Beatle Books, Books and More Books….

Quite a few new Beatle or Beatle-related books have just been announced or recently released, and so we thought we’d mention a few worthies. Here’s a round-up:

The Beatles Lyrics by Hunter Davies was released as a hardback book last year. It’s now slated for a paperback release this October:Beatles Lyrics

The book features analysis of the Beatles song catalog and images of the Beatles’ hand-written song lyrics. If that is actually the new cover (above) we reckon it looks cool. For any record collector or Beatle fan it definitely says”Pick me up and look inside”. If you, do we can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. We got the hardback edition last Christmas and have been dipping in and out of it all year.

Here’s one we stumbled across on the web. We haven’t read it yet but there’s a great review on The Daily Beast about a new book called Allen Klein – The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll. Yes, it’s a very long title, but also a fascinating re-think by author Fred Goodman of the impact and influence of one of the music industry’s bad boys of management – the late Allen Klein. Klein was brought in to run the Beatles’ Apple company and very soon became the lightening rod that split the band, with Paul McCartney on one side and John, George and Ringo siding with Klein on the other. This is very much a business book with lots of financial details, but Goodman makes the nuts and bolts really interesting, linking them to the seismic shift in music-industry economics that Klein instigated. This book is out now and there’s a “Look Inside” on Amazon if you are interested to read more:Alan_Klein

Klein and Harrison Klein Lennon and OnoHere’s another that we don’t own and haven’t read yet. We were just walking through a large bookshop the other day and accidentally spotted this one on the shelf:

See Hear Yoko

The inside cover says See Hear Yoko was conceived expressly for Yoko Ono as a gift between friends on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. It’s a visual portrait of her as an artist, activist, wife and mother, from her days with John Lennon through to the present. Legendary rock and roll photographer Bob Gruen was welcomed into the lives of John and Yoko during their years in New York City, when Gruen served as their personal photographer. He continues to document Yoko today. Approached by his friend Jody Denberg, who had logged twenty-five years of interviews with Yoko, Gruen collaborated with him to create an extraordinary birthday gift. Gruen selected more than three hundred classic color and black-and-white photographs—accompanied by text by Denberg—to illuminate the story of Yoko Ono. Again, Amazon has a “Look Inside“. There are some truly great images here.

The Zapple Diaries: The Rise and Fall of the Last Beatles Label. This one should be very interesting. Due for release on September 28 in the UK (but not until March 1, 2016 in the US) this book is written by Beatle insider Barry Miles and, as the publishing blurb says, it’s the first full-length illustrated examination of the Zapple label—an Apple Records off-shoot and Beatle experimental label:Zapple DiariesOn Zapple the Beatles hoped to release a range of spoken word and avant garde recordings – all part of their “…ambition to be leading members of the counterculture movement”. As it turned out Zapple was short-lived, surviving for just six months or so in 1969, and only had two official releases (Lennon and Ono’s Unfinished Music No.2: Life With the Lions, and George Harrison’s Electronic Sound). Author Barry Miles ran Zapple, so this should be an interesting insight – especially on the closing down of the label by one Allen Klein (see above). The Amazon UK and Amazon US sites both have a bit more info, and you can pre-order the book there too.

Finally, a new children’s picture book from Macmillan that introduces the next generation of fans to the story of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Focusing on the early years, Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles shows how four boys from Liverpool became the bestselling band in history:Fab Four Friends

Written by award-winning children’s author Susanna Reich with fantastic illustrations by Adam Gustavson, this book traces the Beatles’ roots through each boy’s childhood and teen years. Evocative language and richly-detailed paintings tell the story of the band from its earliest days as a skiffle group to its explosion onto the world stage. Amazon has a “Look Inside” for more. This is out now. We think you (and your kids!) will love it.Fab Four Friends Rear

John Lennon – 8 LP Box Set

Here at Beatlesblogger we have a few items that we are always on the lookout for. When we first heard about the impending box set reissue of eight John Lennon LPs on 180 gram vinyl – we knew we’d have to eventually get a copy….

This is a deluxe box set of Lennon’s solo albums released between 1970 and 1984. The studio albums are remastered from their original analogue masters and have been newly cut to vinyl from 96k digital files with faithfully replicated original album art.

The albums featured in the box are John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970); Imagine (1971); Some Time In New York City – a double album (1972); Mind Games (1973); Walls And Bridges (1974); Rock’n’Roll (1975); Double Fantasy (1980); and Milk And Honey (1984). The albums, which feature the 2010 remasters, will be available separately on August 21st.

It’s taken a little while with this one, but we finally got up the courage to visit Sandy’s Records, a great local independent record shop with an impressive range of CDs and LPs, to invest in a copy (it is a very expensive addition to the collection):

Lennon Box Set 2015

Rather than uploading a swathe of photographs of each LP here, this collector named Jordan has recorded quite a nice unboxing video (unfortunately though he doesn’t show all the actual discs and their authentically reproduced labels):

If you are after more of what is inside this official video promo clip takes comprehensive care of that:

As you can see, in keeping with the authentic UK album artwork for each LP: Imagine contains reproductions of its two postcards, poster and inner sleeve; Some Time In New York City includes reproductions of its original postcard and inner sleeves; Walls And Bridges includes its sleeve with two fold-over flaps, the original eight-page booklet and inner sleeve; Mind Games, Double Fantasy, and Milk And Honey also include faithful reproductions of their original inner sleeves. Nice.

However, the thing that has become really collectable about this box set is that it’s been temporarily withdrawn from sale while Universal Music sort out a BIG mistake with one of the albums in the set. In first pressings Lennon’s Rock’n’Roll LP has a production error. The song “Sweet Little Sixteen” appears twice, and “You Can’t Catch Me” is missing altogether….making it something of an instant collector’s item.

The good news for those who’ve paid out the big $$ for the box is that Universal Music has acknowledged the mistake and set up a website where you can request a replacement copy of that particular album. You’ll need to provide proof of purchase:

Beatles Stuff We Found on a Visit to France – Part One

Just back from a holiday in Europe where we picked up some Beatle treasure along the way. This is the next instalment about what we found…

Once we’d left Amsterdam it was off to France, specifically the beautiful Loire Valley and the city of Tours, about 240kms from Paris. It wasn’t until we were in a newsagent store there that we saw this, up on a shelf behind the counter:Beatles Anth 2 DVD France

It’s part of a series produced by Universal Music in conjunction with the French newspaper Le Monde and their weekly art, TV and culture magazine Télérama. Starting back in January, each week they’ve slowly been releasing a collection of 25 Beatle albums and DVDs. As you can see these are individual CDs (or DVDs), each in a cardboard gatefold CD/DVD cover. This is attached for display purposes to a larger black cardboard square (11 inches by 11 inches). Each backing square has unique artwork and everything is sealed in a clear cellophane outer.

The weekly sequence for each release is detailed on the rear of the black cardboard square. It began with Sgt Pepper, and ends with The Beatles Anthology 5 DVD :Beatles Anth 3 Rear France

These CD and DVDs are only available from newsstands and places where Le Monde and Télérama are sold [see Wog Blog’s article about these releases here]. Similar re-issues have also been done in Italy and Spain, however these are not exactly the same CDs and DVDs as those for France.

Until we saw the Beatles Anthology 2 DVD in its special cardboard sleeve we’d completely forgotten about this series. It reminded us that, while all of the main albums had come out in cardboard gatefold sleeves before, there were some very unique packaging elements associated with nine of the 25 French releases: these are the five Anthology DVDs, plus four of the other CDs (Love [single CD]Anthology 1; Anthology 2 and Anthology 3 [all double CDs]). Each of these have never previously been released in this form with a cardboard gate-fold slipcase. And so these were the ones we wanted to add to our collection. They’re unavailable everywhere else, and purchasing them from French newsagents is the only way to get them.

The hunt therefore began…..

This wasn’t quite as easy as it might seem. Once each weekly issue is sold out the newsagents no longer stock them – and some of the items we were looking for dated back over seven weeks. While we were in Tours the then-current issue was The Beatles Anthology 2 DVD, so that was easy to pick up. As was The Beatles Anthology 1 DVD, which most newsagents seemed to still have supplies of:

Beatles Anth 1 DVD France

We then needed to travel by train from Tours to the city of Amiens in the north, and while transferring through the huge Gare du Nord railway station in Paris to get there we found copies of The Beatles Anthology 2 Double CD and the Anthology 3 Double CD sets:

Beatles Anthology 2 FranceBeatles Anthology 3 France

Arriving in Amiens we couldn’t find any other back-dated releases. But while there the latest release (The Beatles Anthology 3 DVD) actually came out – so we quickly grabbed a copy of that:

Beatles Anth 3 DVD France

This left just the double CD Anthology 1 and the Love CD to track down. Our time back in Paris before heading out of the country and home was our last chance….and these final two proved very difficult to find. Lots of asking around turned nothing up at all, though the owners who operate the many little newsagency kiosks on the streets of Paris were really very helpful to us. These kiosks look like this and are dotted around all over the place:

newspaper magazine kiosk kiosque post office

Many of the proprietors really wanted to assist. When they didn’t have what we were after some gave us phone numbers to call (for Le Monde and Télérama), and one guy went above and beyond, using his mobile phone to call around to his mates in other kiosks to see if they had either the Anthology 1 CD or Love. He managed to track down a copy of Anthology 1 for us, and he said possibly the Love CD too. Could we come back the next day to pick these up? Of course we could! There’s nothing like having local knowledge on your side. When we got back next day it turned out he secured just this one for us, which was great:

Beatles Anthology 1 France

And while he hadn’t been able to locate a copy of Love for us this helpful kiosk owner had managed to scrounge a copy of Sgt Pepper, the very first CD released in the series.

Because it was the first Pepper was displayed slightly differently. It came out attached to a much wider cardboard backing sheet which is 10 inches by 15.5 inches. So, because he’d been so very helpful (and because of the different appearance of this one), we decided to buy Pepper from him as well:

Beatles Pepper front FranceBeatles Pepper rear France

This meant though that the Beatles Love CD was still proving very elusive…

Love was actually the oldest one we were after. It’d been released to newsagents back in April and as it was now almost July it seemed absolutely no-one had it.

Where we were staying was quite near the very large Gare Montparnasse railway station. Inside (and around it on the street) were multiple kiosks and small shops selling newspapers. So one afternoon, the day before our final departure for Australia, we hit this area pretty hard. For some time we went from place to place with no luck, getting very footsore and tired.

We’d pretty much given up all hope when we tried the very last kiosk we could find….and there we found it, hanging on a hook in the kiosk. It was a little beaten up (you can still see the hook hole) – but it was a copy of the single CD Love album in its unique French cardboard gatefold slipcase:

Beatles Love France

All these French reissues are in fact unique. They have different catalogue numbers and copyright details on the rear covers, and on their printed labels. For example, here’s the Anthology 1 CD. You can see reference to the Beatles Calderstone Productions Ltd., and even the fact that they are to be sold exclusively at newsagent kiosks:

Anthology_1_rear_cover 2

Here’s a close-up of the small print (click on image for a larger version):Anthology_1_rear_coverAnthology_1_label 2Anthology_1_label

Of course, now we are back home that still leaves us with the quandary of how to source copies of The Beatles Anthology DVDs 4 and 5. These were released after we’d left the country… if anyone has any ideas on how we can get those two please drop us a line and let us know!

Some Local Beatle Pressings From a Visit to Holland

As mentioned in our previous post, a recent holiday trip took us to Europe (including a first ever visit to the Netherlands) and this presented the opportunity to trawl through a few of Amsterdam’s specialty vinyl record shops – and there are quite a few of them!

Collectors will know that pressings from Holland are fairly common because once upon a time EMI had quite a large presence there and pressed a huge amount of discs (both LPs and CDs). These were not only for local consumption, but also for distribution worldwide.

So, as a travel memento, we wanted at least a couple of Beatle or Beatle-related pressings as a physical reminder of our visit to the Netherlands.

The shops we made it to in Amsterdam included Record Friend, in the city’s Niewmarket area (at St Antoniesbreestraat 64); the enormous Concerto Records (at Utrechtsestraat 52-60); and finally City Records, also in Niewmarket (at Geldersekade 100A). There are many more places to find vinyl – but we had only a limited time.

The Record Friend store is situated below street level and it’s pretty big – and a bit overwhelming when you first walk in:

But it was easy to find the Beatles section and we soon found a nice clean Dutch copy of this double LP in its gatefold cover:

R&R front

We already have this LP (in Australian and US pressings), but this one is made in Holland with unusual grey and silver Parlophone labels, so it’s different. And for us it serves as a reminder of a fantastic visit to a fantastic city:R&R rearR&R label

Country of origin detail on the rear cover:

R&R detailNext we called in to Concerto – which is huge. The store (spread over five shops all joined together in one long line – see photo below) offers a wide selection of new and used vinyl, CDs and DVDs. Surprisingly they didn’t have a huge amount of Beatle vinyl.Concerto_Records

So, after a lengthy browse of their many shelves we moved on to City Records.

There, in a small but very neat and clean store (fairly new and with the owner still in the process of setting up), we found three nice collectable items. We’re always on the lookout for different versions of the 1970 Apple LP John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. We have quite a few – but to now have an original Holland pressing in the collection is a delight:POB FrontPOB rear

This one had the (censored) paper lyric sheet inner:POB inner

POB labelPOB detailAnd a little surprise added bonus – the cheeky postcard insert from Lennon’s Imagine album which was meant as a rebuff to Paul McCartney’s Ram cover. Not sure how it ended up with this LP, but out it fell when we got home:POB extra

Next out of the crates at City Records was a Dutch pressing of George Harrison’s budget compilation LP The Best of George Harrison. We’ve been looking for a vinyl version of this for some time so it’s good to finally have one, pressed in Holland of course:

Best of frontBest of rearBest of LabelBest of detail

And here’s the final Beatle LP we found at City Records. This version of The Beatles Ballads is a really nice find. This release (which is a Beatles “Best Of” style LP also issued in the UK and Australia) is collectable because it has a front and rear cover unique to Holland and is titled De Mooiste Songs (which roughly translates as The Most Beautiful Songs):

Ballads front1Ballads rear1

Ballads detailThe British and Australian covers for this have a blue border on the front cover:Ballads front2

And a predominantly yellow rear cover:

Ballads rear2

Here’s the Dutch label:Ballads Label1

In Australia this came out originally on the orange and black Parlophone label:Ballads Label2

For more on the background to the special painting done for this cover have a look here.

The owner of City Records was very helpful. Realising these albums had to make the very l-o-n-g journey back to Australia, he offered to put the LPs into a sturdy cardboard mailer to help protect them more fully. A kind gesture very much appreciated.

Next time – what happened on our visit to France……


Lennon and Ono in Amsterdam – Cor Jaring Photos

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,

Talkin’ in our beds for a week.

The news people said “Say, what you doing’ in bed?”

I said “We’re only tryin’ to get us some peace!”

So wrote John Lennon in “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, released by the Beatles back in 1969. He was talking in the song about one of his famous “bed-in” peace events, staged with Yoko Ono during their honeymoon while on a visit to the city of Amsterdam.Ballad of J&Y Acetate

One of the people there to visually record what happened was Dutch photographer Cor Jaring and the Amsterdam City Archives currently has an exhibition of his photographs on display. They feature some of the shots he took of John and Yoko that day – but you’ll need to be quick if you want to see it. It closes on July 12.

Hi, and welcome back to Beatles Blogger. We’ve been on holiday for a month – so it’s been a bit quite around here for a while. We’ve actually been traveling in Europe and now that we’re back over the coming days will reveal more about what we found there to add to the ever-growing Beatle collection. We managed to pick up a few very nice things….

We didn’t however get to visit the Jaring exhibition as we only picked up this advertising flyer on the very last day we were there and ran out of time:Cor Jaring

If you happen to be anywhere near Amsterdam it looks like it’d be interesting though.

New John Lennon LP Box Set Pressed By Optimal Media

The new John Lennon 8 LP box set (due in stores early next month) will all be pressed at a state-of-the-art German factory in the town of Robel in Germany. Lennon_LPs_2015

Optimal Media are a large and experienced outfit which has impressive high-volume CD replication and vinyl pressing facilities as well as the ability to print and assemble the high quality LP covers, inner sleeves and custom boxes in which they are presented for back-catalogue (and new) collections of music.optimal_factory

Optimal is the same place that the Beatles Remastered Stereo box set was manufactured back in 2012. Their site (and the finished product) demonstrates that they do impressive work at a high quality.beatles-vinyl-lid-open2

They pressed the 40th anniversary vinyl box set edition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” LP – a limited edition two-disc set released for Record Store Day in 2011.Lennon_Imaginersd_lennonbox

Our copy of the Beatles in Mono vinyl box set also originated at the same Optimal factory. All the printing and pressing of the box set was done there and like the Stereo Box, this was a large and complex project to pull off. It has to be said the quality and attention to detail is absolutely first-rate. The cardboard used for the covers is thick, and the 180g vinyl feels chunky and solid in your hands.beatles-mono-box14

For a further discussion on the origin of recent Beatle vinyl releases see:  Where “Made in the EU” Vinyl Might Be Pressed