Wednesday, 21 March 2018

John&Yoko exhibition in Liverpool

John and Yoko exhibition opens in May in Liverpool.
Announced on March 20, the 49th wedding anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon, from May 2018, the Museum of Liverpool will show a ground-breaking exhibition, exploring the personal and creative chemistry of this iconic couple and their ongoing Imagine Peace campaign.

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko, at Museum of Liverpool from May 18, 2018 to April 22, 2019, is a free exhibition, celebrating the meeting of two of the world’s most creative artists who expressed their deep and powerful love for one another through their art, music and film. They used their fame and influence to campaign for peace and human rights across the world, transforming not only their own lives, but art, music and activism forever.

Featuring personal objects alongside art, music and film produced by John and Yoko, the exhibition is drawn from Yoko’s own private collection, some of which has never been displayed.

Yoko Ono Lennon said: "I am so happy and grateful that we are having our Double Fantasy -John & Yoko show in Liverpool. This is where John was born and I know John would be very happy too. We were a very simple couple just loving each other every day and I just wanted to show the simple truth of us. 
In our personal life we were pretty simple people, and we made all sorts of things with love for each other. Everything was made out of love. We found that we were both very strongly interested in world peace. I feel John and I are still working together. I always feel his warmth next to me."

Taking a chronological journey, the exhibition starts with two unique individuals – a leading figure in the avant-garde art world and a global rock ‘n’ roll star. From a tender first meeting at Indica Gallery in London, it was 18 months later that the album, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins was issued. What followed was breathtaking in its rapidity and productivity until John’s tragic and untimely death on 8 Dec 1980.

Through interviews, quotes and lyrics, the story of their personal and creative relationship along with their political activism and peace campaigning, will be told in their own words for the very first time.

John Lennon gets his "green card" which grants him permanent residency in U.S.A.

From the intimate to the iconic, the exhibition brings together unmissable objects and artworks including:

– Hand-written lyrics by John Lennon, including "In My Life", "Give Peace a Chance", "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and "Woman".

– "Grapefruit" –Yoko’s artist book, which she gave to John as a gift in 1966. Published in 1964, the book represents a seminal piece of conceptual art and was a direct influence on the lyrics and ideas behind "Imagine".

– Original artwork by both, including Yoko’s "Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting", "Painting to Hammer A Nail" and "Apple", as well as "The Daily Howl", a hand-made book by John from his childhood and numerous examples of his distinctive line drawings. The exhibition also features conceptual work the couple produced together, such as War is Over, Plastic Ono Band, and elements of their first collaboration "Acorn Peace".

– Many personal items, such as John’s wire-rimmed glasses, Yoko’s large Porsche sunglasses, iconic items of clothing, such as John’s New York City t-shirt, and items from their wedding outfits.
An extremely rare Sardonyx guitar used by John on the album, Double Fantasy, and the acoustic Gibson guitar, illustrated on by John, from their 1969 Bed-Ins.

– John’s hard-won Green Card.

– Items from the couple’s famous 1969 'Bed-Ins' in Amsterdam and Montreal.

– A rolling programme of the films that John and Yoko created, and music videos made under Yoko’s supervision. A music room, overlooking the Mersey with the couple’s albums played for visitors will feature album cover art.

– A recreation of the Imagine mosaic circle in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York. An intimate and contemplative space, it will also reflect on the global impact of John’s death.

John Lennon's "green card" will be on display.
Sharon Granville, Director of the Exhibition for National Museums Liverpool said: “We have worked closely with Yoko and her team for several years to tell an intimate story of the couple’s relationship and work, using her and John’s words wherever it was possible. Setting this against a backdrop of the volatile late 1960s – Vietnam War, civil rights protests and social unrest and revolution across Europe and the USA – reveals just how creatively and bravely the couple harnessed their fame and influence to express their radical ideas, challenge preconceptions of the role of artists in society and promote universal themes of peace, love and equality, which continue to have strong resonance and importance today.”

Liverpool remained with John throughout his life. Testament to this is Yoko’s own longstanding connection to the city and her decision to have this incredibly personal exhibition celebrating their life and work at the Museum of Liverpool.

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko is a major part of Liverpool’s celebration of its 10th anniversary as European Capital of Culture.

This exhibition has been made possible with the kind permission of Yoko Ono Lennon.

Website: Museum of Liverpool/Double Fantasy

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sir Richard Starkey

It was such a special occasion that Ringo decided to wear a hat!
Yesterday, Richard Porter reported that Ringo Starr was about to be knighted at Buckingham Palace today. And the Daily Mail had photographers posted, snapping several photos of Ringo with his wife Barbara Bach, prior to the ceremony. Their article mistakenly reported that Starr was about to receive an OBE, which is one rank above his previous MBE but still no knighthood.

The Daily Mail before they realised their mistake.

Later, they realised their mistake (probably alerted by Beatles fans) and amended their article.
At the ceremony, it was The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William who performed the ritual with placing the sword on Ringo's shoulder.
After the event, Ringo tweeted this image from the ceremony.

Interviewed by the BBC afterwards, Ringo quipped that he was going to wear the medal he received "for breakfast". A film of the interview can be found on this page.

The Daily Mail

Monday, 5 March 2018

New source for "It's The Beatles"

Imaginary CD cover for an imaginary CD.
Last week, someone uploaded to Soundcloud his own audio tape recording of the televised concert "It's the Beatles", which was filmed at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool December 7, 1963.

The Beatles Bible: The performance took place in front of 2,500 members of The Beatles' Northern Area Fan Club, between 3.45 and 4.30pm. It was filmed in its entirety by the BBC, and 30 minutes were broadcast that evening from 8.10pm to 8.40pm during a special programme entitled It's The Beatles.

The group played a short version of From Me To You, followed by I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving, Roll Over Beethoven, Boys, Till There Was You, She Loves You, This Boy, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Money (That's What I Want), Twist And Shout, and another version of From Me To You.
Technical problems and lack of rehearsal times meant the sound balance for the concert recording was sub-standard. Both The Beatles and senior figures at the BBC later expressed concern at the often embarrassing nature of the footage, which included the absence of Ringo vocals during Boys and the director focusing on the wrong members of the group during key moments.

As we know, this particular video tape was later used by the BBC to train video editors in the technique of cutting and splicing, resulting in only four songs having survived.
Still, the (mostly) complete audio has survived, so far three sources have been known, but the new upload has proven to be the fourth and best of the crop, so far.

The uploader recorded the audio from the TV by wiring a tape recorder to the TV speaker. This is very dangerous. TVs had what was called a "hot chassis" in 1963, so poking around inside a TV set gave you about a 50-50 chance of electrocution.

Upon learning that bootleggers would probably use the recording for profit, the uploader deleted his Soundcloud file, but fortunately for Beatles historians and collectors, it was up there long enough for it to make it to some of these collectors.

The 70s vinyl boot "December 1963" featured the debut appearance of this concert - in terrible quality! Recorded six feet away from the tv set by a guy holding a mic. It came with bonus sounds of the family having dinner in the background.

The Amazing Kornyfone label released this offline recording as a vinyl bootleg in the seventies.

Then nothing happened until the mid 2000s and someone uploaded a version to YouTube. It was a line recording, but was plagued by speed problems, phasing and loud clicks and YouTube's at the time terrible audio quality. This was later released on the bootleg label Unicorn.

A few years later another line recording was unearthed, this one better quality but incomplete and missing all the verbal introductions plus three songs. It was released on bootleg called "The Beatles BBC Archives: BBC Beatles Night", which was freely shared on the internet.

Now we have this version, which is far and away the best one so far. It's a line recording, and is complete from start to finish, including the announcer continuity at the end!

Like I said, the recording was downloaded before it was deleted, and enthusiasts in the Beatles audio recordings community have been able to clean it up. This process has included speed correction (using the surviving video as reference), stereo playback head azimuth digitally corrected and recording then folded down to mono (recording was originally mono but played back on a stereo machine), mains hum removed, equalised for sharpening a somewhat dull sound, and bursts of static interference replaced with previous version of the same concert.

The result has been shared on a few internet Beatles forums for free, and not - as the original taper and uploader feared - for profit. But as you probably suspect already, somewhere down the line, some bootlegger will find this and release it for profit, no doubt.

Unfortunately, the BBC are not paying any finder's fees for unearthing recordings they used to have but which they have deleted in the past. And if you should have or find rare Beatles recordings and donate them to Apple or the BBC or whatever, you can never be sure if they are ever going to use or release them in some form. This means that if you really want other Beatles fans to hear or see what you have, it's best to share it on the internet - even if this means that some bugger is going to press discs and make money from it.

The surviving footage from the televised concert.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Blue Jay Way

George Harrison would have turned 75 yesterday, had he lived. To commemorate this occasion, The Beatles uploaded this Harrison composition to their Vevo and YouTube Vevo accounts:

The video is a bit different than the version included within the TV-film, Magical Mystery Tour.

As pointed out by Jeff Slate in this article, newer generations seem to appreciate George's compositions more than the hit making machine of Lennon and McCartney.
According to Spotify, the most popular Beatles song to stream, is Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun", with nearly 150 million streams, with Lennon's "Come Together" as the runner up, more than 40 million streams behind.

Monday, 5 February 2018

The Beatles in India - new documentary

Beatles et al in India. Photo: Paul Saltzman

The Beatles In India
A feature film documentary about Transcendental Meditation, the quest for inner peace, 
prolific song-writing and the road to The White Album... Set to be released in 2018 

UK, London: Thursday 1st February 2018 – New feature film documentary THE BEATLES IN INDIA, directed by two time Emmy award winning producer-director, Paul Saltzman and produced by Paul Saltzman & Reynold D'Silva for Sunrise Films, Ren/oir Pictures & Silva Screen is set to be released worldwide in Autumn 2018.

In 1968, with the eyes of the world upon them, The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India, to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in a remote ashram on the banks of the sacred river Ganges. Those few short weeks became one of the most prolific and creative periods of their lives.

Also present at the ashram was a young Canadian filmmaker named Paul Saltzman, there to heal a recently broken heart while seeking his own path to understanding and enlightenment. In the informal and relaxed atmosphere, he captured some of the most famous and intimate photographic portraits of The Beatles ever taken.
Photos: Paul Saltzman
The film details Saltzman's return journey to India, The Beatles stay and the songs they composed at the ashram as well as meditation as it applies to creativity, the divine inner journey and the healing power of love and music.

Integral to the story will be the background of many of the songs written in India and how they progressed through their initial writing, intensive rehearsals back in England and the release of the White Album on November 22nd, 1968.

Rarely seen footage and images, in depth interviews from India, the UK and North America and an authoritative team behind the film heralds its release later this year.

Producer Reynold D’Silva said: "The idea of a Beatles in India documentary has been with me since the mid-nineties. By pure coincidence, or perhaps it was fate, three separate people put me in touch with Paul early last year. It turned out he had been harbouring the idea for even longer than I had! After our first phone call, we were set on a path to produce the film together. Paul has a stellar track record in his field of producing and directing films. He has a clear vision with a profound knowledge of the subject matter borne out by the fact he was at the ashram in Rishikesh with The Beatles in February, 1968."

Paul Saltzman's new Beatles in India book
And that's the press release. As you may have noticed, the distribution of the film is not announced, so we don't know whether it will be a theatrical release, a TV documentary or if it's a straight-to-dvd & Blu-ray kind of thing. The progression of The Beatles' compositions from concept to finished recordings will be a difficult task to document, unless they have gotten into a deal with Apple and Universal Music about the use of original recordings. Also, the description "rarely seen footage and images" probably means that there's nothing new, Beatles scholars, photo and video collectors will already be familiar with all of this, but it still may appear new to the public at large.

Meanwhile, Saltzman's photos from the ashram is about to be made available again in the hardcover book Beatles In India – due out 13. Feb, 2018 in the UK and USA. Also available as a Deluxe edition, limited to 350 copies.
Back in 2000, you could find Saltzman's photos from the ashram in the book "The Beatles in Rishikesh".

The Beatles in India Film
The Beatles in India book (Amazon UK)
The Beatles in India book (
The Beatles in India Super DeLuxe Limited Edition book

Friday, 26 January 2018

Who's that girl?

Embed from Getty Images

You've seen her. That girl posing with the Beatles in French hats. At present, the copyright is held by Getty Images. This is how they caption the image: "English group The Beatles posed with a female actress and wearing a variety of French hats including a kepi and beret in Paris in January 1964. Clockwise from top left: John Lennon (1940-1980), George Harrison (1943-2001), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr". So the model is not named, but she is described to be an actress. Place and time provided as Paris and January 1964. She strikes a pose, but she knows more than one:

For some, she's a mystery girl. And especially to people who write captions, it seems. And was the photo taken in Paris in January - or was it in London in December as a publicity image for their forthcoming residency at the Paris Olympia?

This is a 60's ollector's card from Sweden, locally called a "filmis", with a mirror image of the photo.
The caption here leads us to speculate if she's the fifth Beatle.

In this German magazine, the image is again flipped, and the caption describes it
as a scene from "Help!" with Eleanor Bronn (sic).

Out on the internet is a sleuth of false information, and captions are in many cases guesswork. The woman who is featured alongside the Beatles here, and also wearing the same outfit on a Parisian street is sometimes identified as Sylvie Vartan (the singer who shared the bill with the Beatles at L’Olympia the time), as artist Miss Mirabelle, who happened to pass by, as French actress and occasional model Sophie Hardy, and while I was doing my research, the names Eve Bowen and Mireille Darc also appeared.

Embed from Getty Images

Another Getty Image, the caption goes: "English group The Beatles posed with an unidentified girl in a street in Paris in January 1964."
This blonde has the same hairdo and outfit as in the photo studio, accessorised with a black scarf. No doubt a good way to  protect against the chilly January weather in Paris.

Of course, John and Paul were no strangers to Paris,. As an early 21st birthday present in 1961, John had been given the lump sum of 100 pounds, and he and Paul left the Beatles in the lurch for a while, and went hiking for Spain. They never made it further than Paris, and there they happened upon their Hamburg friend Jürgen Vollmer who was studying photography in the French capital. They visited the artist's district of Montmartre, and upon revisiting the city in 1964, no doubt John and Paul wanted to show George and Ringo the sights.

John Lennon and his wife Cynthia had spent a belated honeymoon in Paris just a few months before the Beatles arrived in the city, from September 16, 1963. And lo and behold, once again John met a friend from Hamburg in Paris, this time it was Astrid Kirchherr.

The first concert the Beatles held in France was on January 15, 1964 i the Cyrano theatre in Versailles, whereupon they moved their act to L’Olympia in Paris the next day.
The programme clearly shows the three biigest names on the bill.

There were around ten acts performing on each of the shows, an the biggest names apart from the Beatles were Trini Lopez and Sylvie Vartan. There were three shows every night the four first days, after that they only played twice a night. There has always been a bit of confusion about who were the real bill toppers, but according to the owner of L’Olympia, Bruno Coquatrix, it was the Beatles.

A page in the programme.
For their stay, the Beatles occupied a suite at the posh hotel George V, the same hotel where John and Cynthia had stayed at a few months earlier. They had an upright piano installed in a corner, which led Monsieurs Lennon & McCartney to compose "Can't Buy Me Love", which they also recorded while in Paris. The Beatles had a couple of Wednesdays off, the 21 and the 28 of January, and John and George flew over to London that latter Wednesday. Arriving back Thursday morning, they found that George Martin had arrived from England, and at EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios, the Beatles recorded German language versions of their last couple of singles, "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". After having delivered "Sie Liebt Dich" and "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand",  they recorded four takes of the new composition, "Can’t Buy Me Love".

Another page in the programme is an advertisement for their French records, both 45's and albums.
Their final perfomances at L’Olympia was on February 4, when they were journeying on to conquer America. A lot had happened while they were in Paris. Derek Taylor had been visiting, as he was ghost writing a newspaper column in the Daily Express for George, photographer Harry Benson had captured their pillow fight, they had been informed that they were top of the pops in USA with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and they had discovered Bob Dylan. It was Paul McCartney who had been given Bob Dylan's album by a French DJ, and the Beatles listened a lot to it while in their hotel suite.

Photo exhibition
One of the photos we posted earlier in this story, was on display in Paris a few years ago, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Paris residency. From November 28, 2013 to February 8, 2014 the exhibition consisted of just a few photos from Paris, and more photos from the rest of the Beatles career. There was a note beside the photo, which mentioned a certain Eve Bowen.

EVE BOWEN. The Beatles posing at Eve Bowen's photo studio, a few weeks before their tour of Paris. December 1963.

However, this is just a photo credit. The note also claims that the photo in question was taken in December 1963, a few weeks before their arrival in France. We also find that Eve Bowen is credited as a photographer (or perhaps just a copyright holder?) in other pictures at the exhibition.

Exhibition catalogue page.
We haven't spent much time researching Eve Bowen, but we did see her credited as an American photographer at Artnet Among her photos are some from The Beatles' train ride between Washington and New York in February 1964. She also appear to have been present at the Beatles' dress rehearsal for the Ed Sullivan Show. The little bio we have seen reads: "Eve Bowen was a female photographer, but she is to a large extent unknown today. Her estate is kept at the Hayward Archive in London." Hayward however, sold Bowen's photos with full copyright at an auction in Surrey in February 2015.
Bowen also took some photos of Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Some people over at the French Beatles site Lucy in the web are saying that she was Dezo Hoffmann's assistant at the time, and took a few photos of her own. So perhaps she did take these photos after all. But the time placement mentioned at this exhibition we doubt.

Outdoor photos

The Beatles posing outside with the girl, Lutterbach is a Frensh beer from the Alsace district.

Dezo Hoffmann tells a tale about the girl in these photos: "It was «a very cold day. We went into a bistro for a hot cup of tea. Instead we got a cup of good French coffee from the young lady behind the counter. She was so attractive I asked her to pose outside on the pavement with the Beatles. She’d never heard of them, but did me the favour and went upstairs to change into some flimsy French-postcard style clothes. It only took me three minutes to get the pictures, but she was blue with cold, despite John snuggling up against her at the back.”
The girl's name was Mirielle, according to Bill Harry. The quote is from Dezo's book «The Beatles Conquer America» (Virgin Books 1984).

Clearly present in Paris, this photo captures photographer Dezo Hoffmann behind George..
That was a nice story, Dezo, but I think you may have invented it. In fact, it's French Beatles fan Jacques Volcouve, founder of the Beatles fan club "Le Club des Quatre de Liverpool" who delivers the goods. The name of the girl is Sophie Hardy (born October 4, 1944 or 1938, depending on source). Jacques says about the quote from Dezo: "I don’t believe this story. It is all untrue. Dezo’s memory has failed here. The same day they shot a photographic session in a studio with the Beatles wearing a typical French hat (i.e. Napoleon’s cocked hat, a cop’s kepi and a Basque beret). This girl was called Sophie Hardy and was an actress. I interviewed her a few years ago about that. She said at the time she was modeling and her agency called to ask her to pose with a foreign group called the Beatles. She did not know anything about them and just did her job, never realising who she was posing with. The Beatles still mean nothing to her."

Another version has the girl as Mireille Darc (1938-2017), another famous French bombshell at the time. But compared to the Beatles photos, her 1964 hair is far too long.

Mireille Darc in 1964 – too long hair.

Sophie Hardy was a young actress in Paris, mostly in 1964-67, and she also took modeling jobs.

Embed from Getty Images
This is Sylvie Vartan, the singer who shared the bill at L'Olympia with The Beatles,
and often wrongly identified as the girl on the street and in the photo studio.

Sylvie Vartan, captured in performance at L'Olympia in 1964.
Of course, in no way are the photos we are talking about featuring Sylvie Vartan, she may have had short hair at the time, but the model had even shorter hair and quite a different hairstyle. Vartan later married French singer Johnny Halliday, who died just recently.

Sylvie Vartan with Paul McCartney in 2008, when he once again performed at L’Olympia.

Ringo was also taking a few photos of his own at the photo studio session, Here is one of his photos of Paul,
which is currently exhibited by Genesis Publications..

Ringo brought his own camera to the photo session, and took a few photos. The above one is one of his portraits of Paul, and here is an interesting newspaper clipping from back then:

Ringo's photos. The clipping verifies that the actress was Sophie Hardy, but the photo of Jane Asher we're not so sure about.
After having appeared in a number of motion pictures and television shows in France, Italy and elsewhere in Europe, Sophie Hardy still accepts model assignments for the Cindy Brace agency. Here is her current head shot:

Sophie Hardy at 73 or thereabout.
So now that we have identified the blonde in those photos, who took the studio pictures? It seems to us that Dezo writes himself out of the picture with his fantastic tale of the girl in the coffeee shop, and that he only took the pavement shots. Was it perhaps the elusive Eve Bowen? If you have any information, please use the comment section.

And yes, we know that Dezo is credited as photographer on this EP cover:

A rare version of this EP, which also exists with a different front cover, taken by Dezo Hoffmann.

On June 6, 2018, L'Olympia is again revisited by a Beatle, as the venue is where Ringo and his All Starr Band open their European tour.

The Mersey Beat by Bill Harry
Lucy in the web
Getty Images
Model Agency Cindy Brace
The Daily Mirror

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Previously unpublished Granada photos

The "new" photos are depicted inside this magazine
In the new Beatles Magazine "The Beatles - A Life in pictures" (which we told you about last November) is a section of previously unpublished photos taken during the filming of Granada TV's Special "The Music of Lennon & McCartney". There are both black and white, as well as amazing colour photos. Here is one of the colour ones:

Performing the then new song "Day Tripper". Photo by: Time Inc UK Content

The magazine is published by the company behind Uncut magazine, and the all new Beatles photos can be purchased as art prints. You can take a look at all the photos as well as order prints from this web page:

"The Music of Lennon & McCartney" was filmed on November 1-2, 1965 and shown on TV for the first time on December 16 that same year. The Beatles joined a host of artists performing songs by the famous composer team. The group mimed to "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper", both sides of their forthcoming single. Paul McCartney also sang the first part of "Yesterday", which was completed by Marianne Faithfull.

The other guests on the show were Cilla Black, Peter and Gordon, Lulu, Henry Mancini, Esther Phillips, Fritz Spiegl, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Alan Haven, the George Martin Orchestra, Dick Rivers and Peter Sellers.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Yellow Submarine at the movies

Theatrical release for 50th anniversary
Screen Daily reports that U.K. outfit Picturehouse Entertainment has struck a deal with Apple to release a digitally remastered version of the Beatles’ animated movie Yellow Submarine in cinemas for the first time since 1999.

The 4K version is due to play in Picturehouse and other U.K. and Ireland cinemas on July 8, 2018 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of its original release.

Clare Binns, deputy managing director of Cineworld-owned Picturehouse, said: ”I loved Yellow Submarine 50 years ago and it still rocks the universe. This summer, Picturehouse Entertainment is thrilled to bring The Beatles back to the big screen again with a film that makes your heart beat fast. Bringing the film back for its 50th anniversary is great, both for those who loved it the first time around and for those new singing and dancing audiences who will be introduced to this classic music and animation. I look forward to the huge smiles on faces all across the UK and Ireland on 8 July - as the fab four said, All You Need is Love!”

The Beatles performed the songs for the film but their cartoon characters are voiced by actors because the Beatles weren't too enthused - probably because they knew that this was a product of the same company who had done the animated television series. However, this was a totally different concept and character design, and upon viewing a work copy of the finished film, John Lennon was thrilled, and offered to get the Beatles to record the film's dialogue with their own voices. He was told it was too late, too bad the producers didn't take into account the home video market, which was in it's infancy at the time. The quartet does appear in the closing scene of the film, however.

Apple owns the Yellow Submarine IP, which it remastered in 4K for DVD and Bluray in 2012. United Artists produced the original which is directed by George Dunning. We doubt that the U.K. is the only market where the film will get a theatrical re-release, so look for local announcements.

New comic book due in August.
Also planned for the fiftieth anniversary is a new comic book, as we have informed about earlier. It will be on release August 7, 2018 - but is already available for pre-ordering from Amazon. Also available from Amazon U.K. 

We saw the 1999 version of the film in a movie theatre, and can vouch for a great surround sound experience, in addition to the splendid visuals. No need to bring acid.
Back then, a songtrack CD was released, with newly remixed songs which appeared in the cartoon feature. Perhaps this anniversary will see it re-released as well?

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Esher demos for 2018?

Rumours of a 50th Anniversary super deluxe edition of The Beatles aka 'The White Album' means that the Esher Demos and other early takes/sessions aren't out of the question. Here's a little something about those demos.

The precise date is unknown, but towards the end of May 1968, The Beatles met at George Harrison's bungalow in Surrey. Back from the Maharishi's meditation camp in Rishikesh, India, John, Paul and George all sought to get their new songs onto tape. John and Paul had likely already taped some at home and brought these tracks over to George's so-called Kinfauns bungalow in Esher, Surrey. A few photos taken by Michael Herring document the Beatles on May 28, with Paul allegedly considering leaving the band. George owned an Ampex 4-Track recorder, on which they subsequently demoed their new material. Ringo, Mal Evans and Derek Taylor were present at times and likely assisted with percussion.

One of Michael Herring's photos from 28 May, 1968 in Esher.
The 27 songs believed to have been taped at Kinfauns were mostly grouped together by the composer of each song, although John Lennon's songs were more scattered across the day. They were most likely taped in this order:

Cry Baby Cry - with a different intro and ending from the album version
Child Of Nature - unreleased, but the melody later became Jealous Guy with new lyrics
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - the other Beatles make animal noises
I'm So Tired - with a slightly different spoken passage
Yer Blues - John Lennon is 'insecure' rather than 'suicidal'
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey - far less frenetic than the studio version
What's The New Mary Jane - included on Anthology 3
Revolution 1 - lacks the 'you say you'll change the constitution' verse
While My Guitar Gently Weeps - with different lyrics in places
Circles - unreleased by The Beatles, later released by George Harrison
Sour Milk Sea - unreleased by The Beatles, later released by Jackie Lomax
Not Guilty - studio version included on Anthology 3
Piggies - rather than 'eat their bacon', the piggies 'cut their pork chops'
Julia - in a higher key and with the verses in a different order
Blackbird - with a double-tracked vocal, no break, a slightly slower tempo
Rocky Raccoon - shorter, without the opening and final verses
Back In The USSR - lacks the final verse
Honey Pie - released on Anthology 3, with the final verse edited out
Mother Nature's Son - without the guitar intro of the studio version
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - with a double-tracked vocal from Paul McCartney
Junk - included on Anthology 3
Dear Prudence - with a spoken ending and double-tracked vocals
Sexy Sadie - also with double-tracked vocals from John, Paul adds "Oh Sadie" several times near the end.
Happiness Is A Warm Gun - lacks the intro and the final section
Mean Mr Mustard - his sister is called Shirley, not Pam
Polythene Pam - slightly different chords; 'well it's a little absurd but she's a nice class of bird'; the verses are repeated
Glass Onion - with double-tracked gobbledygook from Lennon

Most of the recordings were widely bootlegged, although the release of Anthology 3 resulted in previously-unheard demos of the four final songs (The Beatles Bible).

It is possible that not all of the demos were recorded at Kinfauns, and it has been speculated that some were recorded alone by the songs' composers. Still, these recordings continue to be referred to as "the Esher demos". John is likely to have come by George's house several times to record overdubs, as George had a permanent setup for doing this, whereas John's equipment was stored away in a cupboard. Also, John was nowhere near as technically minded as George.

John and George at Kinfauns, May 28, 1968. Photo:Michael Herring.
The demo songs were mono mixed by Harrison, with copies given to each Beatle. The general public first heard them in the late 1980s as part of the Lost Lennon Tapes radio series, and 23 of the songs had entered general circulation by the early 1990s through bootlegs. Most of these came from John Lennon's own tape, as mixed in mono by George in 1968. Still, they were a generation further away from the source, as they were likely taken from John's cassette transfers of the tape. It is also believed that after a burglary, Ringo's tape copy was leaked in full, which accounts for the bootlegged songs not aired on the Lost Lennon Tapes radio series.

The seven recordings included on the Anthology 3 album ("Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Mean Mr. Mustard", "Polythene Pam", "Glass Onion", "Junk", "Piggies" and "Honey Pie") are of a significantly higher fidelity, as they came from George's original stereo reels of the demo sessions, and were processed at Abbey Road Studios. After that release, parts of two more ("Sour Milk Sea" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps") have been broadcast on the radio in this quality. This raises the possibility that there are higher-quality versions of all twenty-seven songs. As a number of the songs included on the Anthology series were included in edited form, it has been suggested that the release of all the Esher demos as a legitimate future Beatles release is likely (Wikipedia).

The 50th Anniversary of the Beatles' White album is in November, as the album was originally released on the 22. of November, 1968. From what we are hearing, plans about a fiftieth anniversary deluxe release have not been finalised. We have no idea whether a new mix is in the cards, whether outtakes like the 27 minutes long version of "Helter Skelter" (it was faded down and then up again on the original record) will appear, or whether working versions or demos will be made available. In fact, a fiftieth anniversary release hasn't even been announced, but it's still early days. London Beatles tour guide Richard Porter reports that Giles Martin has been working on the White Album at Abbey Road for several weeks.

Link: The Esher demos on YouTube

Friday, 5 January 2018

Beatles top vinyl record sales charts for 2017

The biggest seller in USA, not so in the UK.
The vinyl revival continued in 2017 — and people clearly needed more Beatles records for their turntables, because the band took the top two spots on the year-end sales chart in USA for the resurgent format. Vinyl records sold the most amount ever in the USA since 1991, 14,3 million - an increase of 9 per cent since 2016.  Vinyl LPs comprise 14% of all physical album sales, an all-time Nielsen music high. The two Beatles albums which topped the charts was no surprise. 1. The Beatles: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - 72,000 copies of this anniversary release and 2. The Beatles: "Abbey Road" - 66,000 copies. "Abbey Road" has topped the year-end sales charts in previous years. Obviously, it's now the 2012 remastered pressing which is shifting copies.

In the UK however, you will have to look further down the year-end sales charts to locate the Beatles.  The top two are both new albums, with Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" being the first retro album on number 3. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" can be found at no. 8, just below Pink Floyd's classic "Dark Side of the Moon", whereas "Abbey Road" is at a modest no. 16. We don't have the figures for these albums, but Ed Sheeran's album at no. 1 sold 51,700 units. Sales of vinyl in Great Britain were up 26.8 per cent, a tenth consecutive year of growth, with 4.1 million purchased in 2017 compared to 205,000 in 2007. Vinyl sales now account for almost 1 in 10 of all physical music sales there. If you compare the two top ten charts from these countries, only four albums can be found on both sides of the Atlantic.

USA year-end-sales charts:
1. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. The Beatles, Abbey Road
3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix Vol. 1
4. Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide)
5. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
6. Prince, Purple Rain (Soundtrack)
7. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend: The Best of...
8. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon
9. Soundtrack, La La Land
10. Michael Jackson, Thriller

UK year-end-sales charts:
1. Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide)br /> 2. Liam Gallagher, As You Were
3. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
4. Guardians Of The Galaxy, Awesome Mix Vol. 1
5. Amy Winehouse, Back To Black
6. Rag'n'bone Man, Human
7. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side Of The Moon
8. The Beatles, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
9. Oasis, What's The Story Morning Glory
10. David Bowie, Legacy

For the USA, only the top ten can be found on Nielsen's report on 2017 (pdf), but in the UK, the official charts company lists the top forty biggest vinyl sellers. No further Beatles albums to be found there, though.

Surprisingly, in the USA there was a 35 per cent increase in cassette tape sales versus 2016, with 174,000 units sold in 2017 marking the largest sales for the format since 2012. See? I told you there was a cassette revival!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

George turned down British honour

It has been revealed that in 2000, George Harrison turned down an OBE after his band mate Paul McCartney was awarded a knighthood.

Every member of the Beatles was awarded an MBE in 1965, but Lennon returned his as a protest about British foreign policy. Lennon wrote: "Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts. With love. John Lennon of Bag"

John Lennon of Bag
Documents revel that the Beatles guitarist was put forward for the honour due to his contribution to the music industry. Surprisingly, his charitable causes such as famine relief for Bangladesh and Romanian Angel Appeal seems to have gone unnoticed by the royals, as well as his revival of the British motion picture industry through his Hand Made Films company. The OBE is the level just above MBE.

But journalist Ray Connolly, who knew The Beatles, said Harrison would have been insulted at such an offer after McCartney receieved a knighthood three years previously.

«Whoever it was who decided to offer him the OBE and not the knighthood was extraordinarily insensitive,» he said.

«George would have felt insulted – and with very good reason.»

George Harrison died on 29 November 2001, aged 58.

Source: Huffington Post

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Arise, Sir Ringo

Still from the film Lisztomania.
Several UK newspapers are reporting that a certain Richard Starkey MBE, is one of the the names on Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's Honours list over who are going to be knighted in 2018. This is something Ringo can't have dreamt about when he recorded the song Elizabeth Reigns for the album Ringo Rama i 2003. After the song finishes, we can hear him say: "Well...there goes me knighthood"!
The news was first published by scandal paper The Sun, but has since been confirmed by The Daily Mail, The Mirror, as well as other, reliable sources.
We have to admit that there has been a bit too many of these knighthoods of late, after Paul McCartney was knighted in 1997 at the age of 55. After that, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and Ray Davies have all been honoured this way.
Neither John nor George received this honour, but George's friend and teacher Ravi Shankar was knighted in 2001.
Ringo is said to be "chuffed to bits" about the news, but the official announcement will be made on January 1. In the summer of 2018, Ringo and his All Starr Band is undertaking a European Tour, but no British dates have been announced.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Music videos from The Beatles

The Ballad of John & Yoko - now available on the internet
This past weekend, The Beatles uploaded a bunch of music videos to their official Vevo channel, echoed on the YouTube Vevo channel, for regionally challenged people like our good selves.
The videos are:

Something - viewed 418 000 times.
Paperback Writer - viewed 321 000 times
Yellow Submarine - viewed 211 000 times
Rain - viewed 178 000 times
Lady Madonna - viewed 178 000 times
The Ballad of John & Yoko - viewed 153 000 times
Yesterday - viewed 91 000 times

So, if this was a popularity poll, George Harrison takes the lead. And that seems to be the trend among young people, who also prefer the quiet Beatles when it comes to streaming: "Here Comes The Sun" is still the most streamed Beatles song on Spotify, now at 131 329 022 times.

Friday, 15 December 2017

It's the B-Day of Christmas

The boxed set cover features smiling versions of the Beatles portraits from the 1963 disc front cover.
It's B-Day or Beatles day or Boxed set day for the new Beatles boxed set release of their fan club Christmas records. It looks as though there are insufficient numbers available of these boxes here in Europe, whereas in North-America they are fully stocked. This according to reports from U.S.A. as well as Canada.

Amazon UK and Germany are both sold out, as are other online stores in Europe, and record stores are reporting limited supplies and they are not getting as many boxes as they have ordered. I checked my order at Amazon UK, and noticed that they had not yet dispatched my set.
Not dispatched from Amazon UK

So I checked again this morning and since there was no status change, I decided to go out and see if I could secure a copy. If Amazon should fulfill my order later, I could always get rid of it somehow. So I went to my local record store, and they had none. They couldn't even answer if they had ordered any, because the guy who's in charge of ordering was not at work this morning.

So I went to the local affiliate of the biggest record store chain in Norway. Their online shop says the boxed set is unavailable, but there was still hope that the actual mall stores had managed to get what they had ordered. Approaching the counter, I noticed that one of these boxed sets was put on display at the counter top next to the till. So I went to the clerk and asked for "one of those", pointing to the boxed set. He went around to look for it, and was informed by another clerk that the one on the counter was the only one they had. They had ordered plenty and had been alotted just the one copy.

My originals (left) and the new editions.
Back home, I've opened the boxed set and compared to my original flexis. Seems the sleeves are exactly the correct size, but the 1963 one has a regular single sleeve and not the envelope design of the original.

1963 original.

Looking through the booklet, it was also missing some of the so called «superpix» order forms, as well as the poster from the third Christmas record.
Foldout poster from the 1965 single.
I haven't yet played the new discs, but I understand that the contents have been mastered from dubs of the originals and safety copy tapes. Freda Kelly supplied the old flexis when the master of the 1970 Christmas LPs was assembled, because the original tapes were long gone already. So it seems, all we are likely to get are needle drops of Freda's flexis anyway.

Kevin Howlett has written a page in the booklet.