About beatlesblogger

Adventures in collecting Beatles music.....Beatles Blog is a page dedicated to the avid Beatles music collector, with regular updates about new Beatles releases and collectable vinyl, CDs and DVDs – either by the Beatles as a group, or as solo artists. It's also about those artists associated with the band. There'll be information about books and magazines too. As new items come into our collection we update the blog with details, cover photos, catalogue information and stuff like that. Please feel free to contribute information – especially if it'll assist other collectors in their knowledge of things Beatle.

Record Store Day – Rescheduled Again

Record Store Day, originally planned for April 18 and then resheduled to June 20, has now been moved once more – to not one but three different “drop” dates.

The official site now states that “RSD is scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October…..The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List, launched on March 5th, will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops.”

The first of these “drops” will be on August 29th, the second is on September 26th, and the final is slated for October 24th

A new version of the RSD 2020 Official List, with newly assigned RSD Drops dates will launch on June 1 – so check back here for a look at when you’ll be able to pick up the titles on your wishlist at your local record store.

Of course the titles we’ll be on the hunt for remain Paul McCartney’s Half Speed Master of his solo debut LP McCartney; John Lennon’s re-mixed ‘Instant Karma’ single; and the first ever vinyl release of the George Harrison produced Chants of India). But which RSD “drop” dates will they be assigned to? We’ll just have to wait until June 1 to find out.

Music on Bones – Hearing Beatle Music the Hard Way

One of our favourite Beatle websites is The Beatles Get Back in the USSR – mostly because it’s a treasure trove of information on every aspect of Beatle collecting in Russia, but also because it is clearly a labour of love and a remarkable resource.

The level of research, scholarship and effort that’s been put into this site is immediately obvious. Not to mention the amazing and extensive image libraries accompanying each topic written about.

If, for example, you’re interested in all the different pressings and versions of Paul McCartney’s ‘Russian album’ Choba B CCCP (first issued on the Melodiya label in 1988), then you can’t go past the site’s chapters on it here (first edition – 11 tracks), here (mispressed edition – 12 tracks), and here (second edition – 13 tracks). The depth of information is impressive.

The latest example of this sort of thorough analysis has recently been uploaded to the site. 

Web pages for a chapter called Illegal and Semi-legal Beatles Releases in the USSR are the result of more than ten years of work to find records/images/information and to analyze and describe all the content – and it tells an extraordinary tale. These illegal and semi-legal releases bear witness to the extraordinary lengths people in Cold War Russia went to hear and share western music, especially rock’n’roll, and of course – Beatle music.

Right through the 1960s, and well into the1970’s, there were practically zero officially released Beatles records issued Russia. Rock music was considered decadent and not suitable for the masses. So, the people took matters into their own hands.

Using smuggled-in originals from England and Europe, they made their own un-official copies of songs the only ways they knew how. This was done using two main processes. The first was to utilise the many small, commercial recording booths that were dotted around Russian cities and towns. These were set up to record short audio ‘postcards’ that could be sent through the post. This was, back in the day, a popular way of sending loved ones a message along with a photograph of the place or holiday location you’d been visiting. They looked something like this:The postcard/record above is like a one-sided flexidisc, with the “message” recorded onto the picture side. But this particular example contains a recording of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’! These ‘postcard’ flexies played at 78rpm and only conatined enough space for one song. Also, the quality wasn’t great – but, you got to hear The Beatles in a country that didn’t allow you to freely listen to them.

The other means of copying and distribution was through home tinkerers who set up illegal recording lathes to cut Beatle songs directly onto old medical x-rays. Yes, medical x-rays. These became known as “music on bones” or “music on ribs” – for obvious reasons:These freaky-looking x-rays above both have a Beatle song cut into them and they can be played on a turntable.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and these thick celluloid sheets of x-ray film were one of the few resources available to people in Soviet Russia at the time.

Like the postcard/records, these “music on bones” play at 78rpm, and to be honest, to our ears now they don’t sound that great. But this was the only way that anyone was going to be able to hear this type of music at the time. And don’t forget – making them and owning recordings like these could get you into big trouble with the authorities. Some ended up in prison just because they wanted to listen to rock’n’roll.  

This is fascinating history and you can spend quite a while on the site discovering a lot more about this little-known avenue of Beatle collecting. A shout out to Andrey, an old friend of beatlesblogger.com and one of the contributors to the extraordinary research that has gone into creating this online resource.

Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the front page where you’ll see a series of images. These are all links leading to the sub-chapters with many examples, more detailed information and sometimes videos of the discs actually playing.

And see below for a short documentary on the strange story of Soviet “music on bones” – gramophone grooves cut onto x-rays of skulls, ribcages and bones:

McCartney’s 2009 Box Set Electric Arguments Revisited

In something of a change of pace, the Super Deluxe Edition site has recently been looking back at a couple of classic box set releases from the past.

Their latest unboxing-style video features the very rare Paul McCartney (a.k.a. The Fireman) box which is based around the 2008 release, Electric Arguments.

This was McCartney’s third album with musician/producer Youth, and as Paul Sinclair from SDE says, “… [it] broke the mould inasmuch as unlike the previous two albums, it was openly promoted by the record label as being the work of the ex-Beatle. A limited box set edition was available only via McCartney’s website and arrived six months late, in July 2009.”

If you’d like some more detail on this one, check out our comprehensive article on all the releases associated with the Electric Arguments project, including the CD singles, promo CD’s, the single CD editions, vinyl, and spme more of the background to this very limited box set. For the real completists out there see also this post.

McCartney on Songwriting

How does Paul McCartney write a song? What goes through his mind when he’s at the piano? What’s an “oobley” chord? And where do the lyrics come from when he’s noodling away?

Those were some of the questions Alan Alda asked Sir Paul when they sat down together for a lengthy chat recently on Alda’s regular podcast called Clear+Vivid:

McCartney has been interviewed more times than most people have had hot breakfasts, and so he can at times resort to re-telling the same, oft-told stories from his past. Frequently when you hear him interviewed there’s very little new or interesting on offer.

But, for the most part, that’s not the case here. In this podcast its more of a discussion, a meeting of the minds and Alda puts McCartney at ease. He sounds relaxed and at times unguarded. As the PR blurb says, we “…learn some of the never before heard secrets behind this legendary musician’s magic.”

Well worth a listen.  (Season7, Episode2, released on 03/03/2020)

Record Store Day 2020 Rescheduled

In the world-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Record Store Day has become the latest in a long line of events to be postponed. The official site now states:

We’ve decided that the best of all possible moves is to change the date of Record Store Day this year to Saturday, June 20.

We think this gives stores around the world the best chance to have a profitable, successful Record Store Day, while taking into consideration the recommendations of doctors, scientists, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the need to be good citizens of both local and worldwide communities.

We’re working with all of our partners and our stores to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone who participates in Record Store Day: customers, record stores, artists, labels and more.  Record Store Day is everywhere and we want to hold our party when everyone can gather around safely to celebrate life, art, music and the culture of the indie record store.

This means we’ll have to wait a little longer to purchase the three Beatle-related items that were announced just over a week ago – but that’s OK.

This is a fast-changing situation and we all need to keep up to date with the latest directives from our governments, and more importantly to personally do what is necessary to reduce our exposure.

We’ll get through this folks. Keep safe!

Record Store Day 2020 – Beatle Related Titles

It’s been a bit quiet on the new Beatle product front for a while. Then comes the 2020 Record Store Day official lists – and not one, but three titles that will be of ineterst to collectors.

First up, Paul McCartney and yet a further re-issue of his first solo album from 1970, simply called McCartney:

This time around, for it’s 50th anniversary, McCartney is getting the Half Speed Master treatment. There will be just 7000 copies produced. If you’d like to know more about Half Speed Mastering UMe has produced this article. Abbey Road Studios engineer Miles Showell (who worked on this 2020 re-issue of McCartney) explains more here:

And, as one wag said on one of the better re-issue forums (Super Deluxe Edition – which we love): “Just as he did fifty years ago, Paul’s making sure his solo album gets released before Let It Be hits the streets…” That’s actually very funny. History repeats.

Also on this year’s Record Store Day list, a Ravi Shankar Centennary Edition of his Chants of India album, produced by George Harrison in 1997. In what is the first physical product to come out of the new distribution relationship between BMG and Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, this LP is being issued for the first time on vinyl – and it will be on red coloured vinyl to boot! 3000 copies are being pressed, and the 2LP set will come in a gatefold cover with an exclusive photo print:

Finally, a John Lennon title is included in the 2020 RSD list. A 7″ black vinyl single of his 1970 hit ‘Instant Karma!’ is being billed as the 2020 Ultimate Mixes. The single will feature newly mixed audio and a faithful reproduction of original UK sleeve artwork. 7000 copies are being pressed:

Record Store Day this year is on Saturday, April 18. Check here for the full list of what is planned for release. You can find the US RSD store here. The official RSD UK store is here.

BMG Signs Deal with George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records

Billboard and Music Week are reporting that music distributor and publisher BMG has formed a new multi-faceted worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.

The deal not only includes releases from the back-catalogue of Dark Horse, but also Harrison’s Indian label imprint, HariSongs. It’ll also include the solo work of Joe Strummer, including his work with The Mescaleros.

Dark Horse will also release entirely new recordings through BMG, like the recent Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ that featured Jakob Dylan, Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson.

Initial releases are digital only. The first slate of under the deal will include the George Harrison-produced Chants of India by Ravi Shankar; the live album Ravi Shankar & Ali Akbar Khan In Concert 1972; Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ albums Rock Art and The X-Ray StyleGlobal A Go-Go, and Streetcore; and Attitudes Ain’t Love Enough: The Best of Attitudes.

However, the good news for collectors of physical product is that future releases in 2020 will include compilations, live albums, and box sets featuring rare and unreleased recordings from the Dark Horse label. That means we might see new releases (plus bonus material) on CD and LP from the likes of Splinter, Stairsteps, Keni Burke, Jiva, the late Henry McCullough, and maybe even some Ravi Shankar…..