Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The end of Star-Club

Grosse Freiheit in 1970
The very famous Star-Club in Grosse Freiheit, Hamburg closed its doors on December 31, 1969. 50 years later, one of the last club operators - Achim Reichel - tells the story about the end of an era.
The documentary features very rarely seen archive footage from a 1970 ZDF programme in colour, with rare pictures and interviews.

In the 1970 footage, we see the club is being redecorated and the main floor converted. The old stage piano, whose ivories has been tickled by rockers like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and no doubt Paul McCartney, has been left on the floor on its way to the junk yard. The new owner, flanked by a couple of his women, brags about how sex is going to bring him millions on the premises.

Pete Best, 1970.
The team from ZDF also travelled to Liverpool in 1970, for a short interview with Pete Best, at the time finally sporting somewhat of a Beatle haircut. Drums stowed away, Pete had a normal job by then, and this was his first public interview since the first part of the sixties.

The documentary is best suited for those of you who understand German, but the 1970 footage makes it worthwhile for anyone who is fond of this era.

Swedish Beatles author Hans Olof Gottfridsson and collaborator Richard Moore wrote a two part article for Record Collector about The Beatles' Star-Club recordings. These have now been made available from Richard’s company website Mint Audio Restoration. The articles are based on exclusive access to the original tape, and was written in close cooperation with the producer of the official Star-club records in 1977, Larry Grossberg. PDFs: Part 1 - Part 2.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Lennon's thread

The original uncropped photo by Robert Freeman
In 2012, the uncropped original photo which adorned the Beatles' album "Rubber Soul" album cover found its way to the internet. It was taken by the recently deceased Robert Freeman, and as legend has it: When projected on a square LP-sized white cardboard which accidentally bent, the fab four wanted to take advantage of the warped image and used that as the front cover.
The uncropped original has been enhanced using various computer techniques and started popping up on social media in 2019:

Artist Clayton Hickman used machine learning and Photoshop to give us an approximation of the uncropped image with much greater fidelity. Taken from Hickman’s Twitter account.
One thing that's evident from the original photo, enhanced or not, is that there is a loose thread on John Lennon's shoulder - not present on the U.K. or U.S.A. pressings of the album. In fact, it has been airbrushed away in most countries pressings of the LP.

But in some countries, the thread was not airbrushed out. So far, we are aware of Argentinian and Mexican copies of the album where John's jacket is unashamedly displaying it's shortcomings.

Mexican pressing of Rubber Soul
It's also used on a Mexican EP cover.
Michelle EP - Mexico

Detail from an Argentinian Rubber Soul where their faces seems to have been softened somewhat.

So what did happen to John's brown suede jacket? Made by D.A. Millings but not part of a Beatles uniform, John Lennon first donned this jacket in public during their 1964 U.S. tour.

Pretty soon, the right shoulder epaulette went missing, with only the loose thread to show for it. We have no idea what happened to it. Torn off by a fan?
John with the jacket, left epaulette still in place.
After a while, Lennon gave the jacket away to his housekeeper, Dorothy «Dot» Jarlett. She later auctioned off the garment, and it was bought by Hard Rock Café. It's now in circulation at their restaurants.
Now at Hard Rock Cafe somewhere.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Lewisohn about the Star-Club tapes

Mark Lewisohn discussed this album on the I Am The Eggpod podcast.
I am the Eggpod is a Beatles podcast with Chris Shaw and guests, each episode discusses a Beatles- or solo album. On New Year's eve, an episode with Mark Lewisohn as guest discussed an album which was available legally between 1977 and 1998, after which it was deemed to be property of Apple Corps Ltd.

The album in question is of course The Beatles Live At The Star-Club, Hamburg, Germany; 1962. It consisted of various recordings from the stage at this German club, in late December, 1962.

Since it had just been announced that Neil Innes had passed, Lewisohn and host Chris Shaw started with remembering Innes, who also himself had guested the podcast in May 2019.

Lewisohn shares thoughts about the Beatles' time in Hamburg and these recordings, giving examples of John Lennon's audible humorous antics on stage, and reveals that it is Paul himself who has come up with the English lyrics to the song "Falling in love again", which is performed. You may listen to the podcast below.

Lewisohn had actually himself contributed to the plethora of records exploiting these tapes, by submitting liner notes to a three volume LP series on the small record company Breakaway Records in 1983. The series was called "The Hamburg Tapes".

Lewisohn wrote the liner notes for these three volumes, and also for another LP from the same company,
consisting of songs from the Decca audition tape.
During the podcast, Lewisohn also talks about the High Court hearing in 1998, where it was decided that the recordings were protected by copyright, and should never have been released in the first place. George Harrison testified on behalf of The Beatles, and the man responsible for taping the concerts, Ted "Kingsize" Taylor, was also present.

May 6, 1998: George Harrison testifies in the High Court in London.
More episodes in this podcast series to be found here.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Peter Jackson film in October?

The original Get Back book from 1970 was printed before the project was renamed Let It Be
On Amazon in both the UK and USA, a book with the title The Beatles Get Back was announced for release on 15 October 2020. John Bezzini noticed the listing on Amazon and contacted the publisher and received this info: "The Beatles Get Back" is the authorized story of the making of the "Let it Be" album and the Beatles’ break-up, told through exclusive photographs, transcripts of the recording sessions, and an essay by Hanif Kureishi. The book will be the companion to the film directed by Peter Jackson, both released next fall (exact date to be announced). 

Links to pre-order the book:
Amazon (UK)
Amazon (USA)

Flaming Pie for July

Due out in July, Flaming Pie
This just in: according to an internal Universal Music catalogue of upcoming releases, Paul McCartney’s 1997 album «Flaming Pie» is next up to get the archive treatment. Release date is July 24th, and the ltd ed deluxe edition will consist of 5CDs and 2/DVDs.

Upon its initial release, there was a special offer from Best Buy in the U.S.A. where you got an extra CD containing an episode of McCartney’s radio show, «Oobujoobu». There was a video cassette available about the making of the album, «In the world tonight», which was later made available as a DVD. Several music videos were produced for the singles «Young boy», «Beautiful Night» and «The world tonight», but these were only excerpted in the home video release. Another music video for the Maureen Starkey tribute «Little Willow» was only shown once, on Oprah.

There was a version of the «Beautiful Night» video (also featuring Ringo), which had partial nudity and hasn’t been seen since it was shown a few times on MTV Europe. Several constellations of the singles were released, including vinyl picture discs.