Friday, January 27, 2017

BBC dumps veteran DJ, and Beatles foil, Brian Matthew

Brian Matthew, who can be heard bantering with the Beatles on several tracks of the band's officially released BBC recordings, has been dismissed from the British broadcaster's long-running "Sounds of the 60s" program.

The Beeb said the decision to remove Matthew was a mutual one. Matthew, on the other hand, says "that's absolute balderdash."

Matthew had been off the air for several weeks after recovering from a fall. The BBC said those health issues signaled that now was “the right time for him to step off the weekly treadmill of presenting the show.”

Meanwhile, Matthew told the Telegraph:
"I was ready and willing and able to go back, and they’ve just said they are going to put the programme in the hands of other people.

“I didn’t really have much in the way of ill health. I had a collapse at home at the bottom of our stairs, and my wife called the ambulance service. They came and examined me and said it was a matter for appraisal at the hospital. They put me on a ward, I stayed there for a while and now I’m back at home.

“I enjoyed doing the show very much indeed. I did it for 25 years. I feel very disconcerted, I must say. I do admit I’m a bit of an antique, but that’s never seemed to matter until now.”

In many ways, Matthew was the sound of the 1960s. He joined the BBC in 1954, becoming host of "Saturday Club" and "Easy Beat." He also hosted ITV's "Thank Your Lucky Stars." He played host to countless stars, over the year. Along with the Beatles, you can hear his voice on BBC sessions featuring the Who, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and more.

You can listen to some of his interviews here.


Beatles Bits: Weekly News Roundup

Via the Londonist: Why the hell do people still visit Abbey Road?

Maggie, visiting from Minnesota, agrees with Chris that it really means something to cross this street in suburban north London. "It does," she says, "It's really exciting that they were here at some point."


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A lengthy article on the Mix website contains a lot of great detail regarding the original filming and sound-recording of the Beatles' first Shea Stadium concert in 1965, along with efforts to restore the sound and film for the recent film "The Beatles Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years."

Unfortunately, in my opinion, non-Shea recordings were used in the restored film that accompanied theatrical presentations of "Eight Days a Week." That practice is mentioned briefly in the Mix article:
The two worked, for the most part, from Bosch’s original 2-track recordings made on the Ampex 350s, though both Fine’s pre-CTS mixes and his final, which includes them, were also available.
Where fixes were required, Martin and Okell took advantage of other Beatles resources that were available to them from Beatles session tapes of the same songs from the Abbey Road tape library, fly­ing in instruments or vocals which otherwise were wholly absent on the raw recordings.
For “Twist and Shout” and “She’s a Woman,” the first two songs, Okell notes, “The vocals are very low, and they’re blended in with the drums; there’s not much we could do about that, besides EQ and trying to dig that out. So we used a bit of the Holly­wood Bowl vocals [from August 30, 1965], in order to bring John up, plus a bit of the rhythm track, where needed. It’s not a total replace, like they did in the film originally. It’s a blend of the two.”
“If we had access to a studio rhythm track, for a couple of numbers, we tried syncing that up and then bring in the low end, maybe the bass and kick drum that wasn’t really present on those kinds of live record­ings,” Okell notes. “And we were very careful about it, it’s done very sub­tly. Nobody would know there’s anything else there—it just makes it sound a bit more full than it would otherwise.”
While the results may look and sound good, the restored Shea film, like "Eight Days a Week" is a flawed product as a documentary. It is fun to watch, but unreliable as a true historical document.

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Paul McCartney's manager, in an exclusive conversation with Super Deluxe Edition, explains why Macca's team opted to make some songs in its upcoming Flowers in the Dirt reissue available by download only. Despite many fans being unhappy about the plan, Paul is sticking to it.
The main reason why there is not a fourth physical CD is because Paul didn’t want any more than four discs in the set. What Paul says, ultimately goes. He wants to look to the future and embrace new technology and drive people to streaming. 100m people are signed up to streaming services right now and that is projected to double in the next three to four years. This is seen as the future. Paul’s team want to look to the future and their research shows that more people are excited about the streaming catalogue. If that wasn’t the case then many more box sets would be sold.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

George Harrison album reissues coming in SHM-CD format

To coincide with the upcoming release of George Harrison's album catalog on vinyl, the LPs are also being released in the audiophile SHM-CD format in Japan.

Harrison's 13 albums are being sold separately in mini-LP packaging at CDJapan. The releases include: "Wonderwall Music," "Electronic Sound," "All Things Must Pass," "Living In The Material World," "Dark Horse," "Extra Texture," "33 1/3," "George Harrison," "Somewhere In England," "Gone Troppo," "Cloud Nine," "Live In Japan," and "Brainwashed."

The American price for the single CD releases is $23.61 and $35.41 for All Things Must Pass and $32.04 for Live in Japan.

SHM-CD is "a digital optical disc data storage manufacturing process. It is an improved compact disc product with the greatest change being a different polycarbonate material that allows more precise physical representation of stored bits during pressing and less laser scatter during reading."

The SHM releases I've heard, to my ears, do sound better than the average CD.

"A is for Apple" Vol. 2 continues a deep history of the Beatles' record company

Apcor Books, a fan press has provided details for the second volume of its in-depth history of the Beatles' Apple Corps.

The first volume, issued in June 2015, quickly sold out a small number of new editions have been published. Copies of both volumes can be ordered here.

Details:

IT'S JANUARY AND IT'S WINTER NOW, like every January has some sort of Winter. The winter of 1969 for the Beatles and Apple was, as George Harrison put it so aptly, a Winter of Discontent. The long sessions at Twickenham and later at Apple took their toll on the Beatles who were already slightly burned out from the White Album sessions the previous year. While Paul was the one to try and get something, anything, together for the Beatles, the other three were not so gung-ho anymore to go along with the Paul-instigated Beatles projects. George had just spent nearly a month in the USA, jamming with various musicians and having a great time, John was immersed in Yoko and a dependence on stuff somewhat stronger than a reefer and Ringo seemed to be more interested in his upcoming role in The Magic Christian movie.
While the sessions lasted merely a month (Sgt Pepper took nearly four months to make), so much happened that it would take a book to describe all that was going on. And that book is here now. A Is For Apple, the second installment in our ongoing series of books on all things Apple is nearly finished and will be published in April this year. But of course not only the so-called Get Back sessions 'happened' in January, or the following months. There was Mary Hopkin's Post Card album, as well as Jackie Lomax's Is This What You Want album. Doris Troy and Billy Preston entered the scene at Apple and The Beatles' Yellow Submarine album hit the streets.
Volume 2 of A Is For Apple covers the Get Back sessions and Mary and Jackie's albums in great detail. The Yellow Submarine album takes up more than 60 pages by itself. Volume 2 covers the period of January to March 1969. And while everyone will be familiar with these releases, maybe not in such great detail, Volume 2 also offers information on lesser known Apple acts from this epoch, such as John Surman, Mike Westbrook, Mike Cooper, the Misunderstood, Flamma Sherman, Stefan Grossman, Peter Cooper, Slow Dog and John Fitch.
Volume 2 has a chapter on Timothy Travel, a puppet series produced by Apple, which didn't progress beyond a pilot episode and is more or less totally forgotten. Allen Klein's reign is just around the corner and John and Yoko are busy making their Rape movie. (White) Trash issue their superb Road To Nowhere single and Brute Force's King of Fuh is being picked up by George Harrison. Two Virgins gets its USA release and a four album pack of Beatles hits gets nixed before release. Bubble Puppy, Mary Jane Bann'd and Stone Down are all nearly signed by Apple while The Iveys go on national TV. John and Yoko stage their first Bed-In in Amsterdam and Paul records with The Fourmost. The amount of day-to-day activities related to Apple in these three months is astounding. All this is covered in great detail in Volume 2 of A Is For Apple.
Slow Dog were a band that won a talent contest organized by Apple in Cambridge and were destined to be signed by Apple. Why this didn't work out in the end is all revealed in A Is For Apple Volume 2. Four of the band's recordings made around the time of the contest will be included on an EP exclusively available with this book, kindly donated to us by Dave Kelly from Slow Dog and it marks the first time these recordings have ever seen an official release!
While we (Axel and Ed) are the main writers of the A Is For Apple series, for Volume 2 we have been privileged to have the ongoing support and help by our dear friend and top collector Antonio Caroselli, who has contributed a great number of rarities from his own collection to be used in Volume 2, while also contributing a substantial part of the text; and that of Sara Schmidt from the superb Meet The Beatles For Real blog http://www.meetthebeatlesforreal.com/p/blog-page.html, who has written a superbly interesting piece on the Apple Scruffs.
Volume 1 of A Is For Apple was released in April 2015 to worldwide acclaim; all copies of the book sold out within a month and are now sought-after collector’s items which fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Ever since, people have been asking for a reprint of Volume 1. Well, we are glad to announce we will be offering a very limited number of reprints of this book, so if you missed out on Volume 1, this is your chance to grab a copy. Originally, Volume 1 came with a two-sided disc with two previously unheard Jackie Lomax demos, but due to agreements we had with Jackie, a reprint of that single is no longer an option. Instead, we are proud to be able to offer two previously unreleased Apple recordings on a vinyl single with the reprint, one of which is an Apple published song by Miles and Robert Priestley (who are also featured on one of RPM’s great Apple published acts compilations, 94 Baker Street Revisited), while the B-side is a version of Ev'rything's Al'right by the Mojos performed by an unknown group and found on an Apple acetate. Of course we will give the buyers of the original Volume 1 the opportunity to buy this single as well. 

The real deal on the Beatles' "Love Me Do" drum kit

The auction of the drum kit used on the Beatles' "Love Me Do" has attracted lots of news this week. But news is a little less exciting once you realized the set didn't belong to Ringo and didn't sport the classic "drop T" Beatles logo on the bass drum.

The drums were played by Andy White, a studio musician hired for the session because producer George Martin had doubts about Ringo's drumming abilities.

In June 2016, the auction house selling White's kit used this image in its auction listing. A new drum head has been added to highlight the Beatles connection.


But in its new listing, the auctioneers have dressed up the kit with a drum head featuring the classic Beatles logo:


The auctioneers note in their listing that the drum head is new.

And here's a pic of the drums Ringo was still playing at the time of "Love Me Do." The classic kit didn't come until a bit later.


Also, it should be noted that the Beatles released two versions of "Love Me Do." Early pressings of the British single feature Ringo on drums, while later pressings, the version found on the Beatles' Please Please Me album and the American single all feature White on drums and Ringo playing tambourine. The auctioneers note all of this as well.

Vintage George Harrison pic


Friday, January 20, 2017

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

Paul McCartney is pursuing a new legal angle in his continuing efforts to recover his ownership of songs he wrote while in the Beatles.
Mr. McCartney’s suit is over what is known as copyright termination: the right of authors — or any creators — to reclaim ownership of their works from publishers after a specific length of time has passed. It was part of the 1976 copyright act and in recent years has become a potent force in the music industry as performers and songwriters have used the law to regain control of their work.
In Mr. McCartney’s suit, filed in United States District Court in Manhattan, lawyers for the singer detailed the steps they have taken over the last nine years to reclaim Mr. McCartney’s piece of the copyrights in dozens of Beatles songs he wrote with John Lennon, including “Love Me Do,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “All You Need Is Love.” That process involved filing numerous legal notices, which, the suit says, should be enough to guarantee that Sony/ATV would return the rights to Mr. McCartney, starting in October 2018.
Here's the full complete, if you're into that sort of thing.
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As mentioned last week, Beatles associate "Magic Alex" Mardas died Jan. 13 at age 74. Since then, a number of media outlets have published articles about this controversial figure, including Billboard, Rolling Stone and  Huffington Post.

Mardas was director of Apple Corps' Electronic Division and is described in most accounts as a self-proclaimed "electronics wizard" who promised all sorts of inventions he never delivered on, yet Mardas disputed this characterization. His Wikipedia entry details some of these:
The Independent newspaper apologised on 21 August 2006, writing that on 14 June 2006, the paper had wrongly reported Mardas' involvement with Apple Electronics Ltd. They corrected the earlier piece by writing that Mardas had not been a company employee, but a director and shareholder of Apple Electronics, and was not sacked, but resigned his directorship in May 1971, while still retaining his shareholding, until giving it to Apple Corps some years later. The paper accepted that Mardas “did not claim to have invented electric paint, a flying saucer or a recording studio with a ‘sonic force field’ or cause his employers to waste money on such ideas. We apologise to Mr. Mardas for these errors".[60]
In 2008, Mardas won the right to sue The New York Times in England, in relation to an online article which said he was a charlatan. In a story about the Maharishi, Allan Kozinn had written: "Alexis Mardas, a supposed inventor and charlatan who had become a Beatles’ insider".[63][64]
After an appeal, Mardas won the right to continue his case of defamation against The New York Times in 2009.[65][66][67] After The New York Times produced a witness, Sir Harold Evans, who gave evidence supporting the journalistic responsibility of the paper, Mardas said he would not pursue the case further, on condition that the paper would publicly explain that by labelling him as a charlatan, it did not mean to imply that he was a con man.[68]
On 4 March 2010, The New York Times published an editor's update to the 2008 article, saying: "While expressing skepticism about his work as an inventor during that period, the article did not accuse Mr. Mardas of engaging in fraudulent dealings or criminality... The Times’s reporting on those events was attributed to Paul McCartney and based on widely published accounts from books and magazines".[42]
You can read a statement Mardas made in 2010 after suing the Times here. While it's from Mardas' own side of things, there's some interesting reading here about Apple, the Maharish and more.

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More on Magic Alex: Yoko made this tweet following his passing. I didn't see anything from Paul, Ringo or other "Beatles Family" members.


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The Liverpool Echo posted a new video interview with Quarryman Rod Davis.

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A Mercedes-Benz 230SL Roadster owned and barely driven by John Lennon is up for auction.


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Artist Peter Blake has created another artwork based his Sgt. Pepper LP cover. This time its a giant collage adorning Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London.
The star-studded line-up will include the likes of Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Joanna Lumley.

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Meet the Beatles For Real posted a couple of fun issues from Ringo's days as a model for Japan's Simple Life clothing line. Dreamy!


And, from the same blog, further proof that the Beatles started everything: George's man bun:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ringo issues free download for U.S. Inauguration Day

Ringo Starr will release a free download of his U.N. International Day of Peace song "Now the Time Has Come" to coincide with Inauguration Day in the United States. We'll post a link to the download when available.

Here's the video for the song, which was originally posted last Sept. 21, the UN's Day of Peace. Along with vocals by Ringo, the song includes verses sung by Richard Page, Colin Hay and Billy Valentine. It was co-written with producer Bruce Sugar.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

History: Beatles Book Monthly January 1967


The January issue of the Beatles' official fan magazine insists the band is still intact, despite each member going his own way during the latter half of 1966 and the absence of an expected new LP for the Christmas season.


There are also details about the recently mailed-out fan club Christmas message from the boys:


A new feature series on the Beatles' home begins with a tour of George's Esher bungalow.


The band also addresses break-up rumors in the letters column.


In his column, Mal Evans recounts his "Beatles Break" trip to Africa with Paul.



While the news roundup includes mention of the band's new recording sessions and facial hair.


There are also a couple of shots of John, from his guest appearance on "Not Only, But Also."


Plus, the usual assortment of pics.







Tuesday, January 17, 2017

George Harrison Vinyl Collection, turntable, book out Feb. 24

The Harrison family is marking what would be George Harrison's 74th birthday Feb. 24 with the release of a vinyl box set collecting all his albums, a Harrison-branded turntable and a new, expanded version of a his memoir/lyrics collection, "I Me Mine."

All three items are available for pre-order from the official George Harrison site.



Details:

The vinyl box set includes all twelve of George’s studio albums with exact replicas of the original release track listing and artwork. Also included in the box set are George’s classic live album Live In Japan (2LP), and two 12” single picture discs of ‘When We Was Fab’ and ‘Got My Mind Set On You’. All the discs are 180-gram heavyweight vinyl and are housed in a high-quality two-piece rigid slipcase box. The original analogue master tapes were used for the new re-masters and were cut at the legendary Capitol studios to ensure exceptional audio quality throughout. The individual albums from the collection will also be available separately, with All Things Must Pass as a limited edition title.
George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection vinyl LP box set contains:
Wonderwall Music (1968) | 1 LP
Electronic Sound (1969) | 1 LP
All Things Must Pass (1970) | 3 LP *limited edition piece
Living In The Material World (1973) | 1 LP  
Dark Horse (1974) | 1 LP
Extra Texture (1975) | 1 LP
Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976) | 1LP
George Harrison (1979) | 1 LP
Somewhere in England (1981) | 1 LP
Gone Troppo (1982) | 1 LP
Cloud Nine (1987) | 1 LP
Live In Japan (1992) | 2 LPe
Brainwashed (2002) | 1 LP
12” Picture Disc Singles of ‘When We Was Fab’ and ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ (only available as part of the box set)

Also available, the perfect companion for the vinyl set is the George Harrison Essential III turntable. This elegant piece is manufactured and designed by Pro-Ject Audio Systems, one of the world’s leading suppliers of record players. The artwork was designed by Studio Number One based on an exclusive 2014 art-print lithograph designed for the Harrisons by Shepard Fairey. This turntable is limited to 2500 worldwide.


George Harrison’s I Me Mine was originally published by the specialist book publisher, Genesis Publications in 1980. It became the first of many collaborations between George and Genesis founder, Brian Roylance. In conversation with his friend and former Beatles press officer Derek Taylor, and in a first-person commentary that accompanies his songs, Harrison’s own words recount everything from his upbringing in Liverpool, to early Beatlemania, his spirituality and philosophy.  This new extended version of the book now spans the complete length of Harrison’s career in music, told in his words and through 141 songs with hand written lyric sheets faithfully reproduced in full color. Now stretching to 632 pages it features lyrics to more than 50 songs not previously included, as well as new photographs, many unpublished until now.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Beatles' Pepsi radios

The Pepsi-machine-shaped transistor radio is familiar to anyone who's seen Albert and David Maysles' great documentary about the Beatles first visit to the U.S.

In the film, there are various scenes of the band, particularly of Paul McCartney, listening to American radio for the first time via a radio shaped like a Pepsi vending machine.

The story is that there were four of these radios awaiting the Beatles when they checked into their hotel suite. The band can be seen in the Maysles' film listening to one of them while traveling around New York via limousine. The band all gets a kick out of hearing their own music - and the antic announcements of New York's over-the-top DJs - over the air.

Here's what one of the radios looks like up close.






Friday, January 13, 2017

Beatles associate "Magic Alex" Mardas reported dead

According to news reports, Alex "Magic Alex" Mardas, who worked as an in-house electronics wizard at the Beatles' Apple Corps during the 1960s, was found dead in his home in Athens, Greece, on Friday. He was 74.

Police reportedly found the body after relatives told authorities they hadn't seen Mardas for several days. Mardas was reported ill and natural causes are suspected, although details are still sketchy.

Mardas  worked on numerous projects while with Apple, including a planned 72-track recording studio that turned out to be a notorious failure. The Beatles had to rent equipment from EMI while recording the Let it Be album at Apple because none of Mardas' functioned as intended.

Mardas was particularly close to John Lennon. He appeared briefly in the "Magical Mystery Tour" TV film and joined the Beatles when they went to India to study Transcendental Meditation.

Beatles Bits: Weekly news roundup

Funeral services for early Beatles promoter Allan Williams were held this week in Liverpool. Williams died in December at age 86. There's no report on whether associates such as Pete Best attended the service. Nor were there any public comments or statements from Ringo, Paul or other members of the Beatles camp.

Williams secured the Beatles their first bookings in Hamburg, Germany, which were crucial to their development as a band. He's often billed as the band's first manager.


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Sean Lennon attended the launch of a new line of clothing designs by Stella McCartney in New York this week.

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Liverpool artist Tony Booth, who designed signs for many of the Beatles' early Liverpool-area gigs, died this week at age 83. An exhibition of some of his signs was held in Liverpool last August, and he also designed signs for the 60th anniversary of the Cavern Club, which is being celebrated this weekend.


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Ron Howard's documentary, "Eight Days a Week" Beatles' touring year documentary has been nominated for a BAFTA Award. The film has grossed $12.2 million worldwide.


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Paul McCartney was among celebrities who attended a farewell bash in honor of President Obama last weekend.

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Plug: Readers of the Glass Onion Beatles Journal may enjoy our new sister blog, Pop '67!, which focuses on the pop culture of 50 years ago. Check it out!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Paul McCartney details playing "celery" on Beach Boys' album

Paul McCartney's participation in the Beach Boys' recording sessions for the legendary Smile album have been mentioned a lot over the years, but I don't recall Paul talking about it much, himself, until this recent post via his website:

I mean it was wild and wacky days, you know, and I just went round to the studio because they invited me. I just thought it would be fun to sit there and watch them record, ’cause I’m a big fan. And so I was there, and then it was, I think, Brian who came over and said, ‘Oh Paul, got a favour to ask: would you mind recording something?’ I thought, ‘Oh, no! But great, I could do that’. Oh God, I’m gonna be singing on a Beach Boys record or something, you know! I got a bit kind of intimidated and thought, ‘Okay, here goes nothing’. And they said, ‘Well, what we want you to do is go in there and just munch!’ …Well, I can do that! So, if you hear somebody munching celery, that’s me!”

Friday, January 6, 2017

Exhibit showcases rare photos of Beatles' "All You Need is Love" TV broadcast

An upcoming exhibition in London's Proud Chelsea gallery will feature rare photos of the Beatles shot during their June 1967 worldwide TV performance of "All You Need is Love."
In 1963, at the age of 19, Magnus was invited to photograph a relatively unknown band, The Beatles, during a concert at Stowe School. This early work with the group allowed Magnus unprecedented access throughout their rise to fame, forming an illustrious portfolio encompassing many rare and unique images. Magnus’s close relationship with the band and their publicist, Tony Barrow, granted him exclusive access to record a pivotal moment in their career 50 years ago, when, on the weekend of 24th and 25th June 1967, The Beatles recorded their song ‘All you need is Love’ for the first time during a live broadcast for the BBC’s ‘Our World’, the World’s first live, international, satellite television production, reaching over 400 million people worldwide. Magnus documented rare, behind-the-scenes footage of this historical event, including wonderfully frank photographs of the band relaxing backstage away from the recording studio.


"The Beatles Unseen: Photographs by David Magnus" runs March 16 through May 14, 2017.