Thursday, July 26, 2007
"Take this brother, may it serve you well."
MOG Post: 7/26/2007
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album: Rock & Roll Circus
Track: "Yer Blues - (with The Dirty Mac)"
Hello Mog! I bring you swinging London from the late 60s: John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell - The Dirty Mac. This amazing little combo got together for The Rolling Stones' Rock And Roll Circus on December 11-12, 1968. "Yer Blues" was recorded just five months earlier for the white album The Beatles on August 13, 1968 (14 Fab takes that day). The Beatles were filming the dreary scenes of Let It Be during December, so when The Stones concocted the haphazard circus in nearby Intertel TV Studios in Wembley, it seemed natural that Mick & Keith invite John & Yoko over for the party. There are reviews aplenty to read on this made-for-tv event that was never televised. I recommend you read both David Dalton reviews: the first RS review in March 1970 and the re-write for the CD re-issue in 1995. The Rolling Stone reporter experienced the true (loony) timeline for those 2 intense days.
This is the first performance out of the Fab for Lennon, with a nascent band that we would see a year later at Live Peace in Toronto. Heroin awash with a bag(ism) ready, this is a deeply visceral John inside his thinning jean jacket and iconic Epiphone. Right here is the pinnacle of this man's royalty in the rock scene. Right here is a caged and angry person going through some huge internal releases and emotional changes ... baring it all to us. Negative things and pain are perfect grist for blues musicians. What better scene than this could Lennon have found to cry out that he hates his rock'n'roll ..... ?
Dirty Mac itself is a very interesting quick-choice for a group name, perhaps highlighting an understated bitterness with Paul McCartney. This track also has a lot of undertones with Eric Clapton's presence. He's going through rough times too after the Cream breakup. His position next to John (EG: George Harrison) makes for a lot more blues here. John had later invited Eric to actually finish a Beatle album when they were having a row with George for a time. Given as well the close relationship that Clapton had with Harrison - this performance is truly at an amazing point in time. Everybody's guitar monkey weeps here with nothing to hide.
It's nice to see Mitch Mitchell stepping out and providing that great jazzy style of his - he's a great compliment and his tight snare fills are awesome (he's not buried behind Jimi's wall of Marshall amps for a change). Keith Richards rounds out the group nicely with his ice-pick rhythm, plunking the bass lines on the hi-end. Yoko is at John's feet in a bag, ready to spring her avante-garde wail on the next tune with violinist Ivry Gitlis, "Whole Lotta Yoko". (A little connection to the brand new supergroup Led Zeppelin perhaps)? It's all too much!
I've hearkened a lot to John's 1970 Plastic Ono Band album. I think that's my favorite album because of the rawness of the emotions and the baring of such soul. All of the tumult of the times since Sgt. Pepper had climaxed and he closed it all like a book. All that hair we can see him growing from 1967 through his Rishikesh visits through Abbey Road and Jamrag - fresh cut and revealing so much. Cold Turkey - under a big grand tree with his soul-mate Yoko. Reality.
Forty sweet years for the life of Lennon. In such an expressive cauldron of pain and bitterness - some amazingly beautiful things happened. Remember, this is the same man who wrote "All You Need is Love".
Alternate take / multi-view