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An Apple a Day: Jackie Lomax - Is This What You Want?
by Bruce Spizer
Jackie Lomax is a Liverpool native with a strong soulful voice. He was the lead singer and bass player for the Undertakers, a group that sometimes shared the bill with the Beatles in the early sixties. When the Undertakers broke up, he was signed to a management agreement with Brian Epstein and released one single under the name Lomax Alliance. He became one of Apple's first artists, with George Harrison recording two songs with him in March, 1968.
Lomax's initial release for Apple, "Sour Milk Sea," was one of the label's first four singles. The song is a Harrison composition that George considered recording with the Beatles for "The White Album" before he gave the song to Lomax. Harrison assembled an all-star cast to record the song in June, 1968. "Sour Milk Sea" features Lomax on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, George on rhythm guitar, Paul McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on drums, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Eddie Clayton on bongos.
Paul's participation in the session influenced the Beatles second Apple single, "Get Back." The "Sour Milk Sea" line "Get back to where you should be" became "Get back to where you once belonged" in "Get Back." During the "Get Back" sessions, Paul twice sang "Get Back" in a soulful Lomax-style voice, once even joking, "Yah, that's good, Jackie!"
Although "Sour Milk Sea" was a great rock song featuring impressive guitar work by Clapton, Lomax's single was overshadowed by two other Apple singles released at the same time, "Hey Jude" and Mary Hopkin's "Those Were The Days." The single's flip side, "The Eagle Laughs At You," was a Lomax composition that was produced by Harrison.
Harrison recorded a few more songs with Lomax in August and September, 1968, before heading to Los Angeles in late October with Lomax to record additional songs to complete an album. The finished product, "Is This What You Want?", was released in the U.S. on May 19, 1969, and peaked at number 145 on the charts.
All of the album's songs were written by Lomax except "Sour Milk Sea." The songs range for ballads to rockers, all with a groove reminiscent of the soul and R&B singles recorded in Memphis for Stax and Atlantic Records and Alex Chilton's work with the Box Tops. Lomax's soulful vocals are given terrific backings by the musicians brought in by Harrison, who also played guitar on several of the tracks. Highlights include "Sour Milk Sea," the title track, "Speak To Me," "Sunset," "Fall Inside Your Eyes," "Take My Word" and "I Just Don't Know." The original album was and remains an enjoyable listening experience.
Harrison's trip to Los Angeles had significant effects on Beatles albums. While in LA, Harrison dropped by the Capitol Tower to hear "The White Album" in its finished form. He was horrified by the mastering, which he felt suffered from poor equalization and too much compression. At his insistence, Capitol destroyed over 30 sets of lacquers and remastered the album with Harrison present. Had he not intervened, "The White Album" would have been issued in the U.S. with inferior sound.
While working on Lomax's album, Harrison became acquainted with a new electronic keyboard instrument called a Moog synthesizer. The Lomax album has synthesizer parts added by Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause. George recorded a synthesizer song with Kraus that later appeared on Harrison's experimental solo album, "Electronic Sound." More important, Harrison was so impressed with the Moog that he bought one and had it shipped over to England. Although his "Electronic Sound" album was little more than a lot of noise, his experience with the Moog synthesizer led to more practical applications on the Beatles album "Abbey Road," where it can be heard on songs such as "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."
The remastered CD has six bonus tracks, all of which are worthy additions. Three were issued as singles. "New Day" was produced by Lomax and Mal Evans. "Thumbin' A Ride" is a Coasters song produced by Paul Mccartney. "How The Web Was Woven" was produced by Harrison. The CD is rounded out with three previously unreleased songs that were also produced by Harrison. If you are a George Harrison fan or someone who appreciates a soulful voice, the answer to "Is This What You Want?" should be a resounding "Yes."
Additional information about the artists who recorded for Apple Records can be found in Bruce Spizer's book "The Beatles Solo on Apple Records." Bruce Spizer is the author of a series of critically acclaimed books on the Beatles American record releases. He also wrote "The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America," which is the definitive book on the subject. He served as editor and publisher of "Price Guide for the Beatles American Records," which was written by Perry Cox and Frank Daniels. Bruce is currently working with Frank Daniels on a new book covering the Beatles U.K. record releases from the sixties titled "Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records." He has served as a consultant for EMI/Capitol Records on Beatles projects. Information regarding his books can be found at his website www.beatle.net.
Published December 6, 2010
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