Thursday, 19 July 2018

Secret gig with Paul in London next week?

Paul McCartney's message
After his pub concert at the Philharmonic in Liverpool earlier this summer, Paul McCartney spoke about perhaps doing more small gigs with his band in July. It looks like something's afoot in London next week, if we're to take his Instagram and Twitter message today seriously: "Why do you think you should attend a secret event in London with Paul next week? Post a short video using the hashtag #UnderTheStaircase". An unconfirmed rumour points to studio 2 at Abbey Road as the most likely venue. So if you're planning to be in London next week, you know what to do!

Link: Instagram #UnderTheStaircase

In addition to these invitations, Paul also uploaded a new video to his official Vevo and YouTube channels. It's an old televised concert recording from ITV's CD:UK show, which was shown on TV in the UK on November 24, 2001. Paul performs his own song "Freedom," backed by Blair Cunningham behind the drums, Giles Palmer on guitar and Luke Judy on keyboards. No one plays the bass!

It has been speculated that Paul published this video as a comment on the recent visit to Europe by US president Donald Trump, a controversial visit which has been getting a lot of media attention.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Beatles museum opens in Liverpool this week

The Magical History Museum - the new Beatles museum in Liverpool.
Friday is opening day for Liverpool's new Beatles museum "Magical History Tour", owned by the Best brothers - Roag and Pete.

There have been mixed reactions to the focus two earlier group members have been given on the fasade, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe were members of the group when they were only locally known, in Liverpool and Hamburg.

The museum is smack in the middle of Beatleland, Liverpool - in Mathew Street, which is also where the Cavern Club, the Cavern Pub, the Beatles shop and the pub "The Grapes" are located, and right around the corner for the Hard Day's Night hotel.

You can listen to a telephone interview with Roag Best about the new museum here.

McCartney single as promo CDs

French promo CD for Paul McCartney's song "Come On To Me"
Eager CD collectors have informed us of the availability of promotional or radio promo CDs of Paul McCartney's two new songs. Apparently French releases, these were bought by one collector through ebay. The two CD's contain one song each, but in two versions: regular and (shorter) radio edits. So, listen out for those radio edits!

French promotional CD for Paul McCartney's song, "I Don't Know".

The corrected cartoon

Remember this cartoon? It has been around since 2014. That final panel was recently updated to say 2018.
This cartoon has been floating around on social media since 2014 at least, and is a satirical statement on the vinyl revival, at the same time telling the story of the development of mainstream audio carriers. The artist has chosen the iconic "Meet The Beatles" to illustrate his point. Still, as a Beatles fan I have always tried to make corrections whenever false information has been published. I have resisted commenting on this cartoon for years, but I finally gave in.

Cartoon with comments
The real publication years for the various editions of the "Meet The Beatles" album wouldn't have illustrated the development of mainstream audio carriers well enough.

Basically because when The Beatles' official CDs were going on release back in 1987, the British editions were the only ones deemed good enough, so the US "Meet The Beatles" wasn't released until 2006 - when the record company felt a need to further milk the market without offering anything really new.

This US album was never released as mp3-files in an official capacity, as the streaming files and other digital releases have been concentrating on the British albums.

There was no vinyl edition of "Meet The Beatles" in 2014, and the 75th anniversary edition listed in 2016 by Capitol Records as a future release hasn't materialised yet, so the most recent vinyl edition is from 1988.

Finally, I wanted to add reel-to-reel tapes to the collection. Please note, there were no mini-disc, digital compact cassette or DAT tapes of "Meet The Beatles", but then again those formats never took off.

Final edition

Friday, 13 July 2018

When did The Beatles cross the road?

Was it really the 8th of August 1969?
A few days ago, I was contacted by one Richard Heath, a man who was Iain Macmillan's printer from the mid eighties and until the photographer passed away in 2006.

Heath was eager to correct some of the information I provided on my Abbey Road Photoshoot page. The first issue is the actual date when The Beatles were photographed crossing the Abbey Road. It has been generally accepted that this happened on the 8th of August, 1969. That makes it a Friday. However, people seem to remember the shoot having taken place on a Sunday! Iain seems to have always remembered it to have been a Sunday. Here's what Heath wrote: "Now on one of the many conversations I had with Iain, and once you got him started he was off, I'm sure he said it was on a Sunday. So to be honest it may not even have been the 8th., I really don't know.".

Also, Kevin Harrington wrote about it as a Sunday in his 2015 book. He remembers having been picked out to do a "dry run" for the photo the previous Sunday, and The Beatles were photographed the next Sunday. So if the Sunday reporting is true, the photo may have been taken on Sunday the 10th or perhaps even Sunday the 17th.

A policeman held up the traffic during the photo shoot. Or, so they say anyway!
Another issue Heath was keen to pursue was the shutter speed and exposure time. Macmillan used a Hasselblad camera with a 50mm wide-angle lens, aperture f22, at 1/500 seconds. Or at least, that's what was reported earlier - but again in comes Richard Heath with some corrections: "Regarding the camera exposure: Back in those days film speed was not all that fast, maybe 64-100 ASA which I would be amazed if that gave you a setting of f22 and 1/500th of a second. I would think it would be 2 or 3 stops down from there, maybe f11/f16 at 1/250th, even 1/125th of a second. ... Strangely the rear shot of the wall/girl was shot on a different film (but) both front and rear films were Kodak, as most transparency film was in those days. "

The setting of f22 at 1/500 seconds have also been disputed by a commentator over at The Beatles Bible in 2016: "As a professional photographer for the past 45 years I can tell you with certainty that this photo was not taken at 1/500 at f22.on transparency film. Even the most sensitive transparency film of the era, Kodak high speed Ektachrome, would have been three stops under-exposed at that setting."

The photo of the back cover was shot using a different type of film.
The original photo that made the cover of "Abbey Road" may have been lost, and it's likely that the only original negatives remaining, are the outtake photos. Richard Heath: "Believe it or not but back in those days it was quite common to send an original to the blockmakers, ie for an album cover - even a Beatles one, and never see it again. Exactly that happened in this case. I started making prints for Iain in the mid 80's and I have never seen the original transparency, when I asked him about it he just said he never saw it again."

Heath also told me about the different prints, those that were printed on Kodak photo paper, and those that were printed on Fuji photo paper. Remember, this is information starting in the mid eighties:

"When I started printing them you could only buy Kodak "R" type paper, and it was always a problem to get an accurate print. Basically because the Kodak paper was not very good. It was almost impossible to John's white suit to look natural, the contrast just wouldn't allow you to get detail in it. In fact, I can remember having a heated conversation with Iain in which I ended up suggesting, very politely, maybe he might be better if he used another laboratory, but he absolutely wouldn't hear of it".

"Then we started to get Fuji paper. OMG! This stuff was amazing, the colour, and contrast was from a different galaxy. Needless to say Iain loved it. So if you look on the back of the very early prints and it says Kodak, and other ones say Fuji, that's why they can be so different in colour with the Fuji versions being much richer and accurate in colour".

"The watermark (is) a very faint printed name of the paper producer. To complicate things a little, Fuji didn't always print their name on the back, it depended on what size of paper you were using. Just for the record, they were never printed on "C" type paper from the originals. The only ones made on that paper would have been made from digital files. Negatives were never made from the originals, not by me anyway".

I hope this is valuable information for all you photo collectors out there. Save for the photo paper information, the other subjects of the discussion have been incorporated into the main  Abbey Road Photoshoot page.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Ticket To Ride piano in Austria

Look - nine hands!
Some of you may have noticed a discrepancy in the "Ticket To Ride" segment in The Beatles' "Help!" movie. In the scenes around the piano, there seems to be an extra hand.

The extra foot
Then there was this still photo, which seemed to contain an extra foot, because George didn't normally sport three feet?

Richard Lester
This photo shows that Richard Lester may be the one lending The Beatles' an extra hand. We discovered it at Gotta Have Rock and Roll's Rock & Roll Pop Culture Auction.

Piano sculpture in Obertauern
Incredibly, at the location in Obertauern, Austria, a piano sculpture has been installed to commemorate this movie scene. This and other installations were unveiled in March 2015, fifty years after the filming.

Friday, 6 July 2018

1999 Yellow Submarine EPKs

The first restoration of "Yellow Submarine" was done in 1999, when the film cells were painstakingly restored, faded colours recoloured, the sound was stereo remixed and the first surround sound mix was made. The three remaining Beatles were interviewed for the re-release (on DVD and VHS), resulting in several EPKs (Electronic Press Kits) distributed to TV stations. VH-1 made a TV programme from these EPKs. In 2018, The Beatles' official YouTube channel have released short clips from these 1999 interviews, but here is the VH-1 Special.

And here are the official clips from 2018:

Electronic Press Kits
As mentioned above, prior to the release of the DVD and the new Songtrack CD in 1999, six Electronic Press Kits were issued as promotional products and two featurettes were released for TV broadcast featuring all-new interview footage of the fab three talking about Yellow Submarine. All featured clips from the renovated movie in a 4.3 aspect ratio. The EPKs have a selectable narration track with a voiceover by comedian Nick Hancock. Paul, Ringo & George were all interviewed separately for the Yellow Sub promotion and snippets of the interviews are spread throughout the different EPKs;

Hey Bulldog EPK - Much was made of this song's inclusion in the film and on the Songtrack. In between the Anthology DVDs and the Yellow Submarine re-release footage was uncovered of The Beatles in Studio 3 of Abbey Road recording Hey Bulldog. Parts of the footage were used in the promotional film for Lady Madonna but when the original reels were viewed again it was discovered that almost the whole of Hey Bulldog had been captured on celluloid. From these reels a new 'video' was made for Hey Bulldog and released with the new stereo mix of the song from the Songtrack CD. Also on this EPK is some brief interview footage relating to the song.

Yellow Submarine Songtrack EPK - Paul, George and Ringo chat about the new mixes of 'Yellow Submarine', 'Hey Bulldog', 'Eleanor Rigby', 'Love You To' and 'All You Need Is Love'. Also five preview clips from the upcoming DVD: All You Need Is Love, Meanies Attack, Hey Bulldog, Sea of Monsters & Sea of Holes. Also includes 44 second Mod Odyssey clip and a preview of the packaging for the upcoming releases.

Yellow Submarine Returns EPK - Paul, George and Ringo chat about the renovation of the sounds and pictures, Blue Meanies, their animated portrayals and the songs. Also includes 44 second Mod Odyssey clip and a preview of the packaging for the upcoming releases.

The Making Of Yellow Submarine EPK - A 6 and a half minute featurette with further interview footage of Paul, Ringo and George, Heinz Edelmann, Roger McGough, Paul Angelis, Peter Cobbin and Bruce Markoe. Brief behind-the-scenes footage.

The Yellow Submarine Collection EPK - 2:30 clip regarding the merchandising tie-ins.

For Kids Of All Ages EPK - 3 minute film featuring the reaction to the film of some Liverpool school kids and further interview footage with Paul, George and Ringo.

The EPKs were originally distributed on video cassettes, but are available on a bootleg DVD from the Yellow Cow label,"Yellow Submarine, The Complete 1999 EPKs" Total time: 34:26, but some footage is repeated on several of the EPKs.

Yesterday, The official Beatles YouTube channel uploaded the 1999 special stereo remixed "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" as a playlist. If you haven't heard these remixes, now is the time to get that headset on and hit play!

For info about the contents of the various EPKs, thanks goes to

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Paul McCartney announces UK dates for December

Paul McCartney relaxes in a St John's Wood restaurant.
Hot on the heels of having announced four concerts in Canada, Paul McCartney revealed that he is coming to the UK to do three gigs in December: Liverpool, Glasgow and London. See his announcement here. The venue in Liverpool, Echo Arena, dropped lots of hints about Paul's return to the city through their Twitter account yesterday.

Tickets go on sale Monday 16th July at 10am. An American Express® presale will run from 10am on Wednesday 11th July until 10pm on Friday 13th July for all American Express Cardmembers. T&Cs apply. Also, fans registered at will have access to the presale.

The gigs are part of his "Freshen Up!" tour. "Up and Coming" became "On The Run" became "Out There" became "One on One" has become "Freshen Up"! So that means new stage clothes for Paul, a new programme and tour merchandise, a slight change to the pre-show film and perhaps new curtains.

In other, McCartney-related news, record producer Greg Kurstin was interviewed quite extensively by Rolling Stone magazine about Paul's new album, "Egypt Station". You can read that interview here.

It appears that the first track the pair worked on was not for this project but for Paul's upcoming - but still in the works - cartoon, "High in the Clouds", which we have reported about earlier. In fact, we mentioned the plans for this animated feature as early as in 2010, and then again in 2013. Then, three years ago, McCartney reportedly duetted with Lady Gaga on one of the songs for the film.

During the phone interview, Kurstin mentioned a few song titles which haven't been revealed before: "Confidante", "Hunt" or "Hunt You Down" and "Back in Brazil". 20-something songs were recorded with Kurstin. The title "For You" is mentioned as produced by Ryan Tedder, but that was probably a bad phone line or a misheard title, as that track has been mentioned earlier, as "Fuh You". Before this, we knew about these titles: The instrumentals "Station 1" and "Station 2" bookend the album, "Happy With You", "People Want Peace", "Despite Repeated Warnings" and of course the single: "Come On To Me" and "I Don't Know".

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The note Paul wrote

From recording sessions for "Egypt Station", Pauls upcoming album.
The EU-parliament has received a letter from Paul McCartney (who just announced his new tour - beginning with four dates in Canada in September) today.

Here is the letter:
Dear Members of the European Parliament,

I write to urge your support for the mandate on Copyright in the upcoming plenary vote this week.

Music and culture matter. They are our heart and soul. But they don’t just happen: they demand the hard work of so many people. Importantly, music also creates jobs and economic growth and digital innovation across Europe.

Unfortunately, the value gap jeopardizes the music ecosystem. We need an Internet that is fair and sustainable for all. But today some User Upload Content platforms refuse to compensate artists and all music creators fairly for their work, while they exploit it for their own profit.
The value gap is that gulf between the value these platforms derive from music and the value they pay creators.

The proposed Copyright Directive and its Article 13 would address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators, fans and digital music services alike.

Please vote to uphold the mandate on Copyright and Article 13. You hold in your hands the future of music here in Europe.

Thank you for your consideration.


Sir Paul McCartney

Source: Music Business Worldwide (GB)

The issue at hand is really about YouTube, a website which - despite it's popularity - hardly creates any revenue at all for composers or artists, because of outdated legislations from the previous century. This has been a hot potato in the record industry for years.

It's quite possible that this is the reason why, in the past few weeks, The Beatles have uploaded nearly all their albums to their YouTube channel, for free of charge playing - just to illustrate this point.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Richard Avedon originals

Paul McCartney by Richard Avedon.
May 29, 2018, the original portrait of Paul McCartney that Richard Avedon used to create his "psychedelic" posters from, appeared online on social media. This was the first time I had ever seen the original photo. And June 22, what appears to be the original George Harrison portrait was posted.

George Harrison by Richard Avedon
It looks like these originals have been published by the Richard Avedon Foundation on various social media, including Instagram. We are grateful for that, because it is nice to finally see these as they were before the solarisation process.

On the finished version, a hand was included, possibly pasted into the photo.
The Beatles were photographed by Richard Avedon on August 11, 1967 in the photographic studio in Thompson House, 200 Gray's Inn Road, London.

Avedon, whose career spanned 60 years, died in 2004 at the age of 81 while on assignment in Texas for The New Yorker. You can read about Avedon's Beatles portraits and posters here.