Move over, Ms L!

Hi all, wondering why you are looking at this jumbled up page? This is due to the fact that Facebook didn't like our url since it starts with wog, so we have been forced to move the blog. This was some time ago, and we have placed a script which would automatically send you to our new location. Obviously, this hasn't worked for all of you, since we have just finished moderating some of your comments which appeared on this site recently, and not on our new (and improved!) site. So what we're saying is head on over to our new site, and update your bookmarks!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Wonderful Christmastime

The WogBlog will take a holiday break, and hopefully we'll be back before the New Year. Meanwhile, I'm going to London to see Paul McCartney wind up his short tour. I'll leave you with this clip of Paul and his band playing his Christmas hit "Wonderful Christmastime", here from a performance in Cologne, Germany.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

(I Want To) Come Home nominations

The new song by Paul McCartney, currently featured on his Good Evening Europe Tour, "(I Want To) Come Home" has been released as a download from online music stores. It is also available as a single-song CD-R with the above cover photo, which you may order from stores like Mix'n'burn (handy for those of us who feels there's a void in our CD collection when all we have is a downloaded mp3 file). Today, the music video for the song was also released officially by Paul.

McCartney, who has written only a handful of songs specifically for films, decided to contribute the emotional ballad (I Want To) Come Home for the story about a widower's (Robert DeNiro) relationship with his grown children. The director of "Everybody's Fine" was Kirk Jones, who decided to give McCartney a hand with the songwriting.
When Jones had some editing suggestions, the former Beatle listened. He added an instrumental intro to the song and switched the first and third verses. Then Jones suggested a change in the lyrics.
"I remember going over in the cab (to meet McCartney) and saying the only way I could do justice to him and the film was to be honest," Jones said.
With McCartney, he settled for two out of three.
"I don't want to be above the process," McCartney said. "I don't want to be one of those people who says, 'How dare you play with my music! My music is sacred!'
"I wrote for a movie. I might as well hear what the director has to say. But when he did go a comment too far, I did shut the door."
Jones had almost lost McCartney earlier. As McCartney sat in the screening room and the movie reached the emotional climax where he knew that any song he wrote would appear, he heard the place holder that Jones had also considered: Aretha Franklin singing McCartney's Beatles classic Let It Be.
"I go, 'I can't do this!' " McCartney said. " 'Are you kidding me? I can't do that.' My immediate reaction was, 'No way, dude.' "
But after seeing the movie, an idea came to him the next night.
"I thought, I like the film so much, I'll see if it works," he recalled. "Gradually, from there, I tried to use (Let It Be) as an inspiration for a new, different kind of song, but hopefully in the same emotional ballpark."
Jones said he loves how the new song works for the movie.
"I think it was sung with heart and passion and with honesty."

Over the last couple of days. the song has gotten nominated for "Best song from a film", both at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. We're still awaiting the announcements for the most prestigious one, the Academy Awards. Meanwhile, you can vote for the song over at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, just click here!

There's a three track promo single out in USA (Catalogue Number: BVPR002552), with the same song )and the same version) three times.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Beatles leave for Australia

From the Pathe Newsreels Archives, labeled "Unissued / Unused material - London Airport".
Here's the description of this clip:
The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison - Jimmy Nicol stands in for Ringo Starr on this trip for he is ill.) get out of coach at London Airport and wave to the fans on airport roof. LS Fans lining the roof of the airport building. LS BOAC Boeing taxiing VS The Beatles arriving at the aircraft and they pose on steps with the air stewardess, they wave and clown about and before entering the aircraft and they welcome fellow passengers aboard. LS Boeing 707 lifting off and disappearing into sky taking the Beatles on their Australian tour.
(Orig.Neg.) Old record suggests material dates from around 07/06/1964.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Waiting for Nowhere Boy

Nowhere Boy, the new biopic about the young John Lennon is due out on general release at cinemas across the UK on Boxing Day, December 26th. It has already been previewed for the press down at Abbey Road Studios, and London Beatles tour guide Richard Porter had the chance to attend the screening. He came to the screening with mixed feelings, because of early reports about "white washing" the story, but he left with a positive view of the film. In fact, he called it "by far the best Beatles-related biopic I’ve seen" and awarded it 4 stars out of 5.
The thing is, "Nowhere Boy" was supposed to be based upon Julia Baird's book Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon but she pulled out of the project when the director refused to use the new facts about John's Aunt Mimi and her affair with one of the students who rented a room in her house. The point of the book, Julia Baird told me a couple of years ago, before her book was published, was to reveal Aunt Mimi's hypocracy. On one hand, she managed to persuade the local authorities to take five year old John away from his mother Julia and place him with her sister Mimi and Mimi's husband George Smith on the grounds that Julia was living in an unmarried relationship with John Dykins (Julia Baird and her sister Jackie's father). On the other hand, after George Smith died, Mimi herself started an affair with student Michael Fishwick, who was a lodger at Mendips. Julia Baird did some groundbreaking detective work for the Beatles history when she not only discovered this fact, but also tracked down Fishwick and confronted him with her findings.
Furthermore, as John was growing up, Mimi never told him that his real mother Julia was living within a short distance by bus from Mendips, so the two lost touch. It took another sister of Mimi and Julia, Elizabeth (known as Mater) to bring mother and son back together again. Elizabeth lived in Scotland, but had to send her own son, Stanley Parkes down to Liverpool, instructing him to pick up John at Mendips and take him to Blomfield Road in the Penny Lane area to be reunited with his mother. Once reunited, mother and son picked up their relationship, and as John's school was in walking distance from Julia's home, he often made visits to his mother from then on and until she was killed in a traffic accidence. This dark side of Aunt Mimi is not present in the film, and Julia Baird then distanced herself from it.

Julia Baird and your humble WogBlog editor

It now appears that the reason for this glossing over of Aunt Mimi's persona was perhaps due to the interference of none other than Sir Paul McCartney!
In an interview with The Times from December 5th, McCartney has this to say:

The Beatles' very early days are topical again, not so much McCartney's childhood as Lennon's, thanks to Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy, a new film examining Lennon's relationship with his Aunt Mimi and mother, Julia. Has he seen it? "I haven't. Sam asked me to but I've been very busy lately. She showed me some little bits of it and I said to her, 'cos I know Sam, she's a great girl, I said, 'Sam, this isn't true'. She sent me a synopsis and it said, 'Aunt Mimi is a cruel woman', and I said, 'Sam, do me one favour: Aunt Mimi was not cruel. She was mock strict, very proper. But she was a good heart who loved John madly and she knew she had to bring up what was potentially a wayward boy'. I always could read that."

Taylor-Wood had the character rewritten. "She showed me some stuff and I said, 'Well, the Mimi character's good now, I like that, but that bit, we never did that, and John never did that, and he certainly didn't do that'. So we had a discussion about 'Yeah, well, it's a film' - 'This is not a pipe', as Magritte would have said, 'it's a painting'. It captures the essence, but not for me. Because I was there. I hear it's a good film. But it's my life."

So, despite McCartney's insistence on the sugar coated version of Aunt Mimi, Richard Porter thought that it was a good film, and I guess it's because of the music, the actors and the authenticity in recreating the post war Liverpool that makes this possible. As a long time aficionado of several subjects, I have a long time ago found that you need to take every fact presented by the popular media with a lot more than a pinch of salt. Artistic license is one thing, but more annoying is the fact that every myth gets repeated ad nauseam until the public at large gets a very twisted version of the actual historic events and personas.

But let's not dwell on facts. Let's just go and see the movie, and try to enjoy what's good about it. In my blog post about the soundtrack album, I gave you the breakdown of the tracks on the 2 disc release. Now here are the linear notes, where Ian Neil (Music Supervisor), Sam Taylor-Wood (the film’s director) and Matt Greenhalgh (screenplay writer) gives their comments on the songs:
Track 1: Wild One
Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis
Ian - We had to have Jerry on the film, he was a Don. Originally meant for another scene but ended up opening the film. Iconic tune and perfect for seeing young John for first time.

Track 2: Mr Sandman
Artist: Dickie Valentine
Matt - This came out of wanting something for the opening, that set up the swing band music that was hip at the time. A time before rock'n'roll. It also gave us a foreboding dreamy quality. John wishing for someone. You can imagine Dickie singing this about Julia.
Sam - This was the perfect 'everything in the world is wonderful' kind of track; all 50's and full of sweetness that we thought perfect for this seminal moment in John’s life.

Track 3: Rocket 88
Artist: Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats
Matt - Generally regarded as the first rock'n'roll record so it seemed apt that it should be the one we, and John, first hear on his musical journey with Julia.

Track 4: I Put A Spell On You
Artist: Screaming Jay Hawkins
Sam - When Ian put forward Screaming Jay in the mix I yelped with delight and excitement as I'd always loved this track and thought the raw sexiness would work perfectly with this complex scene.
Ian - She did yelp with excitement it's true.

Track 5: Shake, Rattle And Roll
Artist: Elvis Presley
Ian - We always knew we would use an Elvis recording in the film, it made sense to have an early one and not such an obvious one. As John once said; “If there hadn't been an Elvis there wouldn't have been a Beatles!”

Track 6: Hard Headed Woman
Artist: Wanda Jackson
Sam - I love the gravel voice of Wanda Jackson and really thought she shouldn't be left out of our rock n roll punch. I thought she'd be a good accompaniment to Elvis and Ian says she dated him once too. Elvis that is!

Track 7: Maggie May
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - A song that's deeply rooted in Liverpool folklore. It just seemed to have the right amount of cheekiness, as well as an undercurrent of bitterness if sung by John, considering Maggie May was a whore!

Track 8: That'll Be The Day
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - B side of: “In Spite of All The Danger”, The Beatles first record. Paul's favourite artist was Buddy Holly and it meant John could wear his glasses and look cool for the first time.

A limited edition single of That'll Be The Day from the soundtrack album

A limited edition single of That'll Be The Day from the soundtrack album

Track 9: Rockin' Daddy
Artist: Eddie Bond & The Stompers
Ian - We needed a little ditty when John goes to buy his first guitar. So many to choose from but this one hit the spot.

Track 10: Twenty Flight Rock
Artist: Eddie Cochran
Matt - Perfectly documented by Paul in the 'Anthology' - where he describes the first time he met John - and then actually performs the song on his acoustic - and you can see how he would have blown The Quarrymen, especially John, away. Just brilliant.

Track 11: That’s Alright Mama
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Sam - A great Elvis track sung and performed with zest by the guys. There was a great energy amongst the group when they played this one out.
Ian - Originally scripted as "Searchin" but we had to change the song. We looked at various options but Elvis songs are hard to beat and of course historically The Quarrymen did cover it, so it ticked that box.

Track 12: Movin’ and Groovin’
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Ian - Originally going to be Guitar Boogie by Chuck Berry. Ended up our music producer pitched me this Duane Eddy gem and did the job equally well.

Track 13: Raunchy
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - Has gone down in history as the tune George played for John on the back of a midnight bus as an impromptu audition for the band at the behest of Paul who knew that George was the best thing he'd heard!!

Track 14: Hound Dog
Artist: Big Mama Thornton
Sam - My brother sent me this track, it's so perfect. The film is about two amazing women in John’s life and I feel to have Wanda and Big Mama Thornton brings two powerful women's voices to the film. It’s great to hear a different version to the Elvis one we are familiar with.

Track 15: Be-Bop-A-Lula
Artist: Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps
Ian - Gene was another Don and this was such a big tune from the period and one of my favourite rock n roll tracks of all time.

Track 16: Hello Little Girl
Artist: Aaron Johnson
Matt - John's first track, ever written. Imagine being in that room when he played it to Paul for the first time? There's that re-occurring undercurrent of longing and neediness which is fascinating.

Track 17: In Spite Of All The Danger
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - The first Beatles record, although under a different name. These vinyl recordings were so flimsy that John was paranoid about it being smashed as soon as they left the studio. He wouldn't let anyone else hold it.

Track 18: Mother
Artist: John Lennon
Matt - It couldn't end anywhere else. He was never reconciled with Julia, he was only just getting to know her. I think this song was his way of moving on from her, and in life - as he does in the film. You can also turn it on its head and attribute it to his 'other mother', Mimi, and it still resonates. It gets you every time.

Sam - When I read this on the last page of Matt's script I was decimated. We had to, in my mind, get the rights the song as I couldn't envisage the film without it. It’s the most intense recording, and hearing John Lennon's voice at the end reminds you that the film is about the legend himself and leaves you slightly haunted.

The album is a stylishly packaged deluxe 2CD set which features the soundtrack to the film on disc one, plus a collection of vintage rock’n’roll classics that inspired John Lennon as a second disc. Interestingly, the first disc includes original tracks recorded especially for the film by the band that portray ‘The Quarrymen’ characters (credited on the soundtrack as The Nowhere Boys). The album features unique takes on these songs, as well as original recordings from Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and many more.

If you're in or around Nottingham, England, you can catch this film tonight already, as it is being shown from December 11th to December 17th on the Broadway Cinema. The rest of us will just have to wait.

Official movie site (UK)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

McCartney on the X-factor

This morning, McCartney was interviewed on the CBS Sunday Morning show (see above) and tonight he appeared live at the final of the UK programme The X-factor, performing Drive My Car and Live and Let Die.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Bonham's Auction due

The Beatles at The Salvor by Peter Kaye
Another of those wicked Entertainment Memorabilia auctions is taking place at Bonham's of Knightsbridge next week, Wednesday the 16th of December 2009. The above photo, taken by Liverpool photo studio Peter Kaye of the fab four aboard "The Salvor" down by the Liverpool docks in 1962 is one lot at the auction. It's priced at £3,800 - 4,200, but the front of the photo doesn't warrant this estimated price. The back, however, does.
Beatles autographs
The back of the "Salvor" photo, fully autographed.

Among the memorabilia lots on offer, there's about 30+ Beatles related items, including full, or nearly full runs of the Beatles Monthly Book publications. There are also many more signed items by the fabs available, including one where Paul signed for John and vice versa!
Other items of interest: A Chris Montez/Tommy Roe programme (ABC Northampton 27/3/63) signed by George and Paul in blue ballpoint (together with the pen used), several Beatles Programmes from their UK tours, scrap books with newspaper cuttings and concert tickets, an extremely rare US Decca pressing of the single 'My Bonnie'/'The Saints' by Tony Sheridan And The Beat Brothers, 1962, Beatles trading cards, a unique script for 'A Talent For Loving' autographed by the Beatles and Brian Epstein, a pair of John Lennon's Kef hi-fi speakers, used at Tittenhurst Park, and a Grundig TK20 reel-to-reel tape recorder used by The Quarrymen! That last item was used by Paul McCartney to record his band with, and one of the tapes comprised some seventeen Quarrymen recordings, a compilation made, according to Paul, around Easter 1960. This tape was sold privately to Paul in 1995 for an undisclosed sum, and is unfortunately thus not part of the lot.
The photo of 11 year old schoolboy Paul is also on offer, it was last seen at the Liverpool Convention auction back in August.
Schoolboy Paul
Something that could turn up to be interesting, is an acetate from the Beatles performance at the Ed Sullivan show in 1965.
Beatles acetate
The show is available on DVD, but what's special about the acetate is that it's supposedly in stereo. The description "six discernible tracks" may perhaps be a warning about the quality of the sound on the acetate.
See more items and scrutinize them with Bonham's flash player at the official auction site. Happy bidding (or window watching)!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Remember John


Paul the accordionist?

Tunes - Norwegian music magazine

The latest issue of the Norwegian music magazine Tunes has a great Beatles cover, and an article about Norwegian Beatles fans who have met The Beatles or members of the group. The article has been written by Nils V. Gjerstad. One of the more interesting stories is accompanied by a photo of Paul McCartney with an accordion.

Paul McCartney carrying an accordion

The fan photo was snapped on the 13th of August 1968 by a 18 year old Beatles fan Egil Gjerde, and speculation is that this might be the accordion from "Rocky Raccoon" on The Beatles (White Album). The song was recorded August 15th. The accordion player on Roccy Raccoon has never been documented, maybe this is the one!

A closer look at the instrument

Here's Henry Doktorski's description of Rocky Raccoon (taken from his article on The Beatles and the Free-Reed Instruments:

Rocky Raccoon

The harmonica and accordion appeared in the song Rocky Raccoon from the double white album titled The Beatles (Apple: November 22, 1968) and helped give the song it's cowboy flavor: it is set in the American wild west of the 19th century. Other factors which contribute to its bawdy saloon atmosphere are 1) Paul McCartney's half-spoken sprechgesang introduction in a mock cowboy dialect and 2) an extensive honky-tonk piano solo.

The song tells the story about a young boy -- Rocky Raccoon -- who loses his girlfriend to another suitor who called himself Dan. Rocky decides to get back at his rival and shoot him. However, as Daniel was the better marksman, he drew first and wounded Rocky who collapsed in a corner.

The harmonica appeared in this song briefly at the end of the first verse and more extensively during the third verse:

Now she and her man who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoe down
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown.

The accordion (with a distinctive musette sound) appeared during the verse:

Now the doctor came in, stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said "Rocky, you met your match."
And Rocky said, "Doc, it's only a scratch
And I'll be better. I'll be better doc as soon as I am able."

The accordion sounds like a 12-bass instrument and it is played badly, as if the performer was as drunk as the doctor stinking of gin. (Actually, the Beatles made it a point NEVER to perform while under the influence as the music suffered, but once John Lennon accidentally ingested some LSD before a Sgt. Pepper's recording session and consequently had to stop for the rest of the night.) Endnote 14

Considering the high quality of all the other performances on the album -- and the sloppiness of the accordion part -- it is possible that Paul McCartney (the actual composer of Rocky Raccoon), intended the accordion to represent the drunk doctor and therefore deliberately had the instrument played badly. However, I doubt if this "word painting" was intentionally planned. I suspect that Paul or John simply had difficulty controlling the bellows and coordinating the right and left hands.

John borrowed the accordion to run through some parts of "All You Need Is Love" with some of the players in the studio during a recording session. It was recorded on June 14th 1967.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Frog Chorus Redemption

The British press has forever had one big grudge against Paul McCartney: We All Stand Together, with Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus. Time after time, that's a song that is brought forward as an example of how bad a songwriter McCartney was in the eighties. We fans are sick and tired of the British cocaine-snorting journalists dragging this one song down in the mud, because they're out of examples. Here's a quote from today's The Times: "It’s possible that the most successful songwriter in pop history is on the verge of finally being forgiven for the Frog Chorus."
Let me tell you a couple of facts about the song.
  1. It's a children's song, i.e. it was specifically made for kids.
  2. The home video of Rupert and the Frog song was the #1 top-selling video in the UK the year it was released.
  3. We fans love it!
  4. Did we tell you it was a children's song? And a highly successfull one, at that?
  5. Versatility in an artist is not a drawback, but a plus.

And people who grew up with the song and it's video has great affection for it. Just take a look at this link.

Now let's just be grateful that the British press still haven't heard the bootleg soundtrack to the aborted full length feature of Rupert The Bear that Paul always wanted to make.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

3 songs from Hamburg

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da
Never played live by the Beatles, first time live performance by Paul McCartney.

I Want To Come Home
From the new film "Everybody's Fine" starring Robert DeNiro. Unreleased and never played live before.

And I Love Her
Not played by Paul since 1993, and never played in the original Beatles arrangement before.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

McCartney Tour Opening

Just a quick report from the opening of the Good Evening Europe Tour. There were a few changes in the set list since the US tour, and Paul was in fine voice.
Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da went over well with the Germans with it's unmistakable rhythm. I was disappointed that the set list changes had squeezed out "I'm Down", after it only had been played a few times. There are many stalwarts which could have been retired in favour of the new songs. Paul did a fine rendition of "And I Love Her", in it's original Beatles arrangement, as opposed to the more duet-like arrangement that was used for the Unplugged tour of 1991, it's only earlier live appearance.
Here's the full set list:

1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. Drive My Car
3. Jet
4. Only Mama Knows
5. Flaming Pie
6. Got To Get You Into My life
7. Let Me roll it/Foxy Lady ending
8. Highway
9. The Long And Winding Road
10. I Want To Come Home (from the new film with DeNiro, making it's live premiere)
11. My Love
12. Blackbird
13. Here Today
14. Dance Tonight (shouts of "Ram On" was ignored)
15. And I Love Her (not played live since 1991)
16. Mrs Vanderbilt
17. Eleanor Rigby
18. Band On The Run
19. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da (never played live before!)
20. Sing The Changes
21. Back In The USSR
22. Something
23. I've Got A Feeling / jam ending
24. Paperback Writer / jam ending
25. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance
26. Let It Be
27. Live And Let Die
28. Hey Jude

First encore :

29. Day Tripper
30. Lady Madonna
31. Get Back

Second encore :

32. Yesterday
33. Helter Skelter
34. Sgt Pepper's Reprise / The End

Songs from the US tour that were not meant for European ears: Calico Skies, I Saw Her Standing There, I'm Down (that last one has NEVER been performed anywhere but in the USA ever! What's the deal, Paul?)
Tour merchandise had been produced and were for sale at the venue. Paul had even gone to the trouble of translating the Tour Programme to German, so it was available as "Good Evening Germany" at 15 Euros.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The John Lennon Interactive CD-Rom

In 1995, it may have looked like the invention of the CD-ROM would give us a new way to interact with our favourite artists. Hot on the heels of Bob Dylan's release of "Highway 61 Interactive", Yoko Ono made arrangements to release an interactive CD-ROM featuring John Lennon.
Yoko Ono wanted to bring an interactive Lennon/Beatles-experience to the starving Beatles-fans/computer-users.
According to the hype, there were several "rooms" to explore, including:

* the Beatles-room
* the John & Yoko-room
* and more...

A promotional clip for the CD-ROM was made, and it was distributed with several "free with this magazine" type CD-ROM's. As far as we know, the John Lennon Interactive CD-ROM never made it to the production stage before the idea was dropped, but here's the promotional clip for it.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles

Liddypool is the first major book to concentrate solely on The Beatles and Liverpool, covering their rise from childhood in the 1940s and obscurity to their triumphant civic reception at Liverpool Town Hall on 10th July 1964, when the city said goodbye to the Fab Four, their favorite sons, and shared with the world the most famous quartet in the universe. Bedford uses local knowledge and eyewitness testimony to chart every band member and name-change and lineup, from The Black Jacks to The Beatles: the story of the "Fab 27".
The author, David Bedford, is a life-long Beatles fan who grew up in the Dingle, Liverpool, at the bottom of the street where Ringo Starr was born; attended the same school as the famous drummer – though many years later – and has been involved as a parent and governor at Dovedale School, where John Lennon and George Harrison attended; he has lived by Penny Lane for 20 years. Bedford is also a feature writer for The British Beatles Fan Club since 2000. He has been interviewed on BBC Radio and several national British newspapers about his knowledge of the Beatles. He was most recently chosen by Paul McCartney’s production team to lead and direct the film crew around McCartney’s childhood haunts for the pre-show film on his Back in the World tour.
The author discusses his book on BBC Radio Merseyside with Spencer Leigh's "On The Beat" programmme.
BBC iPlayer
The online version will only be available for the next few days, so be sure to catch it while it's there!

- 336 full colour pages
- 800 images
- 108 Beatles photos
- Rare and unseen images

Beatles Advent Calendar

Here is the Beatles Christmas Calendar for 2009. Every day you get to open a new door until December 24th. Behind each door, there's either a YouTube video or something else. Some times it's even something extra! You must allow pop-up windows to make use of the calendar.
Bookmark this post, so you can return here each day for a new calendar surprise! Click on the pic to open the calendar page.

Friday, 27 November 2009

BBC Radio 2 Beatles programme

As part of Radio 2's Great British Songbook, Bob Harris investigates the songs the Beatles gave away. The fevered excitement that accompanied every Beatles release in the 1960s is well documented but less is known about the music written, though not necessarily recorded or released, by the Beatles during the same decade.

Whilst the Beatles were constantly in the charts, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were also supplying other artists with a number of hits...and the occasional miss! Bob Harris delves into these recordings by Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Mary Hopkin, The Foremost, Cilla Black, Jackie Lomax, Doris Troy and others. Along the way he uncovers some forgotten gems, such as the theme tune for a TV series starring Stanley Holloway; music from a Boulting Brothers film called The Family Way; and hears first hand from Sir Paul McCartney about being contacted by Frank Sinatra for a song. Paul also talks at length about his approach to writing in the 1960s; the songs given to Tommy Quickly, Peter and Gordon, Chris Barber and PJ Proby; as well as those written exclusively for Cilla Black.

Amongst other interviews recorded specially for the programme, Mary Hopkin talks about recording with McCartney in the studio; Johnny Gentle (who was backed by The Beatles on his 1960 tour) recalls Lennon's contribution to I've Just Fallen For Someone; Billy Hatton of The Fourmost remembers John and George's version of the group's debut hit Hello Little Girl; and Billy J. Kramer admits to the fatal error of turning down a song that would eventually become one of the most performed works in recorded history.

Norwegian edition of Bad To Me by Billy J Kramer

These interviews are accompanied by BBC archive material of George Harrison describing how Badge, the song he co-wrote for Cream, got its name. The programme also features new interviews with Sir George Martin, the producer of a number of these records, and Cilla Black, whose demo recording of Step Inside Love (featuring Paul on guitar) receives a rare outing on radio. We also hear George Harrison's early recorded performance of Sour Milk Sea, the song he gave to Jackie Lomax.
Broadcast: Saturday 28 Nov 2009 at 22:00 on BBC Radio 2. Duration: 60 minutes
Visit BBC Radio 2 on the web to listen online.

A little tale of two little boys

"A little tale of two little boys" (or the Lennon - McCartney vs McCartney - Lennon controversy) was an inspired article I wrote in 2002, following the uproar in Beatles fan circles regarding Paul McCartney's so-called "reversal" of the composers credits on his live album "Back in the US"/"Back in the World". Lots of otherwise intelligent people sided with the Yoko Ono version of the story here, which I suspected was because they didn't know the full history of the Lennon-McCartney - McCartney-Lennon credits. I was thinking about this article for a couple of days, and then I sat down and wrote the entire piece in one go in English, and published it online. I do believe this was the first time I wrote a complete article in English, and I did it because I was aiming it at the U.S.A. audience. Not long after that, I was approached both by the editor of the US "Daytrippin' Magazine" and the editor of "Beatlefan", who both wanted to print my article. Since "Daytrippin'" was the first to ask, thet's where it got printed. Now here's the article.

A Little Tale of Two Little Boys (or the Lennon - McCartney vs McCartney - Lennon controversy)

Once upon a time there was two little boys. Their names were John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Paul wrote songs. One of his songs was called "I lost my little girl". He was only 14 at the time. John was impressed and wanted to start writing songs, too. He was 16. So he wrote one called "Hello, little girl". Cheeky devil. Sometimes the two of them would assist each other in writing a song, and sometimes they would write complete songs together.

There was never a rule about it, like one wrote the lyrics and another the tune. More often it would be that one was stuck with where the melody should go after a verse and a chorus and the other would think of a "bridge" or a "middle 8", a different section. The boys wanted to be big time songwriters, along the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Leiber and Stoller or Goffin and King. It was a young world, musicwise. So they agreed that when they eventually released the songs they had written, they would put both their names on every song, be it a Paul-song, a John-song or a collaboration.

Paul once wrote a song he tentatively called "Seventeen". It went: "Well she was just seventeen, never been a beauty queen". John protested, "No no, you should go 'you know what I mean'!" Cheeky devil. So Paul followed his suggestion, finished the song and renamed it "I Saw Her Standing There". It was almost completely a Paul-song, even though John had contributed to half a line. They both agreed on this. Suddenly, when they were 20 and 22 their pop combo got a record contract and the writers got a publishing contract! Big time was lurking around the corner. So they released a single, "Love Me Do" (Lennon - McCartney). It struck the charts! And the next year they released another, "Please Please Me" (McCartney - Lennon). It became a no.1 hit! So the group (now known as 'The Beatles') released their first long-playing record, "Please Please Me (with Love Me Do and 12 other songs)". They didn't have too many songs written that they were please pleased enough with to record, so some of the songs they recorded was written by others.

This is how the songwriting credits were presented on this, their first LP: McCartney - Lennon. The LP was an instant hit and went to the top of the LP charts in Great Britain for weeks and weeks. The songs from their first single, Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You were now credited to "McCartney - Lennon", the names were now repositioned.

Next up, the boys released their third single, "From Me To You" (McCartney - Lennon).

The Beatles decide to take a break after this. They go on holiday. Three of them go to Santa Cruz, Tenerife, while John (the cheeky devil) decides to spend some time with the Beatles gay manager, Brian Epstein, in Barcelona, Spain.

After their holidays, the boys has an appointment with their manager. Paul turns up a bit late, and when he finally arrives, he is informed by John Lennon and Brian Epstein that they have decided that the songwriting credits should hereafter read "Lennon - McCartney" instead of "McCartney - Lennon". Cheeky devils. Paul is dismayed but gives in, seeing as he had turned up late and all that.

And so it came to pass that on all records released after this meeting, starting with the "She Loves You" - single, the credits were written in the new fashion, thus establishing the young songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney along the Rodgers and Hammerstein et al ones. Both boys continued writing songs alone and together, and still honored the mutual agreement they both had made so long ago about putting both their names on their songs.

Their band, The Beatles continued making singles, EP's and LP's for seven years and the songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney turned out hit after hit for the band to record. On one occasion, John Lennon wrote a song called "Give Peace A Chance", which he released with another band, "The Plastic Ono Band". But the Beatles were still together, so he credited the song as always to John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Eventually, the boys fell out with each other and the Beatles broke up. John started writing songs together with his wife, Yoko Ono, and Paul collaborated with his wife, Linda McCartney. John had a few hits, Paul had lots. After a period of time, John and Paul reconciled as friends, but never wrote more songs together. About 10 years after the break-up of the band, John Lennon was murdered on the street outside his new home in New York, by a deranged madman. The world mourned, especially those who had loved the Beatles and their music.
Seven years passed, and the world was experiencing a media change, the CD's were taking over as the new format to release records. So 14 of the Beatles LP's were re-released as CD's, starting with 'Please Please Me'. And once again, record buyers could witness what the early songwriting credit had been: McCartney-Lennon. The release of the Beatles on CD spawned another generation becoming aware of the incredible talent of the group and the composers.

After the death of John Lennon, his widow Yoko Ono became the keeper of his flame and had an equal say when business decisions concerning the Beatles were the issue, alongside Paul, George and Ringo Starr, the bands drummer. In matters concerning the songs that were credited to the Lennon and McCartney songwriting team, she had an equal say to that of Paul McCartney, albeit they both had little influence, seeing as most of their songs were now owned, incidentally, by Michael Jackson.

Ono continued to release records by John Lennon, some of them compilations of earlier releases, some of them containing hitherto unreleased material from his archives. One of the compilations was "Lennon- Legend", a sort of a 'greatest hits' kind of CD. On this CD however, the name of Paul McCartney was totally omitted from the songwriting credit for "Give Peace A Chance". A misprint? An oversight? Cheeky devil? We don't know. And we didn't hear any official complaints from Paul. Indeed, Paul released his own version of this song on one of his own CD-singles, taped at a concert in 1990 in John and Paul's hometown of Liverpool, as a tribute to John. It was a medley of John's songs, also comprising "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Help!", and the medley was collectively credited to "Lennon/McCartney".

Along comes 1994, and the Beatles company Apple has finally wrangled itself out of all the legal hassles with the record company EMI that had existed since the group's break-up 25 years earlier. "Time takes Time", to quote Ringo Starr. Apple is now free to start releasing "new" Beatles CD's comprising hitherto unreleased live, radio, demo and studio recordings by the group. The board members of Apple, Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko are once again finding themselves in business meetings, deciding what to do and what to release. In one of this meetings, Paul decides to address the question of songwriting credits. His idea is that they should read "Lennon/McCartney" on the songs the pair collaborated the most on, "Lennon/McCartney" on the songs that were actually John-songs, and "McCartney/Lennon" on the songs that are actually Paul-songs, like "I Saw Her Standing There". This is not new. Paul himself applied this method of thinking way back in 1976, when John was still alive, on his release of "Wings Over America" - a concert album that had a few songs on it from the Beatles era.

John didn't say a word about this. He didn't complain that Paul had "reversed" the songwriting credit. For John, this was OK. It's Paul's record, and Paul is entitled to write whatever he likes on the record cover, as long as they are both credited. John didn't threaten to sue. He didn't ask his lawyers to "see into it". John did nothing! Nada! Zip! And he used to be such a cheeky devil. Not trying to read John's mind about this, but this writer's theory is that John probably saw Paul's point. After all, John knew that the Beatlessongs on "Wings Over America" were mainly, or completely, Paul's own compositions.

Back to the Apple board meeting: Yoko ono declines. Product released by The Beatles should have the "Lennon/McCartney" songwriting credit where appropriate. And Paul loses. Again. Even though he met on time this time. Apple releases "The Beatles Live At The BBC"(1994), "Anthology 1"(1995), Anthology 2", "Anthology 3"(1996), "Yellow Submarine Songtrack"(1999) and "1"(2000) with the songwriting credit of "Lennon/McCartney".

On "Anthology 2", the first take of the very famous and hugely successful song "Yesterday" is going to be included. So far, the world had only heard the second take of this song, which was included on the LP "Help!" in the United Kingdom, and released as a single in many other countries. "Yesterday" was a song that came to Paul McCartney in a dream. He woke up and played it on the piano next to his bed, and then struggled for some time to come up with the now familiar lyrics. The song had always been a McCartney composition, and Paul was the only Beatle present on the record. This was one of the reasons why The Beatles didn't want this song to be released as a Beatles-single in the UK, it was too much of a McCartney solo effort. John Lennon had always agreed that this song was Paul's completely, still it was published as a "Lennon - McCartney" composition, Paul still honouring the mutual agreement that the two little boys had made so long ago. When Apple was about to release the song on "Anthology 2" however, he wanted to release it with the names of the composers reversed to "McCartney - Lennon". The version (take one) on "Anthology 2" is even more of a McCartney solo-effort than the familiar take two, because it doesn't have string overdubs, thus Paul is the only living human being present on the record, strumming his guitar, singing and humming. Paul's suggestion was vetoed by Yoko Ono, allegedly causing several already printed covers for the "Anthology 2" to be destroyed and new ones printed.

Along comes 2002 and Paul McCartney undertakes a massive and highly successful tour of the United States (leaving the sales figures for the simultaneously ongoing Rolling Stones-tour in the dust behind him). He decides to release an album from the tour and entitles it "Back in the U.S.". On this concert recording, there are quite a few songs from way back when Paul and John was a songwriting team. Paul does exactly the same as he already did in 1976 on "Wings Over America", he put his own name first. "Composed by Paul McCartney & John Lennon". But now John's not around anymore to not react to this. Yoko is around. She acts. She's asking her lawyers to "see into it". She instructs her spokesman Elliot Mintz to start a debate about it. She should have taken a history lesson first. This is a non-issue. A storm in the proverbial tea-cup.

In fact, one record featuring John did actually reverse the songwriting credit for "I Saw Her Standing There", the "McCartney - Lennon" - composition from the "Please Please Me" album. On a concert recording with Elton John, John introduces the song like this: "We're gonna do a number from an old estranged fiancee of mine, poor Paul". Cheeky devil. The recording was released as a single in 1981, after John's death and the credit looks like this:

When the song "Please Mister Postman" was first listed on the LP With The Beatles in 1963, the songwriting credits read: "Please Mister Postman (Holland)". When "With The Beatles" was re-released on the CD medium in 1987, the credit suddenly read: "Please Mister Postman (Dobbin-Garrett-Garma-Brianbert)". The latter presented a far more accurate description of who composed said song than the former, yet there was no nostalgic public outcry over this.
On the album "Beatles For Sale" (1964), the final song on the album is identified as "Kansas City (Leiber - Stoller)". This credit was the same throughout the sixties and the seventies. In the early eighties however, it was discovered that the Beatles actually performs a medley of two songs on this track, "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey". On all later pressings of the LP and on all CD's this has been corrected, and "Little Richard" Penniman's name has been added to the composer credits. Thus, the composer credits of these two songs now reflects the truth much better than they originally had.
This logic however, is simply not applied when it comes to the "Lennon - McCartney" songwriting partnership.

Now, a lot of Beatles-fans and followers have for once sided with Yoko on this issue. That the phrase "Lennon and McCartney" is a holy phrase and should not be touched. There are three reasons for this. Number one: "Lennon and McCartney" sounds better than "McCartney and Lennon". This is true, just like the names "John, Paul, George and Ringo" sounds a lot better than "George, John, Ringo and Paul". Number two: Nostalgia. We are used to hearing the words "Lennon and McCartney" like that, and it brings back memories, touches a nerve. Number three: It's alphabetically the correct order. L before M. Funny no one has brought this argument to attention concerning "George, John, Paul and Ringo".

Another argument that has been presented in the ongoing debate is this: Legend has it that early on before they were published anywhere, John and Paul used to write down the words and chords to their compositions in Paul's school exercisebook, starting every page with the signature "Another Lennon and McCartney original". This is how Paul himself remembers it in the "Anthology" book: "We wrote songs together. I wrote them down in an exercise book and above them it always said, 'Another Lennon/McCartney original.' Next page, 'Another Lennon/McCartney original.'" Unfortunately, this exercisebook was thrown into the dustbin one day in the sixties when Jane Asher (Paul's fiancee at the time) was housecleaning. So we can't check. This is a quote I found on the subject when searching the internet, it's by John Lennon from a 1980 interview, courtesy of the book "Lennon and McCartney" by Malcolm Doney (1982):

"Paul and I made a deal when we were fifteen," revealed Lennon in 1980. "There was never a legal deal between us, just a deal we made when we decided to write together that we put both our names on it, no matter what."

So, he doesn't mention who's on bass... er... I mean who comes first.

Let's face it: This whole debate isn't about right or wrong. In an ideal world Paul would have his way. It's what's just. But he has the odds against him. The deal that he and John made when they were little boys is so cute, that the public has decided to stick to it. And the phrase "Lennon and McCartney" is so familiar throughout the world that it has practically entered the english language dictionaries. And the media has a fun time juxtaposing the names of Abbott and Costello, poking fun at Paul's feeble attempt to put the record straight. Myths have a way of surviving correction. Even now, only die hard Beatles aficionados are convinced that the title of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was based on a drawing by a five year old boy. The rest of the world knows that it was LSD. Which will probably be carved into the stone of future history books. It's not easy being a legend in one's own lifetime, Sir Paul.


1956 (unknown date): Paul McCartney (14) writes his first song: "I lost my little girl". The same year he writes "When I'm 64" as an instrumental.

1957 (July 6): John Lennon and Paul McCartney meet. Lennon is impressed with Paul's abilities to tune a guitar, to remember all the words to Eddie Cochran's "20 Flight Rock" and the fact that he has composed songs of his own. Some time later, John asks Paul to join his skiffle group, the Quarrymen. John starts to compose songs of his own, "Hello Little Girl" being his first effort. John and Paul starts to help each other out with the songs, forming a partnership. The two young men agrees that whenever they have written a new song, both their names shall appear as composers. This remains a secret for years.

1962 (October 5): The Beatles release the "Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You" - single. Both songs are credited to "Lennon - McCartney". A misprint on the test-pressing, "Lennon - McArtney" has been corrected before the official release.

1963 (January 11): The Beatles release the "Please Please Me/Ask Me Why" - single. Both songs are credited to "McCartney - Lennon".

1963 (March 27): The Beatles release the "Please Please Me" album. All original songs are credited to "McCartney - Lennon", including Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You.

1963 (April 11): The Beatles release the "From Me To You/Thank You Girl" - single. Both songs are credited to "McCartney - Lennon".

1963 (April 27): John Lennon and Brian Epstein have a 12 day vacation in Spain. The other three Beatles spend their holidays in the Canary Island of Tenerife.

1963 (date unknown): Paul turns up late for a business meeting and is informed by John and Brian that the songwriting credit shall from now on be reversed. He protests, but is in minority.

1963 (August 23): The Beatles release the "She Loves You" - single. Both songs are credited to "Lennon - McCartney". It sells. In droves. It is to become the all-time best selling single of Great Britain, and holds that title for 14 years. (Eventually being outsold by a Paul McCartney - single in 1977, "Mull of Kintyre") Unfortunately for Paul, the success of 'She Loves You' and subsequent Beatles - releases make this constellation of their names a 'household word'.

1965 (February 4): the company MacLen (Music) Ltd. is formed to handle the business of licensing the rights of the Paul and John compositions to Northern Songs, and to collect 50% of the publishing royalties due to Lennon and McCartney from Northern Songs. The remaining 50% of the publishing revenue goes to Northern Songs, then still jointly owned by the Beatles, their manager and Dick James.

The ever thorough Germans struggled to keep track of the changing credits: This is from their album "And Now: The Beatles" (also released as "The Beatles Beat").

1970: The Beatles split up, and the songwriting partnership of John and Paul is no more. They start releasing new songs under their own names, or as "Paul and Linda McCartney" or "Lennon - Ono".

1976 (Dec 10): Paul McCartney releases the triple concert album "Wings Over America". 5 songs on this albums are credited to "McCartney/Lennon". John Lennon does not complain about this. Probably since these five songs were mainly Paul - compositions, anyway. And since it's not a "Beatles-release", Paul can write up their names in any way he choses to, so long as both names are listed.

1980 (unknown date): John Lennon reveals in an interview: "Paul and I made a deal when we were fifteen(sic). There was never a legal deal between us, just a deal we made when we decided to write together that we put both our names on it, no matter what."

1980 (Dec 8): John Lennon is killed by a deranged madman on the street outside his home in New York. His wife Yoko Ono is a horrified witness to the senseless crime. The world mourns. The spirit of the sixties dies.

1983 (unknown date): Michael Jackson buys Northern Songs.

1987 (various dates): The Beatles' recordings are released on compact discs. The "Please Please Me" album CD and the "Please Please Me" and "From Me To You" single-cd's are still credited as "McCartney - Lennon".

1990 - 1996: The 1927 Songwriting Act comes into play, regarding Yoko Ono's ownership of the "McCartney-Lennon" or "Lennon-McCartney" songs.
That act gives heirs of a songwriter all the rights to his or her music once the original copyrights run out. It doesn't matter if they've been sold to someone else. If the songwriter died during the copyright term, once the term runs out the new owner loses the rights and they revert back to the heirs. Because John Lennon died, it didn't matter that the rights to the songs were with Michael Jackson. Once the copyrights had to be renewed, Jackson lost Lennon's portion; they reverted to Yoko Ono and her son, Sean. The Beatles songs were under 28-year copyright protection. So songs in 1962 had to be renewed in 1990, and so on. When they were renewed, Lennon's ownership — which had been sold to Jackson — started going to Yoko. This meant that because John was dead, he was no longer under Jackson's agreement. McCartney, however, was. So half of his portion of royalties from the Beatles catalog goes to Jackson (or now, Sony/ATV Music Publishing).

1995 (unknown date): Apple is about to release The Beatles' "Anthology 2", on which there is a version of "Yesterday". Paul makes a request to Yoko Ono, who is now his partner in the MacLen (Music) Ltd. company (there are three shareholders and five shares, Paul and Yoko has two each and Apple holds the fifth share), to have McCartney's name put first on the song. Yoko agrees at first, but later calls back to reverse her decision.

2002 (Nov 10): Paul McCartney releases the double concert CD "Back in the U.S." in Japan. It is later released in other territories as well, including USA, but excluding Europe. The "Lennon-McCartney" - songs and the one "McCartney - Lennon" -song ("I Saw Her Standing There") on the album is credited like this: "Composed by Paul McCartney & John Lennon".

2002 (Nov 11): The Abbey Road Beatles fansite on the web reports about the composing credits, choosing not to comment.

2002 (Nov 12): UK Newspaper the Sun reports on the switching of credits on "Back In the U.S." in the article "So now it's McCartney & Lennon". Britain yawns.

2002 (Dec 7): Rolling reports that the switch of songwriting credits on Paul McCartney's recently released "Back in the U.S." CD has ignited a new battle with Yoko Ono. Ono lawyer Peter Shukat tells the paper, "What he did was absolutely inappropriate. John and Paul had an agreement. This is very petty." And Yoko Ono is quoted as saying, "John and Paul often disagreed on which songs were written by whom. If John was here now, they could fight it out, or maybe they could never agree. But the important point is that John has to be here. He is not." Though McCartney doesn't give a response to the paper, his spokesman, Geoff Baker tells Rolling Stone, John and Paul "had agreed in the Sixties that they could switch the names whenever they felt like it."

2002 (Dec 12) The story is picked up by Associated Press. In the following days, the news item is picked up by newspapers all over the world and the journalists have a field day, juxtaposing the names of Abbott and Costello etc, poking fun at Paul's futile attempt to set the record straight. Speculations are made in the press, that Yoko Ono is going to sue Paul for the "credit switch". No action is being taken by Yoko, other than having her lawyers "see into it".

2002 (Dec 18): Paul is forced to release a press statement:

"The truth is that this is much ado about nothing and there is no need for anybody to get their knickers in a twist. I'm quite happy with the situation and I'm not worried about what Yoko Ono is saying - as I am more excited about now, rather than then, having finished a great tour and winning the No.1 tour of the year. The people whose opinion matters to me have had their say."

"But I think it's time that I made it clear what the facts are over this long-running and rather silly dispute."

"John and I wrote many songs together but in an article in Playboy magazine John very accurately divided the credit for each of the Beatles songs between us - 'I wrote this; this one was Paul's' etc. - and when I ran the exercise for myself a few years back for Barry Miles's book 'Many Years From Now' I found that John and I were in complete agreement as to who had done what."

"At the very beginning, the first time this ever came up was at a meeting at Brian Epstein's office in Albemarle Street in London between Brian, John and myself. I arrived at the meeting to find that Brian and John had already independently decided the the billing would be 'songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney'."

"I said 'What about McCartney/Lennon?' They said 'We'll do this for now and we can change it around to be fair at any point in the future'.

"Been reassured by this, I let the matter go and our songs became known as Lennon/McCartney songs, a fact I was perfectly happy about.

"Many years later, when we were involved in 'The Beatles Anthology' project, instead of using the term Lennon/McCartney, the songs were been credited as 'written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney'. I made a request to Yoko Ono to have my name put first on the song 'Yesterday', which John had often admitted he had nothing whatsoever to do with. "

"I felt that after 30 years this would be a nice gesture and something that might be easy for Yoko to agree with. At first she said yes, but then she rang back a couple of hours later and reversed her decision."

"The fact is that it was not a decision that was hers to make, but because of her objection I was not allowed to have my name in front of John's."

"Many people say to me that it doesn't matter and in many ways I agree, but an incident that happened recently made me wonder whether it wouldn't be such a bad idea to have each song labelled accurately so that people would know which of the two composers had the bigger input in which song."

"Late one night, I was in an empty bar flicking through the bar pianist's music book when I came across 'Hey Jude written by John Lennon'. If there is an argument for 'correct labelling' I think this is probably the best one. Computers these days often allow certain space for labelling of any item and as we all know the end of the label often gets cut off a sentence or title. For instance, I recently went to see a film which the tickets described as 'Miss Congenia'."

"I personally don't see any harm in John's songs such as 'Strawberry Fields' and 'Help' being labelled 'by John Lennon and Paul McCartney' and my songs such as 'Let It Be' and 'Eleanor Rigby' being labelled 'by Paul McCartney and John Lennon'. It lays out the information so that no one is in any doubt as to who did what - and I have also pointed out to Yoko Ono that I'm happy for our co-written songs to have John's name in front of mine."

"I think it is fair and accurate for the songs that John declared were mine to carry my name first. This isn't anything I'm going to lose any sleep over, nor is it anything that will cause litigation, but it seems to be harmless to me after more than 30 years of it been the other way for people like Yoko who have benefitted, and who continues to benefit from, my past efforts to be a little generous and to not have a problem with this suggestion of how to simply map out for those who do not know who wrote which of the songs."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Beatles in 24 bit

It was recently brought to my attention that the new Apple USB Memory stick containing all the Beatles remasters offers a sonic advantage over their CD equivalents. The memory stick contains 44kHz FLAC files, but they are in 24 bit of superior audio quality in comparison to CDs (which are 44kHz/16bit, which is all a standard CD can handle).
This is the second time we have been offered music in such a high quality from The Beatles. The first one was when the DeLuxe version of the LOVE album contained a DVD with all the songs from the regular CD in 5.1 surround sound and 24 bit, both in DVD Audio as well as in the standard DVD format with two-channel stereo (48 kHz 16-bit PCM) and 5.1-channel surround (448 kbit/s Dolby Digital and 754 kbit/s DTS). Ringo Starr has also offered us higher quality when his 2005 album Choose Love was issued as either a 1 DVD + 1CD package or as a hybrid CD/DVD disc, where both sides were playable. The DVD contained the same songs in 24 bit.
Now The Beatles has done it again and released a higher than CD quality version of their albums, although in a far less accessible format. Due to the incompatibility of FLAC in a standard home audio set up, you're going to have to plug your computer in to your amplifier and either play the FLAC's in a FLAC compatible media player, or convert the FLAC's to WAV, which can be played by most media players.
Or, if you don't want to connect your computer to your audio system, you can convert the files to WAV and author either a DVD-Audio or a DVD-Video (with just a still picture) and use the WAV as the soundtrack. This can then be played back on your audio system, provided you already have your DVD player connected to it (and we all have, don't we?). I'm hoping someone out there will do this and make it available, so I can sample the difference!

Beatles Around the World

A Columbian Beatles album

List of countries who released Beatles records in the sixties:
Costa Rica
Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia at that time)
Dominican Republic
East Germany (DDR)
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa
South Korea
West Germany (BRD)
Zimbabwe (South Rhodesia at that time)

The list was put together by Polish Beatles collector Piotr Kaczmarczyk. You can find a work-in-progress of his Chronology at this Polish Beatles web site.

Backstage Auctions preview

Backstage auctions event "The Rockin' Holiday Auction" is on from December 6 - 13th, 2009, and this Thanksgiving Weekend the auction lots have been put on display for preview. Lots of memorabilia from many artists are being presented, but we're of course going to focus on the Beatles lots.
It seems that the company has acquired an entire collection from a Beatles fan, because here's stuff that you would expect when visiting a Beatles fanatic. Records, magazines, books and promotional items.
Aside from that, some professional photos from the solo years are also up for sale at the auction, and here are some of those.

Head on over to Backstage Auctions to feast your eyes on some of the stuff they have for sale. Perhaps you'll find something to bid on?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Beatles Box of 1981

The Beatles From Liverpool

Back in 1981, World Records, EMI's mail order division put together a boxed set of eight newly compiled Beatles albums.
The set was advertised vigourously in the national press from 5th November 1980 through into 1981. This means it was at the forefront right across the period of John's murder, and therefore sales must have been quite good, but as this box set was sold only by mail order the figures did not qualify for chart entry, and consequently are not publicly known.
All the songs throughout the eight albums are arranged chronologically, and the covers reflect this, in that each has a picture from the appropriate period on the front, and a well-written biography of the period by Hugh Marshall on the rear.
The Box itself is well designed looking like a wooden crate (see detail above), with plenty of information and sold for £29:75.
And Simon Sinclair who compiled these albums seems to have known what he was doing, because he has sprinkled the albums with some interesting variations from the regular versions of the songs.
Main track differences from the regular Beatles albums in the UK:

  • Across The Universe - (Version 2) produced by Phil Spector.
  • All My Loving - begins with five taps on Ringo's "hi-hat" cymbal.
  • All You Need Is Love - the mono version.
  • And I Love Her - contains six bars of acoustic guitar in the fadeout instead of the usual four.
  • Baby You're A Rich Man - the true stereo version, previously found just on the German Magical Mystery Tour LP.
  • The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - appears as it does on The Beatles ("white album"), minus the opening guitar obbligato.
  • The End/Her Majesty - the pause between the two songs lasts for only five seconds. On Abbey Road, the time between tracks is fifteen seconds.
  • Get Back - the album version, produced by Phil Spector.
  • I'm Only Sleeping - the extremely rare version with the slightly delayed guitar solo, previously found just on the U.S. stereo eight-track tape edition of "Yesterday" And Today.
  • I Am The Walrus - the composite version put together by Capitol Records engineers John Palladino and George Irwin for the U.S. commercial Rarities.
  • I Feel Fine - the true stereo version that begins with tapping drum sticks, whispering, coughing and Ringo closing his "hi-hat" cymbal.
  • Let It Be (Version 2) "reproduced for disc" by Phil Spector.
  • Love Me Do - (Version 1) the rare one with Ringo on drums.
  • Penny Lane - the composite version from the U.S. commercial Rarities.
  • She's A Woman - the true stereo version previously available just in Australia and in Singapore/Malaysia/Hong Kong.
  • Strawberry Fields Forever - the true stereo version.
  • Thank You Girl - the original mono version without John's extra harmonica fills.
  • This Boy - the mono version.

    Full track list
    Album 1
    Album 1
    Side One :
    Love Me Do - (2:19) - Original single version w/Ringo on drums
    P.S. I Love You - (2:02)
    I Saw Her Standing There - (2:50)
    Please Please Me - (2:00)
    Misery - (1:43)
    Do You Want To Know A Secret - (1:55)
    A Taste Of Honey - (2:02)
    Twist And Shout - (2:32)

    Side Two :
    From Me To You - (1:55)
    Thank You Girl - (2:01) - Original mono version without John's extra harmonica fills
    She Loves You - (2:18)
    It Won't Be Long - (2:11)
    Please Mr. Postman - (2:34)
    All My Loving - (2:04) - features a 6 tap hi hat intro
    Roll Over Beethoven - (2:44)
    Money (That's What I Want) - (2:47)

    Album 2
    Album 2
    Side Three :
    I Want To Hold Your Hand - (2:24)
    This Boy - (2:11) - mono version
    Can't Buy Me Love - (2:15)
    You Can't Do That - (2:33)
    A Hard Day's Night - (2:32)
    I Should Have Known Better - (2:42)
    If I Fell - (2:16)
    And I Love Her - (2:47) - final riff is repeated 6 times (instead of the normal 4)

    Side Four :
    Things We Said Today - (2:35)
    I'll Be Back - (2:22)
    Long Tall Sally - (1:58)
    I Call Your Name - (2:02)
    Matchbox - (1:37)
    Slow Down - (2:54)
    She's A Woman - (2:57) - True stereo version
    I Feel Fine - (2:19) - true stereo version that begins with tapping drum sticks, whispers etc.

    Album 3
    Album 3
    Side Five :
    Eight Days A Week - (2:43)
    No Reply - (2:11)
    I'm A Loser - (2:31)
    I'll Follow The Sun - (1:46)
    Mr. Moonlight - (2:35)
    Every Little Thing - (2:01)
    I Don't Want To Spoil The Party - (2:33)
    Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey - (2:37)

    Side Six :
    Ticket To Ride - (3:03)
    I'm Down - (2:30)
    Help! - (2:16)
    The Night Before - (2:33)
    You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - (2:08)
    I Need You - George Harrison - (2:28)
    Another Girl - (2:02)
    You're Going To Lose That Girl - (2:18)

    Album 4
    Album 4
    Side Seven :
    Yesterday - (2:04)
    Act Naturally - (2:27)
    Tell Me What You See - (2:35)
    It's Only Love - (1:53)
    You Like Me Too Much - (2:34)
    I've Just Seen A Face - (2:04)
    Day Tripper - (2:37) - Different stereo mix (also found on "Yesterday & Today")
    We Can Work It Out - (2:10)

    Side Eight :
    Michelle - (2:40)
    Drive My Car - (2:25)
    Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - (2:00)
    You Won't See Me - (3:19)
    Nowhere Man - (2:40)
    Girl - (2:26)
    I'm Looking Through You - (2:20)
    In My Life - (2:23)

    Album 5
    Album 5
    Side Nine :
    Paperback Writer - (2:25) - Remixed stereo version (Also found on the "Hey Jude" album)
    Rain - (2:59)
    Here, There And Everywhere - (2:29)
    Taxman - George Harrison - (2:36)
    I'm Only Sleeping - (2:58) - Extremely rare version with the slightly delayed guitar solo
    Good Day Sunshine - (2:08)
    Yellow Submarine - (2:40)

    Side Ten :
    Eleanor Rigby - (2:11)
    And Your Bird Can Sing - (2:02)
    For No One - (2:03)
    Doctor Robert - (2:14)
    Got To Get You Into My Life - (2:27)
    Penny Lane - (3:00) - Composite version taken from the US rarities album
    Strawberry Fields Forever - (4:05) - True stereo version

    Album 6
    Album 6
    Side Eleven :
    Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - (1:59)
    With A Little Help From My Friends - (2:46)
    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - (3:25)
    Fixing A Hole - (2:35)
    She's Leaving Home - (3:24)
    Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite - (2:36)
    A Day In The Life - (5:03)

    Side Twelve :
    When I'm Sixty-Four - (2:38)
    Lovely Rita - (2:43)
    All You Need Is Love - (3:57) - original mono version
    Baby, You're A Rich Man - (3:07) - the true stereo version
    Magical Mystery Tour - (2:48)
    Your Mother Should Know - (2:33)
    The Fool On The Hill - (3:00)
    I Am The Walrus - (4:35) - composite version also found on the US "Rarities" album

    Album 7
    Album 7
    Side Thirteen :
    Hello Goodbye - (3:24)
    Lady Madonna - (2:17)
    Hey Jude - (7:11)
    Revolution - (3:22)
    Back In The U.S.S.R. - (2:45)
    Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - (3:10)
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps - (4:46)

    Side Fourteen :
    The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - (3:05) - Without guitar intro
    Happiness Is A Warm Gun - (2:47)
    Martha My Dear - (2:28)
    I'm So Tired - (2:01)
    Piggies - George Harrison - (2:04)
    Don't Pass Me By - Richard Starkey - (3:52)
    Julia - (2:57)
    All Together Now - (2:08)

    Album 8
    Album 8
    Side Fifteen :
    Get Back - (3:09) - Album version, produced by Phil Spector
    Don't Let Me Down - (3:34)
    The Ballad Of John And Yoko - (3:51)
    Across The Universe - (3:51) - Version 2, produced by George Martin
    For You Blue - (2:33)
    Two Of Us - (3:33)
    The Long And Winding Road - (3:40)
    Let It Be - (4:01)

    Side Sixteen :
    Come Together - (4:16)
    Something - (2:59)
    Maxwell's Silver Hammer - (3:24)
    Octopus's Garden - (2:49)
    Here Comes The Sun - (3:04)
    Because - (2:45)
    Golden Slumbers - (1:31)
    Carry That Weight - (1:37)
    The End - (2:04)
    Her Majesty - (0:23)

    Japan poster
    The box was available in several countries. In Japan, a poster (depicted above) was included in the box.
    The album box set was deleted in the UK in 1982, only to reappear in July 1987 as an eight cassette box, called "The Last Chance Edition".

    Due to good sales, the boxed set is fairly common, and shouldn't command too high a price, although some people will always have the nerve, or the excuse of ignorance.