Friday, 18 May 2018

John & Yoko exhibition opens

Yoko Ono is in Liverpool to open the new exhibition. Photo: Mark McNulty
Today, the new John&Yoko exhibition opens in the Museum of Liverpool, titled Double Fantasy – John & Yoko, and it will be running until 22 April, 2019. Yoko Ono has taken the trip from New York to be present at the opening. Perhaps one can also expect to see John and Yoko's son Sean Lennon there, as he recently published a selfie from a Thames boat trip, together with George's son, Dhani Harrison.

"The Thames they are a Changin!" is the text which followed this image on Sean's Instragram and Facebook accounts.
Double Fantasy - John&Yoko 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.

See our blog post from March for more details of this exhibition.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Help! Calling on all Beatles fans

Help us secure the future of the iconic Strawberry Field site by joining our ‘Strawberry Field Buy a Brick’ fundraising campaign.

The Strawberry Field site, treasured by John Lennon, has become a gathering place for Beatles fans from across the globe. Fans will now have an exciting opportunity to own a piece of the old Victorian Building that stood on site when John used to spend his time there.

There is a limited edition of 2,500 bricks, which will be released in 5 batches. Each brick is individually numbered which comes complete with a certificate of authentication.

Strawberry Field holds a special place in the history of The Beatles, with John Lennon’s experiences in and around the children’s home providing inspiration for the unforgettable song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

Julia Baird, John Lennon's sister and Hon President of the Strawberry Field project says "I am sure that all Beatles fans will find a way to support this significant project that will bring hope to so many young adults with learning disabilities. With Fathers' Day coming soon, what better present could there be for lovers of Strawberry Fields Forever!"

John grew up with his aunt Mimi just a stone’s throw away from the site, he used to jump over the wall to play and regularly joined the children during the annual Garden Party and was said to find peace and refuge in the grounds. The large Victorian mansion was the centre piece of the estate, then sadly it was demolished in the 1970s but during the development work for the new plans, we have managed to salvage a number of original bricks.

Owners of this last piece of Beatles heritage in Liverpool, The Salvation Army, have ambitious plans to redevelop the site. The new vision for Strawberry Field will weave together educational, cultural, heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold, imaginative plan.

To own a piece of Strawberry Field is a special gift for the Beatles fan in your life.  If you are scratching your head wondering what gift to get this year for your Dad, then look no further! But hurry we are now taking advance orders to be delivered in time for Father’s Day on 17 June 2018.

Bricks are priced at £75 per brick; orders are limited to 4 bricks per customer.
Also on offer is the opportunity to purchase a ‘Bundle’ package which includes a brick, a t-shirt and a mug all for the great price of £95. The first release is available for pre order now simply go to to secure this special piece of memorabilia.

You can also purchase a range of exclusive merchandise that will also support the fundraising campaign to help us open the famous red gates to the public for the very first time.

Jules Sherwood, Fundraising Development Manager at The Salvation Army said,

“Help us bring Strawberry Field back to life again, we have big plans and we need your support to achieve them. We have had amazing support and encouragement from Beatles fans and the Beatles Industry Group in the City, we hope this opportunity to be part of the past and future of Strawberry Field will appeal to fans around the word.”

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Mad Day Out sculpture

This "Mad Day Out" photo will be made into a sculpture. Photo: Tom Murray.
Noted British sculptor Andrew Edwards, the amazing sculptor behind the iconic dock front Beatles sculpture in Liverpool, has just finished his homage to the 50th Anniversary of Tom Murray's Mad Day Out photographs of the Beatles by creating a bronze machete of one of the photo's titled "Coming Apart".

This particular piece was a real challenge to create. It required a lot of detail not only in the expressions but the movement of all four Beatles. Paul McCartney was literally falling off the roof of a building, on Old Street Station in London, and John Lennon grabbed him to keep him from falling as George and Ringo held on to John. Andy, as he likes to be called, is no stranger to the Beatles. His eight-foot sculptures of each of the Fab Four was unveiled on the docks in Liverpool in 2016 and quickly became the most photographed sculpture in the United Kingdom.

After seeing Tom's photographs of the Mad Day Out, in the book of the same name, Andy through a mutual friend, asked if he could sculpt one of the photographs. Tom Murray was thrilled to say the least. Even more appropriate was the fact that the photographs were celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2018.

Andrew Edwards has an amazing background. He has sculpted oversize people such as Mohammad Ali, Frederick Douglass, David Beckham, the Beatles, Gordon Banks, Cilla Black and numerous others. Many of his sculptures tour the world before being placed in their final destination.

Andy is as much a philosopher as he is an artist. And can drive the conversation to social and cultural issues long past as well as present bringing out the most interesting points of view. It helps him form his subjects. He looks at them from many sides not just physical ones but his interpretation of their personality and their souls. Ultimately, his work speaks for itself.

Tom Murray's Mad Day Out book.
Edwards, bronze machete of "Coming Apart" has never been seen and won't be until it is unveiled at the opening VIP reception for the 50th Anniversary of Tom Murray's Mad Day Out photographs on May 31st at Soho Contemporary Art in New York City.

This machete, which is a foot and a half in height, is the first piece of a much larger one Andy plans on creating. It will be an eight-foot bronze. A true tribute to a great band from a great artistic fan.

Part of the creative process has been filmed for inclusion in the Here, There and Everywhere Beatles Fan Film, and more will be filmed at the unveiling of the sculpture.

Most of this text lifted from

Tom Murray's Mad Day Out book has been previously available from PledgeMusic, but be published for the general public on July 1 in the UK and July 28 in the USA.

Links to preorder the book:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Monday, 14 May 2018

George Harrison's Höfner Club 40 guitar controversy

George Harrison's Höfner Club 40. Photo: Juliens Auctions
Julien's Auctions are auctioning off George Harrison's first electric guitar – a Höfner Club 40 which has been privately held for over 50 years – on May 19.

Harrison played the small blonde with black body binding single–cutaway hollow body instrument in the early days of The Beatles when they performed around Liverpool, England as The Quarrymen. The group had been transitioning from skiffle – played primarily with acoustic instruments – to rock and roll – played primarily with electric instruments – during that time.

John Lennon and George Harrison were the first to acquire electric guitars, which were nearly identical Höfner Club 40 models. Harrison traded his big Höfner President model acoustic archtop jazz guitar for the Höfner Club 40. He played the guitar with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ken Brown, who were band members at the time, on and off at The Casbah Coffee Club, Mona Best’s social club in the basement of the Best family home in Hayman’s Green, West Derby. The band also participated in Carroll Levis' TV Star Search in October 1959 under the name Johnny and the Moondogs, without Ken Brown and without a drummer.

You can read about the history of this guitar over at Liverpudlian Mark Ashworth's excellent blog "There Are Places I Remember: The Beatles' Liverpool Locations". Part two of the story can be found here.

A photo of a framed photo stirred up controversy.
After a photo of a photo of George playing the guitar appeared, controversy arose when sceptics started to question the authenticity of the photo and suggested that the photograph in question had been tampered with by Photoshop.

It was later discovered that the actual original photo was auctioned off by Christie's in their "Printed books, Autograph Letters, Documents, Pop and Sport Memorabilia" auction in Melbourne in March 1996. It also appeared in the auction catalogue, as scanned here by renowned German Beatles author and collector Thorsten Knublauch.

Scanned from the 1996 auction catalogue.
In Christie's catalogue, the photo is described as "Part of a family snapshot, George Harrison is aged 16 and played with Eddie Sedgewick on bass, and a drummer, at the coming of age party of David Minchella, at the Co-Operative Hall, Rice Lane, Liverpool on Saturday 7th November 1959".

A week later, George, John and Paul performed in Manchester at a final round of the Star Search competition, but lost out - mainly because they didn't have a drummer.

The guitar is expected to fetch $200,000-$300,000 when it sells on 19 May as part of Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons lot.

UPDATE: The guitar eventually sold for $430,000, and Mark Ashworth has published a third chapter in the story here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

DeLuxe "Imagine" coming up

Poster, originally included with the Imagine album.
According to Beatles aide Tony Bramwell, a "song and dance" version of the classic John Lennon album "Imagine" from 1971 is in the works, to be released in the autumn. When asked what he meant with "song and dance" by Steve Marinucci, Bramwell replied "Just remixed and fiddled about with."

"Imagine" is the most popular of John Lennon's solo works and the title track is considered one of Lennon's finest songs. In 2012, "Imagine" was voted 80th on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". George Harrison also played on the album, alongside seession musicians. It featured Lennon's most vitriolic stab at his former songwriting partner in the form of the song "How Do You Sleep?", where Lennon addresses McCartney, saying "the only thing you've done was 'Yesterday'". However, the two patched up their friendship pretty soon again after that - without telling anyone.

Apple Records issued Imagine on 9 September 1971 in the United States and a month later, on 8 October, in the UK. Early editions of the LP included a postcard featuring a photo of Lennon holding a pig, in mockery of McCartney's similar pose with a sheep on the cover of Ram. A poster of John Lennon sitting behind his white grand piano was also included, and the inner sleeve featured credits printed in a circle. "Imagine" was also released in quadrophonic, which was a seventies surround sound system, using four speakers.

"Imagine" inner sleeve.
"Imagine", backed with "It's So Hard", was released as a single, in the US on 11 October 1971, and in a number of other countries, including Norway. The album went to number 1 worldwide and became an enduring seller, with the title track reaching number 3 in the United States. "Imagine" would not be issued as a single in Britain until four years later, to coincide with the release of Lennon's "Shaved Fish" singles collection.

Imagine - front cover
The front cover was a Polaroid taken by Andy Warhol. The back cover photograph was taken by Yoko Ono. A quote from Ono's book Grapefruit (which the Lennons were in the process of promoting the re-release of in the UK) was also included on the back cover: "Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in."

Side one
"Imagine" – 3:01
"Crippled Inside" – 3:47
"Jealous Guy" – 4:14
"It's So Hard" – 2:25
"I Don't Want to Be a Soldier" – 6:05

Side two
"Give Me Some Truth" – 3:16
"Oh My Love" – 2:50
"How Do You Sleep?" – 5:36
"How?" – 3:43
"Oh Yoko!" – 4:20

In 1972, Lennon and Ono released an 81-minute film to accompany the Imagine album which featured footage of them at their Berkshire property at Tittenhurst Park and in New York City. It included many of the tracks from the album and some additional material from Ono's 1971 album Fly. Several celebrities appeared in the film, including Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire, Jack Palance, Dick Cavett and George Harrison. Derided by critics as "the most expensive home movie of all time", it premiered to an American audience, on TV on 23 December 1972.

VHS video edit
An edited down version, featuring only John Lennon's music videos was released for the home video market after John's death, on VHS, Beta and Laser disc. It has not been re-released in the DVD and Blu-ray age. Perhaps this "song and dance" re-release of the album will include this film as a bonus DVD?

A DVD which did come out, was "Gimme Some Truth - The making of John Lennon's Imagine", which benefitted from priceless footage of Lennon's creative process, independently edited from original 16-millimeter footage by producer-director Andrew Solt with the hands-off approval of Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono. Incorporating footage from John and Yoko's original film "Imagine", Gimme Some Truth presents Lennon, Ono, co producer Phil Spector, and a host of gifted musicians in a fluid context of conflict, community, and craftsmanship. Bearing witness to every stage of the recording process, the 63-minute documentary succeeds as a visual diary, a study of familiar music in its infancy, and a revealing portrait of the then-30-year-old Lennon--from witty clown to confrontational perfectionist--at the peak of his post-Fab Four inspiration. The DVD featured remastered sound--which was carefully remixed for Dolby Digital 5.1-channel stereo at Abbey Road studios.

Previous re-releases
In 2000, a remixed version of the "Imagine" album was released, with Yoko Ono supervising the remixing procedures.

In October 2010, a remastered version of the album was released, the mix however was reverted back to the 1971 original.

On Record Store Day 2011, in honour of the album's 40th anniversary, "Imagine" was re-released on 180gram vinyl with an additional 12" white vinyl record entitled Imagine Sessions, featuring six tracks taken from the John Lennon Anthology. Only 6,700 copies of this release was made, for worldwide distribution.

2LP version of "Imagine" for Record Store Day 2011.

In January 2014, "Imagine" was released by Universal Music on the High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray format, featuring PCM, DTS HD and Dolby Tru HD audio tracks, based on the 2010 remaster.
Audio Blu-ray, back cover.
So, I guess what we are trying to say is that this album has been exploited by the record company many times over, and yet - it looks like we are going to buy it once more. Gotta sing - gotta dance.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Upcoming McCartney Archive releases rumoured

Red Rose Speedway - coming this autumn?
"Beatlefan" reports that "Wild Life" and "Red Rose Speedway" are in the works for the next McCartney Archive reissues, scheduled for this fall - according to their sources. No official confirmation on that yet.

Wings Wild Life
Austin City Limits Festival poster.
In the meantime, an announcement of the release date of McCartney's new album is rumored to be coming in the next month or so, Beatlefan reports, and also additional concert dates will be announced shortly. It was recently announced that McCartney will be playing at this year's Austin City Limits Festival, during the first of the two festival week-ends.

An indication that the information from Beatlefan is true, especially regarding "Red Rose Speedway", is a May 4 tweet from Paul McCartney's Twitter account. Displaying a very good "restored"-looking album cover of said album, the caption read: "This week in 1973, Wings released 'Red Rose Speedway' What are your favourite songs from the album?"

Of course, "Red Rose Speedway" was originally planned as a double album, and a few of the songs intended for, but cut when the album was made into a single album, were played by Wings during their 1972 and 1973 tours. Titles like "1882", "Seaside Woman", "Best Friend", "Henry's Blue" and "I Would Only Smile" could be heard on the tours. Only "Seaside Woman" and "I Would Only Smile" have been released in the aftermath, the first by Wings under the pseudonym "Suzy and the Red Stripes" in 1977 and the second by Denny Laine in 1980. A live version of "The Mess" was released as the B-side of the "My Love" single, pulled from the double album. Both sides of the single "Live and Let Die" / "I Lie Around" were also scheduled for the double album, as were a few songs recorded during the sessions for "Ram". Several incarnations of the 2LP version were considered, and here's one who made it to the acetate stage in late 1972:

Side 1
  1. "Big Barn Bed"
  2. "My Love"
  3. "When the Night"
  4. "Single Pigeon"

Side 2
  1. "Tragedy"
  2. "Mama's Little Girl"
  3. "Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)"
  4. "I Would Only Smile"

Side 3
  1. "Country Dreamer"
  2. "Night Out"
  3. "One More Kiss"
  4. "Jazz Street"

Side 4
  1. "I Lie Around"
  2. "Little Lamb Dragonfly"
  3. "Get on the Right Thing"
  4. "1882" (live)
  5. "The Mess I'm In" (live)

We're certainly hoping that the 1973 "James Paul McCartney" TV Special will be included on the DVD of the DeLuxe Archive edition of the album. Other stuff we would really like to see as bonus video material from these two albums would be the Bruce McMouse Show - a film from the 1972 Wings tour of Europe with animated mice living under the stage, moving with the tour, and the ICA rehearsal film before the tour. We were treated to a few glimpses from the latter film in the Wingspan documentary, and Mark Lewisohn viewed and described the full film in an issue of "Club Sandwich", the magazine Paul McCartney's fan club, "Wings Fun Club" published. The video below has been put together of glimpses from the ICA film which has popped up over the years in various McCartney-produced TV documentaries. It’s time we get to see the full film.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Linda McCartney's photos museum bound

At the press launch of "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in May 1967.
Sir Paul McCartney has donated 63 photographs by his late wife Linda McCartney to the Victoria & Albert Museum (popularly known as the V&A) in London. The collection includes portraits of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, as well as McCartney family snaps.
Some of Linda's original Polaroids will be shown to the public for the first time.
The images by the former US female photographer of the year 1968 will go on display in the V&A's new Photography Centre when it opens on 12 October.

Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, said: "Linda McCartney was a talented eye-witness of pop culture and explored many creative approaches to artistic photography. Her camera also captured tender moments with her family. Our greatest thanks go to Sir Paul McCartney and his family for this incredibly generous gift."

Linda McCartney (nee Eastman) was born in New York in 1941. She took a photo course with Hazel Archer and studied art history at the University of Arizona before settling in New York City, where she began her photo career shooting rock portraits. In 1966, during a brief stint as a receptionist for Town and Country magazine, Linda Eastman snagged a press pass to a very exclusive promotional event for the Rolling Stones aboard a yacht on the Hudson River. With her fresh, candid photographs of the band, Linda secured her name as a rock 'n' roll photographer. She went on to capture many of rock's most important musicians on film, including Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, The Doors, and the Grateful Dead.
The first female photographer with a cover
of the Rolling Stone magazine.
Linda McCartney was voted US female photographer of the year in 1967, the same year she met Paul in a London nightclub. The following year, she became the first female photographer to have her work featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with her portrait of Eric Clapton.
She was the first person to not only have photographed Rolling Stone's cover, but to have appeared on the magazine's front cover herself, with her husband, in 1974.

The couple married in 1969 and had four children - Heather (from Linda's first marriage), Mary, Stella, and James.
After having become Mrs McCartney she kept photography as a hobby, otherwise she cared for her family, unless of course the band was touring, either Wings or the nameless band who accompanied McCartney from 1989 to 1993. Then she was up on the stage, playing keyboards and singing harmonies. The children usually went along, having private tuition. When not on tour, the children went to ordinary schools, not the private schools, as the McCartneys were keen not to have spoilt children. Another of Linda's favourite pastimes was horseriding.

Paul and Linda on the cover of
Rolling Stone in 1974.
Outside of her photography, which has been exhibited in over 50 galleries worldwide, Linda McCartney is known for her passionate animal rights activism and her staunch vegetarianism. When the McCartney family turned vegetarians in the early seventies, Linda started to come up with vegetarian versions of the dishes the family was used to eat with meat. After many years, this resulted in the cook book, "Linda McCartney's Home Cooking" in 1989. As a further development, Linda started up a company which specialised in frozen vegetarian food. This was such a great success that she became a rich businesswoman on her own. Her brand still exists today.

Linda used her photos and snapshots to publish a series of calendar books, which were sold through Wings Fun Club, the official fan club of Paul McCartney and his bands. She also had published "Linda's Pictures: A Collection of Photographs" in 1978, and a large hardcover book "Linda McCartney's Sixties: A Portrait of an Era" in 1993 which contained photos from the early days of the career.

Linda died of breast cancer in 1998, at the age of 56 at the McCartney ranch in Tucson, Arizona. Paul McCartney was knighted before she died, so she did enjoy a brief spell as Lady McCartney.

One of the last photos of Paul and Linda together.
After his marriage to Linda, Sir Paul McCartney has remarried twice, first to Heather Mills (2002-2008), with whom he has a daughter, Beatrice Milly, and then to Nancy Shevell (2011- ), to whom he is still married.

Still, Paul has always been championing his late wife Linda's photographs, and has staged several exhibitions and published more books of her work over the years, before now donating a chunk of the photos to the A&V. He also released a CD of her music, "Wide Prairie", which Linda recorded with Wings and other musicians over the years, but which was not published while she was alive.

Paul and Linda's first born daughter Mary has followed in her mother's footsteps as a professional photographer and she has also written vegetarian cook books. The couple's second daughter Stella is a famous fashion designer with her own brand and shops. Their youngest, James has been following in his father's footsteps, so he releases music and holds concerts, although in a much smaller scale than his famous dad. Linda's oldest daughter Heather, who she had with her first husband Melville See, but who was adopted by Paul, is a ceramic artist and lives in Sussex.

McCartney decorated by the Queen again

Paul with Her Majesty. Photo: Press Association.
Earlier today, Sir Paul McCartney had an appointment with Queen Elizabeth II, as he was again receiving a special honour.  Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute to his parents as he was made a Companion of Honour for services to music. He received the honour from the Queen more than 20 years after his knighthood.
In a written statement to the Press Association, Paul said: “I see this as a huge honour for me and my family and I think of how proud my Liverpool mum and dad would have been to see this.”

Video Link

Looking For Lennon docu - available in the UK

Available today in the U.K.: New Lennon documentary.
A new, British made documentary about John Lennon premieres on the internet today, as for now, only in the U.K. It will be shown publicly in Liverpool later this month.

The film promises to give an honest retrospective on the early life of John Lennon and the tragedies that shaped his personality and later his music. The film includes rare and previously unseen memoirs along with interviews with some of his closest family, friends and associates.
The film is produced by Garry Popper and directed by Roger Appleton.

Popper, a lifelong Beatles fan, decided that Lennon’s early life deserved a new and honest look that, in his words, “transcended the myths and fabrications,” that have been sensationalized for years, including films like Nowhere Boy, Backbeat and Birth of The Beatles. He continued that this new documentary will be an “uncompromising reassessment of traumatic events that not only shaped Lennon’s complex personality but also how they influenced his adult life and relationships.”

Reflecting on the Lennon myths that became legend after becoming a Beatle, Popper said, “Generations of Beatles fans still don’t know the real man behind the image, or what made him tick…Here’s an ordinary guy, who, despite terrible childhood events, overcame them all and achieved extraordinary things. It’s an incredible story, but it’s been turned into a Disneyland fantasy.”

The film, which is being produced by SEIS Productions Ltd in the UK, is set to debut in May in the Beatles’ home town of Liverpool at “dozens of historic locations.” It promises to be “one of the most honest retrospectives on Lennon’s early life and the tragedies that shaped not only his personality but also his music,” say Appleton (director, “Get Back – the City that Rocked the World” and “Passport to Liverpool”) and David Bedford (author of “Liddypool” and “The Fab One Hundred and Four”.)

Bedford wrote, “Besides the film, which will be a feature length documentary, there will be a limited edition extended companion book. This is a retrospective examination of a complex man who turned a troubled life into some of the most haunting and passionate lyrics in modern music.” Members of Lennon's first band, the Quarrymen, give their perspective of their early friendship with John in the film.

Bedford continued, Michael Hill, (author of “John Lennon: The Boy Who Became a Legend”) is one of our special collaborators in the film and has some very unique insights into John Lennon's youth, because along with Pete Shotton (and a few others in a close-knit gang) he was one of John's closest and longest school friends. He also has the distinction of introducing Lennon to Little Richard's music. John heard it one lunch time in Michaels house and froze. Waaar? That was John's real Rock'n'Roll life changer.”

A combination of biopic and investigative documentary, research has taken three years.
Among the participants listed are: Sam Leach, David Bedford, Hunter Davies, Paul Farley, Jürgen Vollmer, Billy Hatton, Helen Anderson, June Furlong. Here's a trailer:

U.K. residents can rent/buy "Looking For Lennon" using one of these links:
In February, it was reported that "Looking For Lennon" so far had been sold to North America (SP Releasing), China (Lemon Tree), Italy (Koch Media), Brazil (Globosat), Spain (Vertice) and Poland (Against Gravity).

Released through Evolutionary Films.
Source for comments by Popper, Appleton and Bedford:
The Film's Facebook page: Looking For Lennon

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Swinging Through The Sixties takes on Dave Dexter Jr

Well people, the new episode of the Swinging Through The Sixties podcast is here, and it's about Capitol Records' Dave Dexter junior's remixes and re-sequencings of the Beatles' songs. Interestingly, it starts with a rare stereo recording of the Beatles from a 29 August 1965 press conference at the Capitol Records Tower where they are complaining about the way their American company presented their material on disc.
After the press conference, the boys had no qualms about accepting their gold records for "Help!".
Several examples of the sonic differences (which The Beatles didn't address in this clip) are played and the Capitol mixes are compared with the "in your face" original mixes of the British albums.

Most of the albums I grew up with were 70's stereo British LPs, but this album was in the neighbourhood.

In a teaser for the episode, this information is provided:
"Capitol Records exec Dave Dexter was the man who initially declined parent company EMI's requests to issue The Beatles' records in America. Then, after being ordered to do so, he not only oversaw remixes that slathered much of their music with reverb and fake stereo; he actually ensured he was credited on the records for what rock critic Dave Marsh would later refer to as "genuine stupidity"".

Here's how the contents of the podcast is described on their website:
"Back in the 1960s, courtesy of Capitol Records executive Dave Dexter, Jr., American Beatles fans bought different records and often heard very different mixes to those enjoyed by their British counterparts: ones bathed in reverb and converted into fake stereo “with the assistance” of Mr. Dexter."

"Those mixes have long since been eliminated from the catalogue, but they’re back with a vengeance in this show—and subjected to the scrutiny of Messrs. Taros, Buskin, Bartock and Kozinn as they discuss the pros, cons, and marketing strategies behind these alternately popular and egregious alterations to The Beatles’ music. What emerges is information that will enlighten listeners on both sides of the Atlantic—while jolting them with juxtaposed U.S. and U.K. mixes of some legendary tracks."

Meet The Beatles - With The Beatles minus most of the covers, plus the hit single A and B's

The participants, Brit Richard Buskin mostly acts (or is) apalled by the sequencing as well as the remixing of the songs on the American albums, whereas the Americans Erik Taros, Craig Bartock and Allan Kozinn certainly mostly defend Dexter's job, both his drenching of reverb and echo to the sound, as well as re-sequencing them for the U.S. market. The approach of the cover art is not discussed, that is the British "artistic" approach versus the U.S. more commercial sales posters approach.

Help! had the instrumental score and the film songs.
Perhaps Dexter (1915-1990) was right. Maybe the Americans are a different breed of people, who will need to have music presented to them in a different manner to really appreciate it and buy it. Whereas the rest of the world actually did go out and buy British albums or domestic copies of the British albums in droves, making them number one in charts all around the globe, maybe they did it just because they weren't Americans. After all, singers and pop groups who sold millions of records all over the rest of the world, like Cliff Richard, Abba and A-ha, were one hit wonders stateside, if at all. Maybe repackaging and remixing them would have made them palatable for the U.S.A. consumers? One of the aspects that are being discussed is that Americans at that point in time were used to reverb, not only on the records, but also on the voices of their radio DJs.

But for the most part, I kept thinking that this podcast is really of no interest to people in any other countries than U.S.A. As a teenager in the seventies, I grew up with the stereo British albums, because they were the ones for sale in my home country of Norway. The mono albums were out of print until they were re-released in 1982. And it's probably why I prefer stereo to mono, I'll give you that. However, I have no problems about the new stereo remixes, in fact I've championed them ever since the 1999 "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" album. Loved "Let It Be...Naked" (which messed with the songs even further) and loved "Love" (ditto). So I find it easy to appreciate a superior stereo image to the one I was used to in my teens and twenties. As for American albums, sure I bought them, when they were available as imports, or at used records stores. But only as a curiosity, only to listen to the quaint remixed versions of the songs, which was much the same reason why I went out and bought the British mono LPs. First in second hand records shops, then completing them when they were re-released. To hear the differences. To get new product for the insatiable collector in me, the same thing that drove me into buying bootlegs, once I had exhausted the limitations of the released recordings and mixes.

Actually, I'll tell a lie: in the very early days of my love story with the Beatles, I had a "red album" (1962-1966) which had the pseudo James Bond Theme just before "Help!", and I did enjoy that transition between the two songs. But the U.S. albums were never a big deal, although they are there in my record collection - just for completeness sake.

A Capitol Records single release.
The discussion also turns to whether or not to include the hit singles on an album. Capitol Records always did this, whereas The Beatles insisted that Parlophone should not, because they felt that this was to cheat their audience. After having bought the hit single and then bough the album which was released weeks later only to find that two of the songs were the same as on the single, that means you have paid twice for the same two songs. One of the Americans confessed that he would have felt cheated if he had bought an album and it didn't contain the hit single...because he never bough singles anyway, only albums. This of course, shows that American teenagers were far better off than us. Talking to first generation Beatles fans here in Norway, they could never afford to buy an album in the early sixties. If they were lucky, their parents would buy them one album for Christmas and one for their birthday, that was the lot for a year - two albums. Which was the exact amount of albums The Beatles released a year. But the fans were always able to save up enough to buy singles, or even EPs. EPs contained the same amount of songs as two singles, but cost less - so it was value for money.

EPs: four songs for less money than two singles. This is a Swedish EP.
Even growing up in the seventies and eighties, when I could afford albums, I bought a lot of singles. Because they had different photos on the sleeves and they often contained other songs or different mixes than what could be found on the albums. And I'm not just talking about the Beatles or Wings here, all artists used to tuck away excellent music on B-sides otherwise not available elsewhere than on the single release. So if American albums always contained the hit singles, the fans were somewhat cheated of one of my favourite pastimes, the hunt for that elusive single which you wanted so much, and the joy of finding it. Of course, the American singles also held an attraction for their photo sleeves, whereas the British singles only had factory sleeves, except for a couple of them.

Reflecting on how Dave Dexter initially said no to the Beatles until he was forced by his superiors to release their records (allegedly because he didn't like the way John played the harmonica), Mark Lewisohn minced no words in the extended edition of The Beatles Tune In: “The fact Vee Jay was having a huge hit with a harmonica record Dex had nixed a couple of months earlier [Frank Ifield’s “I Remember You”] prompted no circumspection, and neither did the success Capitol was having with another self-contained vocal-instrumental group, the Beach Boys. Dexter had no love for the British and a neat way of showing it. Though he rejected the Beatles, the Shadows, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, Helen Shapiro and Matt Monro, he did issue ‘Bobbikins,’ a piano instrumental by Mrs. Mills. Gladys Mills was that most British of discoveries, an ample, 43-year-old, heavy-wattled housewife who chopped out party singalong numbers on a saloon-bar-like piano. After finding sudden TV fame late in 1961, she was signed to Parlophone by Norman Newell, but while her debut single was a hit, the follow-ups weren’t—and it was one of these failures that Dex decided America needed.”

So, armed with this evidence it's probably safe to assume that Dave Dexter Jr didn't really like the Brits at all, and he showed it by rejecting record after record - and by releasing a novelty throwaway non-hit song, as if to say to his British mother company: "See if I care". I agree with Buskin that I can't understand why the British company didn't force the hands of Capitol Records. But like I said before, maybe there is something peculiar in the U.S.A. and their market, which can't be understood by us.

Listen to the podcast:

Further reading:
Wikipedia: Dave Dexter Jr
Dave Dexter, the Beatles and Capitol Records by Richie Unterberger
Memos from Dexter about the Beatles

Ringo pops over

Ringo popped over to the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard for an interview.
Many you may have missed this, judging by how many views the video has gained, but here it is: A new interview with Ringo, uploaded April 30 by Hard Rock. Ringo is talking to Music & Memorabilia Historian Jeff Nolan.

Link to YouTube video.

Abbey Road Studio 2 opens up again

August 3, 4 and 5 , Studio 2 will be hosting lectures you can attend.
It's a rare opportunity, so do it while it's possible: Experience the story of Abbey Road Studios! For 3 days only, they are opening their doors for a series of exclusive talks in Studio Two on the illustrious life of the world’s most iconic recording studio. This is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to step inside Abbey Road Studios with an exclusive lecture about the studios’ 86-year history, as presented by Brian Kehew & Kevin Ryan, music producers and authors of Recording the Beatles, who are also huge fans of Abbey Road.

These inspiring talks will explore the extraordinary history and the current life of the studios and will take place in iconic Studio Two, home to countless landmark recordings by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Oasis, Radiohead, Adele, Ed Sheeran and more. Guests will also be given the chance to have a short tour of the famous Studio Two control room and spend time speaking to some of the Abbey Road team about their work.

Staircase to the control room, 1969.
Kehew and Ryan will explore the studios’ legacy of innovation from the patenting of stereo to the invention of numerous recording techniques used across the globe today. They’ll also cover the studios’ rich experience in film scoring and demonstrate how the studios have been used to record some of the biggest movies ever made – including Star Wars, The Lord of The Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter films, The Hobbit movies, Gravity, The King’s Speech, Black Panther and the multi award winning The Shape of Water.

Kehew and Ryan have been hosting lectures here before, in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This time, the lectures will be held twice a day on August 3, 4 and 5 only. There are only a few tickets available for each of the lectures, and they are priced £105 each.

UPDATE: More dates added!

Read more and book your tickets here. 

From a 2014 lecture day

Not going? Here's the Virtual Reality Tour

The music video for Paul McCartney's Queenie Eye was made in Abbey Road's studio Two.