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:

Happy Christmas To Beatle People Everywhere

This mashup is a massive Christmas Beatle medley put together by Tom Teeley. It features bits from their annual Christmas fanclub messages, combined with backing tracks and out-takes to create a unique Beatle listening experience:

Thanks to Robert and Richard for reminding us about this one. Make sure you check out their terrific Something About the Beatles Holiday Show.

See also A Guide to the Beatles Christmas Recordings.

And here’s wishing a very happy Christmas to Beatle people everywhere!

George Harrison’s Historic House “Friar Park” – New Book

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had an interest in the homes of the Beatles. Not a snooping, voyeuristic interest – but more of an architectural one because they (especially John and George) have lived in some very interesting buildings over the years.

That’s why our interest was sparked when we got a press release this week from a company called The Campfire Network advertising a new book. In coordination with “Ye Friends of Friar Park,” Campfire has just announced the publication of the second book in a series which celebrates the history and architecture of residences which at some point were homes of one or more of the Beatles. (Their first book in the series was The Dakota Scrapbook, published last year).

Now comes Friar Park: A Pictorial History, a collection of vintage, rare, and original photographs and illustrations telling the story of George Harrison’s spectacular and unusual home – Friar Park – from the time Sir Frank Crisp began purchasing land in the medieval town of Henley-on-Thames in the late 1800s, all the way to the time it was purchased by Harrison.Friar_Park

Carefully selected images offer a rare and unique glimpse of the property’s extraordinary gardens, mansion home, lodges, and assorted structures, lakes, and secret underground caves, as well as other architectural and horticultural treasures and wonders on the grounds of Friar Park. Here are some of the pages and images from the book:Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_3Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_4Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_6Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_7

Campfire’s Marketing Director Kelly Cardinal says: “Beatles fans, architects, historians, and anyone interested in grand homes and beautiful gardens have long-admired Friar Park from afar, with little more than the occasional description or photos that have appeared here and there. Now, for the first time, is a publication that includes the largest collection of photos and information about Friar Park that has ever been gathered together in one place before. It has generated quite a bit of excitement.”

The pictures and information in the book were found during the development of a forthcoming film documentary about the home.

Friar Park: A Pictorial History is now available from Amazon, as is a companion volume called Friar Park: 1919 Estate Auction Cataloguea recreation of the official auction catalogue for the house when it was sold following the passing of original owner Sir Frank Crisp. Upon his death his family instructed auctioneers to sell the entire estate, including all the grounds, the boathouse on Henley-on-Thames, and three grand residential sites. The sale took place on Saturday, August 9th, 1919 and this book is a scholastic and educational study of an architecturally and historically significant English country house.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, “The Story of Tittenhurst Park” – the English stately home owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, will be released in 2015.

And the same company has also published The Dakota Apartments: Vintage Articles.

(Each of the links above are to Amazon pages with a “Look Inside” function so that you can have a bit more of a sticky beak at these very interesting books).

There are also two YouTube clips promoting Friar Park: A Pictorial History:

McCartney on Writing Songs with Lennon

Don’t know if there’s anything particularly new here – but Paul McCartney is in good form, open and relaxed in a video uploaded this week to YouTube. (It has subsequently been taken down).

McCartney was appearing at a small gathering in London, answering questions and being interviewed by British model, actor and activist Lily Cole for a global campaign called impossible.

paulmaccartney.com called for musicians to submit their wishes to Cole’s impossible website in order to win seats to the strictly limited-entry event. There are photos and info hereTheir conversation event centred around Cole asking Sir Paul about his song ‘Hope For the Future’, part of the soundtrack to the new video game Destiny. You can read a transcript of what they talked about here

What is impossible? It’s described as a global community who help each other out. People share their time, skills and objects. Everything is always given or loaned for free.

For more on Cole see Lily Cole: From Vogue to the impossible

Cole is one of the many celebrity cameo’s in Paul’s ‘Queenie Eye’ video (you can see here and Johnny Depp pictured below):Lily Cole Queenie Eye

Some Beatles Car Boot Sale Booty

There was a big car boot sale just around the corner from us this last weekend, and we were able to find quite a few nice additions to the collection. One vendor just had boxes and boxes of CD’s, 7″ vinyl 45’s and 12″ LP’s on their stall – and so quite a bit of our Saturday morning was spent trawling….

It was time well spent though as it turned up a few gems.

First up was a Australian vinyl single taken from the John Lennon and Yoko Ono album Double Fantasy. ‘Watching the Wheels’ was the third single from this LP (the first two were ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ and ‘Woman’). We didn’t have a copy of ‘Watching the Wheels” so this was a good find.Beatles books_0010

Next was another 7″ single we didn’t have - Badfinger’s ‘Come and Get It’ on the Apple label. It dates from 1969 and is a Paul McCartney composition written for the band, and it makes an appearance on the soundtrack for the film The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. This is an Australian pressing. There’s a lot of writing on the label – but still…..Beatles books_0014

Further hunting through the boxes revealed another Apple single – this time from George Harrison. It’s an Australian copy of ‘My Sweet Lord’ b/w ‘Isn’t It A Pity’. In Australia this was a double A side as both titles have green Apple labels:Beatles books_0016Beatles books_0015

Our good luck continued in the multiple boxes at this car boot sale. Next out were two singles – a US copy of McCartney’s ‘Coming Up’, and ‘Say Say Say’ with Michael Jackson – both on the Columbia label, then a division of CBS. In the late 70’s/early 80’s McCartney was briefly (six years) on the Columbia label for his releases in America. He’d temporarily turned his back on Capitol Records, enticed by one of the most lucrative recording contracts around at the time, a deal which included as a sweetener the ownership of Frank Music, a CBS owned publishing company consisting (amongst other things) of Frank Loesser’s songs (think of the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, etc.). Frank Music is now of course folded into McCartney’s highly successful MPL Music Publishing business.

The two singles we found came out on the Parlophone label in Australia, so it’s good to have these US versions:Beatles books_0012Beatles books_0011

The final 45 we discovered was Billy J. Kramer’s ‘From a Window’ – which sadly is kind of beat up, but worth having because it is a song from 1964 written specifically for Kramer (and his band the Dakotas) by John Lennon and Paul McCartneyBeatles books_0013

The last purchase of the day was a bit of a find. It’s Jools Holland’s 2001 CD Small World Big Band, which is an important one to have in the collection because it contains George Harrison singing and playing on his last ever recordingGeorge passed away just two months after this recording. He does a song called ‘Horse to the Water’, co-composed with his son Dhani.

Holland’s CD is sub-titled “….his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and friends”, that’s because for each track he invites various stars to join him for a track each. These include the likes of Sting; Paul Weller; Dr John; Mark Knopfler; Van Morrison; Steve Winwood; and Eric Clapton, amongst many others.Beatles books_0017Beatles books_0020 To quote two of the poignant reviewers on Amazon:

“For me, the big reason to buy this CD was the George Harrison contribution, ‘Horse to the Water’. It is a GREAT song, and a brilliant Harrison song at that. George sounds weak, and I am not sure if Clapton has stepped in on some of the guitar parts, but what a brilliant and fun piece of music, worthy to be held in the highest esteem among its author’s ouvre. IT is reason enough to buy the CD.”

And this one:

“I purchased this CD for one reason. I had seen the DVD Concert for George and loved it. Among the best offerings on the DVD was the Sam Brown/Jools Holland rendition of ‘Horse to the Water’ by George. Except for the words, I would never have guessed that it was a Harrison song. It was too R&B. So I was curious to see how he handled it. Well, he does not have the powerhouse voice of Sam Brown, but I was in fact really surprised at how well he did, helped greatly by the superb backup band. I would not have recognised his voice. I am sure his throat cancer was behind that.”

There’s a small picture of George in the booklet:

Beatles books_0019Beatles books_0021