50 Years Since Abbey Road – Podcast

Back in 2014 the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) began hosting an ongoing series celebrating the 50th anniversary release of each British Beatle LP.

As each album reaches its anniversary ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn speaks to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert Jude Southerland Kessler. Jude is the author of the extraordinary (and ambitious!) nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest instalment in the series is Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details for this volume scroll down after clicking).

The pair spoke about the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road late last year, but it has taken them a while to upload that episode onto the web. They’ve finally done it though, and you can now find it here, or just click on the Abbey Road Apple label below:

Like all the other podcasts in the series, this one is also very insightful – and really well worth a listen.

Previous broadcasts/podcasts have covered Please Please MeWith the BeatlesA Hard Day’s NightBeatles For Sale and of course, Help! – which is in two parts: Side One here, and Side Two here.

You can hear Rod and Jude talk about Rubber SoulRevolver; and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by clicking here.

And they tackle Yellow Submarine, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album), and The Esher Demos disc here.

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)

The Beatles Unseen: Photographs by David Magnus – An Exhibition

If you’re a Beatle fan and are anywhere near London between March 16th and May 14th this year it would be well worth visiting the Proud Chelsea gallery.

The gallery (at 161 Kings Road, London) is presenting what looks to be a terrific new exhibition called The Beatles Unseen: Photographs by David Magnus.

The exhibition features many previously unseen photographs and provides a fascinating and deeply candid insight into the band during what would become a landmark occasion at the famous EMI Studio 1 in Abbey Road: The Beatles were about to perform live for the historic Our World program, broadcast to a world-wide television audience of millions.

Photographer David Magnus had a close relationship with the band dating back to 1963 when, at the age of 19, he was invited to photograph a then relatively unknown band during a concert at Stowe School. This early work with the group allowed Magnus unprecedented access throughout their subsequent rise to fame, and he gradually built up a portfolio of many rare and unique images. That, and a friendship with their publicist, Tony Barrow, got him exclusive access to document a pivotal moment in their career 50 years ago. On the weekend of the 24th and 25th of June 1967, The Beatles performed and recorded their song ‘All You Need is Love’ during a live broadcast for the BBC’s Our World program, the world’s first live, international, satellite television production, reaching over 400 million people around the globe.

Magnus documented rare, behind-the-scenes footage of the historical event, including wonderfully frank photographs of the band relaxing backstage away from the recording studio:

George and John grabbing a cup of tea during a break from rehearsals,1967. (Image courtesy of Proud Galleries © David Magnus)

The Beatles in the EMI Canteen under the watchful eye of one of the EMI commissionaires, 1967. (Image courtesy of Proud Galleries © David Magnus)

Speaking of the intensity of the band’s influence during that time, Magnus said, ‘As I came from the EMI canteen, one of the female studio staff stopped me, put a hand on my shoulder and said to me, “I must touch you as you’ve been in the same room as The Beatles.” It was as if I carried an aura from the Beatles. This to me sums up Beatlemania.’

The Beatles wanted the studio to have a real party atmosphere, and the band were all dressed in colourful clothes and were surrounded by flowers, balloons and placards. To further add to the atmosphere The Beatles invited a number of their friends to attend including Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Keith Moon, Marianne Faithful, Eric Clapton, Jane Asher, Patti Boyd and Graham Nash – and Beatle manager, Brian Epstein. The images of him in this exhibition are the last ever photographs of Epstein with The Beatles as he died shortly afterwards.One of the last photographs of Brian Epstein with The Beatles before his untimely death just weeks later, 1967. (Image courtesy of Proud Galleries © David Magnus)

This collection is a captivating archive of an event that was not only a first for The Beatles but a first for the era of television, which ignited a social revolution and created the universal anthem of its era.The Beatles Unseen: Photographs by David Magnus, Proud Chelsea, 16th March – 14th May 2017, www.proud.co.uk

Beatle Vinyl Via Mail Order and in Newsagents – in Italy and the UK

If you live in the UK (and in Italy – see below) you can now sign up to receive a series of 23 Beatle LP’s in the post every four weeks. Or you could pop down to your local news agents every two weeks to pick them up in person.

International partwork publishing company De Agostini has signed a deal with Apple and Universal Music to manufacture and issue the 180gram pressings. While all the content and cover art will be the same as the 2012 stereo LP remasters for the core catalogue titles, the small-print on the rear of each of the LP covers (and on the labels) will indicate that these pressings are licensed to be published by De Agostini, making them collectable for those completists out there. In addition to the core studio albums and Past Masters, the De Agostini titles will include the three Anthology LPs, Love, the two Live at the BBC sets, as well as the 1963-1956 and 1966-1970 double albums, plus the Beatles 1.

Also, each album will be accompanied by a colour magazine written by well-known Beatle author, Kevin Howlett detailing the background to the recording.

Here’s the official UK press release:

NEW COLLECTION OF THE BEATLES’ ALBUMS ON 180g VINYL LPS LAUNCHED IN THE UK

On 1 March 2017, global partwork publisher DeAgostini is launching, in association with Apple Corps and Universal Music Group, The Beatles Vinyl Collection. Featuring 23 albums, it will be available to purchase online and in news agents all across the UK.

Issue by issue, The Beatles Vinyl Collection of single, double and triple albums builds into a comprehensive library of the momentous music made by The Beatles. Presented in exact replicas of the original sleeves, the specially pressed 180-gram vinyl LPs ensure the music will be heard in the best quality sound. Remastered at Abbey Road Studios in London, The Beatles’ reissued LPs have been universally acclaimed by sound experts and the group’s fans. Produced by George Martin in the 1960s, the albums contain some of the most celebrated recordings ever made.

The Beatles Vinyl Collection includes such groundbreaking albums as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Abbey Road, Revolver and Rubber Soul, as well as intriguing compilations like the three volumes of The Beatles Anthology and two Live At The BBC collections.

Amanda Honeybun, Marketing Director at DeAgostini, said: “We are so excited to launch The Beatles Vinyl Collection, which will give people of all ages the opportunity to collect on vinyl the greatest albums in the history of music. Our Beatles Vinyl Collection makes it possible to buy these wonderful records from the comfort of your own home or at your local newsagent. Then all you have to do is put the needle on the record to enjoy the best recordings ever made by the best group of all-time!”

Each album also includes an illustrated magazine containing the stories behind the group’s renowned recordings. Written by Beatles historian and award-winning radio producer Kevin Howlett, each issue reveals details about the creation of an album and an assessment of its significance within not only The Beatles’ legacy, but also the history of music.

Kevin Howlett said: “It was such a privilege to write about this joyous music. The Beatles have inspired generation after generation of music fans, songwriters, artists and producers. I’m also delighted that there is a resurgence of interest in collecting records. For music lovers, nothing can beat the look of a stylish LP cover and the authentic experience of listening to a classic album on vinyl.”

The global vinyl market is booming. Sales of records in 2016 reached a 25-year high as music buyers embraced this attractive physical format. More than 3.2m LPs were sold in 2016, an annual rise of 53% and the ninth consecutive year of growth.

The Beatles Vinyl Collection is DeAgostini’s fourth vinyl collection. The company’s previous collections of Jazz, Blues and Classical Music proved very popular. This new collection establishes DeAgostini Publishing as one of the leading vinyl album market producers and distributors.

The Beatles Vinyl Collection is a 23-part series. Issue one will be priced at £9.99 for a limited time only, with subsequent single album copies retailing at £16.99; double and triple albums will sell for £24.99. Issues are available fortnightly in shops, with subscribers receiving two issues in one delivery every four weeks. Subscriptions can be purchased online at www.deagostini.co.uk/beatlesvinyl  (ends).

The release is accompanied by a TV campaign in Britain:

And this one in Italy:

The first issue contains a binder for the 23 magazines, a poster representing the 23 original album covers of the collection, and some pamphlets and other information about the product. “Premium” subscribers will receive two quality storage boxes to hold all 23 albums, plus a range of free gifts.

The collection includes the following albums – and this appears to be the release order as well:

Abbey  Road
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Help!
The Beatles (or ‘The White Album’)
Rubber Soul
Magical Mystery Tour
Yellow Submarine
Beatles For Sale
Love
A Hard Day’s Night
1962 – 1966
With The Beatles
Anthology 1
Revolver
Anthology 2
Live At The BBC
Please Please Me
On Air – Live At The BBC Vol. 2
Let It Be
1
Anthology 3
1967 – 1970
Past Masters

This chap has purchased the first UK instalment – which is Abbey Road. His video is quite a drawn out reveal, but stick with it – it contains some good information. He gets there eventually….!

As mentioned, DeAgostini (which is headquartered in Italy) has also released the same series in that country. There the re-issue program began in January. If your Italian is good it’s worth a look at these videos:

And this one (in English):