Friday, 26 November 2010

Gayleen and Lizzie returns

From The Beatles and Me, a special series that is being broadcast this week on BBC's "The One Show".

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr Collaborate for Meditation in Schools

Newly released official footage:

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

iTunes sales of Beatles albums and songs

From Apple Insider: A week after adding the Beatles to iTunes, Apple has sold 450,000 albums and 2 million songs.

According to a report by Billboard, Apple sold 119,000 albums in the US, including 13,000 digital box sales (which count as a single album in the US figures; the global sales numbers appear to count each box set component as an individual album sale).

The Beatles' best selling album on iTunes in the US was 1969's "Abbey Road," while the top selling song was that album's track, "Here Comes the Sun."

The report compared the Beatles' sales favorably against first-week digital track sales for superstar acts, which "this year typically ranged from 100,000 to 300,000 per title, while digital album sales ranged anywhere from 40,000 to 278,000 for Taylor Swift’s blockbuster third album 'Speak Now.'"

Meanwhile in the UK, "Music Week" reported:

32 Beatles recordings make the Top 200, with four of them in the published Top 75. Hey Jude leads the way at number 40 (7,006 sales), followed by Let It Be (number 46, 5,801 sales), Twist And Shout (number 48, 5,633 sales, and Here Comes The Sun (number 64, 4,195 sales).

The least popular Beatles track? Surprisingly, not the extremely lengthy, avant garde Revolution Number 9, which sold 48 copies, but the Rubber Soul song What Goes On?. Written by Lennon, McCartney and Starr, it was one of drummer Ringo’s rare lead vocals, and attracted just 14 downloads last week.

Overall, some 132,649 Beatles tracks (singles) were sold. 12,268 Beatles albums were also downloaded, against 19,256 Beatles physical CDs and 97 LPs.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Pro-shot Argentina Concert

Apparantly, Paul McCartney's concert on the second night in Argentina (November 10th) was professionally filmed, as evidenced by these YouTube samples.

More free DVD goodies

Beatles bootleg DVD collectors are having a swell time these days. Not only did The Beatles and Apple "let loose" the Washington DC 1964 concert film, the Unsurpassed Promos have started to appear and Misterclaudel released all the outtakes from "The Beatles Come To Town", but the "Magical Mystery Tour Revisited" DVD set has been announced to start to appear next week. There's also an all new series, "The Full RockBand Series Videos - in HD", and volume 1, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is already out. The download package contains a 16:9 NTSC DVD in much improved picture quality, artwork and disc artwork, a folder with a video in MP4 and 720p resolution, and a bonus Sgt. Pepper documentary. So now you can sit back and enjoy the RockBand cartoon Beatles perform the entire album in great audio and video quality, without interruptive gameplay graphics. The series goes on with Rubber Soul and Abbey Road, and eventually the rest of the Beatles:RockBand tracks. This series is released by the new "Beatles TV" enterprise, which was also behind a few of the Washington concert DVD's that popped up last week and during the weekend.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Beatles on YouTube

The Beatles have had a YouTube channel before, but it's been empty for a while. Yesterday it was reopened, and today it was relaunched. Purely by coincidence I became their first viewer. Yesterday I was looking for a replacement video for the "Through the years" film for my Apple Beatles iTunes ad list, and I stumbled upon it on The Beatles' own channel, with 0 views.

New concert videos

A mock-up DVD cover for the Washington DC concert film
With the recent free streaming version of the Washington DC concert film from 1964, and the downloadable version you get if you buy the entire Beatles Box from iTunes, people are voicing opinions about making it available on DVD. Maybe that's Apple's (or Apple's) plan for the future, but in the mean time I made this DVD cover. Use it if you manage to convert your download, or find someone who has already done it. And what a great and exciting concert film it is!
The Pathe news film from the year before, "The Beatles Come To Town", filmed in Manchester in 1963,  has already been featured three times in this column in the past year. Last time was November 1st, before that it was August 25th, and it was first mentioned on the 8th of June. This time we're mentioning it because a new DVD has been announced from Misterclaudel. The front cover is shown below, and it will be released in November. OK, back to sit and wait for the delayed Unsurpassed Promos. Thanks to The Beatles for entertaining us while we're waiting!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

iTunes video adverts

McCartney at Apollo Theatre

Paul McCartney will perform at an invitation-only exclusive concert for Sirius/XM satellite radio at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on December 13th. The concert will be broadcast live on the radio. In reward, McCartney gets his own "Band on the Run" 24/7 commercial free radio station, which will be playing McCartney's solo output for a month, commencing November 29th.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

After many cry wolves

...and the good thing about it is that they've put together a full concert film of the Washington DC concert from February 11th, 1964 and made it available to watch for free on iTunes. With the full "Twist and Shout" and credits!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Baby's in black

Arne Bellstorf: "Baby's in black - The story of Astrid Kirchherr & Stuart Sutcliffe"
216 pages, b/w, Softcover, ISBN 978-3-941099-12-8
Reprodukt, Berlin 2010.
"How does one tell the story as it was? … You have to consider the whole background of that time: what was Germany, how did we feel about our parents and what they had done? … The strongest influence for young Germans at this time was the desire - the need - to be different from our parent’s generation. We were struggling to find a new way, to escape the past and the burden of guilt we all carried.
Our philosophy then, because we were only little kids, was wearing black clothes and going around looking moody. Of course, we had a clue who Jean Paul Sartre was. We got inspired by all the French artists and writers, because that was the closest we could get. England was so far away, and America was out of the question. France was the nearest. So we got all the information from France, and we tried to dress like the French existentialists."
— Astrid Kirchherr

This is a comic book! The official site is here. Anyone read it?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

London Photo Exhibition

John Lennon by Tom Hanley
Imagine:John Lennon is many things, and now it's an exhibition of photos by Tom Hanley, due to open at the Proud Chelsea gallery in London on the 24th of November. Hanley was introduced to the Beatles while working as staff photographer at Today Magazine in the early sixties, so there's a chance some of the photos on display will be of the whole band. The gallery has prints for sale, and the exhibition runs until January 16th next year.
Proud Chelsea is located at 161 King’s Road, London SW1. Hey, that's where Apple tailoring used to be, isn't it? Maybe I'll pop by when I'm in London in December..
Website: Proud

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Bluebird from Brazil

From Paul McCartney's rehearsals before the Brazil concert: "And I Love Her" and yet another song from the "Band On The Run" album, "Bluebird". The latter has not been performed live by Paul for many years.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Best Buy Band on the Run extra DVD

If you buy the new remastered edition of "Band On The Run" at the American chain store "Best Buy", you get an extra DVD not available if you should happen to be such a miserable creature that you unfortunately live somewhere in the world where you don't just happen to have a "Best Buy" store to pop in and buy it from.
1) "Band on the Run" 2010 EPK (8:31)
2) "Jet" (5:36)
3) "Mrs. Vandebilt" (5:13)
4) "Band on the Run" (5:36)

The three extra tracks are recent concert versions of these songs.
This tradition of favouritism of people in a single one of the world's countries heralds back to the releases of the japanese 2-disc version of "Flowers in the Dirt", the German 2-disc release "Off The Ground - The Complete Works" and the release of "Flaming Pie" in 1998, when customers at "Best Buy" in the USA got an extra CD featuring an episode of Paul McCartney's Oobujoobu radio show. For us die-hard collectors, all this means is that we have to go on ebay and buy it from an American at an inflated price. WogBlog hates this practice. It's funny that Concorde Records (and formerly Capitol/EMI with earlier releases) haven't realised that making a disc available in just one country (or chain store) is the best way to ensure that the disc will become a worldwide popular illegal upload and download on internet blogs and torrent sites.

Japan-only release, the 2-disc Flowers In The Dirt from 1989

Germany-only release, 1993

USA-only release, 1998

Spain-only release, 2005, the only disc that contains the song 'Whole Life' with Paul McCartney & Dave Stewart

USA-only release, 2005. A live version of "The Long and Winding Road" is exclusive to this disc.

Friday, 5 November 2010

I Feel Fine Quad

Here's another combo from video magician HIWAX, four different semi-mimed performances of "I Feel Fine", synched. Clockwise from upper left: "Intertel promo no. 1", "Ready Steady Go", "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and "Intertel promo no. 3 (eating fish&chips)".

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Beatles in Weston-super-Mare

The Beatles performed a week of concerts at the Odeon Cinema in Weston-super-Mare between Monday 22 to Saturday 27 July 1963. They also made some unreleased recordings with Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers at the Royal Pier Hotel.
On the Saturday, photographer Dezo Hoffman filmed the Beatles at Weston beach, on go-carts and fooling around during photo shoots.
BBC One's Inside Out West are making a feature on the Beatles' week in Weston-super-Mare, and have unearthed some unknown fan photos. Read more on BBC's tabbed page here.
Norwegian Wood's page about the week in Weston

The Wings Albums

Regular readers of my blog will know that before I became a Beatles fan, I was a Wings fan. Of course, I still am. My family never had a record player, we had a cassette player, but when I got my first record player in my teens, I inherited a collection of singles and albums left behind by my neighbours' hippie daughter who had moved out. Some of those were by The Beatles and Apple artists, but the very first Beatles related album I actually went out and bought was "Venus and Mars" by Wings. I had heard "Band on the Run" earlier, courtesy of a relative's cassette, but "Venus and Mars" was the record that made me a fan. And for me, it still ranks above "Band on the Run" as an album.
I was thrilled and delighted when McCartney added the "Venus and Mars/Rockshow" medley (albeit way too short a version) and "Letting Go" to his live set this year, and I travelled all the way to Dublin, Ireland to see him perform them.
Back to my teenage years, Wings became a fixture and I bought all their albums. Americans may not realize this, and recent raves in the media about "Band on the Run" reflects it, but the biggest Wings success here was not that one but the single hit "Mull of Kintyre" from 1977. Standing out like an alien being in the middle of the punk rock era, the scottish flavoured ballad became the biggest selling single of all time in the UK, knocking the previous biggest seller "She Loves You" by The Beatles off the throne.

Unlike The Plastic Ono Band, Wings was more than just a backing band for an ex-Beatle. Paul McCartney was unquestionably the band's leader and star, but both Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch wrote songs for the group, and Laine, McCulloch, Joe English, and Linda McCartney all performed lead vocals on Wings songs. In concert, Henry McCullough as well as Denny Laine and later, Jimmy McCulloch performed their own songs during the Wings tours. And with the recruitment of new and younger Wings members Laurence Juber and Steve Holly, these guys had Wings fans of their own.

In my native Norway, Wings was also a tremendous success. "Venus and Mars" spent fourteen weeks at the number one spot in the charts over here. All in all it spent 26 weeks in the Top 40 album charts, while "Band on the Run" was a slower seller with only seven weeks as number one, but stayed in the Top 40 for 38 weeks. And even though "Venus and Mars" was to be the last Wings album to reach the top spot in the album charts, the remaining Wings albums also did rather well, with "Wings At The Speed Of Sound" reaching number 2 and staying 19 weeks, the triple concert album "Wings Over America" spent 11 weeks with #7 as best (not bad for such an expensive album), "London Town" reached the number two spot and had a 20 weeks run in the charts. I remember a lot of songs from that album being played on the radio and coming out from all open windows and cars in the neighbourhood that year. The final Wings album, "Back To The Egg" featured a Norwegian radio voice on the intro, but was the least successful one in Norway, not having a hit single on it. But it still spent 11 weeks in the Top 40, reaching number 5. If it had been promoted on TV by the "Back To The Egg" TV special at the time, maybe it would have fared better and perhaps Wings would have remained a band for a longer while. But we all know what happened: the Wings tour of Japan in January 1980 was cancelled when McCartney was busted at the airport, McCartney released a solo album and Wings had a slow disbanding following that event.
For me, these are the Wings albums:

1971 Wings Wild Life
1973 Red Rose Speedway
1973 Band On The Run
1974 McGear
1975 Venus And Mars
1976 Wings At The Speed of Sound
1977 Wings Over America
1977 Holly Days
1978 London Town
1979 Back To The Egg

I don't regard neither Wings' Greatest (1978) nor Wingspan Hits And History as true Wings releases, they are compilation albums made from both Wings tracks as well as McCartney solo songs and Paul and Linda McCartney releases. But two of the Wings albums in the list are worth tracking down if you don't have them, "McGear" is Wings anno 1974 used as a backing band for Paul McCartney's brother, Mike McGear. And "Holly Days" is a collection of Buddy Holly songs recorded by the Paul-Denny-Linda Wings trio (as they were on Band on The Run and upon the release of London Town) featuring Denny Laine on lead vocals. The album has still not been released on an official CD, as far as I know.

The Oriental Nightfish

"Oriental Nightfish" was a song composed by Linda McCartney during the "Band On The Run" sessions, and was recorded on October 4th, 1973 by the Wings trio, Paul, Linda and Denny Laine. It made it's official debut as the soundtrack to an animated movie of the same name, directed by Linda McCartney and Ian Eames. The film ran at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 1978, and was finally available officially when it was one of the bonus videos on the 1984 children's video cassette, "Rupert and the Frog Song". Many kids got scared by the haunting, dramatic song and the stark imagery of the video, which may or may not be the reason why it was missing on the official McCartney Music and Animation Collection DVD. The song itself was finally released on the posthumous Linda McCartney album "Wide Prairie" in 1998.

If I was in charge of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection project, and if I needed to do some headhunting to get a fan's point of view and expertise on the subject at the same time, I'd hire Chris Brewer as a consultant on the project. Here's Chris' recently uploaded YouTube slideshow film of the recording session for "Oriental Nightfish":

A non-embeddable quality version of the animated film can be found on YouTube.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Beatles & Black Music

Do yourself a favour and have a listen to the radio show "The Beatles & Black Music". It's available for five days over here.

One Hand Clapping

Alternate Band on the Run cover photo

One Hand Clapping
So far, Universal (who is distributing Paul McCartney's Archive Series here in Norway) hasn't managed to get their new product into the shops. So I haven't been able to purchase "Band On The Run" yet. But yesterday I had the opportunity to watch the ITV "Making of Band on the Run" TV special, and they were using archive footage both from the bonus DVD, as well as some home movie footage of a bearded Paul with Linda and the kids and also a couple of scenes from the 1973 "James Paul McCartney" TV special. Perhaps an indication of what we will find on upcoming bonus DVD's from the "McCartney" and "Red Rose Speedway" albums? What surprised me was that the footage shown from the "One Hand Clapping" film was of bootleg quality, picturewise. The sound was great though.
So I was thinking, this film was professionally filmed in Abbey Road studios and filed away in McCartney's vast archive of unrealised movie and film projects, it should have been in pristine quality. Has the original movie footage been stolen?
I'm an avid video collector and have been since the first VCR was brought into the family in 1981. Some time in the late eighties or thereabout, two leaked films started to appear on the lists I got from fellow Beatles video collectors around the world, one was "One Hand Clapping", the other was the "Rockestra" footage. Qualitywise, they were in pretty bad shape, but still they were something new to watch, and having these unreleased films was a bit exciting.
The problem with trading VHS tapes was of course that, depending on your source, you would get a degraded copy, a dub of a dub of a dub. And both picture and sound quality would suffer for each generation of the video you would get. If you could get a copy from the original owner of the smuggled out film, it would of course be quite brilliant.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps the original owner didn't want to share a quality version and copied the film a few times over himself, in order to have something unique.
What I'm getting at here, is that perhaps the one and only print of the film was stolen, and the version you're watching on the officially released DVD is simply copied from a DVD bootleg? And even though the film itself was unavailable, they still had the sound tapes, of course there'd be copies of it in the Abbey Road Studio vault. Which is why the soundtrack is vastly superior to the images we see. Just a thought.
They must have had more copies of the "Rockestra" film though, because they were able to edit together a very good promo for the "Rockestra Theme" for the Wingspan DVD.

Alternate Band on the Run cover photo

Band On The Run Live
I thought I'd share with you a great moment for me. I was too young to go and see Wings when they were doing their 1979 tour in the UK, but when McCartney finally toured again after a ten year break, he chose to open the tour in my country, Norway. I was very eager to see him and when the doors opened at Drammenshallen, I stormed in to get a good position in the hall. After a quick dash I found myself right in front of the stage, as the tickets weren't numbered seats. The concert was filmed, and I can identify scenes and people from the front line at Drammenshallen in the "Get Back" film from the tour, as well as in some live promos from the time. There was no footage of me included, but friends of mine made the final cut. Anyway, the position so close to the stage was, as I found, a great place to be, because you could see how the band interacted with each other, and you could also interact with the band. Because they could see you. So we could shout to them whenever a silent break opened, and we could mime to them when they were playing. Anyway, "Band On The Run" came up, and when Paul was singing the line "all I need is a pint a day", I actually mimed taking a sip of a keg of beer.
A couple of days later, the second gig of the tour was in Gothenburg, Sweden. That wasn't too far a trek, so I had actually gotten tickets for that show as well. I'm glad I did. First of all, they played the pre-show film, which they hadn't done in Norway. Second, they added a new song to the set, "Ain't That A Shame". And third: when they were playing "Band On The Run" and Paul came to the line "all I need is a pint a day", he mimed the same movement I had done on the previous gig! It was like he took a lesson from me! I was very proud of that.
Alternate Band on the Run cover photo

Upcoming sets
Rumour: the next releases in the McCartney Archive Series will be "McCartney" and "McCartney II". Take it for what it is.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Beatles Come To Town - multiangles

Friend of the blog, HIWAX, has made available this clip that allows us to see the "She Loves You" and "Twist And Shout" parts of this news film from several angles simultaneously.