Label Variations Part Six – Abbey Road

I haven’t done one of these for a while. It’s been over a year in fact. The last Beatle-related “Label Variations” was Part Five – and that was way back in February, 2011.

(You can see Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five plus the Beatles “Love” variations here and here. There’s also a comprehensive post on all the extensive variations of the McCartney/FiremanElectric Arguments” release, the Twin Freaks LP and singles, and McCartney‘s recent “Kisses On The Bottom” CD’s and LP. There is also a post on some George HarrisonAll Things Must Pass” label variations).

So it’s now time for another. This time some label variations of the Beatles legendary 1969 release “Abbey Road”, kicking off with the original UK pressing:

Here’s a more recent (1994) UK re-issue. This label is more yellow/green:

Here are some Australian pressings:

The Australian “Abbey Road” front cover is distinguished by the word “Stereo” on the top right-hand side:

Here’s a couple of examples from New Zealand, starting with the original Apple pressing. As you can see the Apple colour on NZ pressings is quite a pale, washed-out green:

Incidentally, these early copies of “Abbey Road” in New Zealand came in covers with the old-fashioned external tab-fold on the rear of the cover:

These first New Zealand copies also come in a black paper inner sleeve.

Here’s a more recent black and silver Parlophone label from New Zealand:

Next an Apple label from Germany:

One made in France by Pathe Marconi:

This label below is the one used by EMI for Asian markets (Hong Kong, South East Asia and Malaysia):

And finally the fairly plain USA label:

I’ve also got a few copies of “Abbey Road” on CD (I really love this album!)

This first one is the original UK pressing:

And here’s the Australian CD, which is quite similar to the UK:

And the EU version of the very impressive 2009 Beatles digital remasters version:

Lastly, a CD that I think is an illegal copy from China. I got a series of these on a trip to Vietnam (you can read some more about this here). The series is called the Beatles “Double Golden Collection”. There are two CD’s in each jewel box and you get one 2009 remastered album on each disc, complete with the bonus mini documentary. Disc One, shown here, has “Abbey Road” (the other in this set has “Let It Be” on the second disc):

If anyone else has some “Abbey Road” labels they’d like to share please send them to

(For most images above click to see a larger version)

The Beatles With Records – Part Seven

OK.  Some will be saying “Enough already!”

But still they come – photographs of the Beatles holding on to the things they produced so many of – records.

And now here’s another because some really good photographs have continued to trickle in.

I must say I like the ones that are of a Beatle holding a record that they didn’t actually make themselves. This one of Paul McCartney (above) is a great example submitted by Beatlesblog reader Lammert Mulder. In a great piece of detective work by Lammert we find out that Paul is holding a copy of this 1966 album by the Lovin’ Spoonful. What you can see in the picture above is the rear cover:

This is what the front cover looks like:

Staying with Paul, how many copies do you reckon he’s signed of Sgt. Pepper?

Yes, that’s a gate-fold original copy alright. And it’d be worth quite a bit now if it’s still around….

If anyone knows who the young woman is, and how she managed to find Paul McCartney out in the park walking his dog Martha on a summer’s day and just happened to have a copy of the LP with her at the time – let us know.

Here’s another one of Paul from around the same period, again running the gauntlet with fans, this time assisted by stalwart Beatle roadie, Mal Evans (in glasses) – who looks to be shepherding Paul from a fan holding a copy of the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’/’Penny Lane’ single:

That is definitely the picture sleeve cover of the 1967 Beatles single ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’/’Penny Lane’. We had another photo of the same single being signed by John Lennon in the Beatles with Records Part Six.

Interestingly, the same image was used for the 1981 EP issue containing the songs ‘The Inner Light’/’Baby, You’re A Rich Man’/’She’s A Woman’/’This Boy’:

Paul has endured of course – right up to the DVD age – where he is asked to sign copies of those as well:

The Space Within Us, a McCartney concert DVD, comes from 2006.

George Harrison was also often collared to do an autograph or two – sometimes on Beatle records. This one looks like he’s been nabbed in the driveway, leaving his home Kinfauns in Surrey:

That’s gotta be the rear cover of this 1967 Beatle EP, don’t you think?:

Paul has also been snapped signing a copy of Magical Mystery Tour:

Thanks to Claude Defer for sending that photograph.

Sometimes, despite their familiarity with their own product, the Beatles can be seen studying their record covers quite closely:

That’s George with…..

I also like this one of George, but do you know which LP he is carrying out the door? His clothing suggests its around the time of “Sgt Pepper”:

If you know or can can figure it out please let us know at

This LP that John is carrying is much more obvious:

And finally we have to have one of Ringo. This is from 1974, sitting with the late, great Harry Nilsson and holding up a copy of the Nilsson single “Daybreak”, taken from the album “Son of Dracula“:

Thanks to everyone who submitted photographs. You can see the other parts in “The Beatles with Records” series here:  Parts 123468910111213141516 and 17.

Guitar World Magazine “Ultimate Beatles” Edition

Guitar World magazine in the US has released a special holiday edition that focuses on the Beatles as guitarists. They are calling it their “ultimate guide” to the recordings, songs and gear of the band.

The issue is devoted to an in-depth examination of the Beatles 13 albums – from Please Please Meto Let It Be” – and includes commentary culled from original interviews with producer George Martin and engineers Geoff Emerick and Alan Parsons.  The magazine explores the Beatles through their musical instruments and the unique recording equipment inside EMI’s Abbey Road studios.

According to the press release I was sent by the magazine, each album is explored in detail – from the story behind its creation to the guitars and amps used in its making, for example the George Harrison Rickenbacker 360 12-string guitar used on “A Hard Day’s Night” and numerous other classic-era songs, as well as his custom-made rosewood Fender Telecaster, used during the making of  “Let It Be”. There’s also behind the scenes stories of selected tracks from each album including “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Ticket to Ride,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and others.

The Holiday 2011 issue of Guitar World is out now. To find out more visit the magazine’s website.


Here Comes the Sun – New Guitar Solo

There is a great little video from the deluxe materials included with the “Living in the Material World” DVD and BluRay sets. It features George Martin, Giles Martin and Dhani Harrison (George and Olivia’s son) filmed at the mixing desk listening back to the Beatles “Here Comes The Sun” – complete with a previously unheard guitar solo from the song which never made the final mix. Nice.

Harrison Film Biography – The Verdict

“There are two ways to look at George Harrison. The nicer one is that he was a top-line and under-appreciated guitarist…, that he wrote at least two classic songs (“Something,” and “Here Comes the Sun,” two more than most songwriters write) and another half-dozen quite good ones….The other and arguably more realistic appraisal might be that George Harrison’s contributions as a guitarist were pretty much limited to a few Beatles riffs.”  – Bill Wyman from Slate gets stuck into the Scorsese film.

“One aspect that doesn’t shine through fully enough is his sense of humour.” – Martin Chilton in the UK Telegraph.

Paul McCartney described George as a “cocky little guy” and producer George Martin labeled him as “so cheeky.” –  Rachel Ray, The Telegraph’s US TV reviewer.

“….if you’re a big Beatles fan (I am), then it’s never going to lack interest…He looked inwards, chanted mantras, spent his life trying to forgive and give. A good egg, but no Lennon…” – Ben Walsh, The Independent.

“With Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the quiet Beatle….it is time to appreciate Harrison as a teacher and a transmitter.” – Philip Goldberg focuses on George’s spirituality in The Huffington Post.

“One facet of George Harrison’s personality that came into sharper relief for me during a preview screening of Martin Scorsese’s documentary was his role…as a provocateur.” – The LA Times Randy Lewis.

“In Martin Scorsese’s documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” Harrison’s journey is traced as a search for himself in the tumult of incoming distractions.” – Roger Ebert in The Chicago Sun-Times.

And from today’s paper in my home town:

“In the footage and text, George Harrison comes across as someone who had mixed views about a life indelibly marked by his tumultuous decade in the most famous pop band of all time…If nothing else, the book and film reveal a man for whom friendships mattered more deeply than almost anything.” – Bernard Zuel, music critic with the Sydney Morning Herald

And finally, not so much a review but another interesting article about George’s spirituality in the film from The Washington Post.

Beatles Engineer Geoff Emerick Interview

ABC Radio in Australia has done a lengthy interview with the man often referred to as “the sixth Beatle” –  studio engineer extraordinaire Geoff Emerick. As a 21 year-old he was George Martin’s right-hand man in the control room on albums such as “Revolver”, “Sgt Pepper”, “The Beatles (White Album)” and “Abbey Road”.

702 ABC Sydney Evening Show presenter Robbie Buck spoke to Geoff for over twenty minutes about his career recording the greatest band in the world. Visit the 702 ABC Sydney site to read about the interview. You can play it from that site – or you can listen here:

Geoff Emerick will be in Australia this week to attend “Integrate 2011“, a sound, music and light industry convention where he’ll give a special presentation that is being billed as a “world first”Geoff will be interviewed live on stage with another legend from the industry, Australian Richard Lush, who also worked extensively with the Beatles in the 1960’s. And they’ll play examples of how they came up with some of the unique and ground-breaking sounds we hear on the Beatles recordings.

Thinking About Abbey Road Studios at 80

I stumbled today upon an article on (of all places) the computer/gadget specialist site CNet. It is about the famed EMI Abbey Road studios in St. John’s Wood, London – the site of so much fantastic recorded music including just about all the songs recorded, in one way or another, by the Beatles. The studios have just turned 80 years old and it got me thinking about what an important role this particular pile of bricks and mortar on a nondescript street has played in the history of popular and classical music – not the least of which is the music of the the Beatles.

If George Martin is often referred to as “the fifth Beatle” then surely Abbey Road could be regarded as one of the instruments they played – with as much importance to the Beatles sound as the Gibson acoustics, the Gretsch and Epiphone electrics, the Ludwig drums, and the famous Hofner bass.

The CNet article has some very interesting observations made during a recent tour of the famous building and it’s numerous rooms – so many of which are associated with Beatles tracks. You have got to scroll through the thirty photographs taken during CNet’s visit. Its a terrific tour with some great shots for both Beatles fans and technical nerds alike.

The studio itself has a website which is worth a visit every now and again to catch up on their news – one of the latest of which is the remastering of the Beatles “Anthology” series for digital download.

So much happened at this one address – including the Beatles themselves honoring their home-away-from-home with an album bearing the studio’s name.

Abbey Road photo session - August 8, 1969

Then there was the heritage listing for that famous zebra crossing out the front….and the zebra crossing web cam, now complete with live street sounds. Its no longer in exactly the same spot as the photo on the front of the “Abbey Road” album having been moved down the road a bit from the studios – but countless fans still come each day, month, and year to be photographed striding across it.

Happy 80th birthday Abbey Road Studios. Here’s to 80 more years.

Abbey Road – Crossing to be Heritage Listed

The zebra crossing made famous by the Beatles has just been designated a site of national significance by the British government. Fans from around the globe flock to the crossing every day to have their photo taken walking over Abbey Road, just down from the EMI studios of the same name. The Abbey Road studios became almost a home-away-from-home for the Beatles and was where they recorded just about all their greatest songs.

The story of the heritage listing (which means it will be preserved forever from change) has been picked up by media around the world.

Here’s how the BBC World Service covered it this morning:

Paul McCartney says he’s pleased with the news, and that for him it caps off what has been a run of recent success: “It’s been a great year for me and a great year for the Beatles and hearing that the Abbey Road crossing is to be preserved is the icing on the cake.”

The photo-shoot for the album which put the pedestrian crossing on the map took just ten minutes to complete. On a sunny day on August 8th, 1969 photographer Iain Macmillan took what would become one of the best-known, copied, and parodied album covers of all time.

Getting ready to cross

People today can’t get the exact same look as the Beatles got for their cover for two reasons. First is that the crossing is not in exactly the same place it was back in 1969, and second is that Iain Macmillan was about ten feet up on a ladder. He took just six photos and it was the fifth one that was used for “Abbey Road”.

Starting the famous walk. Paul is in bare feet and getting nicely out of step....

There is a webcam (run by Abbey Road Studios) that looks over the crossing now 24 hours a day –  so even if you can’t get to London you can experience it virtually any time you like. The latest release to bear the photo that put a zebra crossing on the map is the remastered CD of “Abbey Road” – which came out last year in the new look with the white strip down the left-hand side. The legend lives on:

A Warning About Garage Sales….

This is a sad story that I think all Beatles collectors can relate to….

When you go to a garage sale (or you might call them yard sales) the thrill of the chase for that elusive LP or CD can sometimes see you just not taking enough care.

It recently happened to me. Went out as I sometimes do on a Saturday morning to a local garage sale. These can be rich pickings (or not – but you never know). Did the quick scout around upon arrival – but there was no vinyl in sight. There were a couple of compact discs – but nothing remotely Beatles-related. So before leaving I posed the usual question to the owner of the house, just on the off-chance: “Do you have any records? LPs or 45s. You know, vinyl?”  It never hurts to ask.

“Oh – yes. Actually we do, but I hadn’t thought to put them out. Are people still interested in them?” And off she goes, into the house to hunt out said vinyl records….

About 5 minutes later (it seems like ten) out they come, boxes of them – frustratingly one box at a time. Most are pretty bashed up – but quite an eclectic selection and some interesting things – and by this stage another record collector has arrived and is also interested….

The first thing I see is a picture disc copy of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. Hmmm. Could probably get that. Might as well for A$1.00. (Its actually the same as this one – selling online for US$75.00).

There’s also, for some strange reason, lots of Jethro Tull. All original pressings and all in reasonably good condition. Probably collectors items for the right person – but not me. Then some Hendrix. Tempting, but the other collector seems really interested and so I let him have free reign.

Then finally a box with some Beatles. Both me and the other guy fall upon it and kind of unofficially, by mutual agreement, agree to split the contents amicably. No need for aggro on a Saturday morning over $1.00 records.

He finds “Abbey Road” and I think: “OK. You can have it. I’ve got lots of pressings of that.” It’s the Australian pressing on Apple by the looks of it. He is happy.

I find a copy of “Revolver”. Its also an Australian pressing, this time on the orange Parlophone/EMI label and I can’t remember if I have this or not and so decide to get it anyway. Its actually in pretty good shape and for a dollar, what the heck?. When I get home later turns out I don’t have this particular pressing. Good one!

Then there’s a copy of the Beatles “Oldies…but Goldies!”. It too is an Australian pressing and I know I have this and so let the other guy take it. More good karma points for me. Then there’s a copy of “The Beatles”, or the “White Album“. Its an older, original Australian pressing on Apple – the one with the top-loading cover, and its got the poster. No Beatle pictures included though, and the cover is a little battered, but still, its kind of rare and interesting because of it’s age. The old-style top-loader cover is mildly collectable. I flipped out Disc 1 for a quick look to see if it was scratched and useless. It was in pretty good shape and so I decide to get it.

Move forward in time now about three hours. I’m back home cleaning up the LP’s I got and I pull out Disc 2 of the “White Album” from it’s sleeve and guess what? Its not the “White Album” in there but “Abbey Road”!!

The seller, probably years ago, had mixed up the LPs when putting them away. So, the other collector guy who bought “Abbey Road” has probably got my Disc 2 of the “White Album”, and I have his “Abbey Road”. I don’t know who he is and have no way of contacting him. There is really nothing quite as frustrating to a collector than an incomplete set I can tell you…

So, a lesson for all garage or yard sale hunters: always check the contents of the CDs or LPs you’re interested in before you leave the premises….

Let It Be at 40

Can you believe it?

Let It Be turned 40 last weekend.

Here’s the Wikipedia extract with a brief detail of the album:

Let It Be  was the twelfth and final studio album released by The Beatles. It was released on 8 May, 1970 by the band’s Apple Records label shortly after the group’s announced breakup.

Most of Let It Be was recorded in January 1969, before the recording and release of the album Abbey Road. For this reason some critics and fans, such as Mark Lewisohn, argue that Abbey Road should be considered the group’s final album and Let It Be the penultimate. Let It Be was originally intended to be released before Abbey Road during mid-1969 as Get Back, but the Beatles were unhappy with this version, which was mixed and compiled by Glyn Johns, and it was temporarily shelved. A new version of the album was created by Phil Spector in 1970 and finally released as Let It Be, serving as the soundtrack album for the 1970 motion picture of the same name.

Let It Be - film lobby card

Let It Be - lobby card - Paul

While three songs from the sessions were released as singles before the album’s release, “Get Back”/”Don’t Let Me Down” and “Let It Be”, the songs were remixed by Spector for the album.

The rehearsals and recording sessions for the album did not run smoothly. The acrimony that began during the recording of the previous year’s White Album resumed soon after the rehearsals began. At one point, George Harrison walked out and quit the group after severely arguing with both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, only to be coaxed back some days later. The film version is famous for showcasing a number of conflicts between the group members and has frequently been referred to as a documentary intended to show the making of an album but instead showing “the break-up of a band”.

Despite a largely negative review from Rolling Stone magazine at the time of its release, the album was ranked number 86 in the magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.

Let It Be… Naked was released in 2003, an alternative version of the album stripping much of Phil Spector’s production work and using some different versions of songs.

Let It Be - Naked (2003)

Here’s an article from Rolling Stone magazine this week:

Forty years ago this weekend, the greatest band of all time gave the world their final album together: On May 8th, 1970, the Beatles released Let It Be, the Phil Spector-produced LP that featured hits like the title track, “The Long and Winding Road” and one of John Lennon’s most famous compositions, “Across the Universe.” While the album was recorded during the band’s caustic final days, Let It Be would go on to become one of their most celebrated records: it ranked Number 86 in Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The story behind Let It Be is almost as mythic as the Beatles themselves. The band originally intended to record it as a live-in-the-studio album and movie in 1969. But the ambitious undertaking left the Beatles so weary, they abandoned the project to make Abbey Road instead. Later, Phil Spector added oversweetened orchestral overdubs to many of the album’s tracks — even though the record features some of the band’s strongest rock songs ever (including “Get Back”). In 1970, the Beatles released the documentary film of the same name, which captured the group’s iconic performance atop the Apple Studios building in January 1969. Perhaps due its controversial and detailed look at the Beatles’ interpersonal problems, the film itself remains unavailable on DVD.

Despite the album’s status in rock history, Paul McCartney was never a fan of Phil Spector’s production flourishes on Let It Be. In Rolling Stone‘s original review of the album, writer John Mendelsohn also criticized Spector’s superfluous additions, saying the famed Wall of Sound producer rendered “The Long and Winding Road” “virtually unlistenable with hideously cloying strings and a ridiculous choir” when compared to the version that appeared on the Get Back bootlegs in May, 1969. After years of dissatisfaction with the released version, McCartney announced plans to put out Let It Be… Naked in November 2003, which stripped the Let It Be songs of Spector’s ornate production.   (Daniel Kreps – Rolling Stone)

Finally, here’s the sound of  “Get Back” in an early incarnation, in rehearsal with John singing lead instead of Paul, and clearly the words to the song are still coming together….

See also: Label Variations – Part Two – Let It Be