Meeting The Beatles In India – Film Release

Meeting The Beatles In India, the film we told you was in production way back in 2018, is finally set for its world premiere next month.

Meeting The Beatles In India is a documentary about The Beatles‘ historic 1968 trip to study Transcendental Meditation (TM) at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram retreat in Rishikesh. It was here the band immersed themselves further in the Maharishi’s teachings, and where they wrote so many of the songs that would appear on their next LP, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album).

The film tells the story of a young man named Paul Saltzman, an American photographer on his own journey toward spiritual enlightenment who just happened to arrive at the ashram at the very same time as The Beatles.

Saltzman interacted with the band, watched as they composed, and took many of the now-famous photos from the time, including this iconic image featuring the band, their wives and girlfriends, Beach Boy Mike Love, Donovan, Mia Farrow, her sister Prudence, and others:

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Meeting The Beatles In India features more than 40 previously unseen photos from Saltzman’s stay in India. There are interviews with others who were at the retreat too, including Pattie Boyd (former wife of George Harrison), her sister Jenny Boyd, and the man about whom John Lennon wrote the song ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’.

The movie also sees Saltzman discussing Transcendental Meditation with Twin Peaks director David Lynch (a huge advocate for TM), and footage of Saltzman paying a present-day visit to the now-abandoned ashram. He’s accompanied by the highly respected  Beatle historian Mark Lewisohn.

Meeting The Beatles In India has its virtual world premiere online on September 9 via the Gathr Films website.

Harrison on Harrison – A New Book

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is a new anthology of the words of George Harrison by Grammy Award winning author Ashley Kahn.

Being a Beatle (and an ex-Beatle) meant that Harrison was interviewed literally thousands of times over the course of his life. This carefully curated and chronologically arranged anthology pulls together some of his most revealing and illuminating interviews, personal correspondences and writings. It spans the years 1962 to 2001 and provides a remarkable insight into the man he really was. You come away from this book with evidence that George Harrison was way more than just “the quiet Beatle“. He was an articulate, funny, candid and deeply spiritual human being.

In many cases Kahn has uncovered interview tapes that have never been shared publicly in full before, and he includes them here unfiltered, without bias or interpretation.

Some of the stand-outs for us are the interviews by David Wigg, Anthony DeCurtis and Maureen Cleave. Cleave wrote a fascinating piece on Harrison for the London Evening Standard in 1966 entitled “How a Beatle Lives. Part 3: George Harrison—Avocado with Everything . . . ”.  Now, remember, he’s just 23 years old at this point in time but in the second paragraph of Cleave’s article she states that Harrison is: “…a strong-willed and uncompromising character with a strict regard for what he considers to be the truth, and an even stricter regard for his own rights.” This is a trait that stayed with him throughout his life.

Three years later, David Wigg asks Harrison how he comes to terms with fame and being a Beatle:

George Harrison: All I’m doing, I’m acting out the part of Beatle George, and, you know, we’re all acting out our own parts. The world is a stage and the people are the players. Shakespeare said that. And he’s right, you know.

David Wigg: Do you expect another part, later?

Harrison: Oh, many parts. Yes.

Wigg: Is that why you’ve come to terms with it?

Harrison: Yes, because you just do whatever you can do. I mean, even if it’s being a Beatle for the rest of my life, it’s still only a temporary thing. And, I mean really, all we did was get born and live so many years and this is what happened. I got born seemingly to become Beatle George. But it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you are, because that’s only a temporary sort of tag for a limited sort of period of years.

That approach to life (in this temporal world and beyond) were to remain a constant.

Nearly twenty years later, in an interview with Anthony DeCurtis for Rolling Stone magazine around the time of the release of the album Cloud Nine, Harrison was still looking to keep the same even keel to his life, to keep things in perspective:

DeCurtis: One of the things about it, in mentioning that, you’ve always been a person who’s taken such care to keep a private life, to maintain that kind of thing. Does it feel sort of strange to be back in the record company office, sitting down, interviews, tapings? All this business?

Harrison: Not really, not really. I feel it’s like, sort of, say, somebody who is a fireman, or something, and he doesn’t sit around in his fireman suit all of his life. But when he goes to work he puts it on and he goes and gets on his fire engine. It’s sort of like that. Once I’ve done all this bit, I’ll walk away and I’m still . . . I mean it’s only the moment I’m in Warner Brothers office, or, somebody comes up to me and says, “Hey, will you sign this record,” or something, that I’m conscious of being an ex-Beatle and being George Harrison. I don’t live my life thinking that I’m this sort of . . . pop person. And so I think, now even more so, it’s just much easier for me to talk to people. I just talk to them like one human to another. And although that’s all superimposed on top of my being, all this past and present, but I just walk away from these interviews and just carry on as if nothing happened.

Of course being based in Australia we were pleased to see included a 1988 interview by the respected Australian journalist, Ray Martin, who got another perspective on how Harrison counteracted that “Beatle George Harrison” expectation that accompanied him wherever he went:

Martin: There is a quote….of you saying that “I have to be more ordinary than ordinary people are.” Why do you have to be more ordinary?

Harrison: [Chuckles.] Well, because, um, people have—we all have concepts of each other, you know? And the concept is, somebody see[s] me on a plane or in the streets or something, and they immediately remember all this Beatle stuff, and they have this concept of me as that person. But in reality, I don’t go around thinking of myself as “George Harrison the Beatle,” or whatever. I do now because I’m on the television, but normally I’m just like you, you know, just like everybody else; I’m just a human, and sometimes you have to, rather than just be ordinary, you have to make an effort to be more ordinary, in as much as that they will calm down and try to see that there’s actually a person in here [gestures toward himself]—other than this big myth about the Beatles. That’s all.

This is just one of many themes running through the content painstakingly gathered together for this book. George’s words reveal the complexity of his character: wise but at times naïve, sensitive but also self-deprecating, and always refreshingly, unabashedly human. As editor Ashley Kahn writes in his preface: “Read his words and know the man. Read, and know a life well-lived.

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is published by Chicago Review Press.

As a side note, Chicago Review Press has an extensive number of titles done in the same style as this book. They are part of a ‘Musicians In Their Own Words’ series, and the list of artists is lengthy including Dylan, Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Bowie and Miles Davis – to name but a few. One you might also want to seek out is Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon.

The Famous Q Magazine Comes to an End

It was sad to read last week that after 34 years the influential and very readable Q magazine has shut up shop for good. Here’s the cover of the last-ever edition:. Editor Ted Kessler said in a tweet: “The pandemic did for us, and there was nothing more to it than that.” In an editor’s letter in the final issue he writes: “We’ve been a lean operation for all of my tenure, employing a variety of ways to help keep our head above water in an extremely challenging print market. Covid-19 wiped all that out. I must apologise profusely for my failure to keep Q afloat.”

The magazine’s circulation had fallen to 28,000 per month from a peak of 200,000 in 2001.

Q was founded in 1986 by Smash Hits writers Mark Ellen and David Hepworth. It arrived at the same time as the CD revolution took off – and its glossy, aspirational format chimed perfectly with the times.

Over those 34 years Q, like many other music magazines, has had its fair share of Beatles on the cover. They are, and remain, a way to sell more copies – just take the latest edition of British GQ magazine that has Paul McCartney front and centre – including an extensive new interview:

In a trip down memory lane, here are a few favourite Q magazine Beatle-inspired covers from over the years. Turns out McCartney graced the very first Q :

He became a fairly frequent visitor:

As was John Lennon on many an occasion: As they did above, sometimes Q would produce multiple versions of a cover to make a particular commemorative edition more collectable – like this series for Lennon’s 70th birthdate:

The Beatles as a band were not all that frequently seen, though certainly written about often:

This image of John and Paul is memorable:

As are these two of Paul, firstly with his Hofner bass: And then as a mystery man:
So, fare-thee-well Q mag. You’ll be missed. It’s been mighty real over the last 34 years. Sad to see yet another casualty of COVID-19. The shockwaves of this thing continue to ripple outwards.

McCartney Flaming Pie – Unboxing

As usual, the Super Deluxe Edition site has provided one of the most comprehensive unboxing videos of Flaming Pie, the new Paul McCartney Archive Collection release.

It is shown in all its variations and in all its glory, from the humble 2 CD through to the mammoth (and expensive) Collector’s Edition.

Check it our here:

McCartney Flaming Pie – Rare Tracks For Download [UPDATE]

As he’s done a number of times in the past Paul McCartney, in the lead-up to the deluxe Archive Collection box set re-issues of Flaming Pie next week, has begun to release a few ‘teaser’ rare tracks.

These are tracks that won’t be included in the forthcoming box sets. The only way to get them is to sign up and download them from his official site.

Today sees the release of three free songs on the download site: ‘Somedays [Without Orchestra]’, ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ – which is in its original 1986 mix version, and ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’.

‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ will be on the Deluxe Box Set and the Collector’s Edition of Flaming Pie, but it will be embedded in a longer track called ‘Oobu Joobu – Part 5’. (‘Oobu Joobu’ is a series of short radio-like shows made in 1997 to promote Flaming Pie. These were included on maxi CD’s that came out featuring singles from the record). All six episodes of ‘Oobu Joobu’ are included on the bigger box sets, but on the McCartney site you can now download all 6 minutes and 10 seconds of ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ as a stand-alone track.

The download-only version of ‘Somedays’ is minus the beautiful 14-piece string ensemble orchestration by Sir George Martin but it’s great to hear it in this more embryonic form. This version won’t be included on any of the forthcoming box sets.

Nor will ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’, which is an alternative acoustic version of ‘Calico Skies’, part of which is featured during the In The World Tonight documentary.

Moving away from the official McCartney download site, if you visit Rolling Stone magazine they’ve been given an exclusive instrumental version of a song from the Flaming Pie sessions called ‘Broomstick’. The original with vocal (also a rarity) was previously only available on the B-side to the ‘Young Boy’ single. This one, which does not appear in the new box set, is an all-acoustic instrumental backing track jam that features just McCartney and Steve Miller, who plays guitar. This instrumental version also lacks the sound effects that closed out the vocal version.

Finally, according to those who have received their Flaming Pie Deluxe Box sets (ours is still to arrive so we can’t confirm), there are at least two “Easter Eggs” or hidden tracks on a couple of the discs.

On CD 2 – the Home Recordings disc – after the final track ‘Great Day’ make sure you don’t stop your CD player. Let it keep playing and an additional 30-second instrumental of the song will play.

Likewise, on CD 3 – the In The Studio disc – after the “rude cassette” version of ‘Heaven On a Sunday’ there’s a period of silence followed by about a minute and a half of Paul and Ringo vamping on the track ‘Beautiful Night’.

50 Years Since Let It Be – Podcast

Time for the final podcast instalment in what has been a long and winding Beatle road.

Back in 2014 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) began a series celebrating the 50th anniversary release of each British Beatle LP.

As each album anniversary came around ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn spoke to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert, Jude Southerland Kessler.

Jude is the author of the ambitious nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest book in the series is Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details for this volume scroll down after clicking through).

In May the pair finally made it to Let It Be, the final LP released by the band.

You can find it online here, or just click on the red US Let It Be Apple label below:

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

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

And they tackle Yellow SubmarineThe Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album), and The Esher Demos disc here.

The Abbey Road podcast is here.

Wings Greatest – Strange Bulgarian Pressing

There’s nothing we love more than discovering a strange or different pressing of a very well-known album – and this one, Paul McCartney and Wings’ Wings Greatest, fits the bill perfectly.

It’s the official Bulgarian release on the Balkanton label, and we were alerted to it by old friend Andrey – who helps maintain the fantasticly comprehensive The Beatles Get Back in the USSR site.

This copy of Wings Greatest is not only distinguished by its unusual labels (see below), but also the fact that it comes with one less song than every version we can find released anywhere else in the world. You can see that Side 1 is missing the track ‘Live and Let Die’. In every other market Side 1 has six tracks. In Bulgaria they got just five:Just to refresh your memory, here’s the US Capitol version of this 1978 compilation LP:

If you were browsing in a second-hand bin (and this LP comes up for sale a lot), you could very easily flip straight past the Bulgarian version without noticing that it’s actually quite rare.

We wonder if there was some sort of a licencing issue in Bulgaria with the song ‘Live and Let Die’ because it is from the soundtrack of the James Bond film of the same name? It would be part-owned by United Artists. Maybe that was it?

Now you can see on the rear cover in the place ‘Live and Let Die’ should be the words “Manufactured under licence by Balkanton in Bulgaria”.

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

McCartney – Ten Years of Archive Reissues

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s now been a decade since Paul McCartney started his Archive Collection reissue campaign. There have been 12 albums given the Archive treatment so far, and they are about to added to in July with the release of Flaming Pie.

To mark the tenth anniversary, Paul Sinclair at the Super Deluxe Edition site has put together a special 52-page keepsake booklet featuring reviews of all the reissues to date and some additional analysis and features. The booklet is the same size and format as the books that come in the Archive Collection box sets, so it can be easily stored alongside them.

McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues will feature in-depth illustrated reviews of the McCartney reissues via a combination of archive content from the SuperDeluxeEdition.com website (some of it updated), alongside new reviews and fresh insight.

Sinclair has a bit of a track record already with these booklets. You might recall the one he issued for the Flowers In The Dirt Archive Collection releases. If that was anything to go by, this new one will be well worth getting hold of too.

There will be only 1000 numbered copies of McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues produced, and it’s only available via the SDE shop.

If you want to find out a little more on the details you can read about it here.

Flaming Pie – What We Already Have

By now you’re probably aware that the next installment in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection series will be his 1997 release, Flaming Pie. It is due out on July 31 and, as usual, there are a number of formats and packaging variations – some of which are proving a little contoversial with some fans objecting to the high prices be asked, especially for the Deluxe Box Set (which is 50% more expensive than its Venus and Mars equivalent from 2018), to the top-of-the-range Collectors Edition box, which is listed at a cool US$600.00!

You can see all the different iterations of the planned releases here, and read about them in one of our favourite sources of information and commentary – the SuperDeluxeEdition site – where there’s a great summary article, or just take a look at this promotional “unboxing” video:

So, we don’t feel the need to go into a lot of detail on what’s planned….

Rather, we’ve put together a look at what is already been officially out there in the form of Flaming Pie releases, plus collectable and non-album tracks – all of which is to included in the expensive new re-issue.

First up, the original vinyl editions of Flaming Pie from 1997. Unlike the forthcoming re-issues, this is a single LP. These are now fairly rare and fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Discogs, for example, has the sales history of UK pressings and it ranges from around US$100.00 to US$280.00. Here’s the UK press and, as usual, click on any of the images to see larger versions:

Both the UK and US pressings are gatefolds:And they contain an inner sleeve with lyrics and credits on both sides:

The UK vinyl and a close-up of the label:

The UK LP is distributed by MPL and Parlophone:

Flaming Pie was also issued on vinyl by Capitol in the USA. Ours is open but still in its shrink wrap with the hype sticker on the front: Because of the shrink we can’t show the US gatefold but here are the inner sleeves:

The label on the US pressing is a little more vibrant than the UK. Note the Capitol Records credit.

While on the subject of vinyl, there were three picture disc singles released from this album, but only in the UK. These all came in a clear plastic outer sleeve with a coloured cardboard insert. There was a different colour scheme for each single. First up was ‘Young Boy’ backed with the non-LP track, ‘Looking For You’:

The second single was ‘The World Tonight’/’Used To Be Bad’. Both songs are on Flaming Pie:

And then ‘Beautiful Night’ backed with a further non-album track, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’:

In our collection we have three versions of the original 1997 CD release of Flaming Pie. These come from, in descending order in the photos, the USA, UK and Australia:

These are all fairly straightforward. Not a lot of variation here, just some different barcode placements and slight changes in the colour printing. As you can see, the Australian version is quite a bit darker on the front and rear covers, and on the CD label itself.

Where it gets complicated is in the range of CD singles released from Flaming Pie in 1997, and the number of non-LP tracks of interest at the time for avid collectors. Let’s deal with two of the easiest to begin with.

In the US, the only CD single was ‘The World Tonight’. It came in a proper CD jewel case and has the non-LP bonus track ‘Looking For You’, plus a track called ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. This is an extract from a radio show of the same name broadcast on the American radio network Westwood One. It was hosted by Paul McCartney and contained demos, rehearsals, live performances, unreleased recordings and chat. There were six such extracts contained on the UK CD singles (more on this below), but the US only got one of them:

In Australia there was a slight variation to the US CD single release. The only song we got here was ‘Young Boy’, accompanied by the same bonus material offered on the US ‘World Tonight’ CD single – ‘Looking For You’ and ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. The CD came in a slimline plastic jewel case:

The real bonanza was the UK CD singles. Like the vinyl picture discs above there were three songs released – ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ and ‘Beautiful Night’. Each CD single had two additional tracks plus, available separately, were three more companion CD singles. Each also contains either ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ or ‘Beautiful Night’, plus an additional one or two “rarity” non-LP offerings. The main (or Part 1) CD single is in a full size jewel case, the companion (or Part 2) CD single is in a slimline CD case:

So, if you purchased all six of these CD singles in 1997 the non-LP extras you got were: ‘Looking For You’, ‘Broomstick’, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’ and ‘Same Love’, plus Parts 1-6 of the ‘Oobu Joobu’ radio show spread across the six singles.

The new Flaming Pie Collectors Edition, Deluxe box set, and the 2CD set will each contain the four non-LP songs, but it seems the ‘Oobu Joobu’ content (found only on the Collectors Edition and Deluxe box sets) will be different edits to the originals because they are all quite a bit shorter in duration.

While we’re on the subject of ‘Oobu Joobu’, in the USA when you purchased Flaming Pie at a Best Buy store, you received a voucher for a bonus CD of further ‘Oobu Joobu’ content. The CD was limited to 3000 copies. It contains a cut down version of Episode 5 of the show called ‘Ecology’. It runs 41:55.

In the Netherlands there was a Promo CD for ‘Young Boy’ issued to radio stations. It came in plain slimline jewel case:

And in the UK a Promo CD for ‘The World Tonight’:

And also one for ‘Beautiful Night’:

Both these came in a slimline jewel cases, with orange and yellow Flaming Pie logos stencilled onto their clear plastic doors.

Also included in the forthcoming re-issue box sets is McCartney’s 1996 collaboration with poet Allen Ginsberg called The Ballad of the Skeletons. This will be on the CD4-B-sides disc plus, in the US$600 Collectors Edition, it will be issued on vinyl for the first time as a 12” single with vinyl etching, and a poster.

Back in 1996 the four track Ballad of the Skeletons CD looked like this:Our copy is still sealed, so these CD and booklet images are courtesy of our friend Andrey:

 

(As usual, click on any of the images above to view larger versions.)

Record Store Day – Rescheduled Again

Record Store Day, originally planned for April 18 and then resheduled to June 20, has now been moved once more – to not one but three different “drop” dates.

The official site now states that “RSD is scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October…..The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List, launched on March 5th, will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops.”

The first of these “drops” will be on August 29th, the second is on September 26th, and the final is slated for October 24th

A new version of the RSD 2020 Official List, with newly assigned RSD Drops dates will launch on June 1 – so check back here for a look at when you’ll be able to pick up the titles on your wishlist at your local record store.

Of course the titles we’ll be on the hunt for remain Paul McCartney’s Half Speed Master of his solo debut LP McCartney; John Lennon’s re-mixed ‘Instant Karma’ single; and the first ever vinyl release of the George Harrison produced Chants of India. But which RSD “drop” dates will they be assigned to? We’ll just have to wait until June 1 to find out.