The White VW Beetle and Abbey Road

In the big marketing lead-up to the release of the 50th Anniversary editions of The Beatles Abbey Road a couple of months ago a number of companies jumped on the advertising bandwagon.

Probably most prominent among them was the car maker, Volkswagen. After all, apart from the four Beatles striding across the road on the famous front cover, one of the company’s cars is also on prominent display – a white VW Beetle, just behind George.

Well, to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road Volkswagen Sweden has produced – in limited numbers – a reprint of the album cover, only this time minus the fab Four but with the white Beetle correctly parked up against the gutter instead of up on the footpath/sidewalk as it was in the original:

The album cover is called The Beetle’s Abbey Road – Reparked Edition. Volkswagen did it to advertise a feature available on their latest models called Park Assist that automatically helps you get the tricky task of reverse parking done just right.

Here’s the rear cover (as you can see, ours got almost bent in half of the long journey from Sweden to Australia!):

The LP cover was available for mail order only through the VW Sweden site. All proceeds raised are going to Bris – a children’s rights organisation.

There’s no vinyl inside – you’ll have to provide that yourself – but it’s a cute advertising gimmick. A lot of other people must agree with that because the first run sold out in no time. We kept checking back and there was a second print run which also quickly sold out. At present the site is again showing as “SOLD OUT”, but it’s probably worth checking back from time to time to see if they do a third print run.

The good news is that if you’d like a CD-sized version of The Beetle’s Abbey Road – Reparked Edition to print up for yourself, you can download a pdf file of the front image for free from the VW Sweden site here.

(As usual, click on the images to see larger versions)

Abbey Road 50th Anniversary – Two More Teaser Audio Tracks

Two further audio tracks from the forthcoming Abbey Road 50th Anniversary box set have been released by The Beatles on their official YouTube Vevo channel.

They are the 2019 remix of ‘Come Together’, plus an outtake version of the same song, ‘Come Together – Take 5’:

Rumour is there’ll be one more set of audio tracks next week (possibly ‘Octopus’s Garden’?), plus a new video version of the same song.

That would make sense because it would mean each Beatle has a song preview in the lead up to release day: George (‘Something’); Paul (‘Oh!Darling’); John (‘Come Together’); and Ringo (‘Octopus’s Garden’).

Only one week now until the official Abbey Road 50th Anniversary release!

EDIT/UPDATE: Apple has just announced that the final teaser track from the 2019 Abbey Road re-mix and remaster will be George’s ‘Here Comes The Sun’, and that it will be a newly-produced animated video of the song. They’ve just uploaded a 51 second long trailer of the song video to their YouTube site:

The new music video for ‘Here Comes The Sun’ can be seen in full on Thursday 26 September from 9.00 a.m. PDT (Pacific Standard Time).

Abbey Road 50th Anniversary – More Teaser Audio Released

Two further audio tracks from the forthcoming Abbey Road 50th Anniversary box set have just been released by The Beatles on their official YouTube Vevo channel.

They are the 2019 remix of ‘Oh! Darling’, plus an outtake version of the same song, ‘Oh! Darling – Take 4’:

See also The Beatles Revisit Abbey Road.

Beatles’ Pop-up Radio Station for Abbey Road Anniversary

The Beatles and the BBC have announced a special 4-day pop-up radio station called Radio 2 Beatles as part of the celebrations around the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road.
Here’s the BBC press release:
BBC Radio 2 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album with RADIO 2 BEATLES, a four-day pop-up DAB radio station. It will feature programs fronted by Gary Barlow, John Bishop, Martin Freeman, Guy Garvey, Dave Grohl, Giles Martin, Cerys Matthews, Paul Merton and many more.

Broadcasting from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 September from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios, the station will honour John, Paul, George and Ringo as a group, and as individual artists, and as songwriters. All the live shows on Radio 2 Beatles will come direct from Abbey Road – with some also simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds – and broadcast alongside pre-recorded specials and classic Beatle content from the unique BBC archive.

All programs featured on Radio 2 Beatles will be available to listen to on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 says: “The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture. They inspired and continue to inspire artists of all generations and created some of the world’s most loved music. As their seminal album Abbey Road is 50 years old, I am delighted that Radio 2 is celebrating the Fab Four with a four-day pop-up DAB radio station.”

Programme highlights include We Write The Songs, where Gary Barlow interviews Paul McCartney about the music, where Paul discusses how The Beatles only began writing because other bands were stealing their act, and describing how he’s stayed at the top of the music business for six decades.

In the series My Beatles, Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell talk about the influence the Fab Four’s music had on them; across the daily series I Was There, the likes of Tony Blackburn and radio critic Gillian Reynolds talk about what it was really like being part of the swinging Sixties, whilst Martin Freeman presents the story of The White Album across two shows.

6 Music Breakfast and Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne presents Desert Island Beatles, featuring the many guests who’ve selected one of their group or solo records, as a must-have track, plus Liza Tarbuck meets pop-artist and Sgt. Pepper sleeve designer Sir Peter Blake, while Jimmy Tarbuck hosts an hour of novelty versions of hit Beatle songs.

Gary Barlow says: “It was an absolute honour that Paul McCartney, one of my true heroes and a legendary songwriting genius, agreed to talk in depth about his work for my Radio 2 series We Write The Songs. This particular episode really is a masterclass from the master! I am thrilled to launch my first series on the network as part of Radio 2 Beatles, which sounds like it is going to be four days of unmissable radio.”

Simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and broadcasting live from Abbey Road studios on Thursday morning, Radio 2 Beatles will be launched by Ken Bruce whose show will feature a special Beatle themed Tracks Of My Years and PopMaster quiz (9.30am-12pm). Later that day, Jo Whiley will present her Radio 2 evening show live from Abbey Road with live performances and very special guests (7pm-9pm). On the Friday, the day kicks off with The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, with a special Friends Round Friday (6.30am-9.30am) including music from Rick Astley.

Later that day, Sara Cox is joined by the listeners for a Beatles All Request Friday (5pm-7pm), and that evening Friday Night Is Music Night presents The Beatles Orchestrated. Guy Garvey will be hosting, with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a guest list of artists, including Cerys Matthews, Katie Melua, Level 42’s Mark King, alongside Guy himself, all performing songs from across the Beatles catalogue (8pm-10pm). On the Saturday morning Dermot O’Leary presents his show live from Abbey Road (8am-10am), followed by an extra hour exclusive to the Pop-Up, where Dermot speaks to writer Richard Curtis about his recent film Yesterday (10am-11am).

Other shows exclusive to Radio 2 Beatles include Grace Dent presenting Hip to the Trip focussing on free love, fashion and The Fab Four, while Nicky Campbell discusses the crucial role played by the band’s producer Sir George Martin, with his son Giles. Actor Himesh Patel, the star of the movie Yesterday, tells the incredible story behind Abbey Road – the band’s last recorded album – in a new two-part special and songwriter Guy Chambers looks at the genius of their lyrics and melody.

Craig Charles uncovers some of the BBC’s incredible archive audio, and Paul Merton takes to the imaginary stage to introduce The Beatles Fantasy Concert, featuring the ultimate collection of live performances recorded by The Beatles as a band and as solo artists. Scott Mills takes us on an alphabetical trip through the Beatles back catalogue, Paul Gambaccini tells the musical story from the other side of the Atlantic, and Tris Penna presents a four-part series charting each of the Fab Four’s individual music careers and most memorable albums.

Radio 2 Beatles has also commissioned a special chart from the Official Charts Company – The Beatles Downloaded: Official UK Top 60, will be revealed across the Saturday and Sunday afternoons (5-7pm) with Janice Long and Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James counting down the most downloaded and streamed Beatle songs in the UK. Plus Steve Wright presents a special Beatles Love Songs, Trevor Nelson playing classic soul Beatles’ covers in Rubber Soul, Radio 1’s Alice Levine explores the Fab Four’s various musical pairings, and Country Covers with Ben Earle, from country band The Shires, features Fab Four tracks covered by country artists.

From the BBC archive Radio 2 Beatles will be broadcasting When John Met Paul with Bob Harris, Radio 4’s Mastertapes with Paul McCartney, and Sgt. Pepper Recreated, recorded in 2007 and featuring performances from Oasis, Bryan Adams, and Kaiser Chiefs.

The Beatles Revisit ‘Abbey Road’

If you follow The Beatles you’ll know that the full release plans for the Abbey Road 50th anniversary have just been made public.

In one big photo, here’s what we’ll be getting (click on images to see larger versions):To flesh that out a little, there’s a 3 CD, 1 Blu-ray (audio) plus hardback book super deluxe edition:

A 3 LP vinyl box set, 180 gram half speed mastered:

A unique 2 CD deluxe edition:

A single, black vinyl LP:

A picture disc LP:

And a single CD edition:

There’s more lovely visuals and info in the official “unboxing” promo:

And for a full description and background to each of the formats and some of the extras see Paul Sinclair’s very detailed article at superdeluxeedition.com. It has complete track listings as well.

Also, check out the offical Beatles site, and the official Beatles Vevo YouTube channel where Apple has uploaded three versions of George Harrison’s beautiful song, ‘Something’. Firstly the studio demo version:

Then the new stereo remix by Giles Martin and Sam Okell:

And finally, ‘Something (Take 39)’ – Instrumental Strings Only. Very special:

Lennon Ono “Wedding Album” Reissue

On her 86th birthday Yoko Ono has announced that the next installment in her lengthy album re-issue project will be the often-maligned John Lennon/Yoko Ono Unfinished Music No.3: Wedding Album from 1969.

The release date of March 22, 2019 will be two days after the 50th anniversary of the couple getting married in Gibraltar, near Spain (see “The Ballad of John and Yoko”):

The new box set (issued via Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music) will re-create the original, which in typical fashion was well ahead of its time in offering a plethora of extras along with the album inside. It was a white box filled with souvenirs of John and Yoko’s nuptials: photographs; a replica of their marriage certificate; their own drawings of the wedding and famous Bed-in honeymoon/peace event which followed; a picture of a slice of wedding cake; more sets of photos; and a booklet of press clippings about the couple.

The box and it’s contents were created by graphic designer John Kosh who is probably better known for his work with The Beatles (he did the cover of Abbey Road, and the lavish box and book that accompanied early editions of Let It Be).The ongoing Yoko Ono Reissue Project was launched in 2016. It aims to remaster and reissue all eleven of Ono’s studio recordings between the years 1968 and 1985. Each will painstakingly reconstruct the original vinyl packaging. There have been six releases to date: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968, with John Lennon); Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With the Lions (1969, with John Lennon); Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970); Fly (1971); Approximately Infinite Universe(1973); and Feeling the Space (1973). Still to come are Season of Glass (1981); It’s Alright (I See Rainbows) (1982); Starpeace (1985); and A Story (1997, but recorded in 1974).

The Wedding Album is available on white vinyl, on CD, and as digital download, and there are a very limited number (300 copies) being made available on clear vinyl exclusively through the British record store chain, Rough Trade Records.

The White Album: The Album, The Beatles and the World in 1968

The Beatle world is in the middle of The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) 50th Anniversary fever right now.

Giles Martin’s 2018 stereo remix is now out, as are the accompanying album demos (a.k.a. The Esher Demos). Add to that no less than three CDs of previously unreleased recording session outtakes and studio chatter, a new 5.1 surround sound mix, plus a lavish accompanying book about the making of the album. The package is getting very good reviews too. But to get all that content you’ll have to buy the Super Deluxe Edition.

If you’re a more casual Beatle fan though, or the purse strings don’t quite stretch to the significant asking price of the SDE, there’s a possible alternate route for you. Just buy the new remix/Esher demos in the reasonably priced three-disc “basic” CD version, and add this new book by Brian Southall called The White Album – Revolution, Politics and Recording: The Beatles and the World in 1968.

Brian Southall worked as a journalist with Music Business Weekly, Melody Maker and Disc magazines before joining A&M Records and then EMI Music, where over a 15-year career he served in press, promotion, marketing, artist development and corporate communications, working on many Beatle solo projects. He’s been a consultant to Warner Music International, the HMV Group and both the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). His other books include the official history of Abbey Road Studios, the story behind the Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs, The Beatles in 100 Objects, and (with Julian Lennon) Beatles Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection.

True to its title, Southall’s book takes an in-depth look The White Album in what he likens to two “sides” of a record. The A-side providing a definitive guide to the album, it’s recording and the events surrounding it, while the B-side examines world events, politics and the history of 1968, and how turmoil and revolution helped shape the context in which The Beatles where working on their extraordinary new double LP.    

The book has a great Foreword written by Chris Thomas who, in 1968 as a fledgling producer, found himself almost by accident in the studio producing (and playing with) the greatest band in the world as they made their new LP.

It is also filled with a treasure trove of great images, around 150 of them in colour and black and white, and there’s a song-by-song breakdown of the album, with each track examined in detail. The story of how the album’s stark white cover came about is told, and there’s a section on the reaction the record received in 1968: “Within a week The Beatles was at No.1 in Australia, Canada, France, Norway and West Germany, while in America Capitol Records sold over 3 million copies into record stores within 4 days. Consequently, on December 14 it debuted at No.11, jumped to No.2 the following week, and topped the US album chart on December 28 – and stayed there for nine weeks, spending a total of 155 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.”

Brian Southall’s White Album book is a companion to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Album, The Beatles and the World in 1967where he utilises a similar A-side/B-side examination linked to the 50th anniversary re-issue of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band LP last year: 

The White Album – Revolution, Politics and Recording: The Beatles and the World in 1968 is published in the UK by Carlton Books.

(As usual, click on images to see larger versions)