Lennon ‘Imagine’ Re-Issue Rumours Abound

With a press release and first photos issued earlier this week giving details of a new book about the making of John Lennon’s 1971 LP Imagine – plus a social media marketing blitz for the book getting under way yesterday (coordinated Tweets from @yokoono@johnlennon; and the publishers @thamesandhudson and @GrandCentralPub, not to mention Facebook) – the rumour mill is ripe with talk that the book will also be accompanied by a significant re-issue of the recording.

The book, which looks to be an impressive 320 page hardback, is due in store on October 9th:From the press release: “Imagine tells the story of John & Yoko’s life, work and relationship during this intensely creative period. It transports readers to home and working environments through artfully compiled narrative film stills, Yoko’s closely guarded archive photos and artefacts, and stitched-together panoramas taken from outtake film footage that recreate the interiors in evocative detail. Each chapter and song is introduced with text by John & Yoko compiled from published and unpublished sources and complemented by comments from Yoko today. Fresh insights are provided by musicians, engineers and staff who took part, many of whom feature on the inner sleeve’s enigmatic picture wheel, in which the identities are finally revealed. All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks – including the creative process behind the double exposure Polaroids used on the album cover.”

Even the page edges have been given a special cloud treatment:

Imagine will be published in the USA by Grand Central Publishing, and the UK by Thames and Hudson.

So much for the book….what about a re-mixed Imagine CD, vinyl, or deluxe box set to accompany it?

Some weeks back The Beatles Daily blog had this, quoting former Beatle aide and insider Tony Bramwell that a “song and dance” version of the album was in the works, while on the popular Steve Hoffman Music Forums they are talking about a new remix, possible DVD and Blu-Ray, and maybe a box set to be bundled with the book…..

So far it is all speculation. If there’s something in the works expect an offical announcement soon I guess.

One thing is certain: Yoko Ono is using the opportunity to further establish herself as central and a co-creator of the now classic John Lennon Imagine project…..something that’s causing consternation amongst some fans.

Again, from the official press release: “In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono conceived and recorded the critically acclaimed album Imagine at their Georgian country home, Tittenhurst Park, in Berkshire, England, and in the state-of-the-art studio they built in the grounds and at the Record Plant in New York. The lyrics of its title track were inspired by Yoko Ono’s ‘event scores’ in her 1964 book Grapefruit, and she was officially co-credited as writer in June 2017.

If there is to be some sort of re-issue later this year, it will become the very first to carry that new co-writer song credit for the song ‘Imagine”.

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John Lennon – 2018 US Postal Service Stamp Update

The US Postal Service recently issued a little bit more information on the John Lennon Forever stamp, part of its Music Icons commemorative series.

The stamp will be issued on September 7 in New York City, and with more details of the design being made public there’s been a bit of a surprise twist: there will be not one, but four different stamps in this issue.

As you can see above, because the stamp will be issued in a pane of 16 (with the stamp pane made to look like the sleeve of a 7″ record – which is kind of cool), the stamps in each row are to be treated in different gradient colors, creating four different varieties.

The colors on the stamps in the first row change from light orange to red; the second row changes from red to light purple; the third row is light purple to dark purple; and the fourth is dark purple to blue.

The image on the reverse of the pane is the black-and-white photograph taken by Peter Fordham at about the time of the Imagine album release in 1971. It is of Lennon at his white piano. His signature is in white above, and there’s a Music Icons logo bottom left.

The John Lennon stamp was designed by Neal Ashby and Antonio Alcala was the art director.The US Postal Service press release is here.

Strange/Unusual Find of the Month

“If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” – Paul McCartney, 1999

Again, this is not rare or expensive, but quite an unexpected find during a visit to the city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.

It’s The Fifth Beatle – The Brian Epstein Story, an amazing graphic novel-style book by Vivek Tiwary (with illustrations by Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker):

We were visiting and had to go to the ubiquitous IKEA store for a few bits and pieces and called into a large shopping centre complex in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. It’s always hard to resist the opportunity to stop by local bookshops too, and when we spied one in this complex (it was part of the Dymocks national chain) we ducked inside and headed straight to the “Music” section.

Now, The Fifth Beatle isn’t exactly a common book, especially in the wilds of Richmond, and even more so to be stocked by a large national chain of bookstores. You’d be more likely find something like this (maybe) in an independent or specialty store – but there it was on the shelf.

(Click on images for larger versions)

As you can see above, this is a very clever telling of the story of the rise of The Beatles, under the direction and tutelage of their clever, ambitious, talented and visionary manager, Brian Epstein. The Fifth Beatle reveals a man who took his charges to the very top of the world and attained what could be regarded as the ultimate in success, but who died painfully young – and tragically alone.

Written in 2013 and originally published in that same year, there have been a number of iterations of the book in the ensuing years. This is the 2016 softcover edition with an expanded sketchbook detailing the development of the project and a Beatles memorabilia section at the rear.

This site has a “Look Inside” feature if you’d like to see more of the story and the sophisticated, often elegant artwork. The official site also has a preview function available.

The Fifth Beatle has been in (and back out) of production for the big screen on more than one occasion. The latest news is that a deal has been cut with Bravo for a TV series based on the book. Let’s wait and see what happens.

This is a book we’d been keen on owning for some time and if you don’t have a copy it is well worth seeking out. It’s great to have it as part of the collection.

Yellow Submarine Picture Disc

The Beatles official site has announced that a limited edition ‘Yellow Submarine’ 7″ vinyl picture disc single is to be released on July 6:  
This will mark 50 years since the Yellow Submarine animated film hit movie screens around the world:

Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an officially released ‘Yellow Submarine’ 7″ picture disc. As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations for each British Beatle single, EMI issued a series of picture discs. This one came out in 1986 – marking 20 years since the band’s 13th single ‘Yellow Submarine’/’Eleanor Rigby’ was issued in August, 1966:

The new 7″ vinyl picture disc will come in a coloured die-cut sleeve and will be released on Friday, 6 July. A high-resolution, 4K restoration of the Yellow Submarine film will open at selected movie theatres in the UK, Ireland and the US in the following days. Tickets are here.

George Harrison Estate Launches New Record Label

The estate of George Harrison has just announced a new record label which will be dedicated to re-issuing some of the Indian classical and World music that George so dearly loved.

The label, called HariSongs, is kicking off by making two titles available to stream or download: In Concert 1972, featuring virtuoso’s Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan recorded live at New York’s Philharmonic Hall; and Chants of India, another Ravi Shankar project dating back to 1997. So far there is no talk of any physical product being made available, but there is a brand-spanking and comprehensive new website to go along with the new label.

In Concert 1972 was originally released on the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1973, and was mixed and edited by George Harrison (with Zakir Hussain and Phil McDonald).

Chants of India, produced by George Harrison, was originally released in 1997 on the Angel Records label (formerly a classical music division of EMI). It was recorded in Madras, India, and at Harrison’s Friar Park home at Henley-on-Thames in the UK.

Both titles are recently out-of-print, and have never before been available via streaming platforms. In Concert 1972 is also available in Hi-Res 96/24 and 192/24 formats.

You can read the full details of George’s dedication to and delight in Indian classical music, plus the new record label and releases in the press release issued by the George Harrison Estate here.

Brilliant New Beatle Book – Visualizing The Beatles

They say there are four basic types of learners: those who like to listen (auditory); those who like to take notes and read (reading/writing); those who like to be hands-on (kinaesthetic); and those who prefer to see the information in order to visualise the relationships between ideas (visual).

Well, if you fall into the visual camp, then you’re going to love this new Beatle book because on each of its 276 pages it packs a huge amount of data told in a truly unique way: using fantastic infographics.

Even if you’re not a “visual” person you’ll love this book for the breadth of the information it contains, and the fun, innovative way it tells the Beatle story anew. There’s really nothing else like it on the market:

The book is called Visualizing The Beatles – A Complete Graphic History of the World’s Favorite Band. Not only does it mange to squeeze three US spellings into it’s title, it crams a truly amazing amount of facts, figures, maps, history, stories and information between it’s covers – all told using infographics. Because of this the book forces you to think about the band we all know so well in very different ways, often bringing new understanding to how four young musicians from Liverpool had such an impact on the world.

Authors John Pring and Rob Thomas organise their information in a fairly standard fashion – each album in the order it was released, starting with Please Please Me and ending with Let It Be – but the way they go about deconstructing each has a unique telling. As they say in their introductory note: “It is by no means a definitive history of The Beatles. Instead, it is an attempt to create something beautiful, vibrant, and original from the data their music left behind. It is an attempt to present the facts in a way you haven’t seen them before, so you can spot, in an instant, the patterns, anomalies and changes.”

There are infographic pages for each LP detailing (amongst many other things):

  • An album overview
  • A song lyrics “word map”
  • Composer
  • What keys the songs were in
  • Instruments used
  • Album design details
  • Track lengths + original work v. covers
  • Who took lead vocals?
  • Success of the album – and any singles released

By way of example, here are a couple of pages. The first visually represents the many instruments used – and who played what – on Abbey Road, released in September, 1969:

As usual, click on these images to see larger versions. This next page covers off songwriting duties for the 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour

And this page shows the song titles – and the musical keys for each – on Rubber Soul from 1965:

Slowly, as you flip through the book, these images build to reveal a unique way of looking at the band’s output. Additionally, there are pages graphically representing things like all their US releases and the chart positions each achieved; a Beatle filmography; there are timelines detailing what else was happening in the world at the time of each album release; what the Beatles were wearing and their hairstyles through each phase of their career; where each album was recorded; tour maps; and key places of interest in the cities they lived in and visited, and much, much more.

One particularly interesting map page shows the city of Liverpool with flags dotted across it marking where the band lived in relation to each other; the locations of places like Strawberry Field and Penny Lane; schools and key performance venues from the early days. It is simple, but instantly gives a whole new context by visually representing basic facts from the Beatle story in a brand new way.

Visualizing The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas is published by Dey Street Books. It goes on sale in the USA on May 1st. [FYI the book was originally published as Visualising the Beatles in the UK in 2016].

You will definitely learn things you didn’t know about the Beatles. Highly recommended.

Strange/Unusual Finds of the Month – Nowhere Man and Double Fantasy

Every couple of months the Lifeline organisation (which offers a free phone crisis and suicide prevention counselling service in Australia) holds a huge fundraising book fair. They always have, as a side note, lots of second-hand CDs, and usually a few records too. These are usually placed in one corner and any Beatle titles would be scattered in amongst hundreds of other artists.

However, the Lifeline book fair last month had its very own Beatles section!

Obviously someone had donated a large collection and the volunteers had hived off a dedicated section of the tables just for Beatle stuff. There were books, a small selection of LPs and CDs, plus a very large stack of 45 singles. By the time we got through the door though another collector was well into sifting through the 45’s and so we had to wait patiently by for him to finish. Sadly (for us) he took just about all of them, and we were left to pick over the remains.

Much to our delight though we discovered a very clean copy of a Beatle EP that had been missing from the collection – one that is now considered rare and fetches hefty prices on eBay. It’s the Australian pressing of the band’s Nowhere Man EP, released on November 3, 1966:This one has the flipback tabs on the rear cover, and the early black and yellow Parlophone label with the Northern Songs royalty stamps included:We’d been looking for a copy of this EP for ages, so to find a copy in good condition was a real bonus. It completes a full set of all the Beatles’ Australian EP releases.

While biding time waiting for the other collector to sift through the stack of 45’s we checked out the books and the small number of Beatle albums on offer. Amongst these was this LP: This is the rarer Half-Speed mastered pressing of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono disc Double Fantasy. It is on the Geffen/Nautilus Superdisc label and dates from 1982. This limited edition release should come with a poster and a lyric sheet insert. Both these are missing, but it does have the original Nautilus ‘blue disc’ poly inner “Super Sleeve”:So, another strange/unusual find on what turned out to be a pretty good day.