More ABC Radio Beatle LP Podcasts

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 marks 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 Jude’s amazing series was released late last year – Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details scroll down after clicking).

Well, after a bit of a break, the pair are back. In October last year they took a look back at both sides of the original Yellow Submarine album:

Then came the big one, The Beatles (or The White Album) 50th Anniversary. It took Jude and host Rod Quinn some time to work through all four sides of the legendary album on air, but they’ve put the results together in one, long podcast:

They also talked through highlights of The Esher Demos bonus disc that came with 50th Anniversary release of The White Album last year:

Each of these podcasts are very insightful – and really are well worth a listen.

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

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

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John Lennon – Record Store Day 2019

Universal Music and the organisers of Record Store Day have announced that John Lennon’s Imagine [Raw Studio Mixes] will be released as a Limited Edition on heavyweight 180-gram black vinyl for Record Store Day 2019:

“These mixes capture the exact moment John and The Plastic Ono Band recorded each song raw and live on the soundstage located at the center of Ascot Sound Studios at John & Yoko’s home in Tittenhurst. The tracks are devoid of effects (reverb, tape delays, etc.) offering a unique, unparalleled insight & an alternate take on the record. These mixes have been pressed in the original album sequence appearing for the first time on vinyl.”

Side A
• Imagine – Take 10 / Raw Studio Mix
• Crippled Inside – Take 6 / Raw Studio Mix
• Jealous Guy – Take 29 / Raw Studio Mix
• It’s So Hard – Take 11 / Raw Studio Mix
• I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier, Mama – Take 4 / Raw Studio Mix
Side B
• Gimme Some Truth – Take 4 / Extended / Raw Studio Mix
• Oh My Love – Take 20 / Raw Studio Mix
• How Do You Sleep? – Take 11 / Raw Studio Mix
• How? – Take 40 / Raw Studio Mix
• Oh Yoko! – Take 1 / Raw Studio Mix

The official Record Store Day release list is a little confusing as it lists this as a 2xLP package, but in other places it is referenced as definitely just one disc. There will be 5,500 copies made available worldwide.

Rob Stevens, who worked on the Raw Studio Mixes for the John Lennon Imagine: The Ultimate Collection box set from last year says:

“The Raw Studio Mixes are the basic track performances of the musicians playing together in the same rather cramped room….There are no effects placed on the instruments or vocal, e.g. chamber reverb and tape slap for example. Just a bit of EQ and compression when the nature of a particular track warranted it.

John was notorious for wanting his voice bathed in both, and mixed as part of, rather than above the track, so at times you had to really focus your ears and mind to hear his nuances and lyrics clearly.

In the Raw Studio Mixes, there is none of that. John is front and center – clear, unadulterated, live and raw.

Whereas Double Fantasy Stripped Down does have some production enhancements and overdubs, The Imagine Raw Studio Mixes are completely raw and unadorned – they capture the sessions before the gloss was added. The unique challenge in mixing the songs with Yoko was to balance the instruments in a way that fused them into a whole while keeping each individual performance clear, but without the benefit of reverb and effects to do so.”

Record Store Day this year is Saturday, April 13.

Great New Beatle-related Movie – “Yesterday”

Imagine you woke up one day and there were no Beatles.

No one you speak to has ever heard of them, and there are no references to the band or their songs online, in music stores, libraries, or anywhere. But….you can remember them clearly, and you know how to play their songs.

That’s the premise of an interesting new comedy movie coming out later this year called Yesterday. It comes from Danny Boyle (who directed Slum Dog Millionaire and Trainspotting), and Richard Curtis (the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually).

Jack (played by Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter who dreams of making it big, but his career is going nowhere. His biggest supporter is his best friend, Ellie (Lily James). Then, something mysterious happens. During some sort of global electrical blackout, Jack gets hit by a bus and wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Only thing is, he remembers them clearly, starts to perform their songs, and from there things really start to get interesting….

Yesterday looks like it will be real fun for Beatle fans. It is due in movie theatres on June 28.

The Beatles, “Let It Be”, and Peter Jackson

Of course you’ll have heard by now that the multi-award winning film maker Peter Jackson has been selected by to re-cut the hours of Let It Be footage and audio from the winter of 1969 into an entirely new film.

We’ve been letting that huge news from last week sink in and percolate a bit – and have come to the conclusion that it’s a stroke of genius by the remaining Beatles and their Apple company.

We all know that the original Let It Be film has been languishing in the vaults for years, with seemingly no chance of unanimous agreement amongst the four-headed monster that controls these things (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison) that a re-issue – on its own – would ever get the green light.

But giving all the footage (over 55 hours of never-before-seen film and 140 hours of audio) to the Oscar-winning Jackson is something of a masterstroke.

First and foremost is the fact that Peter Jackson (who made the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies) is a mad keen Beatle fan, and has been for decades.

Secondly, his most recent project – the documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old – has seen he and his team at Park Road Post in Wellington, New Zealand, work wonders with the restoration and colorization of old photos and never-before-seen footage from World War I. The film was made to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.

If you want proof of what they can do with footage and images from one hundred years ago just take a look at the trailer for They Shall Not Grow Old. It is breathtaking:

The services at Park Road Post include: restoration from scanned film – scratch and splice fixes, de-noise, image sharpening, stabilizing, re-speeding and re-timing; grading – black and white and final colour grading of specialised colour created footage; and dialogue recording, Foley, and pre and final sound mixing and mastering. So they are very capable experts in their field.

As to the legend that The Beatles’ time together during the filming of Let It Be was entirely fraught and only shows a band in its final death throes, Jackson – who has seen all the footage – begs to differ: “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth. After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

This all points to what should be something very special being produced.

As to fans who were worried that the new film would take the place of the original Let It Be, that it would forever consigned to the Apple dustbin, well that seems not to be the case. A restored version of director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s theatrical release is set to finally get its belated digital release “following the release of this new film”, according to Apple’s official announcement.

And, it’s kind of ironic that The Beatles once tried to obtain the film rights to The Lord of the Rings…..

Two New McCartney Box Set Downloads

As he has done in the past (for example with Flowers In The Dirt, Venus and Mars, etc.), Paul McCartney has just made available for free download two additional tracks not included in his two current Archive Collection box sets, Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway.

For fans and completists who simply must have everything officially available, these additional downloads when offered are welcome little “Easter Egg” extras to add to the materials in the box sets.

The reason behind why these two tracks didn’t quite make the final cut is explained at paulmccartney.com:

“When MPL began the research for Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, they had a good idea of what they would find in the audio archives. But, you can never be quite sure. The paperwork for the release was in good order, but often the more you look, the more gems you’re able to find. So, to make sure no stone went unturned, Paul’s audio team spent weeks listening to several days’ worth of material. Eventually this was whittled down to Paul’s preferences and what made sense for the story being told.

And sometimes you just end up having too many songs! So, as a thank you from us to you, we are happy to offer fans free downloads of two of those songs that did not make the final tracklisting…”

The first track is ‘Dear Friend (Orchestra Up)’. It’s an alternate version that comes from the Wild Life sessions:

“When Paul instructed arranger Richard Hewson about how to score the touching ‘Dear Friend’ – a note to former songwriting partner, John Lennon – he suggested it should sound, “as if there was an orchestra just over the hill. It wasn’t in your face. And when you’re at the top of the hill, there it is, full blown”. As often happens with a song, a number of mixes of ‘Dear Friend’ were done, to get the tone just right and, in this case, one of those mixes featured the orchestra playing a more prominent role.

For the release of Wild Life, it was decided to go with a version where the orchestra is a little more subtle, and today we’re happy to let you hear how it could have sounded.”

The other is ‘Hands Of Love (Take 2)’ from Red Rose Speedway:

“One of the – many! – highlights of Red Rose Speedway is the 11-minute medley that closes the release. Paul has mentioned previously how he enjoys writing medleys as it’s a challenge to make them fit together (it’s not always easy to go from one key to another, a certain amount of musical gymnastics are involved!). But even though a medley may be comprised of a number of songs, it doesn’t mean they’re recorded in one go. Often they’re pieced together after the recording. It’s a fascinating and chin-stroking process. The version of ‘Hands Of Love’ used in the medley of Red Rose Speedway was cut from the original tape and mixed with the other tracks to make the medley. However, we found the original tape had alternate takes, and this was our favourite.”

To get these downloads you’ll need to register as a user on the official Paul McCartney website, then go to his Download page and follow the prompts.

The Music of Destiny Volume 1 – Sold Out Already

We have been on an email waiting list for about six months to be alerted to when the official vinyl release of The Music of Destiny – Volume 1 would once more become available.

That email finally came in this morning, stating that the 6-disc Collectors Edition Vinyl Box Set was now back in the Bungie online store. As Paul McCartney fans will know, he contributed to the soundtrack behind their video game called Destiny.

When we first clicked through the set was definitely showing an “Add To Cart” button. But when we clicked through again about two hours later, the Bungie order page was once more listing it as “Sold Out”. Strange.

There are two main McCartney contributions to The Music of Destiny. He shares a joint composing credit with Martin O’Donnell for the instrumental passages used throughout the game. This is called ‘Music of the Spheres’. Plus there was a new song recorded specifically for the game to accompany the extensive closing credits – much like those at the end of a movie. That song is called “Hope For the Future” and is produced by Giles Martin. The song was recorded at Abbey Road, and at Sir Paul’s own Hog Hill Mill studio in East Sussex, England.

The ‘Hope For The Future’ song (in a number of versions) was subsequently officially issued by McCartney himself as a 180 gram, 12″ vinyl extended single – this was way back in January, 2015.

Then, as some will know, about Christmas time last year, two fans took matters into their own hands and unofficially released their own compilation of the soundtrack to the video game. They also called this Music of the Spheres, and this was distributed on the web as a download.

Bungie finally came good with a limited physical vinyl box set released (we think – it’s a bit vague) in around June this year, though this wasn’t widely publicised. It’s the same 6-disc set linked to above. It too quickly sold out, and the email notification sign-up offer for news about when it would be back in print was made.

Now it seems The Music of Destiny – Volume 1 was briefly made available again for a few days but is once more sold out……

You can however still order a digital download of Destiny – The Official Soundtrack: