On Again, Off Again. ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Now On Again

The mysterious curse of The BeatlesLet It Be sessions seems to have permeated across 50 years, all the way to 2022 with the inability to get to a release date that everyone was happy with…..

Disney and Apple have experienced huge issues in getting Peter Jackson’s wonderful three-part opus out to the public on physical media (i.e. Blu-ray and DVD). There have been a few false starts this year but it seems finally the release is definitely on again. Hence this email from the official US Beatle store in our inbox this morning:

The official Beatle page also trumpets that The Beatles Get Back is definitely on again. At least on Blu-ray. It’s hard to find on either site a reference or images of the DVD…….

As previously announced before it was withdrawn, the Blu-ray will come in a ‘Collector’s Pack’:

This contains a tri-fold inner holding the three discs, one for each of the three parts that have been available as a stream on Disney+:

And also included are four Get Back collector’s cards, one for each Beatle:

There’s no bonus material however. It could be argued though that we’re already getting lots of that ‘bonus’ material on these discs as the original Get Back film (as initially planned for streaming release last year) had many extra hours added to it by director, Peter Jackson before it made it to Disney+.

‘Live at the BBC’ – How a Fan Helped Make Beatle History

It’s reasonably well known in Beatle circles that when it came to compiling the 1994 album Live at the BBC (later re-issued in remastered form and accompanied by a second volume in 2013), Apple and EMI relied heavily on some previously unknown 1963 recordings made off the radio by a teenage fan named Margaret Ashworth.

Margaret was credited prominently in the liner notes of both. Here’s Volume 1:

And here are the credits for Volume 2:

Her name was there for all to see, and we knew she was the source of many songs and performances previously thought to be completely lost, or only available in very poor quality. But we didn’t really know the whole back story. She’s not even given a single mention in Kevin Howlett’s comprehensive book on the subject, The Beatles: the BBC Archives: 1962-1970.

Now, for the first time, Margaret Ashworth – a veteran journalist who works at the Daily Mail newspaper – has written extensively about just how she was able to come to the rescue of The Beatles and made a new release of their live radio performances possible.

Check out her Mail on Sunday article ‘How a besotted Beatles superfan who made amateur bedroom recordings of the band’s 1960s hits ended up with a personalised thank you on their hit BBC album three decades later‘, and also her personal music blog post on the subject ‘How I made a Beatles album (with a little help from my friends)‘. It covers similar ground but, goes into much more detail. They’re both great reads.

Realising that her homemade tapes were gold, the engineers at EMI immediately made seven sets of CDs of the full Pop Go The Beatles programs. They presented Margaret with one set:

When the album Live at the BBC was originally released in 1994, Margaret Ashworth says she could easily tell which of the tracks came from her tapes. Here’s one of them, ‘Ooh! My Soul’. It is the track the producers and engineers used to test the quality of her recordings when she first took them to the Abbey Road studios:

It’s so good to now have this story told in full, and by the Beatle fan who made it happen.

Ringo’s New Book – ‘Lifted’

Ringo Starr has a new book out. It is called Lifted – Fab Images and Memories From My Life and Across the Universe.

Speaking about the book Ringo said: “I am not writing this book as a Beatle historian. I’m writing this book as a Beatle — and there’s only a couple of us who can do that.”

Asked about it’s origins, Starr explains: “I didn’t keep all these photos. These fantastic images came back to me in recent years from here, there and everywhere — online and off — and have somehow helped me get back to seeing my life with The Fab Four through fresh eyes. A lot of the photos in this book I spotted on my phone and on my computer and “lifted” them because they brought back so many fabulous memories.”

“So this a book full of Beatle images that many people haven’t seen and stories that I’m sharing with a little help from my longtime writer friend David Wild. We’ve all been through a pretty tough time for a lot of people who’ve been locked down, and this book has really lifted my spirits and took me back to where I once belonged in a whole new way. And in the end, that’s why this new book is called Lifted. The Beatles changed my life forever. So it’s about getting back and giving back.”

Lifted is only available online from the Julien’s Auction House site, and there are two editions to choose from.

The standard ‘Collectors Edition’ costs US$59.00. It is a handsome-looking coffee table style hardback. It seems to have a been popular seller as it’s already in a 2nd Edition print run on the Julien’s site.

There is also a ‘Signature Edition’ that costs US$495.00 and is limited to 1000 copies. The same ‘Collectors Edition’ book comes presented in a velvet outer bag and the book – each one signed and numbered by Ringo – is contained in a custom box.

Proceeds from the sale of Lifted will go to the charity The Lotus Foundation, which does good work across a range of worthy causes.

Ringo has been out and about promoting the book, especially on social media. Here’s a photo we lifted from Instagram:

If the name Julien’s Auctions sounds familiar, it is the company that managed the 2015 once-in-a-lifetime auction, curated by Ringo and his wife Barbara Bach, featuring thousands of items from their London estate, and their Beverly Hills and Monaco residences.

There were artworks, clothing and jewelry, furniture, memorabilia, musical instruments (including seven drum kits owned and played by Ringo), gold records, cars, and much, much more. There was even Ringo’s personal UK 1st mono pressing of The Beatles White Album, No: 0000001. It sold for US$790,000!

You can get an overview of what was on offer here. And the full list of all lots is here. They are fun to look through. Interestingly, a portion of the proceeds from this auction also went to The Lotus Foundation.

Record Store Day 2022 – Some Titles for Collectors

Record Store Day is returning to ‘normal’ this year. Well, as much as is possible in these strange times.

It will be on Saturday April 23, but the organisers are proactively trying to avoid disappointment by also designating an ‘RSD Drops’ date on June 18. That date will serve as a safety net for titles that for any number of reasons don’t make it into stores on April 23.

The US Record Store 2022 Day List includes titles that are coming to record stores on Record Store Day in April and those that will be coming in June. As they become aware of issues for any specific title, that title will move to the RSD Drops date – and you’ll see that on the List on the website.

Two titles of most interest to us here are a lovely translucent ice blue vinyl 12″ single from the Dark Horse Records label:

‘I Am Missing You’/’Lust’ by was the first ever single released on Dark Horse in 1974. It is taken from the George Harrison-produced album Shankar Family ૐ Friends, which itself is due for an audiophile vinyl re-press some time later this year. The 12″ single will be limited to 2700 copies.

There are also reports of a Paul McCartney release. This is mentioned on the UK Record Store Day site only so far and is apparently a 12″ single of the song ‘Women and Wives’ from his McCartney III album backed with the same song performed by St Vincent found on the McCartney III Imagined version of the album.

UPDATE (3 March, 2022): It seems this McCartney 12″ is to be crowned Record Store Day’s inaugural Song of the Year. For its 15th birthday, RSD is instituting a new tradition: the Song of the Year Single. ‘Women and Wives’ will get a one-time worldwide run of 3000 numbered copies on June 18:

The other title on the RSD 2022 list is a translucent orange and a translucent blue re-issue of Ringo Starr’s Ringo the 4th LP.

Ringo the 4th will come in a gatefold cover, and both colours will be limited to 1000 copies. (Thanks to The Daily Beatle for the images). This Ringo album has been re-issued previously in the US on red vinyl, and also on gold vinyl, in 2020.

Lennon Connection: The NFT Collection

NFT’s, or digital artworks, have become all the rage. And it looks like John Lennon’s son Julian is using them to sell one-off digital representations of some of the Beatle treasures from his personal collection: five gifts he received from his father, and one from Paul McCartney.

NFT stands for Non-fungible token. “Non-fungible” means that it is something unique and can’t be replaced with something else. NFT’s can be anything digital (such as drawings or music), but a lot of the current excitement is around using the tech to sell digital art. Oh, and you pay for them in Ethereum – a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin or dogecoin.

The Lennon NFTs are being sold through YellowHeart, an online site specialising in the NFT space, and also through Julien’s Auctions – a more traditional auction house. As you can see on the Julien’s site all current bids have already either met or exceeded the estimated selling prices. The auction closes on February 7.

The pieces for sale are three of John Lennon’s Gibson Les Paul guitars, his Afghan jacket from Magical Mystery Tour, the hooded cape worn for the movie Help!, and Paul McCartney’s hand written notes for an arrangement of the song he wrote for Julian called ‘Hey Jude’ (it was originally called ‘Hey Jules’). Each NFT is animated and includes brief audio of Julian discussing the item with that voice-over being incorporated as a part of the NFT.

It should be noted that a portion of the proceeds from this auction will go to Julian’s White Feather Foundation which is active globally on issues relating to education, good health, the preservation of indigenous cultures, the environment and clean water.  

If, like us, you don’t have very deep pockets it might be cheaper to seek out a copy of the lovely book Beatles Memorabilia – The Julian Lennon Collection. Each of these items is detailed there, along with a host of other rare collectables.

If you’d like to hear Julian talking about his collection and why he’s gone down the NFT route, check out this video from the True AF Podcast with Eric Fuller:

Tough Times Being a Beatle Fan in Soviet-era Russia

The topic of Beatles collecting and fandom in Soviet-era Russia has been a popular topic on the web of late.

Andrey, a long-time friend of our page, alerted us to this comprehensive article recently posted (in Russian) on the beatlespress.com.ua site.

If you don’t read Cyrillic writing (and we don’t!), then Andrey has provided a link to a video in English on the very same topic:

Bottom line is that you had to be tough to be a Beatle fan in public in the late 1960’s/early 1970s. The Soviet secret service, the KGB, came down very hard on any young people who dared to say they “….loved Lennon more than Lenin”.

Their lives could – and were – turned upside down. Indeed, in the example cited where a group in the Ukraine turned out on the street to celebrate something as innocuous as Paul McCartney’s birthday, seven people were arrested and sentenced to 15 days jail for “disturbing public order”.

In addition, six were expelled from their university studies and from the Young Communist League – the latter almost certainly guaranteeing their failure in any future career. Younger high school students were forced to repeat whole years of study. There were ramifications also for their parents who were publicly humiliated in the Soviet media.

While we were pondering all this and how much we in the West take our freedoms for granted, we also stumbled upon this great video on a closely related subject. Its just been uploaded on the Parlogram Auctions YouTube Channel and is a study on how Beatle fans in the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain listened to The Beatles – including the spooky “music on bones” records we’ve written about before.

Rooftop Concert Comes to IMAX – and Blu-ray/DVD

This image popped up on the official Beatles website and on social media overnight:

It was accompanied by the words: “The Rooftop Concert is coming to @IMAX. Experience the unforgettable performance in a special 60-minute presentation of Peter Jackson’s docuseries in a one night event on January 30. Get tickets now: http://tickets.imax.com

Reaction on social media has been angst that (initially) the film is only to be available in IMAX theatres in the United States:

Pls not only for the US! The Beatles are from Europe, this whole movie plays in London..

Nothing in the country they’re from and where this happened? 😦

US only?? Kinda rude tbh

Pls not only for the US! The Beatles are from Europe, this whole movie plays in London…..

Fantastic! Shame that it’s only in the US though…

But only in the US?! 🤔 you do realise the Beatles are English yeah? 😡

However, the real news was on the Beatles site:

1. That a global theatrical engagement for the 60-minute rooftop only film is to to follow in February 11-13, 2022

and,

2. The complete docuseries is to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 8, 2022.

Now, that’s the first official confirmation that a Blu-ray and DVD will be made available to fans of the whole Peter Jackson The Beatles: Get Back film. However, the three-disc set will only feature the exact same content available to stream on Disney+. There’s no bonus features, no rooftop concert in full, no original-cut of Let It Be (which was promised when Get Back was announced).

Shankar Family ૐ Friends to get an Audiophile Release

The 1974 Dark Horse Records title Shankar Family ૐ Friends is to get an audiophile vinyl pressing in 2022.

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs site has it listed only as “Coming Soon” so far – but it will be on 180 gram vinyl under their Original Master Recording imprint. This will be the first time the record has been re-issued on vinyl since 1974.

An album by Indian master musician Ravi Shankar, Shankar Family ૐ Friends was recorded primarily in Los Angeles during the spring of 1973, but not released until late 1974. It features a host of top-flight Indian players.

The album was produced by George Harrison and also features western musicians like Tom Scott, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins and Jim Keltner. It was last re-issued on CD in 2010 as part of the Collaborations box set. Check out our unboxing here.

What is a little confusing is that on the MoFi website the release is listed as being a 180 gram numbered single LP, while in the Music Direct store catalogue it says it will be a 180 gram, 45rpm 2LP pressing…..

Wild Life Gets 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master

50 years ago, on December 7, Wings released their debut album Wild Life – recorded over an eight-day period at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Now it joins McCartney and RAM in getting the Limited Edition, 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master treatment:

Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Seiwell and Denny Laine arrived at the studios on 25 July, 1971 to begin recording with engineers Tony Clark and Alan Parsons.

“They rehearsed for a while, sang some old songs, wrote some new ones and in time headed for the big city studios. In three days they had laid down most of the tracks and by the end of a couple of weeks the album was finished. In this wrapper is the music they made. Can you dig it?”, wrote Clint Harrigan for the original album’s back cover liner notes.

On PaulMcCartney.com Paul wrote: “Wild Life was about spontaneity: the opening track ‘Mumbo’ was recorded in one take. I’d read that Bob Dylan had just made a quick album and I really liked the idea, because we tended to take longer and longer to make records. The early albums by The Beatles hadn’t taken long and it seemed to me that Dylan was getting to that. I was a great admirer of his – and still am to this day – so I thought, well, if it’s good enough for him, let’s do it.”

The 50th anniversary edition of Wild Life is cut at half speed at Abbey Road using a high resolution transfer of the original 1971 master tapes. The Half Speed 50th will be released on February 4. It is available for pre-order now.