Monday, March 18, 2019

I Gotta New Drug....

Rabid fans never quite quench their thirst for more Beatles. Everyone wants to intimately connect with the musicians, and the only channel for us mere mortals would be via audio. 
A new drug hit the streets last November, and it is called the Esher Demos.
This brilliantly raw acoustic compilation, (remember MTV's "Unplugged"?) is your channel to The Beatles. Finely-tuned ears will recognize the impromptu hand-claps, the banter, the intimate chatter, the guitar-picking, alternate lyrics and so much more. The brilliance of the disc will give you goosebumps and, sadly, leave you wanting more.

Included with last November's release of the remastered album "The Beatles," aka "The White Album," the Esher Demos is a bonus disc. This separate disc contains 27 tracks that were recorded informally at the end of May, 1968, at George Harrison's bungalow, which was named Kinfauns, in Esher, England. The band decided to play their individual songs for each other, in a private environment, prior to heading to EMI Studios to record. The venue chosen for this event was George's home, simply because he owned a professional-grade four-track tape recorder that they would use to capture their work. 

A little backstory:  In early 1968, The Beatles had been studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in Rishikesh, India, at the suggestion of George. The Beatles were pretty stressed at this moment with the unwavering madness of Beatlemania, marriages, impending divorce, babies, drugs, affairs, and the loss of their beloved manager, Brian Epstein. The band was in the process of starting Apple Corps Ltd and, oh yeah, they had to keep producing music for the record company. So in an effort to "find the answer" and have a reprieve, the four packed their wives/girlfriends and went to Rishikesh. In some stolen (and not stolen) moments at Rishikesh, John and Paul wrote a number of songs. It's been reported that George frowned upon this, as he felt that focus should be upon spiritual awareness. Regardless, the three songwriters returned with a thick file of songs.

What will you hear?  As usual, Paul McCartney, the always prepared student, came to class ready to crank out pop-ish contributions, such as "Ob-la-Di, Ob-la-Da," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Blackbird," etc. The songs were very organized and succinctly performed. Finely tweaked, light, airy and sunny, Paul sets his sugary-sweet candy-bar pretty high. But my favorite tune from the session was a song which did not make it onto the White: "Junk." And it is hardly "junk;" though the lyrics are not complete, the melody is a beautiful product which Paul eventually releases on a solo album years later.

Conversely, the main course, the meat if you will, is provided by John Lennon and George Harrison. Meaningful, substantive work by the two Beatles who were using their music as the conduit for a wide range of emotions. 

One of The Beatles' finest recordings, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," begins in infancy at Esher. Sans the driving urgency of Eric Clapton's lead guitar, fans can detect a few altered lyrics, but mostly felt in this track is George Harrison's heartache and can almost taste the salt of George's tears.  Stripped of the wall of sound, George's words are passionate and moving. Additionally, George unveiled three songs at Esher which were not chosen for the White. "Circles," "Sour Milk Sea," and "Not Guilty" are dripping with George's venom and admonition. At this moment in the world of Beatle, George was increasingly frustrated. He was the little brother who was pooh-poohed and not taken seriously. But George had real advice for his brothers:  
"Get out of Sour Milk Sea - You don't belong there," 
and:  "I'm really sorry that you've been misled, but like you heard me said - I'm Not Guilty."

Knowing the chaos that John was experiencing, it's no surprise that John's songs were the most direct and expressive. John's songs on the Esher tapes were well thought out, but not as tightly bound as Paul's songs. And does that matter? Of course not. John's raw lyrics and performance exposes a wide range of emotions: confusion, depression, anticipation and desire in a new love, grief and loss of his marriage and relationship with his son, and the lingering loss of his mother. John transfers his multiple sentiments into each song. 

The song I find the most intriguing on the demo is a track that once again did not make it onto "The White Album." Paul and John penned similar songs while they were in India, resulting from a lecture by the Maharishi about man's relationship with nature. "Mother Nature's Son" was written by Paul; "Child of Nature" was written by John. As John Lennon expert, Jude Southerland Kessler points out: "John was no child of nature and his performance of this song indicates his lack of seriousness on the topic." Interestingly, (and thankfully) John later transforms this song into a completely different message, a topic that Kessler adds, "John had more experience with" - "Jealous Guy." Listening to "Child of Nature," you will be mesmerized by the "Jealous Guy" melody which lies beneath John's playful words about a concept to which he was not particularly drawn.

I've read a lot of opinions which point "The White Album" as an "individual" project. Even though each member brought his own work to Esher, the demo is proof that they were still a family working together to create another masterpiece. Almost like, I must say, a band of brothers.

There is so much more about this disc that I'd love to uncover for you, but only so much time. I have been giving presentations on the topic - if you would like to schedule a presentation, send an email to my publicist:   

You can purchase the remastered White Album which includes the Esher Demos, here:

Enjoy my tribute pages to George Harrison found in my cookbook, "Recipe Records-A Culinary Tribute to The Beatles." 
Get your copy here:

Jude Southerland Kessler and I have a new radio show format at Check out our interview with Beatle fan and rock star, Elliot Easton. Elliot was the lead guitarist for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band, The Cars. 


Author Terry Crain has published a spectacular book about the merchandise that was manufactured by NEMS Enterprises in the U.S. during 1964-66. I had the pleasure of editing this wonderful book and I highly recommend this beauty on your coffee table! Get it here:

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Peace & Love!
Lanea Stagg

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Hey Alexa....Engage Recipe Records Cookbooks....

OK...I have always been a little creeped out by artificial intelligence. But today's technology has reached a new level and, as my friend Jude Southerland Kessler pointed out recently to me, technology has now caught up to Recipe Records Cookbooks.

What am I talking about?

Well, most of you are Recipe Records Cookbooks fans and are aware of one of the hippest features for the books:   The Suggested Song List

My late friend and co-author, Maggie McHugh and I, cleverly combined our rock and roll recipes with music. The great addition to the cookbook was the suggested song list contained on each layout. To me, THAT is the greatest part of the book. I always said it was about the music. But, the recipes, stories and trivia are pretty spectacular, too :)

Beam me up, Scotty.

Well, Alexa was given to me as a gift by Ms. Kessler and I was not sure at first if this was a path I should walk. Note:  Do not say "record" and "Alexa" in the same conversation (or same room for that matter, trust me). But I soon found out that while I am slicing and dicing, I can tell Amazon's AI tool, Alexa, to play The Meters, or Otis Redding, or opera music. I can ask her to turn up the volume, or turn it down.

Inject Recipe Records Suggested Song Lists:

Ms. Kessler pointed out to me that while you are making a recipe out of one of the cookbooks, you can ask Alexa to play each song on the Suggested Song List. 

This is what Maggie and I had in mind some 10 years ago when we wrote the first cookbook. We wanted you to enjoy the music and the food.  So, get those Recipe Records Cookbooks out and turn up THE BEAT in your kitchen today! 

Send me a pic of your Recipe Records moments via social media:

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Giles Martin & Bruce Spizer
Check out the latest episode of "She Said She Said" on blogtalkradio. Jude Southerland Kessler and I interview the scholarly Beatles expert, Bruce Spizer:

Bruce on She Said She Said

Thursday, April 12, 2018

HELP! Here Come the Strawberry Fields!

George experienced it.
The long, cold, lonely winter.
Harrison was craving the radiance of the warm sunshine at the end of a winter that was particularly difficult, for professional reasons and likely, personal as well....which led to his monumental song:  Here Comes the Sun.
We have experienced a winter that has extended itself in multiple ways and I, for one, am relieved for the promise of spring. For years I have stared at a bare spot in my lovely back yard that has been sorely ignored. The plot has good drainage, soil and sun, and I have always "Imagined" a "Strawberry Field" in this thoughtful spot. Like you, I have a billion things to do, but so did The Beatles. I've been inspired to plant my own "Strawberry Field," channeling George and John and...."with a little help from my friends" (more on that below).  

Beatanical Garden
Friar Park, Oxfordshire, England

George Harrison was an exceptional gardener and musician. The chaos he was exposed to during his life ultimately led him to seek peace and quiet in the garden. Of course, George's garden was (and continues to be) in a completely different category than my garden. George's garden is what I call a Beatanical Garden...lavish horticulture on a mania level. The quiet Beatle lived at Friar Park which is an exquisite estate, and he shaped the gardens - one thoughtful and purposeful day at a time.

Back to my project. I've decided to grow a field of strawberries and such and I would like to name the garden. I plan to put the name on a sign and hang it at the garden. Would you HELP! me? 
Here Comes the Strawberry Field
As you can plainly see, there is a lot of work to be done here and I can use all the suggestions I can get! 
I am having a contest to name the Strawberry Field. Check out the prize package below and directions to submit your entry. You can send me gardening tips and suggestions, too!
I look forward to sharing this labor of Beatle love with you!

CONTEST!  "Name the Strawberry Field"

Prizes:  *$25 Amazon gift card
*Original Art canvas tote bag - your choice of Beatle (original art by Susan Derbacher)
*PLUS 1 Complete set of Recipe Records Cookbooks! ($175 prize pkg)

Original Paul McCartney
canvas tote
-original art by Susan Derbacher-
Submit your entry via Facebook, Twitter, commenting below or via email:
May 10, 2018

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Jude and Lanea
Jude and Lanea have a radio show series called She Said She Said and our theme this spring is #i-Candy.

Check out our recent episodes with guests who are indeed, eye candy!

#i-Candy Guest: Ivor Davis

#i-Candy Guest: Linda Chorney

#i-Candy Guest: Bruce Spizer

George at Friar Park

I'd like to share this lovely article with you about George's garden:     George's Estate

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