Friday, 31 March 2017

Ringo listens to remastered Sgt Pepper album

From the photo session: The Beatles with Adam, the son of photographer Michael Cooper.
If you're looking for news about the upcoming anniversary edition of "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", here's a story which guitarist/bassist/vocalist Keith Allison posted on his Facebook page yesterday:

"A couple months ago I was at Ringo's home. We were in his man cave watching tv, when a delivery from England came in. It's was from Giles Martin, George Martins son. What's this? It's the Sgt. Pepper album remastered. I said, "I haven't listened to this in I don't know how long." Ringo exclaimed, "You haven't heard it in a long time? I haven't listened to it in decades." So we decide to listen to it on his high def top of the line system. So here we are sitting on the sofa, facing the Tv, muted, but with soap operas playing. We listened to every track together. I thought, this is a historically great moment. Sitting here with my friend, listening to Sgt. Pepper, that he's on as a Beatle, and that he hasn't listen to track by track, since it came out".

"Only two copies of the remastered Sgt. Pepper album were sent out, one to McCartney and one to Ringo, to be approved by them both. So what did Ringo think? He thought it was great! Why? Because it originally was recorded on a 4-track with a lot of over dubs, which buried the drums. Now, the drums have been lifted and come through as they should. He was pleased. You'll be glad to know it was remastered at EMI Studios where it was originally recorded."

So, I guess Allison confuses remastering with remixing. This probably means that Giles Martin has gone back to the original session tapes of the takes that were used and transferred them to multitracks, remixed them anew using the original overdubs, only no "bouncing down" this time. The sixties "bounce down" technique was to combine two or more tracks and transfer to one new track, thus freeing up space for three more tracks on a four track tape. This method would mean degrading the sound somewhat, due to tape noise.
Using the original session tapes to recreate the mix would then be a way to avoid that "dulling down" of the audio. Then of course, it's the placement in the stereo picture as well as the volume of each instrument or vocal which we don't know will be the same as the sixties mix. Several of the Sgt Pepper songs were successfully remixed with a new stereo image for the 1999 album "Yellow Submarine Songtrack". We hope the full album has gotten this treatment this time. It seems that the official word is on it's way, if this image posted on The Beatles' website and social media today is anything to go by:
Sgt Pepper uniform colours, posted by official Beatles accounts.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

It was 50 years ago today: Shooting the Sgt Pepper album cover

The uncropped and unaltered Sgt Pepper front cover setup
Just a quick post to honour the fiftieth anniversary of the photo session for the "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album cover. Peter Blake and his then wife Jann Haworth conceived the idea, and assembled the various elements with assistance from a number of people. Michael Cooper is credited as the photographer, but it was mainly his assistant who operated the camera while Cooper directed the shoots.
Here are some useful links re the cover photo session:
The Daily Beatle-articles about Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band from the archives:

Thursday, 23 March 2017

It Was Fifty... bonus material

Bonus material twice the length of the film
This just in, "It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles, Sgt Pepper & Beyond.... " The DVD/Blu-Ray Extras:

  • The Merseybeat Story
  • The Bootleg Beatles Story 
  • Pete Best Interview 
  • Julia Baird Interview 
  • Liverpool & London mini tour
  • Ringo at the birth of Jason (archive) 
  • 34 Montagu Square - Blue Plaque 
  • Alan G Parker & Alexa Morris Interview 
  • Andy Peebles Interview (regarding December 1980)
  • Recording the score - Studio sessions

According to Director Alan G parker, the bonus material clocks in at 4 hours 35 minutes. Still no preordering info, so stay tuned...

In other news, U.S. Beatles magazine Beatlefan brings forth rumours that the upcoming 50th anniversary edition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" will include a new stereo mix of the album, a new surroundsound mix, and outtakes from the album sessions. Still no confirmation on this from official sources, so again...stay tuned!

Unboxing Flowers In The Dirt

Monday, 20 March 2017

Flowers VS Vigotone

Due out this week is the new offering from the McCartney Archives series, the first on the Capitol Records label, "Flowers In The Dirt".  Today, Mike Carrera offers a quick musical review of the upcoming Flowers in the dirt Archive - DeLuxe edition release, focusing only on the differences of the CD 2 Demos and the old bootleg version of the same demos, as released in 1998 by the Vigotone label: The McCartney/Mac Manus Collaboration, plus a glimpse of the new and never-heard-before demos from 1998 (CD 3 on the Deluxe Edition of the Flowers Archive box set).

Vigotone bootleg in question

The main difference is that the bootleg demos have slight hiss noise and the now official demos are with clean sound, but the bootleg versions sounds louder.

1 THE LOVERS THAT NEVER WERE ( DEMO #1)  3:55 (Official CD 2) VS 3:57 (Bootleg)
Official set has a fade out which means it's missing the final guitar chords where the bootleg is complete.
A fragment (1:27) of this very same demo was broadcast during Paul’s Oobu Joobu Radio shows in 1995.

2 TOMMY’S COMING HOME 4:06 vs 4:06
No differences

3 TWENTY FINE FINGERS 2:23 vs 2:25
Official release misses only two seconds and a barely listenable Paul vocal during fade out that can be heard with headphones on the bootleg. The correct name of the song is Twenty Fine Fingers, contrary to what it says on the bootleg: Twenty Five Fingers.

4 SO LIKE CANDY 3:26 vs 3:26
No differences

5 YOU WANT HER TOO  2:34 vs 2:43
No differences

NEW- never released on bootleg before

7 DON’T BE CARELESS LOVE 3:40 vs 3:33
The same version but the bootleg runs at a faster speed. Other than that, no differences.

8 MY BRAVE FACE 2:39 vs 2:29
Complete for the first time, the bootleg is missing 10 seconds of the finale.

9 PLAYBOY TO A MAN 2:54 vs 2:50
The same version but the bootleg runs at a faster speed. Other than that, no differences.

NEW- never released on bootleg before. It uses the SAME demo (track 1) recorded by Paul and Elvis in 1987 as a musical bed underneath, but adds additional instruments (a different piano intro, guitars, backing vocals from Linda and additional elements like a clock sound at the end) overdubbed by Paul after he recorded the “band demo”(Flowers Archive CD 3) in 1988 . This is more similar to the "Off the Ground" released version from 1992.

Paul McCartney on set at the video shoot for ‘This One’ directed by Tim Pope, Battersea, London, 1989 © Eugene Adebari

CD 3- BAND DEMOS 1988 (includes drums, piano, guitars, etc).
ALL NEW, NEVER HEARD, NEVER RELEASED before (official or bootleg)

A very rough band demo, distant from the released Off the Ground version (or the “Hidden Track” Demo #2 on CD 2) . Paul’s vocal track only, not sign of Elvis signing (contrary to the demo(s) from CD 2)

A studio outtake more than a “demo”. More produced/changes of rhythm than the CD 2 demo. Elvis and Paul singing together.

Similar from the CD 2 demo, but now with rhythm box/drum machine and some additional elements (like an actual drum on a few parts of the song and electric guitar). Elvis and Paul singing together.

Paul on main vocal, Elvis on backings. Different arrangement from the released version in 1991 (Mighty Like a Rose), more similar to the CD 2 demo, this version now features full band (drums/guitars/keyboards, etc).
More than a studio demo sounds like an outtake.

An alternate take, not a “demo”, almost the same as the released version with slight differences in the vocal tracks which are more “rough”, misses also the orchestral coda at the end. Elvis and Paul singing their parts like the released version.

Another alternate take more than a “demo”. Paul on main vocal, Elvis and Hamish Stuart on backing vocals, like the released version.

Another alternate take more than a “demo”, starts like the released version but has  a different change of rhythm. Paul on main vocal, Elvis  on backing vocals.

One of the highlights, this “band demo” features both Elvis and Paul singing it together and sounds similar (but slower, still faster and different from the CD 2 demo) to the released version (which don’t feature Elvis on vocals).

Paul on main vocal, Elvis on backings. Different arrangement from the released version in 1991 (Mighty Like a Rose), more similar to the CD 2 demo but faster, this version now features full band (drums/guitars/keyboards, etc). More than a studio demo sounds like an outtake.
Vinyl edition of the new "Flowers In The Dirt"

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

McCartney cassette for RSD

Demo cassette from Paul and Elvis for Record Store Day
Just a little bit less than a year ago, we were reporting on the cassette revival, and yesterday Paul McCartney announced the release of a limited edition three-song cassette of Paul and Elvis Costello's Flowers In The Dirt demos. The cassette will be made available at participating RSD stores on Record Store Day this April 22nd. writes: "The limited edition cassette-only release will be the first time these recordings - 'I Don’t Want To Confess', 'Shallow Grave' and 'Mistress And Maid'- will be made available in the same form as when Paul and Elvis first cut them directly to tape". Here's a promo:

More commercials for the vinyl collection

DeAgostini Beatles Vinyl Collection, here with Abbey Road.
For their current re-release of The Beatles' albums on vinyl, DeAgostini has compiled two interviews with Kevin Howlett and Sean Magee into two commercials of different lengths, one is half a minute, the other one a full minute. Here's the longer of the two, the shorter one is just an edit of this. Howlett describes his contribution of booklets as a sort of "Director's cut" of the essays he wrote for the 2009 CD booklets, whereas the newer compilation albums have all-new booklets with new essays by him. Magee talks about making the new lacquers at Abbey Road.

As you probably know, this collection is also out in Italy. For a visual comparison between the 2012 vinyl remastered "White album" and the DeAgostini pressing, here's Italian fan Pippo Losballato letting you take a good look at the two editions, commenting in English for your convenience.

Update: The DeAgostini Beatles vinyl collection has now also been launched in Germany.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Spizer chimes in

Front cover of Bruce Spizer's Sgt. Pepper book.
2017 is a year literally peppered (sorry) with interesting stuff, and now a third book about the Beatles' classic "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album has been announced. This time it's U.S. Beatles historian Bruce Spizer who is currently busy compiling a book about the album as seen from the fans’ perspective, with contributions by Bruce, Bill King, Al Sussman, Frank Daniels, Piers Hemmingsen and others. He is also still looking for memories from fans throughout the world to include in this book. But you'll have to be quick if you're going to participate, deadline is March 22.
Here is a link to the web page where you can send in your stuff: Beatle.Net

The book will be out in May. We previously announced two other books about the album.
Also, Ken Orth will have a 2-part article in Beatlefan about the creation of the album cover, and then there's the unofficial documentary film by Alan G Parker, who we recently interviewed. But of course the biggest event has yet to be officially announced: the anniversary edition of the album itself. And don't fool yourself thinking that it's going to be just the album with the single tracks Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields added. I assure you, this will be something special to look forward to for all of us.

In addition to this, there will be Sgt Pepper concerts arranged in many countries, featuring local cover bands and/or well known local heroes performing the Pepper songs. "A splendid time", well, you know the drill.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

In between The Beatles

A Norwegian pressing of Ken Dodd's "Tears" single was among the catch from the record fair.
We had the pleasure of attending a local record fair this past weekend, and among the cheaper records we brought into our collection was a 45 rpm single which has a special place in Beatles history, "Tears" by Liverpool comedian, singer-songwriter and actor Ken Dodd.

Seven years ago, The official British charts company compiled a list of the best-selling singles in the UK in the Sixties. Here's the top 5:

1. The Beatles: "She Loves You" (Parlophone) 1963
2. The Beatles: "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Parlophone) 1963
3. Ken Dodd: "Tears" (Columbia) 1965
4. The Beatles: "Can't Buy Me Love" (Parlophone) 1964
5. The Beatles: "I Feel Fine" (Parlophone) 1964

You can find the top 60 on Wikipedia.

The most represented act in the chart is The Beatles, who feature on the list with 18 releases, seven of which are in the top twenty. So what's the story of Ken Dodd?

Ken Dodd with The Beatles.
Ken Dodd, who will be turning 90 this November, has been in showbusiness for more than 60 years. Born in Liverpool in 1927, he is best known for his buck teeth and frizzy hair, tickling stick and his creation of the Diddymen. As of 2017, he continues to tour the UK with his comedy and music show. Despite his age, his shows are unusually long, and still frequently do not finish until after midnight. Here's his best seller from 1965, "Tears":

By no means a one hit wonder, Ken Dodd had 19 UK hit singles from 1960 to 1981. "Tears" was released at the start of September 1965 and hit the top of the national charts on September 30, staying there for five weeks.

"Tears" was written by Frank Capano and Billy Uhr and was first recorded by Rudy Vallee in 1929.

September 1963: The Beatles and Ken Dodd

Monday, 6 March 2017

New "first Beatles film" discovered

On the rooftop of the garden shed at Paul's house: John, Paul, George and Mike!
Liverpool Beatles fans Peter Hodgson and Mark Ashworth have just teamed up to discover what must now be counted as the earliest film clip of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison together.

Here's the story: The back of 20 Forthlin Road overlooked the grounds of the Police Training College, headquarters of the Liverpool Mounted Police.
Paul and his brother would watch them training horses, knocking pegs out of the ground with lances just as they had done in the British Raj. "We used to sit on the concrete shed in the back yard and watch the Police Show every year for free," Paul remembered. "One year, Jackie Collins came to open it and we were entranced at the sight of her comely young figure." (Barry Miles / Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now).

Peter Hodgson in true Columbo style has come up trumps here. The film was made in 1958 (not 1950 as it says on YouTube). take a look at the film, but the interesting part is around the 34.33 mark.

What you're looking at here is the 1958 Police show with the rear of Forthlin Road across the back of the field. The McCartney's home, no.20 was/is the third house to the left from the three storey flats seen on the right. What's very exciting about all this, seen more clearly on my screenshot, is that Peter has noticed several figures sitting on the roof of the outside toilet of no.20 watching the show. Today, Paul McCartney's brother Mike had a look at the footage and confirmed to a Liverpool reporter that the figures are John, Paul, George and Mike himself.

More at the There Are Places I Remember blog

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Revised Sgt Pepper album?

The Sunday Times: Anniversary re-release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band" due.
According to The Sunday Times, a New edition of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is planned for release this year, with the single tracks "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" added.

The newspaper says that "The 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band this June will be marked with a worldwide re-release — and for fans it will mean at last hearing the album as the band had intended it to sound".

According to the newspaper's sources, the anniversary relaunch on June 1 will reinstate the two tracks, which George Martin agreed to release as a single several months before the album was in the shops. The Sunday Times quotes Paul McCartney:"We were then moving away from screaming girls’ gigs where no one could hear anything in the concert halls any more and were working on Sgt Pepper. John wrote this absolutely amazing song, Strawberry Fields Forever, for the new album and I was frankly a bit jealous, so I went home and wrote Penny Lane. It worked and we wanted them as the main tracks on Sgt Pepper."

The Sunday Times also writes that "Although details of the re-release are being kept secret, it is understood that all parties involved have co-operated fully, including McCartney, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison".

Source: Sunday Times

We must add that as far as we're concerned, we believe that a 50th Anniversary re-release of the "Sgt. Pepper" album should do more than just add the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever single to the album's lineup, and we do think that a far grander scheme is in the works.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Why no Let It Be film

In a new interview with Cinematographer Tony Richmond, who worked on the "Let It Be" film under director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Richmond weighs in on what seems to be holding up an official release of the film for the home video market. Here is the part of the interview where he speaks about this film:

"After shooting The (Rock'n'Roll) Circus, Michael Lindsay-Hogg said he was going to do a TV special for the Beatles and would I shoot it? I asked if he intended to shoot on film or tape and when he said ‘on tape,’ I said I wasn’t interested. At around the same time, a mate of mine, Denis O’Dell, was running Apple Films for the Beatles. And Denis said, ‘the Beatles are coming here to rehearse for a TV special (the very one Michael was going to direct). Why don’t you get a couple of 16mm cameras and a couple of guys and come down and shoot some stuff and we can make a kind of documentary of them rehearsing.’

"We shot thousands and thousands of feet of 16mm footage. There was a discussion about where they would shoot the actual TV special. Each Beatle wanted a different place. A few days later they still couldn’t make up their minds and John said to me, ‘What’s all the shit you’ve been shooting?’ He liked the dailies and said, ‘We don’t have to do anything else; we’ll just use this and do a free concert on a roof somewhere. Let’s do it tomorrow night.’ And that became Let It Be. It’s as simple as that!

"It was released as a film. Since then, we remastered it for DVD and there were so many outtakes that weren’t used in the film that really show the acrimony between all of the Beatles. But that’s still being held up by George Harrison’s estate and his wife and Yoko Ono because they don’t want the acrimony shown."

Source: American Cinematheque

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Beatles vinyl albums by subscription

De Agostini (with the cooperation of Apple and Universal) have started a Beatles Vinyl Collection series. Available for subscription in the UK and Ireland at £9.99 / €9.99 for the first issue (for a limited time only), from Issue 2 onwards, all single albums are £16.99 and all double and triple albums are £24.99. Subscribers get a magazine per album. When complete, the collection will consist of 23 single, double or triple albums, and their accompanying magazines, plus a few "free" gifts:
Free gifts

£9.99 / €9.99
First Magazine & First Vinyl album
Free exclusive Beatles Vinyl Collection t-shirt

£37.98 / €44.98
2 Magazines
2 Vinyl albums


£45.98 / €54.98
2 Magazines
2 Vinyl albums
A high quality display frame for your favourite Beatles album

Delivery 5: A Beatles Vinyl Collection turntable mat
Delivery 7: Exclusive Beatles Vinyl Collection mug
Delivery 8: The Beatles Vinyl Collection USB power bank
Delivery 9: The Beatles Vinyl Collection backpack
Delivery 10: A Beatles Vinyl Collection Notebook

2 High quality storage boxes to house the complete The Beatles Vinyl Collection, with 4th and final delivery.

Here's a sample of magazine #1, "Abbey Road":

Click to preview

This collection has been available in Italy for Italian subscribers since last January. These are the albums, in order of delivery (as far as we know):
  1. Abbey Road
  2. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  3. Help! 
  4. The Beatles (the White album)
  5. Rubber Soul 
  6. Magical Mystery Tour
  7. Yellow Submarine
  8. Beatles for Sale 
  9. Love
  10. A Hard Day's Night
  11. 1962-1966 (The Red album)
  12. With the Beatles
  13. Anthology 1 
  14. Revolver 
  15. Anthology 2
  16. Live at The BBC Vol 1
  17. Please Please Me
  18. On Air: Live at the BBC Vol 2 
  19. Let it Be
  20. 1
  21. Anthology 3
  22. 1967-1970 (The Blue album)
  23. Past Masters
More info: De Agostini

We wonder if the Anthologies are remastered, as per their iTunes counterparts? Probably not, though. Shame about the non-inclusion of the "Yellow Submarine Songtrack", as it contains superior stereo mixes not available on these other albums. And what about "Let It Be...Naked" or last year's "Live at the Hollywood Bowl"? And for this to become a true collector's item, they should have included the "Tomorrow Never Knows" album, plus the "1963 Bootleg recordings" album. But we're glad they didn't so we didn't have to start subscribing ;-)

Inclusion of this album might have forced our hand.

Also available at some news agents, this campaign actually started last year, but was halted after just a few releases. Relaunched yesterday, let's hope they are able to continue the series until conclusion. Reports from last year's customers are that these albums are very much like the 2012 remastered vinyl stereo albums, but of course without mention of EMI, instead, Universal Music and Calderstones Productions. There is a very small "De Agostini" text on the album sleeves, which are glossy and sturdy, and the records seem to be pressed at the French MPO pressing plant, using new Abbey Road studios lacquers.