Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon’

menlove_avenue1986It’s that day again – it rolls around once a year – and is the day the music died – well, for millions of us who still care. That bleak day – back in early December of 1980, when that cowardly, chubby little troll – gunned down John Lennon. But as I’ve stated in previous similar posts – it isn’t a time to mourn, but a time to celebrate – a time to embrace and enjoy the mind-blowing music which Lennon left us.  And today – dear readers – we have Dr O’Boogie’s posthumous 1986 album ‘Menlove Avenue’ on the Rockbrat Stereo – and man, it’s gear ! Apparently the record was released ‘under the supervision of Yoko Ono’, but let’s not let that overshadow things, cos overall, there’s some top class tunage here. Recorded from sessions back in 73/74 (‘Walls and Bridges’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ albums – recording sessions which from memory Yoko was not actually at as she’d split from John at that time – yet she ‘oversees’ the release of that very material !) – this is the stuff I love – and if you too, dig the music John made with Spector – and the creations which he and his one-time booze-buddy Nilsson made – then this LP is an absolute must have. What are Mr Rockbrat’s choice cuts ? Good questions, but without a doubt ‘Steel And Glass’ comes in first. I have always loved this powerful song (cutting and to the point – ala ‘How Do You Sleep ?’)  and for mine – this tune has that ‘definitive-signature Lennon’ sound all-through it. Long rumored to be penned about his former business manager Allen Klein – this 40 year old track sounds better than anything I will hear on modern radio today. Fact. ‘Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out)’ , which shows Lennon baring his soul for all to see, is another standout. The man was a fucking amazing songwriter – and some of his tunes give me chills. ‘Rock And Roll People’ is another amazing cut, which sounds great played loud – and I advise you to do so or don’t play at all. I once heard a rumor that Lennon gave this tune to Johnny Winter, who in turn recorded it for his ‘John Dawson Winter III’ album. Some claimed that the recently departed Winter even played the blazing guitar on this track – but that’s incorrect Beatle-brains –  the fretwork is actually by the amazing David Spinozza (who also worked with Macca and Ringo). Incidentally, the striking cover-art featured illustrations of John by Andy Warhol. If you are reading this today – call your local radio station and request a Lennon song – better yet, give the gift of John Lennon’s music to a young relative for Christmas. We need to educate the youngsters.

Again, today is not a day for sadness – it’s a day to reflect – a day to rejoice in the music of John Lennon – and ‘Menlove Avenue’ is as good a choice as any. His loss is still felt – but his spirit will live forever. Gonna live forever.

Amongst four Young brothers (and one sister Margaret), its well-known that three of those brothers went on to phenomenal music careers. Easybeat George, Malcolm and Angus to AC/DC (obviously) – but what do you know about the other brother, the one that stayed behind in Scotland, Alexander Young ?  The Young’s parents, William (1911–85) and Margaret (1913–88), emigrated from the Cranhill area of Glasgow, Scotland, to Sydney, Australia, in May 1963 with their children George, Margaret, Malcolm, and Angus  (eventually settling in the suburb of Burwood where Malcolm and Angus attended Ashfield Boys High School). When The Young family emigrated in 1963, Alexander would have been 25 years of age, 8 years older than George, 15 years senior to Malcolm and 17 years older than Angus. He chose to remain in Britain to pursue musical interests. Can’t help but wonder whether he would have had success with George as part of The Easybeats. Anyway, as time showed he took a different path – and counted the Beatles as his peers. In the early 60’s he was in a band called the Bobby Patrick Big Six and spent some time touring in Germany, before forming the band he became most famous for – Grapefruit. In 1967, at 29 years of age, Alexander was playing bass in the London based outfit, who also included three former members of Tony Rivers and the Castaways. Young was signed as songwriter with Apple Music Publishing Ltd. by Terry Doran, managing director of Apple, (friend of the Beatles and Lennon in particular), and later manager of Grapefruit, during the summer of 1967. The song writing contract was based on the strength of the song “Lullaby for a Lazy Day”, which John Lennon liked (he and McCartney also produced it). A tape with this song was found in Lennon’s personal belongings after his death. The song was originally called “Sgt. Pepper Circus”. Released on Apple , it sounds very trippy and very much of its period – with lyrics about dreaming and colours – its 67 era LSD fare. Grapefruit were named by John Lennon after his future wife, Yoko Ono’s book ‘Grapefruit’. Terry Doran saw some commercial potential in them. It certainly helped having heavyweights like the Beatles pushing your wagon – as Grapefruit received much support from The Beatles from 68- 69. The group was launched by the Beatles with a press conference in 1968, on 17 January, with the first single “Dear Delilah”.  As well as Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Donovan, and Cilla Black attended the press launch and all were photographed with the band. Jimi Hendrix was also reportedly also in attendance. Grapefruit were also, apparently, part of the Hey Jude Recording sessions.  Interestingly, Grapefruit were also signed to a US label Equinox, run by Terry Melcher, who had produced ‘Dear Delilah’. That song went on to be their most well-known, and most successful. It went to number 21 in the UK single chart in February 1968. Paul McCartney directed a promo film (never released) for the single “Elevator”.  John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison attended and helped in their recording sessions for the singles, as Grapefruit didn’t have a producer at the time.  As evidenced by all this support –  the Beatles must have been fairly confident that Grapefruit were headed for bigger things and no doubt thought that crossing Apple and Grapefruit spelt dollars and not fruit salad. However, after only two years, the group broke up in late 1969, leaving a handful of singles and two albums, Around Grapefruit (1968) and Deep Water (1969). The hard rocking “Deep Water” did crack the German Top 20, peaking at No. 19. Toward the end of their career, following the new material being written by Alexander, Grapefruit shifted from melodic pop to more of a rock-based sound. In 1969 Alexander joined forces with his brother, George Young, and his Easybeats partner Harry Vanda and, in 1970, they recorded for the Young Blood label as Paintbox and Tramp. He also participated in sessions for Vanda and Young’s Marcus Hook Roll Band. Alexander, along with George Young and Harry Vanda, revived the Grapefruit name in 1971 issuing, “Universal Party” / “Sha Sha”, but the reunion was short-lived. (Check out the catchy ‘Universal Party’ here). A song written by Alex Young,  “I’m a Rebel”, was recorded in 1976 by AC/DC but was never released. The song remains in Albert Productions vaults, being almost impossible to find (not included in ‘rare track’ box sets either). The song was later covered by Accept in 1979 for their 2nd album, 1980s ‘Im A Rebel’ , and is apparently, very close sounding to the original. Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann recalled the circumstances that led Alex Young to work with Accept: “He got involved with Accept through the producer, Dieter Dirks. Everybody after the first record said we have to have a radio hit. ‘Guys,  you need a radio hit and we have just the song for you. Why don’t you try this here?'”  If you think how good it sounds with Udo, one can only imagine how great it sounds with Bon on vocals. From 1995 till August 1997, Alex Young worked as a music manager with “Proud and Loud Management”, based in Hamburg. He sadly died of lung cancer in Hamburg-Sasel on 4 August 1997.  Go check out some of Alex Young’s music – and remember that the senior Young brother also made killer rock n roll, particularly if you dig stuff from the mid to late 60s, like the Easybeats / Small Faces etc.  Both Grapefruit albums (as well as a BBC Sessions CD) are available on CD here. What an amazingly talented set of brothers.     

jl Another year rolls past and we are on the eve – yet again, of the death of John Lennon. 32 years since that cowardly, chubby little troll gunned him down. Tonight, I am playing Mind Games back to back and it’s gear. So the record was poorly received by music critics back in 73 ? Like those roaches ever mattered. I think this album was recorded after he’d just split from Yoko-san and was taking a much-needed breather (ie getting on the sauce with Nilsson and Moon the Loon whilst the gorgeous May Pang clung onto his arm. I hear you brother). The title track is the most well known song of this album, but there are other tunes on here which are equally amazing such as Aisumasen (I’m Sorry), One Day (At a Time), Out the Blue and I Know (I Know). I’ve been listening to a lot of John Lennon this year. He’s like kindred spirit in many ways and although I did not think it possible (after being a long time fan), I have gained a new appreciation for him. Lennon also created the iconic cover art for Mind Games – hand cutting the photo’s of him walking away from his dominating emplo…  err wife’. Bound for Nutopia no doubt. Some years back, on the 8th December, radio stations the world over would crank Lennon and Beatles tunes all day, to reflect and remember. Sadly, as the years slip by, the hipsters at some of these stations seem unaware or unconcerned about spinning some Lennon tunes on the day he was murdered. Shame on you. I will, as I always do, be having some ales and playing my John Lennon records. How will you remember his passing ?

"here Mr Rockbrat, you look skint, come on in for a bacon butty and cup of tea La"

Now here is a classic image taken by Mr Rockbrat, during the english summer of 1991. Known world over as the childhood home of John Lennon, 251 Menlove Avenue is still high on the list of Beatle-droids visiting Liverpool.  The National Trust, who had previously acquired Macca’s childhood home did not purchase this property, and I believe it was Yoko Ono who bought it, then handed it over to them. What a gal. I believe the public are available to visit the property nowadays, which underwent some renovation work in recent years (I would’ve restored it to its’ original design and given the ugly ‘blue plaque’ look a wide berth). Three years after Mr Rockbrat took this shot, the boys from Manchester decided to use an image of Mendips on the cover for their Live Forever single. Always said Oasis had good taste…..

Today it is 31 years since a cowardly, chubby little troll robbed the world of one of the greatest songwriters ever – and one of my rock n roll heroes. I hate the word ‘anniversary’ which people often use to remember this day. Anniversaries are usually filled with fondness and good thoughts and that was a bleak day in history. Nothing good to remember at all about December 8th, 1980. But today, as I always do, I listen to nothing else but Lennon. It is a ritual I have followed for many many years. Some years this has been performed with friends at gatherings and also in pubs. But today I remember John Lennon in private – alone with the solitude and personal privacy of my MP3 player.
If John Lennon has touched your life, today is a day to remember him. It is a day to cry. It is a day where I shake my head in disbelief at such a senseless waste. I have been listening  a lot to Double Fantasty. It was played over and over at our family Christmas parties back in 1980 – so I know the thing backwards. Yoko’s tunes intertwined with John’s work SO WELL on this record. Actually if someone asks you what is the best thing which Yoko Ono ever recorded tell them to buy this album. I do not think she ever bettered her tunes than the one’s contained here. If I had to choose my favorites ? Man that is hard. (Just Like) Starting Over, Woman, Watching the Wheels, I’m Losing You, Kiss Kiss Kiss, Dear Yoko, Yes, I’m Your Angel, Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him….all great !

I so wish that the sessions recorded with Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and Bun E Carlos had’ve made the final cut – because they sound much heavier than what was released. I ain’t complaining though – just my two cents worth and definitely nothing to get hung about.
As I write this I am moments away from firing up my beloved Honda and riding out into the grey skies of Eastern Japan. It really ain’t that far away from the Kanazawa region where the Lennon’s would spend vacations in the late 70’s. He is very well known in this country. A god – and rightly so. I will soon cast my eye skyward and smile – thinking of how much great music this one man left behind. Music which continues to make so many millions of people happy. What an amazing individual.

On Wednesday 8th December 2010 – Mr Rockbrat thought he’d call Sydney Radio Announcer and Beatle fan Tim Webster to chat about John Lennon – it being the 30 year anniversary of his death.  Listen here.

 

Melbourne Sun - 10 December, 1980

Y’know I can’t think of too many Rockbrat associates who do not dig John Lennon. 30 years ago this week he was senselessly gunned down. I cannot believe it is three decades. I couldn’t believe it when – in 1990 – I spied 10 year memorial magazines on sale, now it is thirty ! How time flies. Like millions of others, much of my life has been consumed listening to the Beatles and indeed John Lennon. I’ve read all there is to know, have heard mostly all of which he recorded and yet still, on some days I find out something new about him and am always amazed. You know nothing preserves a public figure like an early death and I still cannot imagine him at 70. It is a cliché, but although his life ceased in 1980, his music has gone on to find a new audience. Mr Rockbrat often hears clueless teenagers scoff when you mention Lennon or the Beatles. Not very cool they might think. Kinda dated. Yeah right. In the late 50’s and early 60’s a rebellious, leather clad Lennon, was swilling piss and screaming angrily at bewildered crowds in Hamburg whilst cranking out the cool tunage on his beloved Rickenbacker. It’s all been done before kids – and John Lennon was one of the first. So what Lennon tunes will the Rockbrat be cranking out in honour of the great man ? #9 Dream is truly great and if you listen carefully you can hear May Pang indeed call out his name. Crippled Inside, Working Class Hero, How Do You Sleep. Man there are too many to choose. Let’s not forget the Double Fantasy demo’s he did with Cheap Trick – many oh man to hear the voice of Lennon being twined with Rick Neilsen’s searing guitar work….it don’t get any better. I could just play the whole Imagine LP. It really is one of the most compelling and great sounding rock records ever recorded. and that’s a Rockbrat fact. Thanks for the music….