Friday, January 30, 2015

Neighbor to John Lennon's mom recalls hearing Beatles playing next door.

The Liverpool Echo interviews Thelma Cain, 82, who once lived next door to Julia Lennon's house in Liverpool.
Cain...remembered The Beatles playing music in the bathroom, where the acoustics were better.

She said: “Once, when my daughter was only a few weeks old, I sent my husband round to shut them up.

“He didn’t come back for three hours, he’d been listening to their music and drinking with them!"
The home on Blomfield Road in Allerton is now up for auction.


Official details on Ringo's new LP

As mentioned a few days back, Ringo has a new album coming out March 31.

It's available on CD and vinyl now from Amazon.

Here's a press release with more details:
Universal Music Enterprises proudly announces Ringo Starr's 18th studio release, POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE . With 11 original tracks, the solo album is due out March 31, 2015 and is the first to include a song written and recorded by Ringo Starr and his current All Starr Band - Steve Lukather, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Richard Page, Wally Palmer and Gregg Bissonette. POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE was produced by Ringo and recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles and, as always, features friends and family. As Ringo often says, "If I am recording and you're in town and drop by, you're going to be on the record!" The album’s guest artists include: Joe Walsh, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, Ann Marie Simpson, Richard Marx, Amy Keys, Peter Frampton, Nathan East, and Glen Ballard (among others, complete details and track by track to follow in coming weeks).



Here is the POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE track list:
1. Rory And The Hurricanes
2. You Bring The Party Down
3. Bridges
4. Postcards From Paradise
5. Right Side Of The Road
6. Not Looking Back
7. Bamboula
8. Island In The Sun
9. Touch And Go
10. Confirmation
11. Let Love Lead


POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE will be released just after Ringo returns from the road with the All Starrs, who go back out on the road on February 13th with dates in the U.S. and Latin America.


On April 18, 2015 Ringo will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, where he will receive the Award for Musical Excellence.

See the earliest known color film of the Beatles

A very early, silent color film of the Beatles is up for auction. You can catch a glimpse here.

The film shows the Fabs backstage at the ABC Theater in Blackpool in 1963 and is up for auction with more than 100 rare photos of the Beatles shot by a photographer Eve Bowan during the group's first American visit in February 1964. The Daily Mirror story linked above mistakenly dates them from 1965.

The 109 original negatives are valued at £12,000 while the colour footage is estimated at £9,000.

Both lots were acquired by Mark Hayward, a well-known Beatles collector, who is now selling them at Ewbank's Auctioneers of Woking, Surrey.

Alistair McCrea, of Ewbank's, said: "The film footage is the earliest known colour footage of the Beatles. There might be some earlier film still stuffed in someone's drawer but we don't know of any earlier colour footage than this."
You can see Ewbank's auction lots here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Video: The shoemakers who invented Beatle boots

Hear Diana Krall sing Paul-penned tune "If I Take You Home Tonight"

NPR is previewing singer-pianist Diana Krall's new LP, Wallflower, which features a previously unrecorded song by Paul McCartney.

You can listen to the tune, "If I Take You Home Tonight," here.

Krall accompanied Paul on his Kisses on the Bottom standard album.


Little-seen Beatles pics coming to eBay

A series of photos of the Beatles and Rolling Stones shot by Bob Bonis during U.S. tours in the 1960s is going up for sale via eBay as limited edition prints.

The first batch goes up for sale Feb. 2 and includes 15 shots each of the Beatles and Stones. Photos of the Beatles include the group relaxing between gigs, on their tour plane and on stage.
The photos will be offered as limited-edition, signed and numbered chromogenic prints that each will carry a certificate of authenticity from the Grammy Museum. They are being created in unframed editions of 250 for 11-by-14-inch prints priced starting at $175, plus 50 16-by-20-inch prints starting at $385 and 50 more 20-by-24 inch prints to be sold starting at $625.
You can see a slide show of featured photos at the Los Angeles Times site.

Many of Bonis' Beatles and Stones photos have also been published in the books "The Lost Beatles Photographs" and the "Lost Rolling Stones Photographs."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Ringo album - Postcards from Paradise - out in March

Just listed on Amazon, Ringo's new LP - Postcards from Paradise - is slated for release March 31. No cover pics or track listings, yet.

New complete BBC bootleg circulating

WogBlog has the scoop on a new, nicely packaged 24-CD collection of the Beatles' complete BBC Radio recordings.

The set is a significant update from previous collections in that it's more complete and sounds better.

Available via download, the set includes print-yourself artwork modeled on tape box design of Ken Howlett's recent book, "The Beatles: The BBC Archives 1962-1970." In fact, you can even place the CDs in the box accompanying the book if you wish.

Compilers of the set are urging fans to share the material freely and not charge for it. Inevitably, some folks will likely do so. Though the fan intent is goodhearted, this is a bootleg, in that the Beatles have not officially released most of the contents.

I've seen the files for the set pop up in a few different places, I'm sure you can find them, too.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All-star lineup to present live "White Album" for charity

Musicians including Vicki and Debbie Peterson of the Bangles, XTC’s Dave Gregory, Let’s Active’s Mitch Easter, Fairport Convention’s Iain Matthews, Gary Wright, the Three O’Clock and Keith Allison of Paul Revere & the Raiders are joining forces to present a live performance of the Beatles' "White Album" Feb. 28 in Californa.

Proceeds from the concert at Alex Theater in Glendale benefit the Autism Think Tank.

The group will perform as the Wild Honey Orchestra. Previous years' performances have included live covers of Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road and Revolver.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Another Kanye collaboration with Paul McCartney - also featuring Rihanna

Kanye West has mentioned recording a number of tracks with Paul, including the recently released "Only One." The latest, "FortyFiveSeconds" was announced yesterday by singer Rihanna on Twitter and is available via iTunes

It include duet vocals by her and Kanye and, presumably, instrumental work by Paul. There's a picture, too:


Friday, January 23, 2015

Artfact: George Harrison 1970s Signed Apple Promo Card

New items listed by Track Auctions.

An Apple Records, Savile Row promotional postcard that has been autographed on the reverse by George Harrison in blue ballpoint pen. George has added the dedication 'Best wishes from' above his name. The signature dates to the early 1970s. The postcard measures 15cm x 10cm (6 inches x 4 inches). Condition is very good plus.

Video: Paul McCartney tells a dirty joke

You've been warned.

Video: Paul McCartney performs "Blackbird" 1968

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Artifacts: The Beatles 1963 Signed Fan Club Promotional Card

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions


An Official Beatles Fan Club promotional card that has been signed on the front by the group in blue ballpoint pen. John Lennon has added the dedication 'To Nicky good luck with your group all the best from the Beatles'. The signatures date to mid 1963. The autographs come with a letter from the son of the previous owner that states the autographs were rescued from a furnace at a boarding school. The promo card measures 14cm x 10.75xm (5.5 inches x 4.25 inches). Condition is very good minus. 

Artifact: Bank Of Apple £1 Million Note

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions


A promotional one million pound note from the 'Bank Of Apple'. The note is printed in green on white paper with 'Bank Of Apple, one million' and '1000000' with apples instead of zeros on the front and 'Bank of Apple, one million' and a large apple with '1 million' in the middle across the back. It measures 14.5cm x 7.5cm (6 inches x 3 inches). There are two vertical creases running down the middle of the note. Condition is very good plus.

Artifact: John Lennon 1971 Imagine Fresh From Apple Promo Leaflet

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions
An original four sided 'Fresh From Apple' leaflet advertising John Lennon's 'Imagine' LP. The LP was released on 9th September 1971. The leaflet measures 15cm x 18cm (6 inches x 7 inches). Condition is excellent.

Artifact: John Lennon 1973 Mind Games Fresh From Apple Promo Leaflet

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions


An original four sided 'Fresh From Apple' leaflet advertising John Lennon's 'Mind Games' LP. The LP was released on 23rd November 1973. The leaflet measures 15cm x 18cm (6 inches x 7 inches). Condition is excellent.

Artifact: John Lennon 1968 Handwritten Letter

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions
A single sided letter in the hand of John Lennon that reads, "Dear Michael, Permission granted! (I didn't know you needed it). Good luck. Love John Lennon 3/10 See me!". The letter comes in its original envelope addressed in John Lennon's hand, 'Michael .E. Milbourne (the actor!), Milbourne House, Rottingdean, Sussex', postmarked Weybridge, Surrey, 18th April 1968. John wrote the letter in response to a request from an actor and acquaintance of his, Michael Milbourne, who he had known from the early sixties. Michael conceived the idea of producing an anthology of John's poems from In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works for a creative theatre workshop that would tour the UK in 1968. He subsequently wrote to John asking for permission and this letter forms Lennon's reply. The note comes with a letter of provenance from Michael and also a transcript of the original letter that he wrote to John. It measures 20.2cm x 33cm (8 inches x 13 inches). The letter has been folded to fit into the envelope. It is creased at the bottom with a 4cm (1.5 inch) tear on the bottom centre fold. There is general wear and tear to all edges. The condition of the letter and envelope is very good minus.

Artifact: John Lennon 1964/1965 Sketch Of A Bird

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions
A sketch in black ink drawn by John Lennon. The drawing depicts a bird on a perch. The unpublished sketch was originally submitted to Jonathan Cape for possible inclusion into one of John Lennon's two books In His Own Write or A Spaniard In The Works which were published in 1964 and 1965, respectively. Similar sketches can be seen in both of the publications. The drawing came directly from the collection of Tom Maschler who was head of Jonathan Cape, the company that published both books, in the sixties. It is not one of the lots that were included in the recent sale of John's auction that took place at Sotheby's, New York on 4th June 2014. The sheet of paper measures 25.5cm x 20.25cm (10 inches x 8 inches). The paper has some light creasing on each corner and a scattering of small ink spots in various places. The condition of the sketch is very good.

Artifact: Paul McCartney 1980s Handwritten Poem To Spike Milligan

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions

A double sided piece of white paper which features a drawing and poem in the hand of Paul McCartney in blue ballpoint pen. The item was given to British comedian Spike Milligan in the late 1980s. All four members of Beatles were fans of Spike Milligan and stayed in contact with him up until his death in 2002. Paul McCartney would often visit Milligan at his home in Rye, East Sussex for tea. The front of the paper shows a drawing of a couple that is entitled The Nutters of Starvecrow Lane. The back of the paper contains the poem which is entitled THE POET OF DUMBWOMAN'S LANE. This poem is from the estate of Spike Milligan. The paper measures 21cm x 29.5cm (8.25 inches x 11.75 inches). It has previously been folded, leaving a vertical and horizontal crease mark across the middle. The condition of the poem is excellent.



Artficats: Handwritten, annotated letters from George Harrison

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions

The listing consists of a George Harrison handwritten letter, a letter to George from a fan that George has annotated, the original envelope that has been addressed in George's hand, three letters from George's mother dated 1964, Louise Harrison, and a merchandising photograph of George on which Louise Harrison has added George's signature. Two have been glued onto paper otherwise condition is good. The collection comes with a two page hand-written letter from Jennie Rose dated November 2011 and a detailed typed story that Jenny wrote about receiving George's letter which she entered into a BBC competition. The overall condition of the items is good.

 

Artifact: Paul McCartney signed reference letter for housekeeper

From a batch of new Beatles-related items at Track Auctions.

A one page job reference for a housekeeper, Mrs. G. Kelly, who Paul McCartney employed for a brief period in the mid-sixties in his home in Cavendish Avenue, London. Mrs. Kelly resigned as housekeeper due to differences with Paul about the running of the home. The reference dates to 1967. It reads, "Mrs G Kelly, Mrs Kelly worked for me and was a very capable and trustworthy housekeeper. She is an excellent cook and generally very efficient. Paul McCartney". It comes with four black & white modern prints of photographs of Paul McCartney's home which were formerly the property of Mrs. Kelly, (3 of these depict the housekeeper on the forecourt of the house) an original newspaper clipping relating to her resignation and a modern print out of another newspaper cutting. Three of the photographs measure 9cm x 9cm (3.5 inches x 3.5 inches), the fourth measures 10.5cm x 8.5cm (4.25 inches x 3.25 inches). The photographs are not being sold with copyright. The reference letter measures 20cm x 25cm (8 inches x 10 inches). It has tears and tape stains on the folds. The condition of the letter is fair.

Artifacts: Birthday card with sketch, signed by Paul McCartney

From a batch of new Beatles-related items posted at Tracks Auctions:

A birthday card in which Paul McCartney has drawn a picture and written a message circa 1963. Paul has drawn a large picture of an entertainer's face inside the card with a bow tie and written the words 'Keep Smiling'. Below the printed verse Paul has written a message in black pen. It reads, "and if you don't believe a word, of what I've had to say, Happy Birthday, and New Year, and Easter anyway. Paul (McCartney JNR) N.D.O." Paul has also drawn three smiling faces on the flowers on the front of the birthday card. It comes with a letter from the mother of the original recipient. It reads, "This birthday card was sent by Paul McCartney to my daughter Susan Winstanley on her 13th birthday, while she was sick in Broadgreen Hospital at Liverpool". The card measures 15cm x 19.5cm (6 inches x 7.75 inches). The condition of the birthday card is very good.

Video: The unpredictable sound of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Sound of Song: Episode 2 - BBC

A segment from the BBC's "Sound of Song" documentary demonstrates how The Beatles used varying tape speeds to create the unpredictable sound of the Sgt. Pepper album.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book review: "She Loves You" by Jude Southerland Kessler

I was initially skeptical of Jude Southerland Kessler's books, which use techniques of fiction to tell the story of John Lennon and the Beatles.

"What am I getting into? Fan fiction?"

But the series, now up to three entries, is nothing of the sort.

Southerland Kessler uses the phrase "narrative history" to describe her work. Unlike historical fiction, in which writers take liberties with fact, her books are firmly grounded in the truth.

The difference from a more typical history or biography, is that most of the facts are relayed via dialogue, much of which comes verbatim from interviews, memoirs and biographical texts.

Like a novelist, Southerland Kessler, sets scenes and creates conversations so her "characters" -- Lennon, his wife Cynthia, the other Beatles, manager Brian Epstein, etc. -- can relay historical information. But most of the words coming out of their mouths were actually said. Only occasionally does the author rely on conjecture. But she bases that, too, on deep research.

It's an approach that takes some getting used to. I found some of the dialogue clunky because it's so expository. But, in the course of reading this latest entry -- "She Loves You" -- I came to admire Southerland Kessler's thorough research and dedication to the truth.

The book begins just before the Beatles' triumphant performance on the "Sunday Night at the Palladium," which made them a household name in Britain, and ends right after their appearances on another Sunday night variety program, "The Ed Sullivan Show," which did the same trick for them in America.

In between, Southerland Kessler ably navigates some of the most clouded and controversial events of the Lennon/Beatles story, including Lennon's trip with Epstein to Spain and his brutal physical attack on Cavern Club emcee Bob Wooler at Paul McCartney's 21st birthday party in Liverpool.

What occurred in both of these events is still debated among Beatles writers and historians more than fifty years later, and Southerland Kessler takes the time to examine everything we know about what happened.

Her narrative approach also helps make the events more immediate and dramatic, but without venturing into rampant speculation. And it helps humanize her subjects. She paints an especially sympathetic portrait of Cynthia Lennon and she treats John with respect and admiration without glossing over his weaknesses and unfavorable characteristics.

The story of this transitional and eventful period of Lennon's life unfolds over nearly 800 pages of narrative, which is supplemented by pictures, a forward by Merseybeat editor Bill Harry, a series of lithographs by artist Enoch Doyle Jeter, several pages of photographs and a couple of appendices, which include an interview Southerland Kessler did with Bob Wooler in 1993.

There are also detailed notes after many of the chapters, in which the author  discusses her approach to researching and writing different points of the narrative, along with more than 3,200 footnotes.

The narrative history approach won't be everyone's cup of tea. I'm not sure it's really mine. But I came away deeply impressed by Southerland Kessler's scholarship and commitment to telling Lennon's story in such truth and detail.

I'm curious to see how she approaches the next stage of the Beatles' history and, ultimately, Lennon's post-Beatles life.

The Lennon series is available via Amazon and the author's website.

Debate: Which Merseyside football club did the Beatles support?

There was an interesting discussion recently on the Steve Hoffman music forums about the Beatles and football (soccer).

With two popular football clubs in the Liverpool area, which - if any - did the Beatles support.

The consensus was that Paul McCartney was the most vocal about following football and leaned toward Everton out of deference to his dad and the region where he grew up. However, he very diplomatically endorses support for Liverpool Football Club, too. It's a "push comes to shove" scenario.

During their 1964 American tour, the band was asked numerous times about sports and which they enjoyed. Quite surprisingly to many conformist, sports-loving American reporters of the day, the Beatles on several occasions made it clear they could care less about sports. John Lennon called them a "waste of time." Even Paul professed little interest.

Here are a few quotes I found and shared as part of the discussion:

Q: "Fellas, I know in Europe soccer is the big sport. Do you have any favorite sport here in America, such as Baseball or American football?"

JOHN & RINGO: "We don't like ANY sport."

PAUL: "Very unsporting, really. Smoking is a sport."

http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1964.0906.beatles.html

And:
Linda McCartney: We spent last night listening to Liverpool football team on the radio, wanting them to win so badly. Paul supports Liverpool. He was Everton for a while because of his family - but it's all Liverpool now.

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/l/linda_mccartney.html#haGWsWjXUsWkZJPG.99
And:
Paul: Here’s the deal: my father was born in Everton, my family are officially Evertonians, so if it comes down to a derby match or an FA Cup final between the two, I would have to support Everton.

But after a concert at Wembley Arena I got a bit of a friendship with Kenny Dalglish, who had been to the gig and I thought ‘You know what? I am just going to support them both because it’s all Liverpool and I don’t have that Catholic-Protestant thing.

So I did have to get special dispensation from the Pope to do this but that’s it, too bad. I support them both.

They are both great teams.

But if it comes to the crunch, I’m Evertonian.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/spor...ws/sir-paul-mccartneys-everton-secret-3480457


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New release: A MusicCares Tribute to Paul McCartney out on video March 24

Set for release on DVD and Blu-ray from Shout! Factory March 24, "A MusicCares Tribute to Paul McCartney" features performances by Paul and slate of other performers.

The video derives from Feb. 12, 2012, concert honoring Paul and benefiting MusicCares, which helps musicians in financial and medical need.

The video is available for pre-order from Amazon now. Here's the track list of musical performances.
  • “Get Back / Hello Goodbye / Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – Cirque du Soleil feat. The Beatles “Love” Cast
  • “Magical Mystery Tour” – Paul McCartney
  • “Junior’s Farm” – Paul McCartney
  • “Blackbird” – Alicia Keys
  • “No More Lonely Nights” – Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
  • “And I Love Her” – Duane Eddy
  • “Oh! Darling” – Norah Jones
  • “I Saw Her Standing There” – Neil Young with Crazy Horse
  • “The Fool On The Hill” – Sergio Mendes
  • “We Can Work It Out” - Coldplay
  • “Yesterday” – James Taylor with Diana Krall
  • “For No One” – Diana Krall with James Taylor
  • “My Valentine” – Paul McCartney
  • “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five” – Paul McCartney
  • “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End” - Paul McCartney featuring Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh

Video: Paul McCartney TV interview, June 1967

From " It's So Far Out It's Straight Down."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Liverpool official overturns plans to redevelop Ringo's old neighborhood

A local government secretary has thrown out plans to redevelop the Liverpool neighborhood the includes Ringo Starr's childhood home.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles ruled that the demolition of much of Madryn Street would "significantly harm the ability to understand and appreciate this part of Liverpool’s Beatles heritage".

"Although there are many other surviving terraced streets in the area where visitors could go to see a similar environment to the one where Ringo Starr was born, the Secretary of State places importance on the actual street where he was born and he agrees with (campaign group) SAVE that the proposals would be short sighted as regards the future tourism potential of Madryn Street," said the report.

Pickles' judgement came in in a wide ranging, 81-page ruling, here, in which he declared he did not agree with the planning inspector’s opinion that the streets were "of low significance for Liverpool’s heritage".

The scheme had divided the community, with some wanting the clearance scheme to go ahead and others saying the houses should be refurbished.

Liverpool musicians unite in support of Brian Epstein statue

A group of Liverpool musicians, including Merseybeat star Billy J. Kramer, are teaming up to support a new statue of Beatles manager Brian Epstein in the city.

A concert and new single, titled "Our Friend," will raise money for the project, which is budgeted at £70,000. The statue will be created by Tom Murphy, who created a statue of John Lennon on display at the city's John Lennon Airport.
The Statue 4 Eppy Concert will take place on Saturday 28 February 2015 at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool hosted by BBC Radio Merseyside’s Billy Butler.
The date of the concert is one of particular significance as it also marks the official release of the recently recorded single, Our Friend, official song of the campaign.

The song has been written by Statue 4 Eppy campaigner, Bob Pitt, and includes the voices of Andy McCluskey, Beryl Marsden, Ian Prowse, Ian McNabb, Tricia Penrose, Derek Acorah, Paul Barber and John McArdle. The song also features Billy J Kramer, who was managed by Brian at the height of the Merseybeat era.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Author seeking people who saw the Beatles in St. Louis in 1964

Spotted this request from a fellow Beatles blogger:

My name is Sara Schmidt and I run a blog called "Meet the Beatles...for Real!" I am writing a book about the Beatles in St. Louis and I am collecting stories and memories of any fans who saw the Beatles at Busch Stadium in 1966. I am also looking for memories of anyone who saw George Harrison at the St. Louis Arena in 1974 and any other Beatle solo concert in St. Louis. 
If you were there, you can email me at Beatlesbusch66@gmail.com and I can send you some questions.

Of course even if you weren't at the concert in St. Louis...this is a great thread to share Beatle and solo Beatle concert memories.

Paul read my sign in Memphis 2013. Single best moment of my life.

Sara S.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rare poster for Beatles-Little Richard show unearthed in Liverpool

Workers refurbishing Liverpool's underground rail system recently came across a rare find: A vintage poster advertising Little Richard's 1962 show, also featuring the Beatles.
Merseyrail projects engineer Paul Collins said: “The contractors on site were ripping some boards off when they found the poster. They knew straight away that it was something important and needed to be saved.”
...The poster goes on display in the Beatles Story, Albert Dock in the Merseybeat Room. The room looks at how promotion from Bill Harry's music publication Mersey Beat helped The Beatles and also other bands from the 'merseybeat' era.

Video: Pan's People dance to "Paperback Writer"

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Artifact: John Lennon doodle and autograph in copy of Yoko Ono "Grapefruit" book

Up for auction now at Lelands. Details:

Special caricature drawn on the flyleaf with image and John and Yoko. This is the product of a marvelous meeting between John and Sheldon Goldberg, who was a NY Telephone manager pressed into service during the protracted strike of 1972. Using his nom de plume of "Reverend Gherkin," Lennon was visited because men of the clergy were being given preference along with people with special needs! After a four hour breakfast, including watching "John try out three or four guitars," "Shelly" asked hesitantly for an autograph. Lennon replied, "Shel, I can do better than that" and grabbed this book and signed it in this most special way. The "Imagine" signed album also mentioned in this carefully scripted full page letter? Whereabouts unknown. 





Monday, January 12, 2015

Listen: Beatles author Hunter Davies interviewed by Spencer Leigh on BBC Radio Merseyside

Beatles fans should check out Spencer Leigh's "On the Beat" program weekly, as it generally has Beatles and Beatles-related content. Leigh, himself, has authored several important books about the group.

This week's episode is especially notable, as it includes Leigh speaking with Hunter Davies, who penned the only authorized biography of the Fabs way back in 1968, talking about his two most-recent books: "The John Lennon Letters" and "The Beatles Lyrics."

Both books feature original manuscripts from John, Paul and George and include Davies' first-hand insights on the group, which he got to know well in the late 1960s.

It's great fun to hear these two Beatles experts chat. Also on the show is a musical performance by Ronan McManus, half-brother of Declan (a.k.a. Elvis Costello), who sounds great.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Report: High-def Beatles tracks coming to Neil Young's Pono player

This needs better sourcing for confirmation, but is big news if accurate:

Showbiz 411 reports that Paul McCartney is supervising release of the Beatles' catalog in high-definition sound for download via Neil Young's Pono Music Player.
Paul McCartney himself is said to be supervising the transfer of the Beatles’ crown in the jewel recordings so they can be added to the Pono catalog which can then be purchased and downloaded into the $399 Pono player.

This could be huge for Pono, which is already offering a wide selection of music on its site at 192 khz. But the Beatles will kick it over the top. Even last night when I ran into the Black Eyes Peas’ will.i.am the first thing he said to me about Pono was “Wait til you hear Sgt. Pepper on Pono. It’s going to blow your mind.” The Pono people have already played the classic 1967 album for him on their device. One thing he did tell me was that you don’t need very expensive head phones to enjoy it. “Just regular good headphones.” (Me, I have Grado and Sennheiser.)

So more to come later this week on Pono. You can also download high end music from a very good site called hdtracks.com, which can be played on an iPod or the Sony Walkman or your cell phone.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hear Paul McCartney on Little Steven's Underground Garage

There's a lengthy interview with Paul McCartney on the latest episode of Steven Van Zandt's "Underground Garage" radio show. Listen here.


Video: The Movie Life of George Harrison - documentary

When EMI refused to produce Monty Python's Life of Brian, George Harrison founded Handmade Pictures so that he could see the film.
This is the story of him and Handmade Films.

Featuring interviews from : George Harrison, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Denis O'Brien, Bob Hoskins, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Griffiths, Billy Connolly and Bruce Robinson.

Brit band Fat White Family using John Lennon's old equipment for Sean-produced album

The up-and-coming and - in my opinion, pretty danged good - British band Fat White Family is recording a new album produced by Sean Lennon and, reportedly, using some of John Lennon's old equipment.
Work on the record is currently taking place at Lennon's state-of-the-art studio in a remote upstate mansion owned by Yoko Ono.

..."Almost everything we pick up, Sean'll be like, 'Oh that was my dad's'," guitarist Saul Adamczewski said. "We've been using this old mellotron of his – I don't know if it's the one on 'Strawberry Fields…', but for the sake of the story, let's just say it is."

...Lennon, meanwhile, described the band as "chaotic and out of control" with "very extreme personalities". "When they first came over to stay, things got… messy," he said. "My roommates are Nels Cline from Wilco and Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto, and they're an older generation; they weren’t used to the house being a den of iniquity. [Fat Whites] sort of remind me of the Wu-Tang Clan, because they all have very extreme personalities and it feels like a miracle when you get them in the same room together. But they can be a lot nicer than they appear. The reputation is real, but at the same time, it isn't."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ray McFall - original owner of Cavern Club - dies

Ray McFall, who operated Liverpool's Cavern Club during the Beatle days, died last night at age 88, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Speaking about his first meeting with the soon-to-be worldwide phenomenon, Mr McFall recalled in 2011: “The Beatles were different and they were very well rehearsed because they had come back from three months of torture in Hamburg. “However, I didn’t like them wearing jeans which were taboo in the Cavern.

“Our doormen would stop anyone wearing jeans. I felt that if people were wearing good, clean clothes they would be more likely to behave themselves as they wouldn’t want them getting dirty and damaged.”

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Listen: John Lennon on Scott Muni radio show 1975



Video: Motorized Beatles "Help!" store display from 1965

Videos: Beatles at Royal Pier Hotel 1963

Some fresh-on-YouTube videos of the Fabs in 1963, featuring home-shot film by photographer Dezo Hoffman.

"Who's Paul McCartney?" Does it matter?

Social media response to the hype surrounding Kanye West's new collaboration with Paul McCartney has created one of those Internet era controversies that's generated a life and reach far beyond its merits as an argument of any real importance.

But let's talk about it anyway.

If you've been blissfully offline for a couple days, here's the gist: Paul plays organ on "Only One," a tribute by West to his late mother.

When the single came out, both the West and Macca camps hyped it to their own benefit.

Here was West, an influential musician of the day, collaborating with an influential musician for the ages, former Beatle Paul -- doesn't that speak to Kanye's impact and importance? Here's Paul, collaborating with one of today's biggest stars -- doesn't that make him current and cool?

It was all quite predictably calculated. One thing these two have in common, along with being talented musicians, is an ability to toot their own horns. Macca has a half-century's experience knowing what works, and doesn't, in getting the public's attention. And his hard work lately promoting his "Hope for the Future" single from the "Destiny" video game indicates he's desperately hungry to hit the charts and reach a younger audience.

Accordingly, the coconut telegram got thumping about Kanye and Paul, with listeners commenting both favorably and un, especially along generational lines: What's Kanye doing hanging out with that old fart? Why would Paul stoop to such levels?

But the sentiment that got the most attention was a Tweet asking: "who tf is paul mccartney???!??! this is why i love kanye for shining light on unknown artists."

Many Boomers and Beatles fans were offended on Paul's behalf. Meanwhile, many youngsters who know very well who the Beatles are joined in the "who's Paul?" chorus, if just to annoy their elders.

Noah Berlatsky in The Atlantic has a good analysis along these lines, noting:
Kids [are] just implying that he's not as relevant as he once was—and perhaps suggesting that the ones who are really out of touch are their elders, who may not know who West is. If that was the joke, it seems to have worked pretty well. The painful part for Boomers and their ilk, presumably, isn't just that folks don't know who McCartney is, but that it’s at least somewhat feasible that some young people don't know who Paul McCartney is. And that’s not exactly a shame.
The piece notes that -- even if there's little doubt the Beatles' music and influence has entered their ears knowingly or not -- many kids today are into music that is more inspired by James Brown and Michael Jackson than by the Fab Four.

Especially for non-white kids, it's a simple fact that the Beatles don't carry the same cultural currency as soul and hip hop -- not for them, not for their parents.

So, along with the hype aspect and kids trolling their elders, that's another factor in all of this. As the Beatles recede further into history and our culture becomes more diverse and open to other influences, the band becomes a smaller part of a bigger picture. That's doesn't mean their importance or impact is diminished, however.

In fact, I'd argue that the Beatles helped make that picture bigger. They were part of a musical movement that popularized black music to a multi-ethnic audience. They also incorporated musical influences from beyond the West. They essentially incorporated "sampling" into pop music via the Mellotron. And they blurred generational boundary lines with songs such as "Your Mother Should Know" and "When I'm Sixty-Four" that played and teased nostalgically with popular music of their parents' youth.

As Berlatsky notes, there's an element of this touching on music of the past going on in West's new song, too. This suggests there may be some art going on here, too, not just hype:
The sugary pop sheen takes on depth when coupled to West's specific grief, hope and longing. It's hard not to read McCartney's presence on the track as a tribute to, and acknowledgement of West's mom—she may or may not have been a fan, but he's certainly from her era, and so the music is hers more than it is West's.
You may like or dislike the song. It may or may not stand up as well 40 years from now as "Let it Be" or "Yesterday" do today. Kids then may, or may not, know who the heck Kanye is.

But does it really matter in the short term? 

One thing I think the Beatles can still teach us today is not to be so sure of things, and don't let other people dictate your tastes.

Open your ears. Like what you like. It's ok if your parents hate it. It's ok if it doesn't sound like anything else. It's ok if it breaks the rules.

And, finally, history -- and Paul McCartney -- will take care of themselves.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

1950 photo shows 7-year-old George Harrison in Dublin

The Journal i.e. website has published a photo of a young George Harrison snapped by a Dublin street photographer in 1950.

George, 7, is a shown with his mother, Louise, and older brother, Pete. The family was likely in the city visiting some of their Irish cousins.
The photo was taken by Arthur Fields — a Jewish-Ukranian street photographer who became a Dublin institution; it’s estimated he took over 180,000 images on and around O’Connell Bridge during his career before he retired in 1984.

...A documentary on Fields career is currently being produced by Dublin-based ‘El Zorrero Films’. Project director Ciaran Deeney told TheJournal.ie that they were currently in the middle of the shoot, and they had tracked down “dozens” of stories about the photographer since securing funding earlier this year as part of the ‘Arthur Guinness Projects’ programme.
Deeney is hoping to generate funds for his film by selling limited edition prints of Fields' works here.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Review: "The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows: A Biography"

James L. Desper's "The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows" is billed as a biography, and does a dependable job charting the group's history from Liverpool basement to London rooftop and all stops in between.

But it's real strength, in my view, isn't in merely retelling the Beatles' story, but in acting as a sort of survey on what we know, and think we know, about the group.

A look at the bibliography shows that Desper has read deeply on the group. He makes use of this fact in the narrative, occasionally stopping to explore different accounts and theories in order to determine which are the most viable. In some cases, he provides his own theory or best guess, or acknowledges that, at this point, we're unlikely to ever learn the "truth" about various episodes.

Examples of this include the clouded circumstances concerning original bassist Stu Sutcliffe's death - did a beating by thugs after an early Beatles' gig play a role? Did a beating at the hands of John Lennon - as has also been sensationally suggested - contribute? Did the traumatic "tug of war" between John Lennon's parents over his fate actually occur? When, exactly, did John invite Paul McCartney to join the Quarry Men? How did the Beatles get signed to EMI? Did the Beatles smoke pot in Buckingham Palace before getting their MBEs? Etc.

It's refreshing to see an author sift through the varied accounts instead of authoritatively passing along conjecture as fact.

Desper also is very good on discussing the songwriting collaboration, and non-collaboration, of Lennon and McCartney and the impact of LSD on the Beatles' work and outlook during the late 1960s.

That said, Desper occasionally falls into the same trap. He says some harsh things about George Martin and Brian Epstein without objectively offering up countering points of view. He also makes much about Paul's reported use of cocaine during the 1960s, suggesting that Paul used the drug frequently throughout much of the Beatles' recording career, which contributed to his lofty self-image and bossiness toward the others. This may be true, but I don't know how you verify it as fact.

Also, like most Beatles biographies, the book keeps the band in sort of a vacuum, not incorporating much information about the times they lived in or the other prominent musicians and musical trends of the 1960s. And, rather than focus mainly on primary materials such as original press coverage and contemporary interviews, most of the quotes come from existing Beatles books.

Still, Desper's book is more factually on-target and more objective than many books tackling the same territory. While many authors don't want to let fact get in the way of a good narrative,  Desper is willing to stop things in their tracks and look for the truth. He knows his subject, and what's been reported on it, intimately.

For longtime fans and newcomers alike, he's an excellent guide through the Beatles' history, particularly the more contentious bits.

Friday, January 2, 2015

No "copyright protection" release of Beatles' 1964 recordings

Last year in December, the Beatles very quietly released nearly 60 previously unreleased recording via iTunes as the "Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963," as part of a copyright protection scheme.

In Europe, recordings become popular domain 50 years after their creation unless officially released by copyright owners. By "publishing" the 1963 recordings, the Beatles were establishing their continued ownership of the copyrights. Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and Motown also issued "copyright dump" recordings in 1963. They also followed suit last month, with Dylan issuing songs on a vinyl collection limited to 1,000 copies in Europe, and Motown and the Beach Boys releasing recordings online.

The Beach Boys actually released two such items: A collection of various live and studio outtakes called Keep an Eye on Summer, complete with downloadable liner notes, and a live concert recording from Sacramento.

But the Beatles? Nada. Fan keeping a steady eye on iTunes through New Year's Eve for a surprise release were disappointed.

I've seen no official comment from Apple regarding its reasoning for not putting out a collection this year. It may be that the Beatles' lawyers have a different legal strategy for protecting these recordings. But, unless there is a change, the European copyright law seems fairly clear: If copyrights aren't protected by artists, anyone can release them.

This happened last year when the Rock Melon label issued a compilation called Works in Progress, featuring songs the Beatles neglected to include in their "official" release of 1963 works.

In the absence of a 1964 collection issued by the Beatles themselves, we're sure to see many such labels compile their own albums of studio outtakes and live concerts from 1964. There are dozens of performances to choose from that have already surfaced on bootlegs throughout the years.

The only question is, will the Beatles fight to stop any of theses releases and, if so, on what grounds?

Video: The Beatles perform "It Won't Be Long" on "Ready, Steady, Go"