Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Bill Harry's blog

15 December 1962 at the Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead:
Bill Harry presents the Beatles with The Mersey Beat Poll Winner's Award.
Photographer: Graham Spencer, © Bill Harry.
Bill Harry, founder and editor of Liverpool's own music paper, "Mersey Beat" has just launched a blog. Under the heading "Bill Harry's Merseybeat Blog - My personal experiences in the musical universe", he will be posting articles about the subject dear to his heart, the Merseybeat scene, and we trust some of the articles there will touch on Beatles stories.

Currently he has over 400 completed articles compiled, which, if he posts one blog post a week, will keep the blog running for eight years - and that's not counting the extra features that he will complete during that time, as he is still interviewing people almost on a daily basis. The blog will contain a lot of his previously unseen copyrighted images, plus material people haven't seen before, so he would appreciate respect for his work by people not copying the images and features without permission.

Bill Harry was born in 1938, and attended the Liverpool College of Art, where his fellow students included John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe. After borrowing £50, Harry released the first issue of Mersey Beat on 6 July 1961, with the first 5,000 copies selling out within a short time. The newspaper was published every two weeks, covering the music scenes in Liverpool, Wirral, Birkenhead, New Brighton, Crosby and Southport, as well as Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn.

On 9 November 1961, Bill Harry arranged for Brian Epstein to see the Beatles perform a lunchtime concert at the Cavern Club, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bill Harry is also the author of several books about the Beatles. Check out his blog at

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Beatles at the Beeb rebroadcast

BBC Top Of The Pops 1966
The BBC has again made available their 1982 original broadcasts of the "Beatles at the Beeb" radio series. Link. Andy Peebles tells the story of the many live session recordings the Beatles made for BBC radio. The 2 episodes are also available in the BBC iPlayer, and will remain available for 25 more days.

Auction tomorrow

The real deal?
Tomorrow, April 1st is auction day for various materials relating to the recording of the Beatles in concert at the Star Club, Hamburg from December 1962, including the so called "original unedited mono Master 7-inch safety reels", which we will refer to as the "raw tapes". These tapes could be the stuff Beatles fans and collectors are most looking forward to, because all releases of the concerts have been from edited, truncated, jumbled up and processed so called "master tapes", which everyone agrees has done the tracks more harm than good.
With the "raw tapes" in one's possession, one could establish the correct order of the songs, and it might also reveal more stage banter and perhaps incomplete songs left out of the releases from 1977 and throughout the eighties.
The tapes are likely to be a direct transfer of the material from the four track original, damaged 1962 tape used to record the band on the scene, as rescued by Ted Taylor and Allan Williams in 1973. But until we get a chance to hear the tapes in full, we won't know. Samples from the tapes have been posted on the auction site, and the quality and sonic ambience is said to be similar to the snippets from these concerts as used in the "Living In The Material World" documentary film - and different to the sonic ambience of previous album releases of this material.

Previously a legal release, until the Beatles won a court case in 1990.
Meanwhile, the Misterclaudel bootleg from these same concerts, said to be from the "raw tape" has proved to be no such thing, it is sourced from the same processed versions that can be found on other releases. Indeed, they even included the tracks from a genuine release of Johnny and the Hurricanes' Live at the Star Club Vol II album, which the bootlegger wrongly identified as being Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes.

Link to the auction

Meanwhile, another interesting, earlier tape has been found, which is the song "Some Other Guy" recorded at the Cavern Club in Liverpool September 5th, 1962. The tape is to go under the hammer on November 4th, 2015 from Adam Partridge Auctioneers in Liverpool. The contents of the tape is well known from needledrops of acetates featuring this version of the song, but sourced from a tape, the quality is bound to be better than previously heard incarnations of the recording.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Setlist from Jan 17, 1963

Memorabilia specialists Tracks has an interesting item for sale, one which gives us a glimpse of what a Beatles concert, two and a half weeks after they had been recorded playing at the Star Club in Hamburg would have been like. A fan has jotted down the titles of the songs the band played at a gig at the Majestic in Birkenhead. The lead singer is also identified, but unfortunately not on the songs the fan was not familiar with.

The songs are:
  1. Unknown
  2. Shimmy Like Kate
  3. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' on
  4. PS I Love You
  5. H (unknown)
  6. Chains
  7. A Taste of Honey
  8. Please Please Me
  9. Three Cool Cats
  10. Unknown
  11. Anna (Go to Him)
  12. Hey, Good Lookin'
  13. Hippy Hippy Shake
  14. Talking 'bout You
  15. Devil in her Heart
  16. Some Other Guy
  17. Ask Me Why
  18. Roll Over Beethoven
  19. Love Me Do
This was their second performance that day, as they had also played at the Cavern Club in Liverpool earlier in the day. The "Please Please Me"/"Ask Me Why" single was released just the week before the gig. Any idea what the three missing songs might have been? The set list is for sale at £150.00 from Tracks.

Probably the first Beatles single in the world with a picture sleeve,
this is the Danish/Norwegian cover of the Please Please Me single.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Star Club raw tape preview

Sounds quite nice to these ears! Your mileage may vary.
A preview of samples from the "raw tape" version of The Beatles Live at the Star Club, Hamburg, 1962 was posted on YouTube yesterday. This is an auction preview, since the tape is due up for auction by Ted Owen & Co on April 1st. The audio sample is also available at the Ted Owen website. The website says: "Headling is the historic Beatles 1962 Hamburg Star-Club original master recording tapes, containing the complete collection of masters and stereo album mixes that became the top selling 'Gold' awarded LP 'Live At The Star Club'."
Beatles historians have no use for the fake stereo masters made in 1977, of course, but the full lot is described thusly:

  • The Original unedited mono Master 7" safety reels.
  • The Original First Generation Master(s) for the double album LP.
  • A set of two 10½ reels USA version 15 ips DBX sides (C&D), (A&B).
  • The Original Studio Masters used for the matrix and subsequently the pressing of the Hamburg, Star-Club double album.
  • The complete DBX work reels, both edited and unedited consisting of 1 x 10½ reel 15 ips 2 TR (mono) DBX edited, 1 x 10½ reel 15 ips Mono DBX master, 1 x 10½ reel 15 ips Mono DBX safety and 1 x ½ reel ¼ tr. Unedited mono work reels (1&4), (2&3) and All in plain white / black ink marked cartons.

  • I'd say the real deal here is item #1: The original unedited mono Master 7" safety reels. The bidding starts at £40,000 and the estimated sales price is £100,000 – £150,000.

    Link to the auction.

    Meanwhile, bootlegger Misterclaudel have just released what they claim is a CD version of the raw, unedited tape. Misterclaudel's press release in Japan says it is the 1973 raw tape (made from transferring the contents of the damaged 1962 reel tape to a new reel tape, or several new reel tapes). We are awaiting the release to reach us.

    Wednesday, 25 March 2015

    On the cover of Rolling Stone...

    Returning to the cover of Rolling Stone

    Ringo Starr returns to the Rolling Stone cover solo for the first time since 1981 this week, musing on everything from a hypothetical Beatles reunion to why he decided to get clean in 1988. Film and teaser here: Rolling Stone Magazine. They also give you a guided tour through Ringo's solo career, courtesy of videos they found on YouTube.

    Ringo will also be talking about his new album, "Postcards from Paradise" on "the Ellen DeGeneres show" on 31. March as well as on "Conan" April 1 (true). Uncut Magazine is looking for questions to ask Ringo for an upcoming feature, submit your question(s) through this page.

    Tuesday, 24 March 2015

    Fourfiveseconds out on CD-single

    The CD-single
    Singles are difficult to find in a physical format these days, normally they are just available as downloads. However, the recent FourFiveSeconds single with Rihanna, Paul McCartney and Kanye West available has been made available as a CD-single from German Amazon. So if you're avoiding those downloads still, you can now add the song to your collection.
    The release may be because Germany is either very hesitant to, or awaiting the collapse of the digital revolution. I just came back from a Beatles themed cruise from Oslo to the German city of Kiel, and was surprised when I had to withdraw cash in order to shop, because accepting credit or debit cards was not commonplace, even in high street shops in Germany. And when we stopped to have breakfast at a diner, they didn't accept Visa, only Mastercard. So the future may take Visa, but the present is still not there.

    Friday, 20 March 2015

    Ringo's Photograph book - cheap edition

    New edition of Ringo's book, "Photograph".
    In PHOTOGRAPH, Ringo Starr reveals never-before-seen photographs and mementos from his archives, sharing memories of his childhood, The Beatles and beyond. Ringo’s lens captures his Beatles bandmates in pensive and playful moments, portraying them from the point of view of an insider, friend and skilled photographer.

    In an original manuscript of over 15,000 words, join Ringo growing up amidst the excitement of the emerging Merseybeat scene, as he remembers his first car, drum-kits, girls and bands on his ‘road of happy drumming’. From Pwllheli to Delhi, obscurity to superstardom, his travels are recounted with honesty and hilarity.

    “I love pictures put together, showing different times of your life, “Ringo said about the book, “At the time, I never thought that there would be a whole book of my photographs.”

    The limited edition from Genesis Publications.

    PHOTOGRAPH was originally conceived as a limited edition book of only 2,500 copies, which sold out within weeks. A short edition is also available as an e-book from iTunes.

    Two years later, Ringo Starr and Genesis Publications announce the 'Open Edition' - a more accessible and affordable printing of his book to be released in bookstores this September 2015. The author is donating all royalties to the Lotus Foundation.

    The book is available for preordering from Amazon.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    The Beatles: Alpha Omega

    The Beatles: Alpha Omega 4 disc boxed set
    In January 1973, two pirated Beatles box sets appeared in the United States, Alpha Omega Volumes I & II: The Story Of The Beatles.

    These four-LP collections were advertised on TV and radio stations in the Midwest and were sold by mail order. Instead of taking legal action, Capitol Records countered by putting out two official Beatles anthologies, The Beatles 1962-1966 (the red album) and The Beatles 1967-1970 (the blue album).

    However, in March, a $15 million lawsuit was filed by manager Allen Klein on behalf of George Harrison, along with Capitol and Apple Records, against the manufacturers and distributors of the pirate package, and against American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., who had been advertising it.

    Unlike the official release, the Alpha Omega sets was not ordered chronologically but somewhat alphabeticaly, and with a few solo songs thrown in to boot.

    The boxed set lying face down

    Alpha Omega Volume I:

    Side 1:
    1. Act Naturally
    2. All I've Got To Do
    3. All My Loving
    4. And I Love Her
    5. Baby's In Black
    6. Yesterday
    7. Ballad Of John And Yoko
    8. Bangladesh
    Side 2:
    1. Can't Buy Me Love
    2. Come Together
    3. Day Tripper
    4. Do You Want To Know A Secret
    5. Eight Days A Week
    6. Eleanor Rigby
    7. Uncle Albert
    Side 3
    1. I Should Have Known Better
    2. It Won't Be Long
    3. I Want To Hold Your Hand
    4. Lady Madonna
    5. Ticket To Ride
    6. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
    7. Michelle
    8. Mr. Moonlight
    Side 4:
    1. I Feel Fine
    2. If I Fell
    3. I'll Be Back
    4. Hey Jude
    5. I'm A Loser
    6. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You
    7. I Saw Her Standing There

    Alpha Omega Volume II:

    Side 1:
    1. Nowhere Man
    2. Obladi Oblada
    3. Paperback Writer
    4. Penny Lane
    5. Help!
    6. Roll Over Beethoven
    7. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    Side 2:
    1. Get Back
    2. Hello Goodbye
    3. Revolution #1
    4. Here Comes The Sun
    5. I'll Follow The Sun
    6. Imagine
    7. Honey Don't
    Side 3:
    1. We Can Work It Out
    2. With A Little Help From My Friends
    3. Yellow Submarine
    4. Baby You're A Rich Man
    5. You Can't Do That
    6. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
    7. Maybe I'm Amazed
    8. A Hard Day's Night
    Side 4:
    1. She Loves You
    2. Something
    3. Strawberry Fields Forever
    4. Tell Me Why
    5. The Long And Winding Road
    6. Let It Be
    7. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
    Feel free to try it out as a playlist! Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band fades out just before the "Billy Shears" introduction on With A Little Help From My Friends, which was not included. All tracks were taken from American stereo LPs, so no single versions appear, and those not yet in true stereo in the U.S. were issued in Duophonic.

    Someone also pressed up copies of this release on CDs, taken from vinyl drops of the LPs.

    You can find out more about this release (which was also out on 8-track) on the About The Beatles site. And check out a YouTube video.

    NME: Beatles issue

    NME Beatles Special

    NME is out with a bumper issue with a theme: 100 Greatest Beatles Songs As Chosen By Music's A-Listers.

    Read the countdown from 100 to 51 online.

    Wednesday, 18 March 2015

    Beatles monument in Austria - and an unknown concert

    Before the unveiling
    March 14, 2015, a Beatles monument was unveiled in front of the Edelweiss hotel in Obertauern, Austria. The monument was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles filming scenes for their 1965 movie "Help!" at the ski resort in the Austrian alps.

    The Beatles monument
    A couple of installations were also displayed around the village.

    Installation 1.

    Installation 2.

    The monument and installations were erected during the "Beatle Week" in Obertauern, which is still happening.

    The Unknown Beatles Concert

    Herbert Lurzer was Paul McCartneys ski teacher and stunt double in the film. He was just a local lad at the time with no real idea who his famous pupil was.

    “ I had never heard of them before, it was incredible to be suddenly involved in the inner circle of madness for those weeks. I was teaching Paul to ski and playing his parts in the movie, it was an amazing time”

    “I remember Paul falling the first time and shouting me to pick him up. I refused, I said you have to learn to fall before you ski, then you have to learn to get up! I don’t think he was used to people talking to him like that anymore. I remember we were on the top of a mountain and he forgot his cigarettes so he just clicked his finger for somebody to get them! Remember at this time they were so famous and so young, they were not used to it yet and everything was available to them instantly”

    John gets a helping hand after a fall. Photo: © Christian Skrein (Salzburg Museum)

    “Because we hadn’t really heard the songs before, they played all the ski teachers a concert.”

    As it turns out, this is the only gig they ever played in Austria, and there was only a handful of people there!

    “It was amazing, and they asked us - do you like this song, do you like that song? Imagine! Them asking me!”

    "We hung out with them, drinking and smoking as they were always waiting around for something to happen, they were our friends for two weeks and they asked a lot of questions about Austria and about us, they were such great guys.”

    Herbert now owns the hotel the Beatles had stayed in during the time they spent there. The Beatles stayed at the Edelweiss hotel in rooms 502, 504, 506 and 507, and these rooms, now modernised, are available to book. The rest of the film crew stayed at the Marietta hotel.

    Another concert happened when John and Paul joined Hamburg mate Jacky during their stay in Austria, but we already blogged about that here.

    The year after, Paul returned to Austria with his girlfriend Jane Asher for a holiday, as he wanted to learn to ski properly.

    Source for Beatles monument
    Source for Herbert Lurzer's story
    Source for Beatles installation

    Ringo Starr October dates

    Just as we thought, it was just announced that Ringo and his All Starr Band will undertake another tour this autumn. Again, USA and Canada are the countries he will visit. Ringo will be on stage in Vancouver on the 75th anniversary of John Lennon's birthday. However, Ringo will first turn 75 himself on July 7, and Paul McCartney has a concert in Norway that day, so he will not be able to attend. Busy days for the surviving Beatles. Here are the October dates of Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band.

    Oct 1 The Masonic, San Francisco, CA
    Oct 2 Vina Robles Ampitheater, Paso Robles, CA
    Oct 3 Field of Dreams, Sonoma, CA
    Oct 6 Century Link Arena, Boise, ID
    Oct 8 Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Victoria, BC
    Oct 9 Queen Elizabeth Theatre Vancouver, BC
    Oct 10 South Okanagan Event Ctr, Penticton, BC
    Oct 12 Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, AL
    Oct 13 Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary, AL
    Oct 14 Brandt Centre, Regina, SA
    Oct 16 State Theater, Minneapolis, MN
    Oct 17 Riverside Theater, Milwaukee, WI
    Oct 18 Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
    Oct 20 Massey Hall Toronto, ON
    Oct 21 St Denis Theatre Montreal, QU
    Oct 23 Wang Theater, Boston, MA
    Oct 24 Foxwood Theater, Mashantucket, CT
    Oct 25 State Theater, New Brunswick, NJ
    Oct 27 Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
    Oct 28 Lyric Opera House, Baltimore, MD
    Oct 30 Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA
    Oct 31 Kings Theater, Brooklyn, NY

    Monday, 16 March 2015

    McCartney's new "Save us" video

    Paul McCartney's new video for the song "Save Us" from the "New" album was just published by Ticketmaster as a "UK exclusive". The video was also available on the collector's edition of "New", so the exclusivity is not very apparant.

    The poster story

    The Norwegian singles collection
    Way back in the dark ages, before graphic design was made so easy by computers, some friends of mine and I hit upon the idea of making a giant poster depicting all the Norwegian Beatles single picture sleeves (more about the Norwegian 45's here.). The place where I was working at the time had acquired a wonderful piece of equipment - a colour copy machine. The machine was also capable of reducing the size of the copy. So I set about the task. I got me some plain white big cardboard sheets, gathered together all my Norwegian Beatles 45's, borrowed a couple that I didn't have and went ahead and produced it. When I had all the miniature single covers I needed, each one was hand glued to the cardboard poster. I think I made in all five of these posters, one for each of us, me and my two friends, one was presented as an extra prize to a TV competition winner of a Beatles quiz at the time, and one for Paul McCartney. The reason why we thought of Paul, was that we had heard that his friend, Elvis Costello, was a collector of Beatles records. We thought that perhaps next time Costello was visiting Paul, McCartney could show off this poster. Also, Paul was due to give two concerts in Norway in the near future (this was in 1993), so we thought that we might get to present it to him on that occasion.

    There were slight variations between each poster, and for Paul we decided to include the two picture sleeves from his solo career that were printed in Norway (the later ones either had standard factory sleeves or were imports). You can see this poster (or rather, a recreation of it) in the photo above. We had the poster glazed and framed, and were all set when Paul's tour was heading for Scandinavia. At the time, we were on friendly terms with Paul's publicist, Geoff Baker, so we rang him. Baker was kind enough to be able to get us a couple of photo credits for the first concert, and he was also able to get me in to the pre-concert press conference. One thing he didn't accomplish, was to get us that one on one with Paul, so that we could present him with our poster gift. As Paul was giving two concerts, we also tried to deliver it to him the next day, but unfortunately the daily TV news show wanted to interview him at the time slot we had been given, and there was no time left for us. After travelling to the next venue in Stockholm, Sweden with the same result, we gave up. But we still wanted to give Paul our poster, so we decided to dispatch it by mail to MPL in London.
    A couple of months later, the poster came back to me, damaged in the mail. The glass had been shattered and some of the miniature covers were damaged. After a repair job and new glazing, I decided to keep the poster until I could travel to London and deliver it myself.
    The poster included with the "1" vinyl album.
    Photos of these singles were were supplied to Apple by
    German Beatles collector Joachim Noske, who later
    released an 800 page book of Beatles records from
    around the world, called "The Beatles Covered".
    1996 was my next visit to London, and I managed to persuade the flight crew to bring the poster on board. Upon arriving in London, my good friend Peter and I went over to the Apple headquarters in Ovington square and rang the bell. By this time, the Anthology promotion was in full operation and Geoff Baker had been employed by Apple to deal with the press, under Derek Taylor. So, instead of delivering the poster to the staff at MPL, we thought we'd go to Apple where we might get to talk with Geoff and remind him of our non-deliverance of the poster back in Norway a few years earlier. However, this didn't happen. Some secretary opened the door and we unceremoniously presented her with the poster, said it was for Paul and asked her to give our best to Baker.

    Then, four years later, Apple/EMI released the hugely successful "1" album by the Beatles (best selling CD of the decade 2000-2010). I purchased the vinyl edition and was awestruck by the giant poster that was included, depicting Beatles single sleeves from around the world.  They even kept a few of the Norwegian ones (circled around in yellow in this photo of the poster)!

    Years later, in 2012 Paul McCartney released a Record Store Day edition of his single, "Another Day"/"Oh Woman Oh Why?". For the front cover, he elected to use the Norwegian edition of the single, as depicted on the poster we had delivered at the Apple office many years earlier.

    Two of the Norwegian single front covers both depicted on our original poster and the "1" poster has since been licenced away by Apple for usage on various memorabilia/souvenir products. The "Something" front cover is a carrier bag, among other things, and the "Can't But Me Love" front cover has been used on items such as coffee mugs, coasters, t-shirts and a die cast model car. It'd be nice if someone who has visited the Apple offices or the MPL building could report about our poster decorating some wall...

    Sunday, 15 March 2015

    Ringo - back on the road

    Recovered: Ringo and his All Starr Band ends their current tour tonight in Las Vegas.
    Ringo and his All Starr Band went through with their concert last night at the Pala Casino in Pala, California. Glad to see that Ringo has recovered from his illness and is back on the road again, after having missed two concerts. The tour ends tonight at the The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

    Photos from the Pala Casino concert.