Ron Howard to Direct New Beatles Film – Just Announced

The Beatles official site has just announced that the highly respected US film director Ron Howard has been chosen to direct the new film about the Beatles touring years. They have linked to the micro-site set up to collect material for the project called thebeatlesliveproject.

The call out to fans who where there and have still images, film or audio from Beatle concerts and events is continuing. If you or someone you know has visual or audio materials documenting your personal experience of the Beatles live tours, Apple wants to hear from you. They are looking for rare or unusual footage, photographs, and audio recordings, particularly those that highlight the fan experience – what it was like to be a part of the frenzy.Beatles Live Project

The film will be a new, Apple-authorised Beatles documentary feature about the band’s touring years. It has the full co-operation of Paul McCartney, Ringo StarrYoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.

Read all about it.

 

Imagine – The Story of a Song

Charles J. Shields is a respected biographer and author. His literary studies of Kurt Vonnegut (And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life – 2011) and Harper Lee (Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee – 2006) have been widely recognised as significant works on these two authors.

Now he’s turned his attention to one song. And a significant song at that: John Lennon’s “Imagine”.imaginecover

“Twenty-two lines of graceful, plain-spoken faith in the power of a world to repair and change itself,” said Rolling Stone. Only 183 seconds long, the simple melody and poetry captured the wounded hopefulness of its moment–and transcended its time to inspire generations that followed.”

In Imagine: The Story of a Song Shields traces the song’s origins. Interestingly, he begins with the fire-bombing of Tokyo during Yoko Ono’s youth, and the violent death of Lennon’s mother during his adolescence. From there he moves through Lennon’s post-Ed Sullivan skepticism to John and Yoko’s “Bed-In” events of 1969 and unearths the secrets of this one song’s lasting import. If music can change the world, “Imagine” came as close as any song might. This short Kindle book (37 pages) is its story.

Imagine: The Story of a Song is available as an Amazon Kindle for US$4.99. You can even have a brief “look inside” before you buy.

Shields is also the author of this brief thought piece on John Lennon entitled “5 Surprising Ways John Lennon Changed the World“.  Worth a look.

Great New Beatles Book – “Beatles 101″

Beatles 101 – The Need-to-Know Guide by Richard Buskin is an impressive new Beatles book for anyone just starting out on the Beatle knowledege journey, or for die-hard fans who want to know more. It is a genuine one-stop-shop containing all the vital facts about the band:Beatles 101 frontBeatles 101 rear

There is so much information and research in here. There are individual chapters which could have been whole books, for example the eight-page chapter on The Beatles Anthology. It’s a great example of Buskin succinctly summarising every aspect of this significant Beatle project. Everything in the rest of the book is similarly very nicely distilled and concise. It is also very easy to read.

Beatles 101 is not presented as a purely chronological walk-through of the career. Topics are tackled more by categories of interest. That means you can easily dip in at various points and read very well-written and well-informed articles across a wide range of different aspects detailing the life and works of the Beatles. At the back of the book, for example, are a series of great, original interviews with some of the key people who worked with the band in the studio. There’s George Martin of course, but also the likes of Norman “Hurricane” Smith, Ken Scott, Glyn Johns, Alan Parsons and Eddie Kramer. We guarantee that even the most knowledgable fan will find something they didn’t know here.

This book also has some great photos – many not previously seen (especially of people and places) which all help to illustrate the wealth of information the book contains. This includes one very early shot of author Buskin standing beside another mad Beatle fan – who just happens to be a young Mark Lewisohn. The two didn’t know each other at the time – it is just a co-incidental snap of two fans, taken outside the gates of Strawberry Fields in Liverpool….

But perhaps the greatest and most unique visual element to Beatles 101 is the many colour plates depicting original artworks by Eric Cash:Beatles_TheIntroductionBeatles_HeyJude

These are terrific. We should also say that the company which produced the book is marketing a range of iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone covers featuring some of the best Beatle images painted by Cash and used in this book. They look great and you can order them online at Eric’s site, or through Amazon:Eric Cash2Eric Cash1

As well as being an author, Richard Buskin co-hosts (with Robert Rodriguez) a great new Beatles podcast called Something About the Beatles. This, in our humble opinion, is one of the best podcasts going around.

Beatles 101 – The Need-to-Know Guide is published by Parading Press.

If you’d like to hear an informative and fun interview with Richard Buskin about Beatles 101, have a listen to the podcast Fab4Free4All. Download Episode 94 in which the guys spend a good hour with Buskin discussing the book. It’s well worth a listen.

The Beatles Japan Box – First Pics and Unboxing

Our Japanese copy of the Beatles five CD Japan Box arrived in the post this morning and so we thought we’d upload an “unboxing” series of photos and show you the contents in some detail.

This has been devised and issued in Japan as part of that country’s activities to mark the Beatles 50th anniversary celebrations this year.

The box set, which will also be issued in the UK and the US, comes in a re-sealable, clear plastic outer. Inside this is a red, yellow and blue paper insert which wraps around the box from part-way at the front and completely covers the rear: Japan BoxOn the outside of the box is a circular sticker attached to the clear plastic cover. Not sure what it says – so if anyone can read Japanese please let us know: Japan Box frontWe think that the sticker has something to do with a small paper insert which is included inside the box (see more on this below).

Here’s the rear of the box with the wrap-around paper insert still in place: Japan Box rear

Once you take the box set from it’s plastic cover this is what it looks like, front and rear:

Japan Box front2Japan Box rear2

The Japanese are obviously very good at doing high quality glossy cardboard. This set has a really luxurious lustre to it. The sides of the box look like this: Japan Box side1Japan Box side2

Like previous Beatle CD box sets released in this style (The Beatles In Mono and The US Albums) there’s a slide-out inner draw which holds the contents:Japan Box open1Japan Box open2

Each of the five CDs comes in it’s own protective clear plastic, re-sealable outer sleeve. There’s a thick booklet included in the box as well as a small, clear plastic sachet containing mini replicas of five Japanese OBI strips. These would have been attached to the original LPs back in the day and are an indicator that Universal Music in Japan have gone to great lengths to accurately recreate the original album artwork:Japan Box OBI strips

The 96-page booklet looks like this:Japan Box BookJapan Box Book2Japan Box Book3Japan Box Book4Continuing on the design elements established with The Beatles in Mono and The US Albums box sets, each CD comes packaged just like the original 1960’s Japanese LP sleeves for these albums. This attention to detail extends to the external tabs on the rear of the covers, right through to what’s inside as well:Japan Box MTB frontJapan Box MTB rear

Inside there are authentic paper inner sleeves – exactly as they would have been for the vinyl editions. Meet the Beatles, for example, has a plain white paper sleeve:Japan Box MTB inner sleeve

There are also the original paper inserts with the lyrics for each song. And the original Odeon Records labels are printed on the CD:Japan Box MTB insertJapan Box MTB CD

This sort of detail is continued throughout each of the five CDs:Japan Box Second Album frontJapan Box Second Album rearJapan Box No2 insertJapan Box AHDN frontJapan Box AHDN rearJapan Box AHDN insertJapan Box No5 front

The Beatles No.5 cover loses the external rear tabs and just has a photograph of the band on the rear cover with no song titles:

Japan Box No5 rearInside there’s a printed paper inner sleeve with advertising for other artists who would have been on the Japanese Odeon label at the time, as well as the paper insert with lyrics, etc:Japan Box No5 inner sleeveJapan Box No5 inserts

Help! comes in a gatefold sleeve. Here’s the front cover:Japan Box Help frontHere is the rear:Japan Box Help rearAnd here’s the inside of the gatefold:Japan Box Help gatefold

Help! also gets a printed paper inner sleeve with advertising, plus the insert with lyrics:Japan Box Help insertsIt also gets a colour photo of the band as an additional insert:Japan Box Help photo insertJapan Box Help CD

One mystery object included with the box set is this thin paper postcard. We can’t read Japanese, but it looks like you can fill out your details on the other side, attach a postage stamp and send it off to receive an additional CD single. Possibly “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the first Japanese single from 1964? If anyone can assist with translating this please do!   Japan Box insert

All-in-all this box is beautifully done, and it sits nicely alongside The Beatles in Mono and The US Albums box sets as it is exactly the same proportions and style.

Beatles in Mono – Vinyl Releases Officially Announced

Beatles in Mono2The official Beatles site has today announced that, at long last, there will be a 14-LP box set of the mono vinyl releases.

This has been on the cards since the stereo and mono CD’s were remastered in 2009, and the stereo vinyl box set came out in 2012. Fans have been patiently waiting for the vinyl mono’s ever since…..Beatles in Mono

Here’s the official press release:

THE BEATLES GET BACK TO MONO 

The Beatles’ original mono studio albums, remastered at Abbey Road directly from the analogue masters for vinyl release on 180-Gram LPs will be available on September 8, individually and in a limited, 14-LP Boxed Edition with Hardbound Book.

London – June 12, 2014 – The Beatles in mono: This is how most listeners first heard the group in the 1960s, when mono was the predominant audio format. Up until 1968, each Beatles album was given a unique mono and stereo mix, but the group always regarded the mono as primary.

On September 8 (September 9 in North America), The Beatles’ nine U.K. albums, the American-compiled Magical Mystery Tour, and the Mono Masters collection of non-album tracks will be released in mono on 180-gram vinyl LPs with faithfully replicated artwork. Newly mastered from the analogue master tapes, each album will be available both individually and within a lavish, limited 14-LP boxed edition, The Beatles In Mono, which also includes a 108-page hardbound book.

In an audiophile-minded undertaking, The Beatles’ acclaimed mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Sean Magee and GRAMMY®-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.

Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles’ albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.

Manufactured for the world at Optimal Media in Germany, The Beatles’ albums are presented in their original glory, both sonically and in their packaging. The boxed collection’s exclusive 12-inch by 12-inch hardbound book features new essays and a detailed history of the mastering process by award-winning radio producer and author Kevin Howlett. The book is illustrated with many rare studio photos of The Beatles, fascinating archive documents, and articles and advertisements sourced from 1960s publications.Beatles in Mono covers

The Beatles In Mono: Available individually and collected in a limited 14-LP boxed edition, accompanied by an exclusive 108-page hardbound book.

Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles For Sale
Help!
Rubber Soul
Revolver
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (2-LP)
Mono Masters (3-LP)

Previously Unheard Beatle Interview Published In Full for the First Time

Beatles fans are today able to hear, for the first time ever, the unedited version of an interview that John, George and Ringo gave to Melbourne radio personality Binny Lum ahead of their Australian tour in April, 1964.

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has just published the 16-minute conversation to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Australian tour on 11 June. Edited versions have been broadcast and included on special discs over the years, but the interview in full has never previously been released.Binny Lum with the Beatles

NFSA Radio curator Maryanne Doyle said: ‘The Beatles were at the height of their popularity and it was a real coup that an Australian radio personality, unknown in the UK, had managed to secure an interview with the English rock band, the hottest property in show business. The fact that this occurred says as much for Lum’s tenacity as her well connected network of contacts.’

The interview and a full transcript is now available on the NFSA’s SoundCloud channel.

You can read the NFSA’s official press release here.

Beatles Australian 50th Anniversary Celebrations Are Hotting Up – Part Three

In anticipation – this coming week – of the 50th anniversary the Beatles first set foot in Australia, the local press has begun publishing a number of articles today.

The Sydney Morning Herald is carrying two pieces – this one about the fans:SMH Beatles-1SMH Beatles2

And this feature piece (which also appears in the Melbourne Age newspaper) about the continuing influence of the Beatles on some of the leading Australian musicians of today:SMH and Age Beatles3

Meanwhile, The Australian newspaper has a comprehensive review of the ABC TV special which goes to air at 8.30pm (Australian Eastern Time) next Tuesday, June 10:The Australian BeatlesSee also Beatles Australian 50th Anniversary Celebrations Are Hotting Up – Part One and Part Two.

Beatles Australian 50th Anniversary Celebrations Are Hotting Up – Part Two

Two more significant documentaries are due to go to air here in Australia as part of the celebrations to mark the first and only tour of the Beatles to this country 50 years ago. They arrived in Australia on June 11, 1964.

This Sunday the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will air a newly produced radio documentary called The Band That Fell to Oz: The Beatles Tour of 1964.

The Band that Fell to Oz

While it doesn’t officially go to air on radio until Sunday, you can hear The Band That Fell to Oz now as the program team have already made it available on their site to listen or to download.

Then, on Tuesday evening (June 10) ABC TV is showing a new television documentary about the 1964 visit called When The Beatles Drove Us Wild:

When The Beatles Drove Us Wild goes to air at 8.30pm, Tuesday June 10 (Australian Eastern Time).

See the official ABC TV Press Release here: When the Beatles Drove Us Wild Release

See also Beatles Australian 50th Anniversary Celebrations Are Hotting Up – Part One

There’ll be more news on the Australian celebrations soon, including a unique 24/7 digital radio station dedicated to the Beatles.

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.

Entire Japanese Leg of the “Out There” Tour Cancelled

Sad news for Paul McCartney and his Japanese fans – the entire tour has now been cancelled due to the illness Paul contracted just prior to the first show there last Saturday.

This includes what would have seen an historic return tonight to Tokyo’s famous Budokan stadium. It would have been his first appearance on the Budokan stage since the Beatles became the first pop band to play there in 1966.

All possibilities are being looked into to reschedule the missed Tokyo shows.

Next week the tour moves on to Korea. Let’s hope this illness can be shaken off by then.