Tough Times Being a Beatle Fan in Soviet-era Russia

The topic of Beatles collecting and fandom in Soviet-era Russia has been a popular topic on the web of late.

Andrey, a long-time friend of our page, alerted us to this comprehensive article recently posted (in Russian) on the beatlespress.com.ua site.

If you don’t read Cyrillic writing (and we don’t!), then Andrey has provided a link to a video in English on the very same topic:

Bottom line is that you had to be tough to be a Beatle fan in public in the late 1960’s/early 1970s. The Soviet secret service, the KGB, came down very hard on any young people who dared to say they “….loved Lennon more than Lenin”.

Their lives could – and were – turned upside down. Indeed, in the example cited where a group in the Ukraine turned out on the street to celebrate something as innocuous as Paul McCartney’s birthday, seven people were arrested and sentenced to 15 days jail for “disturbing public order”.

In addition, six were expelled from their university studies and from the Young Communist League – the latter almost certainly guaranteeing their failure in any future career. Younger high school students were forced to repeat whole years of study. There were ramifications also for their parents who were publicly humiliated in the Soviet media.

While we were pondering all this and how much we in the West take our freedoms for granted, we also stumbled upon this great video on a closely related subject. Its just been uploaded on the Parlogram Auctions YouTube Channel and is a study on how Beatle fans in the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain listened to The Beatles – including the spooky “music on bones” records we’ve written about before.

Meet the British Bobby Who Ended The Beatles Last Show

This is timely, and a lovely recollection 52 years on.

Daniele Hamamdjian from Canada’s CTV News speaks to Ray Dagg.

He was one of the police officers sent into the Apple building – on Savile Row in London – to shut down The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert in 1969.

Rooftop Concert Comes to IMAX – and Blu-ray/DVD

This image popped up on the official Beatles website and on social media overnight:

It was accompanied by the words: “The Rooftop Concert is coming to @IMAX. Experience the unforgettable performance in a special 60-minute presentation of Peter Jackson’s docuseries in a one night event on January 30. Get tickets now: http://tickets.imax.com

Reaction on social media has been angst that (initially) the film is only to be available in IMAX theatres in the United States:

Pls not only for the US! The Beatles are from Europe, this whole movie plays in London..

Nothing in the country they’re from and where this happened? 😦

US only?? Kinda rude tbh

Pls not only for the US! The Beatles are from Europe, this whole movie plays in London…..

Fantastic! Shame that it’s only in the US though…

But only in the US?! 🤔 you do realise the Beatles are English yeah? 😡

However, the real news was on the Beatles site:

1. That a global theatrical engagement for the 60-minute rooftop only film is to to follow in February 11-13, 2022

and,

2. The complete docuseries is to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 8, 2022.

Now, that’s the first official confirmation that a Blu-ray and DVD will be made available to fans of the whole Peter Jackson The Beatles: Get Back film. However, the three-disc set will only feature the exact same content available to stream on Disney+. There’s no bonus features, no rooftop concert in full, no original-cut of Let It Be (which was promised when Get Back was announced).

Shankar Family ૐ Friends to get an Audiophile Release

The 1974 Dark Horse Records title Shankar Family ૐ Friends is to get an audiophile vinyl pressing in 2022.

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs site has it listed only as “Coming Soon” so far – but it will be on 180 gram vinyl under their Original Master Recording imprint. This will be the first time the record has been re-issued on vinyl since 1974.

An album by Indian master musician Ravi Shankar, Shankar Family ૐ Friends was recorded primarily in Los Angeles during the spring of 1973, but not released until late 1974. It features a host of top-flight Indian players.

The album was produced by George Harrison and also features western musicians like Tom Scott, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins and Jim Keltner. It was last re-issued on CD in 2010 as part of the Collaborations box set. Check out our unboxing here.

What is a little confusing is that on the MoFi website the release is listed as being a 180 gram numbered single LP, while in the Music Direct store catalogue it says it will be a 180 gram, 45rpm 2LP pressing…..

Reader Unboxing Video of McCartney ‘The Lyrics’ Limited Edition

We’re guessing that many of you had Paul MCCartney’s The Lyrics book under the Christmas tree this year.

Not so many though would have been unwrapping the Limited Edition.

That’s the one actually signed by Sir Paul, and there have reportedly been just 175 copies made available worldwide. However, that most likely means 175 for the US market, and 175 for the UK.

Either way, it’s the one that comes in a unique and quite distinctive bright orange box with blue lettering. The design inside is different to the standard as well – as one lucky reader in New Zealand has just shared with us when he received his unique boxed set.

His name is Simon and somehow he managed to get a copy of the Limited Edition sent to him from a UK book store. It is number 105/175. Simon’s done this unboxing video for us of him opening his treasure:

See also Paul McCartney The Lyrics – How Many Translations?

Billy Preston’s ‘Encouraging Words’ Gets an Apple Records Reissue

We weren’t even aware of this until alerted yesterday by Instagram poster @applerecordspictures…..

Billy Preston, currently wowing viewers for his keyboard prowess in The Beatles: Get Back documentary on Disney+, recently had his 1970 Apple Records LP Encouraging Words re-issued on vinyl by the label.

It was released in October as a way to celebrate Preston’s induction for Musical Excellence into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will only be available for a limited period.

First issued in the UK on September 11 1970, the album was co-produced by Billy and George Harrison. Encouraging Words contains covers of two of George’s songs – ‘All Things Must Pass’ and ‘My Sweet Lord’ where they appeared for the very first time, two months before George’s own recordings of those tracks appeared on his album All Things Must Pass. The LP also contains a cover of the Lennon/McCartney track ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, from The Beatle’s Let It Be LP.

So, while it is timely of Apple to mark his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, this reissue of Billy’s album is also a great tie-in with the release of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back film too.

I wonder if we’ll be seeing any other Apple Records artists getting vinyl reissues?

The Ages of Everyone in Get Back

These are the ages of all the key players in Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, set in January, 1969:

Paul McCartney – 26, John Lennon – 28, Ringo Starr – 28, George Harrison – 25.

Producer/Engineer Glyn Johns is 26, Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg – 28, and Producer George Martin – 43.

Yoko Ono is 35, Linda Eastman – 27. Her daughter Heather is 6.

Roadie Mal Evans is 33, Keyboard Player Billy Preston – 22, Photographer Ethan Russell – 23, and Tape Operator Alan Parsons – 20 (wouldn’t be 21 until December).

It is a fascinating glimpse into the world of The Beatles at that time. Catch it on Disney+ if you can.

Wild Life Gets 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master

50 years ago, on December 7, Wings released their debut album Wild Life – recorded over an eight-day period at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Now it joins McCartney and RAM in getting the Limited Edition, 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master treatment:

Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Seiwell and Denny Laine arrived at the studios on 25 July, 1971 to begin recording with engineers Tony Clark and Alan Parsons.

“They rehearsed for a while, sang some old songs, wrote some new ones and in time headed for the big city studios. In three days they had laid down most of the tracks and by the end of a couple of weeks the album was finished. In this wrapper is the music they made. Can you dig it?”, wrote Clint Harrigan for the original album’s back cover liner notes.

On PaulMcCartney.com Paul wrote: “Wild Life was about spontaneity: the opening track ‘Mumbo’ was recorded in one take. I’d read that Bob Dylan had just made a quick album and I really liked the idea, because we tended to take longer and longer to make records. The early albums by The Beatles hadn’t taken long and it seemed to me that Dylan was getting to that. I was a great admirer of his – and still am to this day – so I thought, well, if it’s good enough for him, let’s do it.”

The 50th anniversary edition of Wild Life is cut at half speed at Abbey Road using a high resolution transfer of the original 1971 master tapes. The Half Speed 50th will be released on February 4. It is available for pre-order now.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – 50 Acetates for 50 Years

In the lead up to Christmas what a fantastic idea from the John Lennon Estate to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the Plastic Ono Band song, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’.

They have sent selected record stores and charities across the UK a very, very limited edition 12″ single of the song in the form of an acetate, each individually cut at Abbey Road Studios.

Only 50 of these have been produced – so they are instant rarities and valuable collectors items. The outer sleeve is stamped with the signature of Yoko Ono, and each recipient received a letter signed by Sean Ono Lennon outlining the Estate’s request that they use the disc (in which ever way they please) to help raise much needed funds for charity. Brilliant!

The entire idea is fully outlined on the John Lennon official site.

That got us curious to see how many of the 50 individually numbered acetates we could track down in the wild. We’ve pulled together these images of the discs – and sometimes their new owners who are charged with on-selling them for charity. Each recipient is doing this in their own way – so check out their details for how you could possibly secure one of these 50 rare acetates for yourself. You’ll be helping a good cause along the way!

03/50 Assai RecordsDundee, Scotland. They have decided to run an auction with bids lodged via email. Details here.

05/50 Dig VinylLiverpool:

07/50 Five Rise RecordsBingley in Yorkshire. They’ve chosen the eBay option to raise funds for charity. See their eBay auction here.

10/50 Jacaranda RecordsLiverpool. They have taken the online raffle route.

11/50 Kelly’s RecordsCardiff, Wales:

12/50 Monorail MusicGlasgow, Scotland: They are holding an eBay auction.

13/50 The Musical Box RecordsLiverpool:

15/50 Probe RecordsLiverpool:

16/50 Resident Music – in Brighton, UK. They’re running a raffle where every purchase at their store gets an entry. Money raised goes to the Gig Buddies charity.

18/50 RPM MusicNewcastle upon Tyne:

20/50 Skeleton RecordsLiverpool. They’re auctioning their acetate on Boxing Day. Watch this space for more details.

21/50 Spillers RecordsCardiff, Wales. Spillers have given their record to Oasis, a charity doing good work with refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff. They in turn are holding a raffle by donation. i.e. you make a donation and go in the draw to win! Details here.

22/50 Spinning DiscsSheffield:

24/50 Kingbee RecordsManchester:

25/50 Vinyl RevivalManchester:

26/50 The Vinyl WhistleHeadingly – Leeds (These guys have decided to sell raffle tickets. At £2 quid each you can buy as many as you like and go in the draw to win!):

27/50 Wax and Beans RecordsBury (near Manchester):

29/50 Attitude is Everything – a UK charity based in London working on giving deaf and disabled people better access to live music.

31/50 Collage Arts is in London. It works in the community and offers artist studios, creative enterprise training, young people’s arts programmes, live music and events. They joined in a group of seven other recipient charities and used Crowdfunder to raise £13,720!

32/50 went to Earth Percent, a charity set up in part by Brian Eno to raise awareness of climate change. Watch their Twitter account for plans on how they’ll use the gift to raise funds.

33/50 Glasgowbury – Northern Ireland’s emerging music festival, established from a need to support and develop homegrown artists. They’re HQ is located in Draperstown and they’re taking bids via email.

34/50 This acetate went to Help Musicians UK, an independent charity that provides support and opportunity for professional musicians of all genres and career stages. They also joined in a group of seven other recipient charities and used Crowdfunder to raise £13,720!

?/50 Sister Ray RecordsSoho, London (Not sure of what number these guys got, but they decided to hold an auction across their various social media sites – for example Instagram). It raised £2,300. Not bad!

35/50 Hen Hoose – Scottish female and non binary songwriters and music producers. (They have also posted a lovely video unboxing on Twitter). Their auction via the Omega Auction house raised £4,320!

37/50 Karousel Music CIC – This is a London-based music industry hub promoting collaboration amongst artists, songwriters, musicians and industry. See their ticket raffle here.

39/50 Moving On MusicLocated in Belfast, this is an independent, not-for-profit and registered charity. It provides an eclectic mix of music and education services to the entire community in Northern Ireland. See their eBay auction here.

40/50 Music BrothScotland’s musical instrument and equipment library. Social enterprise and charity improving access to music making for all:

41/50 The Music Venue Trust is a London-based registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues. They have uploaded a Facebook unboxing and appear to be totally surprised by what they find in the package! See their ticket raffle here.

42/50 Music Place North-West is a music therapy charity from Liverpool’s Merseyside and they are auctioning their acetate through Bonhams. It will be auctioned in the new year so watch their Twitter account for details.

45/50 Phoenix Arts Club is also located in London and they too have done a Facebook video unboxing in which they are absolutely bowled over by the generosity of Sean and Yoko in choosing them. Watch it. It’s great!

46/50 SWIM stands for Scottish Women In Music. It is a collection of music creators and industry professionals who identify as women working in all music industries. It’s committed to achieving a level playing field for women, pushing for gender equality. They’ve decided on an eBay auction for their acetate.

47/50 The Brain Charity is based in Liverpool and does amazing work helping those affected by neurological conditions to live longer, healthier, happier lives. They also decided to auction their ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ acetate disc on eBay – and it sold for £4,900. Wonderful effort!

48/50 The Glad Foundation is a charity in Glasgow. It provides a wide range of free and affordable music workshops for people of all ages and abilities:

?/50 The Coda Club in London seems to be associated with the Phoenix Arts Club (see 45/50 above) because their acetate disc is mentioned and seen still sealed in the Phoenix Arts Club Facebook video. The Coda Club is a meeting and support network for retirement-aged classical/jazz/session musicians to reconnect and meet and combat loneliness.

We reckon this is a fantastic initiative by Yoko Ono, Sean Ono Lennon and the John Lennon Estate to do some good in the world this holiday season. In it’s 50th anniversary year good on them for having the vision to use ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ in this creative way.