Saturday, 9 October 2010

Show 5 - 22nd February 1988

Without out a doubt this is the best show to date, primarily because there are so many previously unheard home demos, taken out of Lennon's personal collection. Heavily featured today are the Thanksgiving Night 1974 Elton John concert at Madison Square Gardens, featuring a cameo appearance by Mr L, as well as key events between January and June 1969 as the John and Yoko relationship became offical in Gibraltor.

Today the show launches straight into a brief rare clip of Whatever Gets You Through The Night, from the July 1974 rehearsal sessions for the Walls and Bridges album. As it plays in the background May Pang describes how she was present when Lennon came up with the line and idea for the song. Elliot Mintz interjects, describing how Elton John and John Lennon had featured heavily in each others careers by August 1974. Lennon sang backing vocals on Elton's version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, reaching number 1 in early 1975. Lennon's track from Mind Games, 'One Day At A Time' was covered by EJ on the B-side.

Retrospective interview clips from the 1980 Peebles interview, and a separate Elton John interview, allow the story to unfold of how Lennon came to make a guest appearance with Elton John at his Thanksgiving Night Madison Square Garden concert in November 1974. Following this, WGYTTN from the gig airs, with the sound of 20,000 fans going crazy in the background. Both Elton and Lennon then note the positive, slightly unexpected reaction of the crowds to Lennon. The opening segment of today's show is completed with the second song featuring the duo from the concert, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

From a triumphant 1974 Thanksgiving, the listener is transported to the first half of 1969. Mintz describes this period of John and Yoko's life and career as being a rollercoaster. First there was the troubled Get Back recording sessions. 20th January saw Nixon inaugurated as US President as the Vietnam war continued to rage on. Early February saw further troubles within the Beatles over the controversial appointment of Allen Klein as their manager. 20th March saw the controversial couple married in Gibraltar, and honeymoon in Amsterdam. On 22nd March the newlyweds checked into the Presidential Suite of the Amsterdam Hilton to begin their first bed-in for peace. Their reasoning for this was seen as the best way to protest against the Vietnam war. The Lennon's invited the world's media into their room for 10-12 hours a day to talk about peace.

On the Peeble's interview, Lennon describes this period, and how the media fought initially to get into their room on day one. A debate between Donald Zek of the Daily Mirror newspaper and Lennon over the reasons and affect of the bed-in is played.

31st March saw John and Yoko in Vienna, at a press conference for peace and to promote their film Rape. The pair speak to press reporters from inside a bag. a clip from this is broadcast. Lennon labels it bagism, being their attempt to inject some peaceful humour into their peace protests as the establishment struggled to handle this type of protest. A clip of The Ballad Of John and Yoko plays.

We hear how New York was to be the second city to feature a bed-in, but this was diverted to the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Toronto after the US govt denied them entry. Lennon talks about this second bed-in. On the 7th day on 1st June 1969 a portable 8 track recording machine allowed the Lennon's, accompanied by a whole host of guests including Tommy Smothers and Timothy Leary, to record Give Peace A Chance. The finished recording is played.

Lennon's version of Rip It Up opens the next section of today's show. Mintz discusses how the skiffle craze hit Britain in the 1950s. A clip of Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line airs. This song was the prompt for Lennon to form his group The Quarrymen in May 1957. A rare 1970s home recording from Lennon's personal collection airs now, his version of Rock Island Line. The track finds Lennon in good humoured form, clearly relishing running through one of his boyhood favourites.

Hot on the back of this rare track is another. This time it is a home recording of the piano led John Henry.

And then a third great Lennon rare demo plays - an acoustic guitar driven Surprise Surprise Sweet Bird Of Paradox.

We jump back to Thanksgiving 1974 now. Apart from marking Lennon's triumphant return to live performance (sadly to be the last time he ever performed in public), it was also notable as it marked the getting back together of the estranged pair. Yoko Ono tells Andy Peebles in 1980 the lonely figure she observed on stage as she sat in the audience, unbeknown to Lennon. The third and final song Elton and Lennon duetted on now airs - I Saw Her Standing There. 

To top off another show of fantastic rare recordings, show 5 finishes with a track called Tennessee. Lennon wrote this in the mid 1970s, inspired by the work of Tennessee Williams. Mintz recalls Lennon playing it to him on a visit to the Dakota. The listeners get to hear how the song evolves between Takes 1 and 4. This song goes on to become Memories, but time has run out today, so the story of Memories will be continued in a later edition of The Lost Lennon Tapes. 

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