Australian A Hard Day’s Night – BluRay and DVD

Finally got hold of an Australian, two-disc, BluRay/DVD edition of the 50th anniversary release of A Hard Day’s Night.

Not much to show really. We here in “Region B” get a low-cost, very basic set in a standard BluRay blue plastic box….not even a booklet or insert inside:

AHDN frontAHDN rearAHDN BluRay1AHDN DVD1The BluRay special features are The Beatles: The Road to A Hard Day’s Night - An Interview with author Mark Lewisohn; In their Own Voices - The Beatles on A Hard Day’s Night; Anotomy of a Style - a piece on Richard Lester’s methods; Picturwise - A featurette on Richard Lester; Audio Commentary – by the cast and crew; and a new trailer for the film.

The DVD adds: You Can’t Do That! - the making of AHDN; The Running Jumping Standing Still Film - Richard Lester’s 1960 short film; Things They Said Today – a 2002 documentary; Audio Commentary – by the cast and crew; and the new trailer for the film.

In Australia the film is distributed by Umbrella Entertainment.

Ron Howard to Direct New Beatles Film – Just Announced

The Beatles official site has just announced that the highly respected US film director Ron Howard has been chosen to direct the new film about the Beatles touring years. They have linked to the micro-site set up to collect material for the project called thebeatlesliveproject.

The call out to fans who where there and have still images, film or audio from Beatle concerts and events is continuing. If you or someone you know has visual or audio materials documenting your personal experience of the Beatles live tours, Apple wants to hear from you. They are looking for rare or unusual footage, photographs, and audio recordings, particularly those that highlight the fan experience – what it was like to be a part of the frenzy.Beatles Live Project

The film will be a new, Apple-authorised Beatles documentary feature about the band’s touring years. It has the full co-operation of Paul McCartney, Ringo StarrYoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.

Read all about it.

 

Imagine – The Story of a Song

Charles J. Shields is a respected biographer and author. His literary studies of Kurt Vonnegut (And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life – 2011) and Harper Lee (Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee – 2006) have been widely recognised as significant works on these two authors.

Now he’s turned his attention to one song. And a significant song at that: John Lennon’s “Imagine”.imaginecover

“Twenty-two lines of graceful, plain-spoken faith in the power of a world to repair and change itself,” said Rolling Stone. Only 183 seconds long, the simple melody and poetry captured the wounded hopefulness of its moment–and transcended its time to inspire generations that followed.”

In Imagine: The Story of a Song Shields traces the song’s origins. Interestingly, he begins with the fire-bombing of Tokyo during Yoko Ono’s youth, and the violent death of Lennon’s mother during his adolescence. From there he moves through Lennon’s post-Ed Sullivan skepticism to John and Yoko’s “Bed-In” events of 1969 and unearths the secrets of this one song’s lasting import. If music can change the world, “Imagine” came as close as any song might. This short Kindle book (37 pages) is its story.

Imagine: The Story of a Song is available as an Amazon Kindle for US$4.99. You can even have a brief “look inside” before you buy.

Shields is also the author of this brief thought piece on John Lennon entitled “5 Surprising Ways John Lennon Changed the World“.  Worth a look.

Great New Beatles Book – “Beatles 101″

Beatles 101 – The Need-to-Know Guide by Richard Buskin is an impressive new Beatles book for anyone just starting out on the Beatle knowledege journey, or for die-hard fans who want to know more. It is a genuine one-stop-shop containing all the vital facts about the band:Beatles 101 frontBeatles 101 rear

There is so much information and research in here. There are individual chapters which could have been whole books, for example the eight-page chapter on The Beatles Anthology. It’s a great example of Buskin succinctly summarising every aspect of this significant Beatle project. Everything in the rest of the book is similarly very nicely distilled and concise. It is also very easy to read.

Beatles 101 is not presented as a purely chronological walk-through of the career. Topics are tackled more by categories of interest. That means you can easily dip in at various points and read very well-written and well-informed articles across a wide range of different aspects detailing the life and works of the Beatles. At the back of the book, for example, are a series of great, original interviews with some of the key people who worked with the band in the studio. There’s George Martin of course, but also the likes of Norman “Hurricane” Smith, Ken Scott, Glyn Johns, Alan Parsons and Eddie Kramer. We guarantee that even the most knowledgable fan will find something they didn’t know here.

This book also has some great photos – many not previously seen (especially of people and places) which all help to illustrate the wealth of information the book contains. This includes one very early shot of author Buskin standing beside another mad Beatle fan – who just happens to be a young Mark Lewisohn. The two didn’t know each other at the time – it is just a co-incidental snap of two fans, taken outside the gates of Strawberry Fields in Liverpool….

But perhaps the greatest and most unique visual element to Beatles 101 is the many colour plates depicting original artworks by Eric Cash:Beatles_TheIntroductionBeatles_HeyJude

These are terrific. We should also say that the company which produced the book is marketing a range of iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone covers featuring some of the best Beatle images painted by Cash and used in this book. They look great and you can order them online at Eric’s site, or through Amazon:Eric Cash2Eric Cash1

As well as being an author, Richard Buskin co-hosts (with Robert Rodriguez) a great new Beatles podcast called Something About the Beatles. This, in our humble opinion, is one of the best podcasts going around.

Beatles 101 – The Need-to-Know Guide is published by Parading Press.

If you’d like to hear an informative and fun interview with Richard Buskin about Beatles 101, have a listen to the podcast Fab4Free4All. Download Episode 94 in which the guys spend a good hour with Buskin discussing the book. It’s well worth a listen.

Beatles Japan Box – Translation of Insert

Our box set of the Beatles’ Japan Box came with this postcard insert:Japan Box insert

On the other side there are spaces to fill out your name and address details, attach a postage stamp. We thought it looks like an offer to send it off to receive an additional CD single.

We wanted to confirm this and so we sent a photo of the card to a Japanese friend who has kindly had a look. While not offering a complete translation he writes: “The text reads that you can enter a draw to win a special, one-song promo CD (not for sale) of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” – complete with the original Japanese 7-inch cover reproduced for the CD sleeve. The deadline is postmarked 9 July (in Japan) though….”

Sadly, the CD Japan site also says that this special offer/application postcard is valid only for purchases in Japan….

So, it looks like only a few lucky Japanese Beatle fans will be getting what undoubtably will become a collectors item to add to their Japan Box box sets. IWTHYH Japan

Win Tickets and Meet Paul McCartney at His Candlestick Park Concert

On August 14 Paul McCartney is set to play a very special gig at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park called “Farewell to Candlestick: The Final Concert.” It will be the last show to be played at the stadium before the venue is demolished. For McCartney, and the fans lucky enough to be there, it will be a farewell show for the venue where the Beatles played their final full concert as a group on August 29, 1966.

Well, there’s a chance for you to win tickets to the gig – and to help a very worthwhile charity at the same time.

Paul is helping an organisation called Aid Still Required build a new school in Haiti for kids who would otherwise never get an education. Fans can enter a contest to win a trip to San Francisco (airfares and hotel included), attend soundcheck at Paul’s Candlestick Park date, meet Macca backstage, take photos with him, and then watch the concert from VIP seats reserved for his guests.

For more info just go to www.prizeo.com/paul

All you need to do is make a donation (there are a range of options starting from as little as $10). You’ll not only be helping out kids in Haiti, but your donation will also put you in with a chance to be at the historic Candlestick Park concert on August 14. McCartney Performs Live

The prize is for one winner and one guest to fly to San Francisco and see Paul McCartney play Candlestick Park. The prize includes economy class flights from anywhere in the world for two people and two nights hotel accommodation. The contest closes on July 28.

About Haiti…..On January 12th, 2010 a Point 7 magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast of Port Au Prince, killing 230,000 and injuring millions more. Just because it’s no longer in the headlines doesn’t mean this devastated country is no longer in great need. Find out more at the Aid Still Required Facebook page.Haiti - Aid Still RequiredAid Still Required Logo

The Beatles Japan Box – First Pics and Unboxing

Our Japanese copy of the Beatles five CD Japan Box arrived in the post this morning and so we thought we’d upload an “unboxing” series of photos and show you the contents in some detail.

This has been devised and issued in Japan as part of that country’s activities to mark the Beatles 50th anniversary celebrations this year.

The box set, which will also be issued in the UK and the US, comes in a re-sealable, clear plastic outer. Inside this is a red, yellow and blue paper insert which wraps around the box from part-way at the front and completely covers the rear: Japan BoxOn the outside of the box is a circular sticker attached to the clear plastic cover. Not sure what it says – so if anyone can read Japanese please let us know: Japan Box frontWe think that the sticker has something to do with a small paper insert which is included inside the box (see more on this below).

Here’s the rear of the box with the wrap-around paper insert still in place: Japan Box rear

Once you take the box set from it’s plastic cover this is what it looks like, front and rear:

Japan Box front2Japan Box rear2

The Japanese are obviously very good at doing high quality glossy cardboard. This set has a really luxurious lustre to it. The sides of the box look like this: Japan Box side1Japan Box side2

Like previous Beatle CD box sets released in this style (The Beatles In Mono and The US Albums) there’s a slide-out inner draw which holds the contents:Japan Box open1Japan Box open2

Each of the five CDs comes in it’s own protective clear plastic, re-sealable outer sleeve. There’s a thick booklet included in the box as well as a small, clear plastic sachet containing mini replicas of five Japanese OBI strips. These would have been attached to the original LPs back in the day and are an indicator that Universal Music in Japan have gone to great lengths to accurately recreate the original album artwork:Japan Box OBI strips

The 96-page booklet looks like this:Japan Box BookJapan Box Book2Japan Box Book3Japan Box Book4Continuing on the design elements established with The Beatles in Mono and The US Albums box sets, each CD comes packaged just like the original 1960′s Japanese LP sleeves for these albums. This attention to detail extends to the external tabs on the rear of the covers, right through to what’s inside as well:Japan Box MTB frontJapan Box MTB rear

Inside there are authentic paper inner sleeves – exactly as they would have been for the vinyl editions. Meet the Beatles, for example, has a plain white paper sleeve:Japan Box MTB inner sleeve

There are also the original paper inserts with the lyrics for each song. And the original Odeon Records labels are printed on the CD:Japan Box MTB insertJapan Box MTB CD

This sort of detail is continued throughout each of the five CDs:Japan Box Second Album frontJapan Box Second Album rearJapan Box No2 insertJapan Box AHDN frontJapan Box AHDN rearJapan Box AHDN insertJapan Box No5 front

The Beatles No.5 cover loses the external rear tabs and just has a photograph of the band on the rear cover with no song titles:

Japan Box No5 rearInside there’s a printed paper inner sleeve with advertising for other artists who would have been on the Japanese Odeon label at the time, as well as the paper insert with lyrics, etc:Japan Box No5 inner sleeveJapan Box No5 inserts

Help! comes in a gatefold sleeve. Here’s the front cover:Japan Box Help frontHere is the rear:Japan Box Help rearAnd here’s the inside of the gatefold:Japan Box Help gatefold

Help! also gets a printed paper inner sleeve with advertising, plus the insert with lyrics:Japan Box Help insertsIt also gets a colour photo of the band as an additional insert:Japan Box Help photo insertJapan Box Help CD

One mystery object included with the box set is this thin paper postcard. We can’t read Japanese, but it looks like you can fill out your details on the other side, attach a postage stamp and send it off to receive an additional CD single. Possibly “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the first Japanese single from 1964? If anyone can assist with translating this please do!   Japan Box insert

All-in-all this box is beautifully done, and it sits nicely alongside The Beatles in Mono and The US Albums box sets as it is exactly the same proportions and style.