New Book: The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 1

A fascinating and well-researched new Beatle book has just landed. It’s rather lengthy title is The Beatles Recording Reference Manual- Volume 1: ‘My Bonnie’ through ‘Beatles For Sale’ (1961-1964). The book is written by musician, recording engineer, producer and Beatle afficionado, Jerry Hammack:

As the front cover says: “From the first take to final remix, discover the making of the greatest pop recordings of all time”. It is the first installment of what will be a four-book series.

Volume 1 takes us in great detail through the albums Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, and Beatles For Sale.

Over eight years in the making, Jerry Hammack has collected and analysed hundreds of recordings (takes, outtakes, remixes and the officially released versions), read hundreds of books and magazine articles, scoured photos, film and videos, and interviewed key personnel who worked on Beatle sessions to compile a definitive statement about just how each of their classic recordings was made.

From his home in Toronto, Canada, Hammack explained, “I’d be working on a session and an artist would ask for McCartney’s bass sound on Sgt. Pepper, or Clapton’s solo guitar sound on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. While I could eventually track down the details that brought those sounds to life for them, it required a lot of detective work sorting through outdated, or even worse, unsubstantiated misinformation on the topic. As The Beatles influence is as present now as its ever been, I thought it was important to put those questions to rest.”

And put them to rest he does. The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 1 – ‘My Bonnie’ through ‘Beatles For Sale’ (1961-1964) includes song-by-song descriptions of the entire recording process, complete with diagrams to visually describe what happened with each song. This allows the reader to follow the critical milestones of each work. Every entry has detailed session by session breakdowns of the people involved, instruments and studio tools used. Plus there are numerous appendices at the back of the book covering release versions, gear, and more.

You’ll find in this book minute detail – right down to to the studio gear in the control room at the time – like this beautiful old Telefunken M10 Master Recorder (which was the model used to record masses of the band’s earliest songs):

The book also has what I very much like to see in reference works of this nature: a Glossary of Terms, a thorough Bibliography, and a comprehensive Index, making things easy to find and cross reference.

Future volumes in this definitive, four-volume series will be released approximately every 6 months. Jerry Hammack has created a great website to support the book series, and you can purchase his book direct from the site, or through Amazon (where you can also take “Look Inside” peek at the contents). Here’s the rear cover of Volume 1 (click the image for a larger version): 

Volume 2 will take us from Help! to Revolver (1965-1966); Volume 3 will look just at 1967 (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour); and the final in the series Volume 4 takes in the LPs The Beatles (aka The White Album, through to Abbey Road (1968-1970). Really well worth getting hold of if you love to delve into how Beatle magic was made in the recording studio.

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Absolutely Amazing Sgt. Pepper Photo Research

We saw this page a little while back in the lead-up to the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary reissues, but it has since been added to substantially and grown even more comrehensive.

The “Sgt Pepper Photos” website is a project dedicated to locating the exact source images for all the photographs and items used on the cover of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It is very much worthy of mention. In fact, the more that word gets around, the more likely that additional original photographs and information will emerge and the site can be updated and added to.

Here are just a few examples of what the page is trying to do:

(click on images to see larger versions)

Above each image is some research about the celebrity or person and why they were chosen for the iconic cover.

We agree wholeheartedly with the person in the “Comments” section below the research who says:

“All of this amazing research deserves to be compiled into a physical book, a full-colour coffee table-sized volume, the annotated Sgt. Pepper cover. Have you considered doing this? This is the book that should have come out on the 50th anniversary of the album. Well done, sir!”

Chris, the owner of the site, has also added a lengthy article about the photographoc assistant one the day, Nigel Hartnup The Man Who ‘Really’ Took The Photo. Also fascinating and well worth reading.

More Beatle Podcasts for Your Listening Enjoyment

More than two years ago the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) began hosting an ongoing series celebrating the 50th anniversary of each British Beatle LP.

As each album marks its anniversary ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn speaks to US John Lennon biographer and amazing Beatle expert Jude Southerland Kessler. Jude is the author of the extraordinary (and ambitious!) nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The last instalment in Jude’s series was Volume 3: She Loves You, but Volume 4: Should Have Known Better is due out soon – in March, 2018 we believe.

It’s been quite a while since we gave you an update on the ABC Radio podcast series. There have been quite a few, so here goes.  

The Rubber Soul LP is discussed in two parts. Part One (examining Side One of the LP) is here.

And you can find Part Two (examining Side Two of the LP) is here.

Revolver is also in two parts. Part One (examining Side One of the LP) is here.

And Revolver Part Two (examining Side Two of the LP) is here.Rod Quinn and Jude Sutherland Kessler discussed both Side One and Side Two of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in one long podcast here.These are all great podcasts. Very insightful and well worth a listen. Previous broadcasts 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.

Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever RSD

Thanks to a very kind reader of beatlesblogger.com (Koen in Belgium – you know who you are!), we now have an elusive, limited edition Record Store Day ‘Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever’ 7-inch single re-issue.

Only 7000 copies were issue worldwide, but very few made it to Australia.

Front cover:

Rear cover (complete with original fold-over flaps):

And the RSD sticker up close:

Thanks again for sourcing and sending this to us! So good to have this in the collection.

(See also this RSD Update, and as usual, click on images above to see larger versions).

 

Sgt. Pepper – Japanese 50th Anniversary Re-issue Extras

Got to admit, this is pretty cool and tempting:

In Japan, as they usually do, the forthcoming deluxe box set edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, will come with some neat additional extras – including a cut-out diorama of the classic cover image. Here’s what the diorama will look like when constructed:

As you can see on the advertising flyer above “assembly takes 2-3 hours (so you can enjoy the Sgt. Pepper album 3-5 times!)”. There’ll also be two mini gift cards, and this A2-sized poster included as a “first pressing bonus”:

Fianally, the CD’s inside will be in the high-fidelity SHM-CD format – something audiophiles believe gives higher quality sound than just the usual CD pressing. This is also exclusive to the Japan edition of Sgt. Pepper’s.

Another Addition to McCartney’s ‘Flowers’ Deluxe Box Set

In the lead up to the release the Paul McCartney Flowers In The Dirt deluxe box set, Paul Sinclair from Super Deluxe Edition was one of the people leading the charge to have a physical CD included instead of the proposed “Download Only” selection of B-sides, Remixes, Single Edits and Cassette Demos.

His role in the protest led to a call from Scott Rodger, McCartney’s manager, who laid out the reasons behind the download only decision.

It also led Paul Sinclair to publish on his site a series of interviews with the producers who, back in 1989, collaborated with McCartney on the original recordings for Flowers In The Dirt. They each gave a unique insight not only into what it was like to work on the project, but also what it was like to work with Paul McCartney.

The reaction to those interviews was such that Sinclair subsequently produced a limited edition printed booklet called In Their Own Words: The Producer’s on Paul McCartney’s Flowers in the Dirt:Here’s a typical page (as usual, click on the images to see larger versions):

In a nice touch the booklet is designed to slip in alongside the other four books that come with the deluxe box set:

The booklet is a professionally designed and printed, 16-page document containing the original 9000-word interview feature (as published on SDE) along with 1200 extra words exclusive to the printed edition. Only 500 copies were initially produced and made available for sale through the Super Deluxe Edition site. Each was numbered and signed by Paul Sinclair. Ours is number 347/500:

The initial print run of numbered and signed copies sold out in less than 48 hours. In response to demand, there has been a second print run of this booklet. These are unsigned and not numbered, but otherwise identical. So if you’d like one, get in fast.

See also our solution to the “Download Only” issue.

Flowers In The Dirt – What Could/Should Have Been

As you’re no doubt aware, the deluxe Archive Collection box set of Paul McCartney’s 2017 re-issue of Flowers In The Dirt created quite an angry response amongst many fans and collectors.

The issue was around his decision to include a whole CD’s worth of B-sides, remixes and single edits, and three cassette demos as downloadable content only. No physical CD would be included in the four-disc set.

Well, no doubt many who purchased the box set have taken that download code provided and created their own CD burns to put inside the box. Here’s a look at the three CD’s and one DVD you do get (click on images to see larger versions):

And here’s what could have/should have been – one disc for the thirteen B-sides, remixes and single edits plus the three cassette demo songs:

Plus on the official Paul McCartney website there are a further three exclusive downloads (‘Distractions (Demo)’, ‘This One (Demo)’, and ‘Back on My Feet (Demo)’) not included in the box set at all, so why not a separate disc for these songs too?:

Call us pedantic and old-fashioned for wanting tactile, hard copies of this bonus material. And call us fussy for creating our own matching labels, but discs V and VI will now be filed inside our Flowers In The Dirt box alongside the other content provided in physical form to create a complete set. They’ll be in their own paper sleeves: