Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Beatle Who Vanished - film


In Ron Howard's documentary film about The Beatles' touring years, "Eight Days A Week", Jimmie Nicol literally was "the Beatle who vanished". Although briefly seen in the film, his presence was never explained. So the audience were not told that Ringo Starr fell ill on the brink of The Beatles' world tour of 1964, and had to be replaced for almost a fortnight. For concert goers in Denmark, Holland, Hong Kong and Adelaide, the Beatles they saw was a group consisting of John, Paul, George and Jimmie. However, the story now has a chance to be told, as Jim Berkenstadt has sold the film rights to his 2013 book about Nicol, "The Beatle Who Vanished".

Berkenstadt's book tells Nicol's story from the start, including his 13 days, 8 gigs stint with the Beatles, and the aftermath. Berkenstadt's agent is currently shopping around for a publisher for a second edition of the book. The author published the first edition himself. Talking to Billboard's Steve Marinucci, Berkenstadt reveals that there has been further developments since he wrote the book, which could be included in an updated version.

Source: Billboard

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The compressed "White album"

The Beatles: "The Beatles" (aka "the White album") Photo: Recordmecca.com
In the December 1968 issue of The Beatles Monthly Book (depicted below), Mal Evans tells a story about a trip to Los Angeles with George Harrison, where George discovered that their record company in USA, Capitol Records had "ruined" the Beatles new album. The album in question: "The Beatles", aka "the White album", which had yet to be released. Due out in mono and stereo in Europe, Capitol was to release the album in stereo only for the USA market. But they had messed with the album master tape which had been sent them from England. Mal Evans related how George was so upset by the cut he heard at Capitol that he took all day re-equalizing it so it sounded like it should.

George and Mal arrived in Los Angeles on October 16, 1968, primarily because Harrison was to produce songs for Jackie Lomax' album "Is This What You Want?". While there, George also gave an appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on 15 November, and returned to England later that month.

Bruce Spizer writes about this in his book "The Beatles on Apple Records": "George Harrison, along with Mal Evans, was in Los Angeles to produce Jackie Lomax's upcoming Apple album. He dropped by the Capitol Tower to hear the White Album. He had left London for LA prior to the banding session during which the order of the songs was selected for The White Album, and wanted to hear the finished product. He did not like what he heard and insisted that he be allowed to work with Capitol's engineers to remaster the album".

As detailed on page 270 of Bruce Spizer's book "The Beatles Swan Song" George Harrison did not approve of the original mastering job done by Capitol on the album. As was often the practice at the time, Capitol's engineers had run the sound signal through a limiter and compressed the volume range of the recording by cutting back the high volume peaks and bringing up the low passages. This would have been particularly noticeable on "Helter Skelter," with the fake fade-out ending, and Harrison's "Long, Long, Long," which has quiet passages throughout and loud distortion at the end.

According to Eirik "The Norwegian" Wangberg, this work took place at Sound Recorders Studio on Yucca Street, which was located around the corner from the Capitol Tower. And it wasn't done by Capitol's engineers, but by Sound Recorders' Armin Steiner, assisted by Carl Frisk, while George was waiting in their lounge. George also produced sessions for the Jackie Lomax album at this studio at the time.

So, the album was saved and sounded like George Harrison wanted it to sound. It was released in the UK on 22 November 1968, and three days later in the United States. However, it seems a few of the U.S. albums had been pressed using Capitol's compressed master by mistake. In Perry Cox' 2007 book "Price Guide For American Beatles Records", one such copy of the album was described: "this variant has lacquer numbers in the trail off area ending in numbers LESS than 34.  These records were pressed with metal parts generated from the initial 33 lacquers, which were supposed to be destroyed.  George Harrison objected to the use of a limiter that had compressed the sound during the mastering process. He insisted that the initial lacquers be destroyed and that the album be remastered. Harrison's remastered version is found on standard copies of the album which have lacquer numbers 34 or higher. Only one copy, which is a VG- condition Scranton pressing with lacquer numbers A-28 and B-29, has been confirmed thought there are undoubtedly others out there."

And there was. A few more copies have surfaced since his book's publication, they pop up on ebay from time to time, and are very expensive. So if you're loaded with money and want to hear what The Beatles' white album should not sound like, you have an opportunity. And for those with less money to spend, keep looking out for those lacquer numbers lower than 34 at garage sales!

From one of those elusive recalled pressings.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The extra EP

The vinyl E.P. collection boxed set.
The E.P. ("extended play") was a vinyl format which was very popular in my part of the world, but not in the U.S.A. The E.P. was a 7" disc, which made it look like a single, but it had more than the two songs which the single traditionally had. An E.P. usually consisted of between 3 and 5 songs, but usually just 4. It played at 45 rounds per minute, just like a single. Whereas many singles came in paper sleeves, and many of them didn't have photo covers, most E.P.s had laminated cardboard sleeves and a colour photo.
Many countries released Beatles E.P.s, and for the Beatles themselves, the E.P.s were important products. It was a product for those who wanted more than singles, but who couldn't afford forking out the cost of an album (L.P. - "long playing" record). Still, most of The Beatles' UK E.P.s were put together from two different singles, or from songs extracted from a contemporary album. Only two E.P.s were especially made to be individual products: the "Long Tall Sally" E.P. (re-released in 2014 as a "black Friday" release in conjunction with Record Store Day) and the "Magical Mystery Tour" double-E.P. These were both standalone products, not derived from singles or album cuts. But another E.P. was manufactured by EMI in 1981, and it was also a special release.

On this 1966 E.P., all the tracks were from 1965, only the front cover photo was from 1966.
Thirteen E.P.s were released by the group in the sixties, between 1963 and 1967. The E.P.s were all released on EMI's Parlophone label, which was The Beatles' record company in Great Britain. Just like all the Parlophone singles had the letter R as a prefix, all the E.P.s had the GEP prefix, except "Magical Mystery Tour", which was a special project. It was the only E.P. available in stereo, hence the prefix SMMT for the stereo version and plain MMT for the mono one.

GEP 8880 "The Beatles Hits"
GEP 8882 "Twist and Shout"
GEP 8883 "The Beatles No.1"
GEP 8891 "All My Loving"
GEP 8913 "Long Tall Sally"
GEP 8920 "A Hard Day's Night (extracts from the film)"
GEP 8924 "A Hard Day's Night (extracts from the film) Vol.2"
GEP 8931 "Beatles For Sale"
GEP 8938 "Beatles For Sale No.2"
GEP 8946 "The Beatles Million Sellers"
GEP 8948 "Yesterday"
GEP 8952 "Nowhere Man"
MMT1/SMMT1 Magical Mystery Tour"

After that, people had more money and could afford to buy L.P.s, so E.P.s stopped being important.


The "Long Tall Sally" EP.

In 1981, after having had success with the 1978 so called "blue box", a boxed set containing all The Beatles' regular U.K. albums, plus an additional L.P. with "Rarities", EMI decided to put all the EPs together in a similarly designed blue box as well. For this release, an extra E.P. of "rarities" was also made.

This nameless E.P. contained the following: "The Inner Light" (the stereo mix, all previous releases had used a mono mix of the song), "Baby You're A Rich Man" (the true stereo mix, previously only available on the World Records Beatles albums boxed set), "She's a Woman" (stereo mix, with Paul's count-in of the song available nowhere else) and "This Boy" (reprocessed stereo, previously only available on the "Love Songs" album).
The E.P. had no title (or perhaps it was just called "The Beatles"), and had a unique catalogue number: SGE1.

The U.K. single sleeve for "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever".
The sleeve of the extra E.P. in the boxed set was laminated.
For the cover, EMI wanted to reuse the front cover of the U.K. "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" single sleeve, one of only two U.K. single sleeves which had a photo cover. The original photo was by Jean-Marie Perier, and the design for the sleeve placed the photo inside a golden picture frame. There was just one problem: EMI no longer had the original art on file. The way they handled this was to borrow a copy of the original "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" single from Swedish collector Staffan Olander, and use that to reproduce the cover. We have no information whether or not they tried to contact Perier, the photographer, to ask if he perhaps had the negative or a few original positives lying around. Nevertheless, the E.P.s were pressed, covers and box manufactured and the collection was released on December 7, 1981.

The extra E.P.: back cover and record.
Whereas the "Rarities" album included with the blue box L.P. collection was to be made available individually after a year of exclusively being part of the boxed set, the nameless extra E.P. from the boxed set has never been made available on it's own.

Eleven years after the vinyl E.P. boxed set was released, a CD version was released on 15th June 1992, also containing that extra E.P., now on a compact disc.

The Compact Disc EP. Collection of 1992.

On March 20, 1995, The Beatles released a single which was dressed up as an E.P., "Baby It's You".

"Baby It's You" with radio versions of four songs. Single or E.P.?

The vinyl version of it totally looks the part: it has four songs, it is presented in a cardboard cover with a laminated front and the flips on the back, and the layout with the song titles written on a white stripe at the top shouts E.P. However, the catalogue number gives it away: R6406. The famous Parlophone R-series singles. And it's CD counterpart looks nothing like an E.P., it looks like a modern day (1995) CD maxi single.

The back of "Baby It's You".

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mortimer album finally due

Coming up: Mortimer's Apple album.

A trio from New York State, U.S.A., "Mortimer", was visiting The Beatles' Apple company in 1968, hoping to at least make a demo recording for the company. As they had no demo tape to play, the trio gave a short performance around the Apple offices, attracting attention from George Harrison, who said: "Sign them up!" So Mortimer got a contract with Apple Records, returning in 1969 to record a planned single and LP, produced by Peter Asher and with arrangements by Richard Hewson. Paul McCartney gave them one of his at that time unpublished songs for the single's A-side, "On Our Way Home" (later to be retitled "Two of Us" when released by The Beatles in 1970).

The album was made, and photo sessions held for the album cover. However, trouble at Apple and amongst the Beatles themselves delayed the release of the finished single and album. Eventually, it was scrapped. But now, from the vaults, the Mortimer album may finally be heard. To be released on CD March 20th 2017 by RPM Records, this is the first ever release of the Mortimer album recorded for Apple Records in 1969. Produced from the original master tapes held in Apple's archives, "On Our Way Home", an album long thought lost finally comes to life. Here is a short trailer documentary with some of the background to the album, including an interview with band member Tony Van Benschoten:


Glorious harmonies around acoustic soft rock with further production by Peter Asher. A must for all 60s music fans, Apple and Beatle connection fans. Full release details on Cherryred.co.uk

Tracks:
  1. "On Our Way Home"
  2. "I Didn't Know"
  3. "You Do Too"
  4. "Polly"
  5. "People Who Are Different"
  6. "You Don't Say You Love Me"
  7. "Miles Apart"
  8. "Don't Want To See You Anymore"
  9. "No Business Being Here"
  10. "In Memory Of Her"
  11. "Pick Up Your Heart"
  12. "Christine Tildsley"
  13. "Last Of The 'H'"
  14. "Laugh Children Laugh"
  15. "Ingenue's Theme"

Also available from Amazon (UK).

Grammy to Eight Days A Week

Director Ron Howard and producers Brian Grazer, Scott Pascucci and Nigel Sinclair won the Grammy for best music film for "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years," Sunday in Los Angeles. The film was up against some tough competitors, like Beyonce and her film "Lemonade".


None of the other Beatles-related entries won any Grammies (see our list of nominees).

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Grammy nominations

John Daversa's Beatles album is up for three Grammy awards.
This Sunday, it's the 59th annual Grammy award show in USA, on CBS (or live at the Staples Center in LA, if you can get in). This year's show will be hosted by a Brit, James Corden.

Here are this year's Beatles-related Grammy Nominations:


James Teej was interviewed by Canadian Metro News about his nomination, read it here.

The Casbah Story - by Pete Best

Tune in to Pete Best's account of the Casbah Club story
Over at BBC radio, a two-part series of the story of Liverpool's Casbah Club narrated by ex-Beatle Pete Best is still available for your listening pleasure. The Quarrymen, in August 1959 consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ken Brown—went to the club to arrange their first booking, to which owner Mona Best agreed, but said she needed to finish painting the club first. All four took up brushes and helped Mona to finish painting the walls with spiders, dragons, rainbows and stars. In addition to the four boys' artistic contributions, Cynthia Powell, later to become Cynthia Lennon, painted a silhouette of John on the wall, which can still be seen today. The group often played at The Casbah as other venues, like The Cavern Club, had a jazz-only policy at that time. The cellar—with its original decoration—still exists. Every Beatle Week for the past years, Pete Best have been hosting a "Best fest" of his own at the basement club.
The programme is a reprise from 2012, and was part of BBC Radio 2's Beatles Season that year.

Link: The two episodes at 30 minutes each are still available for 20 more days.

Pete Best's brother Roag is currently working on a Beatles museum of his own in Mathew Street, just opposite the Cavern Club.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Newly disovered footage from Canada

Rare colour Beatles concert footage to be auctioned off. Photo: Omega Auctions.
Previously unseen footage of The Beatles playing in Montreal during their first tour of North American found lying in a drawer after 52 years.

The colour cine footage from their Montreal performance on 8th September 1964, was filmed by the father of one the "The Four Frenchmen", who were one of the opening acts for the show and is the only known recording from the gig, according to Omega Auctions.

Concert footage. Photo courtesy of Omega Auctions.

The ten minute long recording shows the heavy police presence, which had been enhanced due to reported death threats received by Ringo Starr, back stage scenes of the fab four, footage of the supporting acts, the Beatles performance and subsequent press conference.

Press conference footage. Still image courtesy of Omega Auctions.

The 8mm tape was discovered by the camera man’s grandson, Ron Notarangelo, after his grandfather recently passed away and is expected to sell for over £10,000 when it comes up for sale (with full copyright) as part of Omega Auctions annual Beatles Auction 18th March 2017.

According to auctioneer, Paul Fairweather "this is an incredible find of great historical importance as there is no known footage from this performance, together with the fact that it is so clear and in colour, which is rare for the early 60s."


An audio recording of one of the two concerts the Beatles played in Montreal on this date also exists, you can find it on YouTube. 

The Beatles performed their standard 12-song set: Twist And Shout, You Can't Do That, All My Loving, She Loves You, Things We Said Today, Roll Over Beethoven, Can't Buy Me Love, If I Fell, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Boys, A Hard Day's Night and Long Tall Sally.

YouTube: Archive footage from the press conference. Radio Canada

After the night's second show the group were to have flown from Montreal to Jacksonville, Florida, but their Lockheed Electra aeroplane was diverted due to Hurricane Dora.

Link: Omega Auctions' Beatles Auction

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

More about the upcoming Sgt Pepper-film

The poster (or DVD cover) of the upcoming film.
Thanks to a new press release, here is some more about the upcoming unofficial "Pepper" documentary. A lot of hoopla about the album itself, not a lot about the film,

It was 50 Years Ago Today… Ltd in conjunction with
A Geezer & A Blonde Productions Ltd presents:
It Was 50 Years Ago Today….: The Beatles, Sgt Pepper & Beyond
A Film by Alan G Parker

On Thursday June 1st 1967 The Beatles released what can arguably be called the greatest album in the history of the world! ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’. It was the first album by a musical artist to be discussed in terms of art, it featured the most expensive sleeve design in record distribution history, the first gatefold sleeve ever, the first time the lyrics ever appeared on a record cover and a host of celebrities, both past and present, looking back at the listener.

It topped the charts all around the world within days of it’s release, went multi-platinum in a matter of hours, and stayed in the UK chart list for 27 consecutive weeks. Additionally it topped the US charts for a staggering 15 weeks. Time Out magazine declared it "a historic departure in the progress of music", while The New Statesman praised its elevation of pop to the level of fine art. It won 4 Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album Of The Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.

On June 1st 2017 (ironically also a Thursday) a staggering 50 years after it’s original release A Geezer & A Blonde Productions Ltd are proud to present "It Was 50 Years Ago Today… The Colour Of Dreams" a new film from EMMY nominated Director Alan G Parker ("Monty Python: Almost The Truth"/"Hello Quo!"/"KISS: You Wanted The Best"/"Who Killed Nancy") which traces the history of The Beatles from the end of their touring days in August 1966, through various solo projects to the release of "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" on a journey that includes; The Summer Of Love, flower power, John Lennon meeting Yoko Ono, LSD, Meditation, Jimi Hendrix, the death of Brian Epstein, hippie happenings, Abbey Road Studios, a Magical Mystery Tour, the birth of Apple, Paul McCartney meeting Linda Eastman and the release of the biggest selling album in the history of recorded music.

"Sgt Pepper" is regarded by musicologists as an early concept album, that advanced the use of extended form in popular music while continuing the artistic maturation seen on The Beatles’ preceding releases. It has been described as one of the first art rock LPs, aiding the development of progressive rock, and credited with marking the beginning of the Album Era. An important work of British Psychedelia, the album incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including; vaudeville, circus, music hall, avant-garde, and Western along with Indian Classical music.

In 2003, the Library Of Congress placed "Sgt. Pepper" in the National Recording Registry, honouring the work as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number 1 in its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As of 2011, it has sold more than 38 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums ever. Professor Kevin J. Dettmar, writing in the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, described it as "the most important and influential rock n’ roll album ever recorded".

Assembled from hours of newly shot interviews including; Pete Best (Beatle), Freda Kelly (The Beatles Fan Club), Tony Bramwell (friend/Tour Manager), Hunter Davies (Official Biographer), Philip Norman (Biographer), Bill Harry (Merseybeat Editor), Ray Connolly (Sixties Music Writer), Steve Turner (Author of "Beatles 66"), The Bootleg Beatles (Andre & Neil), Tony Crane & Billy Kinsley (The Merseybeats), Steve Diggle (Buzzcocks), Andy Peebles (the last man to interview John Lennon), Barbara Connolly (Apple Secretary) and Julia Baird (John Lennon’s Sister).

Along side the best collection of archive footage and still photographs ever assembled on this subject and it’s era… The projects archivist is none other than, BAFTA nominated, Keith Badman ("The Beatles Anthology"/"Queen: Days Of Our Lives").

"The Beatles aren’t a rock n’ roll band, they are a force of nature, and they’ve been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember! – I’ve wanted to make this film since I was 9 years old!!!" – Alan G Parker (Director)


So far the press release.
For those of us who have been collecting Beatles stuff on video cassettes since the early eighties, the fact that they are having Keith Badman on board is good news. He used to have a massive archive, and for a number of years, he was in charge of the video shows over at the annual Beatle Week in Liverpool.

However, when they call Andy Peebles "the last man to interview John Lennon", we start to worry. If that's the level of research which has gone into the making of the film, we're in trouble.

Monday, 6 February 2017

New Beatles fan film

Going into production: Beatles fan film "Here There" & Everywhere".
Press release:
HERE THERE AND EVERYWHERE, THE BEATLES FAN FILM GOES INTO PRODUCTION!

Production starts later this month on "Here There & Everywhere" a landmark documentary film project, supported by The Cavern Club, The Beatles Story Museum, The Hard Days Night Hotel, The Fest For Fans, Abbey Road on the River and The British Beatles Fan Club, and many others.
The film, shooting throughout this year and released in the summer of 2018, is an 80-minute ‘love letter’ spanning the band’s history as seen through the eyes, felt through the hearts and as told through the memories of the fans . . . from those who organise the fan festivals and tribute concerts . . the Club and event runners who keep the fans together, the memorabilia collectors who amaze and
delight with their rare and unseen photographs and films. . . to the authors who continue to breathe fresh life into the never-ending magical mystery tour.

"Here There & Everywhere" pays homage to the global family, showcasing their contributions towards fuelling The Beatles eternal flame. "Here There & Everywhere" is The Beatles story as told by the fans and an important part of The Beatles future archive legacy!

As part of the ongoing production the producers will also encourage artists and animators around the world to include their Beatles-inspired interludes in the film. But perhaps most importantly, if fans have a story to tell, then they can get in touch and the producers will look to include contributors and their stories in the film.

Many artists and bands will pack "Here There & Everywhere" with performances. And special licensed recordings will also be produced, featuring musicians and vocalists from around the world, creating a global Beatles soundtrack. The film will also feature a “surprise” finale, to be announced over the months ahead. The film will be launched at a number of iconic venues after release, with a TV broadcast release at the conclusion of the project.

The team behind the film
Simon Weitzman is the film’s director and the publisher, producer and author on three recent Beatles books. Simon also has 18 years experience as a network TV director, working for BBC, ITV,
Channels 4 & 5, Sky, HBO and Disney International Television Productions.
David L Simon is one of the two executive producers. He launched and managed Disney International Television Productions, was head of DreamWorks Television Animation under Steven Spielberg, and was vice president of programming for Fox Television Stations. David is also a lifelong Beatles fan
The second executive producer is The British Beatles Fan Clubs very own Pete Nash, Chairman and magazine Editor of the legendary Club magazine.

Contributors to the PledgeMusic campaign will receive a signed DVD of the movie before the launch. Those who pledge for the DVD offerings will also see their name on the film’s credits, if they pledge during the campaign.There is also a more extensive Deluxe collector package available, plus preview, edit suite and launch cinema tickets.

To reserve your DVD copy and see your name in the credits go to Pledgemusic.com to be part of the family making this film. The campaign starts February 9!

*Please note this film is completely independent of Apple Corp and The Beatles. It is not an official product of Apple Corp, or passing itself off as such.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Two of a kind - Morecambe & Wise

Featuring the Beatles guest appearance
Released in the U.K. on 5 December 2016, an 8 disc collection of British comedians Morecambe & Wise's "Two of a kind" series from Network Distributing, this is an opportunity to secure the full Beatles episode from 1964.  It's only available for a short time, as Apple will only let them have it for a year. Amazon (UK) link.
The boxed set contains the remaining shows from their second 1962 series, plus the complete third, fourth and fifth series from 1963-66. The format is similar throughout the shows - a mixture of sketches, stand-up plus a couple of musical guests.

The initial 1961 run and those missing from 1962 has been wiped, so this is essentially what remains from this time frame.

From the Beatles' guest appearance.
This is a region 2 DVD set, which may not be viewable outside Europe - unless you own a region free DVD player.

From The Beatles Bible: The Beatles' celebrated appearance on The Morecambe And Wise Show was filmed at ATV's Elstree Studio Centre in Borehamwood on December 2, 1963, although it wasn't broadcast to the nation until April 1964.

In the morning they rehearsed their act prior to filming in the afternoon. The Beatles performed three songs to a small studio audience: "This Boy", "All My Loving" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand".
They were then joined by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise for some banter and a light-hearted version of golden oldie "Moonlight Bay".

The episode of The Morecambe And Wise Show was shown on the ITV network on Saturday 18 April 1964 at 8.25pm. It was repeated on 24 July the following year on The Best Of Morecambe And Wise.

The audio recording of "Moonlight Bay" was released on Anthology 1 in 1995.

Ed Sullivan took a liking to Morecambe and Wise, and featured them many times on his show from 1963 onwards, although they never did manage to endear the American audience. They did appear on the Ed Sullivan show which featured The Beatles' third appearance on February 23, 1964.