Let Me Take You Down to Penny Lane and Beyond … 1997 30th Anniversary CD Singles


Let me take you down cause I’m going to … Penny Lane?

Since I’ve been obsessing over The Beatles 1967 recordings for the past couple of weeks or so I thought it might be fun to take a look at the three singles, all number one hits on both sides of the Atlantic, that The Beatles released in that fateful year.

“Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane”, “All You Need is Love/”Baby You’re a Rich Man” and “Hello Goodbye/I Am the Walrus” capture, each in their own way, The Beatles at the height of their fame and musical power and represent the pinnacle of popular music in 1967 (and beyond!).

The photos that accompany this blog post (see above) feature three promotional CD singles that were released in 1997 to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of these three classic and iconic Beatles singles.

These promo CD singles are a bit tough to find these days but are really lovely reproductions of the original Capitol 45s and picture sleeves. Too bad they were only released as promo CDs as a reissue of the original vinyl 45s along with the CDs would have been really nice.

Anyway, here’s my take on these three Beatles 45s from 1967:

“Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever” – released February 1967

Ahhh, two of my absolute stone-cold favorite Beatles tunes. Actually two of my all-time favorite tunes by anybody!

The recent broadcast (and expanded version which aired last week) of Paul McCartney’s Carpool Karaoke appearance on James Corden’s “The Late, Late Show” has reawakened my love for the song “Penny Lane”.

Not only do McCartney and Corden sing “Penny Lane” while driving around Liverpool but they also visit the actual Penny Lane district while reminiscing about McCartney’s childhood which of course was the fuel and inspiration for the song “Penny Lane”.

I have to say that for me The Beatles 1966/1967 output marks the zenith of The Beatles creative powers both as writers and as recording artists. In fact, the three singles they released in 1967 have always seemed to stand out of time for me.

“Strawberry Fields Forever” in particular felt like it came from Mars the first time I heard it. Part dream, part nightmare and part Alice Through the Looking Glass; this song doesn’t scream any particular decade to me. It feels like a disembodied sound painting that glows brighter and more colorful with each passing year.

Likewise “Penny Lane”, it’s flip-side, with its signature use of the classical sounding piccolo trumpet also seems to elude the ravages of time and remains as fresh and lovely sounding as the first time it graced the airwaves in early 1967.

For me, pretty much most of The Beatles work from 1967 seems to hold some sort of magic pixie dust as it comes across as one long carnival ride through the past and the present and beyond.

I push came to shove I’d have to vote this 45 as the best one that The Beatles ever released – it’s that amazing.

“All You Need is Love/Baby You’re a Rich Man” – released July 1967

Released at the beginning of the so-called ‘Summer of Love’, “All You Need is Love” was The Beatles and Britain’s contribution to a special television broadcast called Our World.

The Our World program was the first time a television show was broadcast via satellite simultaneously to the entire world at the same time. An amazing feat for 1967 and naturally The Beatles were the perfect choice for one of the artists appearing on the program as they were the most popular and influential group of the era.

Lennon was mainly responsible for writing “All You Need is Love” and even though it’s a simple anthem for love its very simplicity helps the song endear itself to multiple generations and the production of course is typical 1967 Beatles, full of swirling orchestration and lovely vocals which made the song stand out then as well as now.

Granted of the three singles The Beatles released in 1967 this one is probably the one could be considered a bit dated. It’s not the music or production that sounds dated but it’s the association the song shares with the Summer of Love and the trappings of hippies and the counter culture which are dated.

I would argue that both songs really don’t sound that dated as The Beatles rarely used the slang of the era in their lyrics which leads them to be less topical and more timeless.

“All You Need is Love” especially still comes across as an eternal anthem that while seen as naive by some is nevertheless still refreshing and most of all hopeful which accounts for a lot – never underestimate a bit of hopefulness in this erratic world!

“Baby You’re a Rich Man”, the b-side of  “All You Need is Love” has always been one of my favorite Beatles tracks that while not as mysterious and intriguing as “I Am the Walrus” or “Strawberry Fields Forever” is still beguiling and wondrous in its own way with its thick bass and swirling psychedelic instrumentation which seems to call out to the listener like a siren in the night.

At least that’s the way the song has always struck me!

“Hello Goodbye/ I Am the Walrus” – released November 1967

“Hello Goodbye”, the last of the 1967 singles, is typical McCartney pop – well crafted, fun, full of melody and catchy as hell.

As a song it’s not nearly as psychedelic as Lennon’s songs on the b-sides of the 1967 singles but it’s sure damn fine to listen to and a lovely pop confection that’s a welcome breeze on the airways anytime it’s played.

“I Am the Walrus”, the flip side of “Hello Goodbye” is another matter entirely. Yellow matter (custard) as a matter of fact!

“Walrus” is another magical, mysterious (sorry, couldn’t resist) Lennon creation that takes the whimsy and madness from the two earlier 1967 singles and amps them up a few notches. A totally unique Lennon composition, “I Am the Walrus” is other worldly and ethereal while being accessible at the same time.

I remember the very first time I heard “I Am the Walrus” I was completely mesmerized  by its originality and sheer weirdness.

The slurpy cellos, as Beatles producer George Martin once referred to them, really give this song its character and a bit of spook factor which is topped off by dialogue at the end of the song which was taken from a BBC radio broadcast of Shakespeare’s King Lear” – chilling and brilliant.

This song along with “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “A Day in the Life” from the “Sgt. Pepper” album (also from 1967) form an amazing trilogy of Lennon (and McCartney) weirdness and brilliance which to this day seem fresh, stark, puzzling and achingly beautiful with just a side of menacing that are unlike any popular music before or since.

Luckily Capitol Records compiled all of these 1967 singles onto the U.S. only “Magical Mystery Tour” Lp which along with the other songs on the album form the perfect companion to The Beatles other 1967 album (Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”) which for me personally is one of my most played Beatles records.

Whew! Well that’s my take on The Beatles singles form 1967.

Take a gander at the three promo CD singles above and until next time peace and  I’m going to …





Run Devil Run, Collector’s Having Fun – Paul McCartney 1999 Collectible Vinyl 45 Set and CDs

Okay, anyone out there remember having a small record carrying case full of (usually) beat up 45’s that you carried around with your portable record player?

If you’re of an age – and I most certainly am – you probably wax nostalgic from time to time about the “old days” and today we’re doing just that – waxing nostalgic for 1999.

1999 you say? Seriously?

If you’ve read this blog more than once you probably realize that I rarely wax nostalgic for anything from the 1990’s BUT in this particular instance I’m looking back at a couple of really nifty Paul McCartney collectibles so not to worry, I’m still firmly planted in the past lol.

Back in 1999 (I never get used to the fact that that’s nearly 20 years ago!) Paul McCartney was just overcoming the death of his wife Linda the previous year and he himself was in a reflective mood as well.

McCartney released his second oldies laden album entitled “Run Devil Run” which featured nice rocking covers of songs like the more obscure “She Said Yeah” and “I
Got Stung” along with more familiar fare like “All Shook Up” and the unexpected yet lovely cover of Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town”.

There were also three terrific McCartney originals on the set done in fifties rock style as well – the title track “Run Devil Run”, “What It Is” and “Try Not to Cry”. All three were terrific old school McCartney rockers and fit the mood of the collection perfectly.

When this album was released McCartney had been laying low for several months since his wife Linda’s death from cancer in 1998 so it was a great relief to see him recording again and this set is full of great playing (David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was one of the stellar guest players on the album) and great singing.

One of the coolest McCartney collectibles I’ve ever seen accompanied the release of “Run Devil Run” – a really nice retro-looking red record carrying case filled with eight 45’s featuring songs from the album plus a bonus track called “Fabulous”.

Each of the eight 45’s were housed in old style Parlophone sleeves and vintage purple Parlophone style labels which just look ‘fabulous’ (sorry couldn’t resist) and were accompanied by a booklet that listed information about each song in the set.

Really to this day this is one of my favorite McCartney collectibles (see photos above) and was pretty hard to find at the time of its release and is still pretty hard to locate as it was an import from the UK and not that many of them were made.

There were also two really nice CD singles released in the UK (also above) and of the two my favorite is the limited mono CD single (complete with with mini poster) that features true mono mixes of the songs “No Other Baby”, “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” and the bonus cut from the vinyl set “Fabulous”.

As you well know by reading this blog I LOVE mono mixes and these special mono mixes are a real treat as they fit the time period of the material so well and better yet just sound great!

If you’ve never heard of this cool 45 set take a gander above and if you’ve also never listed to the “Run Devil Run” album you should definitely try and track that down either in physical form or online as its a really fun collection of songs.

Of course the CD of the “Run Devil Run” album will work just fine but if you want a taste of the era in which most of this songs came to be track the 45 set down and really get a nostalgic rush, as well as a bit of fun!

Until next time, be well and rock on …


Listen to What the Man Said – My Life as An Entertainment Journalist (Part 2 – Audio)


Okay, a couple of posts ago I shared some of the articles I wrote featuring interviews I did with some of the famous musicians that I’ve had the pleasure and honor to interview as part of my work as an entertainment journalist.

Today I thought I’d share some of the actual audio from a few of those same interviews.

What’s nice about the audio is that there’s much more information then ever made it into print plus you get to hear how funny and interesting some of these people really are which doesn’t always come across as vividly on the page.

Of course my favorites of the ones I’ve listed below are the two interviews I did with with Peter Tork (HUGE Monkees fan plus he’s quite an interesting and complex guy to interview) and the Peter Frampton (super nice guy!) and Gene Simmons (interesting to say the least) interviews.

I’ll post more audio from some of my other interviews in future blogs. Until then, feast your ears on the ones below.

Click any of the links below to hear the full audio of me interviewing the following:

Peter Tork interview 2015

Peter Tork interview 2011

Bryan Adams interview

Jim Brickman interview

Rick Springfield interview

Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys interview

Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller

Clay Aiken interview

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull interview

Peter Frampton interview

Gene Simmons of Kiss interview








Only the Beginning … The Beatles “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You” 45 Spotlight

Let’s start at the beginning shall we …

The Beatles first official 45 release came out on Parlophone records in the United Kingdom a whopping 56 years ago this upcoming October!

It’s hard to believe it’s been so long ago but I recently took out my original UK 45 pressing on the red Parlophone label and was knocked out by just how good the 45 sounds!

There’s no better way to hear The Beatles hits than playing good condition original UK 45s! There’s a sparkle and and freshness in sound on the 45s that’s never really been captured quite as well on any other format including CD.

Luckily I got my hands on a VG+ copy that plays beautifully and looks great too!

For those who don’t know the Beatles story – and I’m sure there are a few – the very first UK pressing of this 45 featured Ringo Starr playing the drums while the album version (from the “Please Please Me” album) featured a session drummer named Any White on drums.

Long story short, The Beatles producer George Martin had just gone through Pete Best being replaced with Ringo (Martin felt Best wasn’t a good enough drummer for recording so the band decided to replace him with Ringo) so he wasn’t taking chances on recording an unknown drummer.

Unsure of Ringo’s ability, Martin recorded two versions of “Love Me Do”, one featuring Starr on the drums and one with White playing the drums.

(Note: the tell-tale sign of the White version is the presence of a tambourine which was played by Ringo)

Anyway, the tape of the Ringo version was destroyed many years ago so the only version now available is a dub from a vintage 1962 vinyl copy. Thus owning the original 45 is the closet one will ever get to the master tape so it’s a prized part of any Beatles collection.

Above I thought I’d also include some of the lovely photos of reissues I own of “Love Me Do”  – a UK picture disc and a UK black vinyl 45 both from 1982, a 1982 US 45 Capitol reissue (with picture sleeve), a 1992 CD single reissue (still in the shrink wrap complete with hype sticker) and a rare 2012 50th Anniversary pressing of the 45 that was withdrawn quickly as it featured the album version of “Love Me Do” instead of the 45 version.

There’s still something magical to me about this first Beatles 45. It does sound the most dated of The Beatles music but it’s just so much fun to listen to and I love the feeling of nostalgia and joy I get every time I play it.

In an earlier post I took a quick look at the original UK 45 of “Love Me Do” but I thought it might be nice to see it along with the various reissues I have from throughout the years.

I’ll feature many more Beatles 45’s in future blogs but this is the perfect place to start my in-depth 45 spotlights where I take a look a multiple releases of the same 45 from different time periods.

Until then feast your eyes above and until next time .. be well and pull out some 45s!



Interview Central – My Life as An Entertainment Journalist (Part 1)


Okay, today I’m sharing a part of my life that’s been quite unexpected but also equally quite fulfilling.

For the past twenty years or so I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and writing about some of my favorite rock/pop musicians!!!

I was hired to work at a local newspaper (the News-Sentinel) in 1998 and happened to stumble into writing entertainment articles for that same newspaper. I wasn’t hired as a journalist but over the years as the staff of journalists shrank due to layoffs I had the opportunity to write articles for the entertainment section which turned out to be quite a fun job.

I had written a lot of fiction before I came to the newspaper, I write children and YA books and articles as well, so writing is second nature to me and talking about music is like breathing so it was really a terrific fit and a great opportunity to be able to write about and interview famous musicians – and a bit surreal as well.

Some of the people I’ve interviewed in the past twenty years include:

Gene Simmons of KISS, Peter Frampton, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Diana Krall, Tommy James, Neal Doughty of REO Speedwagon, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, Buddy Guy, Richard Williams of Kansas, Steely Dan, Dewey Bunnell of America, Alice Cooper, Paul Doucette of Matchbox Twenty, Phillip Phillips, George Jones, Glen “The Kid” Marhevka (trumpet player for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), Paul O’Neill of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Bill Allen (Executive Director and Producer of Cirque de la Symphonie), Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys, Jim Brickman, Bryan Adams, Rick Springfield, Peter Tork of The Monkees, Clay Aiken, Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller, Keith Harkin of Celtic Thunder, John Rzeznik (lead singer and songwriter for The Goo Goo Dolls), Garry Peterson (drummer for The Guess Who), Tony Butala (lead singer for The Lettermen), Peter Noone (lead singer for Herman’s Hermits), Gary Puckett, Graeme Edge (drummer and songwriter for The Moody Blues), Chloe Agnew of Celtic Woman, Rusty Young (lead singer and songwriter for Poco), Danny Hutton (lead singer for Three Dog Night), Gordon Lightfoot, Vivian Campbell (guitarist for Def Leppard) and Robby Takac (bass player for The Goo Goo Dolls).


Here are some of my favorite articles that I’ve written and published for The News-Sentinel newspaper. Articles include interviews as well as the occasional concert or album review (click links below):

Beatlemania_ 50 years since The Beatles landed in the United States – News-Sentinel

‘Hey hey, it’s the Monkees’ – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

James McCartney seemed to be off at Brass Rail – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

James McCartney, son of the music legend, to perform in Fort Wayne – Arts & Music – News-Sentinel

Jazz great Diana Krall mixes many music styles – News-Sentinel

Kevin Costner’s film fame the big draw for his concert here Sunday – News-Sentinel

Legendary rock group Styx shares its large library of hits this Saturday at Foellinger Outdoor Theatre – News-Sentinel

Legends Crosby, Stills & Nash bring harmony to excited Embassy Theatre audience – News-Sentinel

Mannheim Steamroller founder feels personal link to band he created – News-Sentinel

Matchbox Twenty hitting new heights with latest album – News-Sentinel

Mellencamp’s come far since the ’80s – News-Sentinel

Mood relaxed as Diana Krall plays Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre – News-Sentinel

Music legend Bob Dylan plays Friday at Parkview Field – News-Sentinel

Music review: New John Lennon vinyl box set brings back his music in all its glory – News-Sentinel

Noone, Hermits to play at Honeywell Center – News-Sentinel

Oak Ridge Boys bring Christmas show to Embassy Theatre – News-Sentinel

Peter Frampton comes full circle – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

Poco takes stage in Van Wert – News-Sentinel

Preview of new deluxe CD set ‘George Harrison — The Apple Years 1968-1975,’ being released Tuesday – News-Sentinel

Re-mixed Beatles Hollywood Bowl’ CD worth the wait – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

Review_ The Beatles are coming to CD — again – News-Sentinel

Rick Springfield, who plays Sunday night at Foellinger Theatre, loves his fans – News-Sentinel

Ringo in Starr-studded performance at Foellinger Outdoor Theatre – Arts & Music – News-Sentinel

Ringo Starr blends solo, Beatles hits into wonderful show – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

The Monkees reunite_ Band plays favorities and rarities on 45th-anniversary tour, including three shows in Indiana – News-Sentinel

The Moody Blues play on – News-Sentinel

Tommy James and the Shondells to rock Foellinger Theatre – News-Sentinel

Tork, Dolenz still monkeying around – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

50 years in, Gordon Lightfoot still loves performing – News-Sentinel

America brings hits to outdoor concert – News-Sentinel

Ballads with a new flair: Lettermen promise more than typical ‘oldies’ show – News-Sentinel

Blues great Buddy Guy humbled by music success, his amazing journey  – News-Sentinel

Celebrating 40 years of KISS – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

Clay Aiken sings with classic style – News-Sentinel

Even without the Eagles, Joe Walsh soars in Foellinger concert – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

Folk music legend John McCutcheon loves performing live – News-Sentinel

From ‘American Idol’ win to megahit ‘Home, Phillip Phillips going with the flow – News-Sentinel

Goo Goo Dolls’ CD ‘defines who we are’ – News-Sentinel

Hoosier rocker back to basics – News-Sentinel

Ian Anderson to perform solo work and Jethro Tull classics at Embassy – Entertainment – News-Sentinel

Jim Brickman brings Christmas concert to the Embassy – News-Sentinel

School’s back in with Alice Cooper at the Embassy Theatre – News-Sentinel

70s hitmaker Three Dog Night will be in town for a sold-out concert – News-Sentinel

I’ll be sharing more of my journalistic work soon in another blog post. Until then, be well and enjoy this hot August day!!!



The “Fireman” Rushes into a Metal Box – Paul McCartney’s Limited “Electric Arguments” box set



In this day and age of the special edition vinyl/CD sets – including deluxe sets, super deluxe sets and expensive reissues of all kinds – some box sets stand head and shoulders above all the others.

Today I’m going to take a look at what I consider to be the super daddy deluxe set of all the box sets I own – the super deluxe limited metal box issue of The Fireman (aka Paul McCartney and Youth) “Electric Arguments”.

“Electric Arguments” came out in 2008 and was the third album that McCartney released under the Fireman banner.

(Note: The Fireman was Paul McCartney’s collaboration with the musician Youth)

The first two Fireman albums – Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” from 1993 and “Rushes” from 1998 – were full-on experimental works containing ambient music with little or no vocals mixed with techo and a bit of rock that let McCartney, along with musician Youth (Martin Glover), create sound pictures that were much more esoteric then McCartney’s more mainstream pop/rock music.

In 2008, “Electric Arguments” came along and while it contained the same experimental vibe of its two predecessors, it was much more akin to McCartney’s  “normal” studio work featuring more structured songs and McCartney’s vocal work – think Paul and Linda McCartney’s album “Ram” meets Brian Eno and Beck.

While the first two Fireman albums sort of came and went under the radar, “Electric Arguments”  garnered some of the best reviews of McCartney’s solo career and though not a huge seller is now considered one of the best solo works McCartney has produced outside of The Beatles revered catalog.

Now, believe it or not, I was actually a bit lukewarm to “Electric Arguments” the first time I heard it. It took a few listens to really hit me but now it’s one of my favorite Paul McCartney albums.

In fact “Two Magpies”, “Sing the Changes” and “Dance ‘Til Were High” are three of my favorite McCartney songs and the album as a whole is really one of McCartney’s best.

I can’t remember exactly when the deluxe metal box set came out – must have been released a few months after the regular CD. I remember it was only available through McCartney’s Website and was very limited.

I do however distinctly remember that it took FOREVER from the time I ordered the box to the time I actually received it as it was delayed time and again for unknown production reasons.

I remember when it did finally arrive that it weighed a ton and looked positively amazing when I first took it out of the sack it was mailed in (still have the mailing sack lol, see above).

The deluxe metal box set contains 2 CDs, the main album and a CD of bonus tracks, as well as a DVD with a Hi-Res version of the album along with videos and a second DVD that contains multi-track audio allowing one to “mix” five songs from the album.

There is also a 2 Lp vinyl pressing in the box along with a large photo booklet, two lithographs and a nice red cloth bound booklet which houses the 4 discs mentioned.

Looking at the photos above, this is surely one of the best deluxe sets McCartney has ever released and the first deluxe sets of many; several beautiful deluxe sets of McCartney’s solo albums have been released as a part of his Archive Collection.

“Electric Arguments” was originally released on the One Little Indian record label from the UK and has also been reissued recently again on vinyl in a limited, numbered pressing featuring the CD as well which I also happen to own (see photos above).

Take a look at the photos of this truly magnificent set and if you’ve never heard of this album definitely give it a spin. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is to listen to and how much more there is to McCartney’s music than just silly love songs (which I also happen to really love as well!).

Until next time, be well and enjoy what’s left of the rapidly fading summer!