Wednesday, September 28, 2016

History: Beatles Book Monthly September 1966

The September issue of the Beatles' official fan magazine appeared following the release of the band's Revolver LP and includes response to the exciting, innovative and unusual new sounds of the album.

The opening editorial also weighs in on the emerging controversy regarding John's "bigger than Jesus" comment:

And, more benign matters:

Meanwhile, a flashback series recounting the group's first stint in Hamburg skirts around the reasons for the Beatles' deportation from the country:

The cover feature, meanwhile, is a short interview with John, who voices his opinions on a variety of matters ...

Band members also respond to questions and comments about the new LP in the letters section:

Neil Aspinall, in his column, also provides some details behind the strange new sounds on the album:

The news section, meanwhile, makes a fairly non-committal promise that the group will be touring Britain soon, yet the band never toured the country again - nor anywhere else - after its Aug. 29, 1966, performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

There's also a bit of news about John's film project:

And more great pics!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Beatles Bits

The new Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl album debuted at Number 7 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, making it the group's 32nd Top 10 release.


Singer Ed Sheeran was among the talking heads who didn't make the final cut in "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years."
"Ed had recorded a segment for the film,” a source told The Sun. “But it failed to make the final cut along with a load of other talking heads by Ron who wanted to make more time for The Beatles themselves.
"Ron had to be ruthless, but Ed will be gutted. He’s crazy about The Beatles and has grown really close to Paul over the past couple of years, even introducing him to his dad.”
Speaking about the various talking heads being cut from the film, Ringo said: "When we saw the first cut there were a lot of other people doing a lot of talking, which I believe he’s cut out now and it’s mainly me and Paul talking and it’s better.”

Paul McCartney says he liked Ron Howard as Ritchie on "Happy Days."


Artificial intelligence technology was used to compose this tune, supposedly in the style of the Beatles:

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Artifact: Signed Beatles promotional postcard

Up for bid here.

Video: Paul, Ringo and Ron Q&A from Abbey Road Studios

Review: Beatles' "Eight Days a Week" full of fun, missed opportunities

I don't recall ever coming out of a movie theater with my ears ringing, but it happened last night. There's a lot of high-pitched screaming in "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years." Imagine what it must've been like to be in the band?

That's essentially the experience the movie provides, putting us in the eye of the hurricane that was Beatlemania. It's loud, exciting, fun and scary. There are so many screams and so many faces: smiling, crying, laughing, contorted.

Better than any documentary I've seen, including "The Beatles Anthology," Ron Howard's documentary captures the liberating hysteria of Beatlemania and the band's hectic touring days.  There's scene after scene of screaming, stampeding fans and the Beatles traveling around the world, boarding and de-boarding airplanes.

There are hilarious fan interviews, as with the young girl who insistently tells a reporter that "George has sexy eyelashes," and stunning scenes, such as a gigantic  crowd of Anfield Football Club fans in Liverpool patriotically singing "She Loves You." In a talking head interview, actress Sigourney Weaver talks about going to go see the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl and then, amazingly, we see her as a teen, smiling in the crowd.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr also provide new interviews and we hear a good amount via archive interviews from John Lennon and George Harrison. Howard captures the band's humor and camaraderie. Their appeal then, and now, is clear: These guys are funny, friendly, supremely confident and super-talented.

It's all exhilarating, to the point of being too much. The montages of screams and travel eventually get redundant and I started to long for more of what I came for -- extended live performance footage from the band.

When first announced, the intention of "Eight Days a Week" was to create the missing Beatles concert film, to collect performances -- both fan-shot and professional -- and present the band playing its music. But, somewhere along the line, the mission got muddied and we now have a mix of a Beatles biography and, still, a live-performance showcase.

Don't get me wrong. There's some jaw-dropping performance footage here, and several songs are played in full. I'm thankful for every one of them. Yet, I kept wishing for more and thinking about performances that weren't, and should've been, included.

For example, songs played before live TV audiences get short shrift. There's very little footage from the band's excellent "Drop In" appearance in Sweden in 1963 and none at all of Paul singing "Yesterday," even though excellent renditions exist from both "Blackpool Night Out" and "The Ed Sullivan Show."

I wish Howard/Apple had dropped some of the biography and chronology and included more songs. Yet, I also want to have it both ways: I was very moved by the film's section on the band's refusal to play segregated concerts in the U.S. South and by historian Kitty Oliver's comments about how much it meant to her, as a teen in Jacksonville, to see the band play and stand among fans both black and white.

Certainly, a film focused on the Beatles and their cultural impact is worthy, but so is one focusing on their songs and performances. And so, for that matter, is one about their growth as artists in the recording studio. There are a few sections in "Eight Days a Week" that focus on this, contrasting the Beatles' ability to experiment and innovate in the confines of Abbey Road versus being creatively stifled by too much touring and too much screaming.

When we finally reach the end of the touring years -- after Jesus, Imelda Marcos and the Budokan -- the film is like a student trying to finish a term paper 10 minutes before class. Everything from Sgt. Pepper through Abbey Road becomes a blurred montage, with an on-screen caption telling us that, after they left the road, the band happened to record some of the best music of the 20th Century. Then we go out with a couple of songs -- in tantalizing quality -- from the "Let it Be" rooftop gig. It's all a case of trying to do too much in too little time.

Given that, it was a relief in the theater to sit through the credits and then watch the 1965 Shea Stadium film. Finally, after all those rapidly changing scenes, we could relax and see the band play several complete songs in a row. The picture and sound quality was excellent and the scenes of John losing a grip while playing organ on "I'm Down" never cease to make me crack up and laugh out loud. If only more of Howard's film could've been like this.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Details on Blu-ray, DVD release of "Eight Days a Week" - No Shea!

Below are the Blu-ray and DVD specs for "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years," which is now playing in theaters (I'm going tonight!) and streaming on Hulu starting tomorrow.

The details come from Amazon UK, which is listing two-disk and single-disk DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film.

A quick look tells us the restored 1965 Shea Stadium footage, which screens in theaters this week but not on Hulu, won't be included.

This takes a lot of excitement out of these home video packages for me. Sure, there is bonus material but nothing that seems terribly exciting. Plus, I subscribe to Hulu, so I can stream the movie any time there. So, maybe we'll see as a standalone package at some future date, possibly grouped with other decently filmed concerts. But not now.

Count on Apple to always leave fans craving more. Or complaining. Take your pick.


Two-disk special edition DVD and Blu-ray:


The band stormed Europe in 1963, and, in 1964, they conquered America. Their groundbreaking world tours changed global youth culture forever and, arguably, invented mass entertainment as we know it today. All the while, the group were composing and recording a series of extraordinarily successful singles and albums. However the relentless pressure of such unprecedented fame, that in 1966 became uncontrollable turmoil, led to the decision to stop touring. In the ensuing years The Beatles were then free to focus on a series of albums that changed the face of recorded music.

Master storyteller and Oscar winner, Ron Howard, explores this incredible journey in his own unique way: How did The Beatles do this? How did they cope with all the fame and pressure? How did they not only survive, but go on to revolutionise popular music? With original interviews, footage, staggering live performances, and the intimate study of character that Ron Howard is known for, he puts us right inside this extraordinary adventure, answering the question everyone always wants to know: What was it like to be there?!!

Featuring a wealth of specially created supplementary material totalling 100 minutes of extras, the deluxe home entertainment editions contain exclusively created featurettes for fans to delve even deeper into the band’s world. Accompanying these are stunning, fully restored full length performances of some of the band’s most iconic tracks including “Twist and Shout” and “She Loves You” recorded at the ABC Theatre, Manchester in 1963 and “Can’t Buy Me Love” at the NME Awards, 1964, in London, bringing the experience of seeing The Beatles in concert fully to life for all fans. A full breakdown is included below.

2-disc Deluxe Collector’s Edition (DVD/BD) includes:
  • 1 x BD/DVD feature disc
  • + 1 Bonus Disc (containing approx. 100 minutes of extras, highlighted below)
  • 64 page booklet with an introduction from director Ron Howard, essay by music journalist and author
  • Jon Savage and rare photos from The Beatles’ private archive
  • Words & Music (24 mins)
  • John, Paul, George & Ringo reflect on songwriting and the influence of music from their parents’ generation, Lennon/McCartney writing for other artists, The Beatles as individual musicians, and the band as innovators. Also featuring Howard Goodall, Peter Asher, Simon Schama and Elvis Costello. The interviews with Paul and Ringo are unseen.
  • Early Clues To A New Direction (18 mins)
  • A special feature touching on The Beatles as a collective, the importance of humour, the impact of women on their early lives and songwriting, and the band as a musical movement. Featuring John, Paul, George & Ringo, along with Paul Greengrass, Stephen Stark, Peter Asher, Malcolm Gladwell, Sigourney Weaver, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Curtis, Elvis Costello and Simon Schama. Again the interviews with Paul and Ringo are unseen.
  • Liverpool (11 mins)
  • The early days in Liverpool of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s are brought vividly to life by those who worked closely with them at that time including fan club secretary Freda Kelly, Allan Williams an early manager, and Leslie Woodhead multi-award winning documentary film director.
  • The Beatles in Concert (12 mins)
  • Five great but rarely seen full length performances of The Beatles live in concert - Twist and Shout, She Loves You, Can’t Buy Me Love, You Can’t Do That and Help!
Additional features are:
  • Three Beatles' Fans
  • Ronnie Spector and The Beatles
  • Shooting A Hard Day’s Night
  • The Beatles in Australia
  • Recollections of Shea Stadium
  • The Beatles in Japan
  • An alternative opening for the film