Thursday, 18 January 2018

Previously unpublished Granada photos

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Beatles Magazine "The Beatles - A Life in pictures" (which we told you about last November) is a section of previously unpublished photos taken during the filming of Granada TV's Special "The Music of Lennon & McCartney".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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 15 January 2018

Yellow Submarine at the movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Esher demos for 2018?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Link: The Esher demos on YouTube

Friday, 5 January 2018

Beatles top vinyl record sales charts for 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

George turned down British honour

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Harrison died on 29 November 2001, aged 58.

Source: Huffington Post