Beatles review: With The Beatles

Let’s continue the Beatles reviews that I started with Please Please Me with their next album: With The Beatles.

I remember quite well when I first listened this album for the first time. It is one of those albums that immediately bring up the mood, smell and details of that particular situation and time in my life. I was about 11 years old (I guess) and visiting my father. He had a czech print of this album, and I listened it over his great headphone. Of course I copied it to cassette (at this point cassette and reel tape was the only source of music for me, no thinking of CDs yet). I listened it over and over again in my walkman and couldn’t get enough of it. The weird hard-panned stereo mix allowed for fun experiments: if you only listen to one channel, you get voices and drums (for example) and on the other channel guitars and base, etc. Quite fun. I was a bit disappointed when I bought the CD later that it was only available in mono – now I understand that the mono version is infact much better overall. Like with the first album (and the next albums as well), the stereo mixes have some glitches that were corrected in mono (listen the start of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ as an example). The album blasts off with ‘It Won’t Be Long’ (doing the Yeah shouting that they became famous for with their single She Loves You – which did not end up on the album) and keeps the energy until the last note of ‘Money’. Compared to their first album it is slightly more complex, they added a piano (and a rumbling piano that is) and refined their sound. Where the first album was sort of a generic beat music thing, this album is definitely Beatles (in full swing of Beatlemania). They also deliver the same basic ingredients that were also present on the first album: love songs, rockers, exotic stuff, cover versions, some George and some Ringo. My favorite is probably the last song ‘Money (that’s what I want)’ (money seems to be a recurring theme in their career, as if they had too little: ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Taxman’, ‘Baby You’re a Rich Man’ and finally ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and probably some others that I forgot). The cover of the album is also notable: instead of the happy-go-lucky photographs that was to be expected, it shows an arty black and white photo with the four in black polo neck pullovers. To me this is one of my favorite album covers of the Beatles. I really enjoyed listening this album today, it’s a good album for foggy days, but apparently it also works for sunny spring days like today 🙂 Please let me know how do you like the album in the comments below, and stay tuned for the next album A Hard Day’s Night.

Beatles review: Please Please Me

At the end of last year, EMI/Apple re-released the whole Beatles catalogue as a series (or box sets) of remastered CDs. The Beatles were more or less my first encounter with pop music when I was 8 or so, my first self-bought CD at the age of 12 was a Beatles CD and of course, I had to go out and buy these excellent remasters, I got both the mono and stereo editions. I had many weeks now listening these CDs and re-discovering some of the stuff was quite fun, and I want to share my impressions in a short series of short reviews intermingled with some personal anecdotes. Let’s do it in order of the release of the original LPs and start with ‘Please Please Me‘.

I think this is quite a good career starter. Innocent, powerful, inspired, raw, rocking. It has most of the ingredients of their later Beatlemania success albums, i.e. love songs (P.S. I love you and most others), rockers (I Saw Her Standing There,…), some cover versions , a slightly more exotic song (A Taste of Honey), some Ringo (Boys), some George (Do You Want To Know a Secret), a weird sense of humor (the Beatles covering a girl group talking about ‘Boys’). I really always enjoy this album. It was recorded in one day, and with John having a sore throat, and it shows – positively. From the first through the last song you can literally feel the energy of those 4 relatively unknown guys, and sense that the Beatlemania is already about to start. It is what the Beatles were at this point: a hard working live band. Interesting the last song: a kamikaze version of Twist and Shout, with John shredding his vocal chords. Hilarious. It could have been a total fail (with no second chance to record it), but instead it became music history. The stereo version is mostly relevant for historical reasons, the sound beeing a bit thin and the mixes having several glitches which were corrected in the mono mixes. These mono mixes on the other hand are just great and solid rocking. All in all the album always makes for a happy-go-lucky listen on sunny afternoons, even if it is not one of the totally essential ones. Also interesting to note is also the album cover: it shows the four guys on the stairs in the EMI building. Several years later they did the exact same scene again, now with long hair, for the planned last album (Get Back, which should become Let it Be). Both pictures would later be used for the red and blue best of double albums.

Next one up will be With The Beatles. Stay tuned. Please tell me what you think about the album in the comments.

Glassfish 3 hint

If you ever need to install Glassfish 3, and upon first invocation of its admin console (e.g. http://localhost:4848) get a HTTP 404 /common/index.jsf not found, try accessing it through http://localhost:4848/login.jsf, that should get you into the console.

Berlin Calling

A friend gave me a CD from Paul Kalkbrenner, and surprisingly, I really quite like it. Check it out:

Speaking of Berlin calling, if all goes well, we’ll be moving to Berlin (area) later this year. Berlin is indeed calling (me) :-).