Move over, Ms L!

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

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Beatles and "the Cliff Richard law"

A single from Kutmusic
It's been dubbed by the media as "Cliff Richard's Law", the change to copyright duration in sound recordings.

From 1 November 2013, The Copyright and Duration of Rights in Performances Regulations 2013 came into force, implementing the provisions of Directive 2011/77/EU which extended the term of copyright in sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. The change came after years of political wrangling and means that performers are entitled to receive income for an additional 20 years. Additional measures were also included to improve performers' revenue.

Extension from 50 to 70 years

One song can contain a number of different rights, for example copyright in both the music score and in the lyrics, both of which lasted for 70 years after the death of the author. In contrast, copyright in the actual sound recording, however, and the duration of a performers' rights in the recording only lasted for 50 years. The new Directive extended both of these terms from 50 years to 70 years, therefore narrowing the gap.

While some critics argued that many musicians would see little benefit, a study by the European Commission ("EC") found that extension of this term would give average performers additional income ranging from €150 to €2,000 per year, mostly from airplay royalties. Although these sums are fairly insignificant to many of the big names in the music industry, they are considerable for many other musicians, particularly session musicians. The EC also pointed out that many performers started their career in their 20s and that with life expectancy increasing, a performer who lives into his 80s and beyond would not be able to continue to benefit from the recording at what the EC pointed out to be a particularly vulnerable time of life.

It should be noted, however, that the extension will only apply to sound recordings that are created after 1. November, or that are still in copyright protection on 31 October 2013. It would not therefore bring a sound recording back into copyright where this protection has already expired after the 50 years.

Use it or lose it

"Use it or lose it": If a record company fails to market a sound recording during the extended period, assigned rights in the recording may revert back to the performer.

Work in Progress - Outtakes 1963 from Rock Melon

It is that last sentence which made The Beatles release the title "Bootleg Recordings 1963" at the end of last year. They tried to release everything that was still unreleased recordings from 1963 in order to retain their copyright to these recordings. However, they failed. A number of 1963 recordings remained unreleased, and therefore entered the public domain on January 1st, 2014. This was then taken advantage of by several minor record companies, who went on to release these songs, live performances and takes of songs in 2014.

A release called The Beatles: Work in progress from the Rock Melon label continues to be available in Europe, and is showing healthy sales.


Now that the final day of 2014 is upon us, unless the Beatles/Apple/Universal Music are putting these last few hours to good use, all unreleased Beatles recordings from 1964 will become fair game for companies like Kutmusic and Rock Melon. Unless there's something I've missed.

We are talking studio session outtakes and unreleased radio material, but the main source will be live recordings of Beatles concerts. There are lots of these available on bootlegs, and this material will now be available for both big and small record companies to profit from. Hitherto unknown live recordings may also appear from fans' private collections during the year.

As "The Beatles Live Project" is on Apple's official agenda for 2015, they will have an opportunity to counteract by releasing lots of this kind of material officially, with nice packaging, liner notes, photos etc that the independent labels probably can't afford. Still, once the official packages are out, it looks to me like anyone else can just duplicate the stuff and market it at lower prices.

It's going to be an interesting year for Beatles fans.

Album covers: Let It Be


by Patrick Roefflaer

For the writing of this article I have used information found in the following books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder.

Furthermore I found interesting information on countless websites. The previous incarnation of this article may be found here.


Let It Be - Ethan Russel/John Kosh

When the album with the material from the sessions, recorded in January 1969, finally was released in May 1970 the back cover noted: "This is a new phase BEATLES album ... essential to the content of the film, LET IT BE was that they performed live for many of the tracks; in comes the warmth and the freshness of a live performance; as reproduced for disc by PHIL SPECTOR."

With the work of Phil Spector everything was changed. The album got it's new title, a new cover was designed and there was nothing that reminded of the original Get Back anymore.

It was felt that the picture taken by Angus McBean no longer was up to date. So some other photo was needed, but by now the Beatles had, in fact, split up and no one was interested in anything that was "Beatles" anymore. A photo session was out of the question.

John Kosh, who was responsible for designing the package, assembled four independent pictures against a black background. The photos were taken by Ethan A. Russell, during the film recordings in January 1969. On the back cover there were four more black-and-white pictures, the above text, plus a red Apple logo, marking the end of the Beatles.

Let It Be back cover - Ethan Russel/John Kosh
In the U.K. and several other countries throughout the world, the thirteenth and final official Beatles album was first issued as a box set. The box set included a 164-page book with lots of text and hundreds of colour photos. The book was placed in a custom die-cut and recessed cardboard holder which held the LP on top. All of which was encased in an outer slipsleeve.

Let It Be boxed set - Ethan Russel/John Kosh

The large paperback, called "The Beatles Get Back" contained stills and dialog from the film printed on high quality glossy paper. The photographs were by Ethan Russell, and the text by Rolling Stone writers Jonathan Cott and David Dalton.

The Get Back book - Ethan Russel/John Kosh/Jonathan Scott/David Dalton
The L.P. had a standard dark green Apple label. This is one of the nicest Beatles LP packages out there. The initial price of this box set was £2:19s:11d, in the U.K.. Currently a complete box set is worth about £200.

A poster advertising other Apple records was included with some, but not all of the Let It Be boxed sets.
The UK catalogue number of the box was PXS 1, but the number only appeared on a sticker which was affixed to some of the review copies of the album box.

For the second British pressings, half a year later, the box set and book were dropped. In it's place came a standard album release. Even the red apple was gone, and replaced with the usual green one.
In the U.S., the album was issued with a gatefold cover with more pictures… and a red label. No box,
no book.

Let It Be USA fold out cover - Ethan Russel
After the split, and certainly after the ending of the contract with EMI-Capitol in January 1976, both record companies released some compilations suffering from an apparent random choice of songs, incorrect liner notes and atrocious cover art. But the Beatles themselves no longer had any involvement with these records.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Album covers: Abbey Road


by Patrick Roefflaer

For the writing of this article I have used information found in the following books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder.
Furthermore I found interesting information on countless websites. The previous incarnation of this article is here.


Abbey Road - Iain Macmillan
At first the album was going to be called Everest, after the brand of cigarettes smoked by the engineer Geoff Emerick. It was suggested to make a photograph with the Mount Everest in the background. But none of the Beatles could be bothered to travel that far for an album cover.
When asked how far they wanted to go, the reply came: "Why don't we just do it in the street?"
Paul immediately made a rough drawing and freelance photographer Iain Macmillan, a friend of John and Yoko, was asked to make the picture.

Paul's drawing
On Friday August 8. 1969, at 11.35 am, Iain stepped on a small ladder in the middle of Abbey Road, while a police officer stopped the traffic. The Beatles walked up and down the zebra crossing in front of the EMI Studio and Iain took six pictures. The fifth being the best. Not only was it the only photograph on which all four were in step, but also they walked away from the studio. A matter which seemed important to some of them at the moment.

Thanks to the research of Mark Lewisohn we know now that Macmillan used a Hasselblad camera, with a 50 mm wide-angle lens, aperture f22, at 1/500 sec.

Linda McCartney took some extra pictures of the Beatles, while they were waiting for the session.
This time the album came without a title on the front cover, and no lyric sheet ... being quite simple, it just had one photograph on the front, and one on the rear. For the back cover Iain Macmillan took a photograph of one of the many old-style tiled street signs.

Abbey Road back cover photo - Iain Macmillan
On the original cover, the Beatles deliberately did not list 'Her Majesty' at the end of side 2. But no one informed the industry moguls in the US. As a result, the song was added to the eight track's listing and to some of the albums. It was eventually removed again from the cover. Thus, the album again differed ever so slightly from the British release.

A few months later every detail of this and the previous Beatles sleeves were studied the world over to search for clues for the dead of Paul McCartney. "I started to get letters and cards from people outlining how obvious it was that Paul was dead," recalled George Martin. "They said that they understood all our clues on the covers over the past few years years and, you know, I started believing it myself."

Peter Blake too was almost fooled: "We went to visit Paul. We talked about the rumors and he said, "You know I’m not Paul McCartney. You met Paul when you were working on Sgt. Pepper and he didn’t have a scar on his mouth. Look, I’ve got a scar. I’m a stand in." And just for a moment, I wasn’t sure. Then he told me that he’d fallen off his bicycle…"

In March 1970 Abbey Road won a Grammy for "Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording".

In the wake of the album title, the EMI Studios were later re-named as "Abbey Road Studios".

The celebrated cover was copied by Paul for his Paul Is Live album, in 1993.

Paul is live - Iain Macmillan

Paul on the Abbey Road crossing
Even though Paul actually revisited the scene for the "Paul is live" album cover shoot, the designers ended up not using the modern day Abbey Road background. Instead, they pieced together the original album cover minus the Beatles, by using all the six different original photos. Paul's image was then superimposed over the 1969 street scene. The retouching was done by CGI artist Erwin Keustermans.

A stepladder was also in use for Paul's solo photo shoot
 Paul's old sheepdog Martha was gone by 1993 of course, so the dog he walks is a descendent of Martha.

The promo album sampler shows the modern day Abbey Road backdrop
Of course, for a much more detailed look at the Beatles' Abbey Road photo session, we refer you to our constantly updated page, "The Road Goes On Forever".

Monday, 29 December 2014

What Macca did next

The Wings trio perform "Mull of Kintyre on The Mike Yarwood Show, 1977.
There's a 2 hour BBC Radio special about Paul McCartney's band, Wings now available. This is a "Director's cut" longer version than the programme which was broadcast in November.
Link: What Macca did next:The decade with Wings

The story of how one man took on the seemingly impossible task of following his work in the most popular group of all time, and emerged as the leader of another multi-million-selling global sensation. What Paul McCartney did next after the Beatles was to retreat to Scotland, reshape his life and career, become a solo star and then form one of the biggest bands of the decade, Wings.

Johnnie Walker presents some sounds of the '70s with a difference, richly illustrated with world exclusive interview material.

When the Beatles split, Paul became a family man and, ably abetted by his wife Linda, went into a period of experimentation with the superb 'McCartney' and 'Ram' albums. But it wasn't long before he was missing the vibe of a band, and that's where Wings first took flight and became the real-life band on the run.

This programme is based around a brand new, never-before-heard McCartney interview, and other rare audio material, all full of vivid recollections and poignant stories. It comes as two more albums in Paul's 1970s catalogue are given the deluxe reissue treatment, 1975's 'Venus and Mars' and the follow-up released only ten months later, 'At The Speed Of Sound.'

The narrative extends through the entire ten-year period, as a celebration of a group that, for many pop fans growing up in the 1970s, were more relevant than the Beatles themselves. It describes how they came to life with 'Wild Life' in 1971 and - since their "Wingspan" covered the whole of the 1970s, until their last album 'Back To The Egg' in 1979 - sets their story within the context of the decade itself, with a new interview with Wings' Denny Laine and unheard insight from designer Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis and engineer Alan O'Duffy.

Album covers: Get Back (Unreleased)


Get Back album (unreleased) - Angus McBean. There are no known official back cover designs.

In the mindset of the 'back to the roots feeling' of the January 1969 sessions, it was decided that the cover for Get Back should be similar to that of their first album, Please Please Me. The photograph would produce a remarkable side-by-side comparison of how much the four men had changed in those six intervening years.

Angus McBean was commissioned to make an exact replica of that famous first cover. He recalled the occasion: "(In 1963) I asked John Lennon how long they would stay as a group, and he said, "Oh, about six years, I suppose – who ever heard of a bald Beatle?". Well, it was just six years later that I was asked to repeat the shot with the Beatles as they now looked – very hairy indeed. When I got there I couldn’t retake the shot; a new porch had been built and I couldn’t get into the same position.”

A few photos were taken. These are easily identified because John and George are wearing different jackets.
Early May 1969: First attempt. Photo: Angus McBean.
McBean continues: “However, EMI asked if I could come back in a week. Meanwhile, the whole new porch was pulled down and we tried again.”

This second attemp was on May 13, 1969. This time John and George are wearing their 1966 tour suits, with pin stripes.

13 May 1969: Second attempt. Photo: Angus McBean.

“Ringo Starr was so late that the staff of EMI was streaming down the stairs”, adds McBean. “I got the camera fixed up and John, fascinated by photography, came and lay down beside me to look at my view-finder. I can still hear the screams of the EMI girls as the realized who they were stepping over to get out the door!"

Get Back bootleg.
The first version of the Get Back-Album was ready for release at the end of May 1969. Promotional copies were made, including a full cover art. It was intended for release in July 1969 under the title of GET BACK with Don't Let Me Down and 9 other songs.

In July 1969 the album was rescheduled for September 1969, to appear together with the planned TV special and theatrical film about the recording of the album.

In September the album was rescheduled again for December, because The Beatles had recorded Abbey Road in the meanwhile and wanted to release that album instead of Get Back, in which no member of the Beatles was really interested anymore.

As time went on, the film about Get Back was completed and it became obvious, that there were some recordings in the film, that weren't featured on the album. So the already completed album was shelved again and on January 5, 1970, Glyn Johns compiled a second version for the Get Back album. The cover art wasn't changed, only the title was altered, due to the fact that 'Let It Be' was planned to be the next single.

When the title was changed to "Let It Be", the cover design was still the same for a while. Bootleg recreation.
Ultimately, the cover was unused. After the band had broken up Phil Spector was given the tapes by John and Allen Klein to rework.

The McBean shoot however wasn't wasted, as this was eventually used on the 1973 compilation "Red" and "Blue" albums.

The Beatles / 1967-1970, aka "the Blue Album".

This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer. The previous incarnation of this article can be found here.
Captions by me
Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Album covers: Yellow Submarine


Yellow Submarine - Heinz Edelmann
The Beatles eleventh official album release was issued as the soundtrack album of the cartoon film Yellow Submarine. So for the cover a special drawing with the characters from the movie was made.
The art design is by Heinz Edelmann.

Derek Taylor was asked to write the liner notes for the back cover, but "he decided that not only he had nothing new to say…" so he simply attached a review of The Beatles by a journalist from the London Observer, Tony Palmer.

For the American public, Capitol asked Dan Davis to write some new liner notes, that situated Yellow Submarine on a timetable starting "between the years 700 and 750 (anno Domini)". Therefore the printing style and layout of the back cover are completely different from the U.K. issue.

But also the front differed: the first UK cover had two red lines, one below the drawing of the Beatles and Yellow Submarine and another one below the liner note. On the U.K. and France pressings, the words "NOTHING IS REAL" are printed at the center of the front cover. These are omitted an the U.S. and Japanese pressings.

Yellow Submarine back cover
This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer. The previous incarnation of this article can be found here.
Captions by me
Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Album covers: Magical Mystery Tour


Magical Mystery Tour EP - John Kelly
"The Mystery Tour packaging was all Paul's idea, " recalls Tony Barrow "Everything happened in a mad rush after Brian Epstein died, because Paul was worried that the band would simply fall apart without some guidance. Mystery Tour was Paul's attempt to give the band some kind of leadership."
The first meeting about Magical Mystery Tour took place at McCartney’s home, at the start of September 1967, with the beginning of the recordings a week later.

From the cover photo session.
"It was October before we even began thinking about packaging. There was no designer as such. Paul had the idea to make it like a mini-double album, and he and I worked on the text together," continues Tony Barrow, "Finally, we called in Bob Gibson, the illustrator for Beatles Monthly, to provide a cartoon version of the film. It was in the shops before Christmas."

In England the songs were presented as a double EP (extended play) package. It contained two 3 track E.P.'s and was advertised as being complete with "A 32 page full colour book packed with exclusive pictures, a strip cartoon of the original story, plus the words to the songs in the show !"

Page from the booklet
It's original cost was 19s 6d (... which was just short of £1).

However the booklet contained only 28 pages. The photographs are taken by John Kelly. Some of the pictures represent scenes that were cut from the actual movie.

First pressings had a gate fold picture sleeve, with a full booklet, and a blue lyric sheet. For later repressings, the colour of the lyrics sheet was changed to yellow. The singles were housed in white inner sleeves, which fitted in pockets on the inside of the covers.

Magical Mystery Tour - back cover

In the USA, the EP format no longer was used, so Capitol decided to upgrade the five songs with some recent non-album singles to a full LP. It was released eleven days earlier on 27th November 1967.

Magical Mystery Tour - album
The jacket of the full size LP was a near-identical blow-up of EP. The titles of the extra songs are added to the cover in the same lettering, underneath the colour picture. It also included the entire booklet, plus the lyrics. The album sure looks nice in 12" size... At last this LP came to be copied in the UK, being issued there in 1976. It is the only American version of a Beatles album that was officially released on cd in the british cd series.
This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer and you can find it in it's older incarnation here.
Captions by me
Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Album covers: Pepper


Sgt Pepper - Peter Blake / Michael Cooper
"We were getting a little fed up of being The Beatles… It was all getting so bloody predictable. I said, why don’t we pretend that we’re another band. Make up a name for it and make up an identity, make up alter egos, just pretend, so we can make a whole album from the point of view of this other band."
Paul McCartney, 1989.

For the cover of their next album, a friend, John Dunbar, suggested a totally abstract picture without text or explanation. But Paul thought that was too radical.

Paul then made a series of pen-and-ink drawings. The starting point was an old photograph of Paul's father, Jim McCartney's jazz band. Initially the drawings showed the Beatles standing before a wall of framed photographs of their heroes. The Beatles all wear long military-band jackets and sport mustaches. They hold brass-band instruments.

Jim Mac's Jazz Band
"I did a lot of drawings of us being presented to the Lord Mayor" Paul explained, "with lots of dignitaries and lots of friends of ours around, and it was to be us in front of a big northern floral clock, and we were to look like a brass band. That developed to become the Peter Blake cover."
Paul shows the drawings to his friend, the gallery dealer, Robert Fraser. He suggests the use of a fine artist, for example Peter Blake, a man who’d painted the group in 1963 and had a rising reputation in the Pop Art movement.

Fraser and McCartney met with Blake in his West London house to talk over ideas. Paul showed him his basic ideas. "From that came the idea of a life size constructed collage," remembers Blake. "We thought that if we did that we could have anyone in the crowd. That opened up a whole magical area."

Taken by the idea of inventing their own audience, each Beatle compiled a list of "favorite people".
Peter Blake explained: "I asked them to make lists of people they'd most like to have in the audience at this imaginary concert. John's was interesting because it included Jesus and Ghandi and, more cynically, Hitler. But this was just a few months after the US furor about his 'Jesus' statement, so they were all left out. George's list was all gurus. Ringo said, "Whatever the others say is fine by me", because he didn't really want to be bothered. Robert Fraser and I also made lists."

Different poses were experimented with

"I still have no idea who chose some of these people, " states George Harrison, "I believe that Peter Blake has placed some of the more confusing types. I only wanted people that I admired. I didn’t put anybody on it that I didn’t like, in contrast to some other people"

Jann Haworth, Blake's American wife and an artist in her own right confirms: "To be perfectly honest, Peter and I chose about 60 percent of what's there because they didn't come up with enough. So we're to blame for some of the inequalities that were there. But having said that, the Beatles chose no women. The only women chosen were by Peter and I."

There are plenty of outtakes from the Sgt Pepper photo session, strangely enough they are all LP size.

Michael Cooper, an excellent photographer, was a business partner of Robert Fraser. So he was commissioned to do the shoot. Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth worked in his studio for a fortnight constructing the collage.

Jann Haworth claims her part of the idea: "I'm the person who didn't do 50 percent of the Sgt. Pepper cover. I did the other 50 percent. It's sort of invisible, but in a way it's the whole thing: It was to build it like a set. The idea of the front row being three dimensional, leading into a two-dimensional flat frame was very much the territory of my work."

Jann's father, the director Ted Haworth, was in London at the time, working on the film Half a Sixpence. When she visited him on the movie set, he advice her not to make a background piece for the album. He thought the idea was too Hollywood and too expensive for the budget. So Haworth resorted to blue paper for the sky, and black-and-white cut-out photographs for the heads and bodies.
Gene Mahon, a designer who was hired as co-ordinator on the project, selected the more then sixty photographs, collected from libraries and magazines and supervised the enlargements. These life-size cut-outs were then hand-colored and glued to hardboard sheets.

"I hand-tinted all the photographs for color, and nailed them to batons on the back wall," said Haworth. "Then put the front row in 3-D. That's an old movie trick."
Peter and Jann fixed the top row to the back wall and put the next about six inches in front and so on, to get a tiered effect. Some waxworks are rented from Madame Tussaud, while the the old lady and Shirley Temple dolls are art pieces by Jann Haworth. A palm tree and some little favorite objects filled out the decorum. John brought his TV set, while Hunter Davis picked up an ornament from the mantle piece of Paul's house.

Peter Blake recalled: "The boy who delivered the floral display asked if he could contribute by making a guitar out of hyacinths, and the little girl wearing the 'Welcome the Rolling Stones, Good Guys' sweatshirt was a cloth figure of Shirley Temple, the shirt coming from Michael Cooper's young son Adam."

The drum skin was painted by a genuine fairground artist, Joe Ephgrave. He did actually two versions. The chosen design is now part of Beatles iconography and is probably the second most famous drum skin of all time.
John took the one that was used on the cover, the reject ended up with Paul

The Beatles had military styled costumes made for them especially by Burman’s Theatrical Agency. "They showed us pictures of the possibilities," remembers Paul, "Did we want Edwardian costumes or costumes from the Krim? We chose eccentric things from the different types and combined. … We chose psychedelic colours, a bit like the day-glow socks from the fifties."

Sir Joseph Lockwood personally was afraid the picture of Mahatma Gandhi would upset the government of India. So he had to go at the last minute. So did Hitler.

Wrong drum head

Sgt Pepper front cover photo - uncropped

Sir Joe also realized that because many of the people that are depicted were still alive, they might be sued for not seeking their permission. So he demanded a written permission from every one to get copyright clearance. Brian Epstein, who was very wary of all the complications in the first place, had his former assistant Wendy Hanson, write to everyone. "I spent many hours and pounds on calls to the States," remembers Wendy, "Fred Astaire was very sweet; Shirley Temple wanted to hear the record first; I got on famously with Marlon Brando, but Mae West wanted to know what she would be doing in a Lonely Hearts Club."

The mono reel to reel tape of Sgt Pepper from Great Britain presented the cover image less cropped than the album did. 
Leo Gorcy of the Bowery Boys was the only one to ask for a fee. So his face was covered with the some blue sky.

The Beatles arrived during the evening of March 30, 1967. "We had a drink," remembers Blake, "they got dressed and we did the session. It took about three hours in all, including the shots for the center fold and back cover."

Originally a Dutch group called the Fool had made a design for the center fold.
Miles: "Simon and Marijke painted a dream landscape of stylised mountain peaks and wonderful birds, like an LSD-influenced Chinese willow-pattern design. The sky was rainbow-ed with two oval panels for text, one of which was filled with stars and comets. A further empty panel had a flower border with a peacock draping its tail over the side. Tiny figures of the Beatles peeped out from among the flora. The style was Euro-psychedelic, owing much to Mucha, Beardsley, art nouveau and nineteenth-century children’s book illustrations. Unfortunately they got the dimensions wrong, but even with a border added, the work looked somehow second-rate. The Beatles, however, loved it."

Sgt Pepper unused foldout cover - The Fool
When Paul McCartney was presented the original painting of the unpublished inner cover in October 2007, he pointed out where the Beatles were to be airbrushed in.

But Fraser saw it differently. He felt it would be judged by posterity as simply another piece of sixties acid art. Robert suggested a series of portrait shots instead. For this picture the Beatles all looked in the camera and tried to express a feeling of love to their fans. "And that’s what that is," declares Paul "if you look at it you’ll see the big effort from the eyes".

Sgt Pepper foldout cover - Peter Blake / Michael Cooper
John had a different opinion: "When you look at the cover, you see two people flying through the air, and two not flying through the air."

For the first time ever, lyrics of all the songs are printed on the back. In the book "Juan & John", written by Javier Adolfo Iglesias it is revealed that this was a request from an English teacher in Spain. The man, Juan Carrión used popular music to make it more interesting for his students.
When he learned that John Lennon was in Almeria to film How I Won The War, he travelled over there to ask if The Beatles could print the lyrics of their songs on their album sleeves. He explained to John that it sometimes was hard to transcribe them from the records.
Northern Songs, the Beatles music-publishing company, immediately objected, because it would cut the sales of their sheet music.

Sgt Pepper back cover - Peter Blake/Michael Cooper
The Beatles wanted the record to be pressed on colored vinyl, but EMI told them it was not possible. Instead, for the first British pressing at least, the inner sleeve was decorated with an abstract design in red, pink and white. So Simon and Marijke could make a contribution to the sleeve after all.

Sgt Pepper inner sleeve - The Fool
The Beatles also wanted a envelope with every LP, with in it sweets, badges, pencil colors and such. But EMI foresaw too much problems and expenses, so Blake designed a cardboard cut-out, with a mustache, a picture card, some sergeant stripes, two badges, and a stand-up.

Sgt Pepper insert cut-out cardboard sheet - Peter Blage / Michael Cooper
E.M.I. were allegedly horrified when they saw the cost for producing the sleeve. The usual budget for a record cover photograph in the sixties was £25, though it could run up to as much as £75 for an act as big as The Beatles. Copyright and retouching fees came to £1,367.13s.3d. while Robert Fraser's fees came to £1,500.12s.

Peter Blake again: "I'm not sure how much it all cost. One reads exaggerated figures… I got about 200 pounds. People say to me, "You must have made a lot of money on it" but I didn't because Robert signed away the copyright. But it has never mattered too much because it was such a wonderful thing to have done."

Everyone loved the cover, but Brian Epstein had his doubts. He was already stressed out because of an increasing distance growing between him and the Beatles and became even more anxious about the numerous drug references in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He was worried what the pictures on the sleeve would do to further tarnish the band's clean-cut image he had worked so hard to establish. At one point, he had written himself a note about the possibility of the album in a brown paper bag.

He shouldn’t have worried, because, during the tenth annual Grammy Awards, on 9 March 1968 Sgt. Pepper’s is voted Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts of 1967. Besides being chosen as Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Album, Best Engineered Recording, but that’s another matter.

This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer and you can find it in it's older incarnation here.
Captions by me
Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.

Want more Pepper?

The Daily Beatle-articles about Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from the archives:

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Album covers: Oldies


A Collection of Beatles Oldies - David Christian
In late 1966, George Martin informed E.M.I. that there would be no new Beatles record in time for Christmas. This left the chance for the first Beatles "Greatest Hits" collection. It contained eight tracks not previously available on L.P. One track, 'Bad Boy' had previously been unreleased in the U.K, making it an essential purchase for the completist.

The front cover artwork was by David Christian, in very 60's flower power style.

For the rear cover a colour photograph by Robert Whitaker was chosen. It was taken on June 30, while on tour in Japan. Before the first show in the Nippon Budokan Hall they started an oil and watercolors painting on a large paper.

A Collection of Beatles Oldies back cover - Robert Whitaker
Bob Whitaker witnessed how, after the concert, the four of them continued working on the painting while listening to acetates of Revolver and smoking some pot. A different picture from the same evening is reprinted in 'The Beatles Anthology' book.

The Beatles are painting in Japan - Robert Whitaker
The finished painting was called "Images of a woman"

In Japan, they realised that the photo was in reverse, so they reversed it back.

This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer and you can find it in it's older incarnation here.
Captions by me
Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Album covers: Revolver


Revolver - Klaus Voormann
Robert Freeman proposed making a photo montage using the Beatles' four faces for the Revolver sleeve. When you would spin the sleeve, the four faces would melt into one. But the result wasn’t really satisfying. The montage is reproduced in The Beatles Anthology book.

Freeman's design, here presented as a USA edition of the album.

Because Freeman was going to turn his first movie, in 1966, it was the last time the Beatles used his services. Freeman and the group amiably ended their association. *

You can buy Robert Freeman's book of Beatles photos, "A Private View" through Amazon.

Klaus Voormann, an old friend from Hamburg, who recently had moved to London, was asked to design the cover. After hearing some tracks, he decided that the cover should reflect the same avant-garde feel. "I wanted to push the design further than normal," he told Martin O'Gorman in 2006. "I did a scribble piece on a big A2 layout sheet of paper, with lots of different sketches of the little heads, in felt pen. I didn't do the big representation. I just went to see them with that piece of paper folded up in my pocket and that was enough!"

He than made the line-drawing of the four faces. "I drew the faces from memory," continues Voormann in Mojo. "George's face was very difficult to draw. It was easier with John, Paul and Ringo, but George was always the problem. I could not get his face right, so eventually I took a newspaper and cut those eyes and mouth out."

Even though Freeman's cover design was rejected, one of his photos became the centrepiece of Voormann's design. 

According to Pete Shotton the cover was finished in Lennon's home, at Kenwood: "John, Paul, and I devoted an evening to sifting through an enormous pile of newspapers and magazines for pictures of the Beatles after which we cut out the faces and glued them all together. Our handiwork was later superimposed onto (the) line drawing by Klaus Voormann."
"The photo of Ringo with the funny striped shirt on," remembers Voormann, "that was cut out of a magazine, from a picture of a girl who had that poster on her wall. That's why the picture is at a funny angle. I had a few strange ones where John was pulling a face, or Paul was laughing, but in general, the photos show their sweet side."
"There was one picture where Paul was sitting on a toilet. I think that photo was taken in Hamburg."
Klaus recalled the presentation of the finished artifact. "I went to the EMI house, up to George Martin's office and I stood the artwork up on a filing cabinet. There was Brian Epstein, George Martin, his secretary and the four lads. I was scared, because nobody said anything. They were just looking at it. I thought, ****, they hate it.

Then Paul looked closer and said, "Hey that's me sitting on a toilet!" George Martin took a look and said, "You can't show that!" Paul said, "No, it's great!" But then he gave it some thought and said, "Well, maybe we should take that one off.." So that broke the ice.

Then they started talking about it. Everybody loved it, George loved it, John loved it, Ringo loved it. I looked at Brian, who was standing in the corner and he was crying… I thought, Oh no… what is he doing? He came up to me and said, "Klaus, this is exactly what we needed. I was worried that this whole thing might not work, but I know now that this the cover. This LP, will work – thank you.""
There's a small drawing of Klaus himself, on the right side, between John and George's heads.

Early sketch of Revolver - Klaus Voormann
The album's title isn't decided until July 2nd 1966, while the Beatles are on tour, in Tokyo. At first Abracadabra was considered. But somebody else had used that title already. Other candidates were Magic Circles and Beatles On Safari, Bubble And Squeak and Free Wheelin' Beatles. In the end, everybody is happy with Revolver. The title suggests the movement of the record on the turntable. It has nothing to do with a gun.

For the back cover, a black-and white picture by Robert Whitaker shows the four well known faces, covered in sunglasses. It was taken during the shooting of the Paperback Writer/Rain promo films.

Revolver (UK) back cover - Robert Whitaker
Uncropped original photo - Robert Whitaker

We found a different photo on this Revolver (USA) back cover, was it ever like this?  - Robert Whitaker
It just wouldn't have been the same in colour.
On 11 March 1967 Revolver is awarded with the "Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts of 1966", during the ninth annual Grammy Awards.

Klaus Voormann with the Revolver album
This article was written by Patrick Roefflaer and you can find it in it's older incarnation here.
Captions by me
Books: 'Yesterday' by Robert Freeman, The Beatles Anthology book, 'Many Years From Now' by Miles, 'In My Life' by Pete Shotton, 'The complete EMI Recording Sessions' by Mark Lewisohn and 'The Beatles London' by Mark Lewisohn and Peter Schreuder. And countless websites.

* A contributing factor to Robert Freeman's disassociation with the Beatles may have been Lennon's alledged affair with Freeman's German born wife, Sonny.