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.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

More about the new Beatles documentary

Alan G Parker at home.
We have interviewed the EMMY/BAFTA nominated movie director Alan G Parker, about his upcoming, unofficial "Sgt. Pepper" documentary.

Are you a fan of the Beatles? 

- I was a fan from the age of 9 because I was bullied a lot as a kid, and I found it helped. I first went to Liverpool in 1980, as I was born and raised in Blackburn, Lancashire (4000 Holes country). So it was easy to get to by train, I joined Cavern Mecca early on, I'm in the new documentary about the place. I saw Liverpool change a lot of the years and blossom into the fan friendly city it is now. When I first went, The Beatles were kinda missing! My first favourite song was 'Nowhere Man' because it struck a chord in me. My favourite single without doubt is 'Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane'. And albums wise I love 'Rubber Soul' through to 'The Beatles' (aka White Album). I started collecting big time in 1982 and first met Keith Badman in The Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool at a Convention, 1983 or 84, we've been friends since, and worked together a bit too.

How did you enjoy last year's official "Eight Days A Week" film by Ron Howard?

- I had high hopes for 'Eight Days A Week', and I did enjoy it, attending the premier and two other private screenings, here in London, ahead of owning the Blu-Ray (both UK & Japanese copies). I enjoyed it, but I do believe we were sold a false bill of goods, and indeed sold short a little. To me it was very much aimed at the Red & Blue audience, not the die hard fans, otherwise where was Pete Best? And how did Hamburg and Liverpool almost vanish?? For me 'Anthology' (especially Directors cut bootleg), or even 'Compleat Beatles' (which I played to death when we had little else) remain better movies. While both 'LENNONYC' and 'Living In The Material World' are both head and shoulders above it.

Why this new documentary?

- Not long after my Monty Python movie 'Almost The Truth - The Lawyers Cut' (which was official) I thought it was as good a time as any to see if my team could work with The Beatles officially, so I sent copies of the movie to Apple, MPL, man all over the place. Olivia (Harrison) was in my Python film so I thought y'know maybe? The only thing I've ever heard back was that Paul enjoyed the Python movie. And that remains it. Over Christmas of 2015 into 2016 I thought, Well, kiddo your not getting any younger, I'm 52 in April, so you're either doing it or your not!! I knew a lot of footage didn't need third party clearance, and I have 14 shelves of DVD/Blu-Ray on The Beatles or solo, either official or bootleg. So I thought, lets see what we can do? I rallied the team around, and next thing I knew Alexa Morris (my Producer) and Keith Badman were at my place watching through DVD's and making notes.

Some of us were a bit worried about the level of research when Andy Peebles was described as "the last man to interview John Lennon" in the press release.

- The guys who wrote the press release aren't fans, they are press guys - thus they were likely to include a line like that. I was busy cutting the film eight hours a day when that side of things got done.

 The music in your upcoming movie is provided by The Bootleg Beatles. Tell us about it.

- I think there is some confusion here to in what's been reported across the board thus far. My movie is about story line, and footage, the music provided by The Bootleg Beatles and composer Evan Jolly is an orchestral score, like that of a major feature film. To set the scene as we didn't have The Beatles music. Nobody is singing covers of Beatles songs, as a fan I think that would be a bit silly.

What was Pete Best interviewed for, was it just that Mona Best lent some medals of hers to be used to adorn the Sgt Pepper costumes?

- Pete isn't in the movie a huge amount, just to cover that story. But the DVD/Blu-Ray extras contain a good hour plus of extra stories from him.

What did you think of the 20th anniversary documentary "It Was Twenty Years Ago Today" by John Sheppard, and the 25th anniversary "Making of Sgt Pepper", which was a special edition of the South Bank Show? And have you found any footage which wasn't in those two documentaries, which will be of interest to Beatles fans?

- I really enjoyed them both. I have them both on bootleg DVD so I watch them quite a bit.  I wasn't trying to emulate them in anyway, our story goes from August 1966 (picking up where somebody else left off) to roughly late 1967. We have some footage which wasn't included in those, but I can't say what just yet as that is part of our sales campaign, just lets say we went looking. And I'm very proud of what we found, very proud indeed. The movie is roughly 2 hours long, and the extras are over four and a half hours! So it's all good.

At home with Alan G Parker.
Are you aware of the bootleg compilations about Sgt Pepper's and 1967 from Fab Productions, and if so - what do you think of them?

- Aware of them? Man, I'm looking at a shelf full of them while typing this out, I love the FAB DVD stuff!

Do you take a chronological approach to the events of 1967?

- Pretty much, we've had to take the odd liberty, but nothing that should upset anyone. The narrative of the story never stop moving. And we have a few new tales or twists on tales too. We've been lucky with interviewees. Remember, I'm a fan, so I'm here to piss no-one off, rather just to add something to the story of a very important time period. There is footage in here that's not in other Beatles movies, and depending on the size of your bootleg collection possibly even unseen! Yeah, I did just say that.
We aren't just focusing purely on Pepper, but the 14 months around it too. Simon Napier-Bell, Barbara O'Donnell, Ray Connolly, Hunter Davies, Philip Norman and the rest of the gang, bring something new too it also. It's been hard to cut, knowing what to leave out.

What kind of an audience are you making this film for?

- I hope essentially Beatles fans. Our investor is a Beatles fan, most of his staff are Beatles fans, a lot of our team are Beatles fans! Hell, I'm a Beatles fan! So I guess to some degree I'm aiming it at us, and anybody else who enjoys a good story. In a way not having the music isn't a huge problem, it's not like it's a documentary on Frank Zappa's 27th album! Or the third LP by Can. It's about one of the biggest selling albums/acts on planet earth. So let's assume our audience know the record before they see the movie - I don't think that's such a huge step is it?

I was happy to see that Tony Bramwell was interviewed for the documentary. He seems to be one of the few remaining people who were with the Beatles all the way from Liverpool to the break-up.

- I like Tony... I've always liked Tony, from the earliest Liverpool Conventions to London Beatles Days.  So I was keen for him to be on board, and, as I expected he's pure gold, in every way, You'll see! It was very valuable having him here in this movie.

What have you learned about The Beatles or "Sgt Pepper" that you weren't already aware of?

- When we started I remember thinking the whole process would be surprise free! But when your un-earthing things daily, and Keith Badman is your 'go to guy', then things start to shift. One story was completely locked, but we were aware the footage in it had been around forever, 23rd hour in comes brand new footage!! And we haven't coloured anything in. For purists, but we have found colour stuff. I've read lots of books on the group, and yes I'm still a little surprised by what we have. I think we've done as well as anyone can who isn't in bed with Apple or The Beatles, indeed we've crossed that line, and made something very special. I'm proud of it.

What's the feeling you hope the audience will have after seeing your film?

- I hope they understand more. I think if the movie had been official then certain stories wouldn't have made the cut. So we had that freedom, that said we've hung no-one out to dry or upset anyone. I think we've just brought another story to the table and with luck it's one the fans will love. I just watched it for the ninth time, and I'm still enjoying it!

Alan G Parker's documentary film, "It Was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles, Sgt Pepper & Beyond" is due out on Thursday, June 1, from RENIOR Pictures along with A Geezer & A Blonde Productions London Ltd.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Upcoming Beatle books

The expanded "I Me Mine" by George Harrison is just out. Here are a few other Beatles related books to be published soon.
Brian Southall: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Album, the Beatles, and the World in 1967" by Brian Southall.
Hardcover – May 9, 2017.

A carefully crafted and collectible volume celebrations the 50th anniversary of a legendary and groundbreaking Beatles album.  Expert Brian Southall's unique edition recounts the story behind the music and the cultural climate of 1967 when Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band debuted.

The "A-side" of this coolly curated title is all about the Beatles, the music on the album, the recording process, how the disc was received at the time and how it has been acknowledged as one of the greatest albums ever recorded. The "B-side" looks at the state of the world in 1967, from the Summer of Love to anti-war protests to the launch of  Rolling Stone magazine to Jimi Hendrix's first UK tour as a solo artist--and so much, much more.

Fascinating photographs and text build a complete picture of the world as it was when one of the most famous albums of all time was released.

Link: Amazon (USA) - Amazon (UK)

Sgt. Pepper at 50.
"Sgt. Pepper at Fifty: The Mood, the Look, the Sound, the Legacy of the Beatles' Great Masterpiece" by Mike Mcinnerney, Bill Demain, Gillian G. Gaar
Hardcover. June 1, 2017.

A celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ mind-blowing landmark album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band celebrates its 50th anniversary in June 2017. Even after half a century, the Beatles’ groundbreaking work thrillingly evokes the sights, sounds, and mood of the sixties at their most joyously psychedelic and creative. Featuring contributions from leading authorities on the Beatles’ music, Sgt. Pepper at Fifty provides an in-depth critique of the album, by looking at the unique cultural circumstances that led to its creation; examining the rich assemblage of influences that informed its sound; exploring the landmark cover art, which continues to inspire debate and intrigue; and assessing the record’s enduring legacy as the pinnacle of British pop.
In addition to 225 photos and other images, the book includes memorabilia.

Link: Amazon (USA) - Amazon (UK)

Klaus Voormann: Birth of an icon: Revolver 50.

"Birth of an Icon REVOLVER 50": The making of the legendary cover artwork for the Beatles album REVOLVER (German Edition) by Klaus Voormann
Paperback – March 8, 2017

Previously available from Voormann's own webshop.

Half a century after Revolver exploded onto the pop scene, the artist behind the album cover presents his side of the Beatles' story. The narrative is presented through a striking mixture of words and black-and-white graphics.

"...It is good for me to see the other side of a story I know so well and to realize aspects like the sheer panic that Klaus must have felt." (Paul McCartney)

The monochrome pop-art style of the Revolver album has become an integral part of the Beatles brand. In this book the artist behind the cover reveals the source of his inspiration, as well as the tale of how this cover grew from a sketch made on a kitchen table in an attic flat into one of the most iconic pieces of cover art in history.

Link: Amazon (USA) - Genesis Publications (DeLuxe Grammy Edition)

Luca Beatrice: Nothing Is Real: When The Beatles Met The East.

"Nothing Is Real: When the Beatles Met the East" by Luca Beatrice (Editor)
Paperback – February 28, 2017

Following the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), the Beatles―at that point the most famous band in the world―found themselves increasingly drawn to Eastern mysticism, culminating with the band’s 1968 trip to India (accompanied, of course, by wives and girlfriends as well as an entourage of friends, assistants and reporters). The journey that John, Paul, George and Ringo made to study at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram would become a key event in the history of Western pop culture: followed breathlessly in the international media, it caused an enormous stir and was fundamental in spreading a certain fascination with the East that influenced music, literature, cinema and fashion at the end of the 1960s.

Nothing Is Real takes its title from a memorable line from the Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Eastern thinking and spiritual practices felt liberating and modern to a generation looking for alternatives, and the Beatles’ trip was a watershed moment, announcing definitively that Europe and the United States had a genuine trend on its hands. Taking the Beatles’ 1968 journey as its point of departure, Nothing Is Real invokes this extraordinary moment through contemporary reports, archival photographs, album covers, books and magazines from the period, and artworks by Ettore Sottsass, Alighiero Boetti, Francesco Clemente, Luigi Ontani, Aldo Mondino and Julian Schnabel.

Link: Amazon (USA)

Rob Sheffield: Dreaming The Beatles
"Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World" by Rob Sheffield
Hardcover – April 25, 2017

Rob Sheffield, the Rolling Stone columnist and bestselling author of Love Is a Mix Tape offers an entertaining, unconventional look at the most popular band in history, the Beatles, exploring what they mean today and why they still matter so intensely to a generation that has never known a world without them.

Dreaming the Beatles is not another biography of the Beatles, or a song-by-song analysis of the best of John and Paul. It isn’t another exposé about how they broke up. It isn’t a history of their gigs or their gear. It is a collection of essays telling the story of what this ubiquitous band means to a generation who grew up with the Beatles music on their parents’ stereos and their faces on T-shirts. What do the Beatles mean today? Why are they more famous and beloved now than ever? And why do they still matter so much to us, nearly fifty years after they broke up?

As he did in his previous books, Love is a Mix Tape, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, and Turn Around Bright Eyes, Sheffield focuses on the emotional connections we make to music. This time, he focuses on the biggest pop culture phenomenon of all time—The Beatles. In his singular voice, he explores what the Beatles mean today, to fans who have learned to love them on their own terms and not just for the sake of nostalgia.

Dreaming the Beatles tells the story of how four lads from Liverpool became the world’s biggest pop group, then broke up—but then somehow just kept getting bigger. At this point, their music doesn’t belong to the past—it belongs to right now. This book is a celebration of that music, showing why the Beatles remain the world’s favorite thing—and how they invented the future we’re all living in today.

Link: Amazon (USA) - Amazon (UK)

Lennon - The New York Years
"Lennon: The New York Years" by David Foenkinos (Author), Corbeyran (Author), Horne (Illustrator).
Hardcover – May 16, 2017

In 1975 John Lennon moved to New York City, stopped being a Beatle, and started being a father. Now, experience life with Lennon inside The Dakota as the world’s most famous frontman awakens to the beauty and wonder of his new family while confronting the pains of his past in this graphic novel. Author Cobeyran and illustrator Horne create a story in which we experience Lennon’s therapy sessions as they unfold, full of the allure and mystery befitting the unknown life of a creative giant.

Link: Amazon (USA)

A is for Apple Vol 2
"A is for Apple Vol. 2: An illustrated history of the Beatles' multimedia corporation" By Axel Korinth and Ed Dieckmann with Antonio Caroselli and Sara Schmidt.
To be published in April.

Privately published, Volume 2 of "a is for apple" covers the Get Back sessions and Mary and Jackie's albums in great detail. The Yellow Submarine album takes up more than 60 pages by itself. Volume 2 covers the period of January to March 1969. And while everyone will be familiar with these releases, maybe not in such great detail, Volume 2 also offers information on lesser known Apple acts from this epoch, such as John Surman, Mike Westbrook, Mike Cooper, the Misunderstood, Flamma Sherman, Stefan Grossman, Peter Cooper, Slow Dog and John Fitch.

Volume 2 has a chapter on Timothy Travel, a puppet series produced by Apple, which didn't progress beyond a pilot episode and is more or less totally forgotten. Allen Klein's reign is just around the corner and John and Yoko are busy making their Rape movie. (White) Trash issue their superb Road To Nowhere single and Brute Force's King of Fuh is being picked up by George Harrison. Two Virgins gets its USA release and a four album pack of Beatles hits gets nixed before release. Bubble Puppy, Mary Jane Bann'd and Stone Down are all nearly signed by Apple while The Iveys go on national TV. John and Yoko stage their first Bed-In in Amsterdam and Paul records with The Fourmost. The amount of day-to-day activities related to Apple in these three months is astounding. All this is covered in great detail in Volume 2 of "a is for apple".

Link: A is for Apple

Hello Goodbye: The Beatles in Tokyo 1966 by Japanese photographer Shimpei Asai.

In 1966 The Beatles embarked on their last tour, playing concerts in 20 cities over the course of four months, beginning in London and ending in San Francisco. Millions of fans in England, Germany, Japan, the Philippines and America flocked to see the band.
HELLO, GOODBYE: THE BEATLES IN TOKYO, 1966 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' visit to Japan on this tour. Taken by Japanese photographer Shimpei Asai, these pictures have never before been published outside Japan.
They intimately capture a fleeting moment, with all its controversy, Beatlemania and creativity, painting a poignant image of the band during their short but intense visit to Tokyo.
'This is a side of The Beatles - relaxed, comfortable and intrigued by a world that, for them, was new and exotic - that we don't often see. And thanks to Asai, we are virtually in the suite with them.' - Allan Kozinn (from his Introduction)

Link: Genesis Publications

Alan Aldridge: "Cry Baby, Cry" illustration.
Meanwhile, Beatles illustrator Alan Aldridge passed away 17 February 2017. Aldridge was born in East London in 1943 and lived in Los Angeles, California at the time he died. Aldridge first worked as an illustrator at "The Sunday Times Magazine.'' After doing some freelance book covers for Penguin Books, he was hired in March 1965 by Penguin's chief editor Tony Godwin to become the art director of Penguin. While there, he was responsible for creating the cover for "The Penguin John Lennon", which combined Lennon's two books of absurd stories and drawings into one volume. Aldridge had Lennon dressed as Superman for the book's cover. In 1968 he moved to his own graphic-design firm, INK, which became closely involved with graphic images for the Beatles and Apple Corps. He designed the green typeface around the Apple label, and the Zapple logo, as well as the insert for George Harrison's "Wonderwall Music" album. He also worked on two volumes of The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics. Aldridge also created the artwork for Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John in 1975, and several other album covers over the years.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Beatle Who Vanished - film

In Ron Howard's documentary film about The Beatles' touring years, "Eight Days A Week", Jimmie Nicol literally was "the Beatle who vanished". Although briefly seen in the film, his presence was never explained. So the audience were not told that Ringo Starr fell ill on the brink of The Beatles' world tour of 1964, and had to be replaced for almost a fortnight. For concert goers in Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong and Adelaide, the Beatles they saw was a group consisting of John, Paul, George and Jimmie. However, the story now has a chance to be told, as Jim Berkenstadt has sold the film rights to his 2013 book about Nicol, "The Beatle Who Vanished".

Berkenstadt's book tells Nicol's story from the start, including his 13 days, 8 gigs stint with the Beatles, and the aftermath. Berkenstadt's agent is currently shopping around for a publisher for a second edition of the book. The author published the first edition himself. Talking to Billboard's Steve Marinucci, Berkenstadt reveals that there has been further developments since he wrote the book, which could be included in an updated version.

Source: Billboard

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The compressed "White album"

The Beatles: "The Beatles" (aka "the White album") Photo:
In the December 1968 issue of The Beatles Monthly Book (depicted below), Mal Evans tells a story about a trip to Los Angeles with George Harrison, where George discovered that their record company in USA, Capitol Records had "ruined" the Beatles new album. The album in question: "The Beatles", aka "the White album", which had yet to be released. Due out in mono and stereo in Europe, Capitol was to release the album in stereo only for the USA market. But they had messed with the album master tape which had been sent them from England. Mal Evans related how George was so upset by the cut he heard at Capitol that he took all day re-equalizing it so it sounded like it should.

George and Mal arrived in Los Angeles on October 16, 1968, primarily because Harrison was to produce songs for Jackie Lomax' album "Is This What You Want?". While there, George also gave an appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on 15 November, and returned to England later that month.

Bruce Spizer writes about this in his book "The Beatles on Apple Records": "George Harrison, along with Mal Evans, was in Los Angeles to produce Jackie Lomax's upcoming Apple album. He dropped by the Capitol Tower to hear the White Album. He had left London for LA prior to the banding session during which the order of the songs was selected for The White Album, and wanted to hear the finished product. He did not like what he heard and insisted that he be allowed to work with Capitol's engineers to remaster the album".

As detailed on page 270 of Bruce Spizer's book "The Beatles Swan Song" George Harrison did not approve of the original mastering job done by Capitol on the album. As was often the practice at the time, Capitol's engineers had run the sound signal through a limiter and compressed the volume range of the recording by cutting back the high volume peaks and bringing up the low passages. This would have been particularly noticeable on "Helter Skelter," with the fake fade-out ending, and Harrison's "Long, Long, Long," which has quiet passages throughout and loud distortion at the end.

According to Eirik "The Norwegian" Wangberg, this work took place at Sound Recorders Studio on Yucca Street, which was located around the corner from the Capitol Tower. And it wasn't done by Capitol's engineers, but by Sound Recorders' Armin Steiner, assisted by Carl Frisk, while George was waiting in their lounge. George also produced sessions for the Jackie Lomax album at this studio at the time.

So, the album was saved and sounded like George Harrison wanted it to sound. It was released in the UK on 22 November 1968, and three days later in the United States. However, it seems a few of the U.S. albums had been pressed using Capitol's compressed master by mistake. In Perry Cox' 2007 book "Price Guide For American Beatles Records", one such copy of the album was described: "this variant has lacquer numbers in the trail off area ending in numbers LESS than 34.  These records were pressed with metal parts generated from the initial 33 lacquers, which were supposed to be destroyed.  George Harrison objected to the use of a limiter that had compressed the sound during the mastering process. He insisted that the initial lacquers be destroyed and that the album be remastered. Harrison's remastered version is found on standard copies of the album which have lacquer numbers 34 or higher. Only one copy, which is a VG- condition Scranton pressing with lacquer numbers A-28 and B-29, has been confirmed thought there are undoubtedly others out there."

And there was. A few more copies have surfaced since his book's publication, they pop up on ebay from time to time, and are very expensive. So if you're loaded with money and want to hear what The Beatles' white album should not sound like, you have an opportunity. And for those with less money to spend, keep looking out for those lacquer numbers lower than 34 at garage sales!

From one of those elusive recalled pressings.