With The Beatles
A conversation – Part One
We are pretty much in this performer’s corner – he composes, he sings, he leads cracking roots-music lineups, he tells worse jokes than your scribe, he has time for his followers..and if he does a version of another artist’s song, he adds a little something of his own. Charlie’s take on ‘City of New Orleans’ on his previous studio album is a great example. I think we’re really talking about authenticity here, as Landsborough has great knowledge of the music he loves and he can recognise that in others
Hence when we heard that Charlie was bringing out his versions of favourite Beatles songs, we asked to chat to him about the album and especially his choices. The record is called ‘Here, There & Everywhere’ with the cover photo’s showing various Landsboroughs by the Cavern Club in Liverpool, he living not far away. He tells us that he’ll be featuring a few of the new cuts in his forthcoming tour
FH : When I heard that this record was coming through for me to hear before I called you, I did two things, for my own amusement. One was to jot down what Beatles songs I might attempt if I was doing versions and then the ones I thought YOU might do
CL : (Laughs) Ah !!! That’s an idea, Pete…
..and not one of the b—–s I chose for you, have you done !!
(Chuckling) Well..initially, the whole thing’s a huge departure for me cos’ I usually do me own stuff. Here. The record company said ‘Charlie, we want you to do a Beatles songs album for us ..now perhaps they were thinking ahead of the game and realising it was the 50th anniversary of the first Beatles hits, y’know..generally I much prefer to do me own material, I am a great Beatles fan it’s true and I loved the wealth of diversity of the stuff they were getting through..so the first hurdle I suppose was picking the songs to try. But they give us free rein there on choices..so it stays personal if you like..’you sort it out between you’ was their line..so I thought we’ll do ones I am enthusiastic about as the key, it wouldn’t work for me doing a song in a kind of disgruntled manner..so it was a panel or collective of two, really to set things rolling on choices and then start work..there’s some fantastic guitar work on there…
You ain’t kidding !!! I had made a note to talk about THAT !
Now John, me guitar player who you saw with us on some recent gigs, he’s left, he’s moved to Ireland. I was with him on Monday night, we’re still the best of mates..what a player ! ( he is a Mike Campbell type guitarist, uncannily framing every vocal and solo’ing when needed – PS) And we have Yazz – the ‘Only Way Is Up’ girl helping us with the backing vocals, so I have some smashing music on there..(Laughs)..I just hope I sit on top of it OK ! because releasing an album like this ..you’re up for all sorts of criticism and I’m therefore releasing it with bated breath..I just hope people will like my take on these fine songs
But you’ve really just confirmed how I started this, because the diversity of what the Beatles did is the nub..here they were, very quickly moving from rock’n’roll and Motown covers to their own songs, their own ideas and styles..not being the Tin Pan Alley ‘you’ll sing this, you’ll wear this’ template..if you went in to the studio again, you’d probably choose some different songs to do..just for the record, Charlie …my ones would be ‘Rain’, ‘Norwegian Wood’ which I speed up as if the Byrds wrote it..”Happy Just To Dance With You’..and in Spin The Wheel the other singer brought in ‘You Won’t See Me’..from ‘Rubber Soul’
Oh I love ‘Rubber Soul’ – that’s a favourite
It’s about Jane Asher..Paul wasn’t sure whether they were still an item
That’s a great song ! – I should have been performing with them..now this shows you how poor the band I was in was but I was playing lead guitar ! and our drum kit was one snare drum and we were supposed to be playing at the Grosvenor Ballroom in Wallasey.this was with The Silver Beatles as they were called then..but for whatever reason, I never made it and that’s one me regrets. And then years later I was playing in a band in Liverpool ..now Eddie who played pedal steel with us, he had Ringo as his Best Man and when Apple started, Ringo said to send some stuff down for him to sort..and he never did !! so we missed the boat on a couple of occasions…my happy knack of being in the right place at the wrong time and vice versa ! I joined the Army and was languishing in some remote part of Germany ..meanwhile half of Merseyside was being signed up..and I came home on leave when the Beatles returned to Liverpool ..they played the Empire..Chris Montez and Tommy Roe, two American performers were on the bill..they were full of the Transatlantic schmaltz and showbiz and all that..then the Beatles bounced on and the place went mad of course and there was one girl screaming her head off and John Lennon – I remember this well – called over and said ‘Shut up, love – I’m trying to sing here !!’..after what had gone before it was so refreshing..and they were fantastic..I do wish I had met them earlier on, y’know
The interesting thing here. Charlie – your singing voice is nothing like John’s or Paul’s. Or George’s or even Ringo’s..but there is a guy in the FourMost who sings a bit like you…if anything your voice has the occasional touch in phrasing of Billy J Kramer but more so an American guy called Bob Lind
(Warmly) Oh yeah ! I know both of them…
So I’m thinking – he’s not going to imitate the original lead vocals, is he ? it HAS to sound his own
That’s pretty much how it went, mate! You’re spot on there ! it was good fun putting the songs together and doing the arrangements and we did medley a few of the songs, for the flow ..there’s certain riffs and bits that you have to put in..but over the top of it ? ..God forbid that I would ever try to be anyone but meself ! I greatly admire many other artists who are far better singers and songwriters than me and I’d be a phoney to try anything else, the way I see it. So hopefully what will communicate is my own little take ..at the end of the day I can only do what I do..
IN PART TWO, Charlie and Pete discuss the chosen songs and much more…
CHARLIE LANDSBOROUGH ‘Here There & Everywhere’ is out on EDSEL 7th April 2014
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk