16 June 2010, Stuart @ 1:52 pm
Helter Skelter & 18 Other Songs (Audiofon AF 16)
1. Yellow Submarine 2. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band / With A Little Help From My Friends 3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds 4. Getting Better 5. Good Morning, Good Morning 6. Hello, Goodbye 7. I Am The Walrus 8. Hey Bulldog 9. Back In The USSR 10. Dear Prudence 11. While My Guitar Gently Weeps 12. Birthday 13. Helter Skelter 14. Revolution 15. Come Together 16. Something 17. Octopus’s Garden 18. Here Comes The Sun 19. Tomorrow Never Knows / Within You, Without You.
Audiofon are the latest in a line of labels to have put use to the Beatle’s Rockband extractions of 09/09/09. Misterclaudel & Rattlesnake being the other better known labels but due to the expanse & depth of the goodies on offer then each label is usually able to offer something a little different. Misterclaudel were first off the post with their WWII subsidiary that featured album themed rips from the game including various count-ins with additional radio broadcast excerpts, interviews & oddities. Rattlesnake copied these for the European market, losing the extraneous odds & sods & leaving the meat of the albums intact & adding handsome Alan Aldridge inspired artwork.
What Audiofon have added to the mix is studio chatter preceding the tracks – lasting up to a minute which is far longer than the more basic count-ins that we’ve had previously – giving us a much more rounded feel to the tracks & presenting them almost as Swingin’ Pig’s Ultra Rare Trax or Yellow Dog’s Unsurpassed Masters did all those years ago. These sections were prepared specifically prepared for the Rockband game & have previously been used in the “Making of Love” documentary for the stage show in Las Vegas so as much as they are from the sessions pertaining to the song then they could be from various different takes.
The sound, as usual, is comparable to the remastered CDs but these are remixed & remastered tracks due to the variations of the game play some feature extra additions or are naturally ‘as recorded’ missing the fade outs from the album but presenting the article ‘as recorded’.
I’m going to list the album track by track & note the various differences where applicable to the mixes & the various studio chatter :
1. Yellow Submarine ; Begins with a lot of bass work out by McCartney & various drum sounds from Ringo. George reminds the band that they should be recording by now & John is his goonish best putting on silly voices. George asks Neil Aspinal to fetch him a Lemonade. John is getting impatient & points out that it’s 9:40pm & they’re still waiting to work out how the track should finish up which is unusual for them. George tunes up his guitar & gives it a few gentle strums then John counts in. The intro in full lasts 50 seconds. The track finishes quite abruptly with the sound of a bucket rattling & the ringing of a bell.
2. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band / With A Little Help From My Friends ; This intro features George working out his guitar line, fairly chopping through the chords. Paul wonders if they won’t be laying down the vocals at a later date. This all fades in to the C.V. while Paul counts in. This intro lasts 1:05 mins.
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds ; Beginning again with the sound of acoustic guitar being strummed & the harpsichord notes being worked out. George & John both test their microphones & George remarks that it’ll be nice to have his voice being recorded to which George Martin mentions that it won’t be recorded to Harrison’s astonishment. Someone plays with the echo on the microphone. Macca is then heard shouting out orders firstly to the band & then to John specifically about how fast he should be singing the lyrics then he counts in. Intro lasts 39 seconds. The track itself fades out naturally.
4. Getting Better ; John begins the studio chatter by mentioning that the chorus runs fast & he wants Paul to keep up with him to Macca’s agreement to which John throws in a snide little comment about Paul keeping up. Ringo mentions he’s having a little trouble with a specific drum part. For the rest of the intro the band play a jazzy, fast paced version of the song while they’re waiting to take. Intro lasts 58 seconds. Track finishes naturally without fading.
5. Good Morning, Good Morning ; Ringo’s running through a heavy drum pattern, then there’s a little guitar noodling by George that passes straight in to the cockerel crow of the CV. Intro lasts 37 seconds.The outro finishes with the regular next animal bigger than the other montage under which extra vocalising can be heard & then John brings the band to a halt.
6. Hello, Goodbye ; The intro starts with George taking the rise out of Paul’s bass line to which Paul replies to the affirmative in a thick, northern English accent. Paul then plays out an ad-libbed piano line while the rest of the band improvise noisily around him. Paul counts in. Intro lasts 38 seconds. The track finishes with someone shouting for a full stop.
7. I Am The Walrus ; The track that benefited most from the remastering process from the muddy & cloth eared 1987 CD mastering. Guitar, drum & organ play precede the track while John warms up his voice. John remarks on his high notes that it’s like someone is grabbing his testicles sometimes & Ringo remarks that he could hear John’s voice breaking at those high notes. More jamming follows including a few wobbly false starts & Paul’s over excitable vocalising. Intro lasts 1:23. At the outro the track finishes abruptly while the King Lear speech continues to a fade.
8. Hey Bulldog ; John’s eager to get going while the rest of the band continue to warm up. John plays a little of the intro on electric piano mentioning that he’s not too familiar with the chords & is bound to get it wrong. John counts in. Intro lasts 27 seconds. Outro includes extra vocalising not heard on the CV until John ends proceedings with a shout.
9. Back In The USSR ; Tuning then on in to a heavy rock riff. George assesses up his work over the previous two takes of the song & describes his guitar work. Intro lasts 38 seconds. extra vocalising heard towards end. Fades very quickly.
10. Dear Prudence ; John talks about inviting someone to a ‘little meditation’ then George flubs his guitar line & John admonishes him for making a mistake. George Martin gives the thumbs up, the “Dear Prudence” riff is played & John makes a growling noise. John counts in. Intro lasts 24 seconds. Outro is the same as the CV but fades out quicker.
11. While My Guitar Gently Weeps. A highlight of the selection. Starts with major piano chords & George suggesting someone tries their idea in the song. Then George makes his lunch order ( “A cheese & lettuce & Marmite sandwich & Coffee .. ” ). George counts in.Intro lasts 16 seconds. Coda ends with the track naturally breaking down & ending on a single chord.
12. Birthday ; Rhythm guitar run through & then lead guitar warm up. John shouts to Macca to ask if he’s ready as they’re going for a take. Ringo taps out a few beats. After a few more guitar lines Paul’s happy & then asks Ringo if he’s ready. Paul counts in. Intro lasts 29 seconds.
13. Helter Skelter ; Another highlight. Paul & George run through chords, warming up. Tape ramps up. Paul requests that tape is run backwards at the end if the take doesn’t falter & points out his coda. John suggests he jumps on the table. Follows with band warming up & Paul doing vocal exercises. Paul requests a little more time for getting in to the zone & suggests a few more last minute additions. Ringo counts in. Intro lasts 1:04 minutes. Ends as CV but with extra couple of seconds of band setting down equipment.
14. Revolution ; A little bit of Ringo chatter & 2 brake downs of the speed metal riff that starts the track off – the second much messier than the first. Ringo practices his beat over guitar lines & then we hear some distant chatter from John who appears to have forgotten the plan for his solo. John count in. Intro lasts 30 seconds.
15. Come Together ; Another highlight from the game. John begins by making up new lyrics on the spot. Paul mentions that it’s nothing to worry about if John gets the vocal wrong & John throws out another line that he could use which amuses him. Ringo & George rehearse their respective beats & riffs with George suggesting how he might follow the others. John Count in. Intro lasts 31 seconds. At the second chorus there is an additional guitar line that was unused in the CV that was first premiered on the BBC bank holiday special in August 2009 although it’s only a brief snatch of that line.
16. Something ; John is preparing his motions for the song & asking George if he should try a “double bit” on the piano while the band are busy rehearsing. The chords are questioned by John before the band launch in to the track proper. George count in. Intro lasts 58 seconds.
17. Octopus’s Garden ; Begins with a shot of laughter by Ringo explaining where he went wrong on an earlier take. Ringo asked for silence in the studio. George tunes his guitar while Ringo checks if he’s ready to go but it’s taking a bit of tuning. George is eventually ready & counts in. Intro lasts 42 seconds.
18. Here Comes The Sun ; A sparse bass, acoustic guitar & drum rehearsal begins this track as a warm up before George signals he’s ready to go. Harrison mentions he’s pleased with his opening playing. A slight rehearsal before George counts in. Intro lasts 37 seconds.
19. Tomorrow Never Knows / Within You, Without You. A collaboration that worked well on the Love album & the Rockband makers have decided to keep it for this release – realising it’s potential as a “mash up” that may pique the interest of younger listeners. Studio chatter begins in the “Within You, Without You” session. The Indian players are practicing their lines. George explains where the track went wrong in an earlier take, vocalising where he wants the track to go. He then suggests that they go for a take & asks Geoff Emerick to record the track “Just in case .. “.
The aesthetics on this release are better than standard Audiofon fare – the cover showing Yellow Submarine era Beatles crossing Abbey Rd the wrong way with a simple “Casual” font. The back is a sepia toned “A Hard Days Night” era photo with the text in black. The liner notes are 2 pages about the work made over the Rockband game by Viktor Paedia.
At first I dismissed the whole Rockband extractions as folly but when I listened to this CD then I found myself getting excited again if only for the precious amount of studio chatter that precedes the tracks & is dotted through out. It’s all determined on your love of the Beatles & your need for every-single-thing that they recorded but i would recommend this CD rather highly indeed.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]The Beatles - Helter Skelter & 18 Other Songs (Audiofon AF 16),