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:

 

Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Re-Issue

For those George Harrison completists among us comes a CD re-issue of the1992 concert held to mark the 30th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s recording career. This 2CD Deluxe Edition, with remastered audio, adds two previously unreleased recordings from the concert’s sound check to the original release. Our copy just arrived in the post:30th Anniv CD front30th Anniv CD Rear

George Harrison (then making his first US concert appearance in 18 years) is introduced on Track 7 of Disc 2 singing “Absolutely Sweet Marie”. As well we get him playing guitar and backing vocals on two other tracks. Sadly we don’t get “If Not For You”, though it was performed during the concert.30th Anniv disc 130th Anniv Disc 2

The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration is also now out on DVD and Blu-ray for the very first time. See WogBlog’s post for all the details on those releases.

The back of the CD booklet has a tribute to all the musicians who have since passed:30th Anniv Booklet rear

The original 1992 CD cover looked like this, with a photo of George pretty much front and centre:30th Anniversary Orig

A Hard Day’s Night Re-Issue Coming Soon

http://www.criterion.com/films/28547-a-hard-day-s-night

Criterion Films have announced a new re-issue of the Beatles A Hard Day’s Night film. It will have a new cover:Hard Days Night coverHard Days Nigh Rear cover

And will come in two versions – a DVD only, and a “dual-format” 3 disc box set edition which combines DVD and BluRay versions. What you’ll get is:

  • A new 4K digital film restoration, approved by director Richard Lester, with two audio options—a monaural soundtrack and a new 5.1 surround soundtrack made by Apple Records (which Giles Martin worked on) — presented in uncompressed monaural DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray (dual-format only)
  • Audio commentary featuring various members of the film’s cast and crew (dual-format only)
  • In Their Own Voices, a new piece combining interviews with the Beatles from 1964 with behind-the-scenes footage and photos
  • You Can’t Do That: The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night,” a 1994 documentary program by producer Walter Shenson
  • Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Lester, music producer George Martin, writer Alun Owen, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, and others (dual-format only)
  • New piece about Lester’s early work, featuring a new audio interview with the director (dual-format only)
  • The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959), Lester’s Oscar-nominated short featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan (dual-format only)
  • Anatomy of a Style, a new piece on Lester’s approach to editing (dual-format only)
  • New interview with Mark Lewisohn, author of Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years—Volume One (dual-format only)
  • Deleted scene (dual-format only)
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton
  • The film will be in a 1:75:1 aspect ratio, which is how it was originally shown in movie theatres in 1964
  • The re-issue is due for release on June 24

Beatles U.S. Albums Sampler

Some people are kind.

We’d been looking to purchase (if we could) a copy of the 25-track “sampler” CD released to promote the Beatles The U.S. Albums box set.

“FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE”

These have been selling on eBay for upwards of $75.00…and more. Really, too much!

Then the other day we get home to find a small parcel had been delivered. Inside – you guessed it: a copy of the rare and collectable sampler CD.

A friend in the music industry had more than one copy and so he’d sent it over – as a gift.

U.S. Albums Promo frontU.S. Albums Promo rearU.S. Albums Promo CD

Some people are kind. And generous!

Apple Introduces a Beatles Channel App on Apple TV

Many of the the Mac watch sites are reporting that Apple has launched a new channel dedicated to the Beatles:Beatles-apple-tv-50th-2014-02-10-verge-1020_large_verge_medium_landscape beatles_atv-800x482

Linked in with the commemorations on the weekend for the 50th anniversary of the band’s debut on American TV screens, if you have an Apple TV device you can watch the first Ed Sullivan Show performances of “All My Loving,” “‘Til There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the big screen. The complete performance clocks in at just over 14 minutes. The Ed Sullivan recordings will be available for a limited time, according to the information on the channel.

There are also links to The Beatles U.S. Albums, available for purchase from the iTunes Store (of course!).

The Beatles and Calderstone Productions Limited

We’ve been intrigued to read in the small print on the back of each of the most recent Beatle CD and vinyl releases a reference to a company called Calderstone Productions Limited. It has not been on releases prior to Universal Music taking over EMI, and so we began to wonder about what it is – and started doing some snooping.

You can see a reference to Calderstone on the Beatles’ On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2, and also on the re-issued version of Live at the BBC:Beatles BBC 2Beatles BBC 1

At first it looked like it might be a company set up just to deal with the copyright and publishing issues around all the BBC recordings used on those discs, but now Calderstone Productions has also appeared in the small print on the bottom of the CD box set The Beatles U.S. Albums released last month:Beatles U.S. Albums

(Click on the images above to see larger versions)

Going back further, a bit more snooping shows there’s also reference to Calderstone on iTunes for the digital download of Let It Be… Naked. The iTunes site says: Let_It_Be_Naked

Would this make Let It Be…Naked the first official Beatles release since Universal got hold of EMI? Calderstone Productions is registered in the UK and was previously known as Beatles Holdco Limited. This was changed to Calderstone on 29 November, 2012. 

Calderstone’s Company Secretary is registered as a Mrs Abolanle Abioye (age 53 and also Secretary to Universal Music Publishing), and the Directors are listed as Mr Adam Barker (45 years old and a company director on at least fifteen other companies), and Mr David Sharpe (a 46 year-old Irishman, also listed as a director of at least another 15 companies, also mostly music-related).

The registered address for the company is 364-366 Kensington High Street, London W14 8NS, which not surprisingly is the same address as Universal Music UK. Google maps shows that their front door looks like this:Universal_Music

Calderstone lists a share capital of just £1 English pound – although this site says the company has a combined assets value of £7,954,000.

Interestingly there are strong Liverpool links to the name Calderstone. There’s a park there called Calderstones Park. And Calderstones School is located opposite the park on Harthill Road in the Liverpool suburb of Allerton. The school was founded in 1921 as Quarry Bank High School, whose most famous student was one John Lennon….

Coincidence?

The Beatles Arrive in New York, 7 February, 1964

It begins….

The Beatles U.S. Albums

Time Magazine      Life Magazine

Rolling Stone       Mojo Magazine

The Beatles in the United States

And not one, but two articles from the lovely and very knowledgable Beatles expert, Jude Southerland Kessler, author of the John Lennon series. Jude is writing an ambitious nine-volume expanded biography of John Lennon and she has just published volume three. Here’s an excerpt from the new book, She Loves You:

February 1964: The Beatles Arrive in America!

The Love You Give: Ten Life Lessons from The Beatles

Some Fans Angry About The New U.S. Albums Set

While it’s always great to have some new Beatles product, some fans are only just starting to realise that the new The U.S. Albums set is making them purchase a lot of content they probably already own.

The plea for more information by Beatlesblog reader Alex in the comments section of this post is typical of the confusion buyers face over which versions are being used on The U.S. Albums:

Can anyone out there confirm if these cds are indeed the original mixes released by Capitol. Many folks insist that only the original lp covers have been included in this box set. Further, all the mixes are from other sources, hence don’t sound at all like the original unique Capitol releases. So many stories and I simply will not be able to verify this myself without committing to this purchase. It just should not be so difficult to get this information. All of the marketing sites that I’ve seen are very vague about this issue. Any help on this would be great!

Well, to answer Alex’s query the best description we can find so far detailing exactly what the tracks are (and how they were chosen) is on the very well-informed and researched Beatles Rarity site. Happy Nat writes:

“The new set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes. Apple has cited in a press release that this would not have created the best possible listening experience due to some fidelity limitations with the Capitol mixes. These include mixes made from second, third or even fourth generation tapes and many of the songs being in a duophonic mix instead of “true” stereo (duophonic, otherwise known as “fake” or “rechannelled” stereo is a means of simulating stereo from a mono source). For this reason and with a few exceptions that I will get to in a minute, the remasters that were issued in 2009 of the British mixes will be used and enhanced with a touch of additional echo to give them a more “Americanized” sound.”

And Beatles Rarity goes on to give specific information about the methodology used to select the source of these recordings:

  1. If Capitol’s original mix on a stereo album was a duophonic mix – the true stereo UK mix remastered in 2009 was used instead (e.g. “Ticket To Ride” but lots of others that were for the most part a & b sides of singles)
  2. If Capitol’s original mix on a mono album was a “Type B” mono (i.e. reduced to mono from stereo mix) – the original UK mono mix was used instead. This would cover tracks on the mono Meet The Beatles!The Beatles Second AlbumThe Early BeatlesHelp! and even “Drive My Car” from Yesterday And Today.
  3. In the few cases where there was no stereo mix to use and Capitol made duophonic mixes (e.g. “She Loves You,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do”) – the original UK mono mix was used instead.
  4. There are a few edits and mixes sent to Capitol by producer George Martin that make the US versions of certain tracks unique. Apple has confirmed that these will be remastered and included with the set. However, there is no confirmation on what specific tracks these are. I’ve annotated 5 possibilities and what’s different about the original US Capitol US mix vs. the 2009 remasters below:
    • “I’ll Cry Instead” – extra verse on mono version of A Hard Day’s Night andSomething New
    • “I’m Looking Through You” – false starts on the stereo mix of Rubber Soul
    • “I’m Only Sleeping” – backwards guitar fading up and down in different spots than UK mixes on both stereo and mono versions of Yesterday And Today
    • “Dr. Robert” – slightly longer fade on mono version of Yesterday And Today
    • “Paperback Writer” – reversed right and left channels on Hey Jude

    Of course the first two in this list were already released on the earlier Capitol box sets.

  5. For everything not covered in 1-4 above – the 2009 remasters will be used.

So, unlike the 2004 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 1) which included four of these albums in mono and stereo, and the 2006 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 2) containing an additional four of these albums also in mono and stereo, The U.S. Albums set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes – most of the time. And it’s this information which is getting some avid Beatle fans and collectors upset. As an example here’s an extract from an email we recieved from Bruce Hamlin who runs the Beatles Records Information Service here in Australia:

I have not received my box yet but according to all internet reports what you are getting is the American Albums artwork reproduced in 5″ format, with special attention given to ‘Yesterday And Today” having a removable cover. However the most important part of any musical format is the music, and it appears what has happend here is you end up with someone in the record company’s opinion of the best version of each song title. NOT in every case the original American Capitol mix of the songs as issued on the American original vinyl albums. Because basically we in Australia (and New Zealand) originally got the English sets of albums, the American ones had a special facination to them. Different album names, different and shorter track listings, funny sounding mixes in both mono and stereo version. Fake stereo on a lot of tracks (they called it Duophonic) and in lots of cases our singles appeared on their albums. Great mystical stuff. BUT what we now get under the misleading title of ‘American Albums’ is just the artwork, and tracklistings. NOT the  music. I will be getting a copy in a few days, but I know although the music will be great, it will not be what I thought I was buying. All we will be getting is mono and stereo versions of the American Albums running order but with mostly the 2009 UK remixes.
When will EMI/Apple/Capitol/Universal ask/employ some Beatles Fans to assist them with compiling new releases? I’m sure half a dozen fans from around the world would actually give the purchasing Beatles fans what they want and in doing so, increase the profits of the record company. God bless the bootleggers who have given us all of this stuff anyway in it’s correct format and correct sound. And at just a smidgen below the record company’s quality. No wonder people don’t buy the record company products. They are crap. It’s not the internet, or downloads or anything else. It’s the Record Companies fault.
So for once I will give a negative recomendation – ONLY buy this package if your are a completist. It is not the real thing, not what it’s title suggests.

I think you can hear the anger there.

Now, of course this cuts both ways. If the set did indeed use the original Capitol master tapes at least eight of the albums would already be in keen collectors hands because they’d most likely already have The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 from 2004, and The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 from 2006. We’d be paying again, but in a different way, for already released material. No doubt there’d be some angst around the internet about this as well.

We’re very interested in your views too.

Would you have preferred the original, nostalgic U.S. Capitol mixes, or the fresher 2009 re-mixes? Did you buy the box set (or individual albums) thinking you were getting something different to what you have?

Beatles US Albums Box

Beatles Launch Official “U.S. Albums” Website

Beatles US Albums Advertisement

The 50th year has kicked off with a bang – the big release of the Beatles The U.S. Albums in a 13 album box set, and as individual titles on CD or digital download. Yesterday the Beatles official website unveiled a new interactive page dedicated to the release (just click on the image below to go there):Beatles Official US Albums Website

Meanwhile on YouTube, this guy was amonst the very first to get a copy of the box set and upload an “unboxing” video showing the contents in detail: