- Pier Head
- Liobians' Beatles CD
- The CD Story
- The Songs
- Paul's Guitar
- Lady Madona
- CBC Article
Liobians' Beatles CD
A CD has been produced on a "Not For Sale" basis exclusively for The Liobians. It is not available to the general public under any commercial circumstances.
The 120 or so tracks are recordings of songs that helped to make the Beatles famous in 1961.
This is not supposed to be an exhaustive compilation of high quality recordings - on the contrary the aim has been to gather together recordings that will help to build the feel and textures behind the Beatles' selection of these songs for their repertoire, and accordingly the versions here may not be those with which you have become familiar, but ..........
... then you've got the Liobians' CD in yer drive !
This CD is produced non mundo solem sed toti Liobi nati - it is available ONLY to bona fides ex pupils and teachers from the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, and on a NOT FOR SALE basis.
If you are, or if you know anybody who is, a Manchester United supporter, then you will not (as in N-O-T) be supplied with a copy of this CD.
Seriously, to be eligible for a copy you name must appear on the register or your bona fides need to have been established already and checked by John Snelson or honorary archivist and counsellor Iain Taylor in the Institute Archives, or you need a personal reference from either Ken Webster or Graham Ross (counsellors). They are the rules and there will be no exceptions.
Part of the arrangement is that you in turn undertake not to distribute this CD to anyone else. Flimsy, but your word as a Liobian will be very acceptable.
If you'd like a copy, contact John Snelson.
John Snelson, Turramurra, NSW Australia.
This is what the Jewel Case looks like ....
The Songs That Made The Beatles Famous - Volume 1
Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass Guitar
The Karl Höfner GmbH company built the Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass guitar, the first design of the short-scale guitar being developed by Walter Höfner in 1955. The 500/1 is an electrically amplified semi-acoustic bass, very light and easy to play with a very rich and warm tone.
The body was fashioned in the shape of a double bass, so it is derived as an amplified, semi acoustic bass - rather than an electric violin with bass strings.
Paul McCartney, a left handed musician, saw the violin shaped bass in the window of Steinway's music shop in Hamburg, in 1961. He ordered a new guitar from Steinway's after ascertaining that due to its symmetrical shape, they could probably make a special for him, with the control switches positioned on the opposite side, suitable for a left-hander.
It has been suggested that the bass was bought by McCartney in 1961 "because of the instrument's symmetry, and McCartney could play left-handed without the bass "looking daft" as he put it." I am sure this was true - however, he did not buy the guitar he saw in the window, as that was a right-handed bass. He ordered a bass to be customised for him, by shifting the pickguard and the hole for the electronics to the opposite side of the body. The '61 500/1 bass McCartney commissioned, ordered and played was a left-handed model, as can be seen by the photographs of the day. He ordered it especially from Steinway.
There was no distribution of this bass into the United Kingdom until 1963, when Selmer started imports capitalising on its new found fame. Boosey & Hawkes bought Karl Höfner GmbH in 1994. In 2003, the Höfner business became part of the Music Group Company. In January 2005, The Music Group sold Höfner to Klaus Schöller, who had been the General Manager of Höfner for many years. Höfner is now owned and operated by someone who has been intimately involved with its operations for years.
A full history of the 500/1 Bass can be found in "Höfner Violin 'Beatle' Bass" by Joe Dunn, ISBN: 974-9863-21-6, first Published 1996 by River Books in conjunction with New Cavendish Books and at the Höfner Web Site. An excellent write-up can be found in the authoritative "Beatles Gear" by Andy Babiuk, Published 2001 by Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-662-9.
Höfner 500/1 Switch Settings
I note that on an unadulterated righty, the BASS switch means the "left" or neck pickup and is an ON/OFF switch for VOLUME 1 knob on the right. Er ... ummm ... yeah, right, I can live with that.
The TREBLE switch is on the right of the BASS switch and controls the "right" pickup near the bridge. This is an ON/OFF switch for VOLUME knob 2, which is naturally on the left looking down from the playing position. This is easy.
There are in fact no bass and treble electronic adjustment facilities as such. So, for TREBLE read "right" and the "left" switch is the BASS. Ok, I have it.
The SOLO/RHYTHM switch is a volume control. Of course it is. Solo and rhythm has to be organised by the player. I luv it.
I also discern that when the switch is next to ON, it is in fact OFF. Now it's becoming easier. I think I need a lie down, fair dinkum.
Looking down on a righty, the knob on the left is VOLUME 2 - well don't be silly, the one on the left would not be number 1 now would it ... this relates to the pickup at the neck, that is on the left, whereas the VOLUME 1 switch on the right refers to the pickup on the right near the bridge, looking south, or in my case in Australia - looking north.
The VOLUME knobs change the volume - look, just when I thought I was getting it, this fact threw me something rotten.
I am a normal guy .... I have no visible impairments .... hey, I am really worried because I think I actually understand this ... I can feel a sweat coming on, maybe a headache .... withdrawal symptoms - I haven't played, stroked or drooled over my '62 for 5 minutes.
The Höfner 500/1 Bass Guitar '61 Reissue
Paul used his original '61 model (which he had bought in Hamburg) up until 1963. He used it on July 1st 1963 at EMI Studios. The so-called "'61 Cavern Bass" was released in 1994 as a "limited edition" copy of the 1961 500/1.
The Höfner 500/1 Bass Guitar '62 Reissue
It's a modern "Reissue" of the bass (an original '63 Höfner 500/1 Bass Guitar) that Paul McCartney still plays today. My "Vintage '62 Reissue" was "finished" in the Höfner factory, on 21st October 2003. It is built to the '62 specifications. So, this is a modern guitar. It has an unbound 2-piece neck, 2-on-a-strip machine head gears, short "neck pickup" surround, and is made of German maple back and sides with a select spruce top.
The "Vintage '62 Reissue" pedigree descends from the MusicGround 20/40 (for 20 years of MusicGround and 40 years of Hofner), which appeared in 1996. My "Vintage '62 Reissue" is so named because they wanted to name it after McCartney's '63 Original that was built to '62 specifications, but the "'63 Reissue" name had already been applied several years earlier to the '63 Reissues built to the '63 specifications, with many being sold as "40th Anniversary" Editions. Confusing huh ?
The Höfner 500/1 Bass Guitar '63 Reissue
Strangely, the '63 Reissues, first released in 1996, are not built to the specifications of McCartney's '63 Original; they are built to another version built in 1963, to '63 specifications. There were at least five different versions of the 500/1 bass built in 1963 - one of them, the bass owned by McCartney which he still plays today, is built to '62 specifications.
The '63 Reissue" is built to '63 specifications, an inferior guitar with poly finish, 3 piece neck and individual tuners, matching tall surrounds on the pickups, and has African anigree ("a maple type wood") back and sides with a spruce top instead of the German Maple used on the "Vintage '62 Reissues, and original 60's Hofners. The '63 Reissues cost less but now have the same nitro based finish. Many '63 originals were made, but only a few like McCartney's; two were "lefties"; he has one of them.
Paul McCartneys's '63 Höfner 500/1 Bass Guitar
McCartney may have first used his new '63 model on 16th July 1963 at the Paris Studio however, for other reasons, this is unlikely as it is reported that McCartney's '63 500/1 pot code is 283, meaning it was built by Höfner in the 28th week of 1963, perhaps therefore in late July 1963.
Variations from his first bass include the neck (two-piece rather than three-piece); machine heads (two-on-a-strip open-back as opposed to single open-back "rugby ball" tuners); pickups ("staple-top" rather than "diamond logo," with one of the two moved nearer the bridge); headstock logo (horizontal script rather than vertical lettering); body (round back rather than flat), and fretboard dot inlay (to the 21st fret rather than the 19th).
He certainly had it on display for the Ready Steady Go rehearsals on October 4th 1963. At this session, John Lennon had his newly repaired '58 Rickenbacker 325, Ringo was on his Ludwigs and George was photographed for the first time with his new Rickenbacker 425.
McCartney has leveraged the iconic image of the instrument, using it in concert as well as videos, promotional photos, and album covers. "It's like Chaplin's cane," McCartney has said. "People just expect to see it." Somewhere along the line, McCartney also removed the pickguards from his Höfners and has used the instruments without pickguards since that time. He also had the 1963 500/1 reconditioned by Mandolin Brothers, a guitar shop in Staten Island, New York, which brought the bass back into reliable tune.
So the reissue of McCartney's bass that had been built in 1963 to '62 specifications became the "Vintage '62 Reissue". As most people did not know that McCartney's bass was in fact a 1963 bass built to '62 specifications, this did not, and does not, seem to matter. The only difference between Paul's bass and a "real" 1962 500/1 is the lack of a small "Hofner" body logo. In 1962, there was a body logo - in 1963 there wasn't.
The Höfner 500/1 Bass Guitar '61 Reissue
The so-called "'61 Cavern Bass" was released in 1994 as a "limited edition" copy of the 1961 500/1.
I am indebted to a LIOBIAN, Ken Ashtcroft for this gem, which he sequestered from his associate John Szarak on the topic of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" .. I found the story fascinating, and so it is reproduced here .... but before you read the technical stuff, this is how Ken Ashcroft got onto it ... and I quote Ken:
Think I told you that I took music lessons from age seven, well, I made a really interesting discovery some 15 years ago. I had to practise a hymn to accompany some singing, and after playing it "straight" a few times, started "jazzing around" with it a little. All of a sudden, I found myself playing "Lady Madonna". The chord sequence is IDENTICAL !!
It must have remained tucked away in the L&McC subconscious, and just popped up some years after they left school Further evidence for this is contained in the lyrics, which disclose how the Beatles operated - I'm exactly the same myself.
"Lady Madonna, lying in your bed, listen to the music PLAYING IN YOUR HEAD" !!
(How else did Beethoven compose when he was totally deaf?)
Does that knock your socks off? The tune in question is "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven", written by J.Goss (1800-80) and widely popular in most English churches. The only change is that the original is in the key of G, and the Beatles play it in A flat, but they didn't know the difference anyway.
Now ... have a read of this explanation by John Szarak:
Subject: Lady Madonna
The only change is that the original is in the key of G, and the Beatles play it in A, but they didn't know the difference anyway.
The Beatles may not have had any recollection of the original key of the hymn tune or had even been aware of the subconscious connection. Early on, however, they must have had some understanding of keys, chords, harmony and relationships otherwise they could not have successfully played together.
Sure, their theoretical understanding may not have been literate or scholarly - Bach didn't know what he was doing as far as rules were concerned since he was laying the ground work for scholars to analyze his music and later classify, organize and identify the rules.
Remember Bach was breaking away from his predecessors like Palestrina - modality was being replaced with tonality thanks to Bach.
McCartney and company broke rules and laid groundwork for the future of music as a whole - eg. John Lennon "discovered" flanging as a sound treatment/effect and McCartney instigated the design of the DI, or direct injection box, where a musical instrument can be plugged directly into the soundboard for recording in lieu of placing an ambient or directional microphone in front of the amplifier.
They thought of many ideas and the guys in white lab coats working for EMI made them happen - or George Martin made them happen.
Lady Madonna is played, recorded and scored in A major.
Its verse progression is ... I - IV , I - IV , I - IV , bVI - bVII - I (That's ... A - D , A - D , A - D , F - G - A)
The phrase's turnaround, consisting of the chords built on the flattened 6th and 7th scale degrees, are rather cliche and somewhat modal in character being a contrast of the tonic and subdominant progression of the antecedent.
Its chorus progression is transposed to C major (up a minor 3rd - non related keys having dramatic harmonic contrast) ... iim7, V7, I , vim7, iim7, V7, I - (iim7 - V7 of A major transition) return to verse
That's Dm7, G7, C, Am7, Dm7, G7, C - Bm7, E7sus4 - E7 back to verse in the key of A Major
Old chum recalls McCartney's school days
Halifax man advised him there was no future in music
When Halifax resident Iain Taylor went to school in Liverpool, he had a classmate who drew guitars on the margins of his notebooks, sang Little Richard songs in the cafeteria and dashed across the road to play music with John Lennon after school.
His name was Paul McCartney and Taylor thought his musical ambitions were ludicrous, he told CBC News in an interview Thursday.
"I said to him: 'Surely there's no future in the music industry in Liverpool.' It was all in London at the time and that seemed such a long way away," Taylor recalled.
Those were words he'd never live down.
"I used to tell my boys, 'Don't come to me for advice. I'm the one who told Paul McCartney there's no future in the music industry.' "
That school was the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys and McCartney later purchased it and turned it into the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.
As McCartney prepares for a concert this Saturday in Halifax, Taylor was writing about his old alma mater.
His locker was right next to McCartney's and they shared a homeroom and subjects such as English and geography.
McCartney was not much of a student, Taylor, a retired geography teacher [University Geography Professor in Canada], recalled. In fact, he left on a trip to Hamburg before the finals.
Taylor remembers McCartney as "quite a character."
"I still have very vivid memories that I'm trying to put down in this history of the school. He was very artistic, a left-hander, and he wasn't particularly good in the early part of his school days with mathematics and science. He hated organized sports and games. He was a bit of an anarchist and wouldn't participate," Taylor said.
Unlike his pal George Harrison, who was always in trouble with the teachers for one reason or another, McCartney seemed to fly under the radar.
"He seemed to excel verbally in being able to mimic the teachers, but do it quietly so the teachers didn't hear but everybody else did. He was kind of a rebel," Taylor said.
Harrison and McCartney were among the youngest boys to hang out in the smokers' corner, a spot out of sight of the teachers.
"George Harrison was beaten many times for many things. Paul McCartney was usually quite skilled at negotiating his way around things without feeling the consequences," Taylor said.
The cafeteria had an interesting reverb and McCartney spent his lunch hours drumming out Little Richard songs.
"It was clear even at this time that he was a brilliant musician because the two of them, John Lennon and he, had met a couple of years before and formed this group and they were playing at local church halls and things like that," Taylor said.
After school, he'd go across the road, to Lennon's flat, to play guitar.
Taylor remembers the day they hit on a name for their group.
"He said: 'I think we've got the name' and he wrote it out. There was a groan. We thought it was a terrible pun and it would never catch on," he said.
The name was, of course, the Beatles.
The school was officially reopened by Queen Elizabeth in 1996 as a training ground for a future generation of artists. McCartney's hand in its creation was one of the key reasons for his knighthood.
Also known as "Paul McCartney's Fame School," it has plans for branches around the world.
Post Script from Iain Taylor:
"On July 11, 2009 in Halifax Nova Scotia.
The weather held for a special event of Halifax's summer, Paul McCartney's outdoor concert on the Commons in July 2009. It was long time rumoured but eventually it was booked!
I really must go to this one! As many know, he and I were in the same Sixth form class at the Liverpool Institute for his last two years of high school. I had last seen him back stage in Leeds in 1963 so I thought it about time to rectify the long break!
To cut a very long story short, I was able to get in touch with his publicist who, as luck would have it, called us inviting us to join Paul prior to his performance that evening. Problem was that we were already at the event when the message came through and I didn't hear (or feel) the cell-phone's beeping in the crowd!
Fantastic concert (see Mull of Kintyre and I Saw Her Standing There at youtube.com) but the press got a hold of my sad story and ran front page with it! Commiserations all around! (Unfortunately this story has been electronically spiked!)
That could have been the end of the story, but in a few days we were then re-contacted and invited to his concert in Boston's famous Fenway Park the following month and so made our way down there by car, ferry and AMTRAK. We were given complimentary tickets to the warm up show - an hour in a stadium which was empty except for a score or so die-hard fans who had paid an enormous sum for the privilege. Later the publicist almost couldn't find us in the crush of 50,000 fans but eventually we found ourselves in the small reception marquee for friends of the band, talked to his event organizer who had been in the business since the Roy Orbison tour!
And then the man himself turned up to chat. He recognized me - a feat a little harder that the reverse! A grin and double grip, a non-body hug and a warm welcome to Nan. Then he and I talked for few minutes about the school history I'm preparing and I asked for his help and an interview later in Soho. Photos taken (and eventually delivered)! And that was about it - 10 minutes of fame! He seemed very slim and rather tired but to be expected perhaps on his veggy diet in the middle of a heavy multi-venue tour of the East coast.
He was wearing a version of the old lapel-less light weight Beatle suit and Cuban heels they wore in their early Epstein period! Then off he went on to the stage and was singing the opening number before we had returned to our seats! Another great concert and at two and a half hours he really does the fans proud! He has the energy of a 17 year old!
Next time in Soho - perhaps!"