Days In The Life – A Father and Son on a Beatles Tour

days-in-the-life_origAt first glance this Beatle book looks to be an unlikely coupling of two broad and un-related concepts: the places visited and lectures delivered across seven US states by professional Beatles music scholar Aaron Krerowitcz, all wrapped up as a road-trip journal by a father and son duo (the son being the aforementioned full-time Beatle expert, and his dad John, a retired journalist and keen bird-watcher).

While the overall approach is a touch quirky (birding and Beatles?), as a whole Days in the Life – A Father and Son Beatle Tour hangs together. Not only is it a charming tale of two blokes out on the road, it’s also a vehicle to deliver lots of interesting Beatle facts, observations, history and, importantly, the context of the band’s music and its continuing success – especially around the American experience of the Beatles.

It’s clear that as a former journalist, Aaron Krerowicz’s father John can write. The sections of the book he pens are engaging and relate not only his sometimes humorous bird-watching exploits across the course of their journey, but his ability to put some history into the book. John relates his generation’s first-hand experience of this group from Liverpool which formed such a lasting bond with US teenagers back then. It’s a bond that endures today.

Son Aaron meanwhile has youth and some solid graduate and post-graduate musical scholarship on his side. The fact that he is so young initially confounds some of the folks who come to listen to his library lectures. How could someone who was born fifteen years after the Beatles broke up be so knowledgable? They generally leave impressed.

Of course when you do book reviews it’s good to try to find out more about the author – and a popular chat forum turned up the following un-solicited recommendation from an avid  Beatle fan who attended one of Aaron’s library presentations (this time on the Sgt Pepper album):  “I came home last Thursday, picked up the paper and saw my local library was having a presentation on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper. I figured I would go – it’s close, it’s free, it’ll be fun. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to learn anything. I’ve been listening to, and reading about the Fabs for over 35 years at this point and this is a free program at the local library – how good is it really going to be? Probably some fan like me, who’s going to just tell you about the sound effects, John’s Mr. Kite poster, A Day In The Life being based on newspaper articles, and the run-out groove.

I was wrong, and very, very impressed. Aaron Krerowicz is a composer and music educator in his late 20s pursuing on-going Beatles study. In November 2011, Aaron won a research grant through the University of Hartford to explore connections between mid-Twentieth Century avant-garde art and the Beatles. His presentation covered most of the obvious stuff any Beatles nut would expect (which was extremely well researched and presented), but he also spoke to the music theory and composition behind the songs, which I found really enlightening. He presented clearly, and never spoke over people’s heads when discussing some of the more esoteric stuff, which is a real gift. He highlighted multi-tracks to isolate certain parts of the songs he was referring to, which was also really illuminating.

You’ve got to admit, that’s high praise.

Best bits from the book Days in the Life? Aaron’s writing on how he, a classical music aficionado, came to get so deeply into the Beatles in the first place. Anyone who can list The Beatles 1 album as a favourite alongside Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ and J.S.Bach’s violin concerti is OK with me. Also, his insights into particular songs – for example the genesis and recording of ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’, one of John Lennon’s best from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – make for interesting reading.

As far as the sections written by John Krerowicz, his recollections of witnessing that first, black and white, US TV performance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show bring a personal, family-level insight into what the broadcast meant cross-generationally in the United States. That, and his highly descriptive writing about the simple joy of travel and being out on the open highway, were highlights for me.

What didn’t work? The three pages of photographs of (admittedly) over-priced Dallas Cowboy merchandise in the club’s AT&T Stadium gift shop, the three pages of drawings from a family game of Telestrations, and an unnecessary joke about Michael Jackson. Otherwise, this is a great little book.

For more details about Aaron, his lecture schedule and other activities check out his website. Details about his other Beatle books can be found here, and for examples of Aaron’s Beatle scholarship, have a look at his video series  Beatles Minute – One Analytical Nugget in One Minute.

Beatles “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” Blu-ray Photo Unboxing

After seeing this on the big screen in the cinema on its first day of release we finally got around to purchasing a Blu-ray copy for the collection. Chose a good day to do it too, as our local store had 30% off all DVD’s and BluRays! This is the Australian, 2 Disc Special Edition (for all images click on each to see a clearer, higher definition version):

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Here’s the rear cover:bathb-rear

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The inner 3-panel gatefold fans out to reveal this fabulous photograph on its rear: bathb-inner6

On the other side are the storage for the booklet and the 2 discs:bathb-inner4

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The 64 page booklet is nicely done, with a lengthy introduction from director Ron Howard, plus a long essay about the Beatles touring years by Jon Savage, plus lots of great black and white photographs:

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A close-up of the sticker on the Australian edition:bathb-sticker

And for those of you who like the small print on the rear outer cover:bathb-smallprint

And finally the two discs:bathb-disc1bathb-disc2

 

 

Another Radha Krsna Temple

A couple of months back we wrote about finding a nice vinyl re-issue copy of Radha Krsna Temple. It’s another of the LPs from the early 1990s when Apple Records first began reissuing its back catalogue. That series, especially vinyl examples, is definitely in the “hard-to-find” category now and so securing an almost mint copy for the collection was a bonus.

When doing some further research on the George Harrison produced Radha Krsna Temple it was a surprise to discover that the album is still in print as a CD via a completely different source – the Australian Krishna Store. The “store” is based in the small Queensland town of Eumundi, which is up behind the Sunshine Coast. Of course, being mad completists, we had to have a copy so we ordered it online and the CD was posted to us direct from India.

As you can see below, this edition has a different cover and contains a couple of different bonus tracks to those included on the official 2010 Apple CD re-issue (included in the Fresh From Apple box set).

The CD from the Krishna Store looks like this:radha-cover

And here’s the rear cover:radha-rear

It is a cardboard gatefold, digi-pac-style cover that opens up like this:radha-inside

The additional bonus tracks on this disc are a different version of ‘Hare Krsna Mantra’, and ‘Purport by Srīla Prabhupāda‘. (The bonus track ‘Prayer to the Spiritual Masters’ was included on both the 1993 and 2010 Apple re-issues).radha-cd

This isn’t the first time that Radha Krsna Temple has been re-issued by a completely separate entity. Well before Apple first did re-released the album in 1993 (and again in 2010), the recording was re-packaged in 1973 on vinyl as Goddess of Fortune, on the Spiritual Sky label:goddess-of-fortune-2

“Great Record Labels” Book

Chanced upon a small local garage sale (or yard sale) this morning and found this book:great-labels-cover

Great Record Labels, written by Al Cimino and published by Chartwell Books in 1992, is quite an interesting overview of some of the most famous record companies, admittedly with a strong US bias. It has some really good images liberally scattered throughout, not only of the various record company labels themselves, but also many of the artists signed to the labels too.

Cimino has split his book into five broad categories covering music from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s. He starts with Sun Records in the Fifties, and ends with Def Jam in the Nineties, and works his way through most of the big labels in between – like Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Decca, A&M, CBS, Warner Brothers, Island, and Virgin – to name but a few.

There are two main segments of the book where The Beatles pop up. First is the chapter on the British EMI/Parlophone label:great-labels3great-labels4

In the section on EMI’s US subsidiary Capitol Records there is only fleeting reference to The Beatles, despite the huge amounts of money they made for the company:great-labels9

But to make up for that there’s no less than four pages dedicated to The Beatles’ own Apple Records:great-labels5great-labels6great-labels7great-labels8

Here’s the rear cover of Great Record Labels (the dust cover has seen better days…):great-labels-rearDespite being a little beat up, this is a nice little find and a good book to have in the collection.

Yellow Submarine Lego Kit On Sale Tomorrow

When we wrote about this back in February it was still very much a “wait and see” proposition.

Now it is about to be a reality.

Tomorrow, November 1, the Lego Beatles Yellow Submarine kit goes on sale around the world.yellow-submarine-box

Based on an idea submitted to Lego last year by musician and Beatle fan Kevin Szeto, the kit was brought to reality by Lego designer Justin Ramsden who was given the opportunity to refine Kevin’s initial model: “I€ watched€ the€ film€ when€ I€ was€ younger€ and€ was €really €inspired€ by €how €it €oozed€ so€ much€ imagination€ –€ comparable€ to€ how€ I€ view€ LEGO€ elements.Š €I’m €also €a €massive €fan €of €The€ Beatles ˆ€having €grown€ up€ with €their €music€ all€ my €life ˆ€so €to €see €The €Beatles €in €LEGO €form €is€ a €dream €come €true.”yellow-submarine-figures

The finished model is very close to Kevin Szeto’s original idea, right down to what John, Paul, George and Ringo are wearing. The set contains 550 pieces and will retail for US $59.99 / EUR €59,99 / GBP £49.99, and in Australia $79.99.

To celebrate the release the Beatle mini figures gave Lego a tour of their hometown of Liverpool, including the famous Strawberry Fields:

Lego Beatles on tour in Liverpool - Strawberry Fields © Mikael Buck / Lego

Lego Beatles on tour in Liverpool – Strawberry Fields
© Mikael Buck / Lego

To see the kit up close go to Brothers Brick Lego fan site for a review and lots of pics.

 

Wingspan – More Unusual Variations

Since we published information on the Limited Edition version of Paul McCartney’s Wingspan – Hits and History CD collection last week, our friend Andrey in Russia has provided information about three more unusual and collectable versions.

The first is this Ukrainian release. Here’s the rear cover:ukraine2a

(click on any of the images to see larger versions)

And here are the two Ukrainian discs:ukraine1bVersion 2

Andrey also provided information on not one, but two very collectable Japanese variants:Version 2Version 3As you can see from the shots of the spines below these carry the same Japanese catalogue number and barcode:  wingspan-japan-spines-2versions-1

And both come with an additional booklet (written in Japanese and English). However, in one version this booklet is incorporated inside the slipcase (its white spine can be seen below), while the other version has the added booklet outside the slipcase (orange spine in the image below):wingspan-japan-spines-2versions

(click on any of the images to see larger versions)

The other main differences between these two releases are detailed further here (and in all pictures Version 1 is above, and Version 2 is below):

1) JAPANESE Version 1:
– the “hands” image on the front of the slipcase is printed (i.e. not holographic)
– slipcase in made in Japan
– additional booklet is inside the slip case
– The obi strip on the left hand side is a regular sized obi (i.e. small)
2) JAPANESE Version 2:
– the “hands” image on the front is the holographic image
– slipcase is made in the EU/UK                                                                                          – the additional Japanese/English booklet is outside the slip case
– the obi is large – it wraps right around and covers the entire rear of the outer slipcase

Another thing to note is that in Japan Wingspan – Hits and History contains an additional track to the rest of the world. It’s the song ‘Eat At Home’ and this can be found as track 19 on CD 1. (EU and US versions only have 18 songs on this disc).

Wingspan – Deluxe Limited Edition Version

When we were in the United States a while back we managed to pick up a nice copy of the standard edition of McCartney’s Wingspan – Hits and History two-CD retrospective compilation from 2001.

It was originally issued in a jewel case with an outer cardboard slipcase with a holographic front cover. Getting copies of this in good condition is difficult because the slipcase is often missing or damaged.

Then I learned that there was also a Limited Edition version of Wingspan – Hits and History released as well. It has the same two discs and running order of songs, but is packaged in a hard-back book that fits inside a similar but slightly larger outer slipcase, also with the hologram “hands” image on the front.

Well, we’ve finally secured a copy of the book version on eBay for a very reasonable price:wingspan-outer  The book inside looks like this:wingspan-book1wingspan-book2

The CDs sit in two clear plastic holders inside the front and rear covers:wingspan-book-insidewingspan-inside-2

It’s the same 22-page booklet inside. However, it is produced specifically for this set as it’s in a larger format to the standard CD booklet:

wingspan-inside-4wingspan-inside-3The standard CD set in the UK has the barcode number 7243 5 32876 2 7, while this limited edition set was made in the USA and has the catalogue number 7243 5 32943 2 8. It caries the Capitol and MPL logos on the cover and on the CDs.

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This set also had this sticker on the outside (which the previous owner very kindly kept and placed inside the book):

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Just by way of comparison, here’s the size difference between the standard and limited edition versions:wingspan-sizewingspan-cover-2