Right from the start, The Beatles were a rock-and-roll juggernaut. They didn’t just shake up the music scene, they redefined it while paying tribute to their influences. From their frantic cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Twist and Shout” to the brisk Latin beat of “I Feel Fine” and the reflective “In My Life,” they put British rock on the map.
Retired from touring and free to experiment in the studio, the band’s creativity ran wild, as this digitally remastered collection proves. Neither the turmoil of the times nor tension within the band stopped them from reeling off masterpieces. From the still-timely “Revolution” and the reggae-flavored “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” to the anthems “All You Need Is Love” and “Let It Be,” this double-disc set is a sumptuous audio feast.
Welsh singer Mary Hopkin was a teenager when she recorded her 1969 debut album. Produced by Paul McCartney, it includes her hit version of the Russian folk song “Those Were The Days.” It’s a gentle potpourri of songs, including Donovan’s “Lord of The Reedy River,” Harry Nilsson’s “The Puppy Song” and the Gershwins’ “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Bonus tracks include Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn” and McCartney’s song “Goodbye.” Hopkin shows a dexterity and sweet grace throughout.
The Radha Krsna Temple
The Radha Krsna Temple
George Harrison produced this 1969 album, inspired by his increasing interest in Krishna consciousness, which is performed by members of England’s first temple of Krishna devotees. The best and best-known track, the somber “Govinda,” features a haunting lead vocal by Jamuna and was a longtime favorite of rock DJ Alison Steele. Harrison is featured on guitar and harmonium on the “Hare Krishna Mantra,” and stand outs include the bonus track “Power To The Spiritual Masters.”
After recording the soundtrack album Magic Christian Music as the Iveys, drummer Mike Gibbins, guitarists Pete Ham and Tom Evans (who switched to bass) added guitarist Joey Molland and changed their name to Badfinger. Paul McCartney wrote and produced their first hit, “Come And Get It,” and ex-Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and former Beatles road manager Mal Evans produced this 1970 album, which includes the crunching “No Matter What,” and demo and album versions of “Without You,” which was later covered by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey. Underrated by critics for sounding Beatles-influenced, the fans loved it and made it a hit.
Having left New York City after the breakup of his band The Flying Machine, James Taylor flew to London, got signed, and recorded this classic solo debut in 1968. A charming recording of folk sounds with elements of R&B and jazz, it features “Carolina On My Mind” (featuring Paul McCartney on bass and George Harrison on background vocals) and “Something In The Way She Moves,” the title of which inspired Harrison’s “Something.” There are lovely acoustic demos of “Carolina” and “Sunshine Sunshine” and 1969 recordings of “Let Me Ride” and “Sunny Skies.”
Modern Jazz Quartet
Under the Jasmin Tree/Space
This long-running jazz combo had been recording as early as 1952, and vibraharpist Milt Jackson had made jazz albums with Ray Charles, while John Lewis had scored the film Odds Against Tommorrow. This witty, cerebral pair of albums feature the standouts “The Jasmin Tree,” Rodrigo’s “Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez,” and a graceful cover of McCartney’s “Yesterday.” As always, drummer Connie Kay and bassist Percy Heath complement Jackson and Lewis well.
Doris Troy Doris Troy
Buoyed by her R&B hit “Just One Look” and the Hollies’ smash hit cover of it, Doris Troy moved to London in 1965, where she met George Harrison on sessions for Billy Preston’s album That’s The Way God Planned It. Ringo Starr, Preston and Eric Clapton are on these sessions, which include a gospel-tinged workout of Joe South’s “Games People Play,” “Dearest Darling,” and “Vaya Con Dios.”
Various Artists Come and Get It! The Best of Apple Records
This CD highlights Apple hits like “Those Were The Days” by Mary Hopkin and a few lost classics. Highlights includes “Maybe Tomorrow” by The Iveys (soon to become Badfinger), Billy Preston’s soaring “That’s The Way God Planned It” and his cover of “My Sweet Lord.” Badfinger’s “Day After Day” is graced by a lovely slide guitar solo by George Harrison and Pete Ham. Also included are a faithful cover of The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” by Trash and “Saturday Night Special,” a pulsating Cajun tune by the Sundown Playboys.