Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Beatles' Third Christmas Record, 1965

Merry Christmas! This is our last post for the year and we thought we'd sign out the same way the Beatles did 50 years ago, with their annual Christmas record. We'll see you in 2016!

The Beatles' third annual Christmas flexi-disk was recorded on Nov. 8, 1965, at Abbey Road and mailed out starting in mid-December.

Like all the rest of the Christmas recordings the band released between 1963 and 1969, it was issued to Beatles Fan Club members only and has never been officially reissued. In 1970, Fan Club members received a vinyl LP compiling all the previous Christmas records.

Here we present the entire contents, including back cover liner notes, photo inserts and newsletter message.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Upcoming book: New Critical Perspectives on the Beatles: Things We Said Today (Pop Music, Culture and Identity)

Out March 2016. Available for pre-order from Amazon.

The Beatles are probably the most photographed band in history and are the subject of numerous biographical studies, but a surprising dearth of academic scholarship addresses the Fab Four. New Critical Perspectives on the Beatles offers a collection of original, previously unpublished essays that explore 'new' aspects of the Beatles. The interdisciplinary collection situates the band in its historical moment of the 1960s, but argues for artistic innovation and cultural ingenuity that account for the Beatles' lasting popularity today. Along with theoretical approaches that bridge the study of music with perspectives from non-music disciplines, the texts under investigation make this collection 'new' in terms of Beatles' scholarship. Contributors frequently address under-examined Beatles texts or present critical perspectives on familiar works to produce new insight about the Beatles and their multi-generational audiences.


Kenneth Womack, Ph.D. is Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University, where he also serves as Professor of English. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles (2007), the Cambridge Companion to the Beatles (2009), and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four (2014). Womack is also the author of three award-winning novels, including John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel (2010), The Restaurant at the End of the World (2012), and Playing the Angel (2013). He serves as Editor of Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, and as Co-Editor of the English Association's Year's Work in English Studies

Katie Kapurch, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of English at Texas State University. She has published essays on popular youth culture in scholarly journals and edited collections. Katie is the author of a forthcoming monograph, Victorian Melodrama in the Twenty-First Century: Jane Eyre, Twilight, and the Mode of Excess in Girl Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). 

Artifacts: Revell Paul and Ringo plastic model kids

Friday, December 18, 2015

Beatles' music set for streaming services on Christmas Eve?

That's what the rumors say, Billboard reports.
Chatter around a six month "exclusive" for an known streaming service reportedly began to trickle out of Apple Records in 2014, according to one source, but fizzled out. This past January, former Universal Music Group digital executive Rob Wells restarted discussions for the massive get, with papers reportedly having been signed in mid-September. It's unknown which specific services have secured the deal, though sources strongly suggest that they most, if not all, will have access to the band's catalog of studio albums next week. (The Beatles are already available on Pandora because of how "non-demand" web radio is licensed.)

 When asked, a Spotify representative said the company "would not comment on that." Rhapsody also refused to comment. Deezer, Tidal and Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.

Beatle Bits: Tigers, Shins and Welsh Streets, oh my!

A campaign to save Livepool's "Welsh Streets" area, including the childhood home of Ringo Starr at 9 Madryn Street, has triumphed over city plans to demolish older homes to make way for new ones.
 A spokesman  for Liverpool City Council said : “We still regard the Secretary of State’s decision as unreasonable and illogical. However, our priority, rather than engage in protracted legal arguments, is to regenerate the Welsh Streets area and our objective all along has been to provide a sustainable and deliverable housing scheme. We will continue to consult with the residents on how best to achieve that.”

The Shins' cover of Paul McCartney's "Wonder Christmastime" has dethroned Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" as the most-played holiday tune in American stores.
Strangely enough, the cover ranks higher than the original, which comes in at a very low number 17. The Shins’ cover is also not new. It first appeared on the 2012 Holiday Rules compilation featuring music from Sir Paul himself as well as Sharon Van Etten and Calexico, among others.

Here's an interview with Paul Saltzman, a Canadian filmmaker who met the Beatles while they were studying meditation in India.
They practiced only once in front of me but it wasn’t practicing. They were fooling around. When I heard them singing, I was walking past the entryway and I could see them at their threshhold through the chain link fence. I went back to my tent for my camera and when I came back they were singing some stuff I had never heard. That’s when they paused and they started working with Ob-La-Di and it was the joy. I was sitting next to Ringo, and under Paul’s toe on his right foot, there’s a little piece of paper and I lean over and I see these lyrics in his handwriting “Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra, La la how the life goes on.”
And he’s looking down singing it, so he did not know any of the other words yet. He just sang it over and over and over for 10 minutes and they were playing with it, bending it, faster, slower, laughing…they were so happy. In one of the pauses, right after I clicked a picture of them at this moment, Paul looked up at me and said “That’s all there is so far, we don’t have any of the words yet.”

Speaking of India, tiger advocates are concerned that the re-opening of the ashram in Rishikesh where the Beatles studied with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi interferes with a nearby tiger refuge.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Public radio special pays tribute to Beatles' Rubber Soul

You can stream "Isn't it Good: The Beatles' Rubber Soul" here.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ landmark album RUBBER SOUL, producer Paul Ingles presents another in his acclaimed series of specials on Beatles’ history.  Over a dozen musicians, music writers and Beatles fans comment on the significance of this 1965 release by the band along with song-by-song notes on the writing and performances of each track.  RUBBER SOUL was slotted at #5 in a ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE 2012 survey of the Top 500 Rock Albums of All-Time.
In the two-hour version, each song in the 14-track original UK version is spotlighted including “Drive My Car,” “Nowhere Man,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “If I Needed Someone,” “In My Life,” “Michelle,” and others.
Commentators include music writers Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone magazine, John Kruth, author of a new book on Rubber Soul , Paul Zollo, Harvey Kubernik, Jim Fusilli of the Wall Street Journal , NPR’s Ann Powers, and Scott Freiman.  Musician commentators include Shawn Colvin, BJ Leiderman, Jon Spurney, David Gans, Rob Martinez, and Peter Mulvey.  Also featured are music teacher Sara Schafer Jones, public radio DJ Scott MacNicholl.

Video of new Beatles statue unveiling in Liverpool

A brand new statue of the Beatles now sits on Liverpool’s waterfront. It was unveiled in front of the Cunard Building fifty years after the Beatles had their last performance in Liverpool. The artwork depicts the Fab Four walking along the Pier Head. It was gifted to the city by the Cavern Club the venue where the Beatles were first discovered. Bay TV went along to catch the first glimpse of the sculpture.

Video: "The Music of Lennon and McCartney" broadcast Dec. 17, 1965

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Video: Jack Mitchell Photographs John Lennon & Yoko Ono

New York Times Photo Editor Lonnie Schlein and photographer Jack Mitchell tell the story of photographing John Lennon and Yoko Ono on November 2, 1980 - the first time in five years that Lennon had been photographed professionally.

Tragically, just weeks later Lennon was murdered. Within hours Mitchell was inundated with picture requests.

His photos from the session ran worldwide and his color photograph on the cover of People magazine's memorial issue was the top seller of that magazine until their 1997 Princess Diana memorial issue.

This excerpt is from my feature-length 2006 documentary on Jack's life and work, "Jack Mitchell: My Life is Black and White", available on DVD.

History: Beatles Book Monthly December 1965

Taking a look at highlights from the Beatles' official fan magazine this month:

Editor "Johnny Dean" bemoans the group's absence from the single charts for a period but brings the cheerful news that a new single featuring the songs "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work it Out" will be released, along with a new LP, Rubber Soul.

He also notes changes in the Beatles' working habits:

In the Fan Club Newsletter, "Anne Collingham" calls December a Red Letter Month, noting not only the new single and album, but a concert tour in England, a TV special ("The Music of Lennon and McCartney" broadcast Dec. 17) and The Beatles' Third Christmas Record, out to fan club member only via the mail soon.

There's also a new contest this month:

An article reports from the set of the Lennon/McCartney TV special featuring guest stars Cilla Black, Marianne Faithfull, Henry Mancini, Peter Sellers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Peter and Gordon, Esther Phillips and more.

In Letters from Beatle People, Deborah Munford asks about John's contact lenses and Anne Martin offers a first-hand report from the Beatles' M.B.E. investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

In Behind the Spotlight, Billy Shephard and Johnny Dean recount those long-ago days of December 1963 and the Beatles Christmas show that year.

This Month's Beatles Song provides the lyrics to "You're Going to Lose That Girl."

Beatles News notes that the Beatles will all be spending the holidays at home. with Paul and Ringo both moving into their new houses "so they'll be kept very busy sorting out where the furniture goes and all the other problems of moving house."

There's also this article about George's use of Indian instruments:

Along with a track list and info about the new album:

Friday, December 11, 2015

"George Fest" tribute/benefit concert coming to audio/video

Via the official George Harrison website:
Available February 26th, 2016. In aid of the The Material World Foundation, Hot Records Ltd. and Vagrant Records present "George Fest" A Night To Celebrate The Music Of George Harrison. Recorded and filmed on September 28th, 2014 at the The Fonda Theater in Los Angeles, a host of today's best musicians pay tribute to their favorite George Harrison songs. To be released on February 26th, 2016, this wonderful live tribute will be available in 4 configurations including 2xCD/DVD, 2xCD/Blu-Ray, 3xLP (180 gram) and digital.

Track Listing:

Old Brown Shoe Conan O’Brien
I Me Mine Britt Daniel (from Spoon)
Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) Jonathan Bates feat. Dhani Harrison
Something Norah Jones
Got My Mind Set On You Brandon Flowers (from The Killers)
If Not For You Heartless Bastards
Be Here Now Ian Astbury (from The Cult)
Wah-Wah Nick Valensi (from The Strokes)
If I Needed Someone Jamestown Revival
Art of Dying Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Savoy Truffle Dhani Harrison
For You Blue Chase Cohl featuring Brian Bell (From Weezer)
Beware of Darkness Ann Wilson (from Heart)
  Let It Down Dhani Harrison
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) Ben Harper
Here Comes The Sun Perry Farrell (from Jane's Addiction)
What Is Life “Weird Al” Yankovic
Behind That Locked Door Norah Jones
My Sweet Lord Brian Wilson (from The Beach Boys)
Isn’t It A Pity The Black Ryder
Any Road Butch Walker
I’d Have You Anytime Karen Elson
Taxman Cold War Kids
It’s All Too Much The Flaming Lips
Handle With Care Brandon Flowers, Britt Daniel, Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Bates, Wayne Coyne, and “Weird Al” Yankovic
All Things Must Pass Ann Wilson, Dhani Harrison, Karen Elson and Norah Jones

Beatles Bits: Acorns, jeans, rings and harmoniums

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay says he's "reuniting" the Beatles by adding Ringo Starr's 1964-era drum kit to his existing collection of guitars once owned by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. He bought the kit during the recent Juliens auction of Ringo's belongings for $2.1 million.


Also sold at the Juliens auction, for $790,000, was Ringo's personal copy of "The White Album," which was the very first pressing of the LP.

Other big ticket items included an onyx ring that Ringo wore during every live performance by the Beatles, more drums, a Sgt. Pepper sign from the gypsy caravan owned by John Lennon, and more. You can see a list of the 10 top-selling items here.


A new statue of the Beatles on Liverpool's Pier Head contains a secret:
Even though the work is right in the heart of the town where John Lennon was born, there is no letting go of the one where he died. For clasped in John’s right hand are two acorns. They were foraged by Chris Butler, who runs Castle Fine Art Foundry where the work was produced, from oak trees near the Dakota Building where Lennon lived with Yoko Ono. 
John's half-sister Julia Baird unveiled the statue Dec. 4. The Beatles' last concert in their native city was performed Dec. 5, 1965.


Some trivia for British soap opera fans: The harmonium John Lennon played during a performance of "We Can Work it Out" on the 1965  "The Music of Lennon and McCartney" TV special is the same instrument played by character Ena Sharples on "Coronation Street." The Beatles special was shot at the same studio.

And here's an article about how the Beatles almost once guested on the soap.


Paul McCartney earned some surprising Grammy nominations this week: "Best Rap Performance" and "Best Rap Song" for his collaboration with Kany West on "All Day."


Rolling Stone has a detailed review of the  "Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert" held in New York last weekend. Yoko Ono was present for the show, which included performances by Willie Nelson, John Fogery, the Roots and others.


Liverpool's Walton Hospital, birthplace of Paul McCartney, is being razed to make way for a supermarket. 


The Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts, opened by Paul McCartney in 1996, is expanding its campus with a new sixth-form building. The new facility will include a studio theater, a recording studio, music technology suites and dance and drama studio.


Via WogBlog: How the Beatles were featured in an ad for Lybro jeans.


The Beatles 1+ video collection is now available on iTunes.


Todd Rundgren says Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band will tour the U.S. again next summer and may play dates overseas in the Pacific Rim.


Andy Babiuk discusses his new, bigger edition of "Beatles Gear", a guide to all the instruments used by the Beatles.
The new edition is 512 pages, exactly twice as many as the previous edition. That’s 5½ lavish pounds of guitars, guitar straps, drums, amps, record covers, receipts and photos of the band. Plus interviews and massive amounts of tech-filled text, all done with the cooperation of Ringo Starr, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison’s wife Olivia and son Danny, Yoko Ono and famed Beatles producer George Martin.

...  In the late ’90s, as the first edition of Beatles Gear was coming together, Babiuk visited Starr in London and accompanied him to the warehouse where the drummer stored much of his equipment. Starr actually had four different oyster black pearl kits scattered about, but was unsure as to which pieces belonged together. Babiuk used old photos of the band to match each drum piece’s oyster patterns, which are as distinctive as fingerprints. The first of those drum kits is also on the cover of Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015