Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Venus & Speed - vinyl albums

Venus and Mars - double album
Pictures have been released of the vinyl editions of the upcoming vinyl editions of "Venus & Mars" and "At The Speed of Sound". Apart from being a double album this time around, "Venus & Mars looks like its old self, gatefold sleeve, two posters and a couple of stickers were also included with the original 1975 single album release.
Wings At The Speed of Sound - double album
"At the Speed of Sound" has kept it's original "no frills" look, apart from that, necessarily, it now sports a gatefold sleeve.

The albums are currently priced at £20.99 each, over at the Universal Music Store, and $34.98 in the USA Amazon listings.

The Beatles in Mono CD-box re-release

"The Beatles in Mono"
Word is out that Universal Music Group is about to re-release the 2009 "The Beatles in Mono" CD boxed set. Originally released by Apple/EMI in 2009, the CDs feature the group's original monophonic Beatles albums, together with an odds and ends 2 CD set, called "Mono Masters". Also included were the 1965 stereo mixes of "Help!" and "Rubber Soul", the stereo version of the CDs featuring a 1987 George Martin remix of these albums.

The release comes probably because of the imminent release of the mono albums on vinyl. Unlike the all-analogue vinyl versions of the mono albums, the CD boxed set has a digital recreation of the master tapes, and this will still be the case with the re-release.

"The Beatles in Mono" was an expensive limited edition release, and was heavily pirated. Not just copying the official release, the pirate copies were done from scratch and included spelling mistakes of the titles. One we heard about, was a White album which referenced the titles as 'Whil My Guitar Gently Weeps' and 'Revolution A'.

We don't know if the re-release will mimic the original 2009 release, regarding the look of the box, CDs and booklet. Back when the Traveling Wilburys limited edition boxed set went into it's second printing, they changed the colour of the box.

Wings photos

Wings
UK newspaper The Guardian has launched an online gallery of Wings photos, these are taken from the upcoming Venus & Mars/Speed Of Sound books from the deluxe editions of the albums.
Check out the photos here.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Icon Lennon and Starr releases

John Lennon and Ringo Starr
Universal Music Enterprises are releasing an album each by Ringo Starr and John Lennon in their Icon budget series for Amazon on September 9, 2014.
Priced at $7.97, the tracks are still unknown, but it's likely to be their best known songs.
Amazon (USA) listings:
Ringo Starr
John Lennon

Monday, 28 July 2014

Venus & Mars / Speed of Sound ads



Just released by Paul McCartney are two ads for the upcoming Archived editions of "Venus & Mars" (above) and "At The Speed Of Sound" (below). The release dates are 22nd (Europe)/23rd (USA) September, 2014



Formats to include previously unreleased material.

UK Release: 22nd September
US Release: 23rd September

MPL and Concord Music Group confirm the reissue of Wings albums 'Venus and Mars' and 'At The Speed Of Sound' as the next releases in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection on September 22nd (UK), and September 23rd (US), 2014.

Both albums will be available in a variety of physical and digital formats.
Venus & Mars Deluxe edition

Starting with a 2-disc (2 CD) Standard Edition, the first CD will feature the original remastered album and the second CD will include bonus audio made up of material including demos and unreleased tracks.

The 3-disc (2CD, 1DVD) Deluxe Edition will be housed in a hardback book featuring unpublished photographs, new interviews with Paul, material from Paul’s archives and expanded track-by-track information. The deluxe version bonus DVD will be comprised of filmed material from around the time of each release, some of which has never been seen before.

The albums will also be available on special gatefold vinyl editions (vinyl editions include a download card).
At The Speed of Sound DeLuxe edition

Digitally 'Venus and Mars' and 'At The Speed Of Sound' will be made available as both standard and deluxe versions – including Mastered for iTunes and Hi-Res formats.

As with all the Archive Collection, Paul has personally supervised all aspects of the reissues. The remastering work was done at Abbey Road by the same team who have worked on all the reissues as well as The Beatles’ catalogue.

Tracklists

Venus & Mars
Venus & Mars:

CD 1 – Remastered Album
1. Venus and Mars
2. Rock Show
3. Love In Song
4. You Gave Me The Answer
5. Magneto and Titanium Man
6. Letting Go
7. Venus and Mars – Reprise
8. Spirits Of Ancient Egypt
9. Medicine Jar
10. Call Me Back Again
11. Listen To What The Man Said
12. Treat Her Gently – Lonely Old People
13. Crossroads

CD 2 – Bonus Audio
1. Junior’s Farm
2. Sally G
3. Walking In The Park With Eloise
4. Bridge On The River Suite
5. My Carnival
6. Going To New Orleans (My Carnival)
7. Hey Diddle [Ernie Winfrey Mix]
8. Let’s Love
9. Soily [from One Hand Clapping]
10. Baby Face [from One Hand Clapping]
11. Lunch Box/Odd Sox
12. 4th Of July
13. Rock Show [Old Version]
14. Letting Go [Single Edit]

DVD – Bonus Film
1. Recording My Carnival (3:07)
2. Bon Voyageur (09:17)
3. Wings At Elstree (13:05)
4. Venus and Mars TV Ad (1:11)
Total running time 26:20

At The Speed of Sound

Wings at the Speed of Sound:

CD 1 – Remastered Album
1. Let 'Em In
2. The Note You Never Wrote
3. She’s My Baby
4. Beware My Love
5. Wino Junko
6. Silly Love Songs
7. Cook Of The House
8. Time To Hide
9. Must Do Something About It
10. San Ferry Anne
11. Warm And Beautiful

CD 2 – Bonus Audio
1. Silly Love Songs [Demo]
2. She’s My Baby [Demo]
3. Message To Joe
4. Beware My Love [John Bonham Version]
5. Must Do Something About It [Paul’s Version]
6. Let ‘Em In [Demo]
7. Warm And Beautiful [Instrumental Demo]

DVD – Bonus Film
1. Silly Love Songs Music Video (05:45
2. Wings Over Wembley (13:23)
3. Wings In Venice (3:10)
Total running time 22:18

UK A Hard Day's Night - review

Quad posters for the UK theatrical release of A Hard Day's Night
Today, the mailman brought me the UK edition of A Hard Day's Night on Blu-ray, and I've just watched it. Like the Dutch edition, this is just a 1-disc Blu-ray, containing both the film and some Bonus material. Unlike the Dutch version, this has several options for audio, there's no disturbing Dutch subtitles you can't turn off, and there is more in the way of bonus material.

Format: PAL
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Classification: U
Studio: Second Sight
DVD Release Date: 21 July 2014
Run Time: 84 minutes
Audio: Original mono (remastered) LPCM, new stereo remix LPCM and new 5.1 surround remix DTS-HD Master Audio by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, in addition to a cast & crew commentary audio track.
Subtitles: Optional English SDH subtitles for the hearing impaired (main title)
Aspect Ratio: 1.75:1 (not quite 16:9 but almost)
Frame speed: 23.98 Frames Per Second
Quality: full HD at 1080P

The film is delivered in a slipcase holding nothing else than the blu-ray plastic case with a single sheet for front and back cover, blank white back side. There is no booklet included here.

Director Richard Lester signed a few quad posters at the launch party for the film

This UK release is similar to, but does not have all the extras of the US release from the Criterion Collection, or what seems to be the most complete release, the German DeLuxe edition by Koch.

Bonus material:
* In Their own voices - A new piece combining 1964 interviews with 'The Beatles' with behind the scenes footage and photos.
* You Can't Do That' - The Making Of 'A Hard Days Night'. Not split into chapters and the complete "You Can't Do That" tacked on to the end of this feature has visual imperfections and artifacts not present on the original You Can't Do That' - The Making Of 'A Hard Days Night' DVD fram ages ago, the same problem is also on the US edition, we have been told.
* Things We Said Today - Featuring director Richard Lester, music producer George Martin, screenwriter Alun Owen and cinematographer Gilbert Talor
* Picturewise - about Richard Lester's films, strong AHDN focus.
* Anatomy of Style - Analysis of a few key scenes in the film.
* The Beatles - The Road to 'A Hard Days Night' - Mark Lewisohn sums up the Beatles' career prior to making the film
* New 50th Anniversary Trailer

The film itself looks and sounds great, perhaps with a little too visible film grain, and the lighting in the train compartment is varying. Still, probably close to the 1964 cinema experience, which is what Criterion Collection was aiming for, with mono the preselected audio option.

From the main menu you can select chapters of the main feature, 16 in all. They all have titles:
1. A Hard Day's Night, 2. What Little Old Man?, 3. Lost And Found, 4. I Should Have Known Better, 5. I Wanna Be Your Man, 5. Press Conference, 7. If I Fell, 8. Can't Buy Me Love, 9. Trendsetter, 10. And I Love Her, 11. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You, 12. The Old Mixer, 13. Ringo Missing, 14. Police Station, 15. Tell Me Why and 16. She Loves You.

In stereo and surround, Martin has tried some repair work to fix Paul McCartney's cracked voice on the word "vain" the second time it comes around during "If I Fell". Don't know what went wrong there, as McCartney's voice comes in too early to that section, and the result is worse than the crack from the regular stereo version from the album. Harrison knocking over the amp is audible in all versions of the audio track. In stereo and surround, Martin has elected to overdub the names the audience members are mouthing in the concert sequence. It's barely audible, but is there and fit in nicely. Otherwise, the stereo mixes are new and fab, and they have even managed to make "She Loves You" sound almost stereolike.
George Martin's orchestral score has also been mixed to stereo, thanks to discovering the original 3-tracks in Hollywood, and Ringo's Theme ("This Boy") in a Shadowslike arrangement and the Brubeckesque "A Hard Day's Night" especially benefit from it.

Paul McCartney Archive Collection news

Wings At The Speed of Sound and Venus & Mars due out in September.
Scott Relf, one of our blog readers, wrote to us and pointed out that Amazon in Canada has a September 24, 2014 release date for VENUS & MARS and SPEED OF SOUND in the McCartney Archive series.
Labeled as imports, the two albums do not yet have pictures. Anyway, here are the listings:
Venus & Mars (regular)
Venus & Mars (deluxe)
Wings At The Speed of Sound (regular)
Wings At The Speed of Sound (deluxe)


As always, thanks to Amazon for this early warning.

Our US Amazon Astore has these same sets:

Venus & Mars
Wings At The Speed of Sound

And Japan:

Venus & Mars
Wings At The Speed Of Sound

UPDATE: Now the sets have been officially confirmed, details and YouTube ads here.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Beatles in Minnesota

Poster for Minneapolis event
Although The Beatles toured America three times between 1964 and 1966 they performed one time only in Minnesota, at the (Old) Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, right in the middle of their 1965 US tour and played to an estimated audience of 30,000 teen-age fans, on August 21, 1965. This is being celebrated July 24th with Bob Bonis' photos of the Beatles' performance on display and for sale at the Mall of America, which was built on the same site where the Metropolitan Stadium was back then.
The Grammy Museum is sponsoring the exhibition, titled “Ladies and Gentlemen… The Beatles!,”




Site: TheBeatlesMN.com/

Thursday, 24 July 2014

George Harrison - The Apple Years

George Harrison
Looks like a new box of George Harrison CDs is on it's way. "George Harrison - The Apple Years" will contain 7 albums, and we reckon these will be:
  1. Wonderwall Music
  2. Electronic Sound
  3. All Things Must Pass
  4. The Concert For Bangladesh
  5. Living in the Material World
  6. Dark Horse
  7. Extra Texture (Read All About It)
It was Dhani Harrison who leaked these news on the facebook page of his band, TheNewNo2. And this means that we'll finally get remastered editions of  Dark Horse and Extra Texture (not to mention Wonderwall Music and Electronic Sound). So far, we can't tell if the albums will also be available individually, but if the first box, "Dark Horse Years" is anything to go by, they will. The only exclusive disc to the former box was a DVD compilation, and that exclusivity went out the window when the DVD was eventually made available on it's own later on. According to a page on AllMusic the format is described as both CD and DVD, so we are hoping for some more from the concert tours of 1974 and 1991. No release date has been announced yet.

A photo that followed the news, that's probably Dhani's feet on the mixing console.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A Hard Day's Night - alternate Criterion designs

One of Fron Miller's designs

A couple of designers have shared their design ideas for the USA edition of the new A Hard Day's Night movie release. It was by request from Criterion Collection that these designs were made, before the company eventually landed on Rodrigo Corral's design. You can see some of Fron Miller's designs on his blog (he may post more design ideas later), and Sam Smyth's design is also posted on his own blog.
Sam Smyth's design idea. Same photo that eventually ended up on the British release.

Ron Furmanek and his work for The Beatles

Restored by Ron Furmanek in 1992, "Let It Be" was again shelved indefinitely.
Beatle People: Those of you who have read Dave Morrell's entertaining "Horse-Dogging" will have read about Ron Furmanek as a young Beatles fan from New Jersey back in the early seventies.

Furmanek later turned his hobby into his job, specialising in researching archives for film footage to supply to documentaries, and for a while he was employed by Apple Corps Ltd to do audio and video restoration on their own archive material.

Since 1987 he has colour corrected the visuals and remixed the audio (when applicable) on all of The Beatles promotional films, The Beatles Live At The Washington Coliseum, The Beatles At Shea Stadium, Let It Be, and Magical Mystery Tour.

Originally working with Walter Shenson, Furmanek adressed the audio problems on previous home video releases of A Hard Day's Night and did a mono only remastered soundtrack. In previous releases, the sound effects were missing in "If I Fell", there was screaming overdubbed throughout the title song (the original did not have this) and they had "lost" some dialogue and sound effects throughout the entire film. Furmanek's remastered mono soundtrack appeared on the Miramax version of the DVD in 2000, unfortunately they had decided to remix it into fake 5.1 surround sound, thus ruining it.

Furmanek's 1992 "Let It Be" restoration featured both mono and multitrack sound.

It all started in 1972, when he was involved in the short film, "Braverman's Condensed Cream of the Beatles" which Chuck Braverman supplied all the archival footage and photos for.

Braverman's Condensed Cream of the Beatles

Furmanek then was involved with the 1976 "Rock & Roll Music" TV promo spot for Capitol Records. In 1980 he was involved in the "Tribute to John Lennon" special, produced by Scotti Brothers/Syd Vinnedge productions, as well as involving himself in the Capitol Records Beatles release "Rarities".

The "Rarities" LP from Capitol Records

The UK version of "Rarities" was all ready to be released in the USA, and Furmanek knew that this would make little sense. Through Mike Heatley from EMI in the UK, Furmanek got in touch with the correct people at Capitol in Hollywood in 1979, and Furmanek started to collaborate with them to produce a U.S. equivalent to the "Rarities" LP.

"It took some doing, but I finally convinced them that the UK version coming out in the US made no sense, most of the songs on it were not rarities (in the USA). The tracks on the final version were all pretty much my choice, we got fresh tape dubs sent in from Abbey Road of mostly every track. The tracks I chose were all either out of print totally in the USA, never on an LP over here or never released in any form here at all," Ron explained on a Steve Hoffman forum page.

"I think it worked and flowed quite well musically. There were a few tracks that could not be located in time for the planned release date, that is why a few are in mono where there was a stereo tape available, but these did not get found and sent in time!"

"Love Me Do was in fact dubbed from a mint Canadian 45 I had, as both Capitol of Canada and the UK could not find that tape either! I came up with the idea to edit "I Am The Walrus" and "Penny Lane" to make the unique versions heard here."

"It was also my suggestion to utilize the original negative of the butcher photo which provided a much better quality image of the photo than the actual 1966 LP cover."

Of course, Furmanek's involvement with the butcher cover harks back to when he and Morrell had some t-shirts printed with the infamous cover image on them.

Furmanek also talked them into using the famous rainbow label on this disc, the first time it had been used on a USA LP since 1969, except for a few one off projects.
The USA "Rarities" LP had some tracks which had not been available for years in the USA ("Misery" and "There's a Place" were last seen on 1965 Capitol Star Line singles). Of course, now that the British catalogue is dominating, the U.S. "Rarities" compilation is only interesting because of Furmanek's edits of "I Am The Walrus" with it's extra bars and "Penny Lane" with the final trumpet ending spliced in from the promo. It has not been released on CD.

In 1981, Furmanek researched and found the archival footage used in George Harrison's "All Those Years Ago" promotional video.

With the re-release of "Love Me Do" in 1982, he was involved in the making of the music video for that. The same year, he put together the film footage for The Beatles "Movie Medley" promotional video, and the following year came up with the archive footage for The Beatles 20 Greatest Hits TV spot.
The 1982 Love Me Do promotional video

For MTV, he supplied the archive material used in their Paul McCartney interview.
Like "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" also got it's own promotional video, put together by Furmanek, now acting as Co Director and producer for all three versions made.

The 1983 Please Please Me promotional video, version 3

For Capitol Records, he produced their Beatles 20th anniversary TV spot, as well as a video for "I Want To Hold Your Hand".
In 1987, Furmanek was involved in The Beatles' "Help!" by Criterion Collection / Voyager Company, when he produced and compiled side four of the laser disc: "The Help! Scrapbook".

Help! Laser disc

Note that I am only mentioning the Beatles projects he was involved in, he was also archive researcher for a number of other artists and groups. Furmanek is one of the pioneers of compact disc compilations and re-issues, having produced over 200 CD titles since 1988.

In 1988, he restored the film and remixed the multitrack audio for "Magical Mystery Tour", which was released on VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc. When the film was finally released on the DVD format in 1997, they no longer used Furmanek's remixed and restored version - but one that looked a lot worse. The same year, he was involved in research of archive footage for the "Imagine: John Lennon" feature film from Warner Bros.

The Magical Mystery Tour VHS cassette

When the Beatles "First US Visit" was released in 1991 by Apple/MPI, Furmanek was credited with production coordination as well as film restoration. The same year, he was also involved in Apple Records' reissue campaign of their back catalogue on vinyl and compact disc.

The "First U.S. Visit" Laser disc

He was producer of the Making Of A Hard Day's Night "You Can't Do That" in 1994, that special is also included with the new A Hard Day's Night edition.

This DVD is no longer available on it's own, but the contents are included on the new edition A Hard Day's Night

Bonus clip on the DVD was the full length "You Can't Do That", an outtake from the concert section of "A Hard Day's Night" - as edited out from the film and broadcast on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The version included with the new Criterion Collection edition of A Hard Day's Night features the clip in a much worse state than on Furmanek's DVD release.

When the Anthology TV series came along, Furmanek again was involved in film and video restoration and research, and that seems to have been Furmanek's last involvement with The Beatles/Apple in an official capacity.

While working for Apple, Furmanek was in charge of restoring their video and film archive, including the promotional films as well as the feature films. His remix work included remixing and doing sync up's on any song that an early stage 4 track tape existed on, (for example: "Hello Goodbye," "Penny Lane," "Rain," "Help!,") for every single promotional film, as he didn't want to use the (at the time) semi-bad released stereo mixes with vocals or main music backing track on one side of the stereo image.

This was entirely his brainstorm and decision and everyone at Abbey Road said it couldn't be done. Furmanek always mixed with the mono master on hand to compare and make it match the busting and powerful mono mix, but in powerful wide stereo.

If the collection of promotional videos is released (back in December last year, this was originally planned for this October), they are likely to be even newer transfers than the ones Furmanek worked on. As you will understand from this account, much of Furmanek's restoration work for Apple ended up spending so much time on the shelves at Apple that they are no longer state-of-the-art, because of new high definition TV sets and playback equipment.

Furmanek also remixed the entire parts of Let it Be that were recorded on 8 track. For Shea Stadium he synced up two raw 2-track tapes to create a 4-track (as heard on the recent HMC bootleg DVD). For Magical Mystery Tour (his version is on the 1988 MPI Laserdisc and VHS cassette, they messed it up on the 1997 DVD), he did the same for three of the songs, the title track, "Blue Jay Way" and "Your Mother Should Know".

"I was in charge of all of the film restorations and had to make special requests to remix," Furmanek recalled. "One fun thing that I do remember, a wrong reel being put on the machine for "Your Mother Should Know", it was a completely different version than released! We all looked at each other and said,"cool!" (this version I believe eventually came out on the Anthology CD)."

"I had finished remixing the entire film and then went to tackle the songs The others I felt were fine enough mixes for the video, and I chose not to touch them. These three however, were a completely different story! I think that everyone at the studio thought I was a bit daft with what I was asking to do! I wanted to go back to the original "stages" takes for the songs. We had three separate 4-tracks for each song all synched together onto a 24-track tape . This way I was able to really "open" up the songs, they are very weak on the released stereo mixes."
"The trick worked great, and now you have great wide separation on these three songs. "Blue Jay Way" is now the rarer MONO mix, but now in wide stereo!"

"George Martin was only there for the mixing part. Needless to say, we spent a very long time on these tracks,. At one point during working on the 'Blue Jay Way' backing tracks, he looked at me and laughingly said,  'this is rubbish!, did we release this?'"

"Nothing personally against the man, but after a while of trying all kinds of things, nothing at all was coming across the way that I wanted it to. He could see this, he finally got up, had me sit at the mixing board and said, 'go ahead, do it the way you like!'"

As you would expect, Furmanek is full of praise about the 1999 "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" album, which did it his way: away with the old sixties stereo mixes and remix the songs for a modern stereo picture from the multitracks. It's exactly what he would have done, he said. "I feel that if the entire Beatles catalog was to be redone this way it would be more than brilliant!"

For the 2014 CNN presents The Sixties – "The British Invasion", Furmanek again handled the archival footage and research.

Sources: Wikipedia and Steve Hoffman's Music Corner forum.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

"Let It Be" reels sold

Some of the reels
GBP 287.00 was the winning bid for a recent ebay auction of 3 reels of 16mm Audio Tape plus film frames from Let It Be. The total running time of the tapes is approximately 55 Minutes and included recordings of the following tracks :
  • Get Back
  • Don't Let Me Down
  • I Get A Feeling
  • One After 909
  • Dig A Pony
  • Let It Be
  • Long and Winding Road (3 Versions)
  • Get Back (#2)
  • Don't Let Me Down (#2)
  • Two of Us
  • One After 909 (#2)
  • Let It Be (#2)
  • Sure To Fall (Snippet)

The seller described all tracks as different versions to the ones we've previously heard some very much so and seem to be more like rehearsals, some tracks cut in late or finish early. Throughout the recording there is lots of talking, technical cues and general messing about. Also included in this auction was a strip of 16mm Film that features John Lennon at the piano as Paul McCartney looks on.
Part of the film strip

The seller claimed to have purchased these items from a woman in London, who used to work in the film industry as a sound recordist. One of the films she had worked on was "Let It Be". She explained that in those days sound and film were recorded on separate tapes and then synced together later at the editing stage, she left the project to start work on another film before the sessions ended because she said she was "bored and cold"! she took these tapes home and forgot about them until the mid 1990's when she had them transferred to CD out of curiosity to see what was on them. The CD she had made was included in this auction.

Source: ebay

"Floral Hall" footage - songs puzzle



The earliest known footage of the Beatles in concert is this clip, filmed while Pete Pest was still the drummer, although he is not seen in the actual footage. The footage has been commercially released on Pete Best's DVD, "Best of The Beatles", and has been stabilized in the above YouTube clip by HIWAX. The silent film has had people puzzled about which songs the fabs might be playing, and also where this might have been filmed. The two main theories about the venue has been either Floral Hall, Southport, or St. Paul's Church Hall, Birkenhead, but none of them have been confirmed. According to Mark Lewisohn's "Tune In", the two numbers seen in the film are "Dream" (based on the Cliff Richard version) and "Dance In The Street" (Gene Vincent) or, more likely, the Beatles' short-lived contemporary adaptation, "Twist In The Street".

People are finding it hard to believe that this could be the song, "Dream". A few days ago, brilton1 uploaded his own attempt to duplicate the chords seen in the footage, with an added likely drum beat.



Still, we have no clue as to what this could possibly be. Any lip readers out there, by any chance?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Paul McCartney Q&A with Rolling Stone

Paul McCartney on stage in Kansas City. Photo © RICH SUGG/The Kansas City Star
In a recent Q&A telephone interview session with Rolling Stone, Paul McCartney reminiscs about going to see Bill Hayley and his Comets back in Liverpool when he was a boy. Perhaps he has been reading Tune In and has had his memory jogged? In the interview, he claims that he has "every memory still intact", a bold statement who has an album called "Memory almost full".
He also fills us in on what he's been doing while under the doctor's orders to rest, one of the things was to records some experimental tracks at home, shades of "McCartney II" looming. Go ahead and read the full interview, it's great stuff.

Source: Rolling Stone
More Kansas City Photos

Sgt Pepper as a concept album

The Sgt Pepper crowd - all cardboard cut outs and wax dolls. Photo: Michael Cooper
Music Times has an article about seven half-hearted concept albums, where The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the first one mentioned. The description goes: " In addition to being cited as one of the greatest albums ever made, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is often considered to be one of the very first concept albums, despite the fact that it only half-heartedly commits to its concept. Paul McCartney originally envisioned the album as an evening with the titular band, a concept that's pretty much abandoned after the first two tracks, and revisited once more towards the end. John Lennon even admitted that the concept 'doesn't go anywhere...it works because we said it worked.'"

So much for the Beatles' own judgement of the album as a concept album. However, keen students of the Beatles' ouvre have been able to reinstate the album as a fully fledged concept album, if you see it in the light of one word in the title, "lonely".

Think about it, and you'll find that all the songs are dealing with that particular theme. Either loneliness in itself, the fear of being left alone, or the universal loneliness of any spirit.

1. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The title song, of course, has it in the title. This is a band who are going to speak for the lonely hearts out there - and tells their stories.

2. With A Little Help From My Friends
The singer is afraid to be left alone, "would you stand up and walk out on me?".

3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
The singer so wants to meet this girl, but he only catches a glimpse of her - and then she's gone, leaving him alone again.

4. Getting Better
Desperately wanting to tell himself it's getting better, the truth is "it couldn't get much worse". After all, beating up your woman and keeping her apart from the things she loved is going to make her leave you after a while. Time to change your scene, indeed.

5. Fixing a Hole
The lonely man keeps himself busy, fixing a hole in the roof, so he doesn't just sit and let his mind wander.

6. She's Leaving Home
Of course, the girl in the story feels alone and empty, even if her parents have given her "everything money can buy". Meeting a man from the motor trade gets her company, but now it's her parents who are left alone. "Daddy, our baby's gone".

7. Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
A circus would be quite empty and alone without an audience watching it, so the announcer keeps shouting about the event to bring the people in. Tonight Mr Kite may be topping the bill, but what becomes of him once the "last night" is over?

8. Within You Without You
George Harrison's song is more universal, about the space between us all, which means that basically, we are all alone when it comes down to it.

9. When I'm Sixty-four
The singer is afraid to be left alone and lonely in his old age, so he is pleading with the woman he wants to be there with him.

10. Lovely Rita
Not wanting to be a lonely heart, the singer chats up the parking attendant and gets more company than he bargained for.

11. Good Morning Good Morning
Almost a sequel to "Getting Better", the singer gets up and greets the morning, but he's clearly alone with nothing to do, except watch the current sitcom on the TV. I've got nothing to say, but it's okay, he assures himself.

12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Speaks for itself, the band singing about all these lonely hearts are leaving us, so even the listener is now left alone. Hadn't it been for

13. A Day in the Life
In the newspaper the singer reads about a guy who is killed in a car accident. A crowd of people gather, the deceased looks familiar, but they can't quite place the lone driver. The audience in the movie theatre is leaving, except the singer. He sits there to watch the film through, all alone. In McCartney's section, he is all by his lonesome, waking up, combs his hair and goes up on the top deck of the bus for a smoke. Someone speaks and he goes into a dream. Meanwhile, the holes in the roads of Blackburn, Lancashire is filling up the Royal Albert Hall - an entire concert hall just filled with a giant void. How lonely does it get?
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - front cover

The narrator could easily be the same person in the songs "With A Little Help From My Friends", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "Getting Better", "Fixing a Hole", "When I'm Sixty-four", "Lovely Rita", "Good Morning, Good Morning" and "A Day In The Life", these could all form parts of the same story about a lonely man. The title song and it's reprise offers the framework of the concept, "Within You Without You" is the philosopher's take on loneliness, "She's Leaving Home" is another kind of loneliness, whereas "Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!" could be taken as comic relief, being half way into the story. So there you have it - the concept album that wasn't - but was.