Friday, October 31, 2014

"Unreleased Beatles" book out in expanded e-book edition

Richie Unterberger's "Unreleased Beatles" is now available in an expanded e-book.

"The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film" is a mammoth 350,000-word guide to the incredible wealth of music the Beatles recorded that they did not release, as well as musical footage of the group that hasn't been made commercially available. This revised and expanded ebook edition adds about 30,000 words to the print edition, including coverage of all known material by the group that has gone into circulation since the book's original 2006 release. There is also updated information about the music and film detailed in the original edition, including the appearance of some previously unissued recordings on official releases.

"The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film" examines all of their unreleased studio outtakes, BBC radio recordings from 1962-65, live concert performances, home demos, private tapes, fan club Christmas recordings, and other informal recordings done outside of EMI studios that have escaped into circulation. Chronologically sequenced entries for all the Beatles' unreleased recordings of note from 1957 to 1970 are here, as well as all the unreleased Beatles musical video footage of note from 1961 to 1970.

Also included are overviews of songs composed by the Beatles that were never recorded by the group, but given away to other artists; recordings known or rumored to have been made by the group that haven't yet circulated; Beatles compositions never recorded by anyone; coverage of music the group didn't release while active, but later put out on albums such as "The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl," "Live! At the Star-Club," "Live at the BBC Vol. 1 & 2," "Let It Be...Naked," and the "Anthology" volumes; and a history of Beatles bootlegs.

"The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film" is written with lively critical, descriptive analysis emphasizing the music and its most human, artistic qualities--and not just where and when the recordings were made. The book won a 2007 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in the "Best Discography" division of the "Best Research in Recorded Rock Music" category.

Beatles "red," "blue" and "1" compilations now on vinyl

Some listeners have fond memories of the twin double-LP Beatles compilations released in 1973, affectionately known as the "red" and "blue" albums for their covers.

Now, along with seemingly everything else, they are being made available on vinyl. The "red" and "blue" albums are, for the most part, mastered from the analog tapes used to create the original LPs.

Both are now listed on Amazon, along with the Beatles 1 compilation of released on CD in 2000.

Click the links to order from Amazon.

The Beatles: 1962-1966 [Vinyl]

 The Beatles: 1967-1970 [Vinyl]

The Beatles: 1 [Vinyl]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book review: My Kid Brother's Band a.k.a. The Beatles! by Louise Harrison

The Beatles' first visit to America was George Harrison's second - he'd already been here, in September 1963, to see his sister, Louise, in Benton, Illinois.

It's a bit of trivia not widely known outside Beatlemaniac circles, but one that's made Louise a fixture at Beatles conventions, where she's attracted her own faithful following.

Louise speaks engagingly about that visit and about her early efforts to plug the Beatles on her area radio stations, before everyone had heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand." For years, her own fans have been after her to write a book.

The result, "My Kid Brother's Band a.k.a. the Beatles!," isn't a tell-all about George, the most private of all the Beatles. But Louise does provide some nice details of the Harrison family and Liverpool during the 1940 and 1950s, before she left for Canada and the the U.S.

Twelve years older than George, she remembers a lot from those days. We get a clear picture of what it was like growing up in the free-spirited Harrison home. Louise clearly adored her parents.

Her father Harry,was a city bus driver and union leader with a good head on his shoulders and wicked, dry sense of humor. Her mother, also named Louise, was full of fun with love to spare for Beatles fans, who she regularly corresponded with, and for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who'd both lost their mothers while growing up. She enjoyed playing mum to both, and had an especially close friendship with John.

We hear so much about the tough upbringing of the Beatles and their troubled family lives. The Harrisons, though they struggled economically, seem to be the exception. By Louise's account, this was a very happy home.

Later, in America, she describes a calm-to-boring, middle-class life in Illinois as an expatriate young mother - until the Beatles came along. Excited by her brother's growing success in Britain, she became America's first Beatles booster, energetically reaching out to her area radio stations and newspapers to plug the band. 

The book includes several letters to Louise from George Martin, Brian Epstein and Dick James thanking and encouraging her.  During George's visit to Benton, she secured him a radio interview and encouraged him to sit in with local band, the Four Vests, who were impressed by his guitar-playing and surprised by his long hair.

Louise later had a chance to meet Ed Sullivan, during the Beatles' first appearance on his show, and took care of her brother, who'd come down with strep throat shortly before the band landed in America.

As the Beatles took off in America, so did Louise's career as a booster. For a time, she hosted a syndicated radio spot, addressing fans' questions about the band and dispelling rumors.

She does a little of that in this book, too. For one, she provides evidence that psychic Jeanne Dixon's prediction that the Beatles would die in a plane crash never occurred, although it's been mentioned in numerous Beatles books. In the book, Louise publishes a letter from Dixon, written in 1964, saying she'd never made such a prediction.

But a big chunk of this book is about Louise, not the Beatles. We learn about her experiences settling in America and a troubled first marriage and a better second one that didn't last. She shares stories about her work as an environmental crusader and she relays her left-leaning views on a number of topics. It's a little like listening to an older aunt, who's fun and full of opinions, though some readers, no doubt, would rather hear more about George.

Though she lived on George's Friar Park estate for a time in the 1970s and was in contact with her brother throughout his life, we hear little about the Beatles post 1965, which leaves you wanting a little more. There's only passing mention of George's second wife, Olivia, and their son, Dhani, though Louise speaks fondly of George's first wife, Pattie.

Along the way, she promises a follow-up volume including letters her mother sent her during the Beatles' years, detailing the day-to-day activities of the group and their rising profile in Britain. I hope she'll come through, as that would be a great addition, as is this book, to what we already know about the band and its history.

New book coming from Beatles' engineer Glyn Johns

Recording engineer and producer Glyn Johns, who worked with the Beatles, Rolling Stones and others in the 1960s, has a memoir out next month: "Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces . . ."

Music Radar has a preview interview with Johns here.
You took it on the chin during the contentious false starts of The Beatles' Get Back sessions. You write that "Phil Spector puked all over Let It Be" – a lot of Beatles fans would agree with that.
[Laughs] “Anyone's career has disappointments, and I hope I learned from mine. But, like life itself, you have ups and downs. When I started in the industry in the early ‘60s, fortunately, few music executives were involved in the studio scene, and that lasted for years, thankfully.”


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dick Cavett recalls meeting John Lennon

Via Esquire:
"He was one of those people who you liked right away," Cavett says of the Beatle. "There are some people that it takes a while to figure out if you like them or not. You know, are they smart, do they say 'excetera'? But with Lennon it was instant accessibility. I immediately wondered, 'How long have I known this guy?' It was like talking to an old friend. He was peaches, as we used to say back then. I didn't observe him with many other people, but the only time I ever saw him tense or on edge was at the courthouse in downtown New York City when I testified on his behalf that he shouldn't be deported by the Nixon administration. I said that if they were going to start deporting the sort of valuable citizen that John was that I had a list of about 100—not all in show business—that should go first. We didn't talk much that day, but I remember seeing him at the end of a long corridor and he did seem to be concerned and unusually serious, but understandably so."

Hear bonus tracks from new edition of Paul McCartney's New LP

It seems a little mercenary to release expanded editions of year-old albums, but if you're curious about the extras on the latest version of Paul McCartney's New here are a couple via YouTube:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Early Beatles hangout to re-open

The Jacaranda, the coffee bar owned by first Beatles "manager" Allan Williams, is finally opening its doors again, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The early Beatles spent many hours hanging out at the Jac and played some of their first performances there.
Speaking earlier in the year, Jacaranda managing director Graham Stanley said: "The features that made the Jac an iconic watering hole was something we couldn’t allow to be lost.

"The booths are an integral part of maintaining the atmosphere that was originally created over 50 years ago. There’s something special about the two booths in the basement as anyone who’s ever spent a night in the Jac has at some point ended up in one."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Upcoming Beatles books

Here's a look at some new Amazon listings for Beatles-related books. Click the links to pre-order.

Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles 
By Susanna Reich and  Adam Gustavson 
In 1957 in Liverpool, England, a young lad named John Lennon and his band played music at a local church fair. In the audience was Paul McCartney, who liked what he heard and soon joined the group. Paul’s friend George Harrison kept showing up at rehearsals until the older boys finally let him in. Eventually they found the perfect drummer, Ringo Starr, and the perfect name: The Beatles.

Told through a lyrical text and stunning paintings, this book spotlights four ordinary boys growing up amid the rubble of postwar England who found music to be a powerful, even life-saving, force.

The Making of John Lennon: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of the Beatles 
By Francis Kenny
The Making of John Lennon focuses on the question of what might have caused the downfall of one of the most confident and brilliant musicians of the past century. Kenny emphasizes three main influences which helped shape Lennon's creative process and stayed with him throughout his life. How did strong roots in his hometown of Liverpool, his troubled mental health, and a turbulent family background all form the man himself? How did his troubles and ultimate downfall affect his relationship with the other Beatles, his family, the press and the public? What really made the legend, John Lennon?

The Beatles (In Pictures) 
By Mirror Group Newspapers
The Beatles have had more number one albums and achieved more sales in the U.S. than any other artist. Formed in Liverpool in 1960, The Beatles had their roots in skiffle and 1950s rock 'n' roll, but as their career progressed they dabbled in many musical forms, including pop ballads and psychedelic rock. In the early days, they honed their skills playing clubs in their hometown and Hamburg, Germany, while manager Brian Epstein polished their act. The Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do," was released in 1962, becoming a modest hit. Toward the end of that year, they recorded "Please Please Me," their first number one. The following year saw the advent of Beatlemania, and they became known as the Fab Four; by early 1964, they had become international stars. Throughout the remainder of the 1960s, their stature grew, even though their last commercial concert took place in 1966. During that time, they released many influential and innovative albums, including Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road. This book takes a nostalgic and affectionate look at the group, from their early days in the 1960s to the most recent activities of the surviving members, with the aid of almost 350 photographs.

The Dead Straight Guide to The Beatles
By Roy Jones
One of the first books in this new series, this pocket guide looks at the Beatles, one of the most influential, innovative, and respected bands of all time. It covers every aspect of the Fab Four, including their music, lyrics, movies, and solo careers.

Meet the Beatles: An Informal Date in Words & Personal Album Pictures 
By Tony Barrow
A uniquely firsthand introduction to the Beatles as they were in 1963, Meet the Beatles includes features on the band’s background, their life in Liverpool, and a photographic record of a day in the life of the Beatles. It is a personal introduction to four young men in the process of becoming the world’s biggest band. Originally selling more than a million copies, this special collector’s edition, which retains the original cover art, is filled with rare photographs, many of which have not been reproduced elsewhere. It is a classic piece of Beatles’ memorabilia that relives the days of Beatlemania.

Video: Paul McCartney performs "No Other Baby"

Video: Paul McCartney performs "I've Had Enough"

Video: Paul McCartney performs Waterfalls

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Obama poster artist takes on George Harrison

Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic Obama "Hope" campaign poster, has created a new portrait of George Harrison, Rolling Stone reports.
The posters – titled Poster for George – will be available in red and silver editions, both of which have been limited to 400 signed and numbered copies each. The red edition will be available on Shepard's website on the afternoon of October 23rd, while the silver edition will be available at at 10 a.m. PST on the 24th.
In a statement, Fairey recalled how his parents introduced him to the Beatles, leading to an obsession with the group's later records, which featured more Harrison contributions. "I got George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album a long time ago, but even as a kid listening to the radio I reacted very emotionally to the song 'My Sweet Lord,'" he wrote. "The song has a profound beauty and melancholy that is unique and powerful. I love George's solo material musically, but what speaks to me most about George's music and actions is his humanity and his soulfulness....

A closer look at the Beatles' Liverpool homes

One of George Harrison's two childhood homes in Liverpool sold for £156,000 today and interest is high in the other houses where the respective Beatles grew up.

To that end, the Liverpool Echo gives us an extensive look at Paul McCartney and John Lennon's home in the city, both of which are historical sites open to tourists.

The story includes a nifty checklist of notable features such as the black drainpipe Paul and his brother Mike used to shinny up into their shared bedroom after their father locked them out because they'd been out past curfew.

Video: George Harrison interviewed on his 21st birthday, 1964

Beatles' "Long Tall Sally" vinyl EP slated for Record Store Day release

The Beatles' four-song "Long Tall Sally" EP first released in 1964 will appear in a vinyl reproduction for Record Store Day in the U.S., Nov. 28.

Songs on the 7-inch release include the title track, "I Call Your Name," "Slow Down," and "Matchbox."

Released in 1964, “Long Tall Sally” was the fifth Beatles 4 song 7” EP to be released in the UK but it was the first one to be recorded and released with all new material at the time. “Long Tall Sally” is noteworthy as it was one of the songs that Paul sang to John on the first day that they met and because it was recorded in one take with no edits or overdubs. It was recorded on the same day as the band recorded “I Call Your Name” and was originally intended for the film “A Hard Day’s Night.” In the end, it was decided that the two tracks would be used for a new EP so the band rounded the EP out with the recording of  “Slow Down” and “Matchbox.” Originally sung by Little Richard, Paul sings lead on the title track, John sings lead on “I Call Your Name” and “Slow Down,” while Ringo sings lead on “Matchbox.” Like recent reissues of Beatles original albums, this four track EP is also being released in Mono. The “Long Tall Sally” 7” vinyl EP is being specially rereleased for Record Store Day’s Black Friday in a very limited quantity. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

BBC checks out Beatles' childhood homes

With George Harrison's childhood home at Upton Green in Liverpool up for auction, the BBC checks out other houses once occupied by the Beatles and their parents.

Colin Hanton was The Quarrymen's drummer and remembers playing at Harrison's house, although he admits his kit was not always welcome there.

The 75-year-old still plays with the band, which continued with other musicians after a split that saw the Beatles head for stardom.

"George was probably two years younger than me," he said. "He was the baby of the group. He was this little lad with a big guitar. Actually, it was an excellent guitar - that's why he was invited. It improved the Quarrymen no end.

"The story was he met Paul on the top deck of a bus. We played at George's house and met his mum. I never met his dad at the time.

"We mostly played at Paul's. It's one thing going round with guitars, but if you take a drum round you're not always going to be popular."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"I just play what's left" - George Harrison's guitar style

Pitchfork today has a nice meditation on George Harrison's approach to playing guitar and what makes it so unique. Got me thinking a little, too, about my thoughts on the matter.

George wasn't a flashy player and didn't have, or profess to have, the technique of some of his 1960s peers. But he had a melodic approach to fills and leads that always served the song. Generally, that means keeping things simple, staying out of the way and not showing off. We know from reading Geoff Emerick and others that Harrison's solos didn't come easily. They were crafted slowly and sometimes painfully - Emerick mentions being annoyed by this.

But the results were always worthwhile, to the degree that when you sing along with a Beatles tune, you often keep singing when the solos come in - they stick in your memory, just like the rest of the melody, and are an intrinsic part of the song. Some Lennon and McCartney tunes should be Lennon-McCartney-Harrison tunes because the solos are such a part of the music.

And George did have chops. Listen to the soaring leads on "Something" and they tricky, rockabilly high-wire act solo in "A Hard Day's Night." Yes, I know those were recorded at half-speed because they were so hard for George to nail, but the construction of the solo and the imagination behind it are remarkable. I'm not much of a guitarist, but I'm proud to say I can play that lick and I'm impressed by Harrison's composition skills every time.

Nice quote from George's son Dhani from the Pitchfork piece:
“My father once said to me, ‘I play the notes you never hear,’” he remembers. “He focused on touch and control partly because he never thought he was any good, really.
He knew he was good at smaller things: not hitting any off notes, not making strings buzz, not playing anything that would jar you.
‘Everyone else has played all the other bullshit,’ he would say. ‘I just play what's left.’”

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Artifact: Beatles Swedish Fan Club poster

Artifacts: John Lennon bird drawing

Via Tracks Auctions:

Artifacts: Abbey Road street sign

Via Tracks Auctions:

Artifacts: John Lennon headphones

Via Tracks Auctions:

Artifacts: Brian Epstein's "Stamp Out the Beatles" sweatshirt

Via Tracks Auctions:

Artifacts: John Lennon address book and chess table

Artifacts: John Lennon family photographs

Artifacts: John Lennon - autographed copy of "Spaniard in the Works"

Artifacts: Beatles business card

Artifacts: Beatles' Apple Records and Boutique items

Via Tracks Auctions:

Apple Records promo dartboard
Poster by The Fool

Apple Records lighter

Apple watch