Arif Mardin @ Muscle Shoals

Arif Mardin is a renowned producer, arranger, and music executive who also – surprisingly enough – recorded a couple solo albums for Atlantic.  This hard-hitting instrumental arrangement of Lennon’s “Glass Onion” (from the Beatles’ “White Album“) would be used as the (1) kick-off tune, (2) title track, and (3) debut single for Arif Mardin as a solo artist:

“Glass Onion”     Arif Mardin     1969

Wait a minute, it’s 1969:  wasn’t Arif Mardin legally obligated to record this album in Muscle Shoals using local musicians?  Billboard confirmed this to be true in its August 9, 1969 edition:

“Five musicians — Jimmy Johnson, guitarist; Eddie Hinton, guitarist; David Hood, bassist; Roger Hawkins, drummer; Barry Beckett, keyboards — have grouped to open the new Muscle Shoals Sound Studios at 3614 Jackson Highway.  They have already backed up Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis, and Sam & Dave, as well as Arif Mardin’s Glass Onion album for Atlantic.”

Arif Mardin solo LPThe Guardian ‘s Garth Cartwright points out the album’s ageless appeal in his 2006 obituary for Mardin:

In 1969 he released the first of two solo albums, Glass Onion, whose relaxed jazz flavours found British popularity in 1996 when the song ‘How Can I Be Sure?’ became a UK lounge hit in clubs.

In 1974 Mardin was paired with a struggling Scottish soul group, the Average White Band.  His production emphasised their bright brass and dynamic rhythms, taking them to the top of the US album and singles charts.”

Beatles 1967 Trivia Funfest!

It only occurred to me recently that legendary 1967 Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper’s, did not yield a single 45 – the only (legitimate) Beatles album to do so.  The greater truth, however, is that (1) “Strawberry Fields” b/w “Penny Lane” would have been included on the album had the band not have felt pressured to release these two tracks as a single to maintain their standing in the marketplace and (2) Italy, of all places, just might be the one and only country to issue a single in 1967 using Sgt. Pepper material:  the title track as the A-side with “A Day in the Life” (naturally) as the flip side [45Cat contributor informs us:  “juke box promo with unique edit of title track”].

The only 7-inch Sgt. Pepper single release from 1967?

Beatles Italian 45— Other fun and interesting Beatle-related moments from 1967 would likely include —

= This whimsical German 45 picture sleeve, whose design gets high marks for creativity:Beatles 45-e= This Italian 45, whose picture sleeve is likewise imaginative and befitting of the music:

Beatles 45-l= This South African 45 picture sleeve, conversely, whose depicted moptop is easily (and hysterically) two years behind the beat:

Beatles 45-h= These two other German singles, whose photos are strangely and humorously out of sync with the song titles listed on the picture sleeves:

Beatles 45-a1Beatles 45-a1a

= This Norwegian single, whose playful design features Beatle Sgt. Pepper heads cut by hand using pre-digital technology:

Beatles 45-c = This Argentinian single, whose “Penny Lane” would require no translation, while its flip side – “Strawberry Fields Forever” – would find itself re-titled, amusingly, as “Frutillas!

Beatles 45-bbBeatles 45-b

= This picture sleeve for the “Hello Goodbye” / “I Am the Walrus” single that was issued, fascinatingly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Beatles 45-f= This Yugoslavian 45 picture sleeve, whose design accurately conveys the historic importance of “Our World” – the first live international satellite television production, for which The Beatles performed “All You Need Is Love” – albeit in an oddly quaint Soviet style:

Beatles 45-dThis Bolivian EP for “Penny Lane” and “Frutillas”, whose sleeve wins (by a whisker) the award for least accurately depicting the artists themselves at the time of release:

Beatles 45-iSadly, no one told Austria that “go go” was out, and “hippie” was now officially in:

Beatles 45-j