Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Beatles - A Doll's House




The Beatles had quite the year in 1967, releasing two groundbreaking albums, a critically bashed movie, and discovering eastern religion, so it's really surprising they started the year of 1968 in such a quiet manner, recording only four songs and releasing two of then in a single, one in a movie soundtrack, whilst the fourth tune remained in the vaults for two more years, before finally being released in 1970. But that was all about to change, when in March 1968 the four Beatles and their wives went to Rishikesh, India to study Trancendental Meditation, there picking up with some eastern religion, as well as writing a lot of songs. With a combination of both food issues (which made Ringo the first Beatle to leave), and their spiritual leader's supposed flirting with women inside their meditation place (making George and a disilussioned John finally leave), arriving in Britain with a, depending on the source, 30-45 song batch. So, what did they do? They, along with ever-present producer George Martin decided to release a double album, with the India-written songs, along with others as well. Martin came to regret it, saying that he would rather have it as a single disc of stellar-only material. Oh, the benefits of 20/20 highsight. I don't agree with all the folks that argue for the "single album" idea, because I've many times tried to strip it down into only two sides, and I always ended up with three fantastic sides worth of music. I could easily make others into single entities, such as Exile on Main St. but for me the WA is what it is. Recordings, for the first time, were tumultous: numerous fights and arguments, thousands of takes of songs were recorded, only for the fifth one to be chosen, and things even reached a point in which Ringo left for two weeks, only to return and find his drumkit filled with flowers, and engineer Geoff Emmerick giving up on the project midway and leaving. George Martin "went on a holiday" during the latter half of sessions, with soon-to-be famous producer Chris Thomas filling in his shoes. Probably the biggest elephant in the room (there were many) was the presece of Yoko, which was discussed so many times that me writing about it is unnecessary. Some songs, mostly by McCartney and Lennon, featured only one Beatle at them, multiple studios were used at the same time, making all three studios of Abbey Road occupied. All this chaos and division led the group to the verge of breaking up, but they still managed to record some of their best songs and release their best selling LP. Now, instead of using the old "turn it into a single!" formula, let's try something even more ambitious: what if the White Album was a triple album instead of a double? We can begin by the most obvious choices: the "Hey Jude" single and b-side, some era outtakes (such as the great "Not Guilty" and the weird "What's the News Mary Jane?"), the fourth February '68 song (fits way better here than in LIB), and, you may consider it cheating, but other songs already completed by then that weren't recorded until later, such as "Mean Mr. Mustard" or "The Long and Winding Road". A little bit unfair? Well, sure, but had they agreed on releasing this six-sided monster from the beggining, it's really likely they would record all the mentioned songs for it, since many are even in the Esher demos. I was against using Esher demos themselves, causing the inclusion of solo output, but one excuse had to be made: "Child of Nature", a great song that despite becoming "Jealous Guy", has no real studio version, so it's included. It's sound quality is screamingly different from the songs around it, but we can make the excuse it's a "lo-fi experiment", since bands such as the Velvet Underground were doing that at the time. And there are some limits as well: I will not mess up the tracklisting of the album by throwing the songs on sides they don't belong in, so the bew material will be in a new disc (Sides 1-2 are disc one, new material is disc two, and sides 3-4 are disc three), and considering the strenght of the material available, it won't make that much of a difference. I did exclude some songs, however, such as Goodbye and Sour Milk Sea (given to other artists for recording), Circles (the single most boring Beatle song in existence), in order to make this a listenable effort, at least. We as well restore the album's original art and title, A Doll's House, scrapped when the group Family released their debut Music in a Doll's House, causing our now famous name and cover. Basically, because changing a little is nice sometimes, we stick with the alternate title, and it's psychdelic-like cover, to later be re-used in the compilation Ballads. I as well use some alternate versions found on Anthology for some songs, combined with a fantastic remix of the album with some additional stuff and different things (I'll post a link and a thank you to the guy who made it in the comments), giving us some much needed variety in the albums, after hearing it the same way for 49 years! Listen carefully to the songs and notice all the small changes, it's great. Without further adue, there it is:

Side A
1. Back in the USSR
2. Dear Prudence
3. Glass Onion
4. Ob La Di, Ob La Da
5. Wild Honey Pie
6. The Continuing Story of Bungallow Bill
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8 Happiness is a Warm Gun
Side B
1. Marta My Dear
2. I'm So Tired
3. Blackbird
4. Piggies
5. Rocky Raccoon
6. Don't Pass Me By
7. Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
8. I Will
9. Julia
Side C
1. Revolution
2. Something
3. Every Night
4. Child of Nature
5. Junk
6. What's the News Mary Jane?
7. Look at Me
8. The Long and Winding Rōad
Side D
1. Across the Universe
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps #1
3. Teddy Boy
4. Mean Mr. Mustard
5. Polythene Pam
6. Not Guilty
7. Hey Jude
Side E
1. Birthday
2. Yer Blues
3. Mother Nature's Son
4. Everybody's Got Something to Hide, Except for Me and My Monkey
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Helter Skelter
7. Long, Long, Long
Side F
1. Revolution #1
2. Honey Pie
3. Savoy Truffle
4. Cry Baby Cry
5. Revolution #9
6. Good Night


In addition to the minor mixing changes explained above, some songs were even swapped out altogether for alternate versions.  "Obla-di, Obla-da" is the first of them, being exchanged for the accoustic guitar centered version of Anthology 3. Ringo's first original song, "Don't Pass Me By" now includes the 50-second intro "A Beginning", as was originally intended and scored by Mr. George Martin. And speaking of Ringo, the third change is that of "Good Night", exchanging the sappy orchestration for a more stripped piano version, with the strings only making their presence known in the end. And for our new disc of surprises, we begin with maybe the most obvious choice for the album: the single version of "Revolution", the second time around for this song, but since it is a triple album, we're allowed to have the same song twice, right? Even the Clash did that with the dub versions on side six of "Sandinista", so why can't we? The song is followed by probablly the best song George ever wrote, "Something", that was already complete during the last batch of White Album recordings, but not recorded for, well, George Harrison syndrome reasons. The first Paul song on our new side is "Every Night", began in mid-'68 and finished in time for inclusion on his first solo LP. It does feature some proeminent backing vocals for Linda, but Yoko even sang her own line in "Bungalow Bill", so here's for a bit of McCartney revenge. Song no. 4 is our little lo-fi experiment, "Child of Nature", soon to become "Jealous Guy" in it's original Esher demo format, with background talk and everything. Soon following is "Junk", with which McCartney toyed with for the next two years, before finally settling with it in "McCarntey" in '70. The acoustic existencial crisis of "Look at Me" is next, complete with finger-picking guitar techniques (courtesy of Meditation colleague Donovan), only being released in John's 1970 studio album debut. Probably the weirdest piece of music ever attached to the Beatles name, "What's the News Mary Jane?" is here edited to only feature it's first three minutes. You're welcome, no need to thank me. Being followed by the mellow and overblown ballad "The Long and Winding Road", being the side closer for our brand-new Side C. Side D begins with the gentle and mystical "Across the Universe", oddly enough the only song here recorded before the India trip, here found in it's Anthology 3 version, complete with Indian-sounding sound effects. The second (and last) re-recording here is the "LOVE" version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", with the only instruments featured being the acoustic guitar and the background orchestration. Another recycled India reject is "Teddy Boy", tried out for both the WA and the Let it Be album, before finding it's home in Macca's solo career. "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam", now part of the Abbey Road Medley, are still bonded here, but instead of just seguing into "She Came Into the Bathroom Window", now "Pam" fades-out, giving it a proper ending, courtesy again of Scott G. Thanks! "Not Guilty" is a strange case: 100+ takes were recorded for it, before it got scrapped for whoever knows the reason. Maybe they just got fed up with it. It is featured in it's Anthology version, but a little surprise was added to it's ending: before Hey Jude begins, 20 seconds of the crazy outro from "WTNMJ?" play, half as a transition and half as a mean jumpscare prank. And what a better way to finish it up than with "Hey Jude", the classic in it's full 7-minute glory? It's featured in it's regular form, and the next two sides, I think, don't need much introduction.
The White Album is a mixture of a thousand genres and moods: it is both joyous, depressing, humorous, creepy and corny, even one after the other sometimes, something all "trimmed down versions" fail to do. A new LP even adds more to that, making the already kaleidoscopic White Album into the schizophrenic A Doll's House.Even the origin of the name fits with the general theme: it is based on the 19th century play by the same name written by Henrik Ibsen, telling the story of Nora, an unhappy woman who leaves her husband and children to lead a new, happier life alone. At this point, it seems all Beatles could be represented by her: repressed people, who would soon spread their wings to their own, individual lifes. A Doll's House is the sound of collapse and breakup, and ever since then, desintegration has never sounded so beautiful.

Download link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/51qz7g9mam31gz6/AAC1RbPlrBd7vxtQ84-kCWx1a?dl=0

Sources: 
- The Beatles 
- Anthology 3 
 - Abbey Road 
- Past Masters 
- Let It Be 
 - McCartney (Paul McCartney) 
 - Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon)
- LOVE 
- White Album Unplugged [Bootleg]

13 comments:

  1. The remix mentioned above: http://jiggy22.blogspot.com.br/2016/10/the-beatles-dolls-house-alternate.html big thanks to Scott! Try and notice all the small changes in it, it's really fun

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    Replies
    1. Hey, just happened to stumble on this blog while searching for a version of 1862 by the Small Faces. Great work! Thanks for the shoutout BTW, glad to hear that you like my remixes. Keep up the good work!

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  2. You go to all the hard to assemble this wonderful compilation, and you render it as a MP3. Why???

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    Replies
    1. Mainly because MP3 is the thing I use the most normally, and the focus here isn't exaclty the sound quality and yes the reconstructions themselves, so that's why no FLAC

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    2. I feel churlish agreeing with Alchemist, given your wonderful work on so many albums, but FLAC has advantages beyond possibly better SQ. If we want to make our own reconstructions from your edits and further compress it at some point, we lose a LOT of quality. Keeping the tracks in lossless gives us the ability to further play with your edits. Anyway, your creativity and energy are greatly appreciated!

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  3. Thanks for this one,i notice that all or nearly all the white album songs are alternate versions which was a pleasant suprise to me as i`d never heard them.However i don`t think the abbey road/let it be etc tracks work in this context so iv`e ended up with a 5 track EP between the two albums ie

    child of nature
    look at me
    whats the new mary jane
    teddy boy
    not gulity

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    Replies
    1. Nice touch! A good way out on this one, to be released for the christmas market. I just resequenced it:

      The Beatles - Dollhouse Rejects
      - Teddy Boy
      - Not Guilty
      - Child of Nature
      - Look at Me
      - What's the New Mary Jane?

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  4. Ok here`s my final take on `A Doll`s House` as a double LP using your triple LP and soniclovenoise`s idea of two separate albums for the running order (mostly).

    Side A (23.26)

    1.Revolution (B-Side)
    2.O-bla-di,O-bla-da
    3.Wild Honey Pie
    4.Mother Nature`s Son
    5.Everybody`s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
    6.I`m So Tired
    7.Blackbird
    8.Cry Baby Cry
    9.Not Guilty

    Side B (29.00)

    1.Don`t Pass Me By
    2.Yer Blues
    3.Rocky Racoon
    4.Sexy Sadie
    5.What`s The New Mary Jane?
    6.Revolution 9
    7.Goodnight

    Side C (26.45)

    1.Back In The USSR
    2.Dear Prudence
    3.Glass Onion
    4.The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
    5.While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic Version)
    6.Happiness Is A Warm Gun
    7.Martha My Dear
    8.Piggies
    9.Child Of Nature
    10.Why Don`t We Do It In The Road?

    Side D (31.38)

    1.Birthday
    2.Savoy Truffle
    3.I Will
    4.Helter Skelter
    5.Long Long Long
    6.Honey Pie
    7.Julia
    8.Revolution 1
    9.Hey Jude

    Its probably not realistic as a vinyl double LP but i like it.Iv`e made it as four side long tracks in GarageBand so it flows nicely.

    Peace…………………………………………………………

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've made a playlist out of it and as of side one it's pretty darn good. Did you use the regular Obladi, or the one I used here?

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  5. Everything is from your triple LP as all my Beatles Lp`s are stuck on a disc that my mac won`t read at the moment.
    :-)

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  6. I have always felt that there were two really good albums all mixed up in The White Album. So instead of expanding it or whittling it down to one album, I created two separate albums:

    A DOLL'S HOUSE
    Side A
    1. Glass Onion
    2. Dear Prudence
    3. Birthday
    4. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
    5. Savoy Truffle
    6. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
    Side B
    1. Martha My Dear
    2. Piggies
    3. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
    4. Blackbird
    5. Rocky Raccoon
    6. Cry Baby Cry
    7. Good Night

    THE BEATLES
    Side A
    1. Back in the USSR
    2. Sexy Sadie
    3. Not Guilty
    4. Julia
    5. Honey Pie
    6. Don't Pass Me By
    7. I'm So Tired
    Side B
    1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    2. I Will
    3. Yer Blues
    4. Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
    5. Happiness is a Warm Gun
    6. Long, Long, Long
    7. Revolution #1
    8. Helter Skelter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Note that I included "Not Guilty" (long version) and removed "Wild Honey Pie" (which I've always really hated), and "Revolution 9" as it takes up a lot of space and which I find a bit tedious these days after so many listens.

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    2. I tried the same approach as you did, but I just couldn't lay down a satisfactory tracklist with the tunes. Well, guess I'm a completist by heart!

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