Thursday, 8 October 2015

ON THE RECORD: How many of the Byrds played on 'Mr. Tambourine Man'?

Q: How many of the original Byrds played on “Mr. Tambourine Man”?

A: Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby began playing together in the 1964 under various names before signing a recording contract with Columbia Records and changing their name to the Byrds. Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman soon joined to create the most famous incarnation of the band. When the time came to record their version of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” in January 1965, Columbia played it safe by using session musicians to back McGuinn and his electric guitar. After the record company heard more of the band and felt more comfortable with their musicianship, the other band members were allowed to record the remaining songs that made up the “Mr. Tambourine Man” album. Interestingly, the Bryds recorded their version of the song a mere five days after Dylan recorded his, and released it within three weeks of Dylan version. It marks the beginning of the so-called “folk rock” movement.

Q: I recently heard a Milli Vanilli song on the radio and it made me think of the scandal that caused their downfall. How were they exposed as frauds?

A: Milli Vanilli began as the creation of German music producer Frank Farian. In 1988, Farian recorded an album using five session singers and then found two dancers, Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, to serve as the band’s frontmen. The album, “Girl You Know It’s True,” was released in 1989 and became a hit. Shortly thereafter, the duo was “performing” in a concert in Bristol, Conn., when their vocal track started to skip. It became obvious at that time that the two were not actually singing the songs. After months of increased questioning, Farian finally admitted in November 1990 that Morvan and Pilatus did not sing on any Milli Vanilli songs. The duo was forced to return awards and a few lawsuits were filed. After years of being out of the spotlight, Farian began recording a new Milli Vanilli album in 1998 with Morvan and Pilatus actually singing on it but before it was released, Pilatus was found dead from a drug overdose in a German hotel. Morvan has spent the intervening years working as a session musician and performing as a solo artist.

Q: What is the name of the theme song to the British version of The Office? The song sounds vaguely familiar.

A: The song is a Mike d’Abo composition called “Handbags and Gladrags.” d’Abo was the second lead singer for Manfred Mann after the departure of original singer Paul Jones and his voice can be heard on the 1968 Top Ten hit “The Mighty Quinn” by Bob Dylan. d’Abo also wrote the 1969 hit “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations. In the U.S., “Handbags and Gladrags” is best remembered as a moderate hit for Rod Stewart in 1972. In the U.K., a new version of the song by Stereophonics reached No. 4 in 2001. The versions heard on “The Office” were performed by Fin, the vocalist for the British heavy metal band Waysted. The American edition of “The Office” featured an original music written for the show.


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