Friday, May 30, 2014

From India To Esher or Kaftans and Curry -May 1968

The Beatles and their gals have a chuckle at Mike Love's expense, join them, won't you?

On a recent trip to Houston, I was in a record store (natch) and the clerk while ringing up a couple of customers was engaging in what can best be described as an aging hipster soliloquy about how he was constructing the perfect single album version of the Beatles' White Album and how the process started with eliminating all of Paul McCartney's songs. Now normally I am always up for a little White Album banter, but this guy was so smug and assured in dismissing all of Paul's songs out of hand that my friend Chris and I, though both looking askance, decided to keep our mouths shut, it wasn't worth the bother- as I alluded to it wasn't so much a discussion as an old blowhard holding forth. Clearly though the guy's idea is a non-starter, just imagine the White Album losing "Helter Skelter" "Blackbird" "Back in the USSR" and "Why Don't We Do It In The Road".  The whole genius of the album is the way it pulls in so many different directions and yet is sequenced so deftly that it still hangs together as a wonderfully complex, but balanced, self contained universe.

Later the whole incident had me further contemplating the White Album, it's mystique and how much I love it (not a rare occurance) and more specifically about the acoustic demos for the album that John, Paul and George recorded at George's home Kinfauns in Esher after returning from India in 1968- where the majority of the songs that ended up on the White Album were composed. Which, patient readers, is where this here mix comes in! What I've assembled for your perusal are those 1968 Esher demos put in roughly similar running order to the album (not all the albums' songs were written at this time and some that didn't make the final cut have been inserted, including John's beautiful "Child of Nature" which he later rewrote as "Jealous Guy") with two informal recordings made while in Rishikesh, India serving as bookends.

I'm really pleased with how this mix, From India to Esher or if you prefer Kaftans and Curry, plays effectively as an alternate universe low-fi acoustic version of the White Album. I do believe you'll find it perfect for your summer meditations! Why you can almost smell the curry, feel that soft linen and cheesecloth and see the colored kaftans. I hope you like it!!!

Three other records that offer perfect accompaniment to this mix and that also grew out of time spent in India with the Beatles are the Beach Boys' Friends and 20/20 records and Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man. You might also consider two late 1968 releases, The Kink's Village Green album and Neil Young's eponymous debut, for their complimentary pastoral feel. And, of course, as always playing the yin to the Beatles' yang there's the Stones' December 1968 release which also sports a stark white cover, Beggar's Banquet- a record which finds the Stones likewise flirting with their earthy roots, including a bit of folk/blues with some psychedelic residue still audible round the edges (for instance Brian Jones' mellotron touches on "Jigsaw Puzzle" and "Stray Cat Blues"). Lastly to complete the 1968 Indian/Psych hybrid feel you can cue up George Harrison's 1968 soundtrack to the film Wonderwall.

After the track-listing, are some favorite snaps of the Beatles in India, along with Donovan, Mike Love and Prudence.

1. Introduction
2. Spiritual Regeneration (India)
3. Back in the USSR
4. Dear Prudence
5. Ob La Di Ob La Da
6. Bungalow Bill
7. Mah Guitar Gently Weeps
8. I'm So Tired
9. Blackbird
10. Piggies
11. Rocky Raccoon
12. Julia
13. Yer Blues
14. Mother Nature's Son
15. Me And My Monkey
16. Sexy Sadie
17. Not Guilty
18. Helter Skelter
19. Revolution
20. Circles
21. Honey Pie
22. Cry Baby Cry
23. What's The New Mary Jane
24. Sour Milk Sea
25. Child of Nature
26. Junk
27. Rishikesh No. 9 (India)


No comments:

Post a Comment