devil You Know, Silverline..

_ND41303_00005Following comes The Bad Flowers… And they are ‘Bad’.. as in ‘Bad Ass’ as just a three piece they certainly punch above their weight in the sound department with both drums/bass playing as if their lives depend on tonight going well, they have a deeper groove than BCB previously, yet they certainly sound & feel ‘Heavier’ it’s a groove thing, you know that whole deeper cut harder edge that puts them in the ‘Smoke’ zone.. They have an impressive EP available & they play a couple of new songs from their forthcoming full LP due later in the year.. A polished, loud, heavy groove-fest. Chatting to the guys post gig shows a desire to move up the ranks and judging on tonight’s show they are on the right road.. Set List: Run, Run, Run, Lions Blood, Who Needs A Soul, Can You Feel It?, Big Country, Thunder Child, City Lights

_ND41330_00010So in a blink of an eye we are witnessing tonight’s headline act Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown… Now there are few times in your life that you may get to see an emerging act that will be the ‘Real Deal’ I have been lucky enough to do just that several times (ironically one of ‘those’ times was 30 years ago in the marquee club, London with a band Tyler is opening for this coming weekend Guns ‘N’ Roses’) The last time I saw anyone ‘This’ good was Doyle Bramhall II & Jeff Buckley.. Yes tonight is special.. Why? You may well ask.. and if you have to ask then you not only don’t know the question but you have never got the answer.. It’s a ‘feeling’ a ‘vibe’ like when you watch early clips of The Stones… and you just ‘know’ that in front of you is the ‘Future Of Rock & Roll’ Yet listening to Tyler it’s more Rock ‘N’ Soul or Blues & Roll as Tyler has been eating up that Nashville Country cooking while drinking Mississippi swamp water in NYC via Detroit.. With the boys from the Thames & the Mersey.. It helps that ‘The Shakedown’ are tighter than a duck arse… They simply lock into that deep blue groove and like a dog with a bone will not and don’t let go..

_ND41329_00009We get tracks from the full Lp & Ep available at the merch desk tonight with no gaps, minimum chat & maximum rock.. it’s however the ‘Potential’ new tracks that ‘Might’ or ‘Might Not’ turn up later in the year on the TB&TS next full LP.. Highlight’s are many but when Tyler just jumps on the boxes front of stage & sings with no microphone, like a blues busker on the street, it’s a moment that will live in the hearts of all here forever… Make no mistake this band has not opened up for AC/DC & G’N’R in massive stadiums due to knowing the right people or luck (They leave tonight for Ireland to open up for Aerosmith) they have got here on hard work, blood, sweat & tears.. Tyler is the ‘Real Deal’ with a combination of style, swagger, desire, fire & the songs to back the whole shebang up..

tbsd headerCatch this band while you can before they hit the ‘Sold Out in Minutes’ stage.. Once seen, never forgotten & that’s the mark of every great act you have ever seen.. get ready to welcome your favourite new band… Chatting to Tyler & the chaps post gig they all just love what they do & prove that nice guys can play rock ‘n’ roll & what they do is live it, love it, play it… this ain’t no part time thing, this is all they want to do for the rest of their lives… On the evidence of tonight they will be… Simply Stunning… Set List: Weak & Weepin’ Criminal Imagination, House Of Fire, Downtown Tonight, Don’t Mind The Blood, Mojo Workin’ Wayside, Easy Target, Ramblin’ Bones, Lipstick, House That Jack Built, Last One Leaving..

TeamRock Radio! Back 4 More!

DCXDYXgWsAA-EXYTeamRock Radio returns June 2017, bringing back the Classic Rock Magazine Show, Metal Hammer Magazine Show and Prog Magazine Show – plus much more. You can listen to the digital radio station on our iOS and Android app, or online at and TuneIn.

teamrock jan 17TeamRock Radio ceased broadcasting on December 19, 2016, when its parent company went into liquidation. Future Plc bought the TeamRock assets, including Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog print magazines and associated websites along with the TeamRock brand itself.

Now, the lights have been switched back on at the station and under the guidance of Programme Controller Philip Wilding, TeamRock Radio will provide a fresh alternative to traditional rock stations, entertaining rock fans with original programming and a fresh playlist that breaks away from the same old tracks and supports new bands.

TeamRock Editor In Chief Scott Rowley says: “We’ve built the station for the people who’ll actually listen to it. Rock stations in the UK – and around the world for that matter – are lazy and formulaic. They’re entry-level, with playlists that treat you like you’ve just heard rock music for the first time. If you invited a bunch of friends back to your house you wouldn’t play them Bohemian Rhapsody, Bat Out Of Hell or Whole Lotta Love – you’d put on some well-chosen classics they hadn’t heard in a while or some brilliant new music. Or why do our rock radio stations insist on force-feeding us the bleeding obvious? TeamRock Radio is for people who really love music.”

teamrock montageThe Classic Rock Magazine Show will be presented by editor Sian Llewellyn, The Metal Hammer Magazine Show will be hosted by editor Merlin Alderslade, while The Prog Magazine Show will be helmed by mag editor Jerry Ewing. Along with the regular weekly shows, TeamRock Radio will also feature new listening experiences including artist-led slots where names from across the rock world will curate their own playlists, choosing the tracks that changed their life. The station is online only right now, with app functionality to follow quickly. There are no plans to return to DAB radio.

TeamRock Radio re-launched on June 9 (Friday) at 10am GMT. To listen, simply click ‘Listen’ on the top right corner of their website for the pop-up player or download the TeamRock Radio app on iTunes or Android.

Also TeamRock have been named the #1 rock music website in the world by @styleofsound

kiss stanly liveTeamRock Radio: Week one highlights

Kiss’ Paul Stanley reflects on their breakthrough homecoming show at New York’s Madison Square Garden on the Rock And Roll Over tour and the band’s first ever concerts in Japan.

Download’s Andy Copping on the Soundtrack Of His Life, talking about the songs and bands that changed his life including Lonely The Brave, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Kasabain and Adele… yes, Adele.

Avenged Sevenfold’s M Shadows on how they created epic The Stage track Exist.

Ian Hunter in Ever Meet Hendrix, including iconic tales of Freddie Mercury, Keith Moon and Frank Zappa!

team-rockThe Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards Show

Foreigner’s Mick Jones‘ Soundtrack Of His Life which includes Chuck Berry, Nilsson, Stevie Wonder and… Foreigner.

Soundtrack Of His Life From the Audio Archive, interviews and live sessions including conversations with David Coverdale, Alex Lifseon of Rush and Alter Bridge live.

Marilion’s Steve Hogarth’s Soundtrack Of His Life which includes Jeff Buckley’s Grace, The Blue Nile and Prefab Sprout. He’s a pop and prog boy at heart.

Scott Gorham’s Ever Meet Hendrix which includes Gary Moore, Phil Lynott, Rush and how he actually did sneak backstage and once meet Jimi

+ Exclusive Prog, Metal Hammer and Classic Rock Magazine shows.

Ziggy Played Guitar! Spiders From Mars!


David Bowie released his 5th LP “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” on June 6, 1972. The album title is often shortened to just “Ziggy Stardust“. The theme of the LP is loosely based on a story of a fictional bisexual alien rock star named Ziggy Stardust. The album is considered by many among the greatest albums of Rock and Roll. It peaked at No. 5 in the UK but only made it to No. 75 in the US on the Billboard Music Charts.

The album cover photograph was taken outside furriers “K. West” at 23 Heddon Street, London, W1, looking south-east towards the centre of the city. Bowie said of the sign, “It’s such a shame that sign went [was removed]. People read so much into it. They thought ‘K. West’ must be some sort of code for ‘quest.’ It took on all these sort of mystical overtones.” The post office in the background (now “The Living Room, W1” bar) was the site of London’s first nightclub, The Cave of the Golden Calf, which opened in 1912. As part of street renovations, in April 1997 a red “K series” phonebox was returned to the street, replacing a modern blue phonebox, which in turn had replaced the original phonebox featured on the rear cover.

il_fullxfull_1102110713_dpjxThe album tells the story of Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, a rock star who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings. Bowie created Ziggy Stardust while in New York City promoting Hunky Dory and performed as him on a tour of the United Kingdom, Japan and North America. The album, and the character of Ziggy Stardust, was known for its glam rock influences and themes of sexual exploration and social commentary. These factors, coupled with the ambiguity surrounding Bowie’s sexuality and fuelled by a ground-breaking performance of “Starman” on Top of the Pops, led to the album being met with controversy and since hailed as a seminal work. “Starman”, released as a single in April 1972 (and not intended for the final album at first), originally featured a “loud mix” of the “morse code” section between the verse and the chorus. This single mix appeared on the original UK album, but not on other vinyl editions of the album internationally (which had a more subdued mix of this section), and it did not appear on CD until the song was included on the compilation album Nothing Has Changed (2014). “Suffragette City”, the b-side to “Starman”, was mastered for the album with a three-note coda leading in from “Ziggy Stardust” to make the songs sound linked. They were never played as such by Bowie in concert.


In 1990, Bowie said that he had recorded “about half of the Ziggy album” before Hunky Dory was released, claiming that he had to release Hunky Dory due to his recording contract with his label. Sessions in November 1971 produced “Hang on to Yourself“, “Ziggy Stardust“, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” (later shortened to “Star“), “Moonage Daydream“, “Soul Love“, “Lady Stardust“, and “Five Years“. Also recorded during the November sessions were two more cover songs intended for the as-yet untitled album. They were Chuck Berry’sAround and Around” (re-titled “Round and Round”) and Jacques Brel’sAmsterdam” (re-titled “Port of Amsterdam”). A re-recording of “Holy Holy” (first recorded in 1970 and released as a single, to poor sales, in January 1971) was initially slated for Ziggy, but was dropped in favour of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”. All three songs were eventually released as b-sides. “Velvet Goldmine“, also recorded in November 1971, was intended for Ziggy, but was replaced by “Suffragette City“. RCA released it in 1975 as the B-side to the UK re-release of “Space Oddity” after having it remixed and mastered without Bowie’s approval.

On the album’s final running order, “Round and Round” was replaced by “Starman”, and the Ron Davies cover “It Ain’t Easy” replaced “Amsterdam”. “It Ain’t Easy”, recorded on 9 July 1971 during the Hunky Dory sessions, closed the first side of the album. After recording some of the new songs for radio presenter Bob Harris’s Sounds of the 70s as the newly dubbed Spiders from Mars in January 1972, the band returned to Trident in early February to record the final master takes of “Starman”, “Suffragette City” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”. (Some of the radio performances appear on Bowie at the Beeb.)

the-rise-and-fall-of-ziggy-stardust-and-the-spiders-from-mars---david-bowie-1972-1424429071-article-0Recorded and released during the ensuing Ziggy tour were two other songs. The first, “John, I’m Only Dancing“, was recorded at Trident in late June and released (in the UK only) in September. “The Jean Genie“, recorded at RCA Studios in New York in early October at the start of the American tour, was released in the US in November. The song was remixed for Aladdin Sane.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars has received critical acclaim and has been consistently considered one of the greatest albums of all time, with Rolling Stone magazine ranking it the 35th greatest ever. It was ranked the 20th greatest album ever in a 1997 British survey, the 41st greatest of all time by Q magazine and one of the 100 greatest releases ever by Time magazine. In 2017, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” by the Library of Congress.

A concert film of the same name, directed by D. A. Pennebaker, was recorded in 1973 and released a decade later in 1983.

Love Me Do! First Date!

18922107_1713272562046779_1799997583193294621_nPossibily the best first date ever……. well it was kinda like a date…

On June 6, 1962, The Beatles, having been rejected by Decca Records, auditioned for EMI, recording four demos. It was the first time the band ever recorded at Abbey Road Studios. They recorded three original compositions called “Love Me Do,” “Ask Me Why,” and “P.S. I Love You,” and a cover of the standard “Besame Mucho.”

Producer George Martin was not at the session, but was called in by engineer Norman “Hurricane” Smith when he heard something he likes in “Love Me Do.” Martin was not impressed with the group’s songwriting, scruffy outfits, and even scruffier equipment (one of the band’s amps blows during the audition), and he tells them so, finishing, “Look, I’ve laid into you for quite a time, you haven’t responded. Is there anything you don’t like?” To which George replied, “I don’t like your tie!” The tension is broken, and Martin, charmed by the group’s personality, agrees to work with them. (Though he later says, “They were pretty awful. I understand why other record companies turned them down.”)

So besides being their first time with George Martin which we all know how that worked out, the lads were paid £7.10 ($12,07US) each for the session. This session had Pete Best on drums and Martin was unimpressed with him which would soon lead to Pete being removed from the band.

beatles artSo, 55 years ago today, The Beatles had their ‘first date‘ with Sir George Martin and made almost £30 pounds ($50)

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band!

Beatles-1It was 50 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…..

The Beatles released the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” LP on June 1, 1967. When the band started recording this record, they had already made the decision to not play live shows anymore. That gave them the freedom to make music as they wanted without worrying about being able to do it in a concert setting. There are many who feel that this was the best record ever made.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band the Beatles. Released on 1st June 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2 June 1967 in the United States, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. On release, the album was lauded by the vast majority of critics for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and legitimate art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.


By 1966, the Beatles had grown weary of live performance. In John Lennon’s opinion, they could “send out four waxworks … and that would satisfy the crowds. Beatles concerts are nothing to do with music anymore. They’re just bloody tribal rites.” In June that year, two days after finishing the album Revolver, the group set off for a tour that started in Germany.[ While in Hamburg they received an anonymous telegram stating: “Do not go to Tokyo. Your life is in danger“. The threat was taken seriously in light of the controversy surrounding the tour among Japan’s religious and conservative groups, with particular opposition to the Beatles’ planned performances at the sacred Nippon Budokan arena. As an added precaution, 35,000 police were mobilised and tasked with protecting the group, who were transported from hotels to concert venues in armoured vehicles. The polite and restrained Japanese audiences shocked the band, because the absence of screaming fans allowed them to hear how poor their live performances had become. By the time that they arrived in the Philippines, where they were threatened and manhandled by its citizens for not visiting the First Lady Imelda Marcos, the group had grown unhappy with their manager, Brian Epstein, for insisting on what they regarded as an exhausting and demoralising itinerary.

After the Beatles’ return to London, George Harrison replied to a question about their long-term plans: “We’ll take a couple of weeks to recuperate before we go and get beaten up by the Americans.” His comments proved prophetic, as soon afterwards Lennon’s remarks about the Beatles being “more popular than Jesus” embroiled the band in controversy and protest in America’s Bible Belt. A public apology eased tensions, but a miserable US tour in August that was marked by half-filled stadiums and subpar performances proved to be their last. To the Beatles, playing such concerts had become a charade so remote from the new directions they were pursuing that not a single tune was attempted from the just-released Revolver LP, whose arrangements were for the most part impossible to reproduce with the limitations imposed by their two-guitars-bass-and-drums stage lineup.

beatles art

Upon the Beatles’ return to England, rumours began to circulate that they had decided to break up. Harrison informed Epstein that he was leaving the band, but was persuaded to stay on the assurance that there would be no more tours. The group took a three-month break, during which they focused on individual interests.Harrison travelled to India for six weeks to study the sitar under the instruction of Ravi Shankar and develop his interest in Hindu philosophy. Having been the last of the Beatles to concede that their live performances had become futile, Paul McCartney collaborated with Beatles producer George Martin on the soundtrack for the film The Family Way. John Lennon acted in the film How I Won the War and attended art showings, such as one at the Indica Gallery where he met his future wife Yoko Ono. Ringo Starr used the break to spend time with his wife Maureen and son Zak.

In August 1966, the Beatles permanently retired from touring and began a three-month holiday from recording. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian era military band that would eventually form the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. Sessions for what was to become the Beatles’ eighth studio album began on 24 November in Abbey Road Studio Two with two compositions inspired from their youth, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane“, but after pressure from EMI, the songs were released as a double A-side single and were not included on the album.


In February 1967, after recording the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” song, McCartney suggested that the Beatles should release an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. During the recording sessions, the band furthered the technological progression they had made with their 1966 album Revolver. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they adopted an experimental approach to composition and recording on songs such as “With a Little Help from My Friends“, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life“. Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick’s innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos. Recording was completed on 21 April 1967. The cover, depicting the Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.

Sgt. Pepper is regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the use of extended form in popular music while continuing the artistic maturation seen on the Beatles’ preceding releases. It has been described as one of the first art rock LPs, aiding the development of progressive rock, and credited with marking the beginning of the Album Era. An important work of British psychedelia, the album incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including vaudeville, circus, music hall, avant-garde, and Western and Indian classical music. In 2003, the Library of Congress placed Sgt. Pepper in the National Recording Registry, honouring the work as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one in its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. As of 2011, it has sold more than 32 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums in history. Professor Kevin J. Dettmar, writing in the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, described it as “the most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded“.

Mick Ronson: Beside Bowie!

beside bowie mick ronsonIf Mick Ronson were still with us, he would have turned 71 years old today. Some of you may not be familiar with him. Mick received his first real fame as David Bowie’s guitarist (The Spiders From Mars). Along with David, Mick worked as a producer on several albums. Here is a quick list of some of the artists Mick has worked with besides Bowie:


Mott the Hoople
Ian Hunter
Bob Dylan
John Mellencamp
David Cassidy
Roger Daltrey
Van Morrison

mick-ronson-011In 1974, Ronson secured the No. 2 spot from a reader’s poll in Creem magazine as the best guitarist that year (with Jimmy Page taking first place), and Eric Clapton in third place after Ronson. Watch Mick play some of his songs here: //

His influence as a producer is described here by John Mellencamp: “I owe Mick Ronson the hit song, Jack & Diane. Mick was very instrumental in helping me arrange that song, as I’d thrown it on the junk heap. Ronson came down and played on three or four tracks and worked on the American Fool record for four or five weeks. All of a sudden, for ‘Jack & Diane’, Mick said ‘Johnny, you should put baby rattles on there.’ I thought, ‘What the fuck does put baby rattles on the record mean? So he put the percussion on there and then he sang the part ‘let it rock, let it roll’ as a choir-ish-type thing, which had never occurred to me. And that is the part everybody remembers on the song. It was Ronson’s idea.”

p048czdxMick passed away on April 29, 1993 from liver cancer. He created an incredible body of work. Wish you were still here.