BBC Doc about The Casbah

Remembers classic songs from the late 1950s and 1960s

BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (JeffZ) » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:30 am

This will only be up for a few more days. It's a 2 part documentary about The Casbah, the club that Pete Best's mother ran in Liverpool, and it's presented by Pete himself. The Searchers and The Big Three are mentioned, I very much enjoyed it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pgnp4
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Re: BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (DavyR) » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:34 pm

Interesting comments in Episode 2 @ 8:35 about the demise of MerseyBeat...
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Re: BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (admin) » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:08 am

Thanks for the link Jeff. David I agree that the comments about Merseybeat running its course are most interesting. At the end of the day the move of groups toward more sophisticated studio work rather than live performances was a slippery slope for the Merseybeat sound. I am reminded of Lennon's attempt to recapture the "live" performance on the Let It Be album. But the genii was out of the bottle by then and the new sound of the psychedelic era was the new wave.
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Re: BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (JeffZ) » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:42 am

I know Bill Harry has a theory that the London record producers really tried to "clean up" a lot of the early Merseybeat bands and ended up taking the fire out of their records. Johnny Gustafson has said that The Big Three's producer at Decca (who I believe was Peter Sullivan) simply could not get his head around the fact that they didn't have a rhythm guitarist and the bass/guitar interplay had a major impact in the band's live sound.

Certainly if one listens to the Oriole "This Is Merseybeat" Volumes 1 and 2 which were recorded very early on the music is a lot heavier and wilder than what many Merseyside bands were putting out by 1964.
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Re: BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (admin) » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:23 am

Jeff a likely factor in the dilution of the raw sound that characterized Merseybeat. The cleanup of the groups was not limited to their appearance but also to their sound. What I loved about the sound of these groups in the beginning was the less is more factor that emerged as they would "make do."
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Re: BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (hamilton_square) » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:41 pm

Nail on the head hit Mr. McCormack. While only a distance of 200-mile separates Liverpool from London, the we-know-what-sells recording powers that be just didn’t get what was going on at the time. They thought they could take the sound out of its natural live small club habitat, dress it up and make it presentable - a task at which they failed miserably subject of course to a few notable exceptions.

Even though half-a-century has since passed; it ultimately fell to Star Club Records in Hamburg - backed by Holland’s Philips Records - to occasionally capture snippets of what all now survives of the authentic “Merseybeat” sound that I can still vividly recall. This I put down to the practice - borne out of economic necessity - of recording in a live or near live on-stage setting inside the Star Club itself. While many of these recordings were of the one-take, rough-and-ready variety, the object of the exercise at the time was to quickly establish a home-grown popular record label for a previously ignored German teenage music buying public.

Also, over the years, I’ve come to agree with the views expressed by John Schroeder, who as a young A&R manager with independent Oriole Records (and aided by sound engineer Geoff Frost and a van load of mobile recording equipment) took over the Rialto Ballroom on Liverpool 8’s Upper Parliament Street for a hectic two days during May 1963. The purpose being to record tracks by a number of local groups later released under the title of “This Is Mersey Beat” Volumes 1 & 2.

1974 view of the Rialto Ballroom on Upper Parliment Street ...

Rialto-1974.jpg

Inside the Rialto Ballroom during the two-day recording of "This Is Mersey Beat"
Geoff Frost (left) John Schroeder (right) ...

wpffa925f4_1b.jpg

In essence, John Schroeder is on record as saying that while the general standard of musicianship was ‘high’ he didn’t find anything that ‘knocked me out because I was hearing nothing that was vitally different’. Reserving his main criticism for the range and type of material being played. Though said jokingly, he did say he was thinking of releasing the album under the title '12 Ways To Get My Mojo Working!'

The bottom line was, no matter how refreshing interpretations were for those Liverpool times, they all adapted and covered the material of others – that is with one obvious and notable exception. While it was definitely fun while it lasted, the scene was largely a regional phenomenon that quickly ran out of steam once the main protagonists moved on. Take the cream away and what remains is common everyday milk.
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Re: BBC Doc about The Casbah

Postby (JeffZ) » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:22 pm

I'm lucky enough to have some of the Star Club records, Ian and The Zodiacs, Bobby Patrick's Big Six, Kingsize Taylor and The Dominos, and the live LP The Searchers made in Hamburg. Either by design or luck they did catch the groups in their natural habitat and you do get some idea of the energy they could produce. It is however fair to say they all were mining from the same vein as far as material went.
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