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ENGINEER ALAN PARSONSRECALLS “INTIMIDATING EXPERIENCE” OF WORKING WITH THE BEATLES, SAYS PAUL MCCARTNEY WAS “ALWAYS PRETTY DEMANDING”

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Alan worked as an assistant engineer on the 1969 album ‘Abbey Road’ and 1970’s ‘Let It Be.’ He later worked with Paul McCartney and on the 1973 Pink Floyd classic “The Dark Side of the Moon,” among other projects. A part of an interview below:

Let’s jump back to the early years. At 18 years old, you’re an assistant at Abbey Road Studios. How did that happen?
“I had been working for the parent company, which is EMI Records, in the department known as Tape Records. This is before cassettes; it was a department that was making reel-to-reel plastic spools on quarter-inch tape, putting up EMI’s products. “I was involved with making copies of master tapes, maintaining the production machines. We could run off 24 copies at the space of four minutes because everything was run at four-times speed, both sides together. “That department gave me access to a lot of great music; and because it was an allied department to Abbey Road, I’ve been one of the first people to hear [The Beatles’ 1967 classic album] ‘Sgt. Pepper’ when it was completed, and that had a pretty profound effect on me. “I just was very lucky. I timed things right; the management at the time wanted to fire a couple of people and I got the job. Soon after writing a letter, I was working there, very much as a trainee in the tape library.”That was the first thing that the new recruits got to do, working in the tape library. But that was only about a month before I was down, being a fly on the wall on sessions.”

You had such an enviable opportunity to be there at some incredible sessions. Tell us a little bit about ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be.’
“‘Let It Be’ was the first to happen, though they released in reverse order. That was actually nothing to do with the Abbey Road Studios except that I was sent down as a member of staff to help them out. “And it was quite an intimidating experience, walking into the Apple basement studio. There were all four Beatles there, their wives, and it was intimidating, but amazing at the same time.”

You worked later with Paul McCartney and Wings…
“Well, yes. As a result of working on the ‘Abbey Road’ album, at least half the time they were there making it, but I got to know Paul a bit better. “And as I progressed from being an assistant engineer to a fully-fledged balance engineer as they were called at Abbey Road at the time, yeah, I was let loose with Paul on some of the sessions for [1973’s] ‘Red Rose Speedway’ and ‘Hi, Hi, Hi’ and ‘C Moon’ as singles. “And I probably got to know Paul and Linda best on the [1971] ‘Wild Life’ album, which I didn’t engineer; I did a mix on one of the songs on Wings’ ‘Wild Life,’ and Paul said, ‘It’s fine, we’ll go with it.’ “So that was my first real breakthrough, just getting a mix of the Wings onto that first album.”

Talk a little bit about how you approach doing a mix for all those artists.
“As an engineer, you have to give the results that the producer is looking for. But I think I would always start by approaching it in such a way that I felt comfortable with it.
“If the producer doesn’t comment on the sound, then you can be fairly confident that you’re doing an OK job. I mean, McCartney would always say just as a matter of principle, ‘Make the drums sound better.’ “So, what is it that makes the drums sound better? I’d say, ‘OK, I’ll try a different mic, I’ll try a different EQ, I’ll change the balance.’ And eventually, he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s fine, that works.’ “Some artists, some producers are much more demanding than others, but Paul was always pretty demanding.”

What mistakes do you see looking at a recording that someone’s done? What mistakes do you see bands making commonly today?
“It’s a different world, the pop world, the Top 10 world is not something I particularly aspire to right now. I find a lot of pop music is tending to sound the same, tending to use the same effects, the same kinds of beats.”And I still think that my skills are in classic rock; they’re based on the period I grew up with. I’m still making records now the way I did back then. “That’s not doing one track at a time, getting a drum loop, adding the bass, adding the guitar part – I like to get four or five musicians all playing together, all interacting with each other. “It’s the way I’ve always done it. I think it’s the way I always will do it. So, just the interaction is something I look for when I’m making records. I think that sometimes interaction is missing in modern pop music.”

What makes a great artist?
“I would have to say charisma and, of course, the ability is hugely important as well, you know? All the talent shows used to use the expression ‘star quality.’  “And if somebody is a great singer but does not have ‘star quality,’ he or she is going nowhere, they just got to have that charisma that makes people say, ‘I like this artist, I’m gonna buy this artist’s music.'”

What is it that makes a great producer?
“Having the respect of the artist and vice versa, that’s key.” You didn’t mention ‘technical skills’ in really any of them.
“It depends on how you define ‘technical skills,’ whether that translates to good sound. If ‘technical skills’ translates to ‘good sound,’ you can have engineers that are extremely untechnical but have incredible ears.”So, I mean, I grew up with engineers at Abbey Road that could not play a note on an instrument but were amazing engineers. “It’s a lot of parameters that go into making a good producer, a good engineer, just like the parameters that go into making a great artist.”


JULIAN LENNON WRITING GRAPHIC NOVEL FOR KIDS: THE MORNING TRIBE

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Julian Lennon is a singer-songwriter, philanthropist, environmentalist and photographer. With Bart Davis, Alejandra Green and Fanny Rodriguez, he is creating a series of middle-grade graphic novels called The Morning Tribe.

The series follows 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named Dusk and Dawn, who live in the Amazon River Basin and fight to protect their homeland. The Morning Tribe: Book One will be published by Sky Pony in the autumn/winter period of 2021 and annually to follow. Mark Gompertz at Sky Pony acquired world rights after agents Robert Gottlieb and Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media Group did the deal.

Julian Lennon and Bart Davis had previously collaborated on the Touch the Earth, Heal the Earth and Love the Earth book trilogy that were published from 2017 to 2019. Alejandra Green and Fanny Rodriguez are the creators of the Fantastic Tales of Nothing graphic novel series, the first book of which will be published in October from Katherine Tegen Books.

Julian Lennon was the direct inspiration for three Beatles’ songs Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, whose lyrics describe a picture he had drawn as a boy, a watercolor painting of his friend, Lucy O’Donnell, from nursery school, surrounded by stars, Hey Jude, and Good Night.

He has produced a number of solo albums starting with Valotte, and a number of singles that enjoyed chart success. In 2006, Julian Lennonventured into Internet businesses, including MyStore.com with Todd Meagher and Bebo founder Michael Birch, later creating a new partnership with Meagher and Birch called theRevolution, LLC, through which he released a tribute song Lucy, honouring the memory of his schoolfriend. He has held exhibitions of his photography and produced the environmental documentary film Whale Dreamers about an aboriginal tribe in Australia and its special relationship to whales, and the film Women of the White Buffalo which focused on the Lakota women living Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, how they are used and how they preserve and protect their ancestral values and wisdom.

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ON THIS DAY: LIVE AID, THE DAY THAT UNITED THE WORLD THROUGH MUSIC

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Live Aid Celebrated With 35th Anniversary Livestream On Social Media. The entire event, including some previously unseen footage, can be watched today on Facebook and Twitter.

On July 13, 1985, Live Aid, the dual concert at Wembley Stadium and JFK Stadium featured some of the greatest musical performances in history .
It still seems like madness that Bob Geldof and Midge Ure announced their audacious scheme for a live concert to aid the Ethiopian famine effort. And not just one concert, but two, one at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium and the other at Philadelphia’s John F Kennedy Stadium on July 13, 1985. There were 72,000 at the London Live Aid concert and 100,000 at the Philadelphia Live Aid show, but these numbers were dwarfed by the estimated 1.9 million people watching on TV from 130 countries around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bands: Status Quo, The Style Council, Paul Weller’s band, Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet and Bernard Butler, Elvis Costello singing “All You Need Is Love” was another poignant moment and then it was Nik Kershaw, followed by Sade, after 3 pm Sting took to the stage and had Phil Collins with him on drums. In the next hour there was Howard Jones, Brian Ferry, with Dave Gilmour on guitar, Paul Young and U2. At 6 pm Dire Straits did “Money For Nothing” with Sting on vocals and finished with “Sultans of Swing”.

 

 

And then it was Queen. Just before 9 pm Elton John took to the stage and was in brilliant form. His duet with Kiki Dee on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” pleased everyone as did “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” on which he dusted with George Michael.Shortly before 10 pm Freddie Mercury and Brian May did “Is This The World We Created.”  Then it was the finale with Paul McCartney ,Bob Geldof, David Bowie, Alison Moyet and Pete Townshend. The concert was then closed with everyone joining in to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” It couldn’t have ended any other way.

 

 



THE “WHITE ALBUM” TRACK PAUL MCCARTNEY REPORTEDLY “DIDN¨T SEE AS BEATLES MUSIC”

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Could you say a song was “by The Beatles” if only one member of the band played on it? That was a question the Fab Four first confronted in 1965, when Paul McCartney wrote and recorded “Yesterday” without any other Beatles on the record.

Producer George Martin wondered what to do with it. “It really wasn’t a Beatles record and I discussed it with [Beatles manager] Brian Epstein,” Martin said in Anthology. “This is Paul’s song — shall we call it Paul McCartney?” Epstein didn’t like the idea one bit, and “Yesterday” went out as a Beatles song.

But by 1968 he situation had changed. According to Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, Paul didn’t consider the sound collage to be Fab Four material.
Though Paul had led the Fab Four through a 14-minute experimental piece called “Carnival of Light” in early ’67, he never intended to release that track on a Beatles record. (As of 2020, it remains locked away, still unreleased.) And Paul apparently saw “Revolution 9” in the same light.

In his book Here, There and Everywhere, Emerick explained how John led the sessions for “Revolution 9” with Yoko beside him and George Harrison helping out. During the recording dates, Paul had been away and thus couldn’t participate.

When he returned to London, John played him the tapes and only got a “not bad” from Paul after the track ended. In Emerick’s recollection, John took offense to the reaction. “Not bad? You have no idea what you’re talking about!” Emerick quoted John saying.

Emerick, made a point of saying how Paul wasn’t against avant-garde music. But he thought Paul didn’t see a track like “Revolution 9” as having a place on a Fab Four record. “Paul simply didn’t see it as Beatles music,” Emerick wrote.

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