Beatles Australian 50th Anniversary Celebrations Are Hotting Up

Here in Australia the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles one-and-only tour Down Under are beginning to get exciting.

The Beatles arrived in Sydney on June 11, 1964 and EMI Australia has today posted a great Australian tour highlights video on its official YouTube site:

The site publicises Australia’s contribution to the 50th anniversary – a 2 CD set called Then & Now – Australia Salutes The Beatles. It’s a compilation of some of Australia’s finest artists covering classic Beatle songs:Then-Now-Australia-Salutes-The-Beatles

Details about the release can be found here.

It has to be said it is a bit underwhelming with the news that this was actually EMI Australia’s second choice as a way to mark the historic visit. Initially the company was working on a unique two-disc set which was to have included a DVD of the complete Melbourne concert (which was filmed live and broadcast nationally at the time), with extra songs and partial songs included. This was to be partnered with a CD containing the studio recordings of those particular songs from the concert. It could have been a nice double-disc package, complete with a booklet – a real collectors item, unique to Australia. By comparison the double CD’s of Aussie cover versions is a real let-down.

EMI Australia was apparently told by Apple head office that as they are working on a live project of their own the local project could not possibly proceed…..

There’ll be more news on other Australian celebrations to mark the anniversary across June – including a major television documentary produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and a “pop-up” digital radio station which will run for a week and play ’64 Beatles tour music as well as rare audio from the archives. This will also be streamed live around the world – so more on these broadcasts soon in future posts.

The Beatles 20th Anniversary Singles

We know. Seems odd in the Beatles 50th anniversary year to be writing about what was done in the UK for the 20th anniversaries of each of their single releases, but as we recently acquired a complete set of those anniversary singles here goes…

Back in 1982, to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of “Love Me Do” – the Beatles first UK single, EMI released the record in a special picture sleeve. (They also released it as a picture discs as well, but that’s another story).love-me-do1Love Me Do LabelThen over the following eight years, on the 20th anniversary release date of each the official UK singles, they continued to do the same for each and every disc. That means it took some collectors eight years to complete the set! All singles were released on black vinyl and, as already mentioned, in picture disc versions too. (A 12″ single of “Love Me Do” was also released to correct an error made by EMI in choosing the wrong version for the 7″ single. Sound familiar?). They are all either on the Parlophone label (a red label for “Love Me Do”, and then in black and silver for the remainder), or on the green Apple label.

Here’s a small selection of the covers and labels used:The-Beatles-Day-Tripper---20t-462203 Day Tripper LabelBeatles_Get_Back beatles-singles-collection-label-2

R5722-Sl-A-1982 R5722-B-1976The release program for this set of singles was as follows:

Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You (Parlophone/October 4, 1982)
Please Please Me / Ask Me Why (Parlophone/January 10, 1983)
From Me To You / Thank You Girl (Parlophone/April 11, 1983)
She Loves You / I’ll Get You (Parlophone/August 22, 1983)
I Want To Hold Your Hand / This Boy (Parlophone/November 28, 1983)
Can’t Buy Me Love / You Can’t Do That (Parlophone/March 19, 1984)
A Hard Day’s Night / Things We Said Today (Parlophone/July 9, 1984)
I Feel Fine / She’s A Woman (Parlophone/November 26, 1984)
Ticket To Ride / Yes It Is (Parlophone/April 9, 1985)
Help / I’m Down (Parlophone/July 23, 1985)
We Can Work It Out/ Day Tripper (Parlophone/December 2, 1985)
Paperback Writer / Rain (Parlophone/June 9, 1986)
Yellow Submarine/ Eleanor Rigby (Parlophone/August 5, 1986)
Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane (Parlophone/February 16, 1987)
All You Need Is Love / Baby You’re A Rich Man (Parlophone/July 6, 1987)
Hello Goodbye / I Am The Walrus (Parlophone/November 23, 1987)
Lady Madonna / The Inner Light (Parlophone/March 14, 1988)
Hey Jude /Revolution (Apple/August 30, 1988)
Get Back / Don’t Let Me Down (Apple/April 10, 1989)
The Ballad Of John And Yoko / Old Brown Shoe (Apple/May 30, 1989)
Something / Come Together (Apple/October 30, 1989)
Let It Be / You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)(Apple/March 3, 1990)

Of course if you had the ready cash back in December 1982 you could have purchased all these singles at once in a blue and gold box set called The Beatles Singles Collection which contained each single with the same unique picture covers. The box was a limited issue and held twenty-six vinyl 7″ singles in all – each of the standard twenty two UK singles listed above, plus another four singles that had been released since 1976. These were: “Yesterday/ I Should Have Known Better”, “Back In The U.S.S.R./ Twist and Shout”, “Sgt.Peppers/With A Little Help From My Friends/ A DAy in the Life”, and “The Movie Medley”.The Beatles Singles Collection

This box was different to the 1976 black and gold UK singles box set (which had a different set of picture covers) and was only ever available via mail order. We have the 3rd edition of that particular box, which was issued containing 25 singles in 1978:

beatles-singles-collection-front

Wonderwall – DVD and BluRay with Harrison Soundtrack

Collectors of Apple Records will know of the George Harrison soundtrack to the 1968 film Wonderwall:Wonderwall LPWonderwall Label

The music for this LP was in part recorded in Bombay with Indian musicians and it was the first solo album released by any of the Beatles. Other players on the album include Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Peter Tork of the Monkees (uncredited).

Well, the movie has just been re-released on DVD and BluRay:Wonderwall BluRayIf you, like us, have never seen the film it might be the perfect time to rectify that. However, this film looks pretty 1960s trippy. It may or may not be something you’ll want to add to your collection. Try these three short official promo extracts from the current release to get a feel for it:

Hmmm……after viewing that one the George Harrison album cover makes more sense….

And this older one:

 

Strange Fruit – The Beatles’ Apple Records

A recent trip to Canberra, Australia’s capital city, afforded a visit to the second-hand store  Flip Side Exchange which specialises in CD’s, vinyl and DVDs.

Found this great DVD there:Strange Fruit frontStrange Fruit rear

It is a 2012 documentary on the Beatles’ record, film, publishing and electronics company Apple. Reviewer Carlos Gonzales wrote at the time of release: “….other than their music, the Beatles tried to do something good for their fellow man, in this case struggling musicians that needed a break, a chance. It was then that they created Apple Records, and the wonderful Strange Fruit -The Beatles’ Apple Records provides us with an honest view and great, historic information about the history of the label and its artists.

The film is quite long (162 minutes), and it is loaded with history and music…..Strange Fruit -The Beatles’ Apple Records [tells] how the label began working on projects, beginning with the production of the film “The Magical Mystery Tour.” They then signed singer-writer Jackie Lomax, Mary Hopkin, The Iveys, James Taylor and others. They also made the Beatles White album. By 1969, the Beatles — pushed by John Lennon — hired Allen Klein, who promised them that he would clean up their finances. That year they signed Billy Preston, The Iveys became Badfinger, and the Beatles began disintegrating as a group. From then on, the filmmakers examine year by year everything that happened to the label, ending in May 6, 1975, when Apple announced that it would cease operations. Along the way, we learn about other groups that were signed by Apple….for example, Ravi Shankar, Yoko Ono, John Tavener, Modern Jazz Quartet, and Brute Force. Of course, we hear some of their music along the way.

The movie has interviews with some of the players, such a Jackie Lomax (who said that Apple Records was ‘utopia’), Ron Griffiths (from the Iveys), Joey Molland (Badfinger), and others. There are also interviews with historians, like Stefan Granados, Chris Ingham, Mark Paytrees, and more. In the end, we are told that Apple was a “curious disappointment in the history of rock music. A revolutionary label that never reached its potential.” And the big lesson, perhaps, is that “artists can not take care of other artists.” You will be the judge. Strange Fruit — The Beatles’ Apple Records is a great document of our times. With no apparent help from or sanctioned by the Beatles, the documentary tells the history of this controversial — for lack of a better word — music label.”

It’s a must for all collectors of the Apple Records releases.Strange Fruit disc

For a sneak preview:

 

Yoko Ono and the World of Dance Music Remixes

When we posted about the forthcoming re-issues of Yoko Ono’s Apple Records back catalogue we were contacted by the people at Mind Train/Twisted Records asking if we were aware of Yoko Ono’s other considerable success over many years in the world of dance music and remixes.

No, we said – tell us more.

And so Rob at Twisted kindly sent through a signed (yes, autographed by Yoko herself), 2-disc promo set which gathers together a selection of the very best of her output in this genre from the last 10 years or so:ONO front coverONO rear cover

Under the monicker ONO she has had huge successes with DJ remixes of her work on the Billboard Club charts. Last year ONO had not one, but two consecutive Number 1 hits – making her one of the most successful dance artists of 2013 and prompting articles like this one in Time magazine.ONO CD1ONO CD2

Her product is prepared and released by the Yoko-associated Mind Train Records and the iconic New York-based house music label Twisted Records. For more on Twisted see their Facebook page.

Yoko Ono’s Imaginepeace site also has some info on these releases.

Gotta say, I quite like these. They’re creative, mesmerising, and make you want to move. It just goes to show that in the world of collecting Beatle and Beatle-related music there is always something new to learn….ONO inside cover

(for larger versions click on the images above)

Yoko Ono Albums To Be Reissued

Flipping through a recent copy of Mojo magazine we noticed this small article:mojo

Being interested in anything Beatles and Apple Records related we decided to do a bit more research.

Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band site has this small promo tile (complete with a grapefruit) – but no links when you click on it:reissue_yopob

Same for her Imagine Peace site. Again, there’s the same promo tile on the page but no other information or links, although there is a tiny bit more info as the tile at least lists two record company names:Reissue_Imaginepeace

Chimera Music is Ono’s (and son Sean Lennon’s) record label. A search revealed no further information on their site though. Not sure what Secretly Canadian has to do with the releases (it’s an American independent record label based in Bloomington, Indiana) because there’s no reference to Yoko Ono or Plastic Ono Band on their site either….

Of course these titles have been released previously. The details of that 1997 reissue project are in this MTV article:

“….beginning on May 20th, the label (Rykodisc) will present 11 different Yoko Ono and Plastic Ono Band albums, all of which are being remixed and remastered as needed by Ono herself…..The first wave of releases will be unleashed on May 20 with the four titles, Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins, an album or tape manipulation and random noises reportedly made the night before Ono and John Lennon made love for the first time; its sequel, Unfinished Music #2: Life With the Lions, which deals with Ono’s subsequent miscarriage and also contains a “song” called “Radio Play,” 12 minutes of random radio dial-turning; the collaborative The Wedding Album, whose second song is a 22 minute drone consisting of the couple calling each other’s name and, finally, the first Plastic Ono Band album, Yoko Ono with the Plastic Ono Band.

The next set of four releases (June 10) contains what many considered to be the first post-punk record (ironic, since it pre-dated punk), the noisy, experimental Fly, credited to Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. Also released on that day are two other Plastic Ono Band Yoko titles, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space. Also included will be Ono’s cathartic, personal album, Season of Glass. July 1st will bring the last set of three releases,It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)Star Peace and A Story, a previously unreleased album that was included in the box set. Ono is currently searching for some appropriate bonus tracks for the releases…”

Rykodisc were also involved with this 1992 6-CD set, Onobox:Ono BoxYoko Ono herself writes about the contents of this box set extensively here. Onobox is a kind of a “best of” compilation, with tracks from across her own (and John Lennon’s) output from 1968 to 1985.

It’ll be interesting to see what the 2014 project brings….

More Unusual Versions of Concert for Bangladesh

Following our post on the unusual Epic Records, 1991 edition of George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, we’ve had a number of other rare and remarkable versions sent in.

First up is this Spanish copy. It’s also on the Epic Records label, and has the same white front cover as ours:FRONT

But beyond that there are a number of significant differences. Firstly, this one is a rare promo copy. You can see a gold CBS Records promo stamp on the rear cover:REAR

Like the rest of the world, this set was a long time out of print until it was reissued on the Epic label in 1991. In Spain, Epic was part of CBS, hence the CBS golden stamp.REAR DET1

It includes the same CD-sized booklet as our version:BOOKLET

However the labels are in Spanish – different to the standard European release:LAB1LAB DET

Now back to the original 1972 edition, and a rare one from Brazil:FRONT

Like for the rest of the world (outside the US) this Brazilian set was also distributed by CBS, but it was pressed by RCA Electrónica Ltd. This is because at the time CBS didn’t have its own pressing plant in Brazil – so they contracted the job out. This set was one of the first stereo albums released by CBS in that country. Unusually, the box it comes in is hinged, not in two separate pieces like US, UK and Australian editions. The box set has the usual external design, but note the different catalogue number printed on the spine:

SPINE

This edition doesn’t include the booklet at all. It has a track list (in English) and credits (in Portuguese) printed on two inserts glued inside the front and of rear of box, which is impossible to scan. Here is the label for Side 1:LAB1

Note the words “CBS Masterworks-Apple” and “Fab por: RCA Electronica Ltda” on the labels:LAB DET1LAB DET2

Finally, this 1972 Israeli set is very different from other worldwide releases. Here are some of the most noticeable differences. Firstly, the front of the box has a much lighter orange colour than all other editions:

FRONT_2

This is a unique box because it has a plain white rear:REAR

The set doesn’t include the usual 12″ booklet, but it has a 4-page monochrome insert (25 cm wide x 27 cm high):INSERT OUTINSERT IN

And it has unique white labels, even though this is not a promotional album:LAB1 22-48-15LAB DET 22-48-15

Thanks so much to Beatles Blog reader Manuel Garcia Jara for all this info and for sending the images.

Another Different Concert for Bangladesh

We’ve detailed at least one very unusual George Harrison Concert for Bangladesh 3 LP set before. (After a bit of detective work by our readers we discovered that that one came from South Africa).

And we picked up a nice US pressing of Bangladesh in San Francisco earlier this year.

But this latest addition to the collection is, we think, a bit of a rarity.

It’s the Epic Records release dating from 1991. The story goes that Epic, which is a subsidiary of Sony Music, had a royalties deal back then with Columbia/EMI (and hence Apple Records), to release some of their titles for the European market. The records we see here were made in Holland.

As you can see the Epic set doesn’t come in a brown/orange box. The 3 LPs are housed in a white sleeve that reproduces the artwork used for the booklet which came with the original 1971 Apple release:Concert for Bangladesh front

The rear cover is like the rear of the Apple booklet – but it has a track list included:Concert for Bangladesh rear

The inner sleeves are plain white:Concert for Bangladesh inner

The 3 LPs are on an Epic Records label (with a small Apple Records licence mention at the bottom):Concert for Bangladesh label

Surprisingly this Epic set includes a CD-sized booklet, not the original 12″ sized booklet. It’s not exactly the same as the booklet used in the Epic 2CD release (which also came out in 1991) because it has an LP catalogue number inserted on the rear (below the guitar case):Concert for BangladeshA close-up of the booklet (click image to see a larger version):

Concert for Bangladesh booklet frontConcert for Bangladesh booklet rear

Concert for Bangladesh booklet1Concert for Bangladesh booklet2All in all a nice copy and a rare one, too.

At Last – A Genuine US “Let It Be” LP

I have had in the collection for some time now a record that I thought was an original US pressing of the Beatles Let It Be.

You know the one. It comes in a gatefold cover, red Apple label on the vinyl, catalogue number AR 34001, red Apple on the rear cover:

LET IT BE FRONTLET IT BE REAR

The copy I have had for oh, maybe 30 years, looked genuine enough. That is until I read that this is one of the most counterfeited vinyl records of all time…..

When I started to look into it some more I discovered that what I had in my collection was actually a fake.

And it was only two weeks ago, after finally picking up a genuine copy at a record fair, that I could conduct a side-by-side analysis to spot the differences. Here are the tell-tale signs.

Firstly a close-up of the real cover:DSC01123

And here is the illegal copy:DSC01124

As you can see the skin tones on the photo of George Harrison are much more grainy on the fake. Also notice the white borders around each photo. They are much thicker on the counterfeit.

Next, a close-up of the red Apple label. The genuine copy is first, the fake is second:DSC01115DSC01125

The counterfeit label lacks vibrancy. It is washed out and dull.

The best proof that you have a legitimate copy is in the run-out area of the vinyl itself. There should be the words “Bell Sound” stamped there on both sides (the fake will not have this). It’s difficult to photograph but here goes. First, Side 1:DSC01117

And Side 2:DSC01121

Genuine Let It Be pressings with the red Apple were mastered at Bell Sound by a guy named Sam Feldman and that’s why you can see his initials “sf” scratched into the vinyl above. Fakes don’t have that Bell Sound stamp, but the people who made the illegal copies did try to imitate the originals by including the “sf” initials too.

Furthermore, legitimate pressings will have the letters “IAM” in a triangle in the run-out area of the vinyl. It should be properly machine stamped there on both sides like this:DSC01119The fakers tried to imitate this too – but it they did just a crude drawing which you can see here:

DSC01129(By the way, the “IAM” in the triangle stands for the International Association of Machinists Union whose workers ran the pressing plants).

It was Sam Feldman who also scribbled the words “Phil + Ronnie” on the deadwax. This was for Phil Spector (who produced Let It Be) and his wife, singer Ronnie Spector:DSC01122

Non-legitimate copies also have “Phil + Ronnie” scratched in the play-out area of the disc but the writing is much smaller.

So thats it. Your guide to real and fake copies of Let It Be.

The Beatles With Records – Part Twenty

OK, to kick off Part 20 in our series a couple of photographs of the Beatles with records which are going to be tough to solve.

Here Paul is standing in front of a display. The thing is these record covers are all not immediately recognisable as they seem to be from other countries. They would all be from the 1960s. Does anyone have any idea what these discs might be?beatles with records13-tiff

And this one below of John – is that an LP to his left (our right)? This appears to be a photograph taken while the artists known as The Fool give one of John’s pianos a very special paint job. Amongst other things The Fool designed the original inner sleeve for Sgt Pepper, and they did the huge mural which adorned the outside of the Apple Boutique clothing shop in London.

Back to the photo. Is this an LP record cover? You can clearly make out what looks to be the word “Velvet…..”. Or could it be a poster?

beatles with records11-tiff

Let us know if you have any further info on this one.

Now onto some easier-to-solve Beatles With Records photos. Firstly to Paul and Linda with a copy of Press to Play, his sixth solo studio album, released August 1986.beatles with records14-tiffpaul-mccartney-press-to-play

I really don’t know what the occasion is below – Yoko is photographed with a group of young men, one of whom is in a Beatle jacket, and another who is holding up a copy of John’s “legal obligation” disc called John Lennon Sings the Great Rock & Roll Hits (which later, and with much better sound, appeared on Apple Records as Rock ‘n’ Roll):July-2013-1842817rootsYou can read the full story about how this album came into being here. It’s a long and complicated tale….

These next photographs are very similar (but taken at a different event) to those photos you may have seen in Part 14 where Paul McCartney is swamped by waiting fans eager for him to sign LP covers.

Beatles with records8-tiff beatles with records10-tiffIn the two photos above I can make out at least ten albums, beginning at the top:McCartney 1Beatles-RevolverAnthology1coverwhite-album_coverbeatles_loveFireman_Strawberries_Oceans_Ships_Forestbeatles-helpBand on the Run Archives bookWorkingClassicalCoverTug of War

If you can see any others let us know.

And yet again, another flock of fans hoping for a signature but this time at a different location:McCartney with Records1McCartney with Records3

I can make out these titles: pepper-rearrubber_soulBeatles_-_Abbey_RoadBeatles-RevolverMAgical Mystery Tour Rear CoverBeatles19621966At_the_hollywood_bowlFigure of Eight

Signings for their fans have always been something the Beatles as a band (and as solo artists) have always embraced. Here’s another of Paul – this time autographing a copy of Wings at the Speed of Sound from 1976:July-2013-1858535WATSOSCoverThis one of George Harrison doesn’t have any records in view (except for the indistinguishable 45 actually on the turntable) – but it has a cool little record player though….and it’s a great shot of GeorgeBeatles With Records GeorgeOne final photo to finish off this installment….obviously taken at the quality control room at the EMI plant in 1965:Beatles With Records-tiff

A big thank you to Andrey in Russia for most of these images. You can see the other parts in The Beatles with Records series here:  12345678910111213141516,17,18 and 19.