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:

 

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2 thoughts on “Strange Fruit – The Beatles’ Apple Records

  1. While others are always surprised how secretive and uncommercial a company Apple Corps is, I have some experience on the inside and can say that the internal history is the reason. Now that Neil Aspinall is gone, the company was handed over as the minimal presence of maximum efficiency that he developed at some length and by fire. By turns Apple has been a revolutionary utopian dream, a complete nightmare, a boring legal office and, latterly, the most consistently super-successful legacy label in the world. Although this DVD gets to the first two, it’s disappointing that nobody going to the trouble of documenting Apple ever really gets past 1975.
    The story is not a sixties or seventies story, it’s a story of approaching 50 years.
    I know that there was token but faint opposition from Apple to this DVD but it still seems to be openly available. I was hoping they might requisition it for their own project to properly document their entire history. It seems, though, that only those on the outside are particularly interested in Apple’s history. For its directors, it’s a machine that runs quietly and that, after its previous roar is the way it’s preferred. This, then, is the best item to date in making something of a very interesting story as yet not fully told.

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    • Hi Michael,
      You are correct that Apple has become a very focussed and determined company. Under Neil Aspinall they have worked hard to regain control of every aspect of the asset that is the Beatles. You could call it “buying back the farm” so that it is they who determine their future – not third party hangers-on. And you are correct that it does run efficiently and quietly for one of the most successful legacy labels ever. That’s not to say that they always make decisions which please the fans and collectors…..

      It is true that most Apple Corp histories deal only with the early years of the companies turbulent history. No-one has paid much attention to the intervening years and brought the story of Apple up-to-date. Perhaps there’s a book in there somewhere? Thanks for your comments and insight. Keep them coming!

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