A preview of
YESTERDAY NEVER KNOWS
MP3 streaming audio: YESTERDAY NEVER KNOWS samples
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All You Need Is (a labour of ) Love
Is this a tribute?
This is not a tribute.
Does the music of The Beatles need another tribute?
What is a tribute?
Is it reproducing the work of another artist, note for note, colour for colour, tone for tone, brushstroke for brushstroke? Is it donning the garb of a bygone era, and mimicking the stage antics of decades old performances, remembered from countless viewings on movie, television and computer screens?
Or…could it be, a chance to dream, perchance to play?
Play with melodies, hooks and themes, rhythms and rhymes, that have been in our ears and on our strings and skins for a lifetime, yet today remain vibrant, vital and alive.
Can it be a chance for an expression of appreciation?
An exuberant group shout!
Thank You! We Get It! We Want To Join Up! Roll Up! Roll Up!
This is a tribute.
The Beatles Through The Looking Glass
Such spirit. Extrapolation.
Such material. Theme and variation
.What if we played this song over that riff?
What if we played this tune as if we were another band altogether?
Match the tempo, alter the meter.
Any instrument can be tried on for size.
An accordion, an AK-47.
Out we can work it.
Won’t You Help Us
Help Michael’s Children?
From 1993 to 2009, BTG have released five collections of music.
The most popular and successful track that we have recorded
was a cover of The Beatles‘ “Don‘t Let Me Down“.
It appeared on our 2003 release, Like A Metaphor. (ha ha ha, hee hee hee, ho ho ho )
Why quit a winner?
Here’s a whole album‘s worth of the familiar.
For every copy of Like A Metaphor that we manufactured,
paying for the publishing rights of “Don’t Le t Me Down” cost us eight cents.
Yesterday Never Knows represents an expense more than ten times that.
Won’t you help us help Michael’s children ?
MP3 streaming audio: I’LL FOLLOW THE SUN
A favorite Paul McCartney tune, originally recorded in 1964, but actually written in 1959, during the Cavern Club era. Can you possibly imagine having this song on the shelf for five years? BTG welds this tune onto the riff and groove of George Harrison’s “Taxman”, from the 1966 album Revolver. The first bridge pops by for tea at John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields ... ”. After the climax of the fourth guitar solo... yeah that’s right, the fourth guitar solo. There are three letters in BTG , and two thirds of them represent guitarist’s initials, so there’s bound to be plenty of soloing guitars. (In this case, a blistering electric slide; followed by a wacky acoustic; more blistering slide, this time on a 12 string; capped off by a multi-tracked backwards flashback.) Anyway, after the psychedelic crescendo of the final solo fades into the second bridge, BTG transmogrifies the melody of “I’ll Follow The Sun” into the all-acoustic environment of “And I Love Her”. The intro and outro feature King Crimson-esque variations on the original “..Sun” riff.
The drums at the end are the drums at “The End”.
MP3 streaming audio: NOWHERE MAN
Working in the fall of 1965 to finish off the songs for the Rubber Soul album, John Lennon was beset with a mild case of “Incredibly Talented And Successful Young Superstar Trying To Pen Another Smash Hit” writer’s block. Beginning to feel less and less Fab, Lennon sits for hours watching the pool sweep going ‘round and ‘round, and is inspired to write the first ever Beatles original that wasn’t a love song. The lyrics are steeped in melancholy, yet the original recording has an up-tempo feel, shimmering with ultra tight pop harmonies and the jangliest of guitars. Now that’s art.
While keeping the jingle and jangle, BTG sets this tune to a slow waltz to distill the emotional nature of the piece. The lead melody is played on an electric guitar, while the harmonies are provided by slide guitar. The drums and bass demonstrate that a pocket can be picked. A mandolin is added to brighten up the shadowy corners of the groove.
MP3 streaming audio: ELEANOR RIGBY
One of the most famous and respected compositions in rock history. The original recording is as close to perfection as any before or since. A piece that has been arranged for orchestras, choirs, jazz groups, and played at some time by every high school concert band in the world. What could you guys possibly bring to the table for this one?
We could try setting it in 6/8, with a groove that is infused with both a Latin Jazz feel and wisps of London fog. We could create a melodic dialogue between the acoustic and electric guitar. We could have the guitars develop one of the song’s signature string parts, offsetting and overlapping the lines to be used both as an intro and a dynamic interlude in the middle of the arrangement. We could follow that up with four more guitar solos!!! (This time we’ll start with a Michael Hedges inspired acoustic; then how about checking out the rides in Whammy Land?; a slippery synth guitar can fit in here too; top it off with some ripping electric lines.)
All the while the rhythm section propels the piece with power, taste and precision. Plenty of percussion peppers this arrangement, while the bass engages in interplay with everybody.
MP3 streaming audio: BECAUSE
A Beatle Myth...
As John Lennon told it:
Yoko is at the piano tinkling through some Beethoven.(Since this is a fantasy, I feel certain that it sounded brilliant.) John asks her to play it backwards.
Voila! A classic is created.
While the chords are inspired by, and do resemble, “Moonlight Sonata”, Lennon didn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. A classic none the less.
Set now in a moody shuffle, brought to fruition by Indian tablas, the arpeggios are played on bass, doubled with a Mellotron cello. The exquisite vocal harmonies of the original recording are translated here by some ultra clean three part slide guitar overdubbing. Add some piano, add some acoustic guitar, the tablas are joined by brushes on a snare, the synth solo from the original is played on bass.
A change of habit, or...the nun less a classic?
MP3 streaming audio: BLACKBIRD
A performance staple for BTG since 1992, this entry from the White Album has gone through many iterations over the years. Most currently, the Ebony Avian finds herself breaking out of her shell inside a smoky club located in the French Quarter of post-Katrina New Orleans. (www.katrinarelief.org) Once again the slide guitar provides the vocal melody while Paul Mac’s original acoustic guitar inversions are kneaded like Beignet dough, and stretched to fit the churning groove laid down by the drums and bass.
For this arrangement, we present for your listening pleasure, not just four guitar solos, but six! The crystal tone of the slide contrasting with a dirty electric tremolo.
After a restatement of the bridge and verse, the clouds gather and a gentle quote of “Rain” begins to fall
Welcome to the Yesterday Never Knows Film Festival.
(Tickets still available, redeemable in your imagination.)
Act I: Medley
MP3 streaming audio: BOY MEETS GIRL (Mother Nature's Son / Girl)
The scene is set at SFO. A graying musician daydreams himself to a patch of shade beside a sunny glade. A small stream gurgles through this Son’s field of grass. The soundtrack? An acoustic guitar accompanied by a shaker. The arrangement calls for every opportune harmonic to be utilized, every open string required to ring.
The dream is interrupted, and the bustle of the airport returns the guitarist to reality. Insecure in security... he sees her. Is she the type of girl he’ll want so much she’ll make him sorry, still he won’t regret a single day? Once again open strings and harmonics, as well as rhythmic variations and inverted bouzouki riffs are the order of the day. “Mother Nature’s Son” is reprised as the sun sets, a chain saw roars, and the brook’s babbling fades into the sounds of a chic café in Paris…….
Act II: Remembrance
MP3 streaming audio: IN MY LIFE
Ever since the first shot of espresso was pulled and the first pitcher of milk was steamed musicians have been accompanied by the now so familiar sounds of hissing wands, clanking dishes, and caffeinated chatter of the café scene.
This experienced, charming duo of bass and accordion shrug off the noise, and concentrate on expressing the sense of longing for the past found in John Lennon’s lyrics.
Voted in 1999 as the greatest pop song of the millennium, this melody demands a level of emotion that can only be culled from personal experience. Now’s the time for the bass to utilize every harmonic technique available. Rich voicing’s and subtle chord substitutions colour the musical reminiscing. George Martin’s memorable keyboard solo is split between the accordion and bass, and a quote from “Please Please Me” fades into the background noise as the talk in the café turn to current events……
Act III: Montage.
MP3 streaming audio: FLYING
Ever since the first shot of espresso was pulled and the first pitcher of milk was steamed cafes have been a place of intellectual debate, often centering on the topic of religion. The “Revolution #9” inspired, sound effects laden, introduction to “Flying” adds one more short conversation to the mix. Enjoy the ride and watch your step…
The BTG take on this somewhat obscure instrumental track from the“ Magical Mystery Tour” film is a mix of reproducing actual Beatle tones used on the original recording, augmented with whatever else we felt sounded cool. Volume pedal and guitar synth for the melody, while the tremolo guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, Mellotron, and Rickenbacker bass cop their parts straight from the record. The Mellotron part morphs into Ebow guitars as the singing of the melody is double, triple, and quadruple tracked to diffuse our vocal insecurities.
After an orbit or two, the extended ending features variations on the jazzy piano improvisation that occurs during the fade out of the recording of “Magical Mystery Tour”. I believe the term “flashback” was used earlier……
Act IV: Denouement.
MP3 streaming audio: I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE PARTY
Every arrangement needs an angle. That was the pronouncement at the start of this project. No piece on this album has a clearer, or more clever spin than this:
What if…….instead of writing and recording the instrumental rock classic “Jessica”, the Allman Brothers put their talents to an almost obscure Lennon track from 1964’s The Beatles For Sale?
Since they didn't do that, let's do it ourselves!
Tight guitar harmonies, a relentlessly grooving rhythm section, Hammond organ, the “Hard Day’s Night” Gsus11 chord and a host of other quotes are all on display here. Does the song need a second bridge? How about a bridge from the past? The bass and drums quote the intro from Abbey Road‘s “Come Together” during the breakdown before the solo section. What’s this? Only two guitar solos on this track? With a Hammond solo sandwiched between them.
The first solo is an acoustic guitar double tracked with another acoustic recorded at half speed achieving a demented mandolin effect. This is followed by the aforementioned Hammond organ tearing through the changes while a tasty electric guitar brings it home.
As the final melodies tumble into to an extended Southern Rock ending, we find that the arrangers have saved some more Beatle Bits to finish with: the huge guitar break that is played at the beginning of the space out ending of “Strawberry Fields Forever” is harmonized Allman style, leading into the fade on still more guitar from “A Hard Day’s Night”
(Kevin, we've saved a seat for you...on the last train out.)
MP3 streaming audio: GOODBYE
Written by Paul McCartney in 1968 for Apple Records artist, Mary Hopkins. The Travis picking acoustic guitar and the melodic phrasing of the lap steel is straight from a demo recorded by Sir Paul. We insert the guitar solo from his McCartney album’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” into the arrangement as a bridge. Mandolin and shoe box percussion round out this back porch ensemble.
MP3 streaming audio: DON’T LET ME DOWN
"...for a peek into the ingenuity and heart of the ensemble, listen to how the guys inerpret The Beatles' Don't Let Me Down"
Michael Molenda, Editor-in-Chief, Guitar Player Magazine.
Recorded in 2002 and previously released on Like A Metaphor, this rendition of Lennon's 1969 B-side to "Get Back" has been a Sunday morning staple in San Francisco on KFOG's Acoustic Sunrise ever since, and remains a set crowd pleaser to this day. Re-mastered in 2009 for this project, this track sounds better than ever and is full of the spirit that we tried to bring to this entire album.
And yes… there are guitar solos.
We recently had an article appear in Guitar Player magazine that talked about the recording of "Yesterday Never Knows". The source material for the article was an email "interview" from Guitar Player editor Barry Cleveland to John Bartron and Mike Tyler of BTG. The material was condensed into the cool article in the January 2010 issue of GP (you can read the full article on our Quotes and Reviews page). Here is a transcription of the full interview:
What inspired you to initiate this project, and how long did it take to complete it?
JB: Since two things can be equally true I'll be honest and say that after five independently produced and independently financed albums of mostly original, eclectic guitar based music the band was interested in embarking on a project that had the potential for more commercial accessibility. We are very appreciative of the fact that all of our records have paid for themselves. (Mostly through sales to our loyal fans at shows-Thank You All!) Yet we wanted to reach a wider audience, and the music of the Fabs has a very long reach. That being said, we are all great, huge, lives changed by, fans of the Beatles. Mike and I are especially zealous. Once we started picking tunes and arranging them for this project, finding grooves, inserting quotes, it was as enjoyable as if we were working on our own material. The arranging and rehearsal of the songs took several months, working the tunes into our live sets as we went. Working from three separate Pro Tools equipped home studios, the actual recording process was more of a marathon than a sprint, lasting about two and a half years.
To what extent did you attempt to cop the original tones and arrangements as opposed to crafting new ones?
JB: We approached the tones we tracked with on a song by song basis. Being guitar players in an instrumental ensemble we intrinsically had to represent the vocal melodies and harmonies with some sort of stringed thing. As for trying to nail the Beatles' guitar tones, I think Mike was more diligent than I was in striving for authenticity. As for the arrangements, every song had to have some sort of angle or tweak to it. Setting a tune in a different groove or meter allowed us to make these versions our own. This part of the process was a joy, very creatively gratifying.
MT: Most of the time we weren't very concerned with duplicating actual tones off the Beatle albums because our arrangements were so radically different from the originals. We usually would try to evoke certain sounds that have become associated with the Beatles, such as an electric 12-string, or a guitar played through a Leslie speaker cabinet, or a Mellotron. One of my favorite guitar sounds that the Beatles got was the tremolo riff on "Flying". I ended getting something closer to a spaghetti western sound than they did. I think Joey was much more successful copping Paul's tone by playing the Rickenbacker bass on that track.
Did you employ instruments, amps, or other gear that wasn’t already in your standard rigs?
JB: Other than using my small body Lowden acoustic, I employed all of the axes in my live rig: Godin Multiac through a Roland GR33; Wechter Pathmaker Acoustic Electric; Gibson 135(sans F Holes). All of my effects processing was through a Line 6 Pod XT. I also got my newest guitar, an Epiphone ES 175 onto the intro to Flying during the last sessions of tracking my parts.
MT: On most of the album I used my go-to guitars, either my Parker Fly or my early seventies Les Paul Deluxe through a Vox Valvetronix amp. My Epiphone Riviera 12-string is a favorite studio tool of mine, as is my Oahu Diana lap steel. The Leslie cabinet has only made it to a few gigs over the years but it sounds so good I might have to start bringing it along. And I used a GForce M-Tron for the Mellotron parts that sounds perfect, completely authentic samples.
Describe the arrangement of “I’ll Follow The Sun” in detail, including how you got the various guitar tones.
JB: I remember a long rehearsal in which we tried to place this song in several different settings, the only constant being Mike's lovely phrasing of the melody on slide. It started out with a half time groove that ended up having way too much of an" apple in a pigs mouth" Luau feel to it. We then spent an hour or so trying to run McCartney's cool chord changes through the Travis picking pattern of Lennon's "Julia". Nothing was clicking. On the drive home that night "Taxman" came over the radio waves and I started to hum the "I'll Follow The Sun" melody to this great George Harrison riff. Cool. We hammered it out during the next session, adding the Sharp 9 punches at appropriate spots. For the beginning, bassist Joey Fabian suggested a Crimsonesque variation on the original intro riff. (Mike plays it in 6/8 on a 12 string while I pick away at it in 5/8 on acoustic.) During the verses I play backbeat chordal stabs on my Godin with a Leslie speaker effect.
MT: During the first bridge I bring in the Mellotron flute sounds from “Strawberry Fields”. The first solo is straight slide on the Parker.
JB: For the second solo I add a warble echo to the Leslie tone...
MT: …and then I do the third solo using slide on the Epiphone 12-string…
JB: the fourth solo has three different guitars using a reverse delay: two clean passes on my Godin over some crunchy electric chords. After this psychedelic flashback fades away, the second bridge is set in the acoustic environment of "And I Love Her". The finale of the arrangement brings the Crimson arpeggios back played an octave higher while drummer John Hasty pounds out the solo from "The End". The final chord just had to be a Major 6th.
Do the same with “Flying,” including the effects processing.
JB: The intro to "Flying" is an agnostic, sound effects laden, brief homage to "Revolution #9", punctuated with crunchy quotes from "I Am The Walrus".
MT: A nice flangy drumbeat kicks into a fairly faithful rendition of “Flying”. I’m playing my G&L F100E in drop-D tuning tuned down a step (drop-C) for extra twang and the low C drone. The tremolo tone is from my Boss GT-3 pedal.
JB: I employ a heavily delayed volume pedal on my Godin Multiac doubled with a subtle guitar synth tone for the melody.
MT: VERY authentic Mellotron parts in the second verse give way to stacked Ebow drones on the third where quadruple-tracked mob vocals are mixed with a Mellotron choir. This all leads to…
JB: …the ending drifts into space for a bit before coalescing into some obscure and extended variations on the jazzy piano improv that is heard during the fade out of "Magical Mystery Tour". All of this section (except for the bass and percussion) was recorded on my Boss Br 1180 8-track over the holidays last year; my other 8 Track contribution is the dirty electric tremolo solos in "Blackbird". I treated the improvised piano phrases as a melody and repeat them (and repeat them) using acoustics, electrics, and several synth guitar tones. All over a pad of spacey flutes, bowed piano, and strings. I believe I used the term flashback earlier...
Was “Boy Meets Girl” played in standard tuning?
JB: This was played with a basic dropped D. It has been years since I experimented with anything more radical. I'm kind of daunted by alternate tunings but love the sound, so I compensated by inserting as many available open strings, as well as straight, false, and tapped harmonics as I could into the riffs and melodies of this medley.
What’s the deal with arranging “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” to sound like the Allman Brothers?
MT: When we were thinking about which songs we’d like to include in this project I thought it would be fun to play the great vocal harmonies from “Spoil the Party” on twin guitars. When you think of harmony guitars the first thing that comes to my mind are the Allman Brothers. When I mentioned the idea to John he got the concept immediately. That was one of the tracks where we were able to throw in lots of ideas and sonic quotes: the opening chord from “A Hard Day’s Night”, the bridge from “From Me To You”, a “Come Together” breakdown, and lots more.
JB: Mike gave me the idea to double track my acoustic solo at half speed, giving it an enigmatic mando tone.
What single element of this album are you most pleased with and why?
MT: I think we were able to convey our obvious love and respect for the material while at the same time displaying a playfulness and spirit of experimentation that seems appropriate for these tunes. To me, the Beatles willingness to explore any style of music that caught their fancy is one of the most enduring qualities of their legacy.
JB: I learned that sometimes in the digital home recording world, it is the destination and not the journey. This project took a frakking long time to complete and was recorded very much like the White Album: lots of disparate parts recorded one at a time (in fact the only session where all four of us tracked at the same time was for the vocal melody in "Flying"). And yet we now have a really bitchin' sounding, clever, cool, cohesive record that we are all really, really proud of and stoked to play for people. [My dictionary has a page ripped out of it in the C's. Somewhere near the word "concise". JB]
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