Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Poster, trailer and cinema dates

Film poster for "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years".
Finally, The Beatles have released a film trailer and a poster, as well as information about what started as a documentary about The Beatles live concerts, but ended up as a broader perspective on the first part of their career, from 1962 to 1966.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years will be getting a theatrical all-star world premiere in London on September 15th, and the same day it will also be screened in France and Germany. Other countries will follow, currently release dates have been published for Australia and New Zealand (September 16th) and Japan (September 22nd), in addition to the previously mentioned UK, France and Germany (September 15th).

Hulu will have the exclusive US streaming video on-demand rights to the film on SVOD beginning September 17th – marking the first feature film to debut on Hulu following its theatrical premiere. The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is the first film acquired by Hulu’s Documentary Films arm which will serve as a new home for premium original and exclusive documentary film titles coming to Hulu.

The film is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) – the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim. Ron Howard’s film will explore how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon, The Beatles. It will explore their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together – all the while, exploring The Beatles’ extraordinary and unique musical gifts and their remarkable, complementary personalities. The film will focus on the time period from the early Beatles’ journey in the days of The Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.

Featuring rare and exclusive footage, the film is produced with the full cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

Richard Abramowitz’s Abramorama will handle the US theatrical release of the film that is set to be an event driven experience with a few special surprises planned for cinemagoers.

Of special interest is a brief sequence near the end of the trailer, featuring colour footage shot from behind the band, from the Washington DC concert, February 1964.

Link: TheBeatlesEightDaysAWeek.com

Award-winning Editor Paul Crowder is the editor. Crowder’s long-time collaborator, Mark Monroe, is serving as writer. Marc Ambrose is the supervising producer.
White Horse Pictures’ Grammy Award-winning Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Academy Award®-winner and Emmy® Award-winner Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment are producing with Ron Howard. Apple Corps Ltd.’s Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde are serving as executive producers, along with Imagine’s Michael Rosenberg and White Horse’s Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall. Studiocanal is an anchor partner on the film, having acquired UK, France, Germany and Australia and New Zealand rights.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Love streaming with bonus tracks

Now streaming: Love
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of The Beatles "Love" by Cirque Du Soleil® at the Mirage Las Vegas, the award-winning Love album is now available for streaming worldwide.  And, as a bonus, two songs that weren't on the original physical album release, "Girl" and "The Fool On The Hill".
The new "Twist and Shout" mix incorporated into the revamped "Love" show is nowhere to be found, other than in the show itself, though. However, a new, official Beatles video will be released through their Vevo channel and possibly also from their Vevo YouTube channel (for the countries where Vevo is unavailable) on June 29.

Listen now on your preferred streaming service! 

The Beatles LOVE
1. Because (LOVE Version)
2. Get Back (LOVE Version)
3. Glass Onion (LOVE Version)
4. Eleanor Rigby/Julia (LOVE Version)
5. I Am The Walrus (LOVE Version)
6. I Want To Hold Your Hand (LOVE Version)
7. Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing (LOVE Version)
8. Gnik Nus (LOVE Version)
9. Something/Blue Jay Way (LOVE Version)
10. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!/I Want You (She's So Heavy)/Helter Skelter (LOVE Version)
11. Help! (LOVE Version)
12. Blackbird/Yesterday (LOVE Version)
13. Strawberry Fields Forever (LOVE Version)
14. Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows (LOVE Version)
15. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (LOVE Version)
16. Octopus's Garden (LOVE Version)
17. Lady Madonna (LOVE Version)
18. Here Comes The Sun/The Inner Light (LOVE Version)
19. Come Together/Dear Prudence/Cry Baby Cry (LOVE Version)
20. Revolution (LOVE Version)
21. Back In The U.S.S.R. (LOVE Version)
22. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (LOVE Version)
23. A Day In The Life (LOVE Version)
24. Hey Jude (LOVE Version)
25. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (LOVE Version)
26. All You Need Is Love (LOVE Version)
27. Girl (Bonus)
28. Fool On The Hill (Bonus)

McCartney's Berlin soundcheck

Paul McCartney at the Waldbuhne (forest stage) in Berlin.
Before Paul McCartney's concert in Berlin there was, as usual, a soundcheck. The following songs were played:

Improvisation (over "Letting Go")
Honey Don't
Flaming Pie
Junior's Farm
Drive My Car
C Moon
Let 'Em in
San Francisco Bay Blues
Things We Said Today
Ram On
Midnight Special
Lady Madonna

Linked songs refer to YouTube uploads. Non-paying visitors could hear the soundcheck from a distance.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

New A Hard Day's Night book with Lewisohn

The Beatles A Hard Day's Night: A Private Archive
There's word about a new Beatles book - with a Mark Lewisohn connection. Out September 5 is an expensive, hardcover book with the title "The Beatles A Hard Day's Night: A Private Archive". The book is filled with photographs and "unique ephemera", according to the blurb. Mark Lewisohn's involvement is that he has written captions to the pictures as well as an introductory essay, according to The Beatles Examiner.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Eight Days A Week to premiere in London Sep 12

Ron Howard and his film crew with Paul McCartney.
Tony Bramwell, former aide to The Beatles and producer of a lot of their music videos, informs us that the "Beatles Live Project" film, "Eight Days A Week" will premiere in the UK at a cinema in Leicester Square in London on September 12th. The film, which is directed by Ron Howard will launch Hulu's new documentary channel in the USA, date unknown so far. Before Hulu, the film will also be shown in theatres in USA.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) — from the early days of The Cavern Club in Liverpool to the quartet’s last concert, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966. The film will explore how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together and will examine their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together – all the while, exploring The Beatles’ unique musical gifts and their complementary personalities.

So much for the "live" angle.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

New light on the Sheridan recordings

The "My Bonnie" LP by Tony Sheridan only contains two songs backed by The Beatles.

55 years ago – the Beatles recorded “My Bonnie” and 6 other songs in Hamburg in the famous sessions with Tony Sheridan – newly found documents answer some questions.

Article by Thorsten Knublauch

Once in a while a new document turns up and you are happy about it because it sheds new light on a subject. Sometimes documents turn up that raise more questions than they answer… Here is one that answers a lot of questions!

Mark Lewisohn sent me a newly found document recently, because he knows that I have been researching and writing about The Beatles` Hamburg days for years, and he wanted my opinion. This document is called "Künstlerquittung" – "artist receipt" signed by each Beatle and an unknown executive of Deutsche Grammophon.

Pete Best's artist's receipt (Künstlerquittung).

Four identical documents exist – one each for John, Paul, George and Pete… Mark was able to get the copies pertaining to George and Pete, and each musician is listed with his Liverpool home address. It is a receipt from Deutsche Grammophon recording company, which documents that each Beatle was paid for five songs recorded in Hamburg during the session of June 22nd/23rd 1961 with Tony Sheridan without receiving any formal rights. It appears to be a standard document for session musicians.

Polydor promotional card for Tony Sheridan.
The songs mentioned in the document are "My Bonnie", "The Saints" and "Why", recorded as backing musicians for DM 25 per person and song, and "Ain`t She Sweet" and "Cry For A Shadow", recorded by The Beatles on their own, for which they received DM 50 per person and song. Their payment was called "Pauschalentgelt für Musiker" – “flat compensation for musicians”. With this one-off fee all possible rights were waived by the musicians. The period in question that the document covers is backdated April 1st to June 30th 1961 and signed June 28th 1961
This document seems to be the missing link in the Beatles-Sheridan-Polydor-story.

Why is this document so special?

- Over the years it has been written in the books – and perhaps understood by The Beatles themselves - that they had a recording contract with Bert Kaempfert for the "My Bonnie" sessions. But that is not true. Most books claim that the recordings were done for producer Bert Kaempfert, and that he later sold the recordings to Deutsche Grammophon. We notice that this newly found document was issued by Deutsche Grammophon record company and not Bert Kaempfert. In addition to that, although this document is signed by two parties (Deutsche Grammophon and each Beatle) it isn’t a contract – it`s just a receipt.
- It clearly shows that The Beatles were regarded as, and paid as sessions musicians for these recordings.
- We learn for the first time about the amount of money the Beatles received for those recordings – DM 175 in total per person. In the books so far, a total of DM 300 was only ever mentioned, and no source was ever citied.
- There are only five songs mentioned! “Nobody’s Child” and “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby” are missing.

The "My Bonnie" single.

What did we know before? 

We knew that only those five above named songs were mentioned in the newspaper Mersey Beat in issue No. 2 in the famous “Beatles sign recording contract” article. This information came directly from The Beatles. The four songs except “Ain`t She Sweet” were released before The Beatles had a record contract with Parlophone: Two tracks on the “My Bonnie”/”The Saints” single in Germany on October 23rd 1961 as well as in the UK on January 5th 1962, and all four songs on the French “Mr Twist” EP around January 26th 1962. The other three songs were released for the first time on “The Beatles’ First” LP in Germany in April 1964.

The French "Mister Twist" EP. Re-released earlier this year.
The Polydor documents (Aufnahmeprotokolle) for “My Bonnie”, “The Saints”, “Why” and “Cry For A Shadow” were logged in 1961. The documents for the other three were only written in April 1964, shortly before their first release. Surely, all seven documents refer in their contents to the recordings of June 22nd/23rd 1961. (BTW: In the files, those two dates are listed, but it is not clear if the Beatles actually were present on both days. My personal guess is that they recorded only on June 22nd and that mixing and editing was done a day later – without the musicians. There was no need for more than one day to record seven songs.)

Bert Kaempfert promotional photo card.
We also learned before that the Beatles had a real contract with Bert Kaempfert Productions, effective July 1st 1961. Three copies of those contracts exist and were shown in the booklet for the Bear Family “Beatles Bop” boxed set from the Bert Kaempfert files or were sold in auctions – the latest one in the Uwe Blaschke Collection auction at Heritage in September 2015. This contract signed on June 19th 1961 (ahead of the sessions) had a duration of a year – until June 30th 1962, with a term of notice of three months. In this contract the Beatles were obligated to record at least four tracks for Bert Kaempfert on their own. It wasn`t clear among Beatles experts if the songs recorded with Tony Sheridan in June - or at least those two songs recorded on their own during that session - were counted in this contract (see Mark Lewisohn in Tune In – full edition - p. 916 who suggested that they were outside the contract).

Contract with Bert Kaempfert Productions.

When the Beatles were to get a contract with Parlophone they had to terminate that contract with Bert Kaempfert. It wasn`t terminated during the three month period, though, and a dissolution contract needed to be made on June 25th 1962 - the day after The Beatles’ final session for Bert Kaempfert, recording “Sweet Georgia Brown” and the missing “Swanee River”, together with Roy Young. In this dissolution contract the Beatles gave away their rights to the recordings – it does not specifically say which recordings - it was just a disclaimer for all kinds of future demands. The Beatles gave away their rights, and, on the other hand, were released from the obligation to record the above-mentioned number of songs, which, at the time, might have been two additional tracks, since “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Swanee River” were already on tape. As no other documents were known at the time, the experts weren`t sure if with this contract also the rights to the 1961 recorded songs were given away.

The Beatles get released from their previous contract with Kaempfert.

What do we know now with the newly found document?

We know now for sure that the Beatles gave away their rights to the above mentioned five songs shortly after the recordings were done in 1961 – or, more precisely: they never had any rights to these songs, as they were only session musicians. They were even seen as session musicians for their own two tracks! For a fee of DM 50 per person they sold away “Cry For A Shadow” and “Ain`t She Sweet”, respectively. As they were only session musicians the record company could have added vocals or more musicians to those tracks without asking– and this was indeed done when the tracks were released in the United States in 1964. They signed this document on June 28th 1961 – the same day that John and George signed away their composers’ rights for “Cry For A Shadow” to Alfred Schacht – most likely for a one-off fee, if any at all (the pages with those details were never published)! Therefore, the Bert Kaempfert contract becoming effective on July 1st 1961 was a contract for NEW recordings, and this was ended with the dissolution contract dated May 25th 1962.
The period between April 1st and June 30th 1961 mentioned in the receipt is almost identical with the engagement at the Top Ten Club Hamburg (lasting until July 1st) but does not make sense what the starting date is concerned. They did not meet Kaempfert before early May 1961!

Tony Sheridan with The Beatles.
What we still have to find out is the reason why this document came from Deutsche Grammophon and not from Bert Kaempfert (as stated over the years in many books- even my own). I think the explanation is very simple: There never was a contract with Bert Kaempfert prior to the July 1961 contract! We all were misled by that famous contract – and most likely the Beatles were, too…. Only Tony Sheridan had a contract with Deutsche Grammophon starting October 1st 1961 for a year (printed in "Beatles Bop"). (If it was not cancelled in time it was automatically renewed – and, as far as I know, finally lasted until 1967.) Surely, the document paying The Beatles must have been made with Deutsche Grammophon as well! Kaempfert was only the producer for Deutsche Grammophon and didn`t act on his own for these recordings.

Thorsten Knublauch co-authored the book about The Beatles in Germany.
Without really knowing what to do with The Beatles, Kaempfert offered them a contract with his production company for a period of time AFTER the sessions – which turned out to become The Beatles’ first record contract. Perhaps The Beatles thought this was a contract for the “My Bonnie” sessions, because it was signed ahead of the session and therefore told Bill Harry so for his Mersey Beat article. The Beatles were happy to sign anything, most likely without knowing what they did… If you look at interviews done with The Beatles – until today – those Tony Sheridan sessions were rarely mentioned – and it seems there was a lot of disappointment about them, for various reasons… One should also remember that this contract was difficult to fulfill – The Beatles left Germany a couple of days later, after the sessions on July 2nd 1961 and didn`t return until April 1962 to open the Star-Club…
George signed away his rights to "Cry For A Shadow"

But hey – now there are still two questions left! Why are there only five songs listed in the receipt? Could this mean that The Beatles never played on those two other recordings? Was that the reason only five songs were mentioned in Mersey Beat No 2?
OK – no one doubts that the Beatles played on those undocumented tracks. Nor do I, as there was no other recording session with Tony Sheridan in Hamburg at the time, apart from the “My Bonnie” album session in December 1961. Those sessions were done with different musicians in a different studio, and the overall sound and playing appears to be different compared to the sessions with the Beatles.

But why were two songs left out? Even if those songs were not intended to be released at the time I would imagine that they would at least have been mentioned in the receipt. Surely, if they had wanted to save money at the time Deutsche Grammophon would never have paid for material that was not supposed to be published, and this is the only reason I can imagine why they are not mentioned…
Some experts theorise that those two missing songs were only given to Polydor after the success of the Beatles from the archive of Bert Kaempfert and were to be released in April 1964. I totally agree with that because there are three clues suggesting it:

"Twist" added to capitalise on the new fad.
- Firstly, it is proven in a way by the 1964 dates of the “Aufnahmeprotokolle” documents.
- Secondly, those songs were missing in the receipt.
- And there is a third clue – and previously most likely a misinterpretation. In “Beatles Bop” the sound engineer Richard Moore has checked the sound picture of all recorded songs from that first session. He claims that the sound picture of “Nobody’s Child”, “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby” and “Ain`t She Sweet” is different from those other four tracks - perhaps because of a different setting in the studio. His conclusion is that those three tracks were recorded on a different day (in other words: the second day of the session). I am no expert in those details and I can’t prove it, and, as stated above, still believe that one day was enough to record seven songs – but all three songs were not released shortly after the session, but more than two years later. Is it possible that they were mixed or (in case of “Ain`t She Sweet”) remixed much later to be included in “The Beatles’ First”, which resulted in a different sound picture than the songs mixed directly after the session?

To cut a long story short: Kaempfert delivered only five songs to Deutsche Grammophon, and they only paid The Beatles for five songs at the time. That is the simple reason why there are only five songs listed on the document… Strange but lucky for us that the tapes were never wiped.
And this leads to the final question: There is no known contract or receipt between either Bert Kaempfert and The Beatles nor Deutsche Grammophon and The Beatles for a financial compensation for “Nobody’s Child” or “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby”!

There is no doubt that Tony Sheridan was paid for those two tracks when they were finally released – even though his Polydor contract only guaranteed him small percentages, which annoyed him until his death.

The Beatles only got their session fee for the five songs recorded in 1961 as proven by that newly found document! The dissolution contract of 1962 was only valid for the songs recorded in May 1962. The two 1961 leftover songs were first released in April 1964 on “The Beatles’ First” and rereleased extensively ever since.
Looks like it might be a good idea for Pete, Paul, Olivia and Yoko to get a date with their lawyers, doesn’t it?

Thorsten Knublauch, author of Komm, gib mir Deine Hand – Die Beatles in Deutschland 1960 -1970 and Bravo-Beatles-Blitztournee.

Additional sources:
Komm, gib mir Deine Hand – Die Beatles in Deutschland 1960 -1970 by Thorsten Knublauch & Axel Korinth
Tune In by Mark Lewisohn
Facts & Fiction by Eric Krasker
Beatles Bop CD-Booklet by Hans Olof Gottfridsson
Many thanks to Mark Lewisohn, Joachim Noske and Eric Krasker.

Bear Family's "Beatles Bop" boxed set contains the recordings, as well as photos of important documentation.

Friday, 10 June 2016

1985 available from Amazon in the U.K.

12" single with 3 tracks
Previously out in a strictly limited availability, now much more readily available from Amazon in the U.K.
We are of course talking about the remixed versions of the song "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five" from Paul McCartney. The versions have all been remixed by Finnish remixer Timo Maas and Canadian James Teej. This edition is still limited, they say - but we haven't heard any figures as to how small this edition is.

Side A
Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five - Original mix (6:01)
Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five - Radio Edit (2:47)

Side B
Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five - Club Mix (5:08)

Radio edit was available in just 100 copies from a London record store in May, whereas the other two mixes were out on a previous 12" white label single which was limited to 300 copies only, in April. The new edition is released by Virgin Records in the U.K.

Link: Amazon (UK)

The back
The original version of this song is of course to be found on the "Band On The Run" album of Paul McCartney & Wings from 1973, and Paul still plays his version of the song live in concerts. Paul has uploaded a music video for the Radio Edit mix:

The scenes of Paul miming to the song are from Wings' "One Hand Clapping" documentary (1974).

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

BBC Radio 4 - Great lives: John Lennon

A new series, "Great lives" debuts with a closer look at John Lennon. 
This may be old news from 2010, but it's available now from BBC Radio 4. Journalist John Harris, author of influential books on music, politics and popular culture, was born just as the Beatles were splitting up, and was only 11 when John Lennon died. Yet Lennon's mischievous anti-establishment position - and the richness of his lyrics and music - makes him Harris's nomination for a Great Life. Matthew Parris tries to define what it is that makes this enigmatic, often difficult figure an inspiring subject for reflection. The expert witness is Barry Miles, in whose London gallery John first met Yoko in the mid 1960s.

This is from the series of Great Lives from BBC Radio 4 - available here.

Ringo answers questions from fans

Monday, 6 June 2016

New Beatles in Japan bootleg CD+DVD

New from HMC.
Coming up from the HMC bootleg label is a new edition of their TMOQ Gazette series, this time focusing on The Beatles' concerts in Tokyo in 1966. The contents are supposed to be as good as ever, with no no subtitles, no logos and no station IDs. Two of The Beatles' concerts in Tokyo were filmed, and they both have been circulating among video collectors. One of the concerts was also out officially in Japan only by the VAP company, on video cassettes in 1984 and as a laser disc in 1993, in collaboration with Apple Corps Ltd. This DVD brings us both concerts, previously labeled "the black suits" (actually green) and "white suits" (actually cream and with pin stripes), now re-nicked "dark suits" and "light suits". Word is that the "dark suits" concert (which was the one used on the official Japan-only releases) is better here than on the laser disc. Actually, the 1984 beta cassette release of the "dark suits" concert is considered the best in quality, as the laser disc suffered from audio problems and artefacts from the video conversion.

The official laser disc; note the Apple logo.
The Beatles' set list during both shows: Rock And Roll Music, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Day Tripper, Baby's In Black, I Feel Fine, Yesterday, I Wanna Be Your Man, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer and I'm Down.

Video cassette from VAP
The concerts, from June 30 and July 1, were video taped by Nippon Television. The two shows were edited together and broadcast during The Beatles Recital, From Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, which was screened on NTV Channel 4 on 1 July from 9pm. The June 30 concert (dark suits) was shown in Japan three times: in 1977, 1980 and 1988. The July 1 concert was only shown in Japan in 1966 and never reprised. The Beatles performed five concerts over three days, one on June 30, and two on each of the two following days, July 1 and 2.

Extra bonus material on the TMOQ Gazette release comes in the form of the Japanese support acts from the second evening.

Contents of the new HMC release.

Muhammad Ali and The Beatles

When The Beatles met Muhammad Ali, February 1964.
Friday, boxing legend Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay) left this planet, at 74. Ali was a major icon when he was alive, not only because of his victories in the boxing ring, but also for his memorable quotes, a number of them in lyrical verse form, and his political and religious convictions.

Meeting The Beatles in 1964
The Beatles met up with Muhammad Ali at a photo opportunity when he was still Cassius Clay, during their first U.S. visit in February, 1964. Clay was in Miami, in training for the fight that would bring him the world heavyweight championship when he beat Sonny Liston - also known from the Sgt Pepper album cover. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Ringo remembers their intitial meeting.

For consciousness reasons, Ali refused to be drafted during the Vietnam war, and lost his title in 1967. He appealed and the High Court suspended the sentence in 1971.

Muhammad Ali with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1977.
Muhammad Ali had a well known nickname: "The Greatest", which must have been on John Lennon's mind when he penned "I'm The Greatest", which Ringo sang on a record, John and George participating.

Paul's parody
When Paul McCartney's band Wings was touring USA in 1976, at every town or city they visited, he was always asked about a possible Beatles reunion. Tired of this after a while, Paul came up with a Muhammad Ali-type verse:

The Beatles split in '69
And since then they've been doing fine
And if that question does not cease
Ain't no one gonna get no peace
And if you ask it just once more
I think I'm gonna break your jaw!

Beatles reunite for Ali
A comic book, "Superman vs Muhammad Ali" was published by DC Comics in 1978. On the front cover, several famous people are drawn into the crowd watching Superman fight Ali, among them are some familiar faces.

A reunited Beatles in 1978: Linda and Paul, John and Yoko, George and Ringo alone.

Enlargement from the 2010 hardcover edition of the comic book.

Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame
When The Beatles were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Muhammad Ali was one of the people present, and in his thank you speech, George Harrison mentioned Ali. George had been thanking all the musicians who inspired The Beatles, singling out Little Richard, who also was present, when he was interrupted by Ringo.

Ringo: Don't forget Muhammad Ali!
George: We won't forget Muhammad Ali, he picked us up in Miami Beach one day.

Paul and Ali
In 2002, Paul McCartney and Muhammad Ali were two of the recipients of the UNA-USA's Global Leadership award in New York, and the two met up again. Paul published this statement when notified of Ali's death: "Dear Muhammad Ali. I loved that man. He was great from the first day we met him in Miami, and on the numerous occasions when I ran into him over the years. Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humour who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you. The world has lost a truly great man. Love Paul"

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

George Martin's documentary series airs

George Martin and The Beatles.
Before his death, Sir George Martin was involved in the making of a television series called Soundbreaking. The series has now started to air in a few markets, notably Australia and The Netherlands. More countries to follow. In USA, the PBS series is scheduled to air in November 2016, but the first two episodes have already got early airings on certain PBS stations. Both initial episodes feature segments on George Martin's work with the Beatles, as well as interviews with McCartney, Harrison & Starr.

The following is a description of each episode in the series.

Episode 1: The Recording Artist
Soundbreaking begins where a recording does--at the intersection of inspiration and execution. There stands the enigmatic figure of the record producer, the person charged with the critical task of both realizing an artist's vision and capturing it for posterity. Profiling some of the most accomplished and revered producers in the recording industry, Episode One offers a study in contrasting styles and approaches: between the inspired guidance of George Martin in his work with The Beatles and Phil Spector's dictatorial insistence on his signature sound; between the gentle coaxing with which Rick Rubin brought Johnny Cash back to greatness, and the fierce creative independence of artist-producers such as Joni Mitchell and Sly Stone. In the process, The Recording Artist underscores the way in which any music recording is the product of a delicate and infinitely variable balance between man and machine.

Episode 2: Painting With Sound
The second episode in our series chronicles a watershed event in the history of music: the moment when the recording studio itself effectively became an instrument and gave rise to sounds that could never be reproduced live. Beginning with the advent of magnetic tape and multi-tracking technology, and charting its evolution from the four or eight tracks used by The Beatles and The Beach Boys, to the sixteen- and twenty-four track productions created by Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac, to the digital innovations that today fuel the work of artists such as Beck, Bon Iver, and Radiohead, Painting with Sound traces the birth and development of a new art form--one wholly distinct from what throughout all prior human history had been meant and understood by the word "music."

Episode 3: The Voice - The Human Instrument
Celebrating the most powerful of all instruments--the human voice--the third episode of Soundbreaking surveys the range of ingredients that go into a perfect vocal track. At once the most fundamental component of a song and the most challenging to capture, the vocal track is the product of a complex collaboration between performer, producer, and sound engineer--a titrate of artistic commitment, compelling concept, and technical wizardry that, at its best, turns a lyric into the soul of the song. Featuring rare studio footage of some the world's most renowned vocalists--from blues divas to suave crooners to rock star screamers--the show considers the gamut of tricks and techniques that can both enhance and alter the human voice, and explores the ineffable emotional quality that makes a vocal track truly great.

Episode 4: Going Electric
The fourth episode in our series tells the story of the most elemental force in recording--electricity--and the musical revolution it sparked. Highlighting the way in which electricity has been harnessed and channelled to create new and never-before-heard sounds, Going Electric traces both the chain reaction unleashed by the invention of the electric guitar and the evolution of synthesized music. From Delta blues to Chicago blues to The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, from Stevie Wonder and The Who to EDM, Episode Four looks at the process by which science and engineering becomes sound, and reveals the power of technology to continuously redefine what we mean when we say the word "music."

Episode 5: Four On The Floor
If the vocal track is the heart of a song, the rhythm track--the beat--is its body. It is the sonic element that taps into the most primal part of us and makes us want to move. The Rhythm Track breaks the beat down, and examines the endless experimentation that has taken place in its core, the very bedrock of all music. Charting the progression of the beat from drum and bass to beatbox and beyond--from Little Richard and James Brown to disco and EDM--Episode Five listens in on the ongoing dialogue between dance floor and recording studio, and captures the ever-evolving process of building an irresistible beat.

Episode 6: The World Is Yours
The sixth episode of Soundbreaking looks at a musical revolution that was not only inspired by recording but born from its history: the art of sampling--a kind of musical equivalent of Adam's rib. Beginning with the pioneers of hip hop (Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, Rick Rubin), the episode tracks the way in which the practice of borrowing fragments from existing records created a new genre--a potent musical form that emerged from the margins, up-ended the establishment, and set in motion a controversy over copyright that has yet to be resolved. As we survey the development of sampling and its multiple, varied incarnations over the years since, Episode Six explores the complex sonic landscapes which, by their very existence, pay tribute to the art of recording itself, and examines the eternally blurred line between theft and homage.

Episode 7: Sound & Vision
The penultimate episode in our series proceeds from the once-preposterous notion that music is a visual art form. Chronicling the era in which MTV forged an indelible and inextricable link between recorded music and the newly emergent music video, Sound and Vision considers what it means to see music as well as hear it. Offering unprecedented exposure to artists with a knack for the form-- Michael Jackson, Madonna, Billy Idol, the Eurythmics--MTV turned singles into smash hits and musical performers into international celebrities. It also created new expectations of musical entertainment and imposed new burdens on recording artists. Tracking the music video from MTV to the internet, Episode Seven tells the story of how a one-time marketing tool became a powerful mediator between artist and audience, and illuminates the music video's role in the popular music of today.

Episode 8: The Way We Listen
Soundbreaking's final episode, I Am My Music, shifts the focus away from the creation of music to the experience of listening to it, and to the formats that have shaped and ultimately defined that experience. From vinyl discs to the cassette tape, the CD, and the MP3, each generation has had a piece of musical media to call its own--a way of listening that determines not only how and where we listen, but also the manner in which we collect, store, and share the music we love. What was once an almost tactile experience--a matter of cover art and liner notes and record collections that encapsulated our identity and even telegraphed it to visitors--has now become a blizzard of 0s and 1s, a kind of listening that is at once more intangible, more private, and arguably, by virtue of our nearly limitless access to history's entire catalogue of recorded music, also far more varied than ever before. What remains unchanged is the fundamental miracle of recorded music for the listener: it is music that is ours to command and control. As Soundbreaking concludes, we come to understand the true meaning of that miracle: we listen to what we like when we like, and the music we hear entwines itself with our daily lives and then our memories--until, at last, it becomes an essential part of who we are.