Friday, 26 June 2020

The World Tonight

From the video directed by Geoff Wonfor

New online releases from Paul McCartney today, two videos and an EP on streaming media. The song in question is "The World Tonight", from previously released CD singles but remastered for a new archival release of his "Flaming Pie" album, coming out on July 31.

The two videos are one from his then son-in-law, Alistair Donald, and one from Beatles Anthology director Geoff Wonfor. Here's the first one:

The second one, directed by Geoff Wonfor will premiere in a few hours (at the time of writing) and will magically appear below when the time comes.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Grow Old with John, Paul and Ringo

A fan made mix of the instrumentation from Ringo Starr's version of the song, coupled with John Lennon's vocals from his home demos.

Description by the uploader:

It has often been suggested that when the Beatles were preparing the Anthology, Yoko provided more than just "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" for consideration for reunion songs. Two other titles have been mentioned, an unreleased but bootlegged demo called "Now And Then" and "Grow Old With Me", which had been issued on the posthumous "Milk And Honey" album. Neither were completed.

In October 2019, Ringo released his version of John's demo of "Grow Old With Me", which features on his album "What's My Name". This new version featured Ringo on drums and vocals and Paul on bass and backing vocals, with guitarist Joe Walsh joining them and new string arrangement by Jack Douglas (producer of John's "Double Fantasy" album).

This is an attempt at presenting a version of what a Beatles version of the track could have sounded like. This uses the backing track from Ringo's version and John's vocal and piano from two alternate demos that have not been released officially. As Ringo's version was recorded in the Bb and John's original was in G, it was not possible to incorporate Ringo or Paul's vocals (there was no magic "Strawberry Fields Forever" blend possible, the vocals were just way too slow!).

Single Fantasy

In 1980, when John Lennon talked about his and Yoko's new album "Double Fantasy", he said that all the songs came to him that year. As we now know from the "Lost Lennon Tapes" radio series, and bootlegs from it, as well as by other accounts, they did not. He kept making music, writing lyrics and recording simple demos all through the five years he spent as a "house husband" from when his son was born in 1975 and until he was ready to release his comeback album in 1980.

A few days ago on Twitter, I came across a handwritten note from John. In this note, he outlines plans for a new solo album. It's a track list for side 1 and 2 of an album of only his own songs, no Yoko. I tried to track down where the note came from, and all I could find was a 2009 slideshow from the New York Times, in conjunction with the then upcoming LennoNYC documentary, where the image of the note was attributed to Yoko.

There's only 3 tracks on side 2, which probably means the list was not finished. No sign of the song (Just Like) Starting Over, because that song was one of the last songs to be completed in time for the Double Fantasy sessions. "We didn't hear it until the last day of rehearsal," producer Jack Douglas said in 2005. Still, it's origins can be traced back to a couple of unfinished demo compositions, "Don't Be Crazy" and "My Life".

Here's John's outline of the sequencing of the album:

Side 1:
1. Beautiful Boy
2. Stepping Out
3. Borrowed Time
4. Woman
5. (Afraid I’m) Losing You
6. Grow Old With Me
7. Dear Yoko
8. Watching The Wheels

Side 2:
1. Real Love
2. Nobody Told Me
3. (I Don’t Wanna) Face It

The note also features descriptions of the musical styles he wanted each of the songs tailored to.

John's handwritten outline of his upcoming album

Beautiful Boy: Solo instead of middle 8, a la Monty Alexander "Jamento", i.e. piano mixed steel drum.

Stepping Out: Heavy bass/guitar a la "Let’s Get Serious" (Germaine Jackson).

Borrowed Time: Reggae – bass line + "Herb Alpert" horns solo

Woman: Key change after second middle – early Motown/Beatles

(Afraid I’m) Losing You: a la "How Do You Sleep" (Imagine LP) + "Thrill has gone" – B.B. King 

Grow Old With Me: "Imagine" – Brass instead of strings or both. Bagpipes

Dear Yoko: Buddy Holly + "Oh Yoko" (Imagine LP) – solo = "Listen To Me" – B. Holly

Real Love: "Waiting For You" (Strings etc)

Watching The Wheels: Mind Games (single) and for "Working Class Dylan"

Nobody Told Me: (Everybody’s Talking) Instant Karma

(I Don’t Wanna) Face It; It’s too fast; should be laid back, L.A. style: plus "Havana Moon" sound on chorus (Chuck Berry)

N.B. All notes refer to the SOUND only!

Some of the songs was to end up on the couple's reimagined joint album "Double Fantasy", some on the posthumous "Milk and Honey". A couple of songs were never professionally recorded, "Grow Old With Me" was issued in demo form and George Martin later made an arrangement for it.
"Real Love" came out in demo form on a documentary film soundtrack and another demo formed the basis of later recording by the remaining ex-Beatles and was released as a Beatles single.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

New and improved Indra Club photo

Paul McCartney surprised us yesterday on his social media channels by commemorating deceased band member Stuart Sutcliffe, who would have turned 80, if he hadn’t died in 1962. Paul wrote: "Our original bass player Stuart would have been 80 today! So many great memories of our time together. Happy birthday Stu! Love Paul"

But the best part is, he illustrated it with a high quality version of a photo from the Indra club. It was probably taken on August 17, 1960, when the Beatles had just begun their first stint in Hamburg.

The Beatles hamming it up for the unknown photographer at the Indra.
We have featured this photo on this blog on previous occasions, and here’s what it used to look like:

Previous incarnation of this photo.
So thank you very much, Paul! This made our day. Oh and the fact that it was our birthday too, yeah. Here's a black and white versin we created from Paul's yellow-tinted upload:
The palm tree lamp at the left has always just been a grey dot in previous renderings of the photo.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Fan made McCartney documentary series

Breathless345, whom you might remember from his documentary series on the Lennon-McCartney relationship, has made another documentary series, this time only about Paul McCartney and his solo career. There are five hourlong episodes in this series.

The first episode (above) is about 1970-75. "I made this as a gift to the public and am earning no money whatsoever from it. No infringement is intended; if you need something removed, please let me know and I’ll happily comply. This series is not endorsed by anyone other than me." says the humble biographer.

Part 1: LIFT OFF
Part 5: SIR PAUL
Or as a playlist, episodes 1-5.

Paul McCartney back to scratch

It was back to scratch for Paul McCartney in at least two ways Saturday night. In the ‘Round Midnight Preserves virtual livestream benefit, hosted Saturday by New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Paul's number (together with Elvis Costello, Jim James, Dave Matthews, Irma Thomas and Nathaniel Ratleliff) was "When The Saints Go Marchin' In".

It was a hark back to the Beatles' very first appearance on a 45 rpm back in October 1961. The single, "My Bonnie (lies over the ocean) c/w "When The Saints Go Marchin' In" was first released in Germany under the name Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, and then in Great Britain in January 1962. Come 1964, it would be rereleased and credited to The Beatles, with Tony Sheridan on vocals.

French edition of the single, 1964.
Another reason this was back to scratch for Paul, was that he elected to play trumpet on the song! The trumpet was Paul's first instrument, bought him by his dad when he was just a kid. He did learn it a bit, but soon enought convinced his dad to trade it with a guitar - which proved to be a good idea!
Paul is a bit rusty on the old trumpet in this rendition, but the song really picks up a good swing after a while, and Paul also sings a very "Satchmo"-channelled verse.

Sirpaulru has provided us with an upload of the performance on YouTube. Since this is not an official channel, you should catch it while you can.

Friday, 19 June 2020

The Beatles in Uncut

Uncut for August: Uncut's first Beatles cover in three years.
Peter Jackson's "Get Back" film was postponed a year and will not come out until August 27, 2021. But U.K. music magazine Uncut was already sent to the printer's when Disney's decision was made.

Fifty years on, where do you start with Let It Be? For The Beatles, the answer is a complicated one. Filmed in early 1969, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s documentary contains some of the very best audio-vérité footage of the band assembling songs, not to mention their last public concert ever, on the rooftop of Apple Corps’ headquarters at 3 Savile Row; but it also foreshadows their breakup nearly 15 months later. Perhaps understandably, it’s not a project for which the band have historically shown much enthusiasm. “It went into the things that happen in any family: little fights, little niggles, little mistrust, little this, little that,” Ringo Starr tells Uncut.

“The movie and the album didn’t come out until May 1970 and they were in the middle of their divorce,” filmmaker Peter Jackson explains. “The band was breaking up and they were suing each other and obviously it was a very stressful, unhappy time.”

Jackson should know. The filmmaker has been entrusted with fashioning a new film, The Beatles: Get Back – an alternate documentary using Lindsay-Hogg’s extensive original footage.

Paul McCartney, Ringo and a cast of supporting players help John Robinson get back to the Fabs’ January rehearsals in Twickenham Film Studios – and look forward to Jackson’s new film.

The fractious recording of the supposedly back-to-basics album was originally captured by filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg for the documentary of the same name, concluding with that triumphant rooftop gig on the roof of No 3, Savile Row on January 30, 1969. Now, acclaimed director Peter Jackson has returned to the footage to construct a new documentary, Get Back, shedding fresh light on the whole affair.

Eighteen months ago, Lindsay-Hogg went for a meeting at Apple and heard a proposal: for an alternate documentary using the original footage, to be made by Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson. Apple hoped he would think it was a good idea. “I couldn’t have been happier,” says Lindsay-Hogg. “He’s a wonderful filmmaker.”

Today, Lindsay-Hogg remembers the conversations he himself had with The Beatles at the time he was editing his own film. What they wanted out (“originally there was more John and Yoko interacting”), what the distributors wanted out (“they wanted more music, less talking – we had to cut out half an hour”) and what The Beatles were, to his relief, ultimately content to leave in (George and Paul in Twickenham, particularly). A guiding principle of the original ‘Get Back’ had been to reject sophistication and over-editing, and it was a relief to him The Beatles made no effort to cover their tracks, however uncomfortable it may occasionally have been for them.

“I’m glad it exists,” Paul McCartney tells Uncut. “I’m glad any film exists of The Beatles, because it’s these wonderful, handsome young boys all being wonderful. Immaculately dressed. All Beatles things are good, period – it’s a body of work. I love seeing the stuff.”

As much as the Let It Be documentary might be problematic for those who prefer The Beatles to remain forever chirpy moptops rather than complicated adults, the film is still a coherent piece: a warm and gradual movement towards harmony from the crotchety abstraction of the initial rehearsals. At around an hour in, The Beatles are by now refined and accomplished, playing McCartney’s “The Two Of Us”, “Let It Be” and “The Long And Winding Road” in a intimately lit studio setting.

As the film continues, the concluding rooftop concert breaks this domesticated mood for a return to raw and instinctive interaction – much as they hoped would be the effect of the whole project. At the end of their 42-minute set, Lennon jokes to the small roof congregation, “I hope we passed the audition”, which of course is pretty funny. But for the project to succeed at all, it did require The Beatles to unlearn much of their professional judgement and allow it to be overruled by naïveté and enthusiasm of their earliest, auditioning, days.

“They never had an exact plan,” says Peter Jackson. “Which is one of the entertaining things you see in the footage.”

Link: Uncut

Thursday, 18 June 2020

First Beatles drum logo?

Rory Storm on the stage of the Top Ten Club with Tony Sheridan’s band.
Here’s a picture we were reminded of today. The Beatles and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes alternated playing sets at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg in 1960. There has never been published a photo of either band on stage at the joint. But they used to sneak off to the Top Ten Club on the Reeperbahn to jam with «the teacher», Tony Sheridan. Which got them into trouble with Bruno Koshmieder, their employer.

This is a photo of Rory Storm singing with Tony Sheridan’s band at the Top Ten Club. But does that bass drum behind Rory say «Beatles»? Because if it is, this is the only time we have seen a Pete Best bass drum with the name Beatles on it. Well, we have of course seen the famously faked one.

Tony Sheridan with his band at the Top Ten Club.
This and more photos over at the brilliant Savage Young Beatles site.

Paul and George in 1970

Paul and George in the studio, January 1970
For Paul’s birthday today, George Harrison’s Twitter account published a never before seen photo of Paul and George. Judging from their hairstyles, it must have been taken at the January 3-4, 1970 session for the re-recording of George’s «I Me Mine» for the upcoming Let It Be album.

The song was recorded as a trio with Paul, George and Ringo, as John was away in Denmark. Also, he had left the group. This is the first time this, or any other photo from this recording session has been published. That makes this the last photo of members of the Beatles recording a song for a Beatles album. Until «Free as a bird» that is. Unless there are other, unpublished ones from this session?

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Four photographers on The Beatles

Upcoming book featuring the works of four photographers
Photos by photographers  Norman Parkinson, Michael Ward, Terry O'Neill and Derek Bayes will be collected in a new book, due out September 2nd in the USA and September 7th in Great Britain.

The book, "Beatlemania: Four Photographers on the Fab Four" has text by Tony Barrell and is published in hardcover by ACC Art Books, it has 240 pages.

And here's the blurb: The Beatles ascended like no band before, hurtling to the dizzy heights of international stardom in the early 1960s. Their counter-cultural vibes and unmistakable talent are still the subject of much discussion today - as is the rabid devotion of their fans. But how did one pop group become, as Lennon infamously quipped, "more popular than Jesus"? 

The work of four photographers provides an enlightening insight into the band's rise to fame: 

  • Ward captured the Fab Four when Beatlemania was still confined to their own home city - the band braved the icy Liverpool streets for a promotional shoot during the Big Freeze of '62-63. 
  • O'Neill crossed paths with The Beatles amid the buzz of the Swinging Sixties, resonating with the band in 1963 as a photographer of their generation. 
  • Parkinson delivered a deceptively relaxed shoot later that year, when the band were recording their second album; while Bayes captured never-before-published candid shots of The Beatles filming Help! in 1965. 

Accompanying these pictures, Tony Barrell's text delves into the Beatlemania phenomenon - the good, the bad, the ugly and the odd. From the creation of their early hit records to the hails of confectionery that peppered stages after John claimed George had eaten his jelly babies, Beatlemania: Four Photographers on the Fab Four reveals how one band became a lasting sensation.

Here are the Amazon links to pre-order the book:

Let it be for 2021

The original 1970 boxed set of the "Let It Be"-album.
According to sources close to the projects, the yet-not-announced 50th anniversary release of the "Let It Be" album by The Beatles has been postponed to 2021.

This comes as a result of distributor of Peter Jackson's new "Get Back" documentary, Disney having rescheduled the silver screen debut of that film to August 27, 2021. The documentary was originally planned for theatrical release September 4th, 2020. Also, a restored version of Michael Lindsay-Hogg's original documentary "Let It Be" was to follow, but it too, has now been pushed back to 2021.

Giles Martin and his team was going to work on the soundtracks of both films, as well as an anniversary edition of the album this month. Since Abbey Road Studios again is open for business after having been closed for more than ten weeks, that work can go ahead as scheduled. But it will have to spend some time on the shelves before it gets to be released.

Ironically, a delay of over a year and being on the backburner seems to be an eternal fate of the "Get Back" material. Having been filmed and recorded in January 1969, the album as well as the film didn't come to fruition until May 1970, by which time The Beatles had already recorded and released another album, "Abbey Road" - and then disbanded.

UPDATE: We have just received information that a)sound mixing was finished many months ago, which is contrary to the report from Roger Friedman which our comment was based on and b) not all parties have had their say regarding delaying the anniversary album release yet.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

The Beatles’ first EMI tape

John, Paul, George and Pete’s recording session at Abbey Road preserved in full?
The late Geoff Emerick worked as sound engineer for The Beatles from 1966. But he was present right from the beginning. And now it turns out that the engineer, who died in 2018, has left behind a tape recording from that first session in 1962.

It was June 6, 1962 that John, Paul, George and Pete for the first time set foot inside the Abbey Road studio complex and embarked on their recording career. For Pete, it would also be the last time, but nobody knew at the time.

In Studio 2, which would later become a permanent hangout, they first played through a number of songs, before attempting a recording of four songs in this order: "Besame Mucho", "Love Me Do", "PS I Love You" and " Ask Me Why ». They were in the studio from 7pm to 10pm, according to the EMI protocol.
Depicted among the court documents was this, the tape box.

Now it turns out that Geoff Emerick has kept a tape recording from that day, a recording that he had been asked to bin. On Anthology vol. 1, the version of "Love Me Do" from this recording was preserved, thanks to a demo George Martin's wife found in a closet. Bootleggers had already released "Besame Mucho" earlier and already back in the eighties I was told that the full tape was in the hands of a private collector. If Geoff had the tape, why didn’t he submit it for the Anthology series?

Now ownership of Emerick's tape will be tried in court. On Tuesday, the case starts between Emerick's family and Universal Music about who actually owns the tape, which has been estimated to have a value of approximately £ 5 million.

Source: The Sun (who thought this was a film) via the Daily Mail

In this interview from 2016 with Emerick, there is a little bit of banter between the interviewer, Emerick and Dave Harries about this, when the interviewer asks Emerick: "Have you got any tape which no one has ever heard? This is between you and me." Emerick points out that the camera is on, but after muttering a bit, he clearly says "Yes!". The conversation is between 7.10 to 8.00 in the clip.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Peter Jackson’s Get Back film pushed to August 2021

Friday, Disney published some changes to their future film programme. Due to the covid-19 situation, it seems that Peter Jackson’s documentary about the Get Back sessions will not see the light of day this September after all. Test viewings have taken place already, but Disney now says it won’t hit the big screen until 27 August 2021.

We are uncertain how this will affect the as yet unannounced 50th anniversary edition of the «Let It Be» album and the restored original film by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. 

Source: The Wrap

Penny Lane controversy

A Penny Lane street sun. Photo: Jackie Spencer
Contrary to public opinion, the street "Penny Lane" in Liverpool was likely NOT named after James Penny, the anti-abolitionist and slave merchant who was said to have defended slave trade to the British Parliament. However, this has not deterred vandals who have failed to read up on the subject from defacing the famous street sign.

Our neighbourhood blog, Beatles Liverpool Locations will set you straight on the subject matter.

Young Boy EP released

The former CD maxi single - now as a streaming EP
Today, Paul McCartney has released a virtual EP from his upcoming Archives editions of "Flaming Pie", his 1997 post-"Beatles Anthology" album. You can find it on various streaming services, like Spotify. It contains the title track as fully produced, as a home demo, the single's B-side "Looking For You" and part 1 of the "Oobujoobu"* extracts McCartney spread over a handful of maxi CD singles back then.

A video for the main title, "Young Boy", directed by Beatles Anthology's Geoff Wonfor is due to premiere later today, at the same time as Paul's website, reveals the full details of the upcoming release (July 31) and the formats it will be available in.

Also, a second video for the song, directed by Alistair Donald will be published:

Yesterday, images of a double LP, a 3 LP set and a 2 CD version appeared online:
2 CD

2 LP

2LP + 1 LP
This comes in addition to a previously leaked image of the 5CD/2DVD DeLuxe edition from the online store of HMV, and a track list for the DeLuxe edition which appeared prematurely on the Norwegian and Swedish CDon webshops. We have reported on both of those incidents in previous postings.

Here's the Collector's edition, limited to 3000 copies and only available from Universal Music:

*"Oobujoobu" was a radio series which McCartney hosted in 1995 and aired on the American radio network Westwood One, and one episode of the radio show was released as a "Best Buy" only freebie with "Flaming Pie" in May 1997. All in all, McCartney gave us six extracts from other episodes of the series spread across six CD singles, these are all now collected on disc 4 of the upcoming DeLuxe edition of "Flaming Pie", due out July 31.