The mysterious curse of The Beatles‘ Let It Be sessions seems to have permeated across 50 years, all the way to 2022 with the inability to get to a release date that everyone was happy with…..
Disney and Apple have experienced huge issues in getting Peter Jackson’s wonderful three-part opus out to the public on physical media (i.e. Blu-ray and DVD). There have been a few false starts this year but it seems finally the release is definitely on again. Hence this email from the official US Beatle store in our inbox this morning:
The official Beatle page also trumpets that The Beatles Get Back is definitely on again. At least on Blu-ray. It’s hard to find on either site a reference or images of the DVD…….
As previously announced before it was withdrawn, the Blu-ray will come in a ‘Collector’s Pack’:
This contains a tri-fold inner holding the three discs, one for each of the three parts that have been available as a stream on Disney+:
And also included are four Get Back collector’s cards, one for each Beatle:
There’s no bonus material however. It could be argued though that we’re already getting lots of that ‘bonus’ material on these discs as the original Get Back film (as initially planned for streaming release last year) had many extra hours added to it by director, Peter Jackson before it made it to Disney+.
It’s reasonably well known in Beatle circles that when it came to compiling the 1994 album Live at the BBC (later re-issued in remastered form and accompanied by a second volume in 2013), Apple and EMI relied heavily on some previously unknown 1963 recordings made off the radio by a teenage fan named Margaret Ashworth.
Margaret was credited prominently in the liner notes of both. Here’s Volume 1:
And here are the credits for Volume 2:
Her name was there for all to see, and we knew she was the source of many songs and performances previously thought to be completely lost, or only available in very poor quality. But we didn’t really know the whole back story. She’s not even given a single mention in Kevin Howlett’s comprehensive book on the subject, The Beatles: the BBC Archives: 1962-1970.
Now, for the first time, Margaret Ashworth – a veteran journalist who works at the Daily Mail newspaper – has written extensively about just how she was able to come to the rescue of The Beatles and made a new release of their live radio performances possible.
Realising that her homemade tapes were gold, the engineers at EMI immediately made seven sets of CDs of the full Pop Go The Beatles programs. They presented Margaret with one set:
When the album Live at the BBC was originally released in 1994, Margaret Ashworth says she could easily tell which of the tracks came from her tapes. Here’s one of them, ‘Ooh! My Soul’. It is the track the producers and engineers used to test the quality of her recordings when she first took them to the Abbey Road studios:
It’s so good to now have this story told in full, and by the Beatle fan who made it happen.
Our Beatles With Records series is exactly that: photographs of the band actually holding those things they sold so many of: records and CDs. These can be Beatle discs, or discs by other artists.
The posts prompted quite a few readers to send in additional photographs, and also to do some amazing detective work on the sometimes mysterious records the Beatles are holding in photos. Sometimes the albums are easy to guess. Then there are others where you can only see a fragment of a cover, or the rear image of a sleeve, making it very difficult to identify – especially when the record is by an unrelated artist.
One recent photo to come to light is definitely in that latter camp. It comes from the recently released book by Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McCartney (a.k.a. Mike McGear).
His book, published by Genesis Publications, is called Mike McCartney’s Early Liverpooland it contains some never-before-seen early photos of The Beatles, including this gorgeous one of John and Paul (and most probably George too, on the left). It is called Mathew Street, 1962 and hey are no doubt standing outside the famous Cavern Club:
This one had us intrigued. Paul is clearly looking at some 45’s, and John has under his arm what at first appears to be an LP of some kind. Further investigation though reveals it not to be a record but a bag containing a record from Liverpool’s NEMS record store. NEMS of course was owned by the family of their manager, Brian Epstein.
Wouldn’t it be great to know which LP John had purchased? What it is will probably never be known….
A couple of other items of interest have surfaced.
This one shows George Harrison in his kitchen at home at Kinfauns:
Quite interesting to see pinned up on the wall behind him a John Lennon/Yoko Ono album cover:
Here it is again, a different angle from the same photo shoot (click on image for a larger version):
It appears to be an album slick opened out containing the rear cover image as well:
George seemed quite fond of putting up album covers, or elements of album covers, on his walls. If you look at the top left of this photo – taken in what seems to be a hospital ward – you can see two prints of the Linda Eastman photograph of Apple artist Mary Hopkin. That image was used for the front cover of the Hopkin LP Postcard:
(Turns out that George was at London’s University College Hospital, where he got his tonsils removed in February, 1969)
Here’s an image of Paul McCartney with what could be an early rendering of the Klaus Voormann cover for the BeatlesRevolver LP. Either that or an attempt by a fan to replicate Voormann’s amazing artwork:
And finally, a still taken from the incredible Peter Jackson/Disney+ 3-part series Get Back on the making of the Let It Be album, this image of John Lennon taking a look at the latest Rolling Stones LP of the day:
See the other instalments of The Beatles With Records here.
We checked the date and it isn’t April 1st. So this must be true, right?
Looks like the Harrison Estate has entered into a licensing agreement with a company that legally sells cannabis called Dad Grass.
The George Harrison connection centres around an advertising campaign and product line featuring the All Things Must Pass album, including spliff-toking gnomes and of course the track, ‘Let It Roll’:
There is a range of products, including (for US$42.00) a Dad Grass x George Harrison All Things Must Grass Dad Stash which can hold five cigarettes and looks just like a double music cassette outer box:
As the copy on the website explains, this allows you to “…hide your grass in plain sight”:
It does a pretty good job, right down to the song titles on the back cover, and is produced by Dad Grass and George Harrison. Rolled in the USA:
Other products include the Special Blend George Harrison Dad Grass Five Pack (crafted from a special blend of Organic CBD and CBG hemp flower), Harrison signature rolling papers, rollings trays and ashtrays.
Dad Grass the company describes itself as “….reviving the mellow sensibility of the casual smoke. Our 100% Organic hemp flower and pre-rolled joints serve up a clean buzz without the fuss. Our special collections of merch and apparel pay tribute to the timeless staples of dad style. Past, present and future. Like your dad’s stash, we keep things easy and dependable, never fancy or complicated.”
“Classic toke meets classic bloke with our special edition George Harrison Dad Grass pre-rolled joints, smoking paraphernalia and merch.”
We’d be interested in your thoughts on this form of commercialisation of the Harrison legacy and the classic All Things Must Pass LP.
You might recall that back in 2020 the mega music distributor and publisher BMG announced that it had formed a multi-faceted, worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.
Well, there have been some developments.
Last week there was a rather intriguing press release from BMG announcing that they’ve now secured the publishing rights to the entire George Harrison song catalogue, including his Beatle, solo, and Traveling Wilbury compositions.
Plus the company has secured the rights to distribute some existing – and additional – interesting legacy artists on the the Dark Horse record label.
Here’s the official 2-page press release. We’ve highlighted those bits that grabbed our attention:
So, while there’ll be new publishing deals being done by BMG/Dark Horse for George Harrison’s compositions, it also looks like we can expect a range of interesting physical releases on the Dark Horse label.
These will include another EP from Billy Idol, and the new studio album from former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. There’s also likely to be a slew of back-catalogue re-issues from the great Leon Russell.
On the Beatle front there wasn’t too much on offer this year.
Paul McCartney was nominated for ‘Find My Way’ in the Best Rock Song category (he lost out to the Foo Fighters and ‘Waiting On A War’). He was also nominated for his album McCartney III in the Best Rock Album category (and once again, pipped at the post by the Foo Fighters with their LP Medicine at Midnight).
However, in the category for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package the winners were Darren Evans, Dhani Harrison and Olivia Harrison for their art direction of last year’s George Harrison All Things Must Pass: 50th Anniversary Edition. This was for the now famous “Uber Box”:
All Things Must Pass won ahead of Soccer Mommy – Color Theory, Steven Wilson – The Future Bites (Limited Edition Box Set), Gang of Four – 77-81 and Mac Miller – Swimming in Circles.
Ringo Starr has a new book out. It is called Lifted – Fab Images and Memories From My Life and Across the Universe.
Speaking about the book Ringo said: “I am not writing this book as a Beatle historian. I’m writing this book as a Beatle — and there’s only a couple of us who can do that.”
Asked about it’s origins, Starr explains: “I didn’t keep all these photos. These fantastic images came back to me in recent years from here, there and everywhere — online and off — and have somehow helped me get back to seeing my life with The Fab Four through fresh eyes. A lot of the photos in this book I spotted on my phone and on my computer and “lifted” them because they brought back so many fabulous memories.”
“So this a book full of Beatle images that many people haven’t seen and stories that I’m sharing with a little help from my longtime writer friend David Wild. We’ve all been through a pretty tough time for a lot of people who’ve been locked down, and this book has really lifted my spirits and took me back to where I once belonged in a whole new way. And in the end, that’s why this new book is called Lifted. The Beatles changed my life forever. So it’s about getting back and giving back.”
The standard ‘Collectors Edition’ costs US$59.00. It is a handsome-looking coffee table style hardback. It seems to have a been popular seller as it’s already in a 2nd Edition print run on the Julien’s site.
There is also a ‘Signature Edition’ that costs US$495.00 and is limited to 1000 copies. The same ‘Collectors Edition’ book comes presented in a velvet outer bag and the book – each one signed and numbered by Ringo – is contained in a custom box.
Proceeds from the sale of Lifted will go to the charity The Lotus Foundation, which does good work across a range of worthy causes.
Ringo has been out and about promoting the book, especially on social media. Here’s a photo we lifted from Instagram:
If the name Julien’s Auctions sounds familiar, it is the company that managed the 2015 once-in-a-lifetime auction, curated by Ringo and his wife Barbara Bach, featuring thousands of items from their London estate, and their Beverly Hills and Monaco residences.
There were artworks, clothing and jewelry, furniture, memorabilia, musical instruments (including seven drum kits owned and played by Ringo), gold records, cars, and much, much more. There was even Ringo’spersonal UK 1st mono pressing of The Beatles White Album, No: 0000001. It sold for US$790,000!
You can get an overview of what was on offer here. And the full list of all lots is here. They are fun to look through. Interestingly, a portion of the proceeds from this auction also went to The Lotus Foundation.
Fender guitars has once again produced a limited edition re-creation of the unique guitar we see George Harrison playing during the sessions for Let It Be – both in the studio and during the famous roof-top concert in 1969.
It is a lovely rosewood Fender Telecaster electric:
It’s not the first time the Fender Custom Shop has done this. Back in 2016 they also released a copy of what originally was a one-off prototype model, gifted to George in 1968 so he could try it out and give the brand some publicity:
Now, hot on the heels of the epic Peter Jackson Get Back documentary on Disney, the company has done it again – with a few additional customised touches:
The story behind what happened to the original Telecaster is interesting. As we know, Harrison played it during the Let It Be sessions, but he didn’t keep it for long. Later in 1969 he gave it away to Delaney Bramlett, leader of the group Delaney & Bonnie. It was a gift to say ‘thank you’ for letting Harrison join in on a tour with the band – all part of George easing his way out of the Beatles and finding his feet as a solo musician. Bramlett kept the priceless instrument for quite some time and amazingly he modified the guitar quite a bit. The rosewood originally featured a satin finish, but Bramlett had it resprayed with gloss. He also swapped out the original Fender tuning keys for Schaller brand keys, and he even modified the electronics inside.
Thankfully, the guitar has since been returned to the Harrison Estate and the Rosewood Tele has been restored. Here’s a photo of Dhani Harrison in 2012 with the original Fender second guitar from left:
And here he is playing it:
Here’s an example of the reverence in which this guitar is now held – Josh Homme is invited to play the one-off, 1968 original:
Record Store Day is returning to ‘normal’ this year. Well, as much as is possible in these strange times.
It will be on Saturday April 23, but the organisers are proactively trying to avoid disappointment by also designating an ‘RSD Drops’ date on June 18. That date will serve as a safety net for titles that for any number of reasons don’t make it into stores on April 23.
The US Record Store 2022 Day List includes titles that are coming to record stores on Record Store Day in April and those that will be coming in June. As they become aware of issues for any specific title, that title will move to the RSD Drops date – and you’ll see that on the List on the website.
Two titles of most interest to us here are a lovely translucent ice blue vinyl 12″ single from the Dark Horse Records label:
‘I Am Missing You’/’Lust’ by was the first ever single released on Dark Horse in 1974. It is taken from the George Harrison-produced album Shankar Family ૐ Friends, which itself is due for an audiophile vinyl re-press some time later this year. The 12″ single will be limited to 2700 copies.
There are also reports of a Paul McCartney release. This is mentioned on the UK Record Store Day site only so far and is apparently a 12″ single of the song ‘Women and Wives’ from his McCartney III album backed with the same song performed by St Vincent found on the McCartney III Imagined version of the album.
UPDATE (3 March, 2022): It seems this McCartney 12″ is to be crowned Record Store Day’s inaugural Song of the Year. For its 15th birthday, RSD is instituting a new tradition: the Song of the Year Single. ‘Women and Wives’ will get a one-time worldwide run of 3000 numbered copies on June 18:
The other title on the RSD 2022 list is a translucent orange and a translucent blue re-issue of Ringo Starr’sRingo the 4th LP.
Ringo the 4th will come in a gatefold cover, and both colours will be limited to 1000 copies. (Thanks to The Daily Beatle for the images). This Ringo album has been re-issued previously in the US on red vinyl, and also on gold vinyl, in 2020.