Monday, 30 July 2012

Live Kisses DVD

The Capitol Studios concert version of Paul McCartney's "Kisses On The Bottom" will be released on DVD as "Live Kisses" September 7th by Eagle Rock. The film was shown on TV in the USA recently, as part of PBS' "Great Performances" series.

Tomorrow Never Knows - UK charts debut

Tomorrow Never Knows, the new digital-only compilation from The Beatles made it's debut at no. 44 in the official UK albums charts and at no. 12 at the digital charts. It's an album no one expected. It harkens back to the years from 1973 to 1982 when EMI kept churning out compilation album after compilation album with the Beatles, to keep the group in the public eye as well as to be able to sell new product to the fans who already had it all. The red album, the blue album, Rock'n'Roll Music, Love Songs, The Beatles 20 Greatest Hits, Rarities, Beatles Ballads, the double Rock'n'Roll Music split into two different albums, Reel Music... yawn yawn yawn. The one golden exception was the live The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl from 1977. And that's the one they should have released digitally now. I bet it would have made a higher debut placement in the charts.
Tomorrow Never Knows features nothing new, and as such needed no input from producer Giles Martin. The tracks:
01. "Revolution" – 3:25
02. "Paperback Writer" – 2:19
03. "And Your Bird Can Sing" – 1:59
04. "Helter Skelter" – 4:31
05. "Savoy Truffle" – 2:54
06. "I'm Down" – 2:32
07. "I've Got a Feeling" (Let It Be... Naked version) – 3:38
08. "Back in the U.S.S.R." – 2:44
09. "You Can't Do That" – 2:35
10. "It's All Too Much" – 6:26
11. "She Said She Said" – 2:36
12. "Hey Bulldog" – 3:11
13. "Tomorrow Never Knows" – 2:59
14. "The End" (Anthology 3 Version) – 2:52
Also, a music video from 1999 for Hey Bulldog was made available if you bought the album, but only streamed. If you want to download it, you have to pay extra.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Grosse Freiheit 2012

"Beatlemania Hamburg", the Beatles museum closed for business June 30th
July 11th and 12th 2012 saw me back in Hamburg for a short while, during a three week European holiday. When in town, of course I couldn't keep away from revisiting those old Beatles haunts yet again. The Beatles museum had recently closed down, but some of the old venues where the Beatles used to play are still there. The street "Grosse Freiheit" is located near the end of Reeperbahn, and housed several of these, the Indra Club, the Kaiserkeller and the missing Star Club (it burned down in the early eighties).
Grosse Freiheit starts with the Beatles square, where five steel sculptures resembling the fledgeling prefabs stands on an LP-shaped circle.
Grosse Freiheit as seen from the Beatles square
The same view in 1960
That's me inside Ringo/Pete's neck
With nighttime come the neon lights
Sixties nighttime
Standing in Grosse Freiheit you glance over to the other side of Reeperbahn with the not-so-seedy Liedl food store
Reeperbahn is the main street of the St. Pauli district and it's the entertainment street of Hamburg, with both sex clubs, sex cinemas, hookers and brothels, but also regular theaters, souvenir shops, restaurants, discoteques and bars. And of course, Davidwache police station just around the corner from the prostitute headquarter of Herbertstrasse.
Me, standing below where the Zigarren-Haus sign was in 1960
 Note the webcam above me, not updated for 8 months...
The same building at nighttime

A bit up the Reeperbahn from Grosse Freiheit is the house where the Top Ten club once was. The Beatles played at the Top Ten Club in their free time (!) in 1960 and on payroll in 1961.
Location of the Top Ten club
On the ground floor, there's a Pizza Hut Express, but there's also a disco named Moon Doo in the house
Going back to the Grosse Freiheit, you pass the Beatles sculptures again (sadly plastered with flyers for recent gigs), you pass the cafe Gretel & Alfons, the old Star Club site and the still operating Kaiserkeller. Then there's a thai karaoke bar and then there's nothing. Standing around in the nothingness you can look back and see Grosse Freiheit from the other side.
But there are two more interesting locations in this quiet corner of Grosse Freiheit: the Indra Club and Bambi Kino. When the Beatles first arrived in Hamburg in August 1960, they played at the Indra and slept at Bambi. Legend has it that the Bambi was a sex cinema, but it really wasn't, they featured regular movies. And it was never named Kino, the German word for Cinema, the Bambi was an "Filmkunsttheater" - a Movie Art Theater. But patrons are likely to have referred to it as Bambi Kino, nonetheless.
The Beatles used the Bambi's back entrance in Grosse Freiheit but the main entrance is around the corner in Paul Roosen strasse 33.
 The movie theater is long gone, but the name Bambi is still held alive by a sticker which we found on lamp posts and walls in the neighbourhood

My main reason for going back to Grosse Freiheit this Thursday however, was to see what had become of Indra Club. When I was there in 2010, the club celebrated 50 years since the Beatles' debut with a weeklong series of concerts by the USA-based band "Bambi Kino" who tried to recreate the Beatles feeling, and the concert I attended was also filmed and televised. Back then, I presented Orhan, the owner of the Indra Club with some good prints of The Beatles at Indra, including a framed print of a photo I had colourised. I felt that the photos of the Beatles playing at the Top Ten Club which they had hanging on the walls at the Indra were inappropriate when there were photos taken at Indra Club itself in existance. So I made a return visit to see if the owner had made use of the photos and how the club had fared since it had been so prominently featured on TV the last time I was here.
The building that houses the Indra Club

A group of tourists were being guided there as I approached

Still closed, Indra Club was advertising tonight's program: table tennis!
I was very disappointed. The Beatles at Indra photos were nowhere to be seen, a handful of people were inside playing ping pong while downing their drinks and it was a sad state of affairs. A new coat of paint and some redecorations inside, having a young Hamburg group playing for the door... there's really not that much the place needs. Okay, perhaps the toilets would have needed upgrading. But I mean, there were several tourist grups being guided on the Grosse Freiheit and many of them were taken to see the famous Indra Club, the customers are being delivered right to the doorsteps to the manager and he clearly doesn't see the potential.  More than 150,000 people visited "Beatlemania Hamburg" between 2009 and 2012. If the Indra Club had been up to scratch, that's where they would all have come to quench their thirst while watching live music. After all, the Star Club is no more and the Kaiserkeller and the Top Ten are discos.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Hard Rock Copenhagen vs Hamburg

Apple poster by "The Fool"
Blogging from a road trip through Europe, I thought I should share some photos from our visits to the Hard Rock Cafe´s in Copenhagen and Hamburg. We have a habit of taking snapshots of the Beatles-related souvenirs and memorabilia that are on display at the various Hard Rock Cafe´s we visit.
I´ve been to the one in Copenhagen on previous occasions, and have been able to view a denim shirt there that once belonged to John Lennon. This time, Hard Rock Cafe Copenhagen disappointed us. We had to wait for 45 minutes to get a table, and to us, this seemed to be just a ploy in order to sell more waiting drinks from the bar, because there were vacant tables when we looked around. Secondly, the food was not so good. The steak was inedible, and I had to send for a new one. And the denim shirt was nowhere to be found. Apart from the Apple poster, what we found were these:
A concert poster
A gold record award
Although the record itself (Magical Mystery Tour) certainly merits a gold record award, that particular style of Capitol´s record label is possibly one of the dullest designs ever...

Disappointed with Copenhagen, but Hamburg more than compensated for the Danish experience. It started in the souvenir shop...
John Lennon´s jacket and an envelope

A letter from Paul McCartney

As always, Ringo sent a postcard to his grandma

And George wrote a letter to a fan

A couple of magazines
Once inside the restaurant itself, service was excellent, the food was perfect and we only had to wait three minutes for our table. And lots more Beatles memorabilia was on display.
Four sketches from Stuart Sutcliffe´s hand

Okay so it´s just a Michael Jackson autograph...

Ringo signed a drumskin

One of George Harrison´s jackets, used in Magical Mystery Tour

Framed photos from Star Club, signed by Roy Young
 Next time, I´ll post some photos from Grosse Freiheit and Reeperbahn.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Beatles - The Vegas Job

Not your average Beatles audience in Las Vegas
As far as rock'n'roll fans are concerned, a residency in Las Vegas is the ultimate betrayal. Rock is in it's essence rebellion against the establishment, whereas Las Vegas is the establishment. Elvis Presley's sell-out to the Vegas stage were certainly frowned upon by the many of the musicians he inspired. Recently, Paul McCartney has made Las Vegas appearances, and the Beatles & Cirque du Soleil show "Love" is currently running in it's sixth year at sin city. And yes, The Beatles played Las Vegas in 1964.
From the Beatles Bible:
4.00 pm, Thursday 20 August 1964. Following the previous day's performance in San Francisco, The Beatles flew straight to Las Vegas, where they arrived at 1am. Their chartered aeroplane landed at 1am at the Old McCarran Field at McCarran International Airport, from where they were driven to the Sahara Hotel. Two thousand fans defied the city curfew to see them arrive. The group spent the morning in their 18th floor penthouse suite, before leaving at 2.30pm for a sound check.
"Before LA we went and played in Las Vegas, where Liberace visited us. I think the first four rows of that concert were filled up by Pat Boone and his daughters. He seemed to have hundreds of daughters. There was all kinds of trouble in the States. There was everyone trying to sue us. There were girls trying to get into our rooms so they could sue us for totally made-up things. There was always this very peculiar suing consciousness. I'd never heard about suing people until we went to America." George Harrison - The Beatles Anthology

The Beatles performed two shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center, at 4 pm and 9 pm, each of which was seen by 8,000 people. Between the two shows the Los Angeles Police Department received a bomb warning, but decided that if they cancelled the second performance the risk of violence by disappointed fans was too great. The set was the standard one throughout the tour, with the exception of the addition of Till There Was You to one of the shows. The Beatles earned $30,000 for their performances. After the second concert The Beatles were advised to stay away from casinos, after police concerns that underage fans would be tempted to follow them.



From TheGilly

From Tony Bramwell's site:
There was a wealth of media coverage for The Beatles in 1964. Everywhere they went, and practically everything they did was scrutinized and reported on the evening news and in every newspaper worldwide. To every rule there is an exception, here the exception is Las Vegas. It certainly is the lost and almost forgotten show by The Beatles. However, they did play Las Vegas Live with two shows at the Convention Center, Las Vegas on Thursday 20 August 1964. The first show was at 4:00 pm and the next later that evening at 9:00 pm.

The Beatles second visit to the U.S. opened with a rousing show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Immediately after that show they boarded their private airplane and flew directly to Las Vegas. The Beatles arrived in Sin City at 1:00 am at McCarran International Airport, from where they were driven directly to the Sahara Hotel. The Sahara was the last remaining vintage "Rat Pack" casino-hotel, and anchored the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. The porte-cochere entrance, topped by an onion-dome minaret, is designed to set the resort's warm Moroccan flavor and hospitality for arriving guests. That night over two thousand fans defied the city curfew to see them arrive. The group spent the morning in their 18th floor penthouse suite, before leaving at 2.30pm for a sound check.
The Beatles performed two shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center before an audience of 8,000 people, some were even fans. Few people remember that between the two shows the Las Vegas Police Department received a bomb warning. but The Beatles decided to go on despite the threat. Their greater fear was that a potential riot would break out by the disappointed fans. After the second concert The Beatles were advised to stay away from Casinos, after police concerns that underage fans would be tempted to follow them. In true Las Vegas style, slot machines were brought up to the Beatles private suite for their enjoyment.
It wasn’t until recently that we realized that there was very little coverage for The Beatles visit to Las Vegas. We found this to be odd, considering the volumes of material for acts as The Rat Pack, Jerry Lewis, Liberace and Elvis, just to mention a few. Even stranger, The Beatles top every list as far as popularity goes. Channel 3 News reporter Tom Hawley who was hosting a weekly segment call Las Vegas’ Video Vault.” said that the television studio that would have covered The Beatles visit burned to the ground some thirty years ago.

The Las Vegas review-Journal had this story, back in 2004:
(In 1964), Pat Butcher had a hot date and a decision to make: Go out with her new beau or go see the Beatles at the rotunda in the Las Vegas Convention Center. She chose the former and, to this day, regrets not doing the latter. From a practical standpoint, it's probably best that she skipped the show. It was nearly impossible to see or hear the band, thanks to an inferior sound system and thousands of shrieking fans who stood during the whole performance, say many who attended one of the two shows Aug. 20, 1964. But the event is a point of pride and cherished memory for many valley residents who can say they were one of about 16,000 lucky people who saw the future legends perform live, only a year after they exploded onto the music scene. When the Review-Journal asked readers to share their memories of the concert, more than 50 people called or e-mailed. "I wasn't a fan, but I thought, `They're famous, maybe I'll go see them,' " Butcher says of her reason for buying two tickets.
Shortly before the show, Butcher, 26 at the time, drove to the saucer-shaped rotunda, where a crowd waited for the British band to arrive. "I just remember standing there with my arm above my head saying, `Anybody want tickets?' " she says. "I didn't even want any money. I just gave them away. When I started liking them about 20 years ago, I started thinking, `Why didn't I go see them?' " Her hot date turned out to be a fun evening but not noteworthy 40 years later. Butcher says she remembers he took her out to eat at a fancy restaurant, then the couple went gambling. It was so unremarkable, she doesn't remember his name.

The Beatles appealed immediately to many young Americans who saw them perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964. Guys such as Las Vegan Joe Nicholas copied their fashions and hairstyle and, for awhile, boys named John, Paul, George or Ringo, were pretty popular, especially with the girls, Nicholas remembers. Even though Nicholas' father groused about his 13-year-old son's fascination with "them longhaired freaks," he paid the $2.20 price for a balcony ticket, Nicholas says. He and his best friend couldn't wait to see their idols in person and planned the event down to the slightest detail. They wore jeans and Beatles' boots in the mod style, Nicholas recalls. And they carried bags of jelly beans. The Beatles were rumored to like the candies, he says. The show turned out to be a bit of a letdown. They couldn't see anything but a sea of screaming girls. They didn't hear a single song and they didn't get to deliver their jelly beans. "I had no idea the place would be packed like that," Nicholas, now 53, says. "My buddy wanted to bring binoculars and I said, `Nah, that's rake.' We were too cool for that. It was a madhouse, people all over the place." 
That sums up the way Ralph Delgatti, 67, remembers it. He was working as a pit boss at the Sahara, where the Beatles stayed for one night. Delgatti didn't go to the show because he wasn't a fan. He did manage to snag an autographed photo for his niece. "We had never seen anything like the chaos they created when they arrived at the hotel," Delgatti says. "It was just a crowd of people. In Vegas, there was never a crowd like that for anything. They came out of the woodwork, it was thick with bodies."
The Beatles played Las Vegas because they wanted to see it firsthand. Ironically, the crowd they attracted prevented them from seeing much of anything except a mob of humanity. Delgatti recalls a rumor that band members had slot machines brought to their rooms, as they didn't dare step foot on the casino floor. "The gaming rules were pretty loose at the time," he says. While there were plenty of people who didn't care to see the Beatles perform, many others realized the significance of the concert.
Georgia Lunt, now in her 70s, says she knew it was a big deal that the Beatles were coming to Las Vegas. Her husband, involved in the convention business, had received six free tickets to the concert. Determined not to waste them, Lunt took her two nephews, sister and two neighborhood kids. "When the Beatles came on you didn't hear one note for all the shrieking," Lunt says. "We turned around and told the kids to keep it down and they said they came all the way from California, there was no way they were going to quiet down."
"I remember thinking, `This sucks,' " says Bob Testoloin, 55. He was in the eighth grade at the time and, wanting to impress girlfriend Carlene Kraus, bought the tickets. She was in love with Paul McCartney, as many young girls were. "Being a kid I wasn't happy about that," Testoloin says. "I was bored, as I recall. I didn't hear one song, but the idea of being there was they were the Beatles. It was pretty crazy."