Label Variations Part Eleven – Happy Xmas (War is Over)

A Christmas theme for the next installment in our occasional Label Variations segment.

This time it’s John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band, with the Harlem Community Choir  and the 1971/1972 song ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’. Early versions (and some re-issues) were on green vinyl to suit the season.

The US Bell Sound test pressing:

Other US variations:

Some of the UK releases:

And Australia/New Zealand:

Here are some European releases. First Spain ‘Feliz Navidad’:

The Netherlands:

Italy:

France:

Greece:

Sweden:

An EU-made CD single from 2003:

Back to vinyl, this one is from Yugoslavia:

And a couple of South American countries, including Venuzuela ‘Felices Pascuas (Se Acabo La Guerra)’:

Brazil:

Mexico ‘Feliz Navidad (La guerra termino)’:

Here’s one from Japan ‘ハッピークリスマス戦争は終わった’:

Later on, when John Lennon was signed briefly to Geffen Records, that label released ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ too:

(As usual, click on most images to see larger versions)

Please note that not all these are from our collection! Check out this link to a ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ 40th Anniversary page. Catch some others in the Label Variations series here. And visit the Imagine Peace (War is Over!) site.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers.

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Eleven Early Yoko Ono Albums to be Reissued

Way back in March, 2014 we flagged that there was a thorough Yoko Ono solo reissue program in the pipeline and it was to include all of her early, long-out-of-print Apple and Zapple Record releases. Since that time it has gone decidedly quiet….

Now comes news that it is finally going to happen – and soon:

Chimera Music and the Secretly Canadian label, have just announced that eleven solo Yoko Ono titles will be coming out in three groups of releases over the next twelve months or so.

The first grouping of three reissues is due out on November 11 – on CD, on vinyl, and as digital downloads. First titles are:

Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (originally issued on Apple in 1968):ono-unfinished-1

Bonus track on the CD, and on vinyl (via a download card), will be ‘Remember Love’.

Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With the Lions (originally issued on Zapple in 1969):ono-unfinished-2

Bonus tracks on the CD, and on vinyl (via a download card), will be ‘Song for John’ and ‘Mulberry’.

Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band (originally issued on Apple in 1970):ono-plastic-ono-band

Bonus tracks on the CD, and on vinyl (via a download card), will be: ‘Open Your Box’, ‘Something More Abstract’, ‘The South Wind’, and the never-before-heard ‘Why (Extended Version)’.

The release project overs studio albums issued between 1968 and 1985 and will painstakingly reconstruct the original vinyl packaging, along with never-before-seen photos and ephemera (although from these two “bundle offer” pack shots on the Chimera site it looks like the record labels and CDs will depict grapefruits instead of Apple, and that the vinyl will be white and/or clear):ono-bundle-vinylono-bundle-cd

The audio is re-mastered from the original tapes by Greg Calbi and Sean Lennon. In addition to making the vinyl available for the first time in decades, each album will also be available digitally for the first time. The complete list of titles and release groupings is:

1st group:
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
(1968)
Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With Lions
(1969)
Plastic Ono Band
(1970)

2nd group:
Fly (1971)
Approximately Infinite Universe
(1973)
Feeling the Space
(1973)
A Story
(recorded in 1974, released as part of Ono Box in 1992)

3rd group:
Season of Glass
(1981)
It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)
(1982)
Starpeace
(1985)
Unfinished Music No. 3: Wedding Album
(1969)

Three Beatle Books

We attended a huge charity bookstall is support of the very important work done by the Lifeline organisation. They hold these book sales regularly and there’s always a very good selection of music books, Compact Discs, and sometimes vinyl LP’s.

This time around we scored three nice Beatle books.

The first we spied in the stacks was The Beatles Album by Julia Delano:Beatles Album 1

Published by Bison Books in the UK, this dates from 1991 and is a large-ish hardback book with a dustcover. Inside it is a chronological re-telling of the Beatle story, mostly pictorial:Beatles Album 4 Beatles Album 3The rear cover:

Beatles Album 2The second book we found was Geoffrey Giuliano’s The Illustrated John Lennon, published by Sunburst/PRC in 1993: Lennon 1

It is a thin hardback with a dustcover.Lennon 3

The book is part of a series and an accompanying item to Giuliano’s similarly formatted The Illustrated George Harrison. (There’s also an Illustrated Paul McCartney in the set – which we don’t have).Lennon 2

The final book we found was David Sheff’s Last Interview: All We Are Saying – John Lennon & Yoko Ono. This version was published by Sidgwick & Jackson in 2000:Lennon Interview 1It is the UK release in hardback, and is a revised and updated edition of Sheff’s original publication from back in 1981 which was called The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (which we also have in paperback, published by New English Library press in the United States).

As Google Books says: On the 21st anniversary of his death, a poignant John Lennon document back in print [detailing] Lennon’s last interview before his assassination on December 8, 1980. It was first published in Playboy in a 20,000 word format in November that year. It saw limited distribution in the US in its full form as a 200-page book, reflecting 20 hours of tapes made that September, but was never seen elsewhere, and is now a collector’s item. This new, revised edition is published with the rare participation of Yoko Ono.

Lennon Interview 2

 

Beatle Books, Books and More Books….

Quite a few new Beatle or Beatle-related books have just been announced or recently released, and so we thought we’d mention a few worthies. Here’s a round-up:

The Beatles Lyrics by Hunter Davies was released as a hardback book last year. It’s now slated for a paperback release this October:Beatles Lyrics

The book features analysis of the Beatles song catalog and images of the Beatles’ hand-written song lyrics. If that is actually the new cover (above) we reckon it looks cool. For any record collector or Beatle fan it definitely says”Pick me up and look inside”. If you, do we can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. We got the hardback edition last Christmas and have been dipping in and out of it all year.

Here’s one we stumbled across on the web. We haven’t read it yet but there’s a great review on The Daily Beast about a new book called Allen Klein – The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll. Yes, it’s a very long title, but also a fascinating re-think by author Fred Goodman of the impact and influence of one of the music industry’s bad boys of management – the late Allen Klein. Klein was brought in to run the Beatles’ Apple company and very soon became the lightening rod that split the band, with Paul McCartney on one side and John, George and Ringo siding with Klein on the other. This is very much a business book with lots of financial details, but Goodman makes the nuts and bolts really interesting, linking them to the seismic shift in music-industry economics that Klein instigated. This book is out now and there’s a “Look Inside” on Amazon if you are interested to read more:Alan_Klein

Klein and Harrison Klein Lennon and OnoHere’s another that we don’t own and haven’t read yet. We were just walking through a large bookshop the other day and accidentally spotted this one on the shelf:

See Hear Yoko

The inside cover says See Hear Yoko was conceived expressly for Yoko Ono as a gift between friends on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. It’s a visual portrait of her as an artist, activist, wife and mother, from her days with John Lennon through to the present. Legendary rock and roll photographer Bob Gruen was welcomed into the lives of John and Yoko during their years in New York City, when Gruen served as their personal photographer. He continues to document Yoko today. Approached by his friend Jody Denberg, who had logged twenty-five years of interviews with Yoko, Gruen collaborated with him to create an extraordinary birthday gift. Gruen selected more than three hundred classic color and black-and-white photographs—accompanied by text by Denberg—to illuminate the story of Yoko Ono. Again, Amazon has a “Look Inside“. There are some truly great images here.

The Zapple Diaries: The Rise and Fall of the Last Beatles Label. This one should be very interesting. Due for release on September 28 in the UK (but not until March 1, 2016 in the US) this book is written by Beatle insider Barry Miles and, as the publishing blurb says, it’s the first full-length illustrated examination of the Zapple label—an Apple Records off-shoot and Beatle experimental label:Zapple DiariesOn Zapple the Beatles hoped to release a range of spoken word and avant garde recordings – all part of their “…ambition to be leading members of the counterculture movement”. As it turned out Zapple was short-lived, surviving for just six months or so in 1969, and only had two official releases (Lennon and Ono’s Unfinished Music No.2: Life With the Lions, and George Harrison’s Electronic Sound). Author Barry Miles ran Zapple, so this should be an interesting insight – especially on the closing down of the label by one Allen Klein (see above). The Amazon UK and Amazon US sites both have a bit more info, and you can pre-order the book there too.

Finally, a new children’s picture book from Macmillan that introduces the next generation of fans to the story of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Focusing on the early years, Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles shows how four boys from Liverpool became the bestselling band in history:Fab Four Friends

Written by award-winning children’s author Susanna Reich with fantastic illustrations by Adam Gustavson, this book traces the Beatles’ roots through each boy’s childhood and teen years. Evocative language and richly-detailed paintings tell the story of the band from its earliest days as a skiffle group to its explosion onto the world stage. Amazon has a “Look Inside” for more. This is out now. We think you (and your kids!) will love it.Fab Four Friends Rear

Lennon and Ono in Amsterdam – Cor Jaring Photos

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,

Talkin’ in our beds for a week.

The news people said “Say, what you doing’ in bed?”

I said “We’re only tryin’ to get us some peace!”

So wrote John Lennon in “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, released by the Beatles back in 1969. He was talking in the song about one of his famous “bed-in” peace events, staged with Yoko Ono during their honeymoon while on a visit to the city of Amsterdam.Ballad of J&Y Acetate

One of the people there to visually record what happened was Dutch photographer Cor Jaring and the Amsterdam City Archives currently has an exhibition of his photographs on display. They feature some of the shots he took of John and Yoko that day – but you’ll need to be quick if you want to see it. It closes on July 12.

Hi, and welcome back to Beatles Blogger. We’ve been on holiday for a month – so it’s been a bit quite around here for a while. We’ve actually been traveling in Europe and now that we’re back over the coming days will reveal more about what we found there to add to the ever-growing Beatle collection. We managed to pick up a few very nice things….

We didn’t however get to visit the Jaring exhibition as we only picked up this advertising flyer on the very last day we were there and ran out of time:Cor Jaring

If you happen to be anywhere near Amsterdam it looks like it’d be interesting though.

New John Lennon LP Box Set Pressed By Optimal Media

The new John Lennon 8 LP box set (due in stores early next month) will all be pressed at a state-of-the-art German factory in the town of Robel in Germany. Lennon_LPs_2015

Optimal Media are a large and experienced outfit which has impressive high-volume CD replication and vinyl pressing facilities as well as the ability to print and assemble the high quality LP covers, inner sleeves and custom boxes in which they are presented for back-catalogue (and new) collections of music.optimal_factory

Optimal is the same place that the Beatles Remastered Stereo box set was manufactured back in 2012. Their site (and the finished product) demonstrates that they do impressive work at a high quality.beatles-vinyl-lid-open2

They pressed the 40th anniversary vinyl box set edition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” LP – a limited edition two-disc set released for Record Store Day in 2011.Lennon_Imaginersd_lennonbox

Our copy of the Beatles in Mono vinyl box set also originated at the same Optimal factory. All the printing and pressing of the box set was done there and like the Stereo Box, this was a large and complex project to pull off. It has to be said the quality and attention to detail is absolutely first-rate. The cardboard used for the covers is thick, and the 180g vinyl feels chunky and solid in your hands.beatles-mono-box14

For a further discussion on the origin of recent Beatle vinyl releases see:  Where “Made in the EU” Vinyl Might Be Pressed

Why Yoko Ono (Still) Matters

On the eve of a major new retrospective exhibition of her art, Vogue magazine has published an interesting article about the importance of Yoko Ono as an artist in the 1960’s.

Beginning today at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is an exhibition entitled “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971″.Yoko_Ono_MOMA2Yoko_Ono_MOMA1

Of course any discussion about Ono inevitably comes around to her relationship with John Lennon and the Beatles. As Vogue says about this exhibition: “….even though John Lennon is visible and mentioned, it is gently done. On these gallery walls, we see him less as a Beatle and more as a fellow artist.”

And: “If you grew up with the Beatles, it can be difficult to like Yoko Ono. People like to accuse her of turning Lennon into a humorless hippie, the two of them tweaked out on too much acid, calling for peace. They like to point out that he stopped making music to be a dad, while Ono pursued her career as an artist. Lennon loved her—their chemistry is unmistakable—but this alone didn’t get his fans to love her, too. We like our idols unattached, even if they’re unavailable.”

See also Vogue’s article In Praise of Yoko Ono’s Inimitable Style

You’ll notice that the Illy coffee company is a sponsor of the MOMA exhibition. As part of that Yoko Ono has produced seven, limited edition espresso coffee cups as part of the company’s Art Collection series by famous artists. You can learn more about these hereYoko Ono illy Art Cup