Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Beatles items on auction

Just got the new catalogue from "Gotta Have Rock And Roll" in the mail, with some outstanding and unique auction lots.
How about these ones:
  • John Lennon Fingerprinted and Signed Applicant Card for Permanent Residence in the U.S.A.
  • Paul McCartney "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Honey Pie" Handwritten Working Lyrics
  • Original Diana Dors Wax Bust from the Sgt. Pepper Album
  • Beatles Signed "Please Please Me" Album
  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney Earliest Known Pair of Signatures, 1958
  • John Lennon Handwritten "The National Health Cow" Poem Draft
  • Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe Circa 1960/61 Handwritten Set List and Lyrics (!)
  • John Lennon’s Hand Annotated Polaroid Of Sean
  • John Lennon Owned and Worn "Working Class Hero" T-Shirt
  • Paul McCartney Owned and Used Leather Vanity Travel Case and scarf
  • Stuart Sutcliffe Original Watercolor Painting
  • Beatles "Abbey Road" Original Cover Art

Check out the official auction site to preview the items. The auction is held on October 6-15. About that McCartney/Sutcliffe collaboration, this is a  handwritten set list and lyrics in pencil. The writing is on a sheet of white paper. The top portion of the page is a set list along with the respective key for each song, handwritten by Stuart Sutcliffe. The bottom half of the page are lyrics for the Gene Vincent song, "Piece of Mind" handwritten by Paul McCartney.
Some unique snapshots are also part of the auction

Norwegian Wood 122

Out now, and in norwegian only, our quarterly Beatles fanzine.
Highlights from the contents:
- review of John Lennon - Rare and Unseen
- upcoming releases
- upcoming events
- article on the Beatles' first US tour
- concert reviews: McCartney in Hyde Park, London, Starr in Westbury NY and both at Radio City, NYC
- Lennon's solo catalogue - an autobiography?
- Lennon's final voyage - Bermuda
- A reader has additions to our list of Beatles and related Parlophone "R" releases
- Paul and Linda in "the Simpsons"
- strange facts about the Beatles
88 pages, all in all.

Collaborations with Ravi

Of all expensive Beatles and solo Beatles releases this autumn, the boxed set of collaborations between George Harrison and the Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar is the most exotic one, and probably also the one item that is going to attract the fewest buyers. Then again, it's a limited edition, so they are probably not anticipating a huge demand.
The lavish boxed set includes a book
Starved George Harrison fans are probably going to shell out, and also devotees of Ravi Shankar and his music. The third group who are going to buy are the Beatles collectors who has to have everything, and too whom money is of no importance. If you order through, you get a free embroidered Dark Horse gift bag as a bonus - imagine that! $69.99 is the asking price, a little less than the most expensive of the new Band On The Run configurations. I really can't see who is going to pay $26.99 for the same set as a digital bundle. The set becomes available on October 19th.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Beatles foreign movie posters

I'm actually always hesitant of using the word "foreign" on the internet, because the internet is an international place, beyond country boundaries, but I needed a catchy title for this post, so there you go. It had been a while since I browsed the Allposters site, so I took a look this morning. They've got posters from the Beatles' films "A Hard Day's Night", "Help!", "Yellow Submarine" and "Let It Be", both from the USA and other countries, so I chose to highlight some of those from various countries, starting with "A Hard Day's Night" from France.
Next up is the french/dutch Yellow Submarine
It has been pointed out to me that this is an italian poster, and Allposter tells us that this is an authentic original movie poster, not a reprint or reproduction. Original movie posters are printed in limited quantities and are intended for display in movie theaters. While these posters may show some signs of wear, they are considered collectable and generally hold or increase their value over time.
And finally, "Let It Be" from Argentina.
You should also browse their general Beatles section, there are some nice photos there. Here are the lads posing around a statue on the balcony of Hotel George V in Paris. Another one from that session was used as the front picture for the norwegian pressing of the "A Hard Day's Night" single. This is one of several french Beatles photos on the Allposters site.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Beatles UK Tours

Martin Creasy, author of Legends on Tour: The Pop Package Tours of the 1960s is currently working on a book that deals solely on the subject of the Beatles' UK Tours, entitled Beatlemania: The Beatles UK Tours. The book will be published by Omnibus Press on April 4th, 2011. Here's the description: "Between 1963 and 1965 The Beatles undertook six amazing UK tours and along the way met many fans whose memories of these encounters tell the real story of what actually happened when the Fab Four hit the road. It was loud, chaotic and as exciting as anything Britain had ever seen. It was Beatlemania!"
On his website, Creasy says: "I'm now heavily into the next project - an in-depth look at the six full UK tours of The Beatles between the beginning of 1963 and the end of 1965."
"There have been many books on The Beatles, but this one will include memories from musicians who toured with them, journalists who covered the shows, police who were on duty, staff from the venues where they played and hotels where they stayed... and perhaps best of all... the fans who were there."

John Lennon at war

An interesting article about John Lennon in the Calgary Herald, written by Ivor Davies, features one piece of information that I can't remember having heard before. Davies claims that John Lennon took an uncredited role in Richard Attenborough's movie musical about the First World War, Oh! What a Lovely War. Lennon played an anonymous soldier opposite Laurence Olivier. The film is not to be confused with the 1967 Richard Lester movie How I Won the War.
The article also tells of several meetings Davies had with Lennon, and you can read the full article here.
I'm still worried that there may be a mixup of some sorts here. As you know, John Lennon and George Harrison saw Victor Spinetti in the musical ""Oh! What A Lovely War" in 1963, and subsequently recruited the actor for their first film adventure, "A Hard Day's Night".  Attenborough's movie adaption of "Oh! What A Lovely War" is from 1969 (it was shot in the Brighton, East Sussex area in the summer of 1968), and the film was released on DVD in 2006.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Ram sessions in New York

In 2004, CBS staff engineer Tim Geelan talked about recording and mixing the rhythm tracks for "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" in Studio B at CBS Studios on East 52nd Street in Manhattan: "Working on ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ was one of the highlights of my career," says Geelan, whose long list of credits includes engineering for Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Billy Cobham, The Dictators, Blue Öyster Cult and many others. "Paul was a great producer: thorough, businesslike and loose at the same time. They were very comfortable sessions that followed a pattern. We'd start working at nine or 10 in the morning. Paul would show Denny Seiwell, the drummer [who would later become an original member of Wings], and David Spinozza and Hugh McCracken, the guitar players who split the date, the song we'd be tracking that day. After rehearsing for several hours, we'd cut a version of the tune and then have a lunch break. After lunch, we'd listen to what we had and then record another couple of takes if it was necessary."
"We had a 3M MM-1000 16-track recorder and a homemade console at CBS. Studio B was a big room, about 40 or 50 feet long and 50 feet wide with a 40-foot-high ceiling. We didn't worry about bleeding at all. The setup was real tight and everyone had headsets. Paul was absolutely the best. I was impressed with his musicianship and command of the studio."
Dixon Van Winkle remembers the Ram sessions well. A young staff member at A&R Recording in New York City at the time, Van Winkle had been on the job for about six months when McCartney and his wife, Linda, showed up after scheduling conflicts forced them out of CBS. "I was a setup man in those days," says Van Winkle. "Phil Ramone was the king of large orchestral recordings in New York at the time. He didn't have that many guys around who had gone to music school and could read scores, which I was able to do. So I had some value to Phil, who asked me to work with him on the Ram sessions."

A&R had four studios in Manhattan; A1 was located in the penthouse at 799 7th Ave. "A1 was one of those magical New York rooms — arguably the best of them all," Van Winkle says. "Originally a CBS studio, it was large enough to handle a full orchestra and it sounded great. We had a warm, fat vacuum tube Altec console that had been custom-built with handmade sidecars and four Altec 604E speakers across the front room, each powered by a 75-watt McIntosh tube amplifier.

"Paul came over to A&R to track the orchestra, vocals and some other overdubs with Phil. But Phil had a scheduling conflict one day and Paul asked me to take over. Things went well, and then Paul asked me if I'd finish the record with him."

"Security was tight, and each day Paul and Linda would come up the back elevator with their kids and a playpen, which we set up in the front of the control room. I was a part-time nanny since Mary would often be crawling around the console and sitting on my lap! The interplay between Paul and Linda was sweet, especially when they were on-mic. Linda actually came up with some parts on her own — the entire backing vocals on ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ consists of the two of them — but when she needed a hand, Paul was great with her. We used a combination of U87s — if we were working on something smooth — and Shure SM57s for the rockier stuff throughout the album. Paul didn't care what mic you put on him, although he did like the U87. He's such a great singer. I know that the vocals they cut over at CBS are Paul singing live right off the floor with the rhythm section into an Electro-Voice RE20, which was a relatively new mic at the time. They recorded the telephone section [of the song] over at CBS, as well. That character voice was also Paul, with a simple highpass filter engaged to give the telephone effect."

Although Van Winkle did not record the guitar parts that McCracken contributed to "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," he remembers the guitarist well. "Everybody wanted Hugh on their sessions. He wasn't the best reader in town, but the parts he came up with were fantastic. I've heard lots of great guitar players over the years, and I'd say Hugh was in the top five." Still an active player who can be heard on the current Alicia Keys record and other tracks, McCracken has distinct memories of working with McCartney.

"My answering service got a call asking me if I'd like to audition for Ram, but I was in Florida working on an Aretha Franklin record and didn't pick up the message until I got back into town," says McCracken. "I was disappointed but happy that David had gotten the job." Spinozza, who has gone on to enjoy a long and successful career in the music production business and in Broadway pits, now plays in the Hairspray orchestra. After working on "3 Legs" and several other Ram songs, Spinozza and McCartney parted ways. As McCracken recalls, his phone rang one afternoon and Linda McCartney was on the line.

"Linda asked me to hang on while she put Paul on the phone. Paul simply asked me if I could be in the studio the following morning at nine o'clock. I canceled the sessions I had and made the date." After recording several tracks under McCartney's direct supervision, it came time to lay down basics for "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." "This song represented a breakthrough in our musical relationship," McCracken says. "Paul is a genius. He sees and hears everything he wants, and would give specific instructions to me and the drummer. But he didn't know what he wanted the guitar part to be like on this song. I asked him to trust me and he did. After I came up with the parts, he was very pleased. For the rest of the record, Paul let me try things out before making any suggestions."

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" stems from the British musical theater and has the feel of an overture, with multiple sections that are independent of one another. "That's right," agrees Van Winkle, "and there were some issues we had to deal with as a result. For example, if you listen carefully, you'll hear Paul gurgling right before the telephone voice comes in. That sound was his imitation of a British telephone ring. He was supposed to give the engineer a cue when he wanted the lowpass filter dropped in for the Admiral Halsey character. The engineer made the switch too early and the filter came in on one of the gurgles! Paul didn't care, though. To him, it was all about the feel of the music."

The chart, written by George Martin, also posed some engineering challenges. "Everybody knows that George Martin loved experimenting as much as any of The Beatles did," Van Winkle notes. "If you listen carefully to the trumpet solo that leads into the ‘Hands across the water’ section — which Marvin Stamm, who's still an active player in town, played — you'll hear Paul whistling. Underneath, there's a sound effect written out by George Martin for four French horns; it's a flutter-tongue, fast-fingering atonal little thing in the horns' low range.

"Our usual way of recording horns at A&R was to put a pair of mics either in the front or distant rear of the players. That was traditional at the time, based on the fact that the French horn is a reflective instrument and you want to capture it with some space. But that's not what Paul was used to. He wanted us to stick mics right up in the bell. Although the U87 was the mic we used on horns back then, it would have been too big, so we probably used AKG C-60s instead. At any rate, none of us could figure out the purpose of the chart at that section, but when the mix was completed, it all worked perfectly.

"We did have a little problem mixing some of the horn pads in other sections of the song because they often sat directly in the vocal range. We pulled them down and processed them, as I remember, and you can hardly tell what they are at some points."

Recording the rain and thunder effects that help glue the first two sections together would be easy today, but it was no small feat in 1971. "I remember Paul telling me that Armin Steiner went out to the edge of a cliff to record that storm, and that it was Paul's idea to add the effect at that point in the track."

Very few artists in 1971 had the clout to release a single comprising 12 discrete sections, but McCartney's artistic vision was so solidly commercial that no record execs would cross him. Still, Van Winkle was unprepared for the success of "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey": "Despite Paul's charm and ability to pull off anything, I was surprised when the record went so big."

The first single from the Ram sessions, "Another Day," never made it onto the album. It was Van Winkle who decided that "Another Day" should be the first release: "We were sitting in Studio A2 one day listening to the takes and Paul asked me to pick the single. I had definite feelings about the record and was in love with ‘Another Day.’ Paul said, ‘Okay. "Another Day" it is.’ I mixed the track and David Crawford cut about 100 copies of it in a back room at A&R for the radio stations. The next day when I heard it on the air, I realized it was a disaster! We got carried away with the bass part, and when it hit the radio station's compressor, it pumped like crazy! I learned that lesson real quick! But we never remixed the song, and Paul never said anything about it."
Based on Ram's success and the relationship they developed, McCartney asked Van Winkle to work with him on Red Rose Speedway, which was also recorded at A&R.

McCracken eventually worked in the studio with all of the former Beatles, and considers himself fortunate to have had the experience, even though his work with John Lennon brought him face to face with tragedy: "I first worked with John on ‘And So This Is Christmas.’ Like Paul, he was extremely intelligent and aware of what he wanted in the studio. But you'd never find two more diametrically opposed personalities. I was working on Double Fantasy at the time of his death. How long did it take me to recover from that night? I still haven't recovered."
Source: Classic Tracks

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Beatles are no. 1 on Billboard again

The Beatles are chart toppers yet again thanks to the release of the 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows starring the band, which debuted this week at #1 on Billboard’s DVD music video chart. This is not the first time these Ed Sullivan shows have been out, but it's the first time they get this wide distribution. Hooray for The Beatles!

But let's take a closer look at this release. Are they any better than before they were "remastered"? Here's a review by "Beatle Bob":

"Sofa Entertainment has re-released and remastered all four complete Beatles Ed Sullivan shows on DVD—this time offering bonus material not included on the first issue in 2003, consisting of 13 minutes of rare moments from “The Ed Sullivan Show,” including Ed’s interview with the Beatles from London for the release of A Hard Day’s Night. These historic shows are presented in a 5.1 Dolby mix for the first time as well as the original mono mix. The image is presented in 4:3 Pillar Boxed."

"This newest issue is problematic: The February 9, 1964 show still looks like it’s from a 3rd generation copy of the 2” master tape. The remastering team also readjusted the contrast giving it a washed out appearance. It still suffers from ghosting images. The mono audio also suffers for the Beatles’ introductory set. It plays too low; not matching their 2nd set. I had to adjust the volume. Very odd. Quality control seems to have lapsed. After the Beatles first set, when Fred Kaps appears, the video improves; it suddenly appears 2 generations better with much better contrast on the grey scale. The mono soundtrack improves too, and stays consistent for the rest of the discs. Though the mono soundtrack feels a bit flat and lacks punch. Almost like a slight touch of limiting was involved."

"The 2nd disc suffers from contrast issues but not as noticeably as the premier show. The mono audio is consistent throughout this disc, but on the first issue of the DVD, Ringo’s cymbals are brighter for the 1965 show. The audio for this show feels livelier on the first issue. My system does not include a 5.1 so I can’t comment on what they were able to accomplish working from a mono videotape soundtrack."

"The bonus material is disappointing. I’m glad we have Ed’s interview with the Beatles (from London) to promote A Hard Day’s Night, but why couldn’t they include outtake from the movie singing 'You Can’t Do That,' that was broadcast, as well as the Miami rehearsal that circulates in collector’s circles? A missed opportunity! I can understand not including the promo videos such as 'Paperback Writer,' 'Rain' and others - that were shown over the years on Ed’s show - being Apple owns them. I’m sure Sofa Entertainment knows this meant getting more lawyers involved. The rest of the bonus material contains moments that Ed, mainly mentions the Beatles by name in some sort of fashion or via a sketch."

"A disappointing release that’s not worth double dipping. If you want to have the Ed Sullivan Shows that look much better and sound better in comparison, I suggest searching out the Mirror Spock release, The Ed Sullivan Shows. No contrast issues; the video image is also cleaner. The mono audio comes to life with a punch and a kick lacking from both Sofa releases. You’d think with Sofa having access to the master tapes they could present a package that is superior to a bootleg."

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Red and Blue t-shirts and postcards

The official Beatles stores are currently enticing customers by offering something exclusive, red and blue t-shirts to go with the red and blue albums due out this autumn. And some postcards. Back in 1993, when these albums made their CD debut, promotional items like these were only available as giveaways to record store employees, journalists and people who knew someone who knew someone.  The most exiting promotional item was the press pack depicted below, which included a VHS video cassette with the following Beatles music videos: I Want To Hold Your Hand, Help!, Hello Goodbye and Fool On The Hill.

The full contents of the 1993 press pack:
- a red and blue Beatles presentation box
- two pages (one sheet) media information from Capitol Records. Inc. dated August 15, 1993, "The Beatles Greatest Hits on CD for the first time!"
- nine pages (five sheets) media information, Capitol Records, Inc. The Beatles Red & Blue CD George Martin interview with Mark Lewisohn"
- ten pages (five sheets) "Words From Apple", Apple Corps Ltd. "The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970" written by Mark Lewisohn
- The Beatles "Video Clips" VHS tape in a custom red & blue slip case, the VHS tape is labeled: "Beatles Press Presentation Red & Blue"
There's currently one for sale over at ebay for a thousand dollars...
Last time EMI/Apple released these albums, they were promoted with TV ads. We'd be surprised if this doesn't happen again. We're also hoping for promo music videos to appear on TV.
We told you earlier that there will be a boxed set available, which holds both the red and blue album CD's. This project seems to have been delayed, Amazon in the UK has a release date of November 29th for this item, says it will be available from November 22nd and only throughout the year, after which it will be deleted. The individual red and blue CD releases are still slated for October 18th over at Amazon, but still no sign of vinyl LP releases.
The Beatles official Stores:

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

McCartney Online Library

HP and McCartney Productions Limited (MPL) today announced an agreement to digitize and deliver the library of legendary musician Paul McCartney via a private cloud.

McCartney has one of the most comprehensive libraries of any artist, much of which has never been viewed before. His library includes images, artwork, paintings, film and videos, as well as masters of some of the most popular songs ever written.

Under the agreement, HP will work closely with MPL to digitize the material and design and build a state-of-the-art content management system. McCartney’s library will then be delivered through a private cloud environment. Portions of the library will be made available to fans so they can have a personal and unparalleled glimpse into McCartney’s work. Some bits of the library will be made available, whereas other sections will be private.
The content management system will let McCartney decide how much of the collection he ultimately wants to share. Once the content becomes accessible, McCartney will likely end up with a hybrid private-public cloud system that can accommodate spikes in traffic.
The collection includes some items that have not been seen before by the public. For instance, McCartney had cameras follow him while he attended events such as Live Aid, and that footage has not previously been released.

"I’ve always been interested in creative ideas and new ways of reaching people, so this is a really exciting initiative for me," said McCartney. "I hope it will allow people who might be interested to access parts of our archives they might otherwise not be able to. I’m looking forward to working with HP on this project."

The agreement marks the first time that HP has collaborated with an artist in this way. In addition to changing how fans and artists will interact, the digitization of McCartney’s library will help preserve the history of one of the world’s most loved artists for future generations. Between 30 and 100 HP employees will work on the project.

"Paul McCartney has always been a trendsetter in the music industry and HP has been at the forefront of technology innovation," said Tom Hogan, executive vice president, Sales, Marketing and Strategy, Enterprise Business, HP. "We are proud that he turned to HP as a trusted partner to help him preserve his legacy and set a new vision for the industry."

WogBlog is hoping that stuff like the Bruce McMouse Show will be included in the 'open' section of the library. We expect a new edition of Stuart Bell's irregular column "For whom the Bell tells" to tell us more.
Official HP press release

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

(Just Like) Starting Over stripped down

Preview: The opening track from the new "stripped down" version of Double Fantasy.
And a bonus: The Band on The Run variations, including the new double LP.

Apple Records politics

Apple Records has announced a 17 discs boxed set of the upcoming Apple Remasters, a box containing all the new releases and which also includes a couple of bonus discs which aren't available outside the box.
This is good news for the old-fashioned collector who aren't regarding "download only" bonus tracks as really existant. The people who aren't satisfied unless there's something on the shelf. Because the content of those two bonus discs is actually available for everyone, it's just that it isn't available on a physical medium (unless you simply burn the CD's from your digital downloads).
Here is the complete track list of the two-CD bonus set in the Apple Box Set:

Disc 1:

1. Dear Angie (Mono mix)
2. Think About the Good Times (Previously unreleased mono mix)
3. No Escaping Your Love (Mono mix)
4. Arthur (Previously unreleased remix)
5. Storm In a Tea Cup (Mono)
6. Yesterday Ain’t Coming Back (Previously unreleased mono mix)
7. Love Me Do (Previously unreleased instrumental version)
8. Get Down (Previously unreleased version)
9. Money (Earlier version)
10. Flying (Earlier version)
11. Perfection (Earlier version)
12. Suitcase (Earlier version)
13. Sweet Tuesday Morning (Earlier version)
14. Mean Mean Jemima
15. Loving You
16. Get Away (Previously unreleased version)
17. When I Say (Previously unreleased version)
18. The Winner (Previously unreleased version)
19. I Can Love You (Previously unreleased version)
20. Piano Red (Previously unreleased)

Disc 2:

Mary Hopkin:

1. Quelli Erano Giorni (Those Were The Days - Italian) (2010 Remix)
2. Que Tiempo Tan Feliz (Those Were The Days - Spanish) (2010 Remix)
3. An Jenam Tag (Those Were The Days - German) (2010 Remix)
4. Le Temps Des Fleurs (Those Were The Days - French) (2010 Remix)
5. Quand Je Te Regarde Vivre (Let My Name Be Sorrow - French)
6. Watashi O Kanashimi To Yonde (Let My Name Be Sorrow - Japanese)
7. Jefferson

Jackie Lomax:

8. Going Back To Liverpool
9. Sour Milk Sea (Mono mix)
10. The Eagle Laughs At You (Mono mix)
11. Little Yellow Pills (Mono mix)

OK, so here we have the most famous albums from the Beatles' Apple company, all shiny and new and with bonus CD's to boot. Most collectors are reluctant. Why? Because Apple is releasing and re-releasing the same albums over and over again, while there are other albums on the Apple records company not available at all in the digital domain, on compact discs or as downloads. There was another major campaign between 1991-1993 when the same albums were all released for the first time on CD. That campaign also saw them released as vinyl LPs, complete with the original artwork and lots of bonus tracks, additional photographs, etc. The next time they were reissued, there was no campaign, just quietly releasing the same CD's again. My copy of Billy Preston's "Encouraging Words" album is from 2003. In 2005 it was released again, this time in a paper sleeve in Japan, along with six of the other Apple records. And here they are again, with a few new bonus tracks and a cleaned up sound.
When the Lennon's moved to USA, John Lennon kept signing up new artists to the Apple label. Artists like "David Peel and the Lower East Side", "Elephant's Memory", Lon & Derrek Van Eaton. None of their Apple album releases have been made available on CD's. Never mind good reviews. Wonder why Yoko Ono hasn't campaigned for Lennon's discoveries on Apple?
From Rolling Stone, November 1972

Also released on Apple were the soundtracks to "Come Together", "Raga" and "El Topo". You will still have to look for them on vinyl if you want an Apple on the label, but the Raga movie is due out on DVD soon, and the soundtrack will then be available free via a digital download card with purchase of the DVD or can also be purchased separately at all digital retailers.
Here's Apple Records' official site,
here's what a fan can do on a website,
here's wikipedia and here's a wiki discography.
2010 Promo Poster

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Band on the run politics

Paul McCartney has started to make some publicity for the first release in his new remastered album series, christened "Archive Collection", which starts with the release of "Band On The Run" on November 1st in the UK and November 2nd in the USA. It was big news last year when McCartney took his back catalogue off EMI and brought them with him over to the American company Concord Music.
Word is that Concord Music was advised to release the various McCartney albums chronologically, starting with "McCartney" from 1970, an advice they chose to ignore in favour of starting with the album that has been McCartney's best seller ever since it was first released in 1973, "Band On The Run". He recorded it with his fledgling group, "Wings" in Lagos, Nigeria, after two of the group members deserted just before the group was about to leave England. The album is being made available in a variety of formats, besides the three different editions depicted above, there's of course the digital download and the 2LP vinyl edition. Don't hold your breath for that last one, Concord isn't very proficient in delivering vinyl editions of their releases.
Long standing McCartney fans in the UK are probably wishing that he'd have stayed with EMI, as you'll have noticed from the above picture, the various versions are quite a bit more pricey in the UK than in the USA. The cheapest one, the single CD remaster costs $13.99, which at current rates should have translated into £8.93. Instead, it'll set the British fan back £15.49, which equals $24.26! Of course, the more money you spend, the greater the loss. The most expensive edition is priced at $79.99, which should have been £51. Instead, it costs £77.49, which is a whopping $121.35! This means that a British fan who buys the 4 disc deluxe edition will have to spend $41.36 more than the American fan. Why? Because Concord is an American company, and the editions sold in the UK has to be imported from the USA. The same holds true for my country, Norway. Here I'll have to pay $231 for the deluxe edition, nearly three times the US price. If these releases had been made by the EMI, a pan-European edition would have been manufactured and distributed in the UK by EMI and in Norway by the Norwegian branch of EMI. Going "independant" may have been a bold move by McCartney, but we fans are as usual the ones who end up paying for it.
And by the way, Concord missed out on this opportunity of releasing the definitive edition by leaving out a surround sound version of the album. Those of us who has the possibility of playing SACD and DVD-Audio discs still has to purchase the 1997 DTS release on DVD-A, now a collector's item.

Beatles songs in movies

The Vintage Vinyl news blog has a story about an upcoming movie where a Beatles song appears in their own version.
However, the blog implies that there has been a 'ban' on using The Beatls' recordings in a film, and the headline says that this is only the third time that happens. It's the new "Social Network" film which has The Beatles' recording of "Baby You're a Rich Man". The blog also lists the upcoming japanese film "Norwegian Wood" featuring the song of the same name, and "Dinner For Schmucks" features "Fool On The Hill".
Of course, we can list many more films.
In '82 it was "When I'm 64" by the Beatles that opened "The World According to Garp".
Being the Superman and Beatles fan that I am, I was of course delighted when I heard the Beatles play "Roll Over Beethoven" in "Superman 3" in 1983.
"Twist and shout" performed by The Beatles was played in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" way back in 1986. The recording was even tampered with, as it featured an overdubbed horn section.
Next up was "Withnail and I" in 1987, featuring "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Of course, it was a Hand Made Film, a company owned by George Harrison.
The same year saw a new Hollywood release, "Can't Buy Me Love" with the Beatles providing the title track.
There are lots more, has a list of movies with Beatles songs, although it also includes versions performed by other artists.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A trip to Lagos for free

Currently available as a free sample to download from Paul McCartney's official site is a clip from the upcoming Band on The Run DVD. The 2:58 minutes long film is mostly in black and white (opening footage of a plane landing is in colour). Paul and Linda larks about behind a tree and sits down among the native women to chew the fat and smoke a few. A quick glimpse of Denny Laine, the kids and the engineer and that's that. The footage is accompanied by the slow version of Band on the Run which Paul did for a BBC radio 2 commercial five years ago.
Download "A trip to Lagos" for free.
Paul McCartney and Wings' epic #1 album from 1973 will Be available in multiple configurations featuring remastered rare bonus audio & video content with special exclusive packaging
November 1st in the UK
November 2nd in the USA
Band on the Run marks the first release from the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, an ambitious reissue program that encompasses 40 years of cherished, classic material from the most successful songwriter and recording artist in music history. It’s also the initial physical release of the recently announced agreement between McCartney’s MPL and Concord Music Group to globally market and distribute Paul’s venerated solo and Wings catalogue.
With this new exclusive global arrangement, fans can expect both physical and digital distribution of gems from his solo offerings like McCartney, Ram, Pipes of Peace, Give My Regards To Broad Street and Flaming Pie, as well as Wings landmarks such as Wildlife and Red Rose Speedway. In addition, the re-releases will include stuff done under McCartney's pseudonyms: Percy "Thrills" Thrillington, The Fireman and Twin Freaks.
3 disc special edition. The other photo shows the 4-disc deluxe edition.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Photos of Beatles from 1974

John Lennon and Paul McCartney with Keith Moon, 1974
Patti Daley, former wife of guitar player Jesse Ed Davis has hit the Beatles news this week when she revealed lots of photos, lyric sheets and other memorabilia that she has kept from John Lennon's "lost week-end" in LA back in 1974. Some of the photos depict one or more members of the Beatles from that era, some four years after the break-up of the band.
George Harrison and John Lennon
Daley's favorite picture is one of Lennon and Harrison at the Troubadour nightclub in west Los Angeles.
"It just shows who they were. John with his rock 'n roll button and George just being his beautiful, spiritual self," said Daley. "And that was his mate. He was just being patient and loving him."

Unfortunately for us who reside outside USA, the NBC TV news series about these findings, dubbed "Rock'n'Roll Treasure" is not available for online viewing outside the country. However, Apple Scruffs Radio to the rescue via YouTube!
Daley has stored boxes of memorabilia for decades underneath her bed, in her home two hours east of Los Angeles.
Among the items in her collection are rare polaroids of Paul McCartney playing piano at Lennon’s beach house during their first post-breakup meeting, hand-written lyrics sheets from Lennon’s Walls and Bridges sessions (including "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night") and a copy of an angry letter Lennon wrote to Capitol Records after the release of The Beatles' Rock'n'Roll Music compilation, in which he says the cover of the new album "looks like a Monkees reject" and suggests, instead, photos from the Hamburg days, taken by Astrid Kircher or Jürgen Vollmer. He ended up using a Jürgen Vollmer photo on his own "Rock'n'Roll" album.

The news series has continued after this first show, so let's just hope the other episodes appear in YouTube-incarnations as well.
More here
The great Beatles Photo Blog has a few of Daley's photos here and here.
Update: I was contacted by a representative of NBC News who gave me some further links and I was told that the news clips have now been stripped for some copyrighted music and now will work for viewing outside the USA.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

American Masters:LennonNYC

American Masters: LennonNYC is a new film that takes an intimate look at the time Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean, spent living in New York City during the 1970s. The film premieres at the New York Film Festival on September 25th, and will be televised in the USA Monday, November 22 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings). It will also be made available on DVD, for us non-US residents. In this clip see archival performance footage and interviews with the musicians and recording engineers who worked with Lennon - Jim Keltner, Jack Douglas, Roy Cicala, Andrew Newmark, Klaus Voorman, and Earl Slick - all discussing John Lennon's particular genius.
American Masters Official Site.
American Masters LENNONYC - Beyond Broadcast
A series of podcasts is being produced in conjunction with the movie.
Each podcast will consist of slightly edited interviews conducted for the film American Masters LENNONYC introduced by Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters and a producer of LENNONYC and Michael Epstein, director/writer of LENNONYC. New "episodes" will post weekly every Thursday until the Thursday after broadcast on November 22. The final episode will be a question and answer session using the best questions submitted by users via email. The content will be available on the American Masters Web site ( and iTunes. Users can check back in these locations or subscribe to keep up to date with the newest episodes. The first podcast will feature Jack Douglas talking about his long relationship with John Lennon including his time producing Double Fantasy. A highlight of the interview is Douglas’ account about a probable Beatles reunion for a Ringo album slated to be recorded in early 1981. According to Douglas, Lennon had told him both he and Paul McCartney had signed on to the album and each had written original songs for Ringo. Lennon’s songs, Stepping Out and Nobody Told Me instead appeared on Lennon's posthumous album, Milk and Honey. Slated to appear on later podcasts are Bob Gruen, personal friend and Lennon photographer, Jim Keltner, drums on various Lennon/Ono albums, Elton John, musician, and Yoko Ono, multi-media artist and peace activist.
Special podcasts Vol 1

Monday, 13 September 2010

New Yellow Submarine model

The original Corgi toy Yellow Submarine
Back in the sixties, the Corgi Toys model Yellow Submarine was produced, the toy car company had already previously dabbled in replicas of famous cars like the Batmobile, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the 007 Aston Martin and the Saint's Volvo (they just painted their regular ones white and gave them a Saint logo). I never got it, I wanted a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Or a Batmobile. Finally got one, years later. Thirty years later, when Yellow Submarine was re-released in 1999, Corgi made replicas of their old submarine model. Variations of these are still available today.
Now there's a new version of the Yellow Submarine available from Factory Entertainment.
Coming soon - from Factory Entertainment
Their studio scale model of the Yellow Submarine is the culmination of detailed and exhaustive research into the titular submarine of the 1968 animated classic. It is the most detailed and accurate 3D model of the Yellow Submarine ever produced. An officially licensed Beatles product, this museum-quality model measures 20” in length and comes with a display stand, mirrored base and numbered limited edition plaque.
Manufactured from high quality resin and ABS components, the model incorporates a number of features:
  • Opening front and rear hatches that reveal specially designed ‘infinity’ interiors.
  • Synchronized rotating twin propellers 
  • Adjustable periscopes
  • Character portholes featuring John, Paul, George and Ringo as portrayed in the film.
See more photos at the official site.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Julian's Collection

An archive of Beatles memorabilia including lyrics, clothes, guitars and letters will be unveiled this autumn in a book Carlton is publishing with John Lennon’s son Julian.

Beatles Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection will be published on September 19th in hardback, priced £25 (Available from Amazon (UK) at half that price). It is written by Brian Southall, who worked with The Beatles during his time at their record company EMI.

Editor Roland Hall said the publisher has secured a serial deal with a national newspaper so he could not reveal specifics about the items included in the book. But he added: "Suffice to say there are items in the collection that nobody has ever seen before. Some were handed down by John himself, some came from Julian’s mother Cynthia, some were purchased by Julian at auction and some were gifts from others—such as May Pang and Paul McCartney. There has never been a collection like this in print before."

About Brian Southall: His first book – the official history of Abbey Road Studios – was published in 1982 and since then he has written The A–Z of Record Labels; The Sex Pistols 90 Days at EMI, Northern Songs: The Story of the Beatles Music Publishing; If You Don’t Know Me By Now: The Authorized Story of Simply Red; Pop Goes to Court; and most recently The Rise & Fall of EMI.
Sample page from the book
Some items from Julian's collection are on display at the White Feather Exhibition at the Mersey Ferries terminal building in Liverpool. The exhibition is open until 31st December 2010.

Shakespeare in colour

Sunday movie: Around The Beatles
A TV Special, filmed at 11.00am, Tuesday 28 April 1964 in black and white.
The Beatles recorded the television special Around The Beatles between 9pm and 10.15pm, at Studio 5AB at Rediffusion's Wembley Studios, London.
The group arrived at the studios at 11am to take part in final rehearsals, although during the day they also gave interviews to Swedish radio, speaking to visiting host Klas Burling.
The hour-long show featured, along with The Beatles, PJ Proby, the Vernons Girls, Long John Baldry, Millie, The Jets, and NEMS artists Cilla Black and Sounds Incorporated. It was first broadcast in the UK on the ITV network on 6 May from 9.45pm, and in the US by ABC on 15 November.
The Beatles took part in two segments in the show: a musical set and a spoof of Act V Scene I of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison also mimed a trumpet fanfare at the start of the show, before Ringo Starr appeared with a flag to set off a cannon ball. The group also introduced PJ Proby's performance.
For the Shakespeare spoof, Lennon took the female role of Thisbe, McCartney played Pyramus, Harrison was Moonshine and Starr played Lion. Incidentally, McCartney later owned a cat he named Thisbe.
The songs performed by The Beatles in the show were Twist And Shout, Roll Over Beethoven, I Wanna Be Your Man, Long Tall Sally and Can't Buy Me Love, as well as a special medley of their earlier hits - Love Me Do, Please Please Me, From Me To You, She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand - and finally a version of The Isley Brothers' 1959 song Shout.

The Beatles concert segment was released on laser disc (in Japan and USA) and video cassette (in UK) in 1985 as "Ready Steady Go! Special Edition The Beatles Live".
The music had actually been pre-recorded at London's IBC Studios on 19 April 1964, and The Beatles mimed during the show. The seemingly legitimate DVD The Beatles Around The World has the entire show, but the quality is not as good as the old VHS.
The Shakespeare skit was then colourized and released on the DVD The Beatles Explosion in 2008.
You can read the lines here, they're from Act V, Scene I of A Midsummer Night's Dream. You've got to scroll down a third of the page, to the stage direction "Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion", that's where the skit starts.
The songs I Wanna Be Your Man, Long Tall Sally, Boys and Shout! from the "Around The Beatles" special was released on The Beatles' Anthology 1 album in November 1995.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Beatles Calendars 2011

The Beatles and Lennon Calendars for 2011 are now available. Click here for the US site and here for the UK site, with more photos and descriptions of the various calendars available. Funny how they don't make individual calendars for George, Ringo and Paul...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Beatles and Superman

Two of my main hobbies as far as collecting goes, are The Beatles and Superman. And when the two come together, I'm always thrilled. The first time I noticed a connection was when I first watched the Help! film in a local movie theatre in the mid seventies. The scene when Paul plays the organ inside their apartment caught my eye when I spotted some Superman related comic books on the music notes stand. Some years later, the Beatles' movie director Richard Lester was called upon to direct a couple of the Superman films starring Chris Reeves. When interviewed about his relation to the Superman comic books, Lester said that he didn't have any. He was brought up in a strict household where comic books were not allowed, so basically he didn't know anything about the character until he was going to direct films about him. I've always doubted that, because of the evidence in the Help! film. Doesn't a movie director have complete control over everything that's in every frame of film he directs. Recent audio commentaries on DVD films certainly suggest so. Anyway, I was browsing the internet today, when I suddenly came across a blog where the comic books in question were identified. I'd been looking for that information for years! Here are some stills from the scene:

John and the Superman comic books
On display are Action Comics #304 (Sep. ‘63), 311 (Apr. 64) and 314 (Jul. ‘64), Superman #165 (Nov. ‘63) and 166 (Jan. ‘64 ), and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #65 (Dec. 62), 67 (Mar. ‘63) and 75 (Mar. ‘64).
Paul and the Superman comic books
Here's a link to the blog post I found today which inspired me to do this story.
There are a few other links between the Beatles and Superman. The first picture in this article is John in a Superman suit (only the top piece), which was later used as a book cover, albeit with the famous "S" logo altered.  More of those pics here. The Beatles were of course mentioned in several Superman comic books of the sixties, like this one.

From "The Red-Headed Beatle of 1,000 B.C." (sept '64)

They shared a movie director (see this recent Superman-Beatles news item), and George Harrison's son Dhani used to be roommates with the Superman actor Chris Reeves' son Matthew when they both attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Beatles reunited in a 1978 comic book where Superman fought against Muhammad Ali.

There's a drawing of Superman (with a "B" across his chest) in the booklet from Magical Mystery Tour.

Superman with a B