Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Decca Audition

The Decca Tapes definitive edition
The emergence of yet another bootleg CD from the famous Decca audition prompted me to write a little bit about these recordings. The new release is an eq'd, pitch corrected and "repaired" version of the MasterDisc bootleg from 1994.

The Decca audition is the name given to the now-famous Beatles audition for Decca Records at their Decca Studios in West Hampstead, north London, England, before they reached international stardom. Decca's decision to reject the group is considered to be one of the biggest mistakes in music history.
Manager Brian Epstein made numerous trips to London to visit record companies with the hope of securing a record contract, but was rejected by many, including Columbia, Pye, Philips, and Oriole. The Beatles were driven down to London by Neil Aspinall on New Year's Eve in 1961, for a Decca audition, but Aspinall lost his way, and the trip took ten hours. They arrived at 10 o'clock at night, and John Lennon said that they arrived "just in time to see the drunks jumping in the Trafalgar Square fountain." On 1 January 1962, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Pete Best were auditioned by Decca producer Tony Meehan (ex-drummer of the Shadows) performing a total of fifteen songs in just under one hour. All the material was selected by Epstein, who decided on a selection of covers that the band had performed in various clubs over the years, interspersed with three Lennon/McCartney originals. The Beatles later found out that Epstein had paid Meehan to produce the studio recordings.
This is the most likely order in which the songs were recorded at the Decca audition:

1. "Like Dreamers Do" (Lennon/McCartney)
2. "Money (That's What I Want)" (Gordy/Bradford)
3. "Till There Was You" (Meredith Wilson)
4. "The Sheik of Araby" (Smith/Wheeler/Snyder)
5. "To Know Her Is to Love Her" (Phil Spector)
6. "Take Good Care of My Baby" (King/Goffin)
7. "Memphis, Tennessee" (Chuck Berry)
8. "Sure to Fall (In Love with You)" (Cantrell/Claunch/Perkins)
9. "Hello Little Girl" (Lennon/McCartney)
10. "Three Cool Cats" (Leiber/Stoller)
11. "Crying, Waiting, Hoping" (Buddy Holly)
12. "Love of the Loved" (Lennon/McCartney)
13. "September in the Rain" (Warren/Dubin)
14. "Bésame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez)
15. "Searchin'" (Leiber/Stoller)

Mike Smith agreed to let them record, telling them he could not see any problems and that he would let the group know of his decisions in a few weeks.

Eventually, Decca Records rejected The Beatles, and are quoted to have said that "guitar groups are on the way out", although this quote has since been disputed.
Decca instead chose The Tremeloes, who auditioned the same day as The Beatles, were local and would require lower travel expenses.

While Epstein was negotiating with Decca, he also approached EMI marketing executive Ron White. White (who was not himself a record producer) in turn contacted EMI producers Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley, and Norman Newell, all of whom declined to record The Beatles. Months later, The Beatles went on to sign with EMI subsidiary Parlophone, after their 'comedy album' producer George Martin heard the Decca demos and decided to meet the band.

In 1995, The Beatles Anthology was released. The documentary includes snippets from many of the songs performed at the Decca audition, while the accompanying soundtrack (specifically, The Beatles Anthology 1) includes five of the songs performed at the audition ("Searchin'", "Like Dreamers Do", "Hello Little Girl", "Three Cool Cats", and "The Sheik of Araby"). The remaining ten songs from the Decca audition have never been officially released, although they have frequently surfaced on grey market and bootleg releases. EMI/Apple did not have the Decca tapes in their possession prior to Anthology, but they actively sought tapes from collectors for Anthology, the Quarrymen and Decca Tapes among them. It is not known what the source for the Anthology version of the Decca audition tracks is, but in general they sound better than the various bootleg releases of the same songs.

RELEASE HISTORY
Strawberry Fields Forever magazine
The late Joe Pope ran a US Beatles fanzine in the seventies, called "Strawberry Fields Forever". In 1977 he obtained a tape of the Decca Audition, and he used this tape to produce some 45 r.p.m. single discs on coloured vinyl (the so called Deccagone singles), which he sold through his fanzine, starting with Three Cool Cats and Hello Little Girl. That was the first time the public was able to hear the songs from the audition. Until then, the tape had been shrouded in mystery, and no one had known exactly which songs had been performed.

Sheik of Araby Deccagone
Joe Pope's Deccagone single Shiek (sic) of Araby/September in the Rain

Joe Pope had nothing to do with the mastering of the original singles. He bought the tape and had it professionally mastered, then sold them via his fanzine. After the singles had sold for a while, an LP was released by Circuit Records in 1978, including one additional track, "Take Good Care Of My Baby". The LP was pressed from a different tape copy than the one Joe Pope had purchased, and suffered from some dropouts on some of the tracks. Circuit also tried to make the mono tape into "fake" stereo for their release.

Dawn of the Silver Beatles
The first time I came across an LP with the Decca audition tracks was back in 1981 in an upmarket record shop here in Oslo, Norway. The LP was called "Dawn of the Silver Beatles" on PAC Records and it contained just ten of the songs:

Side 1
Love of the Loved
Money
Sure To Fall
Take Good Care Of My Baby
Three Cool Cats

Side 2
Like Dreamers Do
Crying, Waiting, Hoping
Searchin'
'Till There Was You
Memphis

Inside the record was a coupon which you could send to the record company in USA and order it's accompanying record, "Lightning Strikes Twice", which had the five remaining Decca audition songs on one side and some Elvis recordings on the other side. Of course, I sent for that one.

Not long after that, several independent (another word for "small" in those days) record companies started selling their versions of the Decca LP. The songs seemed to be in a copyright limbo, because they were recorded prior to the Beatles signing their record contract with EMI/Parlophone. Still, the independent labels tried to stay out of trouble with "Northern Songs", who owned the copyright on the "Lennon-McCartney" originals, typically omitting those three from the album.
Silver Beatles picture disc
A picture disc edition of the "Silver Beatles" LP

The release of these LP's containg tracks from the Decca audition coincided with the "picture disc" craze, so a lot of them were presented in this fashion. The typical track list for these LP's:

Side 1
Three Cool Cats
Crying, Waiting, Hoping
Besame Mucho
Searchin'
Sheik of Araby
Money

Side 2
To Know Him Is To Love Him
Take Good Care of My Baby
Memphis
Sure to Fall
'Till There Was You
September In The Rain

Notice the missing three songs; all Lennon-McCartney originals. It seemed that the "Dawn of the Silver Beatles" LP had inspired all the other record companies releasing this material under the "Silver Beatles" monicker. Historically a very incorrect labeling, as the Beatles had abandoned their "silver" prenom in mid-1960, and had been called simply "The Beatles" for a year and a half already, when appearing at their Decca audition.

After the introduction of CD's, EMI was very slow to start releasing Beatles on the new format, so in the intervening years (1982-1987) some of the grey market and Polydor LP's of the group were the only Beatles CD's: The Star Club Recordings, the Tony Sheridan recordings and the Decca audition recordings. I made the transition from vinyl to CD in 1984, so I purchased a 1982 japanese CD of the Decca audition songs for my collection. That CD was called "The Silver Beatles" and issued on the TEICHICU label, although the songs seemed to be licenced from a Brooklyn-based New York company, Jimco Inc/San Juan Music Group. It contained the same 12 songs as the other grey market album releases.


My first CD of the Decca audition material, 1982


Of course, the Decca material was not out of copyright, really. The Beatles were under contract with Bert Kaempfert Produktion at the time of the Decca audition, so Apple were finally able to stop these releases, along with the numerous releases of the Star Club tapes. The San Juan Music Group were successfully sued in 2000 by some music stars of the 1950s for using songs without permission. It is certain they never had permission to use or license these Beatles tracks either.

And just as the grey market CD's went off the market, bootleg CD's started appearing, and again the Decca tapes were to be exploited. This time all 15 tracks appeared again, because the bootleggers weren't trying to pass their releases off as legitimate.

Decca audition bootleg CD

Over the years, many bootleg companies have issued the Decca audition songs, and some of those releases have been pitch-corrected. Still, the man behind this 2010 release by "Remasters Workshop" is claiming that:
"Despite what they all said about their Decca Tapes being speed-corrected, they were all wrong. These tracks have always been at the wrong pitch on every single issue - Deccagone, Circuit, Yellow Dog (twice), Vigotone, Masterdisc... but this issue is guaranteed to have these recordings running at A=440 on every track. Each has been played against the grand piano preset on a Korg M50 workstation, and adjusted to match in Adobe Audition 3. Even if the group were not precisely tuned to concert pitch when they played it, they are now. You can play your instrument with all the songs without having to retune or being even a hair sharp or flat."

Beatles connoisseurs who have heard this version are still arguing whether or not this CD is an improvement on Dr. Ebbetts' de-noised, de-clicked, speed-corrected and re-equalised "The Decca Audition", based on vinyldrops from the original Deccagone 45 rpm singles.

Apple/Beatles have given no explanation about their decision to only release five of the fifteen Decca audition tracks.

What is evident when listening to the Decca audition is that Pete Best wasn't a very good drummer, and that John and Paul were very nervous singers that day. The one Beatles singing with confidence here is George Harrison, who tackles one third of the songs.

Ironically, the turning down of The Beatles led indirectly to the signing of one of Decca's biggest Sixties artists, The Rolling Stones. Head of Decca's pop division Dick Rowe was the one person at Decca who was taking the blame for not signing the Beatles. He did make up for this later, when the Beatles had achieved fame in Britain, Rowe was judging a talent contest alongside George Harrison. Rowe asked Harrison if there were any other groups he would recommend for Decca, and Harrison mentioned to him that he should take a look at The Rolling Stones, whom he had just seen live for the first time a couple of weeks before. Rowe saw the Stones, and quickly signed them to a contract.

Links: The Decca Audition (Richie Unterberger's detailed account)
NW Radio: Decca Audition Tape Podcast. This is the new version by "Remasters Workshop", amended by MasterJedi. He has further enhanced the tracks, EQ'ing them a bit "warmer", re-repairing the edit pieces with a better second source and correcting the annoying edit near the end of September In the Rain.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Keep Rockin' with unpublished photos


Chicago(BUSINESS WIRE): Keep Rockin' Magazine celebrates its first year anniversary with a special Beatles issue which includes a 10 page layout with previously unseen pictures of The Beatles from 1963 and 1964. Keep Rockin', the premier 50's & 60's music magazine, was selected to publish these rare photos of The Beatles by photographer, Ian Wright, who was there in the early 60's before Beatlemania swept the world.

Along with these exclusive photos, is the untold story BEATLEMANIA! On The Way Up which reveals early influences of The Fab Four and the origins of Beatlemania. Read how 16 year old Ian Wright bicycled 25 miles through a major snowstorm just to capture images of the early Beatles performing in England. The 10 page article entitled BEATLEMANIA! provides details never before released about John, Paul, George and Ringo. Keep Rockin' Editor Lou Holly states "Keep Rockin' is thrilled to publish these rare photos and article in our First Anniversary Issue."

Tommy Roe relayed to Keep Rockin' "What a great time it was touring with The Beatles in 1963, and then working with them again in 1964 at their Washington DC concert. Great memories. I love your magazine, keep up the good work!"

Website: keeprockinmag.com

Magical Mystery Tour Revisited

Magical Mystery Tour
Waiting for Apple to re-release the 1967 made-for-TV movie "Magical Mystery Tour"? The glimpses we got in the mini-documentary on the Magical Mystery Tour remastered CD showed us that the movie has undergone some cleaning up. And we know that Apple has got reels and reels of outtakes and raw footage.
While we're waiting, some fans have taken matters into their own hands. Soon to be unleashed on the unsuspecting public is the 3-disc "Magical Mystery Tour Revisited".

Think of it as a visual version of the Magical Mystery Tour LP, as it includes all of the songs on the LP. The film has been sourced from a professional transfer of the 1988 laser disc, which is the best visual source of the film available. All of the Beatles 1967 promo videos are included into the film, and the makers assures us that each promo fits perfectly and adds to the story and overall experience of the film. The whole film has been resequenced, and reimagined. The best mixes of each song were chosen for this project, sometimes created from two different mixes. The song "Death Cab For Cutie" is taken from the 2007 digital remaster.The dialogue and incidental music in the film is a combination of the three available mixes (original mono/1988 mix/MPI DVD mix). There is different audio on each of the mixes, and when combined you finally hear everything in full dimensional stereo. A 5.1 mix is also included that puts you right on the bus !
The 3 disc set also includes a bonus "Behind The Mystery" DVD with interactive map, photo gallery, mystery facts, behind the scenes footage, outtake footage, and Magical Mystery Memories.
Okay, let's wait and see... we're definitely looking forward to this one! It will be distributed online, so be on the lookout...

Monday, 25 January 2010

Why McCartney Can Never Win



Back in 2002 there was a lot of controversy, stirred up by Yoko Ono, about Paul McCartney's way of writing the composer's credits on his concert releases Back in the U.S. CD, the international version Back in the World and the DVD version. The "Lennon - McCartney" songs were credited "Composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon". You'd think that was a pretty accurate way of putting it, but someone in the media thought that this was "tampering" with the original positioning of the names. They thought it should be "Lennon-McCartney", like it used to be on the old Beatles records. Yoko got wind of this, and had her lawyers "look into it". Lots of people sided with Yoko on this, and I wrote an article chronicling the events, trying to set the story straight.
From Me To You
In 1969, when John Lennon released his single, "Give Peace A Chance", he decided to put "Lennon - McCartney" as composers. McCartney really had nothing to do with this composition, just as Lennon had no input into the song "Yesterday" four years earlier, it was just that they used to put both names on any composition made by one or the other of them.
In 1998, Yoko Ono released a compilation of John Lennon's best known songs, called Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon. "Give Peace A Chance" was naturally a part of this CD, but this time the song was credited like this: "written by John Lennon". In 2003, a DVD of the same name was released, with the same credit for "Give Peace A Chance". In 2006, a documentary called The U.S. vs. John Lennon was released, with "Give Peace A Chance" again making an appearance, once again credited only to John Lennon.
In 1990, McCartney performed a version of "Give Peace A Chance" in Liverpool, which was then made available as a bonus track on a CD-single. The medley of "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Help!"/"Give Peace A Chance" was credited to Lennon-McCartney on that release. The medley was only performed a few times during that tour.
In 2008, again in Liverpool, McCartney revived "Give Peace A Chance", this time in a medley with "A Day In The Life". Yoko Ono was in the audience that day. The medley has been kept as part of the set list in McCartney's live performances ever since. When McCartney released his new live DVD+CD Good Evening New York City, he must have taken notice of Yoko's removal of his name on those Lennon releases from 1998/2003 and 2006, because the credit there now reads "written by John Lennon".
Imagine my surprise when I read in a Beatles forum that one fan thought this was "rude of McCartney, trying to distance himself from the song"!
To me, this kind of reaction proves that whatever McCartney does, he can't ever win. It's like Sting says, History will teach us nothing.

Y Not DVD cover

Ringo Starr Y Not DVD
For those of you who recorded Ringo Starr's appearance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "The Daily Show", I made this DVD cover. If you recorded other appearances as well, there should be enough space on the back for your description of these.
Meanwhile, here's a clip from "American Express Presents An Evening With Ringo Starr," at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on the 19th.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

UK TV: Sky Arts showing Lennon tonight


It's funny how it never rains, it pours. I was made aware that in the UK tonight, the Sky Arts Channel is broadcasting the concert film I mentioned in my latest blog post: John Lennon: Live in New York. Here's the description from Sky Arts' website:
"On 30 August 1972, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band put together a benefit concert for mentally ill and physically handicapped children in New York. Filmed in Madison Square Gardens, the concert remained in the can until 1986 - a rare treat of passionate renditions, including underappreciated solo numbers from Lennon on top of his game. This was John Lennon’s only major US concert between the Beatles’ 1966 tour and his death in 1980."
The film is scheduled for broadcast at 9.50 pm. It will be preceded by a Lennon documentary, John Lennon; Behind The Music, which starts at 9 pm.


Live in NYC at the One to One concerts for the children of Willowbrook, August 30th, 1972 in MSG. This is "Mother", taken from the first performance(aka the afternoon concert), as ripped from the japanese laser disc edition. The performance of this song was also included as part of the bonus material on the Classic Albums:John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band DVD from 2008.

Friday, 22 January 2010

A suggestion for EMI/Capitol

John Lennon re-released CD's from Japan
Following up yesterday's blog post about EMI/Capitol's plans to reissue five of John Lennon's solo albums, both as individual releases as well as in a boxed set, this photo of recent Lennon reissues from Japan was sent me by a reader. What this clearly illustrates, is that there are parts of Lennon's catalogue that has been reissued to death.

However, there are other parts that have been totally neglected. My suggestion to EMI/Capitol is to forget about those five solo albums and follow me on this one:

In early summer 1972, Geraldo Rivera announced a benefit concert for the patients at Willowbrook - known as "One-To-One" after the idea of each patient having one caretaker. The line-up would be 50s revivalists Sha-Na-Na, Tamla-Motown's Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack (later billed as a surprise guest for some unknown reason), and headliners John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Elephant's Memory, a New York combo the Lennon's recently recorded half of their new album, "Sometime In New York", with. A second, matinee show was soon added.
What no one could know, this was to be the only time in his solo career that John Lennon was to perform a full length concert. Luckily, both shows were filmed and recorded on multitrack tapes.
Although the material Lennon performed was largely drawn from his three most recent albums of the period (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Some Time in New York City), Lennon also included in the setlist his Beatles hit "Come Together" and paid tribute to Elvis Presley with "Hound Dog" before leading the audience in a singalong of "Give Peace a Chance".

One to One commemorative poster

The songs that were performed that night:
John: "New York City," "It's So Hard," "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World," "Well Well Well," "Instant Karma," "Mother," "Come Together," "Imagine," "Cold Turkey," "Hound Dog," "Give Peace A Chance".
Yoko: "Sister O Sisters," "Move On Fast," "Born In A Prison," "We're All Water," "Open Your Box," "Don't Worry Kyoko".

A 40 minute special from the evening performance was shown on ABC-TV in 1972 as a pilot for the future late night music series "In Concert", with a simulcast on FM radio. The special included "Come Together," "Instant Karma!," "Sisters O Sisters," "Cold Turkey," "Hound Dog," "Give Peace a Chance" and (over the credits) "Imagine". There were also three tracks from support acts: "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder and two from Roberta Flack: "Reverend Lee" and "Somewhere". Yoko's performance of "Move On Fast" was seen on British TV in BBC2's late night Rock programme "The Old Grey Whistle Test" on 30th January 1973, in order to promote her album "Approximately Infinite Universe".
The music and the films were then filed away.

After John died, his widow Yoko Ono has given us lots of material from the Lennon archives, and in 1986, she decided to release a concert video, as well as a CD from the "One To One" performances. The concert video, released on VHS, Betamax, Laser Disc and the little known format VHD Video Disc was a 55 minute edit of the afternoon performance, containing the following:
Power To The People (merely a part of the record played over the PA during the introduction, the video used the afternoon show intro), New York City (from the afternoon show), It's So Hard (afternoon), Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (afternoon), Sisters, O Sisters (evening), Well, Well, Well (afternoon), Born In A Prison (afternoon), Instant Karma! (afternoon), Mother (afternoon), Come Together (afternoon), Imagine (afternoon), Cold Turkey (evening), Hound Dog (evening) and Give Peace A Chance (evening). John's introductions were also a mixture from the afternoon and evening concerts, many of which did not match the choice for the actual performance. As you'll gather from the above, Yoko also performed four other songs that were not included on the video, these were Move On Fast (afternoon & evening), We're All Water (afternoon & evening), Open Your Box (afternoon & evening) and Don't Worry Kyoko (afternoon show only).
The soundtrack was radically remixed and issued as an accompanying album (omitting Yoko Ono's tracks all together) to the home-video, both were first released in the USA by Sony on 24th January 1986, and international releases followed in February.
Various video releases of John Lennon Live in New York City
Upon its release, Yoko Ono was criticized by former members of Elephant's Memory for using the first - and weaker - performance instead of the stronger evening show. They also took issue with the video release of the concert, which it was alleged had been edited to show Ono as prominently as Lennon. However, in fact, on the album release, Ono's vocal performances on such numbers as "Hound Dog" had been mixed out completely.
"John Lennon: Live in New York City" reached #55 in the UK, and surprised many with its US appeal where it peaked at #41 and eventually went gold.
The One To One Concert Special Laser Disc
In 1992, the original 40 minute ABC TV Special surprisingly made it's reappearance, as an international VHS and Laser Disc release.

Three songs from the evening performance later saw release on The John Lennon Anthology boxed set in 1998: "Woman Is the Nigger of the World," "It's So Hard," and "Come Together," as well as Rivera's spoken introduction.

The John Lennon: Live in New York City was released on CD in 1986, and has not been remastered since. The various video releases have never found their way to an official DVD or Blu-Ray edition. Only the performance of "Mother" was released as a bonus track on the Classic Albums: Plastic Ono Band DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment on 28th April 2008.

So, the obvious thing, EMI/Capitol, would be to remaster and re-release this stuff. I have several format suggestions:
1. The CD remastered
2. A DVD (and Blu-Ray) containing both the afternoon and the evening concerts. You've got the multitracks and I'm sure the staff over at Abbey Road Studios would love to get their hands on these to make the surround soundtrack to these films.
3. The CD+DVD (or Blu-Ray) Deluxe Edition, with a book of recollections,ticket stub, newspaper clippings and photos from the concerts.
4. The digital download, containing the CD tracks and the film

I believe I have all Lennon fans with me on this, because this is essential material, and should be treated accordingly. Now that would be a good way to celebrate Lennon's 70th.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

John Lennon anniversary reissues


A 4 CD boxed set from 1990

Rumours are ripe about EMI/Capitol planning to reissue remastered and expanded editions of five of John Lennon's original albums, and a boxed set of the same albums, in time for the celebration of what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday on October 9th, 2010.
Live Daily posted this news item on January 14th. Let me just remind you (and EMI/Capitol) that they have relatively recently spent ten years (from 1995 to 2005) re-releasing these albums already:

1995:
Live Peace In Toronto 1969 (without bonus tracks)
1997:
Unfinished Music, No. 1: Two Virgins (with bonus tracks)
Unfinished Music #2: Life With The Lions (with bonus tracks)
Wedding Album (with bonus tracks)
2000:
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (with bonus tracks)
Imagine (without bonus tracks)
Double Fantasy (with bonus tracks)
2001:
Milk and Honey (with bonus tracks)
2002:
Mind Games (with bonus tracks)
2004:
Rock 'n' Roll (with bonus tracks)
2005:
Walls and Bridges (with bonus tracks)
Some Time in New York City/Live Jam (with bonus tracks, but also without some of the original tracks!)

Amazon.com's John Lennon Store

The Beatles in 3D

The stage at the Ed Sullivan Show 1965
I was impressed by one of my neighbourhood blogs. Here's someone who, as a hobby, creates 3D versions of rooms associated with the Beatles. I'm sure this is something that can be used in games creations, animated features and future films about the group. Check it out for yourselves.
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show 1965

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Norwegian Wood 119


I've neglected my duties for some time, but here's finally a summary of the recent issue of Norway's own Beatles magazine, Norwegian Wood, which was out just in time for Christmas:

Page 2: A drawing of The Beatles

Page 3: Contents and Credits

Page 5: Editorial by Ole-Andreas Refsnes

Page 6: The President speaks by Linda Engebråten

Page 6-12: Record reviews: "Let It Roll - Songs by George Harrison" reviewed by Joakim Krane Bech, "Boots and Sand" by Yusuf Islam, featuring Paul McCartney & Dolly Parton, "A sideman's Journey" by Klaus Voormann, both reviewed by Ole-Andreas.

Page 13-15: Act Naturally - "Good Evening New York City" 2CD+DVD by Paul McCartney reviewed by Ole-Andreas

Page 16-20: The Word: Book reviews of "Paul McCartney - A Life" by Peter Ames Carlin, reviewed by Audun Molde and "Shoulda Been There - a novel on the life of John Winston Lennon" by Jude Southerland Kessler, reviewed by Terje Solbakken.

Page 21-22: "The Beatles Yellow Submarine", a stereo remaster review that was missing in the previous issue, reviewed by Tore Waskaas

Page 23-27: On Tour with The Beatles: Sweden 1963 by Steinar Glimsdal

Page 28-31: How met The Beatles by Ole Kristian Fredriksen. Ole was a member of the Norwegian group "The Sunbeams", who appeared on the swedish television show "Drop-In" in 1963. Although they appeared in the program a week after the fabs, the two shows were recorded on the same day, so "The Sunbeams" shared the wardrobe with The Beatles on October 30th, 1963.

Page 32-58: "Crossroads - The Beatles & Eric Clapton" by Ole-Andreas. A chronicle of Eric's Beatle connections.

Page 59-62: Cameo Parkway: A story of the record company, as seen through a Beatlefan's eyes by R.Bekkå.

Page 63-66: Opinions: The Beatles Remasters are embraced by Ståle Kverndokk and dismissed by Arne Færøvik.

Page 67-68: The Beatles Festival at Beitostølen is summarized by Linda

Page 69-71: The Lennon/McCartney 2012 World Tour by Leif Ovesen, Audun Molde and Haakon Ellingsen. A "What if..." with three different suggestions for the set list.

Page 72-74: Beatles Cruise by Roger Stormo. An invitation to the upcoming Beatles cruise.

Page 75-79: The News Today, Oh Boy by Martin Aasen Wright: Box of Vision, the apple usb stick, remastered vinyls, Pete Best in India, Zemeckis' new Yellow Submarine, David Lynch about the Maharishi, Norwegian Wood on Facebook, Canadian Lennon movie:Let Him Be, Paul's tour of Europe, Children in Need in RAH, Paul on Ringo's "Y Not", new book from Genesis about the Traveling Wilburys, Crazy for James (Louis McCartney), Sean and Julian gives peace a chance, Zak follows Liam Gallagher, Dhani promises a better Rock Band 3.

Page 80: Beatles Quiz by Joakim

Page 81: Names and Addresses

Page 82: Ad for The Beatles:RockBand and instruments

Page 83: Inner back cover photo: "Voyage of the Fritz"

Page 84: Back Cover: Plastic Ono Supergroup

Norwegian Wood is published in Norwegian only. Norwegian can also be read and understood by people who can read Swedish and Danish (yes, it's a language and not just pastry).

Monday, 18 January 2010

Paul McCartney and Animation


Paul McCartney didn't win "Best song from a film" this week-end, neither at the Critics Choice awards nor at the Golden Globe awards. But he was on hand in case he won. And the people at the Golden Globe awards made good use of Paul when they asked him to be presenter for the "Best animated feature" award, a prize won by "Up".
He had a couple of good jokes, too!

Paul McCartney and animation goes back to the "Yellow Submarine" full length animation film from 1969, which he gave a few songs to and contributed some ideas for. The Beatles were all delighted with the finished product, and Paul started producing animated films himself in the seventies.
His first idea was never released, "The Bruce McMouse Show" was a story about a mouse and his family, who lived under the stage where Wings were playing during their 1972 tour. It's not known if the film was ever finished.
Paul and his late wife Linda then hosted the annual Disney Christmas special in 1974.
Next up was "Oriental Nightfish". The song was composed by Linda McCartney during the 'Band On The Run' sessions and performed by Wings. The film ran at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 1978. The track was finally released on Linda's posthumous compilation album 'Wide Prairie' in 1998. Commissioned by Linda and directed by Ian Emes, who designed, painted and airbrushed every frame of the film, which many people thought to be computer animated. Anticipating the digital revolution, this was Emes' last animated film before moving into live action.
At the Cannes film festival in 1980, the McCartneys contributed with another animated film for a Linda McCartney composition, Seaside Woman. Reportedly recorded in 1971, and performed live during Wings' tours of 1972 and 1973. This time, the film won the Palme d'Or for best short film.


McCartney always liked the british newspaper comic strip adventures of Rupert Bear, and purchased the movie rights to the character, intending to make a full length animated feature. Nothing came of these plans, but he did get to make a short film with the character. Rupert and the Frog Song is a 1984 animated film written and produced by Paul McCartney and directed by Geoff Dunbar and Raymond 'George' Taylor. The making of Rupert and the Frog Song began in 1981 and ended in 1983. The film was released theatrically as an accompaniment to McCartney's feature film Give My Regards to Broad Street. The song We All Stand Together from the film's soundtrack reached number 3 when released in the UK Singles Chart. The home video of the film was number 1 in the UK video charts and the best selling children's video that year.
McCartney contributed with the story, the song and the voices of Rupert, Edward, Bill and a boy frog.
Animation then returned when McCartney was making the music video for his song "Once Upon A Long Ago" in 1987 and then for "Ou est le soleil" in 1989.
Dunbar worked again with McCartney on an animated film about the work of French artist Honore Daumier, "Daumier's Law" in 1992, which won both of them a Bafta award.


In 1996, Linda and Paul made a photo film about the Grateful Dead, made from photos Linda had taken of the group. Shot at the Grateful Dead House, the band's communal home in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, and at a concert in Central Park, the nine-minute film is a moody, hypnotic piece, with titles and credits handwritten by Mr. McCartney. For the length of the film, music from the 1968 Grateful Dead album, "Anthem of the Sun," plays (with the vocals removed) as black-and-white photographs are juxtaposed, morphed into one another and put together like flip books so that band members seem to be moving. Other times, the camera slowly pans across faces in a magnified crowd photo, stopping at the most interesting character: a man in a trilby who looks like an undercover agent; a woman who seems to have consumed too many drugs.
Paul McCartney said he thought of the idea while looking through a giant three-foot contact sheet of his wife's photographs and feeling as he did when he was ill as a child and would stare at a newspaper photograph until he could imagine it moving. "I noticed where she was trying to get a portrait of Bob Weir, she would take a whole roll of him, one photo after another," he said of one band member. "Of course, she only needed one shot, but in looking at the whole roll it looked like a movie. Your eyes almost ran it all together."

They then got together with Geoff Dunbar again with a new cartoon, Tropic Island Hum in 1997, a film finally released in 2004. An accompanying single, featuring both the song from the new film as well as the one from Rupert and the Frog song was released.


Paul McCartney - Music & Animation Collection was released in 2004, featuring some of Macca's animated movies, the before mentioned Tropic Island Hum ans Rupert and the Frog Song, but also another film with frogs in it, Tuesday, based on the book by David Wiesner. The film was another McCartney-Dunbar project, completed in 2000.

Next up for Paul in the animation department is an adaption of his childrens book, "High in the clouds" from 2005. It will be his first full length animated feature. "It's been my ambition for about 30 years to do a full-length animation film," he said in 2005. In June 2009, it was announced that New Line Films were going to make the film, and Paul was asked to write music for it.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Nowhere Boy - The Movie


I just came back from a press screening of the new John Lennon biopic "Nowhere Boy". The film is part of the "Gimle Filmfest" an annual event at Gimle Cinema here in Oslo, where it will be shown to the norwegian public for the first time on February 11th. The film will then go to general release on February 22nd.
Previous blog posts of mine about the movie:

The film covers John Lennon's late teens from just before his uncle George died (5th June 1955) and until The Fabs are about to go to Hamburg (mid-August 1960). Lennon goes from age 15 to nearly 20 in the course of the film, which is hardly noticable. Through a few retrospective moments we are also taken back to Blackpool when Lennon, aged five, was challenged to choose between going to New Zealand with his father Alfred Lennon or to stay in Liverpool with his mother Julia.
"Nowhere Boy" is based on the book Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon by his half sister, Julia Baird. She later estranged herself from the film after it deviated too much from the real story.
Although the movie is coloured with music throughout, the movie is not so much about Lennon's music careeer with the Quarrymen - but more about the internal secrets that surrounded him and his family in his personal teenage life. The movie concentrates on the first three years of this time frame, when lots of stuff happens to Lennon. He loses his uncle, gets reconciliated with his mother, befriends Paul McCartney and George Harrison, loses his mother and starts composing songs.
My conclusion about this film is that I've probably read too much and heard too many interviews about this time to really appreciate it.
Although possibly a brilliant actor, Aaron Johnson is a difficult John Lennon to accept. His hair is too black, his eyes have the wrong colour, he's got too much muscle and is a bit too bossy. Paul McCartney, played by Thomas Sangster isn't too off the mark, although his famous eyebrows couldn't be matched. Still, he's smaller than Lennon in the film, when in reality he was the tallest Beatle. I felt that the two main female characters, John's mother Julia Lennon (played by Anne-Marie Duff) and her sister Mimi Smith (Kristin Scott Thomas), the aunt who brought up young John were the strongest portrayals.


John (Aaron Johnson) and Paul (Thomas Sangster) at Paul's home.

I could name a number of discrepancies that ruined the experience of the movie to me, like John's sisters Jacqui and Julia being present in their mother's funeral, when in reality they were sent away and weren't even told that their mother had died until a long time after the fact. This is a key element in Julia's book, and one of the reasons she harbours such harsh feelings about this time in her young life and how her family behaved. Also, the weather in Liverpool in the fifties looks very nice, looking back.
The Quarrymen, standing in a circle around newcomer Paul McCartney on July 6th, 1957, totally in awe of his guitar playing skills seems to have been inspired by Eric Cash's painting from last year, "The Introduction". In reality, most of the original Quarrymen members can't even recall McCartney having been there.
But my main objection about the movie is that John Lennon is exposed to all the inner secrets of Julia and Mimi. The truth laid bare. In reality, I think he was kept in the dark all his life.
But go see the movie, you'll enjoy a look at post-war Liverpool and some good old music from rock's early years. And if you enjoy the story and the acting, all the better. One of the scenes I particularly enjoyed was when the Quarrymen were in the studio, recording "In Spite of All The Danger".
And get the soundtrack, it's a fun ride!