Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Yellow Submarine website

www.yellowsubmarine.com
Apple has launched a new Yellow Submarine Website as a promotional tool for the new release of the film for the home video market. As of the time of writing. all there is, is the option to sign up for their mailing list, a drawing and the trailer for the film. We still remember the great flash-based animated Yellow Submarine website that Capitol records set up to promote the Songtracks CD the last time around (1999).
  You can still see remnants of it over at the Internet Archive Waybackmachine.

1987 VHS cassette
There were originally two different versions of the "Yellow Submarine" film, one without the song "Hey Bulldog" (due to time constraints), mainly shown on American theatres, and a later one with that scene inserted (more common in Europe). When the film was first released for the home video market on video and laser disc in 1987, the first cut,the one without "Hey Bulldog" was used. One of the selling points of the 1999 release was that this song was now included. However, this came at a cost. For continuity's sake, a few scenes had to be cut in order for "Hey Bulldog" to be a natural part of the film's flow. Now, there's no problem including both versions on a DVD or Blu-ray release, allowing fans to choose which version they want to watch. All you need is both sets of "extra footage" and have two versions of the timeline to select from. All that's needed, is that the person who authors the DVD is aware of these discrepencies. Over at Youtube, a fan has coupled together what he reckons is the best of both versions:



Two of the "new" songs from the film, "All Together Now"/"Hey Bulldog" was a 1972 45 rpm single in a number of countries.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Apple's Yellow Submarine

Since we first reported about the new edition of the "Yellow Submarine" movie, the story has gone global. One of the sentences in Apple's press release that has been repeated the most in the media is this one: "Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame". We think this is old news, and applies to the 1999 release. The "hand-cleaning" process was done already before MGM released it in 1999, so this is probably just a new transfer in higher definition. With any luck, they may have found a better copy of the 1968 documentary about the film, "A Mod Odyssey" for the bonus material this time. Apart from that, it's just repackaging - but it was necessary for Apple to re-release "Yellow Submarine", because the 1999 MGM DVD is not available any more in the USA, and the rights to release the film has reverted back to Apple. They should have included the 1999 promo film of "Hey Bulldog", though.
The original 1968 "Lady Madonna" promo film

When the Beatles recorded "Hey Bulldog" back in 1968, they were being filmed and the film footage was used to create a promotional video for their latest single at that time, "Lady Madonna". Some bright head found that the footage could be recompiled to reflect the song that they actually recorded, and in their PR campaign in 1999, the then press officer at Apple, Geoff Baker, came close to state that "Hey Bulldog" was actually a new discovery. It was really just an old film that finally had been married to the correct song.

The 1999 promo film for "Hey Bulldog"

In 1999 it was used to promote the new edition of "Yellow Submarine" and broadcast by several TV stations, but it was not included as a bonus clip of the video release. Possibly because it was released by MGM and not by Apple, but this time around it would have been nice of them to include it.
One other thing I'm concerned about, is the re-release of the 1999 accompanying album to the film, "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" in remastered form. Upon it's original release, "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" was praised by many fans, not because it was another compilation of the songs from the film, but because the songs had been dramatically remixed. The 1999 remix gave the songs a more modern stereo picture because instruments and vocals were rearranged and made them sound fresh. The Beatles sounded up to date, and fans thought that this method of thinking was going to be applied for the rest of The Beatles' catalogue of recorded material. Not so. The year after, The Beatles released their greatest hits compilation "1", and used those same old sixties stereo images. Only once in the aftermath has the Beatles songs been remixed again, and that was for the mash-up project "Love".
We are hoping that the remastered version of "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" will either remix the songs again (Paul's vocals on "Eleanor Rigby" was slightly out-of-synch with the backing, they can fix that) or that the previous remix will be kept or duplicated. If they decide to revert the album back to the sixties stereo image, it will just be another insignificant compilation of songs.  The album has the following songs:

1. Yellow Submarine
2. Hey Bulldog
3. Eleanor Rigby
4. Love You To
5. All Together Now
6. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
7. Think For Yourself
8. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
9. With A Little Help From My Friends
10. Baby You're A Rich Man
11. Only A Northern Song
12. All You Need Is Love
13. When I'm Sixty Four
14. Nowhere Man
15. It's All Too Much

Back in 1999, it was released both on CD and vinyl, and also came as a yellow coloured vinyl LP.
Technical details for the DVD/Blu-ray release in Europe:
Yellow Submarine [DVD, Blu-ray] contains the film lasting 89 minutes in the original format 1:66-1, completely restored in 4K.
Audio:
English DTS 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Italian DTS 5.1
English Dolby Stereo
Original Mono
Audio Commentary - Heinz Edelmann (Artistic Director) and John Coates (Producer)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Finnish, Japanese.
Bonus features:
"Mod Odyssey" documentary [duration: 7:30]
Original Trailer [duration: 3:30]
Storyboard:
Sea of ​​Monsters [duration: 4:20] - Battle of the Monsters [118 images] - Pepperland [64 images]
Interviews: - Paul Angelis (Ringo's voice and the head Blue Meanie) [duration: 1:39 ]
Clive John (voice of John) [duration: 2:03]
David Livesey (animations) [duration: 1:11]
Millicent McMillan (assistant to Heinz Edelmann) [duration: 1:12]
Jack Stokes (Director of animations) [duration: 3:42]
Erich Segal (co-writer) [duration: 1:38]
Original drawings [29 images]
Behind the scenes photos  [30 pictures]

Saturday, 24 March 2012

George Harrison LP

May 1st, there's a new vinyl album release on Hip-O Records (that's the company Ringo is with these days) of a George Harrison album, titled "Early Takes Volume 1". Tracks:
1.My Sweet Lord (demo) 3:33
2.Run Of The Mill (demo) 1:56
3.I’d Have You Any Time (early take) 3:06
4.Mama You’ve Been On My Mind (demo) 3:04
5.Let It Be Me (demo) 2:56
6.Woman Don’t You Cry For Me (early take) 2:44
7.Awaiting On You All (early take) 2:40
8.Behind That Locked Door (demo) 3:29
9.All Things Must Pass (demo) 4:38
10.The Light That Has Lighted The World (demo) 2:23

This was originally released on CD as part of a deluxe blu-ray package of the Scorcese film, "George Harrison:Living In The Material World". Let's hope the "Volume 1" in the title is an indication of future volumes to come.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Ram Deluxe details

RAM Deluxe 4CD/DVD + download details.

CD1: Ram (remastered)
1. Too Many People
2. 3 Legs
3. Ram On
4. Dear Boy
5. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
6. Smile Away
7. Heart of the Country
8. Monkberry Moon Delight
9. Eat at Home
10. Long Haired Lady
11. Ram On
12. The Back Seat of My Car

CD2: Bonus tracks (remastered):
1. Another Day
2. Oh Woman, Oh Why
3. Little Woman Love
4. A Love For You (Jon Kelly remix)
5. Hey Diddle (Dixon Van Winkle mix)
6. Great Cock And Seagull Race (Dixon Van Winkle mix)
7. Rode All Night
8. Sunshine Sometime (earliest mix)

CD3: Ram mono (remastered)
1. Too Many People
2. 3 Legs
3. Ram On
4. Dear Boy
5. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
6. Smile Away
7. Heart of the Country
8. Monkberry Moon Delight
9. Eat at Home
10. Long Haired Lady
11. Ram On
12. The Back Seat of My Car

As a promotional strategy when the album was new, McCartney decided to make separate mono mixes of each track on the album, designed specifically for AM radio airplay and send out a promotional album in very limited quantities to radio stations that were not broadcasting in stereo. As with some earlier Beatles mono albums, these were not simple fold downs of the stereo tracks but actually were unique mixes that in some cases differed considerably from their stereo commercially released counterparts.

CD4: Thrillington (remastered)

1. Too Many People
2. 3 Legs
3. Ram On
4. Dear Boy
5. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
6. Smile Away
7. Heart Of The Country
8. Monkberry Moon Delight
9. Eat At Home
10. Long Haired Lady
11. Back Seat Of My Car

This CD is an instrumental cover version of Paul and Linda McCartney's album, Ram. Arranger Richard Hewson was asked to arrange the orchestration before Ram had yet been released and it was recorded in June 1971—with McCartney as producer—and with an intended release shortly thereafter. When it finally saw release in 1977, McCartney invented the fictitious socialite Percy Thrillington, and even took out ads in various UK music papers announcing Thrillington's so-called comings and goings to generate curiosity and interest. The album was released under the pseudonym of Percy "Thrills" Thrillington, and sold very little, making it an instant rarity. "Thrillington" was issued on CD in 1995 and 2004.


DVD:
Ramming (documentary of album)
Heart Of The Country
3 Legs
Hey Diddle
Eat At Home On Tour
+ a selection of "Now Hear This" jingles

Download - Hi Res audio (both limited and unlimited)
The "book edition" will also have a 112 page hardcover book included in a deluxe package.
Release date May 22 in USA, May 21st in the UK and Europe.
There will be five different physical editions:
Standard 1CD, Special edition 2CD, DeLuxe w/book 4CD+1DVD, Stereo vinyl 2LP and mono vinyl 1LP.
Concord learned a lesson the hard way: When this series commenced, they made the mistake of including the DVD not only with the DeLuxe book edition of "Band On The Run", but it was also included in one of the cheaper packages. The result was that the DVD collectors went for that cheaper package. Dealers who then got stuck with the book edition eventually had to let it drop in price, in order to be able to shift copies. On the next releases, "McCartney", "McCartney II" and now "Ram", the DVD is only available to those who also shells out for the book edition.   
 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Yellow Submarine confirmed

Official press release: London – March 20, 2012 – The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on May 28 (May 29 in North America). The film's songtrack album will be reissued on CD on the same date.
Currently out of print, the film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame.
Bonus features for the Yellow Submarine DVD and Blu-ray include a short making-of documentary titled “Mod Odyssey” (TRT: 7:30), the film’s original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by producer John Coates and art director Heinz Edelmann, several brief interview clips with others involved with the film, storyboard sequences, 29 original pencil drawings and 30 behind-the-scenes photos. Both Digipak packages will include reproductions of animation cels from the film, collectible stickers, and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Yellow Submarine aficionado John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios).
Lasseter writes in his essay, "As a fan of animation and as a filmmaker, I tip my hat to the artists of Yellow Submarine, whose revolutionary work helped pave the way for the fantastically diverse world of animation that we all enjoy today."
Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine began its voyage to the screen when Brodax, who had previously produced nearly 40 episodes of ABC’s animated Beatles TV series, approached The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein with a unique vision for a full-length animated feature.
Yellow Submarine, based upon a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including "Eleanor Rigby," "When I’m Sixty-Four," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "All You Need Is Love," and "It’s All Too Much." When the film debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognised as a landmark achievement, revolutionising a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques.
Inspired by the generation’s new trends in art, the film resides with the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake. With art direction and production design by Heinz Edelmann, Yellow Submarine is a classic of animated cinema, featuring the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes with a team of animators and technical artists.
"I thought from the very beginning that the film should be a series of interconnected shorts" remembers Edelmann. "The style should vary every five minutes or so to keep the interest going until the end." These styles included melding live-action photography with animation, 3-dimensional sequences and kaleidoscopic "rotoscoping" where film is traced frame by frame into drawings. The entire process took nearly two years, 14 different scripts, 40 animators and 140 technical artists, ultimately producing a groundbreaking triumph of animation.
On April 24, Candlewick Press will release a new, compact hardcover edition of the Yellow Submarine picture book, a read-aloud journey for the whole family. Featuring the lighthearted wit of the film's script alongside original artwork from the movie that has charmed children and adults through several generations, the beautiful, 40-page book will be sold by retailers everywhere and on the Beatles Store (www.thebeatles.com). An interactive digital version of the book is also available as a free download on Apple's iBookstore for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch at www.iTunes.com/TheBeatles

Monday, 19 March 2012

Yellow Submarine Blu-ray in May

Digi pack with card slip case, booklets, 4 plastic film cells and stickers

Yeah, it looks like the 50th anniversary year of the Beatles as an EMI recording group will commence with this release. It will also be made available again as a regular DVD. Due out May 29th. Is it too much to ask if they could make this release non wide screen? The 1999 colour and music restoration saw the VHS released with the full picture, whereas the DVD was severely cropped and zoomed in to make it look like it was made for wide screen... Look, if people with 16:9 TV's prefer to fill their screens, they all have zoom buttons on their remotes, there's no reason to do it for them.


Like always, a wave of merchandise will no doubt follow in the wake of the Yellow Submarine film, and the official Beatles stores around the world are gearing up.



Saturday, 17 March 2012

Ram gets a date

Amazon says: "This title will be released on May 22, 2012"

And it looks as it's going to be released on it's own, no mention of "Venus and Mars", which was originally scheduled to be an accompanying release to "Ram".

Friday, 16 March 2012

Apple DVD in trouble?

The DVD we told you about in this post, seems to have run into some trouble. People who pre-ordered it from Amazon in the UK got a mail, saying their order was cancelled and that "Beatles, The -Strange Fruit - The Beatles' Apple Records [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]' (Asin: B0071BY2LO) - This item has been removed from sale for legal reasons". So, looks like Apple Corps didn't approve of this initiative. As of the time of writing this, the DVD was still available from Amazon in USA, though.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Magical Mystery Tour back on DVD?

Paul McCartney has recently been interviewed for an Arena special about Magical Mystery Tour, due to be screened around October 2012.
Apparently, they are making a documentary on the film, and apart from Paul and Ringo, only three people who went on the coach are still alive, and being interviewed for the special as well.
It would surprise me if this isn't a tie-in with the long-awaited re-release of the "Magical Mystery Tour" on DVD (and hopefully Blu-ray) for it's 45th anniversary in December. Unlike what is the sad case with "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!", Apple sits on loads of unused footage from the film, so there should be a lot of bonus material available.
Along with those other two films, "Magical Mystery Tour" was released on DVD when the format was still new, but only in USA and it has not been re-released since, at least not in an official sense. You may come across pirate versions of the DVD however, also in regular shops.
The wait for a new edition of Magical Mystery Tour has been a long one, meanwhile fans of the film have been busy making their own versions.  A 90 minutes "Magical Mystery Tour Memories" DVD about the coach trip and the making of MMT was independently released in 2008.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Apple Records documentary on DVD

Strange Fruit-The Beatles' Apple Records is the story of a record label which came to exist under extraordinary circumstances, produced extraordinary records and was operated under extraordinary guidelines.
The documentary, which is to be released April 24 on DVD, features new interviews with former label M.D. Tony Bramwell, members of Badfinger, The Iveys and Elephant's Memory, Jackie Lomax, Brute Force and David Peel, plus musician and Beatles expert Chris Ingham, author and journalist Mark Paytress and Apple biographer Stefan Granados.
The film also includes archive footage of Apple artists and the organization for which they recorded as well as interviews from the vaults, location film, rare photographs and of course, the music upon which the label made its name.

 

"Ram" deluxe in May or June?

"Someone" has contacted both Concord and MPL, and got word back from Concord that Ram should be out in May and will possibly be in an "ultra deluxe edition". So, maybe the original plan of 3CD's and one DVD has been expanded upon? The promo mono mix could be one CD, and so could "Thrillington". And how about that "Brung to Ewe by" radio promo jingles disc...
The Archive editions of "Ram" were originally to be released last year, but was put on hold for a while. Don't hold your breath just yet, some other sources are mentioning June. No word about "Venus and Mars", incidentally...
Meanwhile, I passed by the offices of MPL in London's Soho Square yesterday and noticed lots of stacks of wrapped square packages taking up a lot of the floor space. They were oversized LP packages, but that could just be well packaged deluxes...?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

50th Anniversary of "Love Me Do" - what to do?

EMI is trying to come up with a good idea to market a new Beatles release to commemorate the 50th anniversary of "Love Me Do". Whatever they come up with has to meet Apple Corps' approval before anything gets decided. What would you like to see from EMI/Apple - what would you buy? And you should probably think records, vinyl, cd and not Blu-ray like I did on these illustrations.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Ken Scott book coming

Studio engineer and later, producer Ken Scott follows in the footsteps of Geoff Emerick and Norman Smith by publishing a book!
With a vast track record that spans engineering for the Beatles and Elton John to producing Supertramp and David Bowie, Ken has an enormous wealth of experience.
As an engineer, Ken worked on "Magical Mystery Tour" and "The Beatles" (aka "White Album"), as well as on George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass". He also worked on solo records by John Lennon and Ringo Starr. After the Beatles, he worked a lot with other artists. Click on the book cover to go to the official website.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The final UK Tour December 1965

The Beatles on tour: Glasgow premiere
When I first started this blog, I was deep into my research of three early Beatles tours, The Helen Shapiro Tour, The Roy Orbison Tour and The Montez/Roe Tour. The reason for my research was that I had committed myself to write articles on those tours for the Norwegian Beatles fanzine, "Norwegian Wood". Since then, the fanzine has covered more tours, written by others.
For the new issue of "Norwegian Wood", I was asked to write about the final UK tour, which happened in December 1965, and so I set about researching again. Last year, Martin Creasy published his wonderful book "Beatlemania! The Real Story of The Beatles UK Tours 1963-1965". Martin has done a great job in finding old newspaper articles and interviewing the people who participated in each tour, and I was going to use his book as my main source for the article I was writing. However, my copy of his book was at home, and the main parts of my article was written away from home, so instead of following my initial thought, I ended piecing together the story of the tour from whatever I found on the internet. When I finally got round to reading his chapter on the tour, I was very much enlightened about the goings on, but I still ended up just quoting a little bit from the book and relaying a few facts. For my article (available only in Norwegian, and only in writing) I mainly used driver Alf Bicknell's diary postings and a description of two young girls eagerly waiting for the Beatles to appear on stage in Newcastle from Carolyn Lee Mitchell's book "All Our Loving". The theme of the article became the tour as experienced by Alf, the tour guide. Having gathered together as many photos from the tour as I could find on the internet, I thought I would share it with you, so here it is.

The tour lasted 10 days, and saw The Beatles perform in nine venues across eight cities. Throughout they played a set comprising 11 songs: I Feel Fine, She's A Woman, If I Needed Someone, Act Naturally, Nowhere Man, Baby's In Black, Help!, We Can Work It Out, Yesterday, Day Tripper and I'm Down. Paul McCartney performed "Yesterday" solo on an electric organ, and it was also used by John on "We Can Work It Out" and "I'm Down".

THE TOUR:
3 December 1965 - Glasgow - Scotland - Odeon
4 December 1965 - Newcastle - England - Newcastle City Hall
5 December 1965 - Liverpool - Liverpool Empire Theatre
7 December 1965 - Manchester - Manchester Apollo
8 December 1965 - Sheffield - Sheffield City Hall
9 December 1965 - Birmingham - Odeon
10 December 1965 - London - Hammersmith Odeon
11 December 1965 - Finsbury Park - Astoria
12 December 1965 - Cardiff - Wales - Capitol Centre

In November, the Beatles rehearsed for the tour at the Donmar rehearsal theatre in London, and were photographed there November 20th by Robert Whitaker, who was the group's hired photographer at the time (1964-66). This was the second time they made use of this rehearsal stage in Central London, they had previously rehearsed here on October 12th 1963 for their appearance on "Sunday Night at the London Palladium".

Rehearsals at the Donmar theatre. Photo: Robert Whitaker.

Rehearsals at the Donmar theatre. Photo: Robert Whitaker
You can find more photos from the rehearsals this day over at Getty images.

On December 1st, The Beatles gathered together in the flat of Mal Evans to rehearse and put together a set list.

Mal's flat

Mal's flat
 The tour programme's front page was a drawing from the new US TV cartoon series, very exotic to UK fans.
a signed copy
The 16 pages 27cm x 18cm programme had a 4 page Beatles biography, an article by Beatles Monthly Book editor Johnny Dean, some ads and profiles of the other artists and bands who were part of this package tour. Here's a couple more samples from the programme:



A poster, four times the size of the programme was folded in four and was enclosed.


Compere for this tour was up-and-coming showbiz personality Jerry Stevens. The other acts were:

The Moody Blues (with future Wings member Denny Laine, a NEMS act)
The Paramounts (Another NEMS act who later regrouped as Procol Harum)
The Marionettes (coloured pop-soul vocal group)
The Koobas (from Liverpool, aka The Kubas)
Beryl Marsden (18 year old singer from Liverpool with a big voice, no relation)
Steve Aldo (coloured singer, also from Liverpool)

The Beatles knew the Liverpool people from the old days, Beryl used to sing with The Undertakers from when she was just fourteen, and had to stay behind in Liverpool when the group left for Hamburg, because she was under age. She was the girl who The Beatles wanted to offer their composition "Love of The Loved" to, but Brian Epstein decided to give it to his new protege, Cilla Black. Marsden, in return, refused to be managed by Eppy.

Beryl Marsden


The Paramounts

The Koobas

The Marionettes

Steve Aldo

The Moody Blues

On December 2nd, the Beatles started the drive up to Scotland, when disaster struck. Mal Evans was driving the van with the equipment, and The Beatles followed behind in their famous Austin Princess, with Alf at the wheel. They were carrying two guitars, which were strapped to the back of the car.
As they travelled up the M1 motorway, a passing lorry signalled to The Beatles' chauffeur Alf Bicknell to pull over. Here's Alf: 

"I went back to this great big articulated vehicle and the driver said to me, 'I think you've dropped a banjo back down the road.' I couldn't believe it. So I went back to my car and Neil [Aspinall] and I just stood there looking, we both couldn't believe it. We just stood there, staring at the back of my car, noticing that the straps were broken. There were two guitars there, but now there was only one. I remember thinking, 'I can get a lift home,' I thought that was it. I said to Neil, 'You'd better tell them.' He said, 'No, you tell 'em.' So I went round to the car and said, 'I think we've lost a guitar.' In the darkness, a voice comes out, 'Well if you can find it, you'll get a bonus.' This was John. I was always frightened of John more than anyone else, so I said to him, 'Well, what's the bonus then?' He replied, 'You can have your job back!' 
So anyway, we got back in the car and we got to the end of this 12-mile stretch of motorway to turn round to come back. We are coming back on the other side in the fast lane, and I'm going along as slow as I can, and if anyone came, I had to move over to let them pass, and then go back out into the fast lane. But I couldn't see a thing, nothing. It was raining and it was dark. I told them, 'I want to go home now.' We got right to the other end where we started from and we started to come back, but there was nothing. The roads were clear as anything. Then, we started finding little bits of wood, and then a guitar string. We ended up with a little piece of the guitar each. Anyway, there was no more said about it, and I was quite pleased. But I was very sorry it happened, believe me."


The guitar in question was George Harrison's Gretsch "Country Genleman".
Alf in his heyday
About Alf Bicknell:
Alf was the Beatles' chauffeur from 1964 to 1966, when the group was at the height of its success. Dressed in a blue suit, crisp white shirt and tie, he first drove the group in an Austin Princess (registration SST 626) - at that time, he later said, it was one of only two cars in London to have blacked-out windows (the other belonged to Peter Sellers).

Later Bicknell drove the band in John Lennon's Royce-Royce Phantom V, which was kitted out with a television set. On occasions when any of the Beatles wished to be more discreet, the chauffeur would use a less conspicuous vehicle. When he started the job, Bicknell wore a peaked cap; but after only a few days Lennon snatched off the cap and threw it out of the window with the words, "You don't need that, Alf, you're one of us now." Bicknell grew his hair below the collar and began sporting dark glasses. "They didn't treat me as an employee," he recalled, "but as one of their mates."
Bicknell was in attendance when the Beatles met Bob Dylan, and when they encountered Elvis Presley in 1965 the chauffeur was pleasantly impressed when Elvis addressed him as "sir".

The first time he drove the band Bicknell had to collect them from a photo shoot at Emperor's Gate: "All of a sudden, Whoof! They all dive into the car and we're off," he recalled. "Every time I stopped at a traffic light I felt conscious of all the eyes peering in. Between sets of traffic lights, I'm getting faster and faster, and I pull up a bit quick outside this block of flats at one point and Bang! George, who's sitting on the occasional seat, hits his head on the partition. Let's just say he was upset. A few choice words were said. I thought, well, that's it - the shortest job that's ever happened to Alf." 
But there were no repercussions. Despite the fact that the group's car was constantly mobbed by fans, there was only one mishap - at the Finsbury Park Empire, when Bicknell inadvertently ran over a policeman's foot. His association with the group came to an end in 1966, when the Beatles decided that they no longer wanted to tour. Thereafter, when in London, they drove themselves - Ringo, according to Bicknell, was "a superb driver", but "I had to close my eyes with John".
After leaving the Beatles, Bicknell continued to work as a driver for the rich and famous, until he hurt his hand in a chainsaw accident in his garden, and had to retire. To fund his retirement, Alf began to sell off his memorabilia from the Beatles' days, and then he wrote his autobiography, "Baby You Can Drive My Car" in 1989, followed by a book and video package called "Alf Bicknell's Beatles Diary" in 1996. The accompanying DVD was the first Beatles-related DVD to appear, I believe. Alf was also a popular speaker at Beatles conventions until he collapsed and died in his own kitchen in 2004. Still, Alf lives on as a multimedia pioneer of sorts, an app from his diary appeared for the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod Touch in 2011.

GLASGOW: December 3d, the "Rubber Soul" album was released in the UK, along with the group's new single, "Day Tripper"/"We Can Work It Out". Two songs from the album and both sides of the single made their live debut tonight in Glasgow, but before the show there was a press conference and a photo session. Ringo was sporting his "Rubber Soul" jacket, as you can also see in the first picture of this blog entry. I've posted some of the photos from the Glasgow photo session in previous blog entries, but here they are again, with a few others.

John showed no respect for Paul's colourful tie at the press conference

In their dressing room at Odeon The Beatles also took the time to record a message for Radio Scotland, a new pirate station. This was the fourth time The Beatles played at the Odeon; the first had been during the Roy Orbison tour on 7 June 1963. They also performed at the city's Concert Hall later in the year. Due to bad weather Brian Epstein decided that The Beatles should stay in a hotel in the city centre, rather than the smaller one further out they had been booked to stay in. The was some concern that the location of the new hotel could have proved a security risk, but the group came to no harm.

Alf: "Well a change of direction this morning. Instead of going up to a quiet little hotel, just outside Glasgow, the bad weather made Brian change our hotel to one in Glasgow. Security was high, but that's to be expected I suppose. The boys gave a very good show and the fans went away with their ears ringing and very happy. John had a surprise visitor, it was his cousin Stanley, only noone knew him and we gave him a hard time trying to get in. People just don't realise how many borthers, sisters, and other long lost relative the boys have. They're always one at every show. There was a visit from one of those pirate radio boys tonight, which really pleased everybody. He made a tape recording with them all to open the new radio when it goes on the air. John, especially, was all for it, being free and all. The new single and long player went on sale today, as the fans are already aware I'm sure. Well it's snowing outside and we are off to Newcastle tomorrow, so I'd better get to bed and get some rest." 

NEWCASTLE:
The Beatles had a tough drive through snow to get to their two concerts at the City Hall in Newcastle. It was the fourth and final occasion they visited the venue. Over to Alf:
"Another good show again tonight. The boys are going out of their way to make sure that this tour is a good one. Everyone is having a grand time despite all the hard work. We had an early start this morning because of the snow, it was falling fast as we woke and continued for the journey down to Newcastle. Tomorrow is very important for the boys because it is back to Liverpool and Brian wants it all to go very well. There are going to be lots of special people there to watch the boys back in their own home town." Also, we have an eye witness report from a fan, courtesy of Carolyn Lee Mitchell's book, "All Our Loving": Towards the end of the year the Beatles were back in Britian, continuing their exhausting schedule of concerts. On 04 December they appeared at the Newcastle City Hall where prior to the performance 7,000 fans had virtually fought to get tickets. In the bedlam and mayhem one girl nearly lost all her clothes and ended up wrapped in a blanket. One hundren and twenty fans had to be given first aid treatment and seven were hospitalized.

Barbara was at that concert with her friend Linda. The two of them were another of the small but growing group of fans who really wanted to enjoy the music without all of the screaming. But that was eaiser said than done: 
When Linda and I got into the City Hall we could literally feel the incredible electricity that was in the air. It was as though we were in the middle of a of a silent thunderstorm. We found our seats in the second row from teh back and tried to settle ourselves down. We were so nervous excited and happy. We felt like we'd had a drink too many. The compere, Jerry Stevens, introduced the supporting acts which included the Moody Blues. They and the other acts were good, but the last band before the Beatles, called the Marionettes Act 1, seemed to go on and on. We thought they'd never end, but that's because we knew The Beatles were on next and everyone was getting impatient. 
Comperes can be very aggravating and Jerry Stevens was no exception as he happily teased the audience. Behind him they were setting up the equipment, and Mal Evans was putting up the drum kit. As he turned the bass drum it displayed the words "The Beatles" and Jerry Stevens just couldn't make himself heard any more because of the noise that went up. I didn't scream because I'd already decided that I wouldn't scream at all but I gave a pretty big sigh anyway. I mean, it really was like a dream for me as I'd never seen the Beatles live before and I was sure I'd wake up.
Then I saw Mal Evans carry on Paul's Hofner. I said to Linda"It's Paul's guitar," like Mal had just brought on Paul himself. Then I knew I wasn't dreaming. You've got to realize I was just 14 at the time and seeing Paul's guitar in itself was just fantastic! 
So, like I said, Linda and I had decided we wouldn't scream because we figured only kids scream. Then we saw John's guitar brought on and some of George's equipment and we sat there pinching each other like mad and giggling But when the four of them actually came on it was just the greatest feeling I'd ever had. I know it sounds daft now but at that time The Beatles were so much a part of my life - it was like seeing, I don't know, four long-lost brothers, I suppose. They seemed so distant with all those spotlights and all those hundreds of screaming girls. It made The Beatles even more untouchable and unreachable but oh, were they lovable! 
Linda was saying to me, "I dare you to scream. Go on, I dare you."
"Never," I said, and then suddenly I was screaming along with all the others. It was like I had to get rid of all the anxiety that was inside me, building up all the time. I didn't know how else to express myself. So I screamed.



Tuning up at the Empire, Liverpool

LIVERPOOL:
The Beatles' final two live concerts in Liverpool took place on this evening at the city's Empire Theatre. The 2,550-seat venue could have sold out many times over; more than 40,000 applications were made for tickets, leaving many fans disappointed. However, none could have known that it would be The Beatles' last appearance in the city. It was the sixth occasion that the group had visited the venue. The group invited many friends and relatives to see their performance. During the second show Paul McCartney joined The Koobas, one of the support acts, onstage to play drums during their version of Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

Alf: "A night to remember! Here's me joking how many relatives the boys seem to have, and when they get to Liverpool they really do seem to have those many. George's mum and dad were there, as was Pattie, lovely people. There were lots of old friends of the boys, as well, as John had been busy giving tickets away all over the place. I've got a bit of a rest tomorrow, because everyone is staying here so that the boys can go home for a visit. Mind you I do need a rest after that journey down from Newcastle. That was bad!"


Pattie with George's parents
"Save the Cavern Club!" fans
Two fans were handing out leaflets all about a "Save the Cavern Club" campaign outside the Empire. Paul had them brought in to explain. It appeared that the club had fallen on hard times. The Merseybeat era was over, and the discoteques had started to flourish. Live music entertainment did not bring in audiences as much as earlier. The city council had also demanded that the club owner Ray McFall should have new plumbing and toilets fitted, and he didn't have the money to do it. The Beatles lent their support to the club in a press conference before their concert, but offered no money. The club eventually closed, but reopened again under new management, and McCartney paid the club a revisit in 1968.

The next day was a day off in Liverpool, visiting friends and family, a slow day for Alf: "Quite, quiet today, just a bit of running around, dropping the boys off at various places and picking them up. Met some nice people. We're off to Manchester in the morning, shouldn't be any bother, everything's going very well."

MANCHESTER (Ardwick)
Alf: "Just my luck! Just when all was going well, fog! I had no problem getting out of Liverpool and we had a good trip over to Manchester, but when we got there the whole place was covered in a blanket of really bad fog. We drove through Manchester at a crawl, which is very bad for the boys because of the fans, but no-one could see us because of the fog! It must have taken us a good four hours, ridiculously slow. When we arrived at the Ardwick the boys should have already been on the stage. Still they made it, which is better late than never. It was a bit of a hurry up though. The boys had a visit from Mr. Shenson, the film producer, to talk about their next film. Don't know what kind of thing it's giong to be but they all seemed quite excited. Ritchie really seems to enjoy the filming."


Gas masks
The Beatles may have experienced fog before, but not like this. Seems they were also interviewed back stage by a female radio reporter.


Ringo is still favouring his "Rubber Soul" jacket.

SHEFFIELD:
A piano was standing on it's side in the wings of the stage, and Paul posed beside it. The Beatles Monthly Book cover this concert by sending their regular photographer Leslie Bryce, which is why we have so many photos from this day.



Alf:
"A smashing day in Sheffield today. A really good show by the boys and I got a quick look around before the show. There are lots of tales about the North, but I really like seeing how people enjoy their daily lives. They are a nice lot up here The boys played at the Gaumont Cinema here and we finished the night with a really good dinner in the hotel after. It was a bit cramped around the table as there was so many of us, what with the Moody Blues as well. They are a good bunch that lot and they get on well with the boys. Had a few problems at one of the doors with a few fans who wouldn't take no for an answer. They wanted to see the boys of course, but some of them get a bit too frantic. A good day anyway." Some photos from that dinner with the Moodies, Alf is smoking away at the back:



BIRMINGHAM:
Hometown of the Moody Blues. Alf: "Drove down to Birmingham in torrential rain. The heavens just opened up on us. Still we managed to get there in on piece. Birmingham is a nightmare to get around, it's so big and expanding all the time. I think it was a Sunday the last time we were here. Didn't seem much different as I didn't get a chance to get out anyway. The boys are really giving their all on this tour, both on the stage for the fans and back stage! They are hell bent on having a good time. And why not! The police were good to us again, as in fact they have been for most of the time. It usually costs a few autographs, not always by the boys I might add, but it helps to keep people happy. Brian likes to see that everyone, espeically the boys, is kept happy. I just wish he's smile a bit more himself. He takes so much on does that man. It's back down to London tomorrow, where Brian feels better and more at home and in control."

LONDON HAMMERSMITH:





Alf: "Back home with Jean and Mark. So glad to be back! It's good to be in my own bed agan. I seem to be able to relax better at home. Anyway the boys did the Hammersmith Odeon to a fantastic crowd. I think the Londoners have really taken the boys into their hearts, as if they came from her. All the press were out again to make a big show for the papers. Good for publicity, Brian says. That is as long as John doesn't tell them what he really thinks." Also on this day, the New Musical Express announced the results of its annual Readers Poll. The Beatles were voted Best British Group and Best World Group, while John Lennon was voted British Vocal Personality.

LONDON FINSBURY PARK:
George Harrison: "This is one of the most incredible shows we've done. Not just because of the audience, but because they're Londoners. This is the funny thing. It's always been the other way round - fantastic in the North but just that little bit cool in London. It's incredible. It seems like the Beatlemania thing is happening all over again." Alf agrees: "Good old Finsbury Park gave the boys a tremendous reception. I suppose it was because it will be their last show in London this year, until after their American tour next year. We had a good night back stage, celebrating. Again! Tomorrow is in fact the last show, but it's up in Cardiff and the boys don't have so many places to visit up there or so many faces around, so they made the best of it here tonight. Best of all was that I was able to come back home again. So it's up to Wales in the morning, better get some sleep"


Rehearsals at the Donmar theatre

CARDIFF:
2,500 fans saw each concert. Between their two sets The Beatles ate sausages and mashed potato in their dressing room backstage, and watched a Western on television. During the second show a male fan appeared on stage and attempted to grab Paul McCartney and George Harrison. He was quickly bundled away by security staff and thrown out of the venue. After the concert the group piled into their black limousine to drive back to London to attend a Christmas party at the Scotch Of St James nightclub.
Alf finished his diary entry earlier in the day: "Not a bad journey up with the boys, following Mal, who left eariler with all the equipment. I dont' know what is going to happen tonight, only Ritchie wants to come straight back after the show because he wants to go to the big Christmas party at Scotch of St. James's. Anyway this is it, the last show of the year. After this, when all the equipment and stuff is back, I should have a little time for the family over Christmas. Brian has promised us all a nice bonus. We've all nearly had a grand time, hard work, but smashing stuff. Anycase the boys are due to go on soon so I'd better sign off for now."



 Another, differently cropped version of the same photo reveals the fourth Beatle in Cardiff:


Although fairly well documented in accounts from the tour and photos, nothing circulates from the tour in the form of audio or video. In Creasy's book, two of the concerts are described, one of which even brings details about what The Beatles were saying to the audience between songs. By all accounts, these details must have come from written reports from the day. Unless a journalist recorded a concert in order to transcribe it later. For bootleg collectors, finding a tape of a concert from this tour is almost akin to discovering the whereabouts of the holy grail. We all want to hear how "We Can Work It Out" sounded live, these were the only concerts where it was performed. We want to hear Paul doing "Yesterday" solo, while playing organ, on later tours it was performed arranged for the band. So if you were there and recorded something, by all means, let us know!