Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview



Hymns Vol. 2 – Shane and Shane

Shane and Shane follow Hymns Vol. 1 and Hymns Live with more classic and modern hymns done in their distinctive worshipful style. The hymns are creatively arranged in a way that they can be used for congregational singing in church worship services, as well as enjoyed for individual worship. The album starts with four classic hymns, then moves to four modern hymns, before ending with two more classic hymns.
Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:
Be Thou My Vision (Lord You Are) – “Be Thou My Vision” is an 8th century Irish hymn that was translated by Eleanor Hull in 1912. “Lord You Are (More Precious Than Silver)” was written by Lynn DeShazo. The song features acoustic guitar, strings, backing vocals and some good drum work. 

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    • Okie – Vince Gill
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Live at the Hollywood Bowl – The Beatleslive-at-the-hollywood-bowl-the-beatles

I had the album version – The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl that was released in 1977. That version was produced by the Beatles’ legendary producer George Martin. This version, including four bonus tracks, has been remixed and mastered from the original three-track tapes by Martin’s son Giles, who worked with his father on the Beatles 2006 Love album. In David Fricke’s liner notes, the reissued album is described as the essential companion to Ron Howard’s acclaimed documentary Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years. 
The album is comprised of songs from the Beatles 1964 and 1965 concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The concerts were the first and last times the Beatles were officially recorded in concert. The album contains recordings from three different concerts, which took place on August 23rd, 1964 and August 29th and 30th, 1965. Giles remixed and mastered the songs at Abbey Road with engineer Sam Okell. He has spoken about how advancements in technology since his father worked on the tapes almost forty years ago has resulted in in improved clarity, so that “the immediacy and visceral excitement can be heard like never before”.
This remains the Beatles only official live album, and shows that despite the constant screaming from teenage girls that they had to contend with, making it difficult for them to hear themselves playing and singing, they were still a really good live band, thanks to the thousands of hours they played in Hamburg, Germany and at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.
The album features good liner notes and photos, including George Martin’s original notes from the 1977 release, in which he states that he reluctantly worked with engineer Geoff Emerick to bring the performance (the only live recordings of the Beatles in existence, minus inferior bootlegs), back to life.
The bonus tracks included here for the first time are “You Can’t Do That”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, George’s cover of Carl Perkins’ “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” and “Baby’s In Black”.

pet-soundsPet Sounds – Beach Boys (50th Anniversary Edition) (2 CD)


I recently read Brian Wilson’s excellent new autobiography I Am Brian Wilson, in which he writes extensively about the making of his classic Pet Sounds 50 years ago, widely considered one of the greatest albums ever recorded, with Rolling Stone having it at #2 on their list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. Wilson tells of John Lennon calling him about the album and Beatles producer George Martin saying that Pet Sounds was the chief motivation for the Beatles own classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album a year later in 1967.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this classic recording, an anniversary edition including 104 tracks, all but 14 of which had been previously available, has been released. I picked up the two-CD version, which includes the original 13 song, 36 minute version of the album in both mono and remastered stereo, an instrumental version and some previously unavailable live recordings from 1966 – 1993.
Casual fans of the band will recognize much loved songs such as “Wouldn’t it Be Nice”, “Sloop John B”, “God Only Knows” (which Paul McCartney told Wilson was one of his all-time favorite songs), and “Caroline No” (which is Wilson’s favorite song on the album). But the genius of Pet Sounds and Wilson is the entirely of the album, not the hit singles. Listen to what Wilson did in the studio with the session musicians who would become known as the Wrecking Crew, while the Beach Boys were on the road. You can also see this depicted in the 2014 film Love and Mercy.
Even though there have been numerous reissues of Pet Sounds, I previously only had an early CD release, which was not of a very a good sound quality. Listening to the stereo version on this reissue produced by Mark Linett opened up new sounds on the album that I had not previously heard.  To really appreciate Wilson’s songs and the talents of the Wrecking Crew listen to the instrumental versions of the songs.  Wilson is currently on a Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary Tour, playing the album live in its entirety. Continue reading

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My Review of ‘Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years’ on DVD

eight-days-a-weekEight Days a Week: The Touring Years

Although I’ve seen Paul McCartney in concert twelve times, including this year at Milwaukee’s Summerfest (see my review here), George Harrison on his only U.S. tour in St. Louis in 1974, and Ringo Starr with his All-Starr Band in 2014 (see my review here),  I, unlike one of my aunts (who saw them at Comiskey Park in Chicago), never saw the Beatles in concert, as they had stopped touring the day before I turned 10 years old. Clips from that August 29, 1966 concert, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, are shown in this documentary from Oscar winning director Ron Howard and writer Mark Monroe, which focuses on the Beatles’ incredible touring years 1963-1966. Paul McCartney would return to Candlestick Park to play a final event at the stadium almost 48 years later on August 14, 2014, before the stadium was demolished in 2015.

In the film we hear the Beatles legendary producer Sir George Martin say that the Beatles would release a new single every three months and a new album every six months during the early stages of this period, an incredible creative pace. Martin’s son Giles was the music producer for the film and the remastered album Live at the Hollywood Bowl, which is considered to be the essential companion to the film. Read my review of the album here.

Howard, shows us (through photos, video and interviews), what the Beatles touring years of 1963 through 1966 were like when the band toured 15 countries. Though he focuses on the band on the road (concerts, press conferences, hotel rooms, appearances on television programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show), he does address important issues along the way, such as the Beatles refusing to play a Jacksonville, Florida concert if the audience was to be segregated, and John Lennon’s controversial 1966 comment that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” at the time. What Howard shows us is what was referred to as “Beatlemania”, specifically the young females in their concerts screaming (you can also hear this on the Live at the Hollywood Bowl album).

Howard tells the story chronologically, using current interviews with the two surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as historical interview footage from John Lennon and George Harrison. McCartney states “By the end, it became quite complicated. But at the beginning, things were really simple.” Howard also includes interviews with people such as Whoopi Goldberg, who was one of the more than 56,000 who attended the 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, where the band’s sound came from tinny stadium speakers; Sigourney Weaver, who we see in historical black and white footage attending an early Beatles concert; and Miami radio station journalist Larry Kane, who travelled with the Beatles on their 1964 U.S. tour.

The film tells us that the Beatles had a poor record deal financially, and so made most of their money at this time touring. Unfortunately, due to the screaming, they could barely hear what they were playing. As they moved into 1966, they were more interested in experimenting in the studio with such songs as John Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” than they were playing on the road. As they finished their show at Candlestick Park, they all agreed that would be the end of their touring. Howard finishes the film with their last live performance, a January 30, 1969 rooftop concert that was recorded for their Let it Be film.

As a Beatles fan, I loved this film. I saw a lot of video that I had not seen before. For younger readers not too familiar with the Beatles, check out this film to get a glimpse of what Beatlemania was like.