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John Lennon, “Holy Grails, Upgrades & Reconstructions Vol. 3” (TMOQ Gazette / HMC 048)

John Lennon, “Holy Grails, Upgrades & Reconstructions Vol. 3” (TMOQ Gazette / HMC 048)

DVD; Mind Games TV commercial / Mind Games TV ad taping session / NYC Bar Association, “Nutopia” press conference / Weekend World / KABC / KABC Outtakes / March Of Dimes Rally (W/ Native audio) / March Of Dimes Rally (With ‘Intuition’ soundtrack) / Mind Games (OOP 1992 version)

CD; Whatever gets You Through The Night (Final vocal overdub over remake Take 7) / Remember – Take 1 / Remember – Chatter – ‘God’ / Remember (Take 2) / Remember (Take 3) / Remember (Take 4) / Remember (Take 5) / Remember (Take 6) / Remember (Take 7) / Remember – Happy Birthday / Remember (Take 8) / Remember (Take 9) / Remember (Take 10) / Remember (Bass and Drums Intro) / Remember (Take 11) / Remember (Take 12) / Remember (False Start) / Remember (Take 13) / Remember (Take 14) / Remember (Take 15) / Remember (Take 16) / Remember (Take 17) / Remember (Reviewing the arrangement)

Our DVD begins with a clip of one of the main draws of this set, the ‘Mind Games’ TV commercial and it’s making of. The advert itself starts behind a set of palatial doors, opening out to reveal a (drag) Queen, Tony King, sat on an ornate throne, underneath a grand chandelier in front of a red velvet backing while clutching a copy of the new LP. Announced by voice over, the queen recommends that you all run out and buy this new Apple LP. The first piece is presented in excellent quality, sound and all. And may arguably be better than the longer attraction to watch, but wait! If you’re thinking about this DVD, you want to know what happens, right? Then there’s not much to say realistically as you know what you’re getting – The full filmed session for the making of this advert. Multiple takes of the 30 second slot, time and time again – Thankfully, (As after take 7, you’ll be searching for the remote), this is all broken up by a break in proceedings as, Elton John in tandem, John jumps on to the set for an impromptu photo op. This includes John kneeling down at Tony’s feet, kissing them, dancing with Tony while having his photo taken by Elton. It’s lovely to see footage of John, ‘Au naturel’ at this point rather than under the glare of the interviewers stare or larking around for promo videos. Though a lot of this footage should reasonably be tedious and drawn out (Lets be frank, staring at a pair of doors waiting for action is generally for dogs, right?), I actually found myself enjoying the more candid shots of John having fun and not irritatingly so.

The press conference for the launch of Nutopia, held at the New York City Bar Association comes next. Jumping between subjects, and source material, while I sat through it (Twice!) I couldn’t see myself holding interest over it – Sure, it’s a staple on the life of ‘JohnandYoko’ but it would almost certainly have been much more interesting to read in the music press a few days afterwards. The booklet for the set tells us it’s presented in it’s longest and best possible form, (There are a couple of watermarks but, like subtitles, you can manage to see over these and pay them scant attention, however, unless you’re a Lennonophile, you may just give this a scan for curiosity.

The Weekend World interview features a very guarded John sat with Yoko under the pressing questions of John Fielding. John runs through the break-up with Allen Klein and the dissolution of the ABKCO contract (Biting his lip as his brain rapidly searches for reasons that won’t get him sued again.) He eases up again as the reformation of the Beatles is tossed in the ring. John skips around the concept, making the interviewer sweat.
Taken from a rebroadcast on UK London Weekend television, a studio master with time-bar. A much more involved interview where John plays games with his answers though it’s not quite as good as the next interview which happens to be with someone whom he would enjoy a long relationship with.

For the KABC interview, we have John’s friend Elliot Mintz. The duo amble down Malibu Beach. An easy interview where John, without Yoko in tow, lets down his guard and talks honestly about his life at Beatles and post Beatles. Whatever spell Elliot had on John, it was a good one as John seems much less tense, certainly less political, he looks upon his lot with a great dash of humour. John calls his interviewer, ‘Eli’ at one point, the soppy chumminess aside, there’s a great deal of the old John there too. The footage dashes between grainy to VHS quality to grainy again.

The outtakes are mostly much cleaner being from the master tapes (Or certainly close quality dubs) that were from the stations archives though there’s still a patchwork of quality that runs through it. These little vignettes are must less driven than the interview proper – As the pair set of their interview and begin their stroll, John bellows as he finds a dead fish washed up on the beach, I must admit I smiled at such a silly moment. There are also dips in to moments where John puts on his serious face though these are seldom captured as he begins to get a little bored and gives Elliot glib answers. Subjects such as Beatlemania, Mind Games (And what it means), the process of writing, politics, Imagine, working on the next album and those inevitable reunion questions.

Two different films of John and the ‘March Of Dimes’ come next. The first source from what looks like a hand held but pro-shot cameras from different angles. John and Harry Nilsson make a brief, non musical appearance. While it’s nice to add this footage to our collections, due to the mikes being open, there’s very little that determines acts from audience, rendering the whole thing nearly unlistenable. If you’re taking notes from Lennology, you might want to watch this, if not, you might want to skip it until the second version, shot from different angles, which utilises a bed of the song ‘Intuition’, where, at least you’ll have something nicer to listen to (Even if the visuals are a little more grainy)

We end on a 1992 promo version of ‘Mind Games’. A montage of clips from 1969 through 1973, it includes the balloon ride featured in the ‘Man Of The Decade’ BBC documentary mixed with the 1973 footage of John strolling around New York, John and Yoko’s avant grade skits filmed for the ‘Imagine’ promo film too. A few of us may have this on our old VHS collections but this version is snipped from Laserdisk for your viewing pleasure (Guess you can through that big old box away now, eh?) if we’re going to have it all together, it’s a nice little finale to the DVD (Ignore the 19th chapter that your DVD may tell you is there, it’s just black screen.)

Our CD starts with ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’, originally featured on Vol 2’s DVD, some collectors were dismayed that it was only video related and, when you’re ripping these CDs to stream through your own system, you might actually want to listen to these sessions as was. It’s included here to sate your taste for that take.

Recorded on John’s 30th birthday, 9th October, 1970, ‘Remember’ possibly the most driven of the POBs debut album – featuring that piano riff that John had been hulking around since late 1968 / early 1969, trying to attach it to George’s ‘Something’ without success, along with the powerhouse thump of Ringo’s drumming and Klaus Voorman’s ponderous bass, the session rolls on for roughly 18 takes as John drives his band through a party of sorts – the fuel today appears to be nothing heavier than beer – It has little effect on proceedings, there’s no rush to put down a finished take at first and it seems like John had only just taught his gang the chords.

The first take is almost complete, Klaus is warming up at the beginning, just getting his fingers around the notes (This gets a little wild at points), John isn’t especially trying to make a shift with his vocals, it’s more like a guide vocal that he’s laying down rather than anything else. Realising that it isn’t what it should be (Or rather working without the lyrics), John stops proceedings, swears, admits that he nearly remembered it all, laughs about it before running through a short take of ‘God’ from the same album.
The second begins at a greater speed, John’s making an ungodly noise in to the mike, making no attempt to ensure that they can use this take, it falls apart after John thinks he can no longer keep up.

The third take paces itself a little slower, preceded by a short, jokey monologue in the style of Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Rock Island Line’ (Ringo picks up on this little aside), it also falters as the rhythm starts to go askew, John laughs before warbling the lines outrageously and then composing himself. Discussing where it needs tightning up and John’s request that he gets a little more bass in his cans, this leads us in to take 4.

Sounding like it’s already all in motion (This was pre-planned obviously), the take sounds like a skeleton of itself. Interestingly, at the 3:39 mark, there appears to be a cut in the tape where there is a slowed down edit dropped in to the track – It’s not recognizable from any of the other takes, it also appeared on the mono version of this tape. The rest of the track continues, clocking in at a lengthy 8:31.

Take 5 is a longer take again, no messing around requesting, straight in to the track. A standard play through for all of 4 and a half minutes, the track continues well far past it’s natural end, but they gamely continue, eyes no doubt flashing around the room wondering who’s going to checkout first. It’s down to John to get bored first though and gently admonishes the rest of the group for not stopping him. Brilliantly, George Harrison has stepped in to room during these proceedings, he’s also brought his guitar with him (It’s not tuned to an open-E though)

Take 6 is an almost immediate breakdown as John makes complaints about the piano and the sound in his cans again. Take 7 doesn’t last much longer, though it sounds better to John for a short while – the echo on the tape puts him off his stride. The next try out, a self congratulatory little number, is still in the middle of the echo problems, John sings ‘happy birthday’ to himself but they’re still striking the right balance in his headphones. John tries the new levels with a much slowed down version of the song but is still annoyed by attempts to get the sound right.
Take 8 is another long run through of the track, another where no-one bothers to remind the rest of them to stop at any point, John begins to twist the chords round to that ‘Something’ riff before possibly remembering his 1964 appearance on the Morcambe and Wise show and shouting, ‘Get out of that!’. It also becomes obvious after the first few bars that this won’t be a keeper as he’s really not putting the effort on.

The next takes (9, 10, Drum and bass intro, 11, 12, 13) feature an instrumental, a botched take – too fast! – which apparently sounds, ‘too gay’ – various other false starts are thrown around. Something is sticking with John in the way that Klaus is playing bass. Take 13 eventually made the finished product.
Take 14 is far too softly spoken and John is obviously tiring by this point. After around the first half of the chorus, the tempo speeds up, John’s playing this for laughs now, goofing off on the lyrics, but carries on regardless, looking upon it all as an extended rehearsal. Breaking it all up as he starts laughing.

By take 15 we’ve added a new instrument and John is taking things a little more seriously again. We first heard this version of the song on Masterfraction’s, “After The Remember” taken from a crackly acetate. Obviously happy with the daftness that went on behind the recording, John had it cut to plastic so he could have a listen to it in it’s entirety. The only trouble is that it seems to have been recorded from a distant source as a lot of the ad-libbing ‘Avant Garde is French for bullshit’, ‘Frank Zappa!’, etc) wasn’t recorded on this tape – leaving us to guess what source was used for this recording. I’d love to get this get the full take unexpurgated!) The other difference is that this recording is uncut so lasts a good few seconds longer than that acetate.

Take 16 is a flubbed take as John forgets the words. He calls a halt to the proceedings and also requests that Mal Evans brings in the electric piano, lest John changes his mind about using it. He also taunts Klaus about using his crib-sheet so he can get the chords right. Turning in a snails paced version, take 17 begins with the chance for everyone to catch up with first before John claps in the tempo and they speed back up to normal again. It’s soon obvious John is tiring again as he shouts out expletives, deliberately detunes his voice and over-elongates his words. The band speed up for a second time but carry on as best they can before John brings the speed right down again.

The final take on the CD has the band reassessing their situation and the arrangement. An abbreviated take on the track, Klaus mentions that he liked John playing on the off beat, John explains what he was thinking while playing, Ringo also offers a smidge of advise, the sessions then runs to the end.

Our gazette is once again filled up with an over view of the disk’s contents along side a written interview with John from 1975, the Nutopian press release and an advert for Yoko’s ‘Imagine Peace’ campaign.

Another big hit for HMC – even if not all of the material is incredibly interesting. I enjoyed certain sections of the DVD, almost always packed with excellent quality materials throughout, and the making of the promo you could almost love. The CD being in awesome full stereo sound (And, lets face it, one of John’s better post Beatles tracks) is totally essential (Now, where could we get a McCartney session this good?) – I’d advise the whole as “desirable” and a “must” for serious collectors and completists.

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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