Monday, 27 September 2010

Premiere Show

Broadcast on January 18th 1988, the premiere show kicks off The Lost Lennon Tapes in style,running for a marathon 3 hours. John and Yoko’s close friend Elliot Mintz, the series host, begins the very first show from the white room at the Dakota, the home of the Lennons. Yoko then introduces the reasons behind how the Lost Lennon Tapes series came to be produced.

In previewing the shows to come, the inaugural show takes a chronological journey through the life of John Lennon. The first track to get an airing is The Quarrymen’s version of Hallelujah I Love Her So, followed by an untitled early track, a rough sounding rock n roll number.

The very first radio Beatles interview to be broadcast on British radio in 1962 is played next. The band are introduced. The writing of their own songs is a topic that is raised by the interviewer, with Paul stating the group already had written over 100 songs. At the time in British music it was almost unheard of for bands to write their own music. The interview excerpt finishes with the recorded version of Love Me Do.

A 1970s interview between John and Elliot focuses upon the recording of their first studio album, with John noting how it was completed in 12 hours! John remarks upon the fact that he considered the recorded version of Twist and Shout to be unsuperior to the versions that they played in the clubs at this time. Twist and Shout is then played from Please Please Me.

Pop Goes The Beatles was a radio series The Beatles recorded in 1963 onwards. Their interpretation of Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen is played, with John on lead vocal.

The show now moves to Elliot reporting from outside The Plaza hotel in New York. This was where The Beatles stayed on their first visit to the states in February 1964. A humorous news report from the time is aired. In it, the reporter is commenting on what he thinks is the groups car arriving at the hotel, with a police escort, amid a scene of fan hysteria. It then transpires that this is a diversion, and that the group have entered The Plaza from the rear unseen to the thousands congregated at the front entrance.

A Hard Day’s Night, from the album of the same name, plays next, before John describes how the thrill of touring soon faded away.

Tomorrow Never Knows, from Revolver, lets the listener know that the story of the premium show has now moved to 1966. An interview with Elliot has John discussing his changing relationship with the public at this stage of his career, particularly in relation to drugs and religion. An interview excerpt from the time has John attempting to explain his ‘we are bigger than Jesus’ comments that caused such controversy in America at the time. A clip of a DJ inviting fans to burn their Beatle records from 1966 is played. Nowhere Man from Rubber Soul plays next.

A still little heard interview is aired. It is John and Paul, recorded on the last tour of the US, light-heartedly talking about how they write their songs. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, from the Sgt Pepper album, follows.

The focus shifts to the basement of the Dakota, where many of John kept many of his home recordings and demos. One such track, an early version of Strawberry Fields Forever featuring John on guitar, is played, before the studio recorded version follows.

An Elliot Mintz interview with John and Yoko from the 1970s finds them revisiting the story of how they met at the Indica gallery in the autumn of 1966.

The single Help follows, before the show moves onto the end of the 1960s, when the couple married in 1969. An excerpt from the 1980 Andy Pebble interview, recorded in New York only a couple of days before John died, finds John and Yoko discussing their honeymoon, and the recording of Give Peace A Chance. The recorded track follows.

The preview show takes the story into the 1970s. Elliot is standing outside the apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village, where they located to from England. John’s first interview with Elliot, by telephone, from 10 October 1971, has John musing on where he expects to be when he is old - living on an island off the coast of Ireland. The single Instant Karma airs before the interview returns. Elliot asks John how he would respond if he were an American youth being drafted to serve in the(then in progress) Vietnam war. Go to Vietnam, go to jail, or leave the country are the choices posed. John responds with the latter option.

Moving to 1973, Elliot relocates to outside the apartment of the Beverley Hills Hotel where he interviewed John in April of that year. A then strongly rumoured Beatles reunion is discussed, with John stating he didn’t see this happening. An excerpt of How Do You Sleep from the Imagine album is played. Back to the interview, John’s current relationship with Paul is discussed in light of John’s alleged attack on Paul through HDYS.

Mind Games, from the album of the same name, follows. Elliot then discusses the question of chauvinism with John, neatly leading into Woman Is The Nigger Of The World.

The next section plays one of John’s home recordings, an acoustic version of Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue. Elliot returns again from the white room at the Dakota. Standing next to the Imagine piano he describes how he spent many New Years Eve in that very room with John and Yoko. An interview between John and Elliot from 1st Jan 1976, recorded here, has John looking back on his lost weekend, and on being thrown out of the Troubadour club for disrupting The Smothers Brothers show.

Whatever Gets You Through The Night, from Walls and Bridges, is played. Returning to the interview, John is asked about his life at that moment. John talks about the pros and cons of fame, and how his life, like most other people, has its ups and downs. Stand By Me, John’s version of the Ben E King track, from his 1975 album Rock and Roll, is next to be aired. This leads into Elliot asking John the question of whether The Beatles will ever reform, even if for one night only. A reluctant John says he would only contemplate it if he was broke, or if necessary to pay a tax bill. This leads into the album track Number 9 Dream.

The final part of this preview show concentrates on the years 1976 to 1980. What was going on in the studio and control room was captured on audio tape, Elliot tells the listener, before switching to an interview with John where he discusses how the songs came to him over a period of 3 weeks while staying in Bermuda during the summer of 1980.

The listener is offered a fascinating insight into the evolutionary process of John’s tracks. It begins with a piano demo of Watching The Wheels, followed by the same track in acoustic form. This moves onto the studio session for this track, as we hear John and Yoko discussing its arrangement. The finished product is then played on the show.

Starting Over is described by John as “Elvis-Orbison” in an excerpt from the Andy Peebles interview, before the album version is aired.

The transitionary form of I’m Losing You is next relayed. First we hear a Bermuda demo, with John accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, and an automatic drum/beat machine playing an up-tempo rhythm. This is followed by an updated studio demo version of the track, before finally the recorded version is played.

Beautiful Boy follows. We hear the Take 1 acoustic guitar demo version, recorded in Bermuda. We then cross back into the studio to eavesdrop on John playing this demo to the other musicians who play on the track. The album version then plays.

John is discussing with Andy Peebles how he sees Woman as being a romantic 80s version of Girl. In his mind it is ‘The Beatles track’ on Double Fantasy. We then get to hear the completed version.

Cleanup Time is the final track to be covered on the show. We listen in to John going over the arrangement in the studio sessions at The Hit Factory in New York, before proceeding to run through it. As with all the other tracks, the final recorded version is then played.

Elliot ends the show with a broadcast from Strawberry Fields, the memorial section from Central Park, dedicated to John. An amalgamated splice of excerpts from the Peebles interview succinctly has John offering a condensed history of his life, and a range of songs arranged chronologically.

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