Four Sides of the Circle – A New Beatle Book

Last year saw the release of the lavish Let It Be box set. It celebrated the final Beatle LP, their swansong after a ten-year run as the biggest band in the world. The box set was accompanied by Peter Jackson’s extended 8-hour documentary Get Back, detailing the creation of the album. Despite the fact that Let It Be had been recorded more than a year earlier, its May 1970 release has forever seen it associated with the news that The Beatles were to continue no longer.

However, with an organisation as tight and complicated as The Beatles (along with their company Apple Records), things weren’t destined to just cleanly end for them overnight.

It would take until the close of 1974 before all four members had signed contracts dissolving their immense, famous and complex partnership.

This, argues author Terry Wilson, makes that period from 1970 to 1974 very much a “second phase” for the band. Despite each member pursuing solo careers technically they were still The Beatles. This continued on across a four year span. As individuals they were still very much tied together legally and financially. And they worked together collaboratively on many solo and other projects.

Wilson’s book is called Four Sides of the Circle. In it he details this often overlooked “second half” in the history of the band. It was an era of huge creativity and output. An era that gave us absolute standout releases like Lennon’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine LPs, McCartney’s RAM and Band on the Run, Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and Starr’s Ringo, along with a myriad of other great and sometimes lesser-known songs and recordings.

These happened because band member collaborations continued in a variety of forms throughout this distinct “Phase II”. Their paths inevitably crossed both in and out of the studio despite the huge dissolution process looming over them.

Four Sides Of The Circle uses a very accessible song-by-song format, stepping through (in chronological order) all the formal recordings the individual Beatles made between1970-1974. It actually begins slightly earlier with John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance’ from June 1969, and concludes with Wings ‘Love In Song’, recorded in November, 1974. Every song – released and unreleased – has production details, recording location, who played what and (where applicable) the US and UK release dates. The song is then discussed by Wilson and critiqued with an appreciative eye. Each song is given a context with a clear emphasis on the music being made. This detailed and sequenced approach presents a true chronology of the period for the first time.

This is a book with something for even the most well-informed Beatle fan. Wilson is comprehensive and knowledgeable. There’s great detail here. In many ways he takes quite a scholarly approach – but the research never gets in the way of making Four Sides Of The Circle very readable. It finally completes the fascinating, long and winding story that was the Beatles. A story where – right to the last – they remained at the top of their game.

As Wilson writes on the final page of his book: “The legal conclusion of the Beatles technically occurred on 9 January 1975, when McCartney’s four-year-old case was settled, the completed paperwork having been sent back to London for the court to make its formal declaration. A cursory glance at the current edition of Billboard shows that on this day, Lennon was at 47 on the singles chart with ‘#9 Dream’; Harrison was at 16 with ‘Dark Horse’; Starr was at 7 with ‘Only You’ and McCartney was at 4 with ‘Junior’s Farm’. Appropriately, Lennon and McCartney were at number 1, courtesy of Elton John’s version of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ on which Lennon sang and played.”

“They ended at the very top.”

Four Sides of the Circle is a great read and a fantastic reference book. Not only does it contain extensive background and historic notes on each song, in the appendices there’s a complete song list, record release details (complete with US and UK chart positions), a bibliography, and what we always like to see in books like this: an Index. It is the sort of book you can dip in and out of endlessly. Here’s the blurb on the rear cover:

At over 420 pages Four Sides of the Circle is very reasonably priced. You can find it on Amazon Australia, Amazon US and on the Amazon UK site as well. The US and UK sites also have a “Look Inside” feature so you can check out sections of the book in more detail. It will give you an idea of the format and content. You won’t be disappointed.

The Story of the Apple Records Granny Smith

Late last year we were contacted by a researcher and writer named David Marshall.

David helps curate a UK website dedicated to the humble apple. That’s the fruit – not the computer company, or the famous Beatle record label!

The site Apples & People is, in part, funded by the Museum of Cider in Hereford which helps support an online exhibition program telling short illustrated stories about the apple from around the world.

The site is dedicated to exploring “the astonishing story of the apple, connecting its diverse history to humanity and culture. Based upon a specially commissioned global map of the apple which traces a network of stories from the ancient world to the present day, this online program and associated social media reveals just how significant and iconic this humble fruit has become.”.

So, they wanted to do a feature on the Granny Smith apple, specifically about it being photographed to become the celebrated, and much-loved, Apple label.

David had read our April, 2011 article which touched on how that apple image came to be, and he wanted to know more. We helped out a bit, but David is thorough and contacted many more people – especially those involved in the concept and creation of the Apple label in the very beginning.

You can read his findings here: https://applesandpeople.org.uk/stories/records/

We think his article came up very well and is a very interesting read.

We particularly liked the section on Billy Apple, and the statement: Apple Records was also transformative branding. Interpreted by the Beatles, the apple also came to be a symbol of independence and artistic freedom. It brought about a diverse artist-orientated approach to recording. We had never thought about it in those terms before.

You can see all the Apples & People stories about apples here.

The Beatles ‘Revolver’ – Full Details Announced

The Beatles, Apple and Universal Music have jumped a little earlier than expected. Overnight they officially announced all the details of the forthcoming Revolver re-mix and remaster project, due in stores on October 28.

The full story, complete with a full track-list for each edition is on the The Beatles official site, but suffice it to say that there will be a 4LP + 1EP vinyl super deluxe slipcase box set with a 100-page hard cover book:

There’s also a 4CD + 1EP CD super deluxe slipcase box, also with a 100-page hard cover book:

There’s a 2CD edition with the new stereo mix of the album plus a unique ‘Session Highlights’ disc:

A 1CD edition with the new stereo re-mix:

And a 1LP edition featuring the new stereo re-mix:

And, just as they did with the Sgt Pepper, the White Album, Abbey Road and Let It Be re-issues, there’s to be a Revolver picture disc:

The rumoured Dolby Atmos Mixes will only be available as Downloads and on Streaming.

The original mono mix will be part of the super deluxe boxes and accompany never-before-released session recordings and demos, plus two singles from the era, ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain’ are on the four track EP that is in the vinyl and CD boxes (in 2022 re-mixed versions and in original mono too).

Each edition is available for pre-order now and all the the physical product hits stores on October 28.

The opening song on Revolver, ‘Taxman’, has been chosen as the teaser 2022 mix sample song and it is available now on streaming media and in Dolby Atmos where that is supported.

There’s also a second promo YouTube clip too:

MJQ ‘Space’ – South African Pressing

There’s a great little book/second-hand record store in the Sydney suburb of Manly called Desire Books and Records.

The store is a wonderful place to poke around in as its walls are literally stacked floor-to-ceiling with books while much of the floor space is taken up with wide selection of good quality used vinyl. There are two large “Recent Arrivals” bins, plus extensive Pop & Rock from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, a good selection of Jazz, and sections for Folk, Soundtracks, Hip Hop, Spoken Word/Comedy – you name it.

We visited there the other day and found this little treasure, an original South African pressing of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s album Space on the Apple label:

Here’s the rear cover:

Space, which was released in 1969, comes in a cool gatefold cover:

And of course comes on the famous green Apple label. Interestingly, the word STEREO plus the title and track information on many South African Apple pressings is printed in silver:

As usual, click on the images above to see larger versions, and if you’re interested in the many an varied Apple Records pressings from around the world why not visit the amazing Worldwide Apple Records Discograghy page. It’s an incredible repository of images and info on Apple, Dark Horse, and more.

Mary Hopkin ‘Post Card’ – A Hong Kong/Malaysia Pressing

A recent trip to the New South Wales south coast town of Berry turned up an opportunity for a little crate digging.

It was a nice feeling. Since the advent of COVID-19 the chances to get out and about and hunt for records in the wild have really been few and far between.

On the first Sunday of every month the town puts on a big market at the local Showgrounds. There are all sorts of stalls set up with people selling home made goods like candles, local produce, handcrafted items, food and second-hand goods – including a couple of stalls selling records! This allowed us to get back to what this blog is all about: adventures in collecting Beatles music.

One thing we’re always on the lookout for are Apple Records artists – and we found an interesting variation of the Mary Hopkin LP Post Card, produced by Paul McCartney and released in 1969. This one was different because it was manufactured by EMI in South East Asia for the Hong Kong and Malaysian markets:

There are a couple of things to note here about the differences between this and the US and Australian pressings of this release.

First is that it follows the original UK vinyl track listing. Notice that there is no ‘Those Were The Days’ – which was hit single for Hopkin in 1968 – included on this edition.

Second is the printing in blue at the bottom of the rear cover (which by the way has a very nice glossy finish on both sides):

This South East Asian edition also comes with an original black paper inner sleeve:

To compare the differences, here’s the US release:

Notice that the title of the LP is at the bottom of the front cover photo – whereas on the Hong Kong/Malaysia and UK pressings the title is at the top of the photo of Mary.

Also, as already mentioned, that Side 2, Track 4 has ‘Those Were The Days’ in place of ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ which is found on the UK and and South East Asian pressings. Here are the US labels:

Just by way of interest, we also have an Australian pressing of Post Card issued by the World Record Club. It has completely different artwork for the front and rear covers, and labels:

This Aussie World Record Club release also follows the US track listing, with ‘Those Were The Days’ as Track 4, Side 2.

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

For an exhaustive look at the differences between the UK and US editions, check out BeatleDave’s Beatle Channel.

The Beatles – Let It Be Special Edition Releases

Finally, after months (or is it years?), the official announcement for the 50th anniversary editions of The Beatles Let It Be has been made public.

And in physical form this is what we’ll be getting – on October 15:

It begins with a 180-gram, half-speed mastered vinyl 4LP set that also includes a 45rpm 12-inch vinyl EP, with a 105-page hardbound book in a special die-cut slipcase.

There’ll also be a special edition of the same content on a 5CD + 1Blu-ray (containing the album’s new stereo mix in hi-res 96kHz/24-bit; new 5.1 surround DTS and Dolby Atmos album mixes), also with a 105-page hardbound book in a die-cut slipcase.

Both these total 57 tracks in all: the original Let It Be LP in a new stereo mix by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, two discs of previously unreleased outtakes, studio jams and rehearsals, and the previously unreleased 1969 Get Back LP mix by Glyn Johns, newly remastered. Then there’s that Let It Be EP (in both the vinyl and CD boxes) as a separate disc containing 4 tracks:
o Glyn Johns’ unreleased 1970 mixes of ‘Across The Universe’ and ‘I Me Mine’.
o Giles Martin & Sam Okell’s new stereo mixes of the ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and ‘Let It Be’ singles.

The hardback book this time will be available in both boxes – something that hasn’t happened before with Beatle re-mix re-issues. It features a foreword by Paul McCartney, an introduction by Giles Martin; a remembrance by Glyn Johns; chapters and detailed track notes by Beatles historian, author, and radio producer Kevin Howlett; and an essay by journalist and author John Harris exploring the sessions’ myths vs. reality. The book is illustrated, scrapbook style, with rare and previously unpublished photos by Ethan Russell and Linda McCartney, as well as never before published images of handwritten lyrics, session notes, sketches, Beatles correspondence, tape boxes, film frames, and more.

After the two ‘Super Deluxe’ boxes there’s a 2CD set that comes in a digipak with a 40-page booklet. This set contains on one disc the original Let It Be album (in it’s new stereo mix), plus a disc unique to this set with 13 tracks of highlights from the previously unreleased outtakes, studio jams, rehearsals, and the previously unreleased Glyn Johns 1970 mix of ‘Across The Universe’. That makes it an interesting purchase for those completists among us!

Of course, there’s the stand-alone 1 LP which is also half-speed mastered and pressed on 180-gram vinyl, along with a single CD of the of the original album in re-mixed form too.

And there’s to be a picture disc as well.

As to track listings, here are images of the rear covers of the 4LP/EP box set:

 And the 5CD/Blu-ray:

And the rear cover of the single LP:

Click on any of the images above to see larger versions.

We liked the artwork on the offical Bealtes page depicting some masking tape with the words Let It Be roughly stuck over what was the original title of this project: Get Back.

Really looking forward to hearing this re-mix. It is a favourite LP for us, up there with Pepper, Abbey Road and The White Album for sure.

Just Announced. The Beatles: Get Back Documentary

Apple, Walt Disney Studios and Wingnut Films have just gone public on their plans for the release of the Peter Jackson-directed film, The Beatles: Get Back.

What many thought would be something like a 2-hour cinema release has morphed into something much, much bigger. It is to be a three-part documentary series, screened over three days on the Disney+ channel. Each episode is around two hours in duration.

Journalist Joe Hagan has been given an exclusive preview and his article about what he saw is in the magazine Vanity Fair. He describes it as “a mindblower”.

THE BEATLES: GET BACK. COURTESY OF APPLE CORPS LTD

Here’s the official press release (from thebeatles.com):

Over Six Hours of Never-Before-Seen Restored Footage, Including The Beatles’ Last Live Performance, to Roll Out on Disney+ Over Three Days, November 25, 26 and 27, 2021

BURBANK, Calif. (June 17, 2021) – The Walt Disney Studios, Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd. announced today that Disney+ will bring “The Beatles: Get Back,” a Disney+ Original documentary series directed by Peter Jackson, to fans and music lovers worldwide.

Because of the wealth of tremendous footage Peter Jackson has reviewed, which he has spent the past three years restoring and editing, “The Beatles: Get Back” will be presented as three separate episodes. Each episode is approximately two hours in length, rolling out over three days, November 25, 26 and 27, 2021, exclusively on Disney+.

“As a huge Beatles fan myself, I am absolutely thrilled that Disney+ will be the home for this extraordinary documentary series by the legendary filmmaker Peter Jackson,” said Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, The Walt Disney Company. “This phenomenal collection of never-before-seen footage offers an unprecedented look at the close camaraderie, genius songwriting, and indelible impact of one of the most iconic and culturally influential bands of all time, and we can’t wait to share ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ with fans around the world.” 

Peter Jackson commented, “In many respects, Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines. The story of friends and of individuals. It is the story of human frailties and of a divine partnership. It is a detailed account of the creative process, with the crafting of iconic songs under pressure, set amid the social climate of early 1969. But it’s not nostalgia – it’s raw, honest, and human. Over six hours, you’ll get to know The Beatles with an intimacy that you never thought possible.”

He added, “I’m very grateful to The Beatles, Apple Corps and Disney for allowing me to present this story in exactly the way it should be told. I’ve been immersed in this project for nearly three years, and I’m very excited that audiences around the world will finally be able to see it.”

Directed by three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “They Shall Not Grow Old”), “The Beatles: Get Back” takes audiences back in time to the band’s intimate recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history. The documentary showcases the warmth, camaraderie and creative genius that defined the legacy of the iconic foursome, compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 (by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been brilliantly restored. Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to these private film archives. “The Beatles: Get Back” is the story of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as they plan their first live show in over two years, capturing the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album. The documentary features – for the first time in its entirety – The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the unforgettable rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be.

An exciting new collaboration between The Beatles and Jackson presented by The Walt Disney Studios in association with Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Productions Ltd., “The Beatles: Get Back” is directed by Peter Jackson, produced by Clare Olssen (“They Shall Not Grow Old”) and Jonathan Clyde (“Eight Days a Week”), with Ken Kamins (“The Hobbit” trilogy) and Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones (“Eight Days a Week”) serving as executive producers. Jabez Olssen (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) serves as the documentary’s editor, and the music is mixed by Giles Martin (“Rocketman”) and Sam Okell (“Yesterday”).

“The Beatles: Get Back” is being made with the enthusiastic support of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

Ahead of the documentary’s Disney+ debut, Apple Corps Ltd./Callaway Arts & Entertainment will release The Beatles: Get Back book on October 12. Beautifully designed and produced, the 240-page hardcover complements the “Get Back” documentary with transcriptions of The Beatles’ recorded conversations and hundreds of exclusive, never before published photos from the three weeks of sessions. The collectible book will be published in nine international language editions, including English. (ends)

No news yet about a physical release of the 6-hour plus documentary for fans, nor of any Super Deluxe box set of the music. Watch this space.

‘All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary’ – Details (Finally) Announced

Well, it’s been an interesting week.

On Tuesday someone at the official George Harrison site stuffed up and, two days before the official announcement, accidently made public a couple of pages worth of information about the long-awaited All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary box sets. This included images, prices, and content details.

Of course fans around the world (including us) noticed and began sharing links and images.

The cat was very much out of the bag, but still Universal Music – with just two days to go until the official announcement – desperately tried to stop the spread of information.

In what is tantamount to using a sledge-hammer to crack a walnut, they had the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) write to anyone who had published images of the new All Things Must Pass box sets to issue an “Infringement Notice” and an order to take down those images. (FYI, the IFPI is a trade association representing some 1300 major and independent record companies in the US and internationally who create, manufacture and distribute sound recordings).

Some sites (like ours) complied, others didn’t.

All that effort on behalf of Universal Music and the IFPI and here we are – just two days later – with the whole kit and caboodle about this fantastic release now officially in the public domain. The publicity free-for-all can now proceed. “Free” being the operative word because sites like ours, made by fans and for fans, don’t make any money out of this. We just love the Beatles as a band, and as solo artists. And we help get the word out to others about new releases THAT PEOPLE MIGHT WANT TO BUY from Universal Music. Of course they have their own digital assets, but it is sites like ours that contribute to “word-of-mouth”, make recommendations, and the general buzz around new releases that record companies – like Universal – rely upon. But when someone makes a mistake at Universal Music, the first people they jump on is us?

Anyway, rant over.

The good news is that we’ve finally got the full details of the George Harrison All Things Must Pass – 50th Anniversay Edition, due out on August 6.

Uber Deluxe, Super Deluxe, and a variety of extended and standard editions (plus other merch) are now up on the official George Harrison online store site.

And there will be an Uber box set to rule them all – retailing for a cool US$999.98

It comprises:

  • An artisan designed wooden box (approx. 12.4″ x 12.4″ x 17.5″)
  • Elaborate and expanded 96 page version of the scrapbook, curated by Olivia Harrison, with previously unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era: handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more.
  • A second 44-page book chronicling the making of All Things Must Pass through extensive archival interviews with notes.
  • Wooden bookmark made from a felled Oak tree (Quercus Robur) in George’s Friar Park.
  • 1/6 scale replica figurines of Harrison and the gnomes featured on the iconic album cover
  • Limited edition illustration by musician and artist Klaus Voorman.
  • A copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Light from the Great Ones”
  • Rudraksha beads contained in individual custom-made boxes
  • The remixed and remastered album on 3 vinyl discs with a replica of the original album poster
  • 5 LPs of outtakes and rarities
  • 5 CDs and 1 Blu-ray
  • Set features 70 tracks, including 47 demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams, of which 42 are previously unreleased.
  • Blu-ray disc includes hi-res stereo, 5.2 surround and dolby Atmos mixes of the main album

The wooden box is huge. The packshot image above doesn’t give an indication how big this thing is. Here’s an Instagram image of Dhani Harrison sitting on the Uber crate at Friar Park – in what looks like the exact same spot the famous All Things Must Pass cover shot was taken:

There’ll also be a Super Deluxe 8 LP box containing the re-mixed and remastered album across 3 LPs, the 5 LPs of outakes and rarities included in the Uber, a book (not as comprehensive as the Uber edition version), and the original poster.

Also for vinyl lovers there’s to be a 5 LP set (original album on 3 LPs, plus two discs with 17 tracks of demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams outtakes):

And there’ll be the re-mixed album proper on its own: 3 LPs in a slim box – the way it was originally released back in 1970. There will be two versions of this edition. One on black vinyl:

The other 3 LP set is a Limited Edition on 180gram black and green splatter vinyl. This one we believe is only available from the George Harrison official site:

For those not into vinyl there’s to be a Super Deluxe CD/Blu-ray box set containing 5 CDs (the original album across 3 discs, plus 2 discs of the outtakes and rarities). This collects 70 tracks across those 5 CDs, including 47 (42 previously unreleased) demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams all housed in a beautiful slipcase. A Blu-Ray audio disc has the main album in hi-res stereo, 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos is also featured. The collection contains a 56-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with previously unseen images and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more. It also includes a replica of the original album poster:

There’ll also be a 3 CD set, with the third CD containing the original jams, plus additional demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams. This will be housed in a square box with a scaled- down version of the original poster and a 20-page booklet with photos, introduction, and notes from Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks on remixing the album:

And there’s a standard 2 CD with just the original album across two discs, re-mixed and re-mastered:

So, something for everyone. The Harrison camp has also just released a new video for the big reveal announcement.

It’s one of the outakes featured on the new releases – the song ‘Run Of The Mill (Take 36)’, a previously unreleased track. It really gives a clear indication of how the songs on All Things Must Pass were shaped and went through several permutations in the studio before the final, well-known and loved versions became part of popular music history:

See Universal Music? It’s not so hard. All we’re doing is trying to reach those people who are interested, and perhaps some of them are people you can’t reach.

Rare John & Yoko Limted Edition Interview 10″ Vinyl

As we eagerly await the release later this week of the Plastic Ono Band super deluxe editions it’s been interesting to listen to two rare John and Yoko interview discs recorded during the same era.

The two discs are John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (January 25, 1971, in Tokyo), and John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (September 2, 1971 in New York).

Both these were only made available recently, and only in Japan. The one place to purchase them was from the museum shop at the Double Fantasy – John & Yoko exhibition, held at the Sony Music Roppongi Museum in Tokyo in late 2020/early 2021. We were lucky as a family friend who lives there got both discs for us and sent them via snail mail to Australia. It took a while, but they eventually got here!

As the titles suggest, these recordings date back to 1971, and hearing John and Yoko talking about their then just-released Plastic Ono Band LPs (one from John, one from Yoko), and also about Lennon’s Imagine LP, adds to our understanding: what they were thinking and saying about the albums at the time.

As you can see, these have been lovingly created in the typical Japanese style. They both come in gatefold sleeves with Grapefruit OBI strips, and they’re both pressed on lovely 10″ clear vinyl.

Gatefold for John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview January 25, 1971
Gatefold for John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview September 2, 1971

Both album sleeves say “Printed in Japan”, and state that the vinyl is pressed in Czech Republic. However, inside the labels say “Made in USA”. Confusing.

Instead of Apple labels, these are on Grapfruit labels (just like the ones used for Yoko Ono’s album re-issue campaign with Secretly Canadian).

(Click on any images to see larger versions)

On the OBI strip and on the record labels there are Columbia Records logos (i.e. Sony Music), while on the covers there are Sony Music, Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music logos printed on the rear sleeves.

And of course being Japanese releases, these both have a paper sheet inserts printed on both sides with more detail and info (in Japanese!) about the EP and the Double Fantasy exhibition:

One of these interview discs at least (John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (September 2, 1971 in New York) has been previously released. This was back in 1971 in Japan – and it came out on the Apple label. This release was a fan-only, 7″ 45rpm EP. It has the same artwork throughout as this 2020 re-issue and came in a gatefold cover too. Apparently in Japan in 1971 the first 1,000 copies of of Imagine contained a postcard which the buyer could use to order the interview EP for free:

Seeing the original Japanese Apple labels from 1971 reminds us of the amazing attention to detail the Japanese go to when recreating re-issues. If you look closely you can see that even the lettering has been meticulously copied from the Apple original to the 2020 version on the Grapfruit label:

The interview on January 25, 1971 took place in Tokyo’s Teikoku or “Imperial” Hotel. It is conducted in English and Japanese – but mostly Japanese. The Lennon’s state that they are in the country to visit Yoko’s family and are trying to keep a low profile, so it is not an official visit as such. But they’ve obviously called a short press conference to talk briefly about what would have then been their latest releases, the two Plastic Ono Band LPs.

As you can see from the sleeve images above, the two are photographed holding these albums (and The Wedding Album) on the front, rear and gatefold covers.

Here’s a short extract from this disc to give you a feel for what it contains. John is asked about the direct nature of his lyrics on Plastic Ono Band. Is it something like Japanese Haiku poetry?  

John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview January 25, 1971 c. 2020 Yoko Ono Lennon

“This album is shibui!” he declares. Shibui refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. Like other Japanese aesthetics terms, it can apply to a wide variety of subjects, not just art or fashion (see Wikipedia).

There is a small amount of original music on the January 25, 1971 interview disc. At one point Yoko is busy speaking in Japanese to the interviewer while John Lennon in the background has obviously picked up an acoustic guitar and gently finger picks the melodies of ‘Sun King’ and then ‘Dear Prudence’. And at the very end of the press conference there is a short live version of ‘Give Peace A Chance’.

The interview on the second 10″ clear EP takes place in New York on September 2, 1971. Here they talk a lot more about Imagine as it has just been released, but John compares it to Plastic Ono Band, the LP which precedes it. Lennon says the Imagine album is more relaxed compared to Plastic Ono Band. And ‘Imagine’ the song, he says, has almost the the same story as the song ‘Working Class Hero’ from Plastic Ono Band, only ‘Imagine’ is expressed in a more “child-like” way. 

Sound-wise he says he wanted Plastic Ono Band to be very spare, but this time (on Imagine) he wanted strings and saxophone, and to work using more musicians. The other contrast between the two LPs he makes is along the lines of: “Last year [when I made Plastic Ono Band] I had long hair and a beard. Now I’ve got short hair and no beard. So it’s like shaving. It’s a bit cleaner looking, more acceptable to people”.

So, two interesting releases to have in the lead-up to the Plastic Ono Band The Ultimate Collection box sets and vinyl re-issues. These will sit alongside them quite nicely.

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.