STEP PROGRAMME 1

It’s all about the song and thank gawd for a new generation of singer-songwriters- for some reason, mainly female- like the fantastic Fiona Bevan, 15-year-old Billie Marten, Kaya etc- who write intelligent lyrics with all the right hooks to draw you in and keep you happily imprisoned in their songs.

STEP PROGRAMME 2

These singer-songwriters also understand the need to add different layers to their song to make them complete, which leads me to this: Surely what’s missing amidst all these various “delivery platforms”, apps and gadgetry is the very human element comprising arrangers, producers and those A&R people who hear a song and, intuitively, know how to shape it into something unique- something that makes it stand out from the rest? Something that gives it that “second life” to be more than just another song amongst an avalanche and bit torrent of songs that go in one ear, out the other, and lead nowhere else?

STEP PROGRAMME 3

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who, like those songwriters in the Brill Building and Tin Pan Alley, were a prolific hit-making factory giving the world insanely brilliant songs with incredible ease and who had very definite ideas as to how their work should sound.

STEP PROGRAMME 4

These musical acorns were then translated and allowed to grow into recorded music by working with their classically-trained record producer/arranger George Martin. George Martin knew that “In My Life” needed a clavinet, he knew which song needed an oboe, he worked on those string arrangements for “Yesterday”, “Eleanor Rigby” and “She’s Leaving Home”, and he even made complete songs of “I’ll Be Back” and “A Day In The Life” by splicing together snippets of unfinished songs which he could hear becoming a new complete one.

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There was then all the avant garde Stockhausen-meets-Zappa-meets-acid arrangements he added to embellish the barebones of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Lucy In The Sky Of Diamonds” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”, all of which showed how much “The Fifth Beatle” enhanced the end product.

STEP PROGRAMME 6

I often wonder what Magical Mystery Tours Sir George Martin, at the peak of his creativity, might have brought to the music of everyone from U2, Coldplay and Gorillaz to Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Rihanna. The Adele Songbook is fine the way it is.

Look at what McCartney contributed to the almost throwaway “FourFive Seconds” with that simple acoustic guitar and chorus and cheeky cameo in the accompanying video.

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Hell, the former Beatle who wrote “Blackbird”, “Mother Nature’s Son”, “I Will”- the list is endless- can still pluck chords outta thin air and give even the most basic melody extra musical muscle.

Some have it and some don’t. Some can write songs and many others cannot despite being technically very good musicians.

Some can write lyrics, others cannot. Songwriters like Paul Simon, Don Henley, Jimmy Webb, Ray Davies, Leonard Cohen are storytellers.

STEP PROGRAMME 8

What Brian Wilson produced with “Pet Sounds” was an incredible song cycle and “Poperetta” where the then-Beach Boy cleverly camouflaged and embraced his outwardly simple love songs in lush arrangements for strings and voices that put heart and soul and intricacy into the very basics of pop music.

STEP PROGRAMME 9

Whereas the Beatles relied on George Martin to read and translate the music in the windmills of their mind, Brian Wilson was the The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys were the touring band that tried to bring to life Wilson’s studio recordings in a ‘live’ setting. It never worked. “Good Vibrations” performed ‘live’ never sent out any vibrations.

STEP PROGRAMME 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8rd53WuojE

Today, there is so much music around, and some good songs- or are they really good or only good because of the average and mediocrity songs around them?

Frankly, when compared to recordings by the Beatles, the Mamas and Papas, the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and all those four track recordings and Wall Of Sound tracks from Phil Spector, and the breakthroughs in the early Fifties on how songs could be multi-tracked and embellished by the great Les Paul, many sound like what were once demos- ideas and the skeleton to songs, but seldom pushed to get back, or pushed forward to where they really belong, JoJo.

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STEP PROGRAMME 12

In today’s tidal wave of streaming sites, half-baked “crowd funding” plans along with the emphasis placed on “beats” and headsets, aren’t we missing out on why we actually listen to music?

Have we not missed an entire step in a 12 Step Programme of music appreciation where the technology is the idea and the idea of, like, Hey, Jude, taking a good song and making it better, somehow having disappeared from the process- and it is an important process- of creating music?

Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s this slap-dash approach to music of just “getting it out there”, is what’s devalued a great art form and turned it into something everyone can do- but which fewer and fewer can do exceptionally well.

STEP PROGRAMME 13

Doing anything exceptionally well raises standards. It creates healthy competition. It creates teamwork. It creates a market that might start off being niche by only wanting music from this particular group of musicians who go back to creating and producing “Poperettas”, “concept albums” with characters like “Billy Shears”, “Rocky Racoon”, “Mean Mister Mustard”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Aladdin Sane”, reintroduce us to magical places like “Itchycoo Park” and “The Dark Side Of The Moon”, and simple things that once surprised us like tracks with false endings- “Rain”, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Hello Goodbye” by, yes, the Beatles come to mind.

STEP PROGRAMME 14

Music fans might wish to actually PAY and hear this “new old” music in its entirety as one holistic musical journey instead of “channel surfing” and grabbing bibs and bobs as what’s being served out there today is pretty much that- fast food bibs and bobs where Okay will do and a crummy dogs breakfast disguised as “music.”

STEP PROGRAMME 15

Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.hk