Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Today's faux Fab Four offering--"Music From the Beatles' Film Yellow Submarine" (Arc AS 796; 1968)

 


To me, it's kind of funny to encounter a fake Yellow Submarine LP on the Arc label--pun-wise, we're talking two types of vessels (submarine/ark).  However, to be successful, wordplay can't be too abstract, and I think ark/submarine may be just that.  Only you can make that judgment, dear reader.  Anyway, the title Music From the Beatles' Film Yellow Submarine is slightly deceptive, since we only get one side (Side A) of music from the movie, and the five YS selections don't quite cover 1/3 of the soundtrack's offerings, but then the LP title doesn't include the qualifying phrase "A complete LP of...," so technically it's not lying.  And what on earth am I babbling about?  Anyway, a mixture of stereo and monaural, and we'd maybe expect all of the Yellow Submarine tracks to be stereo... and we'd be mistaken. Stereo doesn't kick in until the third track, All You Need Is Love (not one of my Beatles faves), and who knows why?  It could have been a simple error on the part of the engineer.  ("Oh, wait--two channels!  I forgot.")  Side B's Hello, Goodbye (another one of my non-fave Beatles songs), is in stereo, and it's from roughly the YS period, but it's not from the soundtrack.  But I'll bet Arc was trying to pass it off as a YS track.  Budget labels pull stuff like that, you know.

My copy gave me a few noise-reduction challenges, all the result of pressing defects--surface bubbles, to be precise.  I think I pretty artfully worked around the loud noise that strikes about halfway through When I'm 64 (at around age 31 or 32), though your ears may catch a couple of very brief drop-outs--very slight breaks in the sound, all of the "Did I just hear a drop-out?" variety.  Of course, the smart thing would be for me to not even mention this, but... too late!

And, looking at the phoned-in liner notes, I do see a fib: "They're all here on this fabulous album."  Um, no, as noted earlier, these fakes comprise slightly less than 1/3 of the movie soundtrack's offerings, so Arc Sound Ltd. was being less than sincere (i.e., fulfilling a classic budget-label requirement).  And I was so certain, for some reason, that Arc would turn out to be the Allied Record Company, whose logo on its fake-hit 45s was A.R.C.  I thought I'd pinned down the origins of Arc, but I was wrong--Discogs set me straight.  Oh, well.  We can't be wrong unless we risk being right.  Er, I mean...

And how, you ask, do I rate these fakes?  As totally and solidly not-bad.  If anything, they're competent to the point of being a bit bland--take the totally professional harmonizing in the vocal break on Day Tripper.  I guess I was spoiled by the Modern Sound/Hit Records version, on which the singers totally lose their place (yet, like troupers, carry on, regardless).  

I haven't checked Arc's discography to determine where the pre-Yellow Submarine tracks may have come from--I'm guessing that Arc participated in the first wave of Fab Four fakery, but that's just a guess.  And I was just reading about how John Lennon's songs are mostly admired for their words, while Paul's are admired for their melodies.  That's a reasonable generalization, I guess.  As a teen, I remember loving Lennon's tautologies--nothing you can sing that can't be sung, for example--and I loved his John Cage-style exercises in minimalism and tape effects (though I'm sure George Martin had quite a hand in those, since Martin was a tape-manipulation pro).  At the same time, such beautiful Paul melodies as She's Leaving Home touched me deeply, and Yesterday is still astounding after all these decades.  But, back to topic, let me just say that I wish Arc had made these fakes a little quirkier--the fakes are almost too placid, or something.  Most fakes from the Beatles' psychedelic period attempted to imitate the group's goofy sense of fun (I think of the Beatles' psychedelic stuff as generally more Monty Python in feel than drug-soaked), but Arc takes what, by budget-label standards, could be called a conservative approach.  But... these are fun enough fakes.  Nothing sub-standard about them.  Get it?  Sub-standard!  Ha, ha!!

To the fake Yellow Submarine soundtrack LP, with the usual budget filler tracks. (At least the filler tracks are all John and Paul songs.)  Arc, by the way, also had "real" acts in is catalog, including Catherine McKinnon. I forgot to note this.  But now I have.


DOWNLOAD: Yellow Submarine--Unknown Artist (Arc As 796; 1968)


TRACKLIST

Eleanor Rigby
All You Need Is Love
With a Little Help From My Friends
When I'm 64
Hello, Goodbye
Help
I Want to Hold Your Hand
A Hard Days (sic) Night
Can't Buy Me Love
Day Tripper


Music From the Beatles' Film Yellow Submarine (Arc AS 796; 1968)




Lee

21 comments:

Ernie said...

Thanks, Lee. Haven't seen this one.

Wasn't the Yellow Submarine soundtrack itself only partly new music, the rest built up of scraps and pieces from earlier singles? And fully half of it is George Martin movie music. It's a weird release to begin with.

The Arc label is weird Canadian stuff. That's where my Christmas At The Red Lion Inn came from. Who releases stuff like that?

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Well, Arc is sort of the Canadian equivalent of the U.K. Music For Pleasure label, imo. A similar mixture of budget-style fare and legit original stuff. I assume its LPs sold at budget prices. I was just hoping that Arc would turn out to be the Allied Record Company, but A.R.C. seems to have been strictly a U.S. operation and not connected. I've had good luck with my label detective work, but I totally missed the boat with Arc, pun intended. Yes, the songs for YS were culled from different sources, including Sgt. Pepper's and Revolver, and four were previously unreleased. YS was a hit single in 1966. I think I was vaguely aware of the hodgepodge nature of the soundtrack back in the day--it did confuse me a bit, since you'd have expected a soundtrack composed strictly for the film. Or I would have. But I guess the Beatles weren't all that enthused about the film--evidently, they didn't anticipate its critical and commercial success. For years, I thought they had provided the voices for the cartoon--it was kind of a bummer to discover otherwise. But the Beatles were such a huge pop culture force back then, the recycled aspect of the music didn't seem all that strange--their musical output just kind of all meshed together. The total opposite of the situation wit, say, the Beach Boys, whose songs all belong to distinct portions of their career--"Do It Again" is essentially from a different planet than "Surfin' Safari," though both are surfing songs. With the Beatles, their stuff didn't seem to age, so even the inclusion of A Hard Day's (or "Days") Night and I Want to Hold Your Hand doesn't seem all that odd on a release like this. But I looked up the songs actually employed in the movie soundtrack and discovered that only five match, which makes the Arc title slightly deceptive--except that it doesn't claim to have used ALL the music from the film. I just enjoy getting technical about such things--no one expects a budget exploitation LP to be operating on the level, but I love nitpicking these things. I have no idea why. But, in a sense, the cobbled-together aspect of this LP befits the film's soundtrack.

Ernie said...

I love Do It Again, I need to spend some time digging through the Beach Boys back catalog to find more stuff I like. I don't know much besides the hits. But it's a deep rabbit hole to go down, and I'm a little hesitant to invest that much time & energy. :)

When I was a younger tyke, we had a local music video channel, and they would play the Wall of Voodoo version of Do It Again, and I was always impressed that they had actually gotten an actual Beach Boy roped in for the video. I forget which one it was, though, but I remember him wearing one of those classic vertical-striped blue & white shirts.

Ernie said...

Oh, it's actually Brian Wilson, and he's wearing a Hawaiian Shirt, not a BB short. Time plays tricks on my memory.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Time does a number on mine, for sure. I hate to admit I didn't know there was a Wall of Voodoo version of that song. I remember (at the time) the BB singing the song on a daily story--maybe Mike Douglas. My dad thought the song was a bunch of nothing (jazz musicians aren't big on three-chord songs), but I thought it was wonderful to hear the group back in surf mode, and especially with that lovely bridge. The song was deliberately simple, being a tribute to their earliest period. Brian Wilson, like Carole King, could work miracles with simple harmony. I'll have to check out that version--thanks. And I think I posted my Frank Chacksfield cover of "Do It Again," which is nice to have, if only because contemporary BB covers were uncommon. The Brian Wilson tributes came in a bit later--c. 1990s, I seem to recall. (Notice how cautiously I phrased that....)

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Er, not a daily story--a daily show, as in talk show. You or may or may not remember Mike Douglas' show. I was shocked when I discovered he'd been a big band singer like Merv.

Ernie said...

I vaguely remember Mike Douglas's show, but it wasn't something I would have ever watched at the time. Wasn't it a daytime show like Dinah, who I also have vague memories of. I remember he showed up again later in connection with his game shows, that was a bigger into.

Did he ever sing with a big band? I knew he released a couple albums, but Merv actually sang with the big boys in the big bands for a bit.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Mike's show was a syndicated daytime show, I recall. I don't think he ever game shows--that would be Merv. Mike (as Michael Douglas) sang with Kay Kyser and had a hit with "The Old Lamplighter" in 1946. Like Merv, Mike continued as a vocalist post-big band. He had the 1966 camp hit "The Men in My Little Girl's Life," which Telly Savalas (!) also recorded. Badly, i should add. I used to have a number of Mike's albums, including an Atlantic label LP from 1976. He gets three full pages at Discogs!

Buster said...

Lee,

Heck, I was shocked when I learned Merv was a big-band singer. Mike was Michael Douglas of the Kay Kyser band (I think). His show came out of Cleveland for years then moved to Philadelphia when the station changed hands.

The Beatles' early material does not sound (to me, anyway) like the psychedelic pieces, which I don't like very much. I agree that George Martin had a great deal to do with their sound - increasingly so as time went on.

I have a Catherine McKinnon LP on Arc! Also other acts; Canadian LPs do show up in this part of the U.S.

Ernie,

There are some great things on the Beach Boys' post-Pet Sounds LPs - Darlin', Sail On Sailor and a few others. But also a bunch of duds.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Yes, Michael Douglas--he had a huge hit with "The Old Lamplighter"--number one, I think.  Though the credit went to Kay Keyser, of course.  I used to have that on an LP.  Good grief--I could do a blog devoted to all the LPs and 78s I USED to have...

I learned early on that Merv sang with Freddy Martin.  I had "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" in the original RCA 45, and I loved the sing.  The print was faded, so it took me a while to notice "Merv Griffin" in the credits.  Then, around 1981, I started on a Merv kick--first, with locating his Freddy Martin recordings, then moving on to his solo recordings for RCA, Columbia, Decca, Carlton, etc.  At first, it was for a lark--I found the idea funny--but I quickly grew to like Merv's singing, and I became a serious fan.  My proudest Merv acquisitions are his 1946 solo LP on Panda (his own label, and one of the earliest, if not the earliest, mastered-from-tape sets) and his "Themes I've Dreamed" LP.  His vanity releases are a lot of fun.  No musical genius, but he was genuinely gifted.  He was also a very decent actor.

Mike was the lesser of the two talents, or at least the far less successful.  The thing about Merv is that he worked long and hard to get to his rich-celebrity status.  He served his time in the entertainment field.

Back in the day, I was totally turned off by all later Beach Boys efforts, save for things like "Funky Pretty" and "Sail on, Sailor." When Wilson pretty much gave up his leadership position, we had to put up with material from other group members--though Al Jardine's "Susie Cincinnati" was one heck of a single (it's miles better than the LP version). "Susie" was partly a return to the group's old style, and Al's voice was perfect for it. The production on the single was amazing. I recall being happy to have them back on the charts for "Kokomo," though I can live a long, happy life without ever hearing that again. "Getcha Back" was a major step up from that one. While not a Mike Love fan, exactly--I know he's an epic jerk--he was an important part of the group as lyricist and frequent lead singer. They wouldn't have had the same sound without him.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

I was about 11 when I discovered Merv had been a big band singer. And his early solo sides on RCA were highly successful--he was briefly one of their major vocal stars. Then... suddenly, the hits stopped. Merv had a minor comeback with "Banned in Boston" and "The Charanga" in 1961--both charted. And, during the Fifties, he had a fan club headed by a young Carol Burnette. Griffin had a genuinely kind side to him--he went out of his way to give breaks to new singers and stars.

Diane said...

I'm loving all this historical info! Keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

6/14/21
RobGems68 Wrote:
Arc Records was a Canadian Budget label that had many "soundalike" artists doing versions of fake hits that other people had hits with. They did have real acts doing real songs, and managed to launch one Canadian superstar(formerly a Canadian gym teacher turned singer) of the 1970's on their pop subsidiary label, Ahed Records in 1968. That record was "What About Me" by Anne Murray, a hit in Canada. Capitol Records would sign her the next year and she would have her big U. S. breakthrough with "Snowbird" in 1970. One wonders if Arc Records did a "soundalike" fake hit version of "Snowbird" by an anonymous singer.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

RobGems68,

Thanks for the information! And I had no idea Anne Murray was connected with the label in any way. That's great to know. I fondly remember "Snowbird"--it was a breath of fresh pop music air at the time. Yes, it would be funny if Arc had done a sound-alike! Maybe a "(So and So) Sings the Anne Murray Hits" LP...

rntcj said...

Hi!

Thanx for this one Lee. Enjoying the discussion(s) here. As may have mentioned a collector of Canadian music with a collection of 70+ Arc label records. Have the Anne Murray Arc LP. Yes lots of "cover" music but also original artists. Would LUV to have the YS in collection mainly for the cover art!

Cheers!
Ciao! For now.
rntcj

Anonymous said...

6/15/21
RobGems68:
Anne Murray was with Arc/Ahed Records for only a year (1968-1969),and issued 2 singles and a full album (titled "What About Me" in Canada; this album was issued in the U.S. on budget label Pickwick Records(Label Prefix SPC-#3350) after her big breakthrough in the U. S. around 1972.) The success of the "What About Me" single led attention to Capitol Of Canada Records, and the U.S. version Of Capitol Records leasing soon followed. Ahed Records was considered a pop subsidary of Arc's budget label, and sold for a couple Canadian pounds more than the Arc low-budget line. Over here in Michigan where I live, both the CBC TV Network (Channel 9 of Windsor, Ontario) and The "Big 8" powerhouse radio station of CKLW-AM already made her popular in the Windsor/Detroit area. The rest of the U.S. caught up with her success word-of-mouth (and ears) by the time "Snowbird" was released. As for my personal favorite Anne Murray song, I like her moderate hit from 1971, "Talk It Over Morning', composed by the great songwriters Paul Williams & Roger Nichols. Not as big a hit as "Snowbird", and unfortunately not as played as often on Oldies Radio stations anymore, but a great song, nontheless. "What About Me", by the way was re-recorded (live in concert) for Capitol Records in 1972, and appears on her 1972 album "Country."

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Anon,

Thanks for the Arc and Anne Murray history! I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and during the day, CKLW came in loud and clear--my brother listened to it all the time. And we had an early version of cable TV ("Cablevision") and had Windsor's Channel 9. Also, WKBD-TV, Channel 50 (home of The Ghoul!).

Buster said...

CKLW came in as loud and clear as any Cleveland station in my eastern Cleveland suburban home during the 60s. Came the evening hours, we would also try to tune in WLS in Chicago and WBZ in Boston.

rntcj said...

Hi!

Continuing the discussion. 1st Anon. Canada has been using CANADIAN dollars, not pounds, since late 1800's & Bank of Canada was established in 1934 (researched).
Like Anne Murray's 1970 LP version of "Put Your Hand In The Hand" which became a Hit in '72 for Canadian group Ocean.
As for radio parents regularly listened to CBC as Dad worked there. Earlier on remember listening to a Buffalo station (not sure of call letters) but they played mostly Pop & had "Now You Know The Rest Of The Story" series. Fun times. Later tuned into local Toronto stations 1050 CHUM AM, then 98.1 CHFI-FM & finally 104.5 CHUM-FM. Haven't listened to radio in years.

Cheers!
Ciao! For now.
rntcj

Anonymous said...

6/17/21
RobGems68 Wrote:
Re; RNTCJ: Sorry for the confusion about the difference between Canadian Dollars and English Pounds; The last time I visited Canada was in 1994, and I bought a whole pile of Canadian print albums at a Toronto record shop; It was there I learned more info about Arc/Ahed Records. The Canadian dollars had portraits of Queen Elizabeth on them, and I mistook them for British pounds (but then, I'm just a nimble-minded American from Michigan, so what did I Know? Ha!) It turns out according to Wikepedia's info that "What About Me" was first issued on the Arc label, then re-issued on Ahed Records later in the 1970's. The follow-up to "What About Me" was a cover of Tim Hardin's "Reason To Believe". Then came the contract from Capitol Of Canada. Ahed Records seemed to not only have pop artists on its roster, but also specialized in K-Tel -like compilations of certain pop and country artists. K-Tel, after all was also a low-budget label originating in Canada around 1966,issuing weird 70's artifacts crammed with at least 24 songs on both sides of an album (12 songs per side, with annoying edits if the songs are over 3 minutes longs.) with far-out titles ("Believe In Music", "Dynamic Sounds", etc.) Arc did lease a few of their songs to Canadian prints of the K-Tel albums, including Anne Murray. Speaking of CKLW Big-8, how about a moment of silence for the late DJ Tom Shannon, one of the Big 8 jocks who passed away last month at the age of 81.I remember always hearing him during the 70's in the metro Detroit area. R.I.P., Tom Shannon.







rntcj said...

Hi!

In response @RobGems68. Yeah OK. My paternal Grandfather would visit from US & call Canadian bills "Chinese money" since they were/are so colourful. Changing the Queen off Canadian bills & replacing with historically important Canadians = Prominent Prime Ministers.
One of 1st record gifts was a K-Tel comp. record & have a small collection of these.
Believe the Buffalo station was WKRG (?) & not sure of Dial#.

Cheers!
Ciao! For now.
rntcj