Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pop Auction results

Christie's of New York had a Pop culture auction on June 23d, and this fully autographed giant Sgt Pepper poster went under the hammer for a mere $52.500.
Other prices realized were: An early black and white promo card, signed by The Beatles in blue ink on the verso, $3 750, a photographic Christmas card, reading From Me - To You, Wishing you a Merry Christmas signed by all four Beatles in blue and black ink, also $3 750, a superb copy of the rare "Gold Parlophone" first pressing of the Beatles UK debut album Please Please Me in mono at $2 500, the "Incredible!" Yesterday And Today poster with the butcher photo at $1 875, and a pair of green, plastic Silhouette prescription glasses, worn by John Lennon. The glasses were accompanied by an image of Lennon wearing the glasses at Elton John's suite at the Sherry Netherland during the mid-1970s. They were estimated to go for €3-5 000 but went for $8 125.
Christie's Auction Catalogue

Monday, 29 June 2009

Book Review: The Beatles and Ireland

Book Review: The Beatles and Ireland
by Michael Lynch and Damian Smyth
230 pages
Publisher: The Collins Press
Published October 1st,2008
ISBN-10: 1905172788
ISBN-13: 978-1905172788
The weather in Norway has been terrific as of late, and this week-end provided me with not only a terrible sunburn (now there's a Farrah Fawcett - Wings connection), but was also an opportunity to catch up on my reading.
There are good reasons why the book I reviewed earlier was called “The Beatles in Scotland”, while this one bears the title “The Beatles and Ireland”. While the Beatles played 22 concerts in Scotland at the height of Beatlemania, as well as having their first tour there as The Silver Beatles, Ireland on the other hand was only visited by the band once for a concert. On the 7th of November 1963, The Beatles gave their only concert in the Adelphi Cinema,Dublin (yes, Bob Geldof attended). That's talking about the Irish Republic, of course. Ireland is, as we know, divided in two, Eire or the Republic of Ireland became an independent country in 1922, but the British government refused the six northernmost counties to become part of the new republic. These counties then became Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kindom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly referred to as the UK). Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and in the whole of Northern Ireland there are today about 1,6 million inhabitants. The Eire constitution of 1937 has a united Ireland as a goal, but this demand has not been as strong of late, possibly because the Republic has experienced much economic growth for the past decade, something that can not be said about Northern Ireland.
The Beatles also gave two concerts in Northern Ireland when they played in Belfast the day after Dublin, and gave a return performance the year after, on November 2nd, 1964. These concerts are also chronicled in this book. After that, with no more concerts to write about, the bulk of the book explores other connections between Ireland and The Beatles.

Belfast, 1964

And it all starts with family ties. Both Lennon, McCartney and Harrison has Irish roots, the strongest of which belong to George, whose Irish mother can trace her family all the way back to when the Normans left France for Ireland in the thirteenth century. While we read about Lennon's visits to his family in Edinburgh in "Beatles in Scotland", this time it's George who takes time out during the Dublin visit to seek out his relatives. His mother also came over to Dublin on this occasion.
Apart from this, we could sum up the rest of the book by mentioning that both John and Paul wrote songs about Ireland in 1972 (“Luck of The Irish” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from John, “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” from Paul), that John bought the island of Dorinish in 1967 and had it until he died, and that Paul McCartney married Heather Mills in Ireland. The songs are only discussed in brief, but those other subjects are scrutinized thoroughly in the book. We have never before read such a chronology of the island Dorinish before, and we are almost flies on the wall at the McCartney-Mills-wedding, as this event is told by a hired Irish camera man. McCartney and Mills were keen to document their wedding thoroughly, so they hired a movie team with unlimited access to the couple for several days before and at the wedding and reception. The resulting wedding video has never been showed to the public, it was the couple's private momento - just a little bit better filmed and edited than most people's wedding videos! One particularly interesting piece of information from the proceedings was the fact that Paul's daughter Stella specifically asked the camera crew not to include her in the video. This may be evidence that she was opposed to the wedding, as has been rumoured in the press for years. We also get to know that Ringo Starr, who held a speech at the wedding, split from the reception after a very short while.
Lennon had Alistair Taylor buy him the island of Dorinish in 1967, when he planned to make it his private retreat, together with Cynthia and Julian. The marriage broke up, and it was John and Yoko who paid the island a visit after a while. When they chose to live in New York City, John gave a group of hippies permission to start a colony there, but they left after a couple of years. With the island abandoned, Lennon still had a romantic dream of returning, perhaps to spend his autumn years there with Yoko. This dream seems to be portrayed in the “(Just Like) Starting Over”-video that Yoko commisioned years later.

That dream burst at the slaying of John, and Yoko eventually sold the island to the Gavin family in 1985. The family originally planned to make use of the island as gracing fields, but it was instead left as a wild life reservation.

We also get to hear about the easter holidays in 1964, when George and his new girlfriend Pattie took John and Cynthia to the Dromoland Castle Hotel in Co Clare, Ireland. After a pleasant first day there, they woke up the next morning besieged by journalists and photographers. George and John agreed to a photo session, but their holidays had to end and the girls were smuggled out of the hotel in a laundry basket. At this time, George wanted to keep the lid on his new relationship.

Also after The Beatles split up, few solo concerts have reached Ireland, but Ringo held a concert at “The Point” in Dublin in 1998 and Paul held a concert in the Royal Dublin Showgrounds during his “Back in the world” tour of 2003. Both are of course presented here, with track listings and concert reviews.

Then there's a chapter about The Beatles Ireland fan club, founded in 1993, and Irish Beatles cover band The Quarrymen (later to become The Classic Beatles after John Lennon's original The Quarrymen started playing together again).

One amusing chapter is about Irishman Richard Hall who on his way to a family wedding in 1968 decides to drop by Weybridge and say hello to John Lennon! His cheekiness is rewarded when John and Julian not only gives them a tour around the house, but also a great parting gift: Lennon's Ivor Novello statuette, an award for “She’s Leaving Home”!
Presenting Irishmen with a reference to The Beatles almost becomes a parody when we get to know the serviceman who serviced Allan Williams' Austin J4 van, the car that brought The Beatles to Hamburg!
The text of the book ends on page 114, but is filled out with six appendixes:
Appendix 1: An Irish Beatles “Who-is-who”, Listing people from Ireland with a Beatles connection alphabetically, with info of varying length about each one. The most interesting ones here are perhaps ex-Wings member Henry McCulloch, and Gene Mahon who designed the back cover of Sgt Pepper and the Apple logo for the record labels. Other well-known Irish Beatle people are Wilfred Brambell, Freda Kelly. Paddy Delaney, Eamonn Andrews, Spud Murphy, Geoff Rhind and Pattie Boyd!
Appendix 2: “Day Trippers” deals with visits to Ireland from Beatles and people from the Beatles' history. This is where Paul and Heather visit Barretstown in 2004, Julia Baird lived in Belfast for a while, Donovan brings George to Kilkullen in 1971, and George visits Ron Wood in 2000, Cynthia Lennon lived in Ireland in the seventies, Paul and Linda drives around Ireland looking for Percy Thrillington in 1971, and Yoko Ono as well as John's sons Sean og Julian have also visited the country.
Appendix 3 is about the best known Beatles landmarks in Ireland, but disappointingly the Adelphi Cinema in Dublin, where they played in 1963 has been knocked down. Just one wall is still standing, now part of a parking house. Similarly, the Ritz Cinema in Belfast was torn down, and has been replaced by a hotel. Fortunately, King’s Hall in Belfast is still with us, the venue for The Beatles' 1964 concert.
Appendix 4 is of interest to many, we know. It's the Irish Hit Charts, with Beatles and solo-Beatles releases featured. Let's just mention a few of the more interesting chart facts: “She Loves You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” only went to 2nd place in Ireland, and the three 1990's singles “Baby It’s You”, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” went to twelfth, fifth and sixth in the charts. We're also noticing that Paul McCartneys “Fine Line” og “Jenny Wren” placed at positions 53 og 60, far from hits, but still, in the charts! John's “Imagine”-single made a comeback at position no. 3 in 1999, and George's “My Sweet Lord” went to number five in 2002. Ringo had a few good hits during 1971-1974, but nothing after that. When it comes to album charts, they weren't compiled in Ireland until the 1990's. Thus, the album chart lists starts with “Live At The BBC” who went ninth in 1994, and the “Anthology” collections all ended up on sixth. “Sgt. Pepper” made a surprise appearance on the album lists in 1997 despite there not being an anniversary edition, it still goes to a respectable eighteenth place in the Top 40. “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” peaks at a disappointing 22nd place, but “1” bringes Beatles to the toppermost in 2001. “Let It Be…Naked” is in at seven, and “Love” peaked at a good 3d place in the Irish album charts. Paul McCartney's album hits in Ireland starts with “Flaming Pie” at 21. and ends with “Memory Almost Full” at 30. Highest placement was “Wingspan” which ended up at 10. Lennon has two collections in the charts with “Lennon Legend” on 5th, while “Working Class Hero” only managed 21st as best placement. George is only represented together with the Traveling Wilburys on the album charts, with the 2007 boxed set which actually made it to the top and stayed in the Top 40 for 13 weeks.
Appendix 5 is “Beatle Interviews”, starting with a transcription of the Beatles chat on Granada TV's “Scene at 6:30” on the 20th of December 1963. A bit less interesting is a transcription of a radio interview with Allan Williams and Bob Wooler from 1984, but a good, long Ringo interview from 1998 and a lackluster McCartney interview from 2003 saves the chapter.
Appendix 6 is called “Irish Broadcasting and the Beatles” and deals with what the title says, Irish radio- and TV-shows with and about the Beatles and ex-Beatles with a short description of each show.
The book is illustrated throughout, with photos, partly rare ones, and documents and concert tickets, all rendered in black and white. It ends with something every good reference book needs, an index. We at WogBlog fully support these national Beatles book, every country should have one!

Neil Young & Paul McCartney A Day In The Life

Neil Young & Paul McCartney A Day In The Life Live From Hyde Park 27th June 2009 (720P HD). It was rumoured for a while that Paul McCartney was to be the main attraction at Saturdays "Hard Rock Calling" concert in Hyde Park, London, and duly reported in this blog. A few months ago, however, the main event was officially announced, and it was Neil Young. So naturally, we scrapped our ticket-buying plans (after all, Neil played in Oslo before London). This we lived to regret, when we found out that Paul had entered the stage and participated in Neil's rendition of "A Day In The Life". Oh, well.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson and The Beatles

Michael Jackson meets George Harrison (with BBC DJ David 'Kid' Jensen as middle man)

Michael Jackson passed away somewhat unexpectedly last night. In this article, we examine the bonds between the Beatles and Michael Jackson.
Jackson was initially a member of the popular family group The Jackson 5, who had the distinction of becoming the second animated saturday morning cartoon series based on living persons. Unlike the Beatles' series, the Jacksons were themselves participants in the creation. Michael, enamoured by being involved in fairy tales, was said to have given a lot of creative input. The series ran for two seasons, from September 11, 1971 until September 1, 1973. In the '80s, as Michael Jackson's popularity soared, this series was resurrected by many cable and network TV stations. In the nineties the series was dusted off again for airings on MTV and VH1.

During their six-year Motown tenure, The Jackson 5 were one of the biggest pop-music phenomena of the seventies, and the band served as the launching pad for the solo careers of their lead singers Jermaine and Michael. They were the first black teen idols to appeal equally to white audiences. In 1971, Motown began a spin-off solo career for Michael, whose first single, "Got to Be There," was a Top 5 hit. Michael also sang the title track for the 1972 motion picture "Ben", another smash hit.
The first Beatles angle came with Michael's 1979 solo album "Off The Wall", where he covered Paul McCartney's song "Girlfriend", a Wings album track from "London Town". "Off The Wall" featured the hit single "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and reached number three on the Billboard 200 albums charts.
Paul McCartney gave Michael's version of "Girlfriend" favourable mentions in interviews, and this may have lead to the phonecall from Jackson to McCartney that started their relationship as duetting composers. In 1981, Jackson and McCartney recorded "Say Say Say" and "The Man", but the two songs didn't make the track list of Paul's 1982 album "Tug of War", and were held over for eventual release on his 1983-album, "Pipes of Peace". In April 1982, Paul and Michael recorded the Jackson composition "The Girl Is Mine" together, and it was this song that ended up as their first released duet, when it became the A-side of a Michael Jackson single on October 18, 1982, one month prior to the release of Michael's new album, "Thriller", where the song was also featured. "The Girl Is Mine" achieved success in the music charts. Aside from topping the R&B singles chart, the single peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number eight in the UK. By 1985, it had sold 1.3 million copies, and was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of at least two million units.

The album "Thriller" was to become the stuff that dreams are made of. With the release of the second single "Billie Jean", the album topped the charts in many countries. At its peak, the album was selling a million copies a week worldwide. In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the best-selling album of all time.
A year after the release of "Thriller", the other two collaborations, "Say Say Say" and "The Man" were included on Paul McCartney's "Pipes of Peace" album, and "Say Say Say" was also released as a single. "Say Say Say" was a number one hit in the US and peaked at number two in the UK. Number one in Canada, Finland, Italy, Norway and Sweden, the single peaked within the top ten of Austria and New Zealand.

Due probably to the success of these duets, preparations were made to release their third collaboration, "The Man" as another single from the "Pipes of Peace" album, and it is rumoured that even a promotional video was made. The plans were eventually scrapped.
Following the success of "Thriller" and as the money started pouring in, McCartney adviced his new friend to invest in the music publishing business. McCartney runs a successful music publishing empire himself, his company MPL handles the music publishing rights for many well known compositions, including the musical "The Music Man" and all the Buddy Holly songs, among others. "I'm gonna buy your songs, Paul" was Jackson's cheeky reply, and he successfully managed to do just that. From Wikipedia: In one discussion, McCartney told Jackson about the millions of dollars he had made from music catalogs; he was earning approximately $40 million a year from other people's songs. Jackson then began a business career buying, selling and distributing publishing rights to music from numerous artists. Shortly afterwards, Northern Songs—a music catalog holding thousands of songs, including The Beatles' back catalog—was put up for sale.
Jackson took immediate interest in the catalog but was warned that he would face strong competition. Excited, he skipped around saying, "I don't care. I want those songs. Get me those songs Branca (his attorney)". Branca then contacted the attorney of McCartney, who clarified that his client was not interested in bidding; "It's too pricey". After Jackson had started negotiations, McCartney changed his mind and tried to persuade Yoko Ono to join him in a joint bid, she declined, so he pulled out. Jackson eventually beat the rest of the competition in negotiations that lasted 10 months, purchasing the catalog for $47.5 million. When McCartney found out he said, "I think it's dodgy to do things like that. To be someone's friend and then buy the rug they're standing on".
The two never collaborated anymore after that.

It turned out Ono had actually encouraged Jackson to buy the shares, telling the press after the sale, "I just feel like a friend has them." Yoko Ono and her son Sean were friends with Jackson at this point in time, and Sean was very into Jackson's music and style. At one point he even sported the "one glove" fashion at school, and he participated in Jackson's 1988 movie Moonwalker. One Lennon-McCartney composition, "Come Together" was also performed by Jackson in the movie and on the soundtrack album.
In 1995, Jackson merged his catalogue with Sony Music's publishing, for a reported $95 million, establishing Sony/ATV Music Publishing, in which he retained half-ownership. In April 2006 a package was proposed whereby, Jackson would borrow $300 million and reduce the interest rate payable on a loan he had, while giving Sony the future option to buy half of Jackson's stake in their jointly-owned publishing company (leaving Jackson with a 25% stake). Jackson agreed to a Sony-backed refinancing deal, although the finalised details were not made public.
In music publishing, copyright law runs for 28 years, then expires. The law states that if a writer sells his songs to another interest during his lifetime, and he dies before the right expires, his portion of the rights revert to his heirs. If the writer is still alive, he is out of luck, as far as getting the rights back. They are renewed by whoever bought them.
This means that when the rights to Beatles songs started expiring in 1990, Jackson owned 50% of Lennon/McCartney tunes, McCartney owned 25%, and Lennon’s heirs (Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon) owned 25%. As the rights on each song expired, Lennon’s heirs got back the half (25%) of the copyright that had been purchased from Lennon. That means that Lennon’s heirs currently own 50% of all Lennon/McCartney tunes, Jackson's estate (with his merged company) now own 25% and McCartney owns 25%.
The George Harrison compositions handled by Northern Songs are:
Blue Jay Way
I Need You
I Want to Tell You
If I Needed Someone
Its All Too Much
Love You To
Only a Northern Song
Think for Yourself
Within You Without You
You Like Me Too Much
as well as the songs Harrison composed for the "Wonderwall" movie, released on his "Wonderwall Music" album. Unlike Lennon, Harrison died after the rights expired, so the rights to his songs remained with Jackson/Sony.
On January 6th, spinner.com reported a story from UK newspaper the Daily Mirror that "Michael Jackson intended to leave Paul McCartney the Beatles' back catalog in his will". Apparantly, the Daily Mirror quotes a Jackson insider as saying, "Michael told his lawyers he was sad he no longer talks to Sir Paul and said he wanted to make things right." This story has not been officially confirmed. As Jackson now has passed away, this issue now gains new interest. Paul McCartney has issued the following statement on his website:
"It’s so sad and shocking. I feel privileged to have hung out and worked with Michael. He was a massively talented boy man with a gentle soul. His music will be remembered forever and my memories of our time together will be happy ones.
I send my deepest sympathy to his mother and the whole family and to his countless fans all around the world."

Michael Jackson Posters

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Beatles Collectable Cards

UK Collectable cards

During the sixties, there was the collectable cards craze, and I suppose there are still those who indulge in this kind of thing. Some cards included a chewing gum, some didn't. The american made collectors cards are fairly well documented, but cards in different series were released worldwide by local companies jumping on the Beatles bandwagon.

Yellow Submarine Cards

In Sweden, the cards were and still are called "Filmisar" or "filmies", because most pictures were of famous stars of the screen. Here in Norway, local cards were never made, but sometimes we could find swedish "filmies" included in a bag of sweets. Finnish cards were also commonly available. UK cards were for sale as packs of 2 cards and a chewing gum. 

Swedish collectable cards

As far as I know, international collectors cards have never been documented in a world spanning "cardography".   Take a look at different collectors cards on these pages.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

McCartney listed in Boston

Jambase are listing two new concerts for Paul McCartney, both in the Boston Red Sox home base, Fenway Park. The proposed dates are Wednesday, August 5th and Thursday, August 6th. We assume that the official word will eventually pop up over at the official Red Sox site.
Updated itiniary for what is beginning to look like a small tour:
4. Sat Radio City New York, NY
17. Fri Coachella Indio, CA
19. Sun The New Joint Las Vegas, NV
May - June: Break
11. Sat Halifax Commons Halifax, NS
17. Fri Citi Field Flushing, NY
18. Sat Citi Field Flushing, NY
21. Tue Citi Field Flushing, NY
01. Sat FedEx Field Landover, MD
05. Wed Fenway Park Boston, MA
06. Thu Fenway Park Boston, MA
15. Sat Piedmont Park Conservatory Atlanta, GA

Monday, 22 June 2009

Isn't It A Pity

This earliest demo of "Isn't It A Pity" is otherwise only available for people who download the full "Let It Roll - Songs of George Harrison" album from iTunes. Isn't it a pity?

Paul McCartney does Washington

LANDOVER, MD -- Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Paul McCartney will perform at FedExField - the home of the Washington Redskins – on Saturday, August 1.

Tickets go on sale Friday, June 26 at 10:00 A.M. ET and are available at all Ticketmaster locations, by calling 800-551-SEAT, and online at LiveNation.com. Tickets will be available at the FedExField Box Office on June 26 only. This concert is rain or shine.

This concert event at FedExField marks the latest in a series of landmark performances that link the beloved Beatle with Washington D.C., beginning with The Beatles' first concert on American soil in 1964 at the Washington Coliseum, and continuing with McCartney's critically acclaimed appearances in the District over the past forty-five years.

"This will be a great concert by one of the world's most-loved performers," said Daniel M. Snyder, Owner of the Washington Redskins and FedExField. "I've been a fan of Paul's all my life, so it's going to be a memorable night for us all."

The FedExField concert on August 1 will feature classics from McCartney's extensive catalog, including Beatles, Wings and solo career hits as well as selections from his most recent album Electric Arguments, released under his alias The Fireman.

Additionally, the FedExField show will be among McCartney's first U.S. appearances since his recent headlining stand at the first night of this year's Coachella festival and the same weekend's record-breaking one-off opening of the new Joint in Las Vegas.

The FedExField concert will also come on the heels of Paul McCartney's three sold-out shows at the new Citi Field in New York, with the public snapping up tickets minutes after they went on sale.

McCartney gave his first ever American performance at the Washington Coliseum on February 11, 1964. Joined by the Caravelles, Tommy Rose, and the Chiffons, the Fab Four played to a capacity crowd of over 8,000 people, heralding the arrival of Beatlemania in the United States.

The show on August 1 at FedExField marks McCartney's first performance in Washington D.C. since October 8, 2005. Dave McKenna raved about the show in his review for the Washington Post, stating "folks came to hear McCartney sing, in a voice still strong enough to leave listeners awestruck."
Ticket link

Thursday, 18 June 2009

New studio album from George Harrison?

The List reports that Olivia Harrison is contempleting a new release from the estate of George Harrison. A source said: "George half-finished loads of songs and often just forgot about them. There is probably an album's worth of material." Recently, Olivia revealed she wanted to do something with her husband's incomplete songs. She said: "There are lots of tracks. Some are closer to completion than others and with those I'd ask for help." The List believes Jeff Lynne will be called upon to produce a finished album, possibly together with George's son Dhani. WogBlog has heard that Dhani presented the idea of a boxed set of George's unreleased songs to EMI/Parlophone a couple of years ago, but they rejected it, mirroring Warner Bros' rejection of the initial version of George's "Somewhere in England" album. Maybe Parlophone is testing the waters with the new compilation CD "Let It Roll - Songs of George Harrison"?

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Beatles:Rockband Song list

This is the rumoured full list of songs to be released on the new The Beatles: Rockband computer game:
I Saw Her Standing There
Please Please Me
Twist and Shout
All My Loving
I Wanna Be Your Man
She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand
A Hard Day’s Night
And I Love Her
Can’t Buy Me Love
I’m A Loser
Baby’s in Black
I Feel Fine
Ticket to Ride
I’ve Just Seen a Face
I’m Down
Drive My Car
In My Life
If I Needed Someone
Day Tripper
She Said She Said
And Your Bird Can Sing
Paperback Writer
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Good Morning Good Morning
I Am the Walrus
Hello Goodbye
Back in the USSR
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
Helter Skelter
Hey Bulldog
Come Together
Octopus’s Garden
Here Comes the Sun
Don’t Let Me Down
Dig a Pony
I’ve Got a Feeling
Get Back

In addition, All You Need Is Love will be available for download exclusively for the XBox360 version of the game. Full albums will also be made available for download to the gamers, starting with Abbey Road

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Postcard from Berlin

We're having a wonderful time here on the European mainland. The weather's all over the place and so are we! Here are some new and better photos of the Beatles remastered boxed sets we found. Be good! And Peace :)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Monday, 8 June 2009

Past Masters Remastered

It's "ring out the old, ring in the new" for the Past Masters set. Back in 1988 they were two individual discs with an ugly-looking Beatles-logo, but they've nailed it this time around:
Now that's a lot better! Some people seems to have been fooled to order both the above CD and Past Masters Vol. 2, we notice over at the amazon store. No need to! The new Past Masters is a double disc, containing both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of the 1988 release, but in remastered form. Besides, some songs that appeared in mono on the previous Past Masters Vol 1 are in stereo on the new Past Masters.
The mono boxed set will include a "Mono Masters" album, equivalent to the Past Masters discs. No art has been released for it, but they'll probably use the cover for Past Masters Vol. 2 as inspiration for that one, is my bet.

Track Listing for the new Past Masters set:

Disc 1:

1. Love Me Do (Single Version)
2. From Me To You (now in stereo)
3. Thank You Girl (now in stereo)
4. She Loves You
5. I'll Get You
6. I Want To Hold Your Hand
7. This Boy
8. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand (I Want To Hold Your Hand)
9. Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You)
10. Long Tall Sally
11. I Call Your Name
12. Slow Down
13. Matchbox
14. I Feel Fine
15. She's a Woman
16. Bad Boy
17. Yes It Is
18. I'm Down

Disc 2:

1. Day Tripper
2. We Can Work It Out
3. Paperback Writer
4. Rain
5. Lady Madonna
6. The Inner Light
7. Hey Jude
8. Revolution
9. Get Back
10. Don't Let Me Down
11. The Ballad Of John And Yoko
12. Old Brown Shoe
13. Across The Universe
14. Let It Be
15. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
The list price is $24.98 in the USA but you may pre-order it from Amazon at $19.99. In the UK, the price is £13.98.
pre-order from Amazon (UK)
pre-order from Amazon (USA)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Remastered boxed sets - first look



These are cell phone pictures from the new Beatlefest catalog

HMV in Japan has the new remastered stereo and mono boxed sets listed on their website for pre-ordering, but without images.
The pre-order prices roughly converts to:
Mono Box........ USD 357,00
Stereo Box...... USD 311,00

What appears to be a difference in sizes of the boxes could be explained by the description on HMV Japan. They refer to the stereo box as "Long Card Box With Bonus Dvd", while the mono box is just described as "Beatles in Mono".
A mock-up I made based on the above two pictures, for size comparison

The stereo box contains the 12 original UK albums plus "Past Masters" and "Magical Mystery Tour", and includes a DVD with mini-documentaries about each album. The audio for "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" were remixed for stereo by George Martin in 1987, and it's these mixes that will be either utilized or mimicked on these discs.
The mono box gathers together all of The Beatles recordings which were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 albums with their original mono mixes plus 2 more discs of mono masters (covering similar ground to the tracks on "Past Masters") As a bonus the discs for "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" also include the original 1965 stereo mixes.
HMV Japan Mono box
HMV Japan Stereo (Long Card Box With Bonus Dvd)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

McCartney's Archival project news

Some news coming from the archive work that is currently being done on the McCartney studio sessions future 4CD boxed set. First off, some interesting facts the archivists have discovered while reviewing songs for the three earlier discs.
Work has been done on three unreleased tracks from the Park Gates sessions late 198O with Wings: "Ecology of the world", "Rock'n'roll Rodeo " and "Good Morning Song" : these tracks were considered for disc 3, but dropped.
The medley from Give My Regards To Broadstreet ("Yesterday", "Wanderlust" and "Here, There & Everywhere") originally included "Fool on the Hill". It contains a new horns arrangement.
The South Strawberry sessions late 1981 with Stevie Wonder for "Ebony & Ivory" overdubs includes a couple of great jams for "Long and Winding Road " and "Lady Madonna".
Some overdubs were made at Montserrat for the "Ode to a Koala Bear" track.
The first working title for Get It was "Gotta Get It".
A lot of jams were recorded at Montserrat including one with Carl Perkins, Stevie Wonder, Paul and Denny Laine (just before he left), and one Denny Laine song was recorded at Montserrat.
"Any Younger" and "Unbeliavable Experience" were originally part of the "Sweetest Little Show" three-tracks medley with a length of more than 8 minutes. Recording started in March 1981 at Air Studios. During the same sessions, Paul recorded a special song for Lee Eastman for his birthday.

News about disc 4:
For disc four, still in research state, the following tracks have been chosen so far;
- Man We Was Lonely (duet with Johnny Cash)
- Is it Raining in London (with Hamish Stuart)
- Return to Pepperland
- So like Candy (with Elvis Costello)
- Sweet Home Country Girl
- Cello in The Ruins
- Winter Comes

Paul would like to re-record some songs for the project, so only 22 songs from the archives could be on disc 4 plus 3 new recordings ("Tomorrow", "Waterfalls" and the last song that Linda wrote are under consideration, with a duet with James on the last), but no recordings have been made yet.
15 unknown tracks are to be added on the listing later on as the project continues.

Meanwhile, I spent some time yesterday with the great Wings guitar player Henry McCullough, who did a gig in Oslo. Although a pleasant man, he could shed no new light on the ongoing archival project, even though he probably plays on a number of the 1972-1973 era songs. He explained that McCartney's people did not need to be in touch with him about releasing some of the old stuff, because he was paid for his session work back then, whether it was released or not.

McCartney's Citi Field Concert Poster

Paul McCartney at Citi Field 2009
Meanwhile, we hear from Yawkey Way that Paul McCartney will play two dates at Fenway Park, Boston in August. This is unconfirmed at the moment.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Book review: The Beatles in Scotland

The Beatles in Scotland

I finally had the chance to read this book, which was published last fall.

Book: The Beatles in Scotland
by: Ken McNab
Publisher: Polygon – Birlinn Ltd (UK)
ISBN: 978-146-971129
Appx. 328 pages

Writing a book about the Beatles and the Scottish connections is a relatively thankful job, because the connections are plentyful.
One Beatle was born in Scotland (Stuart) and another spent his summer holidays there (John), a third has a farm there (Paul), The Beatles started their professional career there (Johnny Gentle & The Silver Beetles), and during the Beatlemania years (1963-1965) the Beatles played 22 concerts in Scotland. And when you also elect to write about scotsmen with one or another Beatles connection, you can also cover the rooftop concert as reported by a scottish journalist, and John Lennon’s last concert performance in Madison Square Garden, witnessed by Elton John’s scottish guitar player. So the scope of this book is a broad one.
But it all starts with John Lennon’s Scotland connections, most of all the small village of Durness, where his Edinburgh aunt had a cottage. This is where the young John Lennon spent several summer holidays, after first having travelled by train to Edinburgh and visited his aunt and his cousin, Stan Parks. Together with his cousin, the road went on to Durness. The holidays made a mark in Lennon’s mind, and he kept in touch with his cousin for as long as he lived. The chapter also explores the unfortunate pilgrim voyage John had in 1969 together with Yoko, Kyoko and Julian to show them Durness, a trip which lead to a traffic accident, which injured both Lennon and Ono, and had them hospitalised at Golspie. Meanwhile, the rest of the Beatles started recording the Abbey Road album.
Next up on the agenda is the very first tour: John, Paul, George, Stuart and Tommy Moore with Johnny Gentle as the main attraction. The quintet backed up Johnny as well as performing their own set. The next chapter is dedicated to the Scottish Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe. His whole story is told, in fact we start it with the birth of his father, in 1905.
The next chapter is dedicated to the concerts, starting with January 2nd, 1963 and the band has it’s classic final line-up. In the same chapter, we are also treated to their appearance at the scottish TV show Round Up. The chapters takes us from one scottish concert to another, all in chronological order, until the very last performance on December 3rd 1965 in Glasgow.
At the ABC in Edinburgh, October 19th, 1964
The next chapter is also about the concerts, but this time as seen through the eyes of fans attending the shows. This is a very good read. The eye-witness reports from the Johnny Gentle tour tells of a different story than Gentle himself has written. Where Gentle recalls great receptions for the Beatles and their music, there’s only polite applauds from the eye-witnesses. So I guess you could suspect that hindsight has coloured Gentle’s memory quite a bit.
The scottish photographers get the next chapter, and they are Harry Benson (the pillow fight in Paris), Iain MacMillan (the Abbey Road cover) and Tom Murray (Mad Day Out). Unfortunately, there are no rare outtakes presented here, just the regular photos, and they are in black and white. But the stories the lensmen are telling are all entertaining.
Then there’s a chapter about fellow musicians and friends from Scotland. Donovan, Lulu, Davey Johnstone, Hamish Stuart, Jack Bruce, Andy White (!), the Cavern bouncer Wallace Booth (the Beatles wanted him as road manager, but he suggested Mal Evans), the bands The Marmalade and (White) Trash, Fionna Duncan, Lonnie Donegan, Ivor (Buster Bloodvessel) Cutler, the football player Gordon Smith, the racing driver Jackie Stewart, Gordon Waller from Peter & Gordon, the composers Gallagher & Lyle, Al Stewart, Jimmy McCullough, Campbeltown Pipe Band, all get their stories told, and most of the ones that are still alive have been interviewed for the book. And the good stories among their anecdotes are many. The final chapter is about Mull of Kintyre and Paul McCartney’s farm in that area.

The book has also some old photos we can’t remember to have seen before, from concerts, TV appearances and backstage. There’s one interesting photo missing though, we only get to hear about it: When The Beatles first meet up with Johnny Gentle, a newspaper photographer is present. A photo is taken with George holding his arms around a local girl, and the photo makes the next day’s local newspaper. As we know, there’s only one surviving photo of a Beatle from the Johnny Gentle tour, and that’s one with George on stage with Johnny. If the author had managed to dig up the newspaper photo, we would have had twice as many.

McNab has a few mistakes throughout the book, logical errors. For instance, the 15 year old Richard Park can’t have owned both Please Please Me and With The Beatles when he saw Beatles in concert in Kircaldy on the 6th of October 1963, because the latter album had yet to be released. That Lennon elected to take a short trip back home to Liverpool because of a cancelled concert in Scotland on the 2nd of January 1963 may be, but he didn’t visit both Cynthia and his seven month old son Julian, because Julian had yet to be born – he was born on the 8th of April 1963. And for Lennon to manage this quick round trip to Liverpool, the cancelled concert in Keith must have been on the 2nd, and not as stated in the book, the 3rd., because they had a concert in Elgin on the 3rd.
The A Hard Day’s Night movie was not released at Christmas 1964, it premiered on the 6th of July.
McNab also steps into the classic “Love Me Do”-trap, by claiming that Ringo is the one on drums on the album, and (the Scotsman) Andy White on the single – as we know, Ringo has said the same thing, but us nerds know that the opposite is true. Of course, the fact that the single master disappeared shortly after the release, forcing them to use the album master for subsequent re-releases of the single is a source of confusion for the ones involved. If you’re still confused, just listen to the song. If you can hear a tambourine, then you know that’s Ringo playing it, and Andy’s on the drums. If you can’t hear a tambourine, Ringo is on the drums.
McNab also confuses his readers by saying that it’s Paul’s old english sheepdog Martha who appears together with McCartney on the cover of the “Paul is Live”-album, that dog had left this world by that time. As far as I know, the dog on that cover is “Arrow”, a descendent of old Martha.

But apart from these distractions, I can warmly recommend this book, which isn’t giving us the big picture, but focuses on the little stories.

Listen to an interview with the author

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Beatles:RockBand - Opening Sequence

Prior to the appearance of Olivia, Yoko, Ringo and Paul, Microsoft presented the opening sequence of the Beatles:RockBand game on the big screen and there was also a Harmonix band present to play along with one of the melodies. This is a 10+ minute long video capturing that part of the press conference. We feature this as a link, because our column width does not support the width of the actual video.
Song montage

Paul and Ringo at E3

Paul and Ringo made a surprise appearance at last night's Microsoft Press conference at the E3 Game show, introducing The Beatles:RockBand for the Xbox 360.
That version will feature "All You Need Is Love" as an exclusive downloadable extra, and the profits of that song will be donated to "Doctors Without Borders".

It was also revealed that the Beatles:RockBand game will feature 45 songs, and that complete albums will be available for download as extra material, starting with "Abbey Road". A list of ten of the songs included with the game was also revealed:
* I Saw Her Standing There
* I Want To Hold Your Hand
* I Feel Fine
* Taxman
* Day Tripper
* Back In The USSR
* I Am The Walrus
* Octopus‘s Garden
* Here Comes The Sun
* Get Back
All the songs will be in their new, remastered versions.

Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison were also present at the press conference. Here's the first official trailer for the game:

McCartney to play in New York again

Macca closed down Shea Stadium as a concert venue last year. This year he will baptise Citi Field.
TicketNews.com reports that Paul McCartney will perform the very first music show at Shea Stadium's replacement: Citi Field.
The site says that “various reliable touring industry executives” have the ex-Beatle baptizing the sterling new stadium as a music venue with shows on July 17th and 18th, with a possible third performance added on the 21st.
Last fall, McCartney appeared at the final concert held at the now demolished Shea, as a guest star for Billy Joel’s series of shows there.
The new concerts will take place during a break in the Mets’ schedule, between July 12th and 27th.
USA Today reports: McCartney will play the first concerts at Citi Field, the new New York Mets ballpark that replaced storied Shea Stadium, where The Beatles made history 44 years ago. Tickets for the July 17-18 concerts go on sale Monday.
USA Today caught up with McCartney backstage at the E3 Beatles:RockBand presentation. The artist is quoted to have said "I'm really looking forward to it, it feels right. It was great to open Shea, and if anyone had to close it, I wanted to be there. So now I got the offer to open Citi Field, and it's like, oh, yeah, got to do it. That's my venue."
Asked about any surprise songs from the 1965 Shea Stadium concert, McCartney said "There are a couple I'm flirting with, but I don't decide this far out. Nobody heard us then, including us! As years go by, I think, 'This is when I thought I'd retire,' but I'm having too much fun," he says. "When you say to me 'Citi Field,' I go oooh inside. I'm hungry for that."
"If you like cheesecake, it doesn't matter how many you've had. You're still going to have the next one with relish."
Before Citi Field, McCartney is scheduled to perform on July 11th, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Tickets to the Citi Field gigs here or by phone: 718-507-TIXX. The ticket sale starts Monday June 15th.