Top Sellers part 2: The Beatles

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 1967
The Beatles – The Beatles a.k.a. The White Album – 1968
The Beatles – 1 – 2000
(all three over 30 million each)

Talk about shelf life. But it’s interesting what the top Beatles albums actually are. Sgt Pepper is iconic. If you’re going to buy a Beatles album and you knew nothing about them, you’d reach for that one. It’s the one people know about. It’s like how Belle And Sebastian’s Boy With the Arab Strap is continually their best seller cos it has a strong title track, a Brit award and it’s just the one people knows. Yes, it’s exactly the same, divded by about 300.

The White Album is a bit funnier. Maybe I’m underestimating the masses, but this is probably the Beatles at their least accessible. Okay, maybe it’s another iconic status thing. But 30 million people own Wild Honey Pie?

Finally – we have 1. 30 million plus sales in 6 years. Holy shit. I don’t actually own this but, but I kneel to such pulling power. How can 30 million music fans not already own most of these songs? Are the Beatles gaining 5 million fans a year? And 5 million casual, just-want-a-best-of-please fans at that. More mind boggling than the end bits of Day In the Life.

Top sellers part 1: The Eagles

In a conversation on Friday night, that lasted all of 2 minutes, it occured to me that I own and love some multi million selling albums. Sure, I own Hoolahan albums that maybe 200 other people own. But I also own Bridge Over Troubled Water, over 25 million in sales. That’s more people than Australia and New Zealand COMBINED.

Taken from wikipedia –

Here are the highlights:

The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) – 1976 – over 40 million albums

#1 was Thriller. I don’t own Thriller but sometimes I think I should. Both for historical reasons – I won a lot of albums just for library upkeep. I imagine there will be a time where there will be a nuclear apocalypse and I will be forced to live out eternity with only the things I’ve collected. This is the same reasoning I use to justify the purchase the Simpsons on DVD. There may be a time where I am stranded, on a dead planet, and I’ll want to watch the Monorail episode, so lucky I bought it!

But back to the Eagles. I don’t actually own this version of the best of, which is the blue one with the weird skull thing on the cover. I own another, 2-CD best of, that is mostly kept for the above historical purpose, and it’s also quite a pretty double CD/slipcase thing (I didn’t pay for it though). I don’t really listen to it, and I know you’re supposed to hate the Eagles, but I have to hand it to them for a couple of songs. New Kid In Town for instance, I really like. So the best way to own it is on two discs, with great liner notes. I have spent more time reading the notes to this package than listening to the actual music.

What amazes me about this title selling so much is that sales would have trickled to almost a stop by now, surely, by superior collections. This ten track album doesn’t even have Hotel California, or for that matter New Kid In Town. It has Take It Easy. Tequila Sunrise. Take It To the Limit. So what the hell? This this collection, even being quite generous with my estimate, sell over 35 million before 1994? A new, better, one disc best of was put on the market around then, and there’s been box sets and other things since. This is simply AMAZING.

Thriller would surely have sold millions upon millions in the last 12 years. So would have Black In Black, Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zep IV (all 40 million plus). That’s quite an opening lap there.

Belle And Sebastian @ the Enmore Theatre

Belle And Sebastian played at the Enmore Theatre on June 13th.

The gig was fantastic. Opening with a great, sinister (no pun intended) version of The Stars of Track And Field, the set proceeded to cover most of their new album, the Life Pursuit. It’s a strange album, the Life Pursuit, as it’s more T-Rex and 70s rock than the lightly strummed Forever Changes-isms of ‘classic’ Belle and Sebastian. But just as Dylan took literacy and imagery withn him, kicking and screaming into rock ‘n’ roll, so has Stuart Murodch and co., who has brought hs stories and wit into a new sound.

And it’s a sound that suits the live setting. The rockers kicked ass – White Collar Boy, Jonathan David and the current single, the Blues Are Still Blue. All were fantastic. But whenever Murdoch sang one of his signature songs – be it The State That I Am In, If You’re Feeling Sinister or Judy And the Dream of Horses, the tenderness and confidence in those songs are overwhelming. So slow, so quiet, so great.

And of course, there are many songs I would have liked to have heard – top amongst them is If You Find Yourself Caught In Love, which we didn’t get to hear.

SITE: Belle And Sebastian

MP3: The Stars Of Track And Field – Belle And Sebastian
From the album If You’re Feeling Sinister (Jeepster, 1996)

MP3: If You Find Yourself Caught In Love – Belle And Sebastian
From the album Dear Catastrophe’s Waitress (Rough Trade, 2003)

MP3: The Blues Are Still Blue – Belle And Sebastian
From the album The Life Pursuit (Rough Trade, 2006)

Billy Preston: RIP

Billy Preston passed away yesterday, from kidney failure. He was 59.

If by some chance you don’t know, Billy was the man who added his keyboard wares to the Beatles’ Let It Be sessions (performing on songs like Get Back) and was credited with easing the tension of those sessions in some way.

He also recorded with and toured with the Rolling Stones. He was also a significant soul voice in his own right, and co-wrote “You Are So Beautiful To Me”, that awesome over-the-top ballad.

He is perhaps the world’s most known rock keyboard/organ player, defining it for generations. I’m assuming you know the Beatles stuff, so I’ve included Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? by the Stones in all it’s glory, and one of Billy’s earlier recordings, keyboards for Sam Cooke.

WIKI: Billy Preston

SITE: Beatles, Stones Sideman Billy Preston Dies – Billboard

MP3: The Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
– from the album Sticky Fingers (Virgin, 1971)
MP3: Sam Cooke – Little Red Rooster
– from the album Night Beat (RCA, 1963)

Big Star: Small World

I discovered Big Star in 1997, from a radio performance by You Am I. They covered September Gurls, and Tim Rogers, consummate smart arse that he is, announced it as a Rail cover. I loved the song so much and it was a while before I learnt it was by Big Star. I lived in suburban isolation ok? And the internet wasn’t really around then.

So I ordered the CD, #1 Record/Radio City at my local record shop, the one I ended up working at for 3 or 4 years. Then I got Sister/Lovers. And they both did my head in.

Years later I wanted to write about them in the second issue of my zine, and I almost died doing it. Listening to their music non-stop. Reading about their story, and trying to draft it into a cohenrent piece…it sent me hard and fast into second hand depression. I was definitely not full functional.

It’s Sister Lovers that really gets me, and the ballads from the other albums. Such destruction, such fuck-it-all, such shattered beauty, such loss of innocence. It’s basically one big mess. But even the rockers are for losers – the fucked up teens of In the Street, the lonely boys of September Gurls.

Big Star are definitely one of those bands I think of when I think maybe I would be a happier person day-to-day if I’d never heard them. They gave words and melodies to my darker feelings. Maybe I should have never strayed from Boyz II Men. Maybe.

I’m listening to Sister/Lovers right now. It’s been that sort of week.

In the late mid to late 90s, around the time the CDs came back into print, a baunch of the bands that loved Big Star who were beginning to make a name for themselves, got together to make a tribute album. Called Big Star, Small World, it’s finally being released around 8 or 9 years after it was originally due (rather than the 6 or 7 reported in press).

Almost all the tracks have been released at some stage. B-sides to singles, box set rarities, and in the case of the Gin Blossoms, on the deluxe reissue of their New Miserable Experience album.

So it’s finally out through Koch records and it’s out locally too. But instead of taking tracks from that tribute, here are some other great Big Star covers.

NEWS: Shelved Big Star Tribute Due In May – Billboard

MP3: You Am I – In The Street
– b-side to the single Cathy’s Clown (Ra, 1994)
MP3: Elliott Smith – Thirteen
– from the soundtrack the to movie Thumbsucker (Hollywood, 2005)
MP3: Nada Surf – Blue Moon
– from A Tribute To Big Star (Lunasea Records, 2001)