Hiroshi Masuda (peacejoytown) CD

"With A Little Help From My Friends"


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Song List:

 
1) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
     Hearts Club Band
 2) With A Little Help From
     My Friends
 3) Maxwell's Silver Hammer
 4) I Am The Walrus
 5) Blackbird
 6) Piggies
 7) Strawberry Fields
     Forever
 8) Michelle
 9) Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
 10) I Will
 11) All You Need Is Love
 

 

 


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Front Cover

 


CD

 


Inside Cover

 


Tray Cover

 


Hiroshi in the Studio

 


Hiroshi with Papoose

 


Hiroshi with ER22C

 

Visit Sketch Web Site

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Review by Tom Weel, Beatles Unlimited Magazine Issue #183:

Hiroshi Masuda - With A Little Help From My Friends (USA) Hiroshi music (2004) 11 tracks/33:01)

"Mark Easley also distributed and co-produced the instrumental Beatles tribute album by Japanese acoustic guitarist Sketch (Hiroshi Masuda) The CD starts with the Sgt Pepper opening medley, via  four White Album tunes (including Harrison's Piggies) to All You Need Is Love and Michelle as the only pre-Pepper song: at least a song selection that looks very promising! All arrangements are his own, except for Blackbird - which is from John Knowles, which features some alternate melodies. For the remaining tunes, he doesn’t take any extravagant improvisational excursions but follows all the melody lines (lead and backing) of the original compositions - right up to the inclusion of She Loves You at the end of All You Need Is Love. But then again, these acoustic solo performances are highly skilled, varied and beautiful - as such, vocals are hardly missed. A perfect example of how renditions of the later period catalogue can be both challenging and rewarding."

 
Hiroshi Masuda (peacejoytown) plays Blackbird

Review by The Beatles Garden Magazine Issue #50:

The Japanese guitarist Hiroshi Masuda (Sketch) has sent us his CD "With A Little Help From My Friends", an instrumental tribute performed on acoustic guitars. The selections include big hits with melodies for which Sketch feels a special predilection, almost all songs being of the second stage of the Beatles. An exquisite refinement is the general tone of the entire disc. We emphasize the complexity of the arrangements and the excellent interpretation presented by Sketch, which is not the usual thing in most tributes which are often too simple and because of that, not very pleasing. The musical approach here does not vary too much from the structure of the original recordings, following the melody that the original authors conceived. Altogether there are eleven songs. And for the fans of the six strings, we mention specifically that the guitars used are a Tacoma ER22C, a Papoose P1 and a 1983 Classical Nishino. Made in the USA.

Introduction by Mark Easley:

"Japanese acoustic guitarist Hiroshi Masuda has created a beautiful album of classic Beatles tunes for solo acoustic guitar. His exceptional guitar skills are evident in these recordings, and his arrangements capture these songs perfectly."

 
Hiroshi Masuda plays "Penny Lane"

Production Credits:

Guitars by Hiroshi Masuda.
Arrangements by Hiroshi Masuda except
Blackbird arrangement by John Knowles.
All songs written by Lennon/McCartney except Piggies written by George Harrison.
Produced by Mark Easley and Hiroshi Masuda (Sketch).
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mitsugu Sato
at Studio migmig, Kawasaki, Japan.
Cover Design by Hirohiko Takahashi.
Photos by Makoto Yokokawa.
Licensing through Harry Fox Agency.
Distributed by GoldHat Music USA.

© 2004 Hiroshi Masuda. All Rights Reserved.

Song Notes by Sketch

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Tacoma ER22C
Strings : D'Addario EXP16
Recording date : January 13, 2004

This is the title cut from the one of the most popular albums in rock history, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". In the original album, there are two versions of this song, one at the beginning of the album with a relatively slow tempo and another later with up tempo. My arrangement is based on the first slow version. I tried to capture the horn section part as close to the original as possible. There was a scene in the Beatles "Anthology" video where Paul says "Jimi Hendrix was playing this song in a live show a week after the album was released", and as I was playing around with the chords I was imagining how Jimi Hendrix played, and this arrangement came from that.

With A Little Help From My Friends

Tuning : Standard (tuned a half pitch down)
Capo : None
Guitar : Tacoma Papoose P1
Strings : DeSalvo Folk 12*54
Recording date : February 17, 2004

Also from the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", this song comes right after the first one in a medley form. Since my album was made with many people's support, I decided name the album after this song which I think fits perfectly. I used a Tacoma Papoose P1 guitar on this arrangement which was tuned down a half note to match the original key.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Classical guitar made by S. Nishino in 1983
Strings : Augustine Red
Recording date : January 21, 2004

This song is from another rock legend Beatles album, "Abbey Road". Although this song is not really as popular as others in this album, it is my favorite one. There is a scene in the movie "Let It Be" where Paul is teaching this song to the other members. I picked up the basic chords from there. In those days, although it was illegal, many people brought a cassette recorder to the movie theater. I remember seeing rows of recorders lining in front of the screen. I myself brought one but there was no space left, so I had to hold mine in a position where the built-in microphone faced to the screen. This arrangement is played with a nylon strings guitar, because I felt the sound fits the song's nostalgic character more nicely than with steel strings guitar.

I Am The Walrus

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Tacoma ER22C
Strings : D'Addario EXP16
Recording date : January 13, 2004

This song is from the album "Magical Mystery Tour". It has a unique chord progression and the intro begins with the B chord, which is very rare for a guitar solo piece. I believe John liked this chord very much and it can be heard in lots of his other compositions. The idea of playing this song in solo guitar form was never in my mind until I found the chord sheet on the Internet and started playing around with it. At first, I was just following a chord progression and then started adding melody above them. The arrangement was done that same night without any trouble at all. This one was the trigger for me to begin writing a series of Beatles arrangements. Although the movie "Magical Mystery Tour" wasn't much of a success, Paul commented about this movie in their Anthology video saying " It is worth it, because it includes us playing I Am The Walrus ".

Blackbird

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Classical guitar made by S. Nishino in1983
Strings : Augustine Red
Recording date : January 16, 2004

This song is from the Beatles album we call the "White Album", and it is the only arrangement not done by me on my album. The first and last parts are basically from the book "Sittin' Back Pickin'" by John Knowles, and I added the middle part I made with the inspiration from Kenny Rankin's version. For a long time, I believed that this arrangement was played by Chet Atkins until I heard his version of Blackbird a few years ago. It was completely different. I still haven't heard anyone playing this version. Since the original Blackbird is very famous for Paul's beautiful acoustic guitar accompaniment, it is not easy to arrange it for solo guitar form because you have a very strong image of the original guitar playing. But John did excellent work and turned this into a beautiful ballad. Since this was not my pure arrangement, it was not in the list for this album at first, but with co-producer Mark Easley's strong recommendation and after acquiring permission for usage directly from John Knowles, I was moved to change my mind.

Piggies

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Tacoma Papoose P1
Strings : DeSalvo Folk 12*54
Recording date : February 17, 2004

This is the only George Harrison composition in my album. My feeling is that this song has to come right after Blackbird. The original song has a bit of classical flavor and so does my arrangement. The interlude section sounds much like an etude for classical guitar. Piggies must be one of the least known Beatles songs, since hardly anyone recognizes it as one of their songs when I play it at gigs. I used to play this with a normal guitar with no capo, but I just found out that if I play it with the Papoose it would be in the original key, so I used the Papoose this time which gave the tune a little bit of a baroque taste.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Tacoma ER22C
Strings : DeSalvo Folk 12*54
Recording date : February 12, 2004

This is another selection from the album "Magical Mystery Tour". When this project started at the end of the year 2003, Mark requested a few songs to include and this was one of them. At that time, I felt the arrangement wasn't complete so I refused, but with a promise that I would finish it for the next album if we have a chance. However, towards the end of the recording sessions, after we had finished the other recordings of what we were planning to include in the album, I tried it again with what I had so far and it came out pretty good. So I changed my mind and decided to include it in this album.

Michelle

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Classical guitar made by S. Nishino in1983
Strings : Augustine Red
Recording date : February 10, 2004

This is from the album "Rubber Soul", and this was also one of the Mark's requests. I had recorded this about a year ago at home, but I had not played it since then and I had forgotten how I played it back then for the most part. So I started to do the arrangement from scratch with small bits of memories. Since some of the songs included in this album aren't the most popular Beatles songs that everybody knows, I wanted to include this one.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Tuning : Standard
Capo : 3rd
Guitar : Tacoma ER22C
Strings : D'Addario EXP16
Recording date : January 13, 2004

This is another selection from the "White Album". The arrangement is a straight forward one which keeps a steady base line. It is close to ragtime or galloping style. I used a capo to make the arrangement in the same key (Bb) as the original and to make it easier to play, since there are a few chords that need a little bit of stretching.

 

 
Sketch plays "I Will"

I Will

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Classical guitar made by S. Nishino in1983
Strings : Augustine Red
Recording date : January 16, 2004

This one is also from the "White Album." Although this song has a very nice and easy to remember melody, it is not as popular as it should be. I had a request to play this song once in Tokyo a few years ago, but I had to say no back then because I had not even started thinking about doing the arrangement. Now I have it ready but no one has since ever requested me to play it so far. I use a lot of high positions in this arrangement which may look pretty difficult to play but really arent since most of those high positions are used with open strings.

All You Need Is Love

Tuning : Standard
Capo : None
Guitar : Tacoma Papoose P1
Strings : Elixir Nanoweb Light
Recording date : February 5, 2004

My album ends with the song famous for being played by the Beatles on the world's first live satellite broadcast. The arrangement was done completely by my memory of the song with no other reference. When it was done, I tried to write down the score, but I became puzzled about the time. I checked with a published score and I found out that the time signature is constantly changing. This must be one of the most well-known songs in the world that has this kind of peculiar rhythmic pattern. My arrangement includes George's short but nice guitar solo as well.

Song Notes By Mark Easley

Among my own favorites are "Blackbird", "Strawberry Fields Forever", and "Michelle", but all of the songs are something special.

The only arrangement not by Sketch is "Blackbird" by the famous Nashville guitarist John Knowles. I contacted him and he was kind enough to give us permission to use his arrangement. He also told us this story about his arrangement.

From John Knowles: "My wife Becky used to sing Blackbird as a lullaby to our son and daughter. I listened to that haunting melody without the rhythmic guitar accompaniment and decided to work it out that way. I played it in the key of E because Paul McCartney's guitar part reminded me of Francisco Tarrega's "Lagrima," a tune that classical guitarists play. I worked with all those influences until I had my own classical Beatles lullaby."

I especially want to mention "All You Need Is Love", and tell a little story about it. This is really a classic tune and a great arrangement by Sketch. This is the Beatles song that I remember fondly better than any other, because of the way I first heard it. In 1967, the USA had launched a satellite that would for the first time allow TV pictures to be transmitted live between Europe and USA. There was very much promotion and excitement about this first international live TV program. So on June 25th 1967 everyone gathered around the TV to watch, and the announcer said "And now, the world's first international satellite TV broadcast!"

You can imagine how thrilled we were next, when we immediately saw the face of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. They and the other Beatles were gathered in Abbey Road studios with some friends and an orchestra, and they started to play "All You Need Is Love". It was the first time we had heard it, and the first time we had seen the Beatles live on TV in several years. It is hard to describe how exciting and breathtaking this experience was, and those who saw it will never forget it.

You can watch that Beatles satellite broadcast right now! Just click the Play ( >) button below.

 

On the Beatles Anthology DVD, Paul McCartney said that the one thing he was most proud of about the Beatles, and that he hoped they would be remembered for, was their simple message "All You Need Is Love". This album by Sketch is a fitting tribute to that philosophy.

April 1964, The Beatles occupy a record-breaking 14 spots on the U.S. Pop Chart ranging from #1 down to #81 … "Can't Buy Me Love" (1), "Twist and Shout" (2), "She Loves You" (4), "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (7), "Please Please Me" (9), "Do You Want to Know a Secret" (14), "I Saw Her Standing There" (38), "You Can't Do That" (48), "All My Loving" (50), "From Me to You" (52), "Thank You Girl" (61), "There's a Place" (74), "Roll Over Beethoven" (78), and "Love Me Do" (81) …

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