Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The end of Star-Club

Grosse Freiheit in 1970
The very famous Star-Club in Grosse Freiheit, Hamburg closed its doors on December 31, 1969. 50 years later, one of the last club operators - Achim Reichel - tells the story about the end of an era.
The documentary features very rarely seen archive footage from a 1970 ZDF programme in colour, with rare pictures and interviews.

In the 1970 footage, we see the club is being redecorated and the main floor converted. The old stage piano, whose ivories has been tickled by rockers like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and no doubt Paul McCartney, has been left on the floor on its way to the junk yard. The new owner, flanked by a couple of his women, brags about how sex is going to bring him millions on the premises.

Pete Best, 1970.
The team from ZDF also travelled to Liverpool in 1970, for a short interview with Pete Best, at the time finally sporting somewhat of a Beatle haircut. Drums stowed away, Pete had a normal job by then, and this was his first public interview since the first part of the sixties.

The documentary is best suited for those of you who understand German, but the 1970 footage makes it worthwhile for anyone who is fond of this era.

Swedish Beatles author Hans Olof Gottfridsson and collaborator Richard Moore wrote a two part article for Record Collector about The Beatles' Star-Club recordings. These have now been made available from Richard’s company website Mint Audio Restoration. The articles are based on exclusive access to the original tape, and was written in close cooperation with the producer of the official Star-club records in 1977, Larry Grossberg. PDFs: Part 1 - Part 2.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Lennon's thread

The original uncropped photo by Robert Freeman
In 2012, the uncropped original photo which adorned the Beatles' album "Rubber Soul" album cover found its way to the internet. It was taken by the recently deceased Robert Freeman, and as legend has it: When projected on a square LP-sized white cardboard which accidentally bent, the fab four wanted to take advantage of the warped image and used that as the front cover.
The uncropped original has been enhanced using various computer techniques and started popping up on social media in 2019:

Artist Clayton Hickman used machine learning and Photoshop to give us an approximation of the uncropped image with much greater fidelity. Taken from Hickman’s Twitter account.
One thing that's evident from the original photo, enhanced or not, is that there is a loose thread on John Lennon's shoulder - not present on the U.K. or U.S.A. pressings of the album. In fact, it has been airbrushed away in most countries pressings of the LP.

But in some countries, the thread was not airbrushed out. So far, we are aware of Argentinian and Mexican copies of the album where John's jacket is unashamedly displaying it's shortcomings.

Mexican pressing of Rubber Soul
It's also used on a Mexican EP cover.
Michelle EP - Mexico

Detail from an Argentinian Rubber Soul where their faces seems to have been softened somewhat.

So what did happen to John's brown suede jacket? Made by D.A. Millings but not part of a Beatles uniform, John Lennon first donned this jacket in public during their 1964 U.S. tour.

Pretty soon, the right shoulder epaulette went missing, with only the loose thread to show for it. We have no idea what happened to it. Torn off by a fan?
John with the jacket, left epaulette still in place.
After a while, Lennon gave the jacket away to his housekeeper, Dorothy «Dot» Jarlett. She later auctioned off the garment, and it was bought by Hard Rock Café. It's now in circulation at their restaurants.
Now at Hard Rock Cafe somewhere.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Lewisohn about the Star-Club tapes

Mark Lewisohn discussed this album on the I Am The Eggpod podcast.
I am the Eggpod is a Beatles podcast with Chris Shaw and guests, each episode discusses a Beatles- or solo album. On New Year's eve, an episode with Mark Lewisohn as guest discussed an album which was available legally between 1977 and 1998, after which it was deemed to be property of Apple Corps Ltd.

The album in question is of course The Beatles Live At The Star-Club, Hamburg, Germany; 1962. It consisted of various recordings from the stage at this German club, in late December, 1962.

Since it had just been announced that Neil Innes had passed, Lewisohn and host Chris Shaw started with remembering Innes, who also himself had guested the podcast in May 2019.

Lewisohn shares thoughts about the Beatles' time in Hamburg and these recordings, giving examples of John Lennon's audible humorous antics on stage, and reveals that it is Paul himself who has come up with the English lyrics to the song "Falling in love again", which is performed. You may listen to the podcast below.

Lewisohn had actually himself contributed to the plethora of records exploiting these tapes, by submitting liner notes to a three volume LP series on the small record company Breakaway Records in 1983. The series was called "The Hamburg Tapes".

Lewisohn wrote the liner notes for these three volumes, and also for another LP from the same company,
consisting of songs from the Decca audition tape.
During the podcast, Lewisohn also talks about the High Court hearing in 1998, where it was decided that the recordings were protected by copyright, and should never have been released in the first place. George Harrison testified on behalf of The Beatles, and the man responsible for taping the concerts, Ted "Kingsize" Taylor, was also present.

May 6, 1998: George Harrison testifies in the High Court in London.
More episodes in this podcast series to be found here.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Peter Jackson film in October?

The original Get Back book from 1970 was printed before the project was renamed Let It Be
On Amazon in both the UK and USA, a book with the title The Beatles Get Back was announced for release on 15 October 2020. John Bezzini noticed the listing on Amazon and contacted the publisher and received this info: "The Beatles Get Back" is the authorized story of the making of the "Let it Be" album and the Beatles’ break-up, told through exclusive photographs, transcripts of the recording sessions, and an essay by Hanif Kureishi. The book will be the companion to the film directed by Peter Jackson, both released next fall (exact date to be announced). 

Links to pre-order the book:
Amazon (UK)
Amazon (USA)

Flaming Pie for July

Due out in July, Flaming Pie
This just in: according to an internal Universal Music catalogue of upcoming releases, Paul McCartney’s 1997 album «Flaming Pie» is next up to get the archive treatment. Release date is July 24th, and the ltd ed deluxe edition will consist of 5CDs and 2/DVDs.

Upon its initial release, there was a special offer from Best Buy in the U.S.A. where you got an extra CD containing an episode of McCartney’s radio show, «Oobujoobu». There was a video cassette available about the making of the album, «In the world tonight», which was later made available as a DVD. Several music videos were produced for the singles «Young boy», «Beautiful Night» and «The world tonight», but these were only excerpted in the home video release. Another music video for the Maureen Starkey tribute «Little Willow» was only shown once, on Oprah.

There was a version of the «Beautiful Night» video (also featuring Ringo), which had partial nudity and hasn’t been seen since it was shown a few times on MTV Europe. Several constellations of the singles were released, including vinyl picture discs.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

The Decca tape went for £62 500

Half the Decca audition tape.
Of course, mainstream media are all reporting about the most expensive item from the Beatles auction by Sotheby's which finished yesterday. John Lennon forgot a pair of round sunglasses in a car, and they went for £137,500 (USD 183 218) - a tad more than the estimated £6-8,000 the auction house expected.
But we are more interested in the music, and a tape which once belonged to Brian Epstein and consisted of half of the Decca audition session was sold for £62 500 (USD 83 281).

A 1959 Hofner President 'thinline' semi-acoustic guitar, owned by George Harrison and given to Alan Herring seems to not have attracted high enough bids.

You can check out all the auction results here.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Wonderful Christmastime

Yesterday, Paul McCartney published either a cleaned-up version or a better copy of the music video for his 1979 Christmas hit single, "Wonderful Christmastime". Or it might just be a new transfer in higher quality. The song itself also seems to be a new edit, utilising bits from the longer version. The music video features his then group, Wings, whereas the single itself is really a solo performance, which he recorded that summer. But in December, Wings went on a tour of the U.K. and performed the song live, with fake snow falling down during the performance.

I was lucky enough to attend Paul's performance at the O2 in London last year, where he and his band were joined by the Capital Children's choir for this song, and again, fake snow fell during the song. Now that would have been the highlight of the evening, if it wasn't for the fact that after the song, he announced Ringo Starr on the stage.

This is one of McCartney's songs that tends to divide his fans into two camps, those who love it and those who hate it. I've always enjoyed it for what it is, it's a Christmas song, just like "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "We All Stand Together" were children's songs.

It has been a staple and constantly radio played each Christmas in the U.K. alongside Lennon's "Happy X-mas (War is over)" ever since, that's for sure - but I'm not sure if that's the case in the U.S.A.

If McCartney has really dug into his video archives and transferred further music videos to the digital domain in higher quality, that's a good thing. The company Keefco, who produced his music videos at the time, was also responsible for the "Back To The Egg" TV special, and that is one of the gems we are hoping to see in a future release of that album in his Archives series. In an interview, Paul recently revealed that he had listened to the song "Arrow Through Me" from "Back To The Egg" for the first time in a long while, another clue to the next Archives release?

Another indication that something is going on in the music video department, is that the Linda McCartney account on YouTube has been publishing music videos of her songs these past few weeks.

Paul McCartney released a DVD compilation of a number of his music videos back in 2007, called "The McCartney Years". perhaps the time is right for an upgrade to Blu-ray - and Dolby Atmos.

Friday, 6 December 2019

The Beatles on People And Places October - December 1962

This just in from Mark Ashworth: A Friday night treat for you all.

The audio of the Beatles' appearances on Granada TV's People and Places were recorded by Adrian Killen, a 16 year old fan from Kirkdale on a reel to reel deck wired to the TV Speaker.

It was sold at auction and purchased by Apple in the 1990s. If I recall correctly the going rate at that time was £2000 per track.

Thirty years after I was allowed to hear the sample tape, I can tonight proudly present that same tape to you!

I've long since questioned why none of these recordings made it on to the Anthology CDs as the quality is great. Why Apple buy these things and then don't do anything with them is beyond me.

As per the photo below, note that John sang Love Me Do without his guitar and Ringo's drum break in the middle harmonica solo isn't too dissimilar from the Pete Best take on Anthology 1.

Some Other Guy is just wonderful and you can hear the madness at the end of track when, by prior arrangement John and Paul threw their hands above their heads and started whooping!


Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Kevin Howlett interviews Sean Magee

For "From Me To You", a Norwegian sleeve was duplicated.
The Beatles just published an interview on their YouTube account, where Kevin Howlett and Sean Magee are having a conversation about the process of making new originals to press the 2019 Beatles singles from. 

Ever since the original "Ringo-version" was lost very early on, later releases featuring this version of "Love Me Do" has had to rely on needledrops from an original single, starting with Ron Furmanek's Canadian "Love Me Do" single, which was used for the Capitol album "The Beatles Rarities" in 1980. Later releases of the Ringo version has occurred on "Past Masters", "Mono Masters", the 1982 20th anniversary 12"-single and the 2012 50th anniversary single (after having mistakenly used the Andy White-version on a first pressing). It turns out that the source record they wanted to use for "Love Me Do" this time, had some distortion in the harmonica solo, so Magee had to drop in about a second from a Swedish pressing.

There was also a drop in volume on "She Loves You", so Magee had to resort to fixing that in the digital domain. Apart from that, the only other songs that has been mastered digitally was "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love", but those were recorded digitally from the beginning, by Jeff Lynne.

Preparations for remastering was however also done digitally with each single, before cutting the actual tapes. All the efforts had as a goal to make the listening experience as close to listening to the original the sixties pressings as possible.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Decca tape for sale at Sotheby's

The famous spool of tape from the Decca audition.
A tape with part of The Beatles' famous unsuccessful audition for Decca Records is now the subject of an auction sale.

"This precious tape holds a special place in the annals of music history,” says Dr. Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Specialist. “This is a unique recording from the Beatles’ first commercial for Decca on New Year’s Day 1962—one of the first fruits of Brian Epstein's management and a huge opportunity for the young band.”

Under Epstein’s management, the yet-to-be discovered band recorded 15 songs for the record company during the Jan. 1 session. Unfortunately, this tape - which once belonged to Epstein himself - only holds seven of the fifteen songs.

Sotheby's description:
0.25 inch (6.35mm) open reel magnetic tape on a 5 inch (127mm) Phillips brand spool labelled "2" in ball-point, carrying c.15 minutes 20 seconds mono recording at 7.5 inches/second, of The Beatles performing seven songs ('Money', 'The Sheik of Araby', 'Memphis Tennessee', Three Cool Cats', 'Sure to Fall (in Love with You)', 'September in the Rain', and Like Dreamers Do') at Decca Studios, London, on 1 January 1962, housed in a contemporary box (Emitape, for a 5.75 inch spool) labelled "2" and "THE BEATLES" in ballpoint on the base; now housed in a collector's bespoke cloth box; end of tape frayed and brittle with 280mm detached; [with:] CD transfer, letters of provenance and authenticity

Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn has confirmed that this version of the Decca recording is unique: "The ending of Three Cool Cats is a single bass note longer than any version we've had before. The song September in the Rain is four seconds longer than any of the circulated versions as it includes a vocal line which is always edited out. These tiny differences do mark out the tape as original to Brian Epstein, not something created from any other known-to-exist source" (private communication, 2018).

The tape has been the property of Brian Epstein's nephew, Henry Epstein. Sotheby's estimate a sales price of 50,000 - 70,000 GBP. Online bidding opens 6 Dec 2019 at 03:00 PM CET.

The Beatles auction comprises 25 interesting lots, like clothes worn by The Beatles and John Lennon's toaster!

Link: Sotheby's

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Dezo Hoffmann museum opened

Dezo Hoffmann was the first professional London based photographer the Beatles worked with on a regular basis. Their association was mainly in 1963, although Hoffmann also travelled with them to France and USA in early 1964. 

Many of the photos Dezo took of them were used on promotional material, concert programmes, memorabilia and in the "Meet The Beatles" magazine, as well as on the collector's gum cards of the early years.

Gum cards, mainly by Dezo Hoffmann.

Meet The Beatles magazine, Dezo Hoffmann's photos.
In the early eighties, Hoffmann guested TV-shows in the U.K., USA and Australia, showing some of the amateur films he had made during photo sessions with the Beatles. And often, scenes in these films were shot by the Beatles themselves. After having been introduced to amateur film cameras, the Beatles all bought similar equipment and began filming themselves, mainly on holidays.

In Dezo Hoffmann's photo studio in Soho, London.
Originally of Slovakian origin, Hoffmann spoke with a thick accent. Now, in the 250 years old house where he was born in 1912 in the city of Banská Štiavnica, a museum dedicated to him has opened. After twelve years of reconstruction, its current owners, brothers Michal and Šimon Šafařík, decided to open the house to the public, regional daily My Žiar reported. Their primary interest was to create a museum about Dežo Hoffmann with his original photos and personal objects they gained from his daughter and other sources.

The owners want to organise events connected to this Hoffmann museum, such as various workshops. Besides the museum, accommodation is also a possibility.

Dezo Hoffmann

Dezo Hoffmann
Hoffmann was born in 1912 in Banská Štiavnica, which was then located in the Kingdom of Hungary (hence, Dezo has always been referred to as being of Hungarian origin), but what with the changing borders, the town is now in Slovakia. After studying journalism in Prague, Hoffmann worked at Twentieth Century Fox in Paris as a photojournalist. During Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia he was sent to make a documentary of the invasion. After returning from Africa he was sent to Spain to film the 1936 People's Olympiad (a protest against the official Olympic games in Berlin under Hitler's propaganda). Soon after he arrived in Spain, the civil war broke out and Dezo found himself on the barricades. In this period he met personalities such as Hemingway and Robert Capa. Allegedly the three men formed an inseparable trio.

Facing war dangers Dezo was injured a few times. The third injury was serious, leaving him without memory for several months. After recovery he moved to England and joined the squadron of Czechoslovak pilots flying with the RAF during World War II.

After the war he remained in London, working for various newspapers and magazines. In 1955 he began his collaboration with Record Mirror magazine, which was the start of his career photographing show-business celebrities.

In 1962 he went to Liverpool to shoot an unknown but promising group - The Beatles. Mutual appreciation and sympathy led to a long-lasting relationship between Hoffmann and the group. 

During the following years Hoffmann's famous photos of The Beatles attracted the attention of many other stars. He was regarded as a "nice chap" who was appreciated and welcomed wherever he went despite his strong foreign accent. 

Hoffmann also took photos of many other showbiz personalities over the years, among them The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Olivier, The Kinks, The Shadows, Tom Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Elton John, Omar Sharif and Pink Floyd.

Hoffmann sold 100 of his Beatles negatives to Australian Colin Kaye whose Silver K Art Infinitum continues to manage sales of editioned archival prints from them. The remainder of Dezo's archive of approximately 1 million photographs of countless pop musicians and showbiz personalities was acquired by Rex Features,the photo agency and photo library which had represented Dezo for worldwide media sales of his work from the early 1960s until his death.

Dezo Hoffmann died on 29 March 1986 aged 73 in the Harley Street Clinic, London. 

During preparations for the Beatles' Anthology series, their Apple company bought the rights and negatives to Hoffmann's Beatles photos, and have used them for promotions as well as for record sleeves ever since. Hoffman's photo collection of the Beatles has been on display at the Egri Road Beatles Múzeum in Hungary since 2015.

Both of the BBC albums featured Hoffmann's photos.
In 1967, a film student made a documentary about Dezo. Part 1 can be found on YouTube. Unfortunately, copyright restrictions have prevented the second part to be published there.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Trace the bass

The last time we saw Paul with this bass was in this clip from a "Let It Be" outtake. © Apple Films Ltd.
German Instrument makers Höfner have launched a campaign though social media, hoping to retrieve information about the whereabouts of Paul McCartney's first bass guitar.

The bass guitar was bought in Hamburg, Germany in the spring of 1961 after Paul had decided to switch to bass after the departure of the Beatles' original bass guitarist, Stuart Sutcliffe. Pursuing his love of arts, Sutcliffe elected to stay in Hamburg with his German girlfriend Astrid, and study painting.

McCartney used the bass guitar on the Beatles' recordings until he got a new Höfner violin bass in 1963 from the UK company Selmer, who imported Höfner instruments to Great Britain. Still using the original bass guitar from 1961 as a back up on tours, it was also on display in the music videos for "Revolution" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko", the latter featured an outtake from the "Let It Be" film.

Although we have heard rumours about the whereabouts of the guitar, Nick Wass, Marketing Manager at Höfner is not interested in conspiracy theories or hearsay, only facts.

The campaign has a web page and a hashtag for social media, #tracethebass. You can find more information about what the bass guitar looks like on

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Singles box due Nov 22


  • Pre-order at

  • We are proud to announce the release of this collectible box set presenting 46 tracks on 23 7-inch vinyl singles, in faithfully reproduced international picture sleeves, accompanied by a 40-page booklet with photos, ephemera, and detailed essays by Beatles historian Kevin Howlett. 
  • These singles, plus an exclusive new double A-side single for the mid-1990s-issued tracks “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” are newly remastered from their original multi-track master tapes and cut for vinyl at Abbey Road Studios for a new limited edition boxed set.
  • The Singles Collection will be released worldwide on November 22 by Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe.
1962 [sleeve art: U.S.]
1A: Love Me Do
2B: P. S. I Love You
1963 [sleeve art: Chile]
1A: I Want To Hold Your Hand
2B: This Boy
1963 [sleeve art: Greece]
1A: She Loves You
2I'll Get You
1963 [sleeve art: Italy]
1A: Please Please Me
2B: Ask Me Why
1963 [sleeve art: Norway]
1A: From Me To You
2B: Thank You Girl
1964 [sleeve art: Austria]
1A: Can't Buy Me Love
2B: You Can't Do That
1964 [sleeve art: Holland]
1A: A Hard Day's Night 
2B: Things We Said Today
1964 [sleeve art: Sweden]
1A: I Feel Fine 
2B: She's A Woman
1965 [double A-side / sleeve art: France]
1A: We Can Work It Out 
2A: Day Tripper
1965 [sleeve art: Belgium]
1A: Help!
2B: I'm Down
1965 [sleeve art: Spain]
1A: Ticket To Ride 
2B: Yes It Is
1966 [double A-side / sleeve art: Argentina]
1A: Eleanor Rigby 
2A: Yellow Submarine
1966 [sleeve art: Turkey]
1A: Paperback Writer 
2B: Rain
1967 [double A-side / sleeve art: Australia]
1A: Strawberry Fields Forever
2A: Penny Lane
1967 [sleeve art: Mexico]
1A: Hello, Goodbye 
2B: I Am The Walrus
1967 [sleeve art: West Germany]
1A: All You Need Is Love 
2B: Baby, You're A Rich Man
1968 [sleeve art: Japan]
1A: Lady Madonna 
2B: The Inner Light
1968 [sleeve art: South Africa]
1A: Hey Jude 
2B: Revolution
1969 [sleeve art: Denmark]
1A: Get Back
2B: Don't Let Me Down
1969 [sleeve art: Israel]
1A: Something 
2B: Come Together
1969 [sleeve art: Portugal]
1A: The Ballad Of John And Yoko 
2B: Old Brown Shoe
1970 [sleeve art: UK]
1A: Let It Be 
2B: You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
1995 / 1996 [exclusive double A-side single / sleeve art: worldwide]
1A: Free As A Bird [1995]
2A: Real Love [1996]

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Singles boxed set

Front cover, as published on Amazon France.
French Amazon has revealed the front cover of the upcoming boxed set of the Beatles' UK singles (vinyl) boxed set. The set will comprise the original 22 British singles from "Love Me Do" to "Let It Be", plus an extra single containing "Free As A Bird"/"Real Love". We have been led to believe that no remastering or remixing has taken place.

The single sleeves will be inspired by various foreign picture sleeves from countries like Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Italy, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Japan etc. This is a limited edition boxed set like the Christmas Collection from a couple of years ago. Due out November 15th. We have received the following tentative information about the single sleeves. Some of the information may be wrong.

7" Singles Collection
01 : Love Me Do  - P. S. I Love You [Cover art from USA]
02 : Please Please Me - Ask Me Why [Cover art from Italy]
03 : From Me To You - Thank You Girl [Cover art from Norway]
04 : She Loves You - I'll Get You [Cover art from Germany]
05 : I Want To Hold Your Hand - This Boy [Cover art from Chile]
06 : Can't Buy Me Love - You Can't Do That [Cover art from Argentina]
07 : A Hard Day's Night - Things We Said Today [Cover art from Holland]
08 : I Feel Fine - She's A Woman  [Cover art from Spain]
09 : Ticket To Ride - Yes It Is [Cover art from Sweden]
10 : Help! - I'm Down [Cover art from Belgium]
11 : We Can Work It Out - Day Tripper [Cover art from France]
12 : Paperback Writer - Rain [Cover art from Thailand]
13 : Eleanor Rigby - Yellow Submarine [Cover art from Argentina]
14 : Strawberry Fields Forever - Penny Lane [Cover art from Denmark]
15 : All You Need Is Love - Baby, You're A Rich Man [Cover art from Germany]
16 : Hello, Goodbye - I Am The Walrus [Cover art from Belgium]
17 : Lady Madonna - The Inner Light [Cover art from Japan]
18 : Hey Jude - Revolution [Cover art from Spain]
19 : Get Back - Don't Let Me Down [Cover art from Portugal]
20 : The Ballad Of John And Yoko - Old Brown Shoe [Cover art from Mexico]
21 : Something - Come Together [Cover art from Italy]
22 : Let It Be - You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) [Cover art from UK]
23 : Free As A Bird - Real Love [Cover art from: World Wide]

Friday, 11 October 2019

Grow old with Ringo

Here's a sample track from Ringo Starr's new album, "What's My Name". The track is "Grow Old With Me" - the John Lennon composition - and it seems to suit Ringo fine. Paul McCartney is guest starring on bass guitar and backing vocals.