A Tribute to George Harrison
We lost another Beatle this week. The thing that makes this loss hurt maybe even a little more than Lennon’s death is how little much of the media has had to say about Harrison’s death. I remember when John died there were specials running 24 hours a day for weeks afterward and I didn’t even have cable!!! I have a fear that Harrison’s place in musical history, even in death is going to be unfairly obscured.

It’s not like Beatles and music fans haven’t had to deal with this for years already. Ask people to name all four Beatles and if anyone is forgotten it will be George. Many won’t even be able to tell you what he played or what songs he wrote. Even Frank Sinatra, who made a career of performing ‘Something’ in concert and called it the greatest love song of the last 50 years, credited the song to John and Paul.

The contributions that Harrison made to the Beatles were often so subtle many people failed to notice them, particularly his role as a guitarist. He wasn’t flashy like Clapton, he didn’t burn or shatter his instrument like Hendrix and Townshend, he was the ultimate session guitarist. His playing always served the song, not his own ego. An incredibly versatile guitarist, his playing encompassed nearly every genre of music imaginable, from Country (What’s Going On) to Blues (Yer Blues) to Psychedelic (It’s All Too Much) and beyond. Take the guitar break on “Nowhere Man”, for instance. It is impossible to think of that being played any differently. Especially with the ending harmonic at the end. That alone makes it one of the most memorable solos of all time, despite it’s brevity.

However, nothing says more about his role as a guitarist than the overwhelming number of riffs and solos that can actually be sung or hummed. Just a few of the guitar riffs contributed by Harrison that are probably burned into your brains, “I Feel Fine”, “Day Tripper”, “Paperback Writer”, “Help”, and “Hello Goodbye”. Mick Jagger acknowledged as much in his recent response to George’s death. “As a guitarist, he invented many classic lines that are much copied by others....”

Of course the saddest and most shocking thing to realize in the aftermath of Harrison’s death, is that with the exception of “All Things Must Pass”, “Extra Texture”, “Dark Horse” and “Living In the Material World”, none of George’s post Beatle studio LPs are available in any format in America. (A remastered version of “The Concert For Bangladesh” is scheduled for next year.) Basically ALL of his post Capital work, starting with “33 1/3” is unavailable. What does this say about the music industry’s feelings toward what Harrison contributed to music after the Beatles broke up? It tells me that they wrote him off many, many years ago. How sad!!! Here’s to hoping that George Harrison’s talents as a songwriter, guitarist, singer, and producer do not continue to be overlooked by the public and the critics. God Bless you George, you will be missed.

PS--A short afterthought. If you still have a turntable, and are intelligent enough to recognize the superiority of the analog format, seek out a mint, UK copy of George’s 1976 LP “33 1/3”. Possibly his best album, next to “All Things Must Pass”. He quietly asserts his mastery of his two pet instruments on this album (slide guitar and synthesizer) and offers several of his most melodic and humorous songs, such as “Crackerbox Palace” and “This Song”.

This album also features two of my personal favorite Harrison tunes “Beautiful Girl” and “Learning How to Love You.”
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

The Beatles - Let It Be....Naked
When the Beatles began work on Get Back / Let It Be in January of ‘69, the intention was to get back to basics and perform as a band again. With Sgt Pepper and the White Album, they had moved away from performing as a tight four-piece band to layered productions that often times had individual Beatles performing their parts with none of the others present. The intention with this new project was to perform all the songs “live” as a four-piece with overdubs either nonexistent or kept to a bare minimum. With the addition of old friend Billy Preston on keyboards, this was certainly a concept that was easily within the grasp of the group.

Of course, things didn’t go as planned. Group relations were at an all time low, no one seemed particularly interested in the material, and the presence of a film crew for a proposed documentary did nothing but increase the tension in the cavernous and chilly Twickenham studios. The band eventually moved operations to the basement studio in the Apple building, which was equipped with an 8-track console. Another set of two 4-tracks was sent over from Abbey Road, when the console promised by Apple crackpot “Magic Alex” proved to be nothing more than a failed science experiment.

After nearly a month of filming, rehearsal, and recording, the Beatles played what would become their final live performance as a group. They performed for approximately 40 minutes on the rooftop of the Apple building in London on Jan. 30, 1969. They commenced the next day for some additional recording and that effectively concluded the recording sessions for the Get Back project, even though there were sporadic overdubs over the next year.

When recording proper had been completed, the tapes were given to Glyn Johns to compile a releasable LP. He took the “warts and all” approach a bit too literally choosing takes from early in the sessions that did not meet with the group’s approval. The tapes were temporarily shelved. After Phil Spector had completed producing John Lennon’s single “Instant Karma,” he was asked to make an attempt at putting together a releasable album from the many hours of tape that had been shelved. Most of the takes chosen by Spector date from the last few days of the sessions. “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “Dig A Pony,” and “One After 909” were chosen from the Jan 30 “rooftop” performance. All the other songs were chosen from performances recorded between Jan 24 and Jan. 31, 1969, with two notable exceptions. The master for “Across the Universe” originates from February of 1968 and “I Me Mine” which was recorded by the group (without Lennon’s participation) on Jan 4, 1970. The last official Beatles recording before their breakup.

Of course, what Phil Spector did with these master takes has been a source of controversy among fans, critics, insiders, and the Beatles themselves for close to 35 years. Much of what Spector did with the tapes amounted to nothing more than a few simple edits. The controversy generally centers on three songs. “The Long & Winding Road,” “Across the Universe,” and “Let It Be.” For both “The Long & Winding Road” and “Across the Universe,” Spector chose to add his famous “Wall of Sound.” Eighteen violins, four violas, four cellos, one harp, three trumpets, three trombones, and a fourteen-person choir were overdubbed onto both of these songs. For “Let It Be,” Spector thankfully chose not to add the massive overdubs he had to the previous two songs. The version of this song that appears on the album is essentially just a drastic remix of the single version of the song. Both the album version and the single version derive from the same master take recorded on Jan. 31, 1969. For the single version George Martin’s orchestral score was subtly mixed low in the song and features a subdued guitar solo recorded by Harrison in April of 1969. Spector chose to mix the brass more prominently in the song and went with a louder, raunchier guitar solo recorded by Harrison on Jan 4, 1970. There are those that feel that Spector’s mix overwhelms the songs hymnal quality, while others prefer the more rock-oriented sound of the album. There is definitely a case to be made for both versions of the song. The album version definitely features one the best guitar solos of Harrison’s career, which is saying a lot.

Fast forward more than 30 years to 2002 and Apple approaches Abbey Road engineers to compile a new version of the Let It Be album. The engineers were given free reign to compile the album as they chose. The first major change made was to drop two songs from the original album (“Maggie Mae” and “Dig It”), while adding “Don’t Let Me Down”, which many feel should have been on the album from the beginning. For the majority of the songs, Abbey Road’s engineers decided to go with the same basic master takes chosen by Spector in 1970. One exception being that they chose the Jan 31 take of the “Long and Winding Road,” which was featured in the film rather than the Jan. 26 take used on the original album. They also chose to edit together parts of both versions of “I’ve Got A Feeling” from the “rooftop” performance rather than using the first performance used in both the film and on the LP. “Don’t Let Me Down” receives a similar treatment to “I’ve Got A Feeling.” Instead of using the Jan 28 version of the song featured on the single, the two “rooftop” performances have been edited together, partly due to the fact that Lennon forgot the words during one of the two performances. Other changes made to the album, both major and minor, are as follows:

“Let It Be”--the removal of all orchestral overdubs and the use of yet another Harrison guitar solo, taken from the film.

“Get Back”--The same basic track as the album and single without the added coda recorded on Jan 28 for the single release. Lennon’s comments edited in from the “rooftop” performance by Spector have also been removed.

“I Me Mine”--The removal of Spector’s orchestral parts.

“Across the Universe”--The same basic track from 1968 stripped down to its most basic elements, without any of Spector’s overdubs.

“The Long & Winding Road”--As mentioned previously, the Jan 31 take was chosen for this song, rather than the Jan 26 take used previously. This is the same version that is performed in the film. All of Phil Spector’s embellishments have been removed.

Overall, this new version of the Let It Be album is very effective. The versions of “The Long & Winding Road” and “Across the Universe” on this album are far more effective in their stripped down versions than the heavily embellished versions issued previously.

The other songs differ in far more subtle ways, but sonically are far superior to the previous CD issued in the ’80s. So, will the REAL Let It Be please stand up? At this late stage in the game, it is questionable whether such a thing exists anymore. It may have never existed at all. The “warts and all” approach was abandoned by the Beatles themselves before Phil Spector ever got involved. This new version further muddies the waters by the many edits employed by the album’s engineers. What they have come up with is a very listenable album that fits very well in the Beatles official catalog. Despite the fact that very few “live” takes were used for this release, it probably comes closer to what the Beatles originally intended the album to sound like before Phil Spector got involved.

This is definitely an essential purchase for any Beatles fan. Having said that, don’t ignore the original 1970 LP. There are still some wonderful moments preserved on that disc that are not present here.

Further information on the Beatles Let It Be sessions can be found in the excellent book Get Back: The Unauthorized Chronicle of the Beatles’ Let It Be Disaster by Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt (Originally published independently as Drugs, Divorce, & a Slipping Image).

Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

The Beatles - The Capitol Albums Volume 1 (Meet The Beatles, The Beatles Second Album, Something New, and Beatles ‘65)
Capitol and Apple have finally done what many long time Beatle fans have been clamoring for since 1987. When the Fabs were finally given the CD treatment, the decision was made to standardize the Beatles catalog around the world. This meant the albums that original and even second generation Beatles fans were familiar with on LP would no longer be available to them unless they were searching used LP shops. On LP, the Beatles catalog was not standardized until the release of Sgt. Pepper’s... in 1967. Prior to that release, excluding interview discs and novelties, the US managed to squeeze twelve releases out of seven original UK albums.

The first four of these have been released on CD for the first time by Capitol in a presumably limited edition box set. Only available in this set, the four albums are not available individually, so as not to compete with the UK catalog on CD.

Capitol and Apple have been quite generous with this set, providing both the US mono and stereo mixes of all four albums featured in the set. Many of these mixes differ from the UK counterparts. The main differences being a lot of added reverb on many songs, not present on the UK mixes, and “duophonic” or “fake stereo” mixes of seven songs. These seven songs are a mixed bag sonically. “You Can’t Do That,” “I Feel Fine,” and “She’s A Woman” are sonic disasters, while the other four songs, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “This Boy,” “I’ll Get You,” and “She Loves You” fare a little better. Not great, but at least passable. Of course, if this is the way that you originally heard these mixes, you may disagree with that assessment. The rest of the set, however, sounds far better than the CDs that were released in the ’80s and make it clear how desperately the ’80s CDs are in need of a sonic upgrade. At any rate, it is nice to have the first four American albums on CD. Let’s hope we get a couple more volumes like this in the future. A highly recommended purchase.

Further information of the Beatles’ Capitol Albums can be found in the following books written by Bruce Spizer, all of which are outstanding. Spizer is responsible for some of the best books on the Beatles ever written.

The Beatles’ Story on Capital Records Part One: The Singles
The Beatles’ Story on Capital Records Part Two: The Albums
The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

The Essential Barbra Streisand
Hmm... It would appear that the “Essential” series distributed by Columbia Records has run out of steam. When a record label has to dig in their vaults for putrid filth sung by a talentless, egomaniacal whore and call it essential, you know that the head of the record label is smoking waaaay too much crack.

After all, recent scientific studies have shown that this CD (and all Streisand related items) cause blindness, paralysis, and sexual dysfunction in anyone exposed to this white noise for periods longer than two minutes. (If you’ve ever seen hardcore fans of Babs up close, you know the kind of irreparable damage that her music causes.) Of all the albums out there, none are more in need of a warning sticker than this one. The safety of our nation is at stake.

PS. Kris Kristofferson, Neil Diamond, and Robert Redford may be forgiven for their unfortunate associations with “the thing from another planet.”
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

“Barbra Streisand is the only one that we’ve ripped on that we really do hate. She sucks. And you can actually have nasal sex with her. Triple penetration: oral, anal, nasal.” - Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park)

“I hate her... she’s so annoying... she’s probably had everything done but her nose...” - Monica Lewinsky, another talentless loser who sucks!!!

“What does she know about rock’n’roll?” - Cher commenting on Barbra’s role in “A Star Is Born.”

“Barbra Streisand is a Marie Antoinette, because she is unaware of the facts of common existence. It’s the danger of believing you’re larger than life. Nobody is bigger than life.” - Elliot Gould, who apparently feels no lost love for his ex.

I have more talent in my smallest fart than you have in your entire body. - - - Walter Matthau (to Barbra Steisand)


“I just don’t like the idea of her singing my songs. Who the hell does she thinks she is? The world doesn’t need another Streisand!” - Babs on Diana Ross. Well, she got the second part of the quote right. We don’t even need one Streisand, let alone two. As for Diana Ross singing “her” songs, well she better wake up and realize she has no songs. She’s spent her life destroying other peoples songs, not her own. The same as Diana Ross. Just one more egotistical statement from a media whore.

“I’m not that ambitious any more. I just like my privacy. I wish I really wasn’t talked about at all.” - No one would talk about you if you kept your damn trap shut!!!

“Most awards, y’know, they don’t give you unless you go and get them - didja know that? Terribly discouraging.” -What??

“A Republican/Conservative candidate completely misrepresented Ms. Streisand’s deep opposition to the Iranian dictator, Saddam Hussein...” - posted on Barbra’s official web site and then promptly removed when someone reminded her she is an idiot!!!

Barbra Streisand was paid fifty million dollars to perform in a major Las Vegas hotel and was arrogant enough to complain to the crowd about the luxury accommodations. She also had the audacity to tell security to instruct fans not to talk or so much as look at her during her walk to the stage. I don’t know that they would need to be instructed. No one in their right mind would look at anything that ugly!!!

Barbra Streisand, outspoken celebrity liberal, can probably count on one hand the number of minorities that have appeared in her films or on her records. Actions speak louder than words dumbass!!!

Barbra Steisand has put on more “farewell” concerts than probably anyone in the business, including the Who. At least the Who, puts on an exciting show and doesn’t expect you to mortgage your house to attend the concert. How much money does she need anyway? I don’t think nose jobs are that expensive.
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

Chris Ceder’s Best of 2002
Solomon Burke - Don’t Give Up on Me

Soul legend Burke offers great album consisting of tracks written specifically for him by Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and many other top notch songwriters. A must have.

Elvis Costello - When I Was Cruel

Elvis gets back to his roots. An angry, experimental song cycle that stands with his best LPs.

Bob Dylan - Live 1975 Rolling Thunder Review

Finally, an official document of the circus that was Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder” shows. Next to his 1966 tour with the Hawks (the Band), this is Dylan at his most energetic. Here’s to hoping that his 4 hour long document of the tour (Renaldo & Clara) gets an official release in the near future.

George Harrison - Brainwashed

A fitting farewell from one of music’s most talented innovators. A potent reminder of what an exceptional guitarist Harrison really was.

Warren Zevon - My Ride’s Here

Zevon continues his winning streak with this follow up to last year’s “Life’ll Kill Ya”. Though suffering from terminal cancer, he sounds as energetic as ever.

Honorable Mention

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Sheryl Crow - C’mon C’mon
Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around
Aimee Mann - Lost In Space
Steve Earle - Jerusalem
Bill Mallonee - Fetal Position
Buddy Miller - Midnight & Lonesome
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind
Although it is already almost 4 years old, Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind continues to resonate with the same power it had on it’s day of release back in 1997. Produced by famed French Canadian Daniel Lanois (U2, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, etc.) and performed with a group that consisted of members of his touring band and famed session people such as Jim Keltner, this album is one of those rare instances when the Grammy for best album was actually given to the most deserving candidate.

After a rather half hearted LP of original material (1991’s Under the Red Sky) and 2 well performed LPs of old folk standards, this album was Dylan’s first wholly original album in 6 years. It is infused with a sense of urgency about the inevitable end that we all come to. Death is everywhere on this album. Like his Gospel LPs, he is spreading a message. Letting people know that all of us come to the same end and there are choices to be made before the final curtain drops.

The centerpiece of this album is the song “Not Dark Yet”. This is a song of almost total resignation to a fate that none of us asked for and none of us can escape.

“I was born here and I’ll die here, against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there”

He has given up and is just awaiting the inevitable. Not to suggest that the whole album is one of resignation. Like his classic song “Every Grain of Sand”, where he sings “....sometimes I turn there’s someone there, other times it’s only me...”, sometimes he feels alone & abandoned and other times he feels “the mercy of God must be near” (Standing in the Doorway).

Dylan covers a lot of ground on this album. The aforementioned themes of death and salvation, love lost & found, regret, fear, frustration, sadness, and even an occasional sense of joy & humor. More than any of his other albums, Dylan really lays himself bare here. He has rarely sung or written songs in such a straightforward manner. It is as if he has decided to drop his many masks and let his audience in a little more than usual. His lyrics , while still clever and sometimes cryptic, have an added depth and honesty on this album.. Dylan says the things that most of us think, yet are too frightened to admit or confront, which is bound to make a lot of people uncomfortable. But hey, isn’t that one of the things that he has always been best at?

One final note that has more to do with Dylan himself than this particular album. I feel the need to address (and hopefully correct) the myth that Dylan can’t sing. I hear this all the time and it simply isn’t true. Dylan is a better singer than Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Backstreet Boys, and NStink combined. Can these artists carry a tune? I suppose so. Would you rather listen to them than me? Maybe. But these individuals lack two very important things--emotion and control. Mariah Carey doesn’t understand that just because she CAN hit a note doesn’t mean that she SHOULD hit that note. We all know what I am talking about. That screeching she does on all her songs that sounds like fingernails on chalkboard. Dylan knows how to control his voice. His phrasing is impeccable and I think impossible to duplicate. Plus, all those mentioned above completely lack feeling. I feel empty when I hear them. Not so with Dylan. You know that he means what he is singing. The emotion is so raw you can almost touch it. He is an intuitive singer and musician. And as for his ability to carry a tune, check out “Nashville Skyline” or “New Morning” to hear the “sweeter” side of his voice or just listen to Time Out of Mind. You will notice all the notes are there, where they should be. They may be a little rougher around the edges than your average song bird, but singing should engage you, not make you feel numb!!!

When listening to Dylan, or any other artist for that matter, listen with your heart as much as your ears. You may be surprised by what you “hear”.
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

6 Degrees of T-Bone Burnett
Most of us have played or at least heard of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. This is where you try and connect Kevin Bacon to any actor on the planet in 6 steps or less. So who is Kevin Bacon’s musical counterpart? My guess is that the majority of you will not recognize the name, but the musical Kevin Bacon is none other than T-Bone Burnett. I can hear the chorus now, “who the hell is T-Bone Burnett?” Well, I’ll tell you. He is a guitarist, producer, singer, and songwriter, who has worked with an astonishing number of people throughout his long and varied career. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you own an album or two on which he appears as a player or producer. Just to give you an idea of his musical reach, what follows is a very long list of artists that he has worked with.

Bob Dylan
Peter Case
Jennifer Warnes
Ringo Starr
Charlie Sexton
Bruce Cockburn
Paul McCartney
Roy Orbison
Booker T. Jones
Elvis Costello
Jackson Browne
Steven Soles
Tonio K.
Warren Zevon
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Marshall Crenshaw
Los Lobos
Bruce Springsteen
Counting Crows
The Wallflowers
Pete Townshend
The Call
The BoDeans
Gillian Welch
Mark Heard
Maria McKee
Emmylou Harris
Bonnie Raitt
Roger McGuinn
Tom Waits
Paul Westerberg
Chrissie Hynde
kd lang
Sam Phillips (his wife, a fantastic singer/songwriter in her own right and for you movie buffs--she plays Jeremy Irons mute girlfriend in Die Hard 3)
The Coen Brothers (he is musical director on both The Big Lebwoski and O Brother Where Art Thou?)

.....and the list goes on. I know I have forgotten many and there are quite a few I am sure I am unaware of. But with this list, you should be able to start your own little game of “6 Degrees of T-Bone Burnett”. Check out a few of these artists and see where it takes you. The following link will take you to a site featuring discography, interviews, and other information about T-Bone Burnett and his wife Sam Phillips. Watch for Sam’s new album Fan Dance in stores July 31, 2001.


PS--Most likely candidates for being in your homes would be:

U2-Joshua Tree (mentioned in the thank yous on back of album) (song “Purple Heart” cowritten with Bono appears on his Talking Animals LP)

The Wallflowers-Bringing Down the Horse (producer)

Counting Crows-August and Everything After (producer)
Chris Ceder
Appleton, WI

Dawn Ceder, T-Bone Burnett and Chris Ceder

Chris Ceder's Wacky World of Rock and Roll