The Beatles “Help” – 50th Anniversary Podcast

As we mentioned in December last year, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) is hosting an ongoing series celebrating the 50th anniversary of each British Beatle LP.

As each album marks its anniversary presenter Rod Quinn speaks to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert Jude Southerland Kessler. Jude is the author of the extraordinary and ambitious nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest instalment in her series is Volume 3: She Loves You.

Last weekend the pair began a two-part series on the Beatles fifth studio album Help!.

You can find Part One (examining Side One of the LP) here.Help Label 1

And you can find Part Two (examining Side Two of the LP) here.

Help Label 2Previous broadcasts have covered Please Please Me; With the BeatlesA Hard Day’s Night, and Beatles For Sale. Each is well worth a listen.

Vale Cynthia Lennon

We’ve been traveling over the Easter break and unable to update Beatlesblogger – but really wanted a post for the late Cynthia Lennon.

Julian Lennon has issued a statement and marked her passing with this loving song and video for his Mum:

Lennon biographer Jude Southerland-Kessler has written this tribute, and Steve Marinucci also posted a tribute on his Beatles Examiner site.

Did you know that in 1995 Cynthia Lennon recorded and released a version of the Mary Hopkin song ‘Those Were the Days’? Many of her fans discovered she was a very talented singer:

Cynthia Lennon

Cynthia Lennon died on 1 April, 2015 at her home in Majorca, Spain at the age of 75 after a short struggle with cancer, with her son Julian by her side.

Double Fantasy – Lennon & Ono in Vanity Fair Magazine

For those of us not well-heeled enough to shell out A$870 (for the standard edition), or A$1933 (for the deluxe art edition), perhaps this Vanity Fair magazine slideshow of images from a new book by photographer Kishin Shinoyama will just have to do….Double_Fantasy_1Double_Fantasy_2

Double Fantasy: John Lennon and Yoko Ono is published by Taschen Books:Double Fantasy 3

The Taschen site has some additional images in a slideshow, too.

Shinoyama’s 800 images were captured in just two days in 1980 – during the period John Lennon and Yoko Ono were in recording sessions for their album Double Fantasy. It was Shinoyama’s images that were used for the record and CD cover, front and rear:Double Fantasy 4Double Fantasy 5

And also for 1884’s Milk and Honey:Milk and Honey 1Milk and Honey 2

The Beatles in the News

Stumbled across a blog site that takes an interesting approach to Beatle history.

The Beatles in the News is just that – a site where multiple, random articles from across the decades and from all over the world are aggregated and re-published daily.

There are newspaper and magazine articles, concert reviews, TV news, and advertisements. It’s not only about the Beatles as a group but also as solo artists. Around 500 items from the past are uploaded every month.

One of the posts from January 23 this year caught our attention. It features – in full – a special colour supplement produced by the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly magazine in March, 1964 at the very height of Beatlemania:australia womans march 18 1964 bOf course, being a “women’s magazine” from the day meant you had to have a section dedicated to what to cook for that special Beatles party:australia womans march 18 1964 f

Just love those mop-top muffins with the chocolate hairdo’s! And also how to dress in Beatle fashion:

australia womans march 18 1964 g

Fantastic stuff.

With this site you never know from day-to-day just what gems might pop up.

For anyone interested in the Beatles The Beatles in the News is well worth visiting regularly. You never know what you might find.

Lennon – “In His Own Write” and “A Spaniard in the Works” 50th Anniversary Editions

The final instalment in the Christmas/birthday gift series* features three books.

We were alerted to the impending publication of the first two last year by Wogblog. These are two faithfully reproduced replicas – re-published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the release of John Lennon’s two literary works. The first is In His Own Write (from 1964):

Own Write coverOwn Write rear

The back cover (above) contains a short biography penned by Lennon, done in the quirky word-play style of the whole book: I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who only had one). Anyway they didn’t get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn’t pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a member of the most publified Beatles my and (P, G, and R’s) records might seem funnier to some than this book, but as far as I’m conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I’ve ever ready. God help and breed you all.

In His Own Write was John’s debut as an author, a book of stories, drawings and poems that was received with great critical acclaim and became a phenomenon – selling over 600,000 copies in the UK alone and revealing a hitherto unseen side to Lennon’s artistic output and talent.

Then, in 1965, came the follow-up A Spaniard in the Works, which continued on in a similar vein:Spaniard coverSpaniard rear

Published by Canongate Books in the UK, these are both very nicely made little hardbacks and while we haven’t ever seen or owned a copy of an original release, they look to have recreated the originals well. They’re both very reasonably priced, and form a nice addition to the collection.

Here are two typical pages from inside In His Own Write:Own Write pages

And a typical couple of pages from A Spaniard in the WorksSpaniard pages

While looking around the web to track down these two books we came across a third publication by John Lennon – this one is a similar collection of stories, drawings and poems, but this time published after his death:

Skywriting cover

Skywriting by Word of Mouth is sub-titled And Other Writings, Including “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. It was first released in 1986 and includes an afterword by Yoko Ono. Like the two other works detailed here, this book contains miscellaneous writings and cartoons. It was written during the five years that Lennon took off as a holiday from the music business and he always intended to have it published.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” section kicks off the book and it is not the same as the famous song. It ranges over 23 pages and details his life with Yoko, and talks about the Beatles’ break-up: “When I finally had the guts to tell the other three that I, quote, wanted a divorce, unquote, they knew it was for real….I felt guilty….I had Yoko – they only had each other….”, and “I started the band. I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that”. Lennon says that he has no hard feelings against his former bandmates: “In retrospect, the Beatles were no more an important part of my life than any other (and less than some)”.

Lennon mentioned the manuscript in a 1980 Playboy interview: “At one point… I wrote about two hundred pages of mad stuff”. The manuscript was stolen from the Lennons’ apartment in 1982, and later recovered in 1986, when Ono had it published. Here’s a typical couple of pages:Skywriting pages

So, three books under the Christmas tree to complete our collection of John Lennon solo literary works.

P.S. Both In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works were gathered together in one volume in 1966 by Penguin Books in a book called The Penguin John Lennon. We found a second-hand copy in a bookstore in 2010. It has been re-published with different covers many times since. Quite by chance the Chained and Perfumed blog also posted an image of one of them just a couple of days ago….

* See also here, and here for more 2014 Christmas/birthday posts. 

John Lennon “Imagine” in Ultra Hi Res Audio

The next few posts will focus on gifts that were either under the Christmas tree, or given as birthday presents. Yes, Christmas is also birthday time around here, and so there are a few nice new items to add to the collection as a result!

The first is a copy of John Lennon’s Imagine album in High Fidelity Pure Audio:

Lennon Hi ResThis came out early in 2014. It is on a Blu-Ray disc containing just audio – no video content. High Fidelity Pure Audio is a Universal Music led initiative to reissue high resolution music physically on audio-only Blu-Ray discs. (See their Facebook page and this short video advertising the format). There are a number of titles out from the likes of Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Elton John, etc. (Click here for a full list).

This Lennon title uses the 2010 remaster in 24 bit/96 kHz audio with no compression. Lennon Hi Res Rear

Have not had the opportunity to do a serious A/B comparison with other versions of this album on CD yet. Reports on the web are mixed.

Lennon Hi Res DiscPackaging is OK. There’s a booklet unique in format to this release, but with content pretty much exactly the same as the 2010 CD release:Lennon Hi Res Book 1

Inside is an essay by Paul Du Noyer, plus photos from the original album, supplemented by some additional shots:Lennon Hi Res Book 2Lennon Hi Res Book 3

Also inside the Blu-Ray fold-out box you get this photo as the inside liner:Lennon Hi Res linerA download voucher is included in the pack which gives you access to a digital download of the album in MP3 format at a standard resolution so that you can access the music on the move on devices which don’t support HD audio:Lennon Hi Res coupon

Since this physical release on Blu-Ray, Universal Music and Apple have made a wider range of Lennon titles available for download only in High Res audio, although this looks to be region-specific and geo-blocks certain markets (like Australia).

Amazing Tower Records Footage from 1970

For those of us who remember the days of visiting good old “bricks and mortar” record stores to browse and buy the latest vinyl……this amazing footage of the legendary Tower Records on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in 1970 will take you back (and possibly take your breath away if you’re a vinyl nut!)

In it we spotted literally hundreds of plastic sealed copies of George Harrison’s then new box set All Things Must Pass being put out on display……a fleeting glimpse of Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band in the arms of a female customer…..stacks of McCartney’s McCartney LP…..Badfinger’s  No Dice……a copy of the Beatles Yellow Submarine….and from footage taken outside, a big John Lennon billboard.

Scenes from this great archival film were used to illustrate this spoken word advertisement for Tower Records voiced by John Lennon himself (possibly from 1973) – then promoting his latest LP Mind Games: