Monday, 24 November 2014

The butcher cover

The original "Yesterday And Today" cover. Photo: Robert Whitaker
On the 25th March 1966, a photo session which was to become a notorious part of The Beatles' history took place: the infamous 'butcher cover' pictures were taken.

The session took place at a top floor studio on the second floor of 1 The Vale, Chelsea, London. The space was rented by Oluf Nissen, but the photographer was Robert Whitaker. Before it took place, though, the group posed for a more conventional session at the studio for Nigel Dickson, working for The Beatles Book magazine. They wore light turtleneck sweaters and dark jackets, for what became their 1966 handout and standard promotional pictures. They also taped an interview for Radio Caroline DJ Tom Lodge, for a free flexi disc titled Sound Of The Stars which was given away by Disc And Music Echo, co-owned by Brian Epstein.

The "butcher" concept

Whitaker had the idea of creating a satirical commentary on The Beatles' fame, inspired by the German surrealist Hans Bellmer's images of dismembered doll and mannequin parts.

"I did a photograph of the Beatles covered in raw meat, dolls and false teeth. Putting meat, dolls and false teeth with The Beatles is essentially part of the same thing, the breakdown of what is regarded as normal. The actual conception for what I still call "Somnambulant Adventure" was Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. He comes across people worshipping a golden calf. All over the world I'd watched people worshiping like idols, like gods, four Beatles. To me they were just stock standard normal people. But this emotion that fans poured on them made me wonder where Christianity was heading." Robert Whitaker

It was later claimed that the photographs were intended as a protest by The Beatles on their treatment by the press and public, and Capitol Records' insistence on reordering their album tracks for the American market, but Whitaker later denied this, saying it was entirely his idea.

Q: How did that photo, featuring the Beatles among slabs of meat and decapitated dolls, come about? Was it your idea or the Beatles'?

Robert Whitaker: It was mine. Absolutely. It was part of three pictures that should have gone into an icon. And it was a rough. If you could imagine, the background of that picture should have been all gold. Around the heads would have gone silver halos, jewelled. Then there are two other pictures that are in the book [The Unseen Beatles], but not in colour.

Q: How did you prepare for the shoot?

It was hard work. I had to go to the local butcher and get pork. I had to go to a doll factory and find the dolls. I had to go to an eye factory and find the eyes. False teeth. There's a lot in that photograph. I think John's almost-last written words were about that particular cover; that was pointed out to me by Martin Harrison, who wrote the text to my book. I didn't even know that, but I'm learning a lot.

Q: Why meat and dolls? There's been a lot of conjecture over the years about what that photo meant. The most popular theory is that it was a protest by the Beatles against Capitol Records for supposedly "butchering" their records in the States.

Rubbish, absolute nonsense. If the trilogy or triptych of the three photographs had ever come together, it would have made sense. There is another set of photos in the book which is the Beatles with a girl with her back toward you, hanging on to sausages. Those sausages were meant to be an umbilical cord. Does this start to open a few chapters?

Q: Were you aware when you shot it that Capitol Records was going to use it as a record cover?

No.

Q: Were you upset when they did and then when they pulled it and replaced it with another photo?

Well, I shot that photo too, of them sitting on a trunk, the one that they pasted over it. I fairly remember being bewildered by the whole thing. I had no reason to be bewildered by it, purely and simply, because it could certainly be construed as a fairly shocking collection of bits and pieces to stick on a group of people and represent that in this country.

Robert Whitaker Goldmine magazine, 15 November 1991

The triptych as intended by Whitaker was to be retouched to make The Beatles appear as religious icons. The decoration was intended to contrast with the earthiness of the meat and dummies, underlining the group's normality beneath their fame. The cover was an unfinished concept. It was just one of a series of photographs that would have made up a gate-fold cover. Behind the head of each Beatle would have been a golden halo and in the halo would have been placed a semi-precious stone. Then the background would have contained more gold, so it was rather like a Russian icon. It was just after John Lennon had said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. In a material world that was an extremely true statement. Robert Whitaker


Robert (Bob) Whitaker's book from 1998, "The Unseen Beatles".

Outtakes from the session, included in Whitaker's book The Unseen Beatles, indicate the form the triptych was to take. The first photograph shows the group facing a woman standing with her back to the camera, with her hands raised in surprise or worship. The Beatles held a string of sausages, intended to symbolise an umbilical cord, to emphasise that the group were born like everybody else. The triptych's centre panel is the image now known as the 'butcher' photograph, and shows The Beatles dressed in butchers' white coats, surrounded by slabs of meat and doll parts. The final panel was an image of George Harrison standing behind a seated John Lennon, holding a hammer as if he was driving nails into Lennon's head. This was intended to underline that The Beatles were real and substantial, not idols to worship.

Not imaginary nails. Photo: Robert Whitaker

The butcher photograph was used in advertisements for Paperback Writer in the British music press before it appeared on the cover of the Capitol Records compilation Yesterday... And Today.

Advertisement in "Disc and music Echo".

Capitol pressed the cover in early June 1966, but upon its release that month it was swiftly recalled after an outcry from record retailers. Nervous after Lennon's comments about The Beatles being "more popular than Jesus", the label issued letters of apology and hastily issued the album with a replacement cover, also taken by Whitaker. Eventually it was decided that it would be cheaper to paste the new cover shot over the withdrawn butcher sleeves. Unpeeled copies are now highly sought-after by collectors; however, the most valuable are the original 'first state' versions, particularly the stereo pressings.

The "trunk cover" pasted over. Note the triangular black shape on the right, revealing Ringo's black sweater on the butcher picture underneath. Photo: Robert Whitaker.
The text and most of the images in this blog post taken from the official Robert Whitaker Photographer page on Facebook.

Links for further enlightenment and photos:
The Beatles Bible
Feelnumb
Rare Beatles


Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Abbey Road pics got £180,000

One of the Abbey Road photos, #4.  Photo: Iain Macmillan. Copyright: Apple Corps Ltd.
The not particularly rare photographs of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, shot for the cover of the album of the same name have sold for a staggering £180,000. Experts, texperts predicted the photos would make £70,000 when they went under the hammer at Bloomsbury Auctions.

According to Sarah Wheeler, Head of Photography at Bloomsbury Auctions, the set was originally sold individually, but were collected and put together as a set by a private collector, the current seller.

Funny that, he could have just visited Snap Galleries in 2011 and bought a full set.

Source: Daily Mail

From the exhibition "Beatles and bystanders", here's a rundown of various people in the background of the six Abbey Road photos for the front cover, as described by Snap Galleries owner Guy White in an article in Sabotage Times. (We have substituted the name Paul Cole with the words "Mystery man"):

The session photographs in more detail:

Frame 5. The cover shot, has been discussed and analysed in depth over the years, even to advance theories of the death of Paul McCartney. But what of the five other front cover session photographs taken that day: the three right to left and two left to right passes that weren’t used? They have been reproduced sparingly in publications over the years, but the opportunity to view them together on a wall in a gallery setting has allowed us to go much deeper.

Frame 1. "Mystery man" is there, on the right, but so are two other people further back on the same side of the road. One is looking at the camera, the other is bending down, looking for something in a bag. On the left pavement, a man sits on the wall, his legs dangling, while closer to camera, two women and a young girl appear behind the Volkswagen Beetle.

Frame 2. There’s "Mystery man" again, but this time he is all alone on the right pavement. The two people on the right in frame 1 have gone. Meanwhile our friend sitting on the wall on the left has been joined by a man in a white shirt and a woman with a parasol.

Frame 3. "Mystery man" is there, but now he has moved further away from his position in frame 2. He shares the pavement this time with a lady in a red sweater, looking directly at the camera. Here’s where it gets interesting. You have to look very, very carefully on the left pavement to spot her, but there in the closest gateway, just behind the Beetle, is a young woman in a purple top. This is her first appearance, but she is present in three of the six frames – just one fewer appearance than "Mystery man".  Immediately behind the Beetle, a black delivery van has pulled in. It has gone before frame 4. Look carefully and you can see the left arm of the driver, standing behind the van.

Frame 4. There’s no sign of "Mystery man", but there is another man in a white shirt, striding with some purpose, walking towards the camera. Over on the left we get a clearer sight of the mysterious girl in the purple top, on the move this time, and two of the three decorators who appear on the actual cover, appear in this frame.

Frame 5. The actual cover. The one everyone knows. "Mystery man" is there on the right, of course. On the left pavement, further back, stand three decorators, subsequently identified as Alan Flanagan, Steve Millwood and Derek Seagrove. They were all captured for posterity on the cover photograph. Close viewing shows another man, as yet unidentified, standing behind a car, close to the group of three. There is no sign of the mysterious girl in the purple top.

Frame 6. "Mystery man" has had enough – he’s gone. The three decorators remain on the left, joined by a fourth person. The girl in the purple top is there on the left, clearly visible, back in the gateway she first occupied in frame 3. Other people appear, but are not engaged with the scene: a man dressed in black walks away from camera on the left pavement. On the right, by the police van, two people are looking away, while in the distance, on the left, passengers spill out of a number 159 bus. Who were these other people? Maybe we’ll never know, or maybe this can be the start of their 15 minutes. Anyone out there recognise their mum, or their aunty Beryl?

Guy White's descriptions of the bystanders in each of the Macmillan shots have been added to our main blog post about the Abbey Road photo session, "The road goes on forever".

Friday, 21 November 2014

Yoko bought Lennon's former home?

Newcastle Road number 9

An article in Breitbart.com speculates that Yoko Ono may have been the anonymous bidder who last year bought 9 Newcastle Road in Liverpool, John Lennon's address from birth to age five. After that, he was taken away from his mother Julia and given to his aunt Mimi and uncle George, to be raised at 251 Menlove Avenue, also known as "Mendips". According to Breitbart.com, the identity of the buyer has been "common knowledge" around Liverpool since the auction. Another tell tale sign is that the same team that Yoko Ono hired to refurbish Mendips, is working on 9 Newcastle Road.

One thing that may have mattered in Yoko's decision to purchase the house, is that it fits into one of the Lennons' theories: That the number 9 has great significance in Lennon's life. Apart from the things he created himself, like #9 Dream, Revolution #9 and Yoko deciding to give birth to Sean on John's birthday, the number 9 has popped up by coincidence several times. John's first address was 9 Newcastle Road, so it fits. Even in death, number 9 haunted Lennon, as it may well have been just before midnight on December 8 in New York when he was killed, but it was already many hours into December 9th in Liverpool at the time.

After having bought and refurbished Mendips, Yoko gave the building to the National Trust, who have turned it into a tourist attraction with regular daily visits: see this link.

Perhaps we'll get another Liverpool Lennon attraction once the house has been refurbished? Next year John would have turned 75, had he lived, so we know something is planned to mark that.

Source: Breitbart.com

McCartney in new app for android smartphones

Still from the app. © Copyright Jaunt.Inc.
Paul McCartney's performance of "Live and Let Die" from the concert at Candlestick Park is a featured preview in a new app.
Here's the blurb: "Experience musical legend and visionary Sir Paul McCartney performing "Live and Let Die" in 360 degrees, with stereo 3D and immersive audio in Jaunt's first publicly released cinematic VR experience. Requires a recent 5" or 6" phone and a Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer."

We tried to get it to work with our Samsung Galaxy tab, but no luck. Soon to be available for Rift on Macs and Windows PCs, though.

McCartney's Facebook publicity said: "Paul has partnered with Jaunt to allow fans to watch 'Live and Let Die' in an immersive 360-degree virtual environment at his recent Candlestick Park concert. The app puts you right in the crowd, onstage, backstage, or even right by Paul’s side in the midst of the song's climactic pyro!"

Nice to see a Beatle featured in an app that isn't solely for IOS, though.

Links:
Google Play
Developer's site

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

New Italian Beatles boxed set

A new boxed set of the official albums.
Looks like the Italians will be able to collect their official Beatles CDs and DVDs in a box. But they have to buy the contents one by one, and Abbey Road is the first one out 25 November, along with the box itself. After that, it's one release a week until the set is complete. Single CDs are priced at €9,90, double CDs and DVDs at €12,90. You can buy these from news agents in Italy, or order online. This is an official Apple product, in cooperation with Italian newspapers.
The collection is released in this order:
  1. Abbey Road
  2. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  3. Let It Be
  4. The Beatles (White album) 2CD
  5. Help!
  6. Yellow Submarine
  7. Rubber Soul
  8. Revolver
  9. Please Please Me
  10. A Hard Day's Night
  11. Past Masters 2CD
  12. Magical Mystery Tour
  13. Beatles For Sale
  14. With The Beatles
  15. Live at the BBC Vol 1 2CD
  16. On Air: Live at the BBC Vol 2 2CD
  17. Love 2CD
  18. Anthology 1 DVD
  19. Anthology 2 DVD
  20. Anthology 3 DVD
  21. Anthology 4 DVD
  22. Anthology 5 DVD
They seem to have missed the mark slightly, though. "Let It Be...Naked" is not included, so you have to have something outside the box.
Similar boxed sets of the Who and Bob Marley have been released in the same fashion in Italy previously.
Source: Gazzetta Store
A presentation: Gazzetta Store promo

Wings singles released elsewhere

"Let'Em In" and "Letting Go" singles - based on the German picture sleeves, but stripped for logos.
Looks like the "Best Buy" offer wasn't as exclusive as we thought, the latest newsletter from Universal Music of Norway also lists these singles as available over the counter in my country. Another vinyl release which will be available here, is the Record Store Day "Black Friday" release of the "Long Tall Sally" EP. The company also says that music download cards will accompany the newly re-released "Love", "1", "1962-1966" and "1967-1970" albums.
Meanwhile, a Canadian reader who made the trip across the border to get the Best Buy "Venus and Mars" and "Speed of Sound" Archive releases with the coupon to purchase the new Wings singles, has written to me and informed that to his dismay, the offer was only valid for customers with an address in the United States. Also, people in the U.S. has written in and complained that the website to order the singles from has been down.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Beatles on Top Of The Pops

The Beatles on Top Of The Pops

1966 rehearsal.
Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, was a British music chart television programme, made by the BBC and originally broadcast weekly between 1 January 1964 and 30 July 2006. It was traditionally shown every Thursday evening on BBC1, except for a short period on Fridays in late 1974, before being again moved to Fridays in 1996, and then to Sundays on BBC Two in 2005. Each weekly programme consisted of performances from some of that week's best-selling popular music artists, with a rundown of that week's singles chart. Additionally, there was a special edition of the programme on Christmas Day (and usually, until 1984, a second such edition a few days after Christmas), featuring some of the best-selling singles of the year.

Although the weekly show was cancelled, the Christmas special has continued. It also survives as Top Of The Pops 2, which began in 1994 and features vintage performances from the Top Of The Pops archives.

Top Of The Pops began on New Year's Day 1964 in Studio A on Dickenson Road in Rusholme, Manchester, which the BBC had bought from Mancunian Films in 1954. The studio was a converted church. With a limited budget, the studio had no facilities for artists to perform live and all the early shows were mimed. DJs Jimmy Savile and Alan Freeman presented the first show, which featured (in order) the Rolling Stones with "I Wanna Be Your Man", Dusty Springfield with "I Only Want to Be with You", the Dave Clark Five with "Glad All Over", the Hollies with "Stay", the Swinging Blue Jeans with "Hippy Hippy Shake" and the Beatles with "I Want to Hold Your Hand", that week's number one - throughout its history, the programme proper always finished with the best-selling single of the week, although there often was a separate play-out track.

This is according to the BBC page about the Top of the pops episodes from the sixties. However, I can't find anything about a Beatles appearance on the first show, on New Year's Day the Beatles were still doing their `Beatles Christmas Show' at the Astoria in Finsbury Park, London. They may well have recorded a mimed performance of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" for TOTP, but I haven't been able to find out anything about it, and the episode has been wiped anyway. Presenting the show from Manchester created problems as many of the bigger acts did not want to travel there, and later Top of the Pops moved to the Lime Grove Studios in west London. Any Beatles appearance on TOTP was pre-recorded for transmission, they never took the trip to Manchester to perform live on the show. Usually this was a mimed performance recorded in another studio.

According to reliable sources the Beatles debut appearance on TOTP was Thursday 19 March 1964. Here's what happened:

Can't Buy Me Love

Between 7pm and 8.30pm The Beatles were at the BBC's Television Theatre (since renamed the Shepherd's Bush Empire) in west London, to film their debut appearance on Top Of The Pops.
The Beatles were allowed to pre-record, without an audience, two songs in London. They mimed to both songs from their new single, "Can't Buy Me Love" and "You Can't Do That".

The appearance was shown on Wednesday 25 March between 6.35pm and 7pm, with "Can't Buy Me Love" repeated on the 8 April edition. At the time Top Of The Pops was Britain's most popular music show on TV.

A Hard Day's Night

Tuesday 7 July 1964
From 2-5pm The Beatles recorded an appearance for the BBC television show Top Of The Pops, at Lime Grove Studios in London.
The day's recording involved three parts: a two-hour rehearsal for the cameras; from 4-4.15pm a line-up for the assembled acts appearing; and recording from 4.15-5pm. The Beatles mimed to three songs: "A Hard Day's Night", "Things We Said Today" and "Long Tall Sally".
The performances of "A Hard Day's Night" and "Long Tall Sally" were first broadcast on BBC1 from 7.35pm on 8 July 1964. "Things We Said Today" was shown on 29 July from 7.10pm.

Ticket To Ride

Saturday 10 April 1965
The Beatles filmed an appearance for the BBC television show Top Of The Pops on this day at Riverside Studios in London. They performed two songs: "Ticket To Ride" and "Yes It Is".
Rehearsals and filming began at 1.30pm. The Beatles wore the fawn-coloured jackets they would later wear for their Shea Stadium concert on 15 August 1965.
The edition of Top Of The Pops, the BBC's flagship music programme, was shown on Thursday 15 April from 7.30-8pm. It was later wiped by the BBC, in common with their archiving rules at the time.
However, a snippet of the performance was included in an episode of Doctor Who entitled The Executioners, part of a mini series known as The Chase. The episode was first screened on 22 May; although the episode of Top Of The Pops did not survive, the episode of Doctor Who did, and as a result part of The Beatles' performance from this day was preserved.


The episode was originally to have included The Beatles appearing as themselves in the future, wearing make-up to look older. However, Brian Epstein objected and the producers used the Top Of The Pops performance instead.

Apart from showing mimed performances specially filmed for TOTP, the show also showcased some of the promo films the Beatles had made, and in 1965, film clips from "Help!" was also featured on the show. on 2 December, Top Of The Pops premiered the new promo films for "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out" and the Christmas Day edition had promo clips of the group performing "I Feel Fine", "Help!", "Ticket to Ride" and "Day Tripper". These clips are usually called the Intertel promos.

Paperback Writer

Thursday 16 June 1966


Although by June 1966, Top Of The Pops had been running for over two years, The Beatles had never previously appeared live on the show. They had pre-recorded exclusive performances in BBC studios, or sent promotional clips to be played on the show. Now the show had already moved from Manchester to London, and The Beatles finally agreed to appear live to promote their latest single.  The Beatles had agreed two days previously, when manager Brian Epstein passed on a request from Top Of The Pops producer Johnnie Stewart.
Both "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" had previously been featured on Top of the Pops, courtesy of their promotional films. Both clips were shown on 2 June, and "Paperback Writer" was reprised on 9 June.
The group arrived at BBC Television Centre at 2.30pm for a rehearsal for the camera, and to pose for publicity photographs and conduct press interviews. More rehearsals followed between 4.15pm and 5.30, and from 6.30pm to 7pm.
The live broadcast took place between 7.30pm and 8pm on BBC One. The Beatles were the final act to appear, and did both "Paperback Writer" and its b-side, "Rain". They were introduced by host Pete Murray. Some sources say that the Beatles played the songs live this time, others that they mimed. Given that they never did perform "Rain" live on stage, that one is most likely to have been mimed, what with it's backwards vocals etc.
The Beatles' performance has since been wiped by the BBC, and the footage no longer exists in their archives. However, in 2010 a clip of The Hollies performing "Bus Stop" from the same season of Top of the Pops, in front of the same stage decoration as the Beatles, was posted on YouTube by a retired film editor based in the USA. Sadly, he only had that particular clip, but the appearance of the clip has rekindled hope that someone may be in the possession of the Beatles footage.

In the wake of the green singles series, the Beatles were riding high in the charts again. However when TOTP was to feature "Paperback Writer" again, they had to just play the record and the visuals were of dancers.


1967

The promo clips for "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" were shown on TOTP 16 February. As the Musicians' Union was very busy banning miming on television this year, these two clips were filmed without the Beatles mouthing the words of the lyrics. However, when recording the promotional films for "Hello Goodbye" later in the year, they were back to miming, and when the song was to be featured on TOTP on 23 November, footage from "A Hard Day's Night" accompanied the record, much to the annoyance of the Beatles.

1968

The solution? Film the Beatles recording one song, and use it to promote another. While recording "Hey Bulldog", The Beatles were filmed and the footage was used to assemble a promotional clip for the current single release, "Lady Madonna". The film was shown on Top Of The Pops the day before Lady Madonna was released, 14 March.

The only contemporary UK screening of the "Revolution" promo clip was on the BBC's Top Of The Pops on Thursday 19 September.

Here's a full episode of Top of the Pops from 15 February 1968. The Beatles are not included, but featured are Manfred Mann - "Mighty Quinn", The Foundations - "Back On My Feet Again", Status Quo - "Pictures Of Matchstick Men", Alan Price Set - "Don't Stop The Carnival", Brenton Wood - "Gimme Little Sign", The Move - "Fire Brigade", Hermans Hermits - "I Can Take Or Leave Your Loving", Amen Corner - "Bend Me Shape Me", and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - "Legend Of Xanadu". The show is presented by Jimmy Savile & Dave Cash.

1969: Get Back

From the "Get Back" project which was eventually going to become the "Let It Be" film and album in 1970, footage was used to become promotional clips for certain songs. On 17 April, such a film was aired on TOTP for the song "Get Back", then the current single. The Beatles performed the song from the roof of their Apple HQ in 3 Savile Row. The clip was reprised several times during the year, and on Christmas Day, it was shown in colour for the first time.

1970: Let It Be

On February 11, John Lennon was the first solo Beatle to appear on Top of the Pops, filmed exclusively for the show, but later also used as promotional films for the song in question, "Instant Karma!". Two versions were filmed, and the line-up of Plastic Ono Band consisted of John on vocals and electric piano, Klaus Voormann on bass, Alan White on drums, Mal Evans on tambourine, and Yoko either holding cards or knitting while blindfolded. In fact John's vocal was the only thing performed live, as the entire backing track was the one from the actual single, which had been specially mixed at Abbey Road the day before for the occasion. One of the films was shown the following day, clip number two appeared a week later, 19 February.
On 5 March, Top of the Pops showed a promotional clip of the Beatles performing "Let It Be" from January 1969. The clip was repeated on 19 March.

Since then, the Beatles and solo Beatles have appeared many times on Top of the Pops, but the Beatles only courtesy of old or new promotional clips, or music videos, as they were later to be called. The same goes for the solo Beatles, but Paul did appear live on the show a few times.

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Beatles in Copenhagen

Knud Ørsted: Beatles i København 4.6.64
Beatles i København - 4.6.64
By Knud Ørsted
Pages: 104
Hard cover
Graphic design: Michael Jensen
Released: 07.11.14
ISBN: 9788792894793

A new book was published this weekend, in Danish

It is 104 pages, packed with hitherto unpublished photos from the day the Beatles came to play two concerts in Copenhagen on the 4th of June, 1964. As you'll know, this was a Ringo-less version of the Beatles, Jimmy Nicol subbing for the hospitalised drummer. Knud Ørsted, who was 23 at the time, managed to get to document the day through being there and taking photos all from the build-up, the Beatles' arrival, teenage expectations, both concerts and the next day departure of the band.

The text is in Danish, Ørsted talks about how he managed to monitor the Beatles so closely. The book also includes clips from the Danish newpapers from the event.
The book can be ordered from the publishing house, Strandberg Publishing.

Link: www.strandbergpublishing.dk

Friday, 7 November 2014

Another free McCartney download

Wings "Rock Show" (New Version) in mp3 format now available.
In November 1974 Paul McCartney and Wings were in the process of recording the album that came to be known as Venus and Mars. As with all recording sessions there are songs and different versions of tracks that don't make the final release.

Today, in association with Geoff Lloyd at UK's Absolute Radio, we bring you another exclusive download only available through PaulMcCartney.com. This exclusive track is a previously unreleased and unheard version of the song 'Rock Show'.

Link to download: PaulMcCartney.com/downloads

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The two "Get Back" photo sessions

Early May 1969: First attempt. Photo: Angus McBean.

In early May 1969, photographer Angus McBean and the Beatles returned to EMI House to recreate the cover photo from the "Please Please Me" LP for their upcoming LP, "Get Back".  However Angus found that EMI had constructed a new porch which prevented him from photographing the Beatles from the exact same perspective as he had done in 1963. Pictures from this day feature John and George wearing different jackets.

13 May 1969: Second attempt. Photo: Angus McBean.

When EMI House heard that the exact photo angle could not be replicated, they agreed to have the new porch taken down temporarily. The Beatles and Angus then returned on May 13 1969 at 6pm for another attempt. Pictures from this day feature John and George wearing pin stripe suits (their 1966 tour suits).

A bootleg LP featuring one of the three versions of the "Get Back" LP.
The recreation of the "Please Please Me" cover shoot was probably not an attempt to bookend the Beatles' recording career, it was merely an idea sparked by the original intention of the "Get Back" LP project of the Beatles going back to their roots, again recording an album without studio trickery like overdubs. In an interview with Terence Pepper for a book about Angus McBean, Paul McCartney says that the idea for the "Please Please Me" cover recreation came up at a Beatles group meeting, and that they all thought it was a fun and "full circle" idea.

Photographer Angus McBean himself has also recalled the occasion: "(In 1963) I asked John Lennon how long they would stay as a group, and he said, "Oh, about six years, I suppose – who ever heard of a bald Beatle?". Well, it was just six years later that I was asked to repeat the shot with the Beatles as they now looked – very hairy indeed. When I got there I couldn’t retake the shot; a new porch had been built and I couldn’t get into the same position. However, EMI asked if I could come back in a week. Meanwhile, the whole new porch was pulled down and we tried again. Ringo Starr was so late that the staff of EMI was streaming down the stairs. I got the camera fixed up and John, fascinated by photography, came and lay down beside me to look at my view-finder. I can still hear the screams of the EMI girls as the realized who they were stepping over to get out the door!"

When the "Get Back" project was reshaped into the "Let It Be" album, the cover idea also went out the window, and no one has really explained why. Indeed, John Lennon himself wondered what happened to that idea, but no one has stepped up to give an explanation. Our best guess is that with Paul McCartney sporting a beard in the whole of the "Let It Be" film and John being clean shaven, the "Get Back" photo would seem out of place, adorning the accompanying album.

Still, it finally became a bookend of sorts with the release of the red and blue albums in 1973.

Beatles red and blue is AAA

The Beatles 1962-1966 aka "the Red album".
Analog Planet has had a word with Abbey Road mastering engineer Sean Magee, who told them that the two upcoming Beatles compilations, the "Red" (1962-1966) and "Blue" (1967-1970) albums were cut from the original analogue tapes used to produced the original LP sets—with a few exceptions. The tapes originally used to produce the two double LP sets back in 1973 were again used, but with a couple of changes: mono versions using EQ from the mono box set replaced the few faux stereo tracks originally used.

Apart from those, whatever differences there were between those versions and the ones on the original albums remain. Analog Planet quotes Magee, who said:
"The cutting notes made by Harry Moss were followed to the letter except for overall levels, which were a touch quieter, but cleaner. All analogue too"
So, as far as hype goes, AAA is the new DDD these days.*

We presume that it's the original British masters that were used, as you know there were a few differences between the US and the British original releases of these.

"Help!" on the American edition includes the same pseudo-James Bond intro as the mix found on the American Help! soundtrack LP, while the same song on the British edition does not. Also, the British LP uses the stereo "whispering intro" mix of "I Feel Fine", while the US LP uses the mono mix from Beatles '65, which is drenched in additional reverb. Here's a comparison:

US vs UK 1973 Red Album

Song
USA
UK
From Me To You stereo mix, reversed channels correct channels
She Loves You 1964 US fake stereo 1966 UK fake stereo
I Want To Hold Your Hand  1964 US fake stereo 1966 stereo mix 
A Hard Day's Night 1964 mono mix  1964 stereo mix 
I Feel Fine 1964 US mono mix  1964 stereo mix 
Ticket To Ride 1965 mono mix  1965 stereo mix
Help!  1965 stereo mix, "James Bond" intro   Same mix, no intro
We Can Work It Out  1965 stereo mix  1966 stereo mix
Paperback Writer  1966 stereo mix, reversed channels    Correct channels

Note: Day Tripper uses 1965 stereo mix on both US & UK.
Love Me Do is 1963 fake stereo on both.

US vs UK 1973 Blue Album

Song
USA
UK
 Strawberry Fields Forever  1966 stereo mix  1971 stereo mix
 Penny Lane  1967 mono mix  1971 stereo mix
 I Am The Walrus  1967 US stereo mix  1967 UK stereo mix  
 Hello Goodbye  1967 mono mix  1967 stereo mix

For a full comparison of mixes used on the original US release, the original UK release and the 2010 new CD masters, we refer you to the table in this Wikipedia entry.

The Beatles 1967-1970 (aka "the Blue album")

By the way, did you notice that before the photo session that ended up on the front of the blue album cover, George and John must have made a mutual agreement to show up in their 1966 tour tan striped stage suits? Paul and Ringo have also been coordinating their clothes, but where are those threads from? The 1966 "dark" stage suits were actually green, but these look positively blueish.

* The three letter so called SPARS code AAA and DDD was implemented in 1984 and refers to Recording, Mixing and Mastering of a track or an album. The code denotes which parts of the recording process were completed using analogue equipment and which were completed using digital equipment. The first two positions, representing recording and mixing respectively, may be either an "A" for analogue or a "D" for digital; the third position, representing mastering, is always D on digital CDs, but can be A on LP records.

In 1979, the first digitally recorded album of popular music now with vocals, "Bop 'Til You Drop" by guitarist Ry Cooder, was released by Warner Bros. Records. Dire Straits' 1985 album "Brothers in Arms" was one of the first albums to be directed at the CD market, and was a full digital recording (DDD) at a time when most popular music was recorded on analogue equipment.

Of course, from the beginning, all recordings were analogue all the way in the process towards the finished record. When Compact Discs were launched, all the old Beatles albums kept their first A, since they were all recorded in the analogue era. When The Beatles' first four CDs were released in 1987, they displayed the code ADD on the cover, which was actually a mistake. They used the old analogue mixes, only the mastering was done digitally, so it should have been AAD. The mistake was corrected by putting a sticker on the CD plastic case, noting "ADD should read AAD". As we know, George Martin went in and remixed "Help!" and "Rubber Soul", and he was mixing them digitally. So these two CDs are correctly labeled ADD. For the remainder of the catalogue, the old mixes were deemed good enough back in 1987, so they are all AAD. Vinyl records from this era were also pressed from digital masters, so they will also be AAD (except, of course, "Help!" and "Rubber Soul").

With The Beatles 1987 CD. Note SPARS code and correcting sticker.
Starting with "Brothers in Arms", it became fashionable, especially among high tech CD collectors to have as many totally digital (DDD) CDs as possible. Starting with this year's new Beatles in Mono vinyl releases, having an all-analogue process (AAA) seems to be trending. Their 2012 stereo counterparts were made from digital masters based on analogue mixes, making them AAD (except, of course, "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" still being ADD, because of their respect for George Martin's work).

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wings "Best Buy" singles

"Let'Em In" and "Letting Go" singles - a Best Buy exclusive.
Looks like there was a change of heart about which singles that the "Best Buy" chain of stores provided us with. Originally, the "Venus and Mars"/"Rockshow" single was announced to be the exclusive bonus item for purchasers of the "Venus and Mars" album, this has now been changed to "Letting Go".
The singles look like their seventies US counterparts, but they have been stripped of record company logos.

You'll have to pay $4.25 each for shipping on the singles. Approximately 5,000 of each single were pressed, so supply is limited. If you're checking out your local "Best Buy" for this offer, look for a sticker on the CD sleeve announcing the bonus single. Only the CDs with the sticker are the ones which will get you these singles.

The originals
Meanwhile, Paul McCartney has released another free download from his past, a hitherto unheard little ditty from the 1974 "One Hand Clapping" sessions, called "Love My Baby", accessible from paulmccartney.com/downloads. The song is not part of any of these new archive releases.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Uncut: The Long and Winding Road

A book and 4 DVDs

From Blitz Books comes this book and DVD package, due out in USA 11 November and UK/Europe 24 November 2014.
Here's the description:
THE BEATLES UNCUT THE LONG WINDING ROAD HARDBACK BOOK AND 4 DVD SET.
This Illustrated Limited Edition hardback book together with four DVD s provides an insight into the unique journey of the most ground breaking and influential British groups of all time The Beatles. The book features a track by track analysis of every studio album The Beatles recorded and follows the origins of the band first formation in August 1960 as a five piece through to their eventual split with McCartney leaving in April 1970. The book is illustrated throughout with many colour images. The four DVD films are jam-packed with rare archive interviews with the band with insights and the views from journalists and insiders who followed the band from the very beginning.

I wouldn't expect any Beatles music here, though.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Beatles and Norway

At least the airline was partly Norwegian.
As you know, the Beatles never played in Norway - a sore point for us Norwegian fans of the group, but here are some stories related to Norway.

Beatles concert in Norway
Even though the Beatles never did come to Norway, some negotiations are said to have taken place prior to their second visit to Sweden. The Beatles were booked to play at Johanneshov Isstadion in Stockholm on 28-29 July 1964. Not part of any tour, these one off bookings were supposedly just to fulfill a promise they had made during their Autumn 1963 short tour of Sweden, their first tour abroad. Brian Epstein is said to have been keen to make appointments for the surrounding dates, and Norway was among the interested parties. To my knowledge, no paperwork or quotes about this have surfaced, all I know are rumours in the industry and among fans about this. What has been suggested, is that Epstein wanted more money than Norwegian promoters could afford, which is why a Beatles concert in Norway never happened.

Another theory, substantiated by many remarks on the radio, on TV and in newspapers in Norway in the sixties, is that the professionals, the moguls of the Norwegian music business, were all opposed to the Beatles. Music in Norway was pretty much dominated by the jazz era style of music, and pop was more of the harmony singing variety (listen to a YouTube sample), backed by musicians who came from a jazz background. And these people were also in charge of the music industry, supplying their music to records, to films and to TV and radio broadcasting. These key players didn't want the change that the Beatles represented, not in music, not in hairstyles or fashion or the youth culture, and these people could easily have been obstacles in the negotiations about a Beatles visit to Norway.

What they could not, was change the public opinion, and the Beatles became very popular solely on the basis of their records, and eventually their films. The company in charge of releasing Beatles records in Norway supplied the market with a total of 34 different singles (see them all here), and 1964 was the peak year of this. The "A Hard Day's Night" film was also a big theatrical hit.

Sadly, "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" was not among the songs picked as candidates for a single release. If any country should have released the song as an A-side of a single, it should have been Norway. But we settled on "Michelle"/"Girl" instead.

"Norwegian Wood" was a single in Australia.

At the same time, there were no fewer than two separate official Beatles Fan clubs operating in Norway, one in the Oslo area and one on the southwest coast, in Stavanger.

When the dust settled, the jazzy artists of the early sixties era in Norway would look back and say; "Then the Beatles came along and everything was ruined".

But as the Beatles' fame signalled the end of an era, for another generation of musicians they were the start of something new.

The Sunbeams
This Norwegian group shared a dressing room with the Beatles at the Drop-In taping in Stockholm. The Sunbeams appeared on TV the week after The Beatles, but the show was taped the same day.



It was the autumn of 1962 that the five band members from the two pop bands in Eidsvoll, Norway got together and called themselves "The Sunbeams". After only six months, they entered a nationwide competition at the "Rondo" club in Oslo and won a recording contract with the company Manu Records. In May 1963 they recorded a rocking instrumental version of "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" (listen to it on YouTube). On 28 September 1963 the song went straight into 4th place on "Tio i Topp" (a Swedish radio chart) and spent the next nine weeks on this Swedish hit list with the best week as No. 2. This made The Sunbeams the first Norwegian band who had a hit abroad. In Norway itself, they did not have the same explosive success, and although it has been said in several articles that they were also on the hit parade (VG-lista) here, I have found no evidence supporting this.

One thing led to another and The Sunbeams went to Stockholm, Sweden on tour where they got to play on the big stages. It was all topped on 30 October 1963 with a TV recording for the popular Swedish TV programme "Drop In" at the Narren Theatre in Gröna Lund in Stockholm.
More popular artists participated, and of course they were all a little curious about each other. Original Sunbeams band member Ole Kristian Fredriksen remembers a great Lill Babs performance with the song "Leva livet" (It's my party). "But the ones who got the biggest attention were the guys from England who we should share our dressing room with," recalls Ole Kristian. "The guys from England also had impossibly long hair, and they called themselves The Beatles!"
At this time The Sunbeams were 4th at "Tio i Topp", while The Beatles were on sixth with the song "She loves you". The Sunbeams also placed high in the Danish charts at the time, eventually hitting the no. 1 spot in January 1964. The guys from England were a few years older than Ole Kristian and the other guys in the band, but he remembers that John Lennon asked him, "Where are you from?", And notes with a laugh that this was his first conversation in English ever. "We are from Eidsvoll, in Norway". Lennon was surprised and said, "I thought The Sunbeams were from Sweden?!" Seeing and hearing The Beatles on stage was a musical experience Fredriksen had never had before. He felt all empty inside after the Beatles performance as the final notes of the "Drop In" theme faded out and became a Beatles fan forever.
"They had a new, disruptive way to act on a 'no limits' manner on stage, although they kept it musically tight. I was undoubtedly a Beatles fan from the beginning," he says. Ringo gave the Sunbeams' drummer Jan Erik Brustad a pair of his drumsticks.

The members of the Sunbeams helped to carry the Beatles' instruments and amps into the waiting lorry, while the Beatles themselves left by taxi. Then the next show was to be taped, and the Sunbeams did their spot. On the following Saturday, the Sunbeams' song got its highest position on "Tio i Topp" on 2. place, only beaten by Bobby Bare's "Detroit City". The Beatles and "She loves you" ended on 5th.

The first of three Swedish editions of the hit single.
Even though the Sunbeams became quite popular and their records (14 songs in all, released on singles and EPs) were released in many European countries and even in the USA, they split up in mid-1964, because three of the band members were drafted into military service.

The Beatniks
The Beatniks formed in 1961, and became very popular. Starting out as a "Shadows" type instrumental group (listen to one of their instrumentals on YouTube), they won the Nordic competition for Shadowsbands in 1963, as this was actually regarded a genre of its own back then.
But ahead for The Beatniks lay a profound change. In the autumn of 1963 they were invited to hold a concert in Gothenburg. The British pop group The Beatles was also in town, already in the process of conquering all of Europe with a whole new sound. Along with a number of bands from the northwest coast of England, the group was the foremost exponents of a sound also known as Mersey Beat. The Beatniks got to meet The Beatles. Initially, it was Paul McCartney who started talking with his Norwegian colleagues, but immediately after this, George Harrison and John Lennon also joined the conversation. John wanted to know, among other things, how they had come to call themselves the Beatniks. Ringo, however, seemed quite distant and bored, sitting quietly in a corner. Afterwards the Beatniks attended the show from the spectator area, and the experience was momentous. The Beatles exhibited an unusual precision, not an erratic note or false chord, and their driving polyphonic singing was immaculate. Bass guitarist with the Beatniks Carsten Deberitz later recalled: "We travelled to Gothenburg as a Shadows-type orchestra and returned to Norway as a Beat group." 
In their luggage they also had a hand written note from The Fab Four: "To The Beatniks from The Beatles. Signed by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
The Beatniks, with Svein Finjarn in the lead, were among the best skilled instrumentalists in Scandinavia, but now they started practicing singing harmonies and focused much more on vocal performance. The Beatniks recorded a strong Beatles-influenced single with Svein's instrumental composition, "Mustang", the B-side, which also represented a final farewell to the Shadows-style.

They started covering Beatles songs, and also songs by the Kinks, Rolling Stones and other British acts. In the summer of 1965 Svein left The Beatniks, after an internal dispute over the hair. Svein wanted everyone in the band to have long hair. Svein was replaced by Freddy Lindquist. Svein then became a member of "The Blue Secrets" and participated as guitarist and second vocalist on the recording of the single "Please Stay" / "I Want You Back". Both A- and B-side was written by himself. With "The Blue Secrets" he also played at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool. After only a year away from The Beatniks, he returned to the group.

Here's a poster of the Beatnicks, spelt with a "c" from 1964, now equipped with Beatles-like suits.

Some of the original members of the band are now deceased, but the group is still playing, they have a gig coming up in Oslo on November 14th, now back to the original "Beatniks" name.

By 1965, the change in the music scene was so profound, helped by a plethora of young Norwegian Beatles inspired bands, that the powers that be was unable to stop The Rolling Stones from holding a concert in Norway.

The Rolling Stones arrive in Norway. Photo: Scanpix/NTB

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Beatles on Calderstone: Singles next?

The Beatles - The Singles was a 7" vinyl box set, Record Store Day Black Friday 2011 exclusive.
The joint venture between The Beatles/Apple and Universal Music, Calderstone Production Limited, has been very busy this year, shifting records over from their once home at EMI and over to their new Universal Music life. It happened with the USA albums in January, continued with some of the Japan releases and the UK mono vinyl albums. Now a limited edition of the UK EP "Long Tall Sally" is due out, and industry insiders are now talking about the Beatles' singles being next.
We don't know if these are the British singles, which has been re-released several times while the Beatles were under contract with EMI, or the USA singles, which has so far only seen partial individual re-releases, like the recent Record Store Day package (photo above).

Back in 1987 when the Beatles EMI catalogue was to be released on CD for the first time, Apple Corps Ltd decided that from now on, only the British catalogue (incorporating the US made "Magical Mystery Tour" album) was to be the one, official version of the Beatles' recording history to be continued, and the various records (singles, EPs and albums) released in other countries worldwide, USA included, was to be discontinued.

Obviously times have changed, and USA now being the primary market which Apple Corps Ltd is catering for, it was a good idea to give the old Capitol albums a proper re-release this year. It would make sense to give the Americans another nostalgic trip back in time by bringing out the old US singles - now of course in their remastered form.

Not counting the Tony Sheridan sessions, there were 32 different USA singles, mainly on the Capitol and Apple labels, but also Vee Jay, United Artists, Swan and Tollie. Since Universal Music now also handles the Hamburg Polydor recordings, these can also be included. Originally these were on Decca, Atco, MGM and Swan in the USA. Including these, a boxed set containing all the USA singles will contain thirty-seven 45s, most of them with individual picture sleeves.

We have to say though, that there is absolutely no official word about any of this, so file under speculation.