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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #539 (Vol. 11, No. 30). This edition is for the week of July 19--25, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Nice to see I'm not the only one who saw an ex-Beatle this week (though I'd have to say I got the good one). Shall we begin?

"SALT" by Mike Smith
Starr Struck: Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band by ED Tucker
Book Review: Empty Rooms Lonely Countries by Christian A. Dumais by Lisa Scherer
Donald Richie: Japanese Scholar by Jason Fetters
Paul Is Definitely Alive! .... Passing On .... Happy Birthday .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith


Nice to see that ED was able to catch Ringo Starr this past week. I've seen a couple of the All Starr Band shows and agree the tour with Joe Walsh and Billy Preston was probably the best musically. Hope I get a chance to see him this summer. Sadly, I got stuck this weekend watching the OTHER living Beatle, taking in the musical genius that IS Sir Paul McCartney

I had seen Macca on three previous occasions, including a July 4th show in Washington D.C. where he dedicated "Birthday" to America, but this would be the first time seeing him for my wife, Juanita. In fact, almost from the day she and I first met she has sworn that if McCartney came within 500 miles of Kansas City we would be going. He has toyed with the area in recent years, playing everywhere near from Des Moines to Omaha to St. Louis to Tulsa, but for whatever reason he hadn't been to KC since 1993. My guess is that the outdated Kemper Arena had outlived it's use as a concert venue. Thankfully the incredible Sprint Center opened a couple of years ago and has attracted some great talent, including Garth Brooks who sold out an unprecedented NINE SHOWS in less then six hours. But I digress.

The 7:30 show started at 8:20 (I've noticed more and more often that bands are making fans wait and wait...last time I saw Springsteen he was 90 mins late, though supposedly he had been in St. Louis watching a baseball game...not really a good excuse if you ask me). He looked good for a man who just turned 68 last month. The band opened with "Venus and Mars/Rock Show" which segued into a rousing "Jet." Then the first of 23 Beatles tunes, "All My Lovin." He even threw in a couple of current songs, including "Highway" from his album with the Firemen. A rocking version of "Let Me Roll It" turned into a wicked version of "Foxy Lady," with McCartney playing lead guitar. After the song he told a story about being in England when "Sgt Pepper" was released. The album came out on a Friday and he had gone to see Jimi Hendrix in concert on Sunday night, shocked that Hendrix opened the concert with "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." "Of course," McCartney said, "he had a wild solo in the middle of the song and he was hitting the whammy bar so hard that his guitar went out of tune. After the song he looked out into the crowd and asked if 'Eric was here?' He was looking for Clapton. When he spotted him he asked him to come up and tune his guitar for him." McCartney also broke out "OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA," playing it live for the first time on this tour. When he finished "Day Tripper" he remarked that the reason people were constantly bringing he and the band different guitars was because they had to! He also pointed out that the guitar he had just played was the same one he had played on the record (an Epiphone Casino if you're taking notes). He also paid homage to both John Lennon and George Harrison. He delivered a moving version of "Here Today" dedicated to Lennon and ended "A Day in the Life" with a sing along of "Give Peace A Chance." Later he brought out a ukelele and strummed through "Something," though after the second verse the band kicked in and gave the song life.

McCartney was in fine voice, hitting all the notes his fans remembered. And give the man his due, for almost three hours he played on, not even sipping from a bottle of water. I wish I had that energy now, let alone when I'm 68. And I should also note my beautiful bride's restraint during the show. Well, except for the squeals and the shouts of "I Love You Paul!" Well done, honey!

Like most performers that come to Kansas City, Paul mentioned several times that it was great to be back in Kansas (we're in Missouri) and the crowd kept asking him to sing the Wilbert Harrison classic "Kansas City," though the closest he came was a few lines of "Everything's Up To Date In Kansas City" from "Oklahoma." Other then that, it was a perfect night of perfect music played perfectly!

Paul McCartney leads off the show with "Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet"

After the evenings' only "costume change" Paul takes the crowd down "The Long and Winding Road"

For those interested, the set list: Venus and Mars/Rock Show/ Jet, All My Loving, Letting Go, Drive My Car, Highway, Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady, The Long and Winding Road, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, Let 'Em In, My Love, I've Just Seen A Face, And I Love Her, Blackbird, Here Today, Dance Tonight, Mrs. Vanderbilt, Eleanor Rigby, Something, Sing the Changes, Band on the Run, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Back in the USSR, I Got A Feeling, Paperback Writer, A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance, Let It Be, Live and Let Die, Hey Jude.

Encores: Day Tripper, Lady Madonna, Get Back, Yesterday, Helter Skelter, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)/The End.


It seems like only yesterday I was rushing home from school to catch an episode of "Speed Racer." Sadly, this week actor Peter Fernandez, who provided the voice of Speed in America, passed away at the age of 83 after a long battle with lung cancer. Fernandez not only voiced Speed but Racer X (who, unknown to Speed, was his older brother). Fernandez also wrote the lyrics to the classic theme song we all remember. He also was the "go to" guy when it came to dubbing Japanese cartoons, with long stints on both "Astro Boy" and "Gigantor." He had a cameo as a race announcer in the recent "Speed Racer" movie.

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Walter Riner. Unless you are familiar with Leavenworth, Kansas American Legion Baseball you've never heard of Walt. He was a strong supporter of the league and, more importantly to me, my teams in my many years of coaching. Walt passed away this week at the age of 82. I had known that Walt had served his country bravely in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, but to me he was just the guy who would come to the baseball meetings, making sure things were done right. It is only now, after his passing, that I learned so much more about him.

Walt joined the Army prior to the start of World War II and served in the Infantry in North Africa, Sicily, and southern France. Because of his German linguistic skills, he was assigned to the war crimes trials in Nuremberg. He later served with security during the Berlin airlift. His father and two brothers also served during the war. Both of Walt's brothers were killed in action one on Bataan and the other at Anzio, Italy.
In 1950, he was sent to Korea. When war broke out the unit he was training with ceased to exist and were absorbed by the 2nd Infantry Division. On February 1, 1951 Walt was captured and taken prisoner. He was held as a POW until July 1953.
After recuperation, he returned to Europe in 1955 to help bring SETAF to Verona, Italy. In 1960, he was assigned as one of 32 personnel to the Republic of Vietnam. He completed two more tours for a total of more than four years - all infantry and heavy weapons duties. He returned to the United States in July 1969 to Fort Leavenworth. He retired as a First Sergeant on July 1976.

A genuine hero in my own backyard. God bless you, Walt, and thank you for serving your country so proudly.


Time once again for me to wish my son, Phillip, a very happy 26th birthday, which will happen on Monday. My greatest creation and what I'm most proud of in all the world. I love you son. Now allow me to embarrass you with my annual montage of photos:

The many ages of Phillip Michael Smith

McCartney - by Paul McCartney

Magical Mystery Tour - Original Soundtrack to the Color Television Film - The Beatles

Since somehow this week's PCR has become a Beatles issue I thought I'd pull a couple of classics off of the shelf.

On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announced to the world that he was leaving the Beatles. One week later, his solo album, "McCartney" hit music stores. Though many people consider George Harrison's album "Wonderwall Music," the soundtrack to the film "Wonderwall," the first solo Beatle album, Harrison only produced it. Here McCartney not only produced the record, but wrote all the songs, played all of the instruments and, with the exception of some backing vocals by wife Linda, sang all the songs. Phil Spector, who was producing the "Let It Be" album asked McCartney in March to delay the release of his first album, afraid it would take away the publicity of "Let It Be." Ringo Starr was dispatched to Pauls house to plead the same "for the good of the band." These events pissed Paul off so much that he decided to announce he had quit the band. Good strategy. The album hit #1 in the US and stayed there for three weeks. However, it could only muster #2 in England, mostly because "Bridge Over Troubled Water" would occupy the top spot on and off for more than 40 weeks in 1970. Of course, the best song on the album is "Maybe I'm Amazed," one of the many love songs Paul wrote for Linda. Oddly it wasn't released as a single. However, in 1977 a live recording of the song was released, hitting the top 10. "Maybe I'm Amazed" was ranked as the 338th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. It is also the only solo Beatle song to make the list.

Here is a look at Paul's promotional film for "Maybe I'm Amazed:"


"Roll up! Roll up for the mystery tour!"

Released just in time for Christmas 1967, the soundtrack album (with a few older songs mixed in) spent eight weeks at the top of the American charts, knocking off the Monkees "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones."

The soundtrack portion of the album contains such classic songs as "The Fool on the Hill," "Your Mother Should Know," "I Am the Walrus" and the title track. It also contains the song "Blue Jay Way" by George Harrison and an instrumental entitled "Flying" which is credited to all four of the lads. Of course, more important then the songs are the various "clues" that fans found to prove the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. Among them:

A photo of Paul sitting behind a desk with a card reading "I WAS YOU" in front of him, possibly inferring the rumored "look alike" that replaced Paul after his death.

Photos of the boys in pointed hats. Except Paul's hat is crushed down, as if to signify he had died of a head injury.

A shot of the band playing reveals an odd message, which appears to read "Love the 3 Beatles" on the front of Ringo's bass drum.

The boys in their dazzling white tuxedos from the film's finale, with McCartney the only one with a BLACK rose in his lapel, signifying death.

It was said that if you turned the album cover upside down the name "BEATLES" spelled out a phone number - 537-1438 is my guess - that if called connected you to a person who wanted to sell you a ticket to Pepperland!

And of course, my favorite is the photo of John Lennon standing near a sign offering tours to Brighton. The time of departure is not clear but there is no "arrival back" time listed. The sign also reads "The Best Way To Go Is By M & D C." I have refused to use the name of Lennon's assassin until it's for his obituary, but as you can see the initals fit! Weird.

Here is a look at the best song off the album, though I'm a little partial to "Hello Goodbye" as it was the first record I ever bought. Oh, an here's another clue for you all...the Walrus was PAUL!


Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. "Mike's Rant" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.