Tuesday, March 31, 2020

New book: The Beatles and Sixties Britain

Order from Amazon now.

Though the Beatles are nowadays considered national treasures, this book shows how and why they inspired phobia as well as mania in 1960s Britain. As symbols of modernity in the early sixties, they functioned as a stress test for British institutions and identities, at once displaying the possibilities and establishing the limits of change. Later in the decade, they developed forms of living, loving, thinking, looking, creating, worshipping and campaigning which became subjects of intense controversy. The ambivalent attitudes contemporaries displayed towards the Beatles are not captured in hackneyed ideas of the 'swinging sixties', the 'permissive society' and the all-conquering 'Fab Four'. Drawing upon a wealth of contemporary sources, The Beatles and Sixties Britain offers a new understanding of the band as existing in creative tension with postwar British society: their disruptive presence inciting a wholesale re-examination of social, political and cultural norms.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Friday, March 27, 2020

New book: The Solo Beatles 1969-1980: Every Album, Every Song

The Beatles, as a band, released over 200 songs in the eight years between 1962 and 1970. After they split, each commenced a solo career to varying degrees of commercial and critical success. All four of the Beatles achieved number one solo singles in the US between 1970 and 1974. These included great, half-forgotten songs such as 'Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)', 'My Love', 'Photograph' and 'Whatever Gets You Thru the Night'. Three of the four had UK number one solo singles between 1970 and 1980 in the UK, too, with only Ringo missing out. Between them, Lennon (and Ono), McCartney (and Wings), Harrison and Starr had twenty-two top ten albums in the US and twenty-five in the UK between 1969 and 1980. They were nothing if not productive. But who but the most committed fans listen today to Ringo's Rotogravure (Starr), Thirty-three and a Third (Harrison), Some Time in New York City (Lennon) or Wild Life (McCartney)? It is surely time to re-evaluate the Beatles solo work in the period to 1980. This book examines every solo Beatles album from 1969 to 1980, track by track. It includes the classics, the lost gems, the turkeys, the collaborations, the back-biting, the hits and the misses.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

John Lennon's "Imagine" returns to Billboard charts after Gal Gadot cover

Billboard reports that "Imagine," released by John Lennon nearly 50 years ago, is now Number 16 on its "Hot Rock Song" thanks a cover of the tune by Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot and other stars who are self-isolating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Imagine” re-enters the tally at No. 15, surging by 7% to 1.3 million U.S. streams and 138% to 1,000 downloads sold in the tracking week ending March 19, according to 
Nielsen Music/MRC Data. (As with the Billboard Hot 100, older songs are allowed to enter the 50-position Hot Rock Songs chart if ranking in the top half and have a meaningful reason for their returns.)“Imagine” concurrently returns to the Rock Digital Song Sales chart for the first time since December 2015, at No. 13. 
The song’s latest bump in sales and streams was spurred by a video, posted March 19, that was helmed by Gal Gadot and features a variety of other celebrities singing the song, including Jimmy Fallon, John Mayer, Natalie Portman, Sarah Silverman and Sia (who shows her face), with its intention to boost morale during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Watch: Dhani Harrison sing "The Inner Light" Challenge for COVID-19 relief fund

George Harrison's son Dhani sings the Beatles' "The Inner Light" to kick-off a fundraiser for COVID-19 relief.

Fans are invited to post their own videos of themselves singing the song and using the hashtag #innerlight2020.

More info via the Harrison Family's Material World Foundation:
The Material World Foundation, created by George Harrison in 1973, is today donating $500,000 to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, Save the Children, and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) charities, which are providing much needed aid and care during this COVID-19 pandemic. 
“Without going out of my door, I can know all things on earth.Without looking out of my window, I can know the ways of heaven." 
 Olivia Harrison said, "These lyrics sung by George are a positive reminder to all of us who are isolating, in quarantine or respecting the request to shelter in place. Let’s get and stay connected at this difficult time.  There are things we can do to help and we invite you to share your Inner Light.” 
THE INNER LIGHT CHALLENGEMaterial World Foundation will donate another $1 (up to $100,000) for every one of you who shares their own "Inner Light" moment on social media using the hashtag #innerlight2020 
This can be a verse, a chorus or a line from the song. Sing it, play it, hum it, strum it, paint it, knit it, chant it, plant it, pray or meditate and post it to social media. 

New book: Jennifer Juniper - A Journey Beyond the Muse

Jenny Boyd’s extraordinary life is the stuff of movies and novels, a story of incredible people and places experienced at a pivotal time in the 20th century. As an up-and-coming young model, Jenny found herself at the heart of Carnaby Street in London, immersed in the fashion and pop culture of the Swinging 60s. With boyfriend Mick Fleetwood, sister Pattie, George Harrison and the rest of the Beatles, she lived the London scene. But as a natural Flower Child, Jenny soon became part of the counter-culture in San Francisco during the Flower Power era, witnessing the Summer of Love; she was the inspiration for Donovan’s famous song, Jennifer Juniper, and her photograph was featured inside the box set of his eponymous album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden. After working in The Beatles shop, Apple, the first of its kind, Jenny attended Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India to study meditation with her sister and the Beatles, witnessing their creativity and the genesis of songs that would later appear on the White Album. Despite being attuned to the spiritual bloom and innocence of the 60s, Jenny also experienced first-hand the turmoil and decadence of the 70s and 80s. Her two marriages to Mick Fleetwood, founder member of Fleetwood Mac, brought her to the forefront of the world of rock and roll – and its fame, money, drugs and heartache. Struggling in the darkness to find and develop her own voice and identity, Jenny went to college, achieving a Masters in Counseling Psychology and a PhD in Humanities - her dissertation on musicians and creativity became the critically-acclaimed book Musicians in Tune. Jenny has spent her life in the company of some of the greatest musical and cultural influencers of the last 50 years – and the journey she takes to finding her own sense of self and creative ability makes Jennifer Juniper a truly captivating and inspiring story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Upcoming George Harrison photo book: "Be Here Now"

This is listed at Amazon. Perhaps a tie-in to an as-yet-unannounced 50th anniversary of the All Things Must Pass album?

The 209-page hardcover is published by Rizolli and due out Sept. 29. You can pre-order it here.

Never-before-seen candids and ephemera of "the quiet Beatle" during his meteoric solo career, as captured by his friend and famed photographer Barry Feinstein.

On hand from 1970 to 1972 for Harrison's blockbuster "Triple Crown"--the release of All Things Must Pass; The Concert for Bangladesh; and Living in the Material World, which helped make Harrison the best-selling post-breakup Beatle, Barry became good friends with George during the three-plus years they worked together. Feinstein captured George Harrison at home, in his garden, onstage, and in the studio. Nearly all the images are previously unpublished.

The book contains never-before-seen ephemera related to these seminal releases during George's most richly creative time post-Beatles, including handwritten letters talking about album ideas, album-cover
thoughts, and putting together the Concert for Bangladesh. This collection also features beloved performers that George convened for that Concert for Bangladesh--where Barry was the only sanctioned photographer onstage--including George's friends Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell, and Billy Preston.

The book coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of All Things Must PassGeorge Harrison: Be Here Now is a deeper visual dive that the significantly large and passionate Beatles/George Harrison fandom will want to add to their collection.

Vintage Beatles concert poster, Odeon, Leeds

Thursday, March 19, 2020

New issue of Uncut mag puts focus on George Harrison - Excerpts

British music mag Uncut features George Harrison on the cover of its latest issue and includes an 11-page feature package on the former Beatle.

You can find Uncut in U.S. bookstores or order here.

In all-new interviews with his closest collaborators, Graeme Thomson digs deep into Harrison’s working practices to cast new light on “the Quiet One” – from pioneering solo debut, Wonderwall Music, to the posthumous release, Brainwashed 
In this extract, collaborators recall the making of 1968’s Wonderwall Music – Harrison’s soundtrack to Joe Massot’s film about a mad professor and a Biba girl called Penny Lane, released three weeks before the ‘White Album’. With cameos from Eric Clapton and Peter Tork, it’s the first Fab solo record, the first album on Apple and a world music crossover before its time.
JOHN BARHAM [MUSICIAN/ARRANGER]: Wonderwall… was primarily an extension of his love of Indian music. George became a pupil of Ravi Shankar and he impressed me as being a very respectful and disciplined student. He seemed at ease with the sitar. There were already obvious influences on Beatles songs like “Within You Without You” and “Blue Jay Way”. 
DAVE MASON: George was an early adopter! He had done those wonderful Indian tracks on Revolver and Sgt Pepper, and was learning with Ravi Shankar. He gave me the sitar he’d first learned on. I used it on “Paper Sun”, Traffic’s first single. 
BARHAM: Joe Massot offered him complete freedom in creating a music score for the film, and he took advantage. But it was obvious that George was still intensely involved in his creative work with The Beatles. When we were doing Wonderwall, The Beatles were using the same studio; they had it block-booked. There were times when George’s sessions finished and the other three Beatles would come in for an evening session. When this happened, George would become re-energised and go into a world apart with the other three that nobody else seemingly could enter. At one session I found a flugelhorn lying around the studio. It turned out to be Paul McCartney’s. 
ROY DYKE [DRUMS, THE REMO FOUR]: We recorded backing tracks at Abbey Road to accompany certain points in the film. George had timed it all with a stopwatch: “We need one minute and 35 seconds with a country & western feel.” Or, “We need a rock thing for exactly two minutes.” Nothing was really written. We’d talk over ideas he wanted, play something, and he’d say, “That’s good, keep that. I like the piano there.” It was very experimental. There were different tracks with different atmospheres, and a few different sessions. The Indian musicians were recorded in Bombay. At another session he used Eric Clapton, who did a great riff on “Skiing”. I heard he borrowed a five-string banjo from Paul McCartney for Peter Tork to use! 
BARHAM: Big Jim Sullivan, who was recording with Tom Jones at Abbey Road, happened to drop in and played bass on “On The Bed”. [It was] a free atmosphere, the sessions were very creative and very enjoyable. I was very impressed how well George had mastered [Indian classical] techniques. He had dropped in on one of Ravi Shankar’srecording sessions for the BBC/Jonathan Miller production of Alice In Wonderland at the Shepherd’s Bush BBC Centre, which I worked on. At the session we were recording a scene where Ravi soloed and I played an Indian jhala texture on piano. George was fascinated by the combination of sitar and piano, and subsequently at his house in Esher he asked me to play one of my own compositions based on jhala texture. He looked and listened very closely. Later at one of the Wonderwall sessions he very abruptly sat down at the piano and with great intensity started playing his own jhala over a chord sequence. We had many discussions about Indian philosophy and spirituality. I’m convinced that George was one of the very few people I’ve ever met who was on a spiritual journey.

Vintage Beatles pic: Cynthia and John Lennon

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Beatles social media gallery, March 14, 2020

Social media posts from the Beatles, friends and fans.

Via Ringo's Twitter feed: "Peace and love take care of everybody."
From the official Beatles Twitter feed: “I’m cynical about things that are taken for granted: society, politics, newspapers, government; but I’m not cynical about life, love, goodness, death.” - John

Via the Harrison Archive.

Via Meet the Beatles for Real.

Vintage sheet music: "Instant Karma!"