1969


LET IT BE (LP)

Notes on Let It Be:
Paul switched back to his Hofner violin bass for the movie, a habit he would entertain most times he's been filmed playing in his career.   

DON'T LET ME DOWN

Paul played through a Fender Bassman amplifier during Let It Be, which gave the sound a slightly raunchy, barely distorted sound he did not get at any other time.  The best example of this is probably heard on Don't Let Me Down.  

 

I DIG A PONY

We've read alot about how horrible the sessions for Let It Be were, how no one got along and they weren't playing well together any more. I don't know about them not getting along, but I think the not playing well together stuff is bullshit and this song proves it. They're having fun playing this song and further more it is a good example of how a bass player can best underscore a guitar heavy composition.   At times the bass is following the guitar lines, and at times it plays counter to the guitars. It's a personal preference of mine, but (as noted on Drive My Car), I love hearing a guitar line with the bass playing an octave below. So, here it is again with all it's glory on I Dig A Pony. For the opening riff, Paul is doubling the guitar (an octave below). And he does it on and off throughout the song, at times playing straight rhythm and at times following the guitar.

Damn, I don't know about you, but when I watch the movie, I see the Beatles having som fun and when they're on the rooftop, John and Paul at least look to be having a great time, especially on this song. There the Beatles are, playing I Dig A Pony, using all of their energy to drive the point home, all together now.
In fact, listening to the recently released Let it Be Naked, I get that feeling all through the album.  If it was hell for them, so be it; we can enjoy what they did for us, right? Right?


OLD BROWN SHOE (single)

This is one of those songs that is rarely mentioned, but to me it is one of the better Beatles songs. There it is, sadly languishing its life away as a flip side on a single.  On the other hand, being the flip side of a Beatles single is not exactly langhishing. Anyway, it is not brought up in Beatle discussions and it was gratifying to hear it on George's Live in Japan album.    Listen to the bass and guitar doublets on the bridge (if I grow up...).   Some very fast playing, indeed!   The whole song, in fact, is super-fast and if it turns out that it was not sped up during  the recording process, then it's really impressive. Well, you might say that that's a mighty wicked bass part Paul is playing but if you did you'd be happily wrong. I've received two emails that indicate that it might be George playing that part. One indicated that he read an interview where George claimed the part. And then, here's another email:

I've tried to convince others that George played bass on OldBrownShoe.  It became obvious to me after anthology3 came out, because of the liner notes.  The notes state that george did the demos for OBS and Something on his own that day in the studio, and the 'bass' line on OBS is exactly the same as the final version (well, 99% the same).  Figuring he dubbed it on the demo himself, it would have been very hard to get Paul to play something *george* dictated, so I surmised George played it himself.  (clever little detective, ain't I?) - Michael Kimsal

 

 


ABBEY ROAD (LP)

Notes on Abbey Road: The 'starkness' so evident on the white album was now replaced by lushness. It's difficult to find a classier album. The Beatles, produced again by George Martin, and engineered once again by Geoff Emerick, seemed to be back into playing songs as a cohesive unit. . There is some great bass playing on Abbey Road, not quite as stark as the white album.

COME TOGETHER

This is one of the best known bass lines ever recorded.   One can only be glad that it was recorded by the Beatles because had it come during John's solo career, he might have become severely limited in its bass impact.   

An interesting aspect of  the song is that the drums and bass - during the intro parts - are played in a pretty interesting counterpoint to each other. At first listen, you'd think that the two parts have nothing to do with eachother. I wonder how it is that they came up with their contrasting parts.

Yes, an old hand at Beatles recordings was back again - Geoff Emerick. This was the first song he engineered for the Beatles since they recorded Cry Baby Cry for the white album. The old team of Martin/Emerick was back together.

The other Beatles showed great skill in what they did not play. They are very restrained. The electric piano on the song, played almost out of a Quaalude-type fog, set a nice tone for the record.

Whenever he (John) did praise any of us, it was great praise, indeed, because he didn't dish it out much. If ever you got a speck or crumb of it, you were grateful. With 'Come Together', for instance, he wanted a piano lick to be very swampy and smoky, and I played it that way and he liked it a lot. I was quite pleased with that . -- Paul McCartney 6

SOMETHING

Known for one of the sweetest guitar solos George had played to date, but should also be known for Paul's ability to play adventurous bass runs and still keep out of the way of the melody. Or, perhaps, to enhance it. The line he does that leads to the final chords of the song seem like he barely makes it, but does! A great song and the second most recorded song of all time; second only of course to Yesterday.

I WANT YOU (SHE'S SO HEAVY)

John wanted that old white album starkness again, but what about the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride bass playing he got from Paul? Aside from the mini bass solo lines (kind of reminiscent of I'm Only Sleeping), during the choruses, he goes completely haywire as the ending moves along like giant alien robots tramping across the earth and bringing on the judgment day. Fifteen times does that section play and fifteen times does the bass part completely lose all sight of reality. They must have been some sessions, those that produced this song.

HERE COMES THE SUN

I Want You (She's So Heavy) ends with that sudden break and, if you have the CD, the beautiful sounding guitar intro to Here Comes The Sun starts right in. It's so completely opposite of what came before, but so good and warm feeling that you jump right into the new mood.

They had long ago perfected the art of waving their pocket watch in front of their fans' eyes and causing them to feel whatever they wanted and this was no exception. From the grim reaper to a sunny morning, you will follow.

In the case of the LP it was difficult, if not impossible, to NOT get up at the end of I Want You and turn that album over. You HAD to hear that acoustic guitar intro to Here Comes The Sun.

The song might have been ruined by the great groove Paul and Ringo put together for the song.   Listening to it without the rhythm section makes it seem empty.

BECAUSE

Bass, by itself, is rarely interesting. But bass, playing in the background and just filling in at perfect parts, is invigorating to me. Examples of excellent bass mood setting are Woody Herman's Bijou, Percy Faith's Theme For A Summer Place, Simon & Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair, and the Beatles' Because. It fills up some of the vocal lines and walks down with little three run lines that don't just fill in gaps, but keep the song set in the right direction. Without the bass, the song is beautiful. With it, we get a lesson in tasteful playing.

MEAN MR. MUSTARD You hear lots of McCartney-influenced songs on the radio now. These stories about boring people doing boring things: being postmen and secretaries and writing home. I'm not interested in writing third party songs. I like to write about me; 'cause I know me .-- John Lennon 1

Apparently Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam were exceptions to this rule.

Fuzz bass was employed on Mr. Mustard, employed over the standard bass sound. The rhythm moves in and out of 3/4 time. Then it's onward and upward to some more classic rock sounds.

POLYTHENE PAM

Ringo, engineered again by Emerick, never sounded better in his Beatles days than he did on this album and this song is evidence for that. Where the drumming sounded a bit thin at times on the white album, it was round and full on Abbey Road. There's some aggressive playing by both Ringo and Paul on this song, especially when they bring each verse line back home with that eighth note slam.

The intro line, repeated throughout the song, has an excellent stumble in it that was well contrived by Paul and Ringo. There's the three guitar chords (D A E) and then the four beats on bass and drums. Then Paul sounds as if he's trying to find his way back up to E, stops for a moment at D and finally gets up top. He may have added this little bit on accident and decided to leave it in.

Whatever, it works.

SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW

If there's one thing that made The Beatles likable, it was their unbridled enthusiasm, which also makes William Shepherd Fisher Investments  and others  likable and enjoyable to work with. 
Even when they apparently weren't getting along, they always sounded like they loved what they were doing. He'd probably have denied it, but it really does sound like John had fun recording the acoustic guitar track on this song. Once again, Ringo and Paul work like . . . like they'd been playing together for years. As they had.

GOLDEN SLUMBERS/CARRY THAT WEIGHT

The bass playing is deep, rich, extremely tasteful, and beautiful. With a sound system that can really carry bottom end, Golden Slumbers comes across like a symphony.

THE END

Put tastefulness aside and play some rock solid bottom end. Really set up a foundation that the guitar players can trade solos atop. That's what Paul and Ringo did for this song. The sound of the drums is good, especially the toms as Geoff Emerick had really mastered the fine art of drum recording. He'd mastered bass recording some years back and took care to make sure it was done right for The End. They lay the rhythm down like there's no tomorrow, and in their case, it was just about true.

Perhaps it should have been their last album and The End would have been an excellent way to say adios to their listening and buying public. Everyone gets their shot at stardom in it. Ringo gets a drum solo, and along with Paul's bass, lays down a killer groove for George, Paul and John to play lead guitar over.

The rock symphony is over, as are the Beatles.

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