Lennon ‘Imagine’ Re-Issue Rumours Abound

With a press release and first photos issued earlier this week giving details of a new book about the making of John Lennon’s 1971 LP Imagine – plus a social media marketing blitz for the book getting under way yesterday (coordinated Tweets from @yokoono@johnlennon; and the publishers @thamesandhudson and @GrandCentralPub, not to mention Facebook) – the rumour mill is ripe with talk that the book will also be accompanied by a significant re-issue of the recording.

The book, which looks to be an impressive 320 page hardback, is due in store on October 9th:From the press release: “Imagine tells the story of John & Yoko’s life, work and relationship during this intensely creative period. It transports readers to home and working environments through artfully compiled narrative film stills, Yoko’s closely guarded archive photos and artefacts, and stitched-together panoramas taken from outtake film footage that recreate the interiors in evocative detail. Each chapter and song is introduced with text by John & Yoko compiled from published and unpublished sources and complemented by comments from Yoko today. Fresh insights are provided by musicians, engineers and staff who took part, many of whom feature on the inner sleeve’s enigmatic picture wheel, in which the identities are finally revealed. All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks – including the creative process behind the double exposure Polaroids used on the album cover.”

Even the page edges have been given a special cloud treatment:

Imagine will be published in the USA by Grand Central Publishing, and the UK by Thames and Hudson.

Have to say – the book looks impressive and will no doubt conatin some real treasures, both in information and photographs….

So, what about a re-mixed Imagine CD, vinyl, or deluxe box set to accompany it?

Some weeks back The Beatles Daily blog had this, quoting former Beatle aide and insider Tony Bramwell that a “song and dance” version of the album was in the works, while on the popular Steve Hoffman Music Forums they are talking about a new remix, possible DVD and Blu-Ray, and maybe a box set to be bundled with the book…..

So far it is all speculation. If there’s something in the works expect an offical announcement soon I guess.

One thing is certain: Yoko Ono will be credited for the first time officially as co-writer of the song ‘Imagine’. This is because when “Imagine” received the National Music Publishers Association’s inaugural Centennial Song Award last year, the organisation took on board John Lennon’s statement from 1980 that it really was a co-write – and bestowed the honour upon her at the ceremony. Yoko (and son Sean) were at the awards to receive it and you can watch what happened here:

Interesting, isn’t it.

Again, from the official press release about the forthcoming book: “In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono conceived and recorded the critically acclaimed album Imagine at their Georgian country home, Tittenhurst Park, in Berkshire, England, and in the state-of-the-art studio they built in the grounds and at the Record Plant in New York. The lyrics of its title track were inspired by Yoko Ono’s ‘event scores’ in her 1964 book Grapefruit, and she was officially co-credited as writer in June 2017.

If there is to be a major re-issue later this year (and it’s looking very likely that there will), it’ll become the very first release to carry that new co-writer song credit for the song ‘Imagine”.

New Book: The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 2

As author, recording engineer and musician Jerry Hammack says in the introduction to his book: “If you have read Volume 1 of The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, you will understand that the goal of these books is a straightforward one; to document the creation of The Beatles’ catalogue of recorded work – from first take to final remix. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Now comes the next installment in his impressive series, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 2: ‘Help!’ through ‘Revolver’ (1965-1966).

Hammack’s intention here is to fill in the gaps between Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Andy Babuik’s Beatles Gear, and Recording The Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew. It’s also about how the band’s recording processes evolved as they became more experienced recording artists, as recording technology developed, and as the resources available to them expanded.

Jerry has spent nearly ten years now carefully de-constructing each Beatle recording. He does this by listening to out-takes, bootlegs, and original stems containing isolated solos and vocals (which can be unlocked in the video game RockBand). He pores over studio logs to see exactly where the recording took place, who the engineer was, even what tape machines were being used. Then there’s studio film footage and still photography that can also yield up valuable evidence. These things can all give hints as to how each song must have been created. The information can then be logically worked through to make a near-as-can-be definitive picture of what we now hear on the final mixes. Bear in mind that in arriving at his conclusions Hammack cross referenced some 5,500 tracks!

These reference manuals serve as a terrific listening companion to use as you sit in front of your speakers, or have your headphones on. With them at hand you can clearly identify what is going on with any given track. There are both text explanations and simple diagrams detailing what occurred in the studio as each track became the final mixes we have today, and sometimes these contain fascinating new information. I mean, who knew John Lennon played drums on the George Harrison composition ‘I Need You’ from Help!?

As in Volume 1 there are numerous appendices at the back of the book covering release versions, gear and instruments used, and more.

Gotta say too, just in passing, that the cover image for Volume 2 is super cool!

Jerry Hammack has created a website to support the book series, and you can purchase his book through Amazon.

Additionally, the fab Something About the Beatles podcast, hosted by Robert Rodriguez (with Ben Rowling), recently interviewed author Jerry Hammack. It comes in two parts. Have a listen to both Part One and Part Two. Well worth it.

Looking ahead, Volume 3 will cover off Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, and then the final book in the series, Volume 4, will take in the LPs The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album), through to Abbey Road (1968-1970). The plan is to release each at  about 6-monthly intervals.

If you are a “gear nerd” or you just want to get the absolute detail, song-by-song, on how each Beatle track was recorded, the instruments and technology used, and who played what, these books are a must.

The Beatles in India

Something of a Beatles and India theme has emerged in 2018, with this year marking the 50th anniversary of the time the band spent six weeks in an ashram in Rishikesh learning about Transcendental Meditation (TM), and along the way writing a prolific amount of fabulous songs.

Last week the George Harrison estate announced the creation of a new record label to mine the rich Harrison archives and re-issue many of George’s musical projects with Indian artists. His visits to that country changed his life and his art forever.

Prior to that announcement there was the release in February of a beautiful book (in three different editions) called The Beatles in India

These books are to be followed up with a documentary film bearing the same name later this year.

There’s also another book called Across the Universe: The Beatles in India by Ajoy Bose:

And a further book, Maharishi and Me – Seeking Enlightenment with The Beatles’ Guru, by Susan Shumsky:Let’s look at each of these releases in some more detail.

The Beatles in India. The books. These are a photographic record of the time a 23 year-old Canadian, Paul Saltzman, traveled to India in search of himself. To his great surprise he discovered that The Beatles were also in India, studying at the same ashram in Rishikesh. Saltzman spent a magical week with them, learning meditation and hanging out with John, Paul, George and Ringo. Fifty years later, the photos he took at the time are being published once again* in a book called The Beatles in India. It is available in three versions: as a standard hardback (see cover image above); as a special limited edition (signed and numbered and only 1968 copies produced): 

And in a larger format super deluxe edition (signed and numbered and only 350 copies produced):

* It should be noted that is is not the first time that Saltzman has published these photographs. He first released them along with his memories in a book called The Beatles in Rishikesh, published by Viking Studio in 2000. So, what you get here isn’t totally new information.

The Beatles in India. The film. This is a documentary also being made by Paul Saltzman, who is now an Emmy Award-winning Toronto-based director-producer of over 300 film and television productions. As we already know from his books, in 1968 he learned meditation at the Maharishi’s ashram in India, an experience that changed his life. There, he photographed The Beatles, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Boyd Harrison, Maureen Starkey, Mia Farrow, Donovan, Mal Evans and Mike Love. The film will detail “….Saltzman’s return journey to India, The Beatles stay and the songs they composed at the ashram, as well as meditation as it applies to creativity, the divine inner journey and the healing power of love and music.” The film is scheduled for it’s world premiere on September 9, 2020 through Gathr Films.

Across the Universe: The Beatles in India. “What we do know is that their stay in Rishikesh resulted in an astonishing creative burst of song-writing – the most prolific in their entire career.”

Ajoy Bose was a teenage fan when The Beatles visited India. His book is an in-depth celebration of what it meant, especially the creative impact their stay had on the band: “I believe that the real reason why they managed to write so many songs in India was because it was the first time since they became the Beatles they were allowed to be individuals and not just a band that needed to perform or record in the studios.”

“So a sabbatical did change the Beatles, at least temporarily, and particularly the songs they wrote in the ashram, because these were all individual pieces and were not created with an album in mind. That is why the ‘White Album’, which contains most of these songs, is considered so unique in the Beatles discography,” says Bose.

Amazon has a ‘Look Inside‘ link for more, and you can read a lovely review of the book here.

Maharishi and Me – Seeking Enlightenment with The Beatles’ Guru. Author Susan Shumsky lived and studied in the Maharishi’s ashrams for 22 years, and she served on his personal staff for seven of those years. Many books have been written about the guru, and (as we’ve seen above) about the time The Beatles travelled to India, but this is the only one to offer an insider’s view of what it was really like to live in Rishikesh. Yes, it includes chapters about the time that John, Paul, George and Ringo came to learn at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But this book is about much more than that.

Shumsky says that it’s “….a way of sharing a few glimpses into my spiritual journey, and hopefully will help you make your own spiritual connection.” There’s a lot more information here about TM, what it actually is, and it’s impact not only on The Beatles but on people seeking spiritual enlightenment across the west.

Shumsky has some very good detail about how The Beatles found out about the Maharishi, how they first got into TM in London and Wales, and how as a result of a Beatle connection the rest of the world found out about TM too. She also writes in detail, across a number of chapters, about the India visit in early 1968. Here we discover what the day-to-day life and activities for the band would have been like.

On the way to the ashram, George Harrison told a reporter, “A lot of people think we’ve gone of our heads. Well, they can think that—or anything they like. We’ve discovered a new way of living.” But, as we know, it all ended badly, with The Beatles leaving the ashram disillusioned – especially with the Maharishi. Shumsky has a theory as to why this occurred, and devotes a chapter to the falling out. It makes for interesting reading.

If you’d like to get a taste of Susan’s story there’s also a ‘Look Inside‘ link on the Amazon site. Marharishi and Me is published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Brilliant New Beatle Book – Visualizing The Beatles

They say there are four basic types of learners: those who like to listen (auditory); those who like to take notes and read (reading/writing); those who like to be hands-on (kinaesthetic); and those who prefer to see the information in order to visualise the relationships between ideas (visual).

Well, if you fall into the visual camp, then you’re going to love this new Beatle book because on each of its 276 pages it packs a huge amount of data told in a truly unique way: using fantastic infographics.

Even if you’re not a “visual” person you’ll love this book for the breadth of the information it contains, and the fun, innovative way it tells the Beatle story anew. There’s really nothing else like it on the market:

The book is called Visualizing The Beatles – A Complete Graphic History of the World’s Favorite Band. Not only does it mange to squeeze three US spellings into it’s title, it crams a truly amazing amount of facts, figures, maps, history, stories and information between it’s covers – all told using infographics. Because of this the book forces you to think about the band we all know so well in very different ways, often bringing new understanding to how four young musicians from Liverpool had such an impact on the world.

Authors John Pring and Rob Thomas organise their information in a fairly standard fashion – each album in the order it was released, starting with Please Please Me and ending with Let It Be – but the way they go about deconstructing each has a unique telling. As they say in their introductory note: “It is by no means a definitive history of The Beatles. Instead, it is an attempt to create something beautiful, vibrant, and original from the data their music left behind. It is an attempt to present the facts in a way you haven’t seen them before, so you can spot, in an instant, the patterns, anomalies and changes.”

There are infographic pages for each LP detailing (amongst many other things):

  • An album overview
  • A song lyrics “word map”
  • Composer
  • What keys the songs were in
  • Instruments used
  • Album design details
  • Track lengths + original work v. covers
  • Who took lead vocals?
  • Success of the album – and any singles released

By way of example, here are a couple of pages. The first visually represents the many instruments used – and who played what – on Abbey Road, released in September, 1969:

As usual, click on these images to see larger versions. This next page covers off songwriting duties for the 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour

And this page shows the song titles – and the musical keys for each – on Rubber Soul from 1965:

Slowly, as you flip through the book, these images build to reveal a unique way of looking at the band’s output. Additionally, there are pages graphically representing things like all their US releases and the chart positions each achieved; a Beatle filmography; there are timelines detailing what else was happening in the world at the time of each album release; what the Beatles were wearing and their hairstyles through each phase of their career; where each album was recorded; tour maps; and key places of interest in the cities they lived in and visited, and much, much more.

One particularly interesting map page shows the city of Liverpool with flags dotted across it marking where the band lived in relation to each other; the locations of places like Strawberry Field and Penny Lane; schools and key performance venues from the early days. It is simple, but instantly gives a whole new context by visually representing basic facts from the Beatle story in a brand new way.

Visualizing The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas is published by Dey Street Books. It goes on sale in the USA on May 1st. [FYI the book was originally published as Visualising the Beatles in the UK in 2016].

You will definitely learn things you didn’t know about the Beatles. Highly recommended.

Yellow Submarine – 50th Anniversary Celebration Ideas Taking Shape

This year, being the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine LP and animated film, we’ll see some official Apple-backed activities to mark the occasion.

There’s to be a new graphic novel adaptation of the film story from comic-book artist, writer and editor Bill Morrison. This will be released on August 7 and is available for pre-order now from Amazon US and Amazon UK. See more on the background to the book hereAlso, The Beatles official site today also announced that, in the UK and Ireland at least, Yellow Submarine will be making a return to cinemas for one day only. It’s planned to show the film in multiple locations on July 8. Tickets go on sale from April 17. More details about this here – and you can keep up with the event on a new Yellow Submarine Film Facebook page.

Meanwhile, at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Pro-Ject turntable company leaked some teaser vision of their latest collaboration with Apple – a Yellow Submarine themed turntable:

The company has already issued two Sgt. Pepper turntables (in Drum and Limited Edition versions); a Beatles 1964-themed player; plus a George Harrison commemorative model. No further details about availability or pricing of the Yellow Submarine model are available yet.

McCartney – ‘Man On The Run’ Book

While in Sydney city to pick up the RSD Black Friday McCartney releases we called in to one of those pop-up discount bookshops – and found a hardback copy of Tom Doyle’s 2013 study called Man On The Run – Paul McCartney in the 1970s:

Haven’t read it yet, but it looks to be interesting. There’s a decent review of the book here from the Washington Post. If you’d like to have a sneak read here’s one of those “Look Inside” widgets.

There are some very good photos contained in a pictures section in the middle of the book, some “behind-the-scenes” shots we’ve not seen before:

If anyone has read this work and has some thoughts, let us know. Here’s the rear cover:

(click on images to see larger versions)

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 aficionado, 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 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 a “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.

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.

Rare, Vintage and Signed Beatle Photo Book on Offer

Following our article about the new David Magnus exhibition which has just opened in London, we received an email from his wife Janice with some further interesting news:

Hallo,

You will have all seen in the press over the last week the very exciting news that photographer David Magnus has opened his first exclusive Beatles Unseen Exhibition at Proud Galleries in The Kings Road Chelsea in London. To view the photographs go to www.proudonline.co.uk.

The exhibition by David celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the live recording of The Beatles song ‘All You Need Is Love’. This was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios in London over the weekend of the 24th and 25th June 1967. This unique recording was the UK’s contribution to a special worldwide satellite broadcast put together by the BBC called Our World and included 14 other countries, the programme was seen by over 400 million people worldwide. More information on this can be found on Davids Website davidmagnus.com

In 1997 a book called All You Need Is Love The Beatles Dress Rehearsal was published by Tracks Ltd with some of the photographs taken by David at Abbey Road Studios over that weekend. David has a number of limited editions of this very rare and unique book for sale at a cost of £195 which includes postage within the UK or for overseas sales it is plus postage. Your book will be personalised for you or your readers with their name and the date, and can also include a personalised notation specially for you.  
 
If you would like any further information about David’s book and photographs please see his website at davidmagnus.com  

Any queries please do contact me at david@davidmagnus.com

Warmest good wishes

Janice Magnus

Also, here’s an article from a British photography magazine about the exhibition’s official opening, including a photo of David and his wife Janice.

And if you’d like to see a few more of the amazing David Magnus images from the Beatles Unseen Exhibition then click here.

The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four – A Review

One of the most impressive compendiums of concise Beatle information comes in the form of a book called The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four, by Kenneth Womack.

Womack’s book has been out for a number of years now as a comprehensive, two-volume set. That set is very desirable, but prohibitively expensive for some.

Now comes a brand new, 2017 edition which is completely up to date – but in a condensed, single-volume version that is far more easy on the wallet. This latest edition is designed more for the general reader (and for the many students who now study the Beatles as part of their curriculum at secondary, post-secondary, and more advanced study levels). However, it’s a book that will more than satisfy the avid Beatlemaniac too:

beatles-encyclopedia-frontbeatles-encyclopedia-rear

The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four is just that. It focusses entirely on the band and its output across the ten or so years in the 1960s when musically and creatively they were at their absolute peak. It features a host of biographical information about each band member, as well as their immediate family and the key personal relationships they had – for example there’s biographical material associated with the many creative and business partners among the Beatles’ circle. Womack goes into real detail on every album and key songs. In order to provide an expansive portrait of the group’s life and times, attention is also devoted to the numerous locations associated with the band’s career, as well as to important concerts, venues and events pertinent to their amazing story.

This condensed version of The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four offers some other helpful additional features, including an alphabetic list of all the entries included in the book; a timeline chronology of the Beatles, detailing the milestones in their lives, performances, and recordings; a thorough discography of the band’s official UK and US singles and album releases from the early 1960s through the present; and a bibliography of recommended resources with both print and online resources. There is also included something I always appreciate greatly in books of this nature: a comprehensive general index. This makes locating specific information on a topic or subject so much easier.

Across its 650-odd pages Womack covers off some 360 topics, ranging from Abbey Road to Zapple Records – and these are all arranged alphabetically by entry.

Entries on songs and albums have a specific structure designed to give as much detail as possible. For example, each song entry will include: authorship and background; inspiration; recording dates and places; who played what – including specific reference to the instrument makes and models used. There are track listings for each album; details on the cover artwork; chart performance for both the United States and the UK; and comments and observations around the legacy and influence of each as a work of art.

This a key reference book to have at your side. It is a comprehensive work containing a wealth of information – all at your fingertips. I’d say it’s a must for students of the Beatles and for die-hard fans alike.

Now for a little on the author, Kenneth Womack. This is worth mentioning as he is so very well-credentialed not only as a Beatle scholar, but also as an author and literary critic:

womack-bw1

Kenneth Womack is Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University, where he also serves as Professor of English. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles (2007), the Cambridge Companion to the Beatles (2009), and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four (2014). He’s also the author of three award-winning novels, and serves as an academic editor and critic for a number of literary institutions.

If you are curious and/or would like to order this new, condensed 2017 edition of Everything Fab Four you can have a “look inside” at Amazon.

Or, you may like to go the whole hog and get the expanded, 2014 edition in two volumes, also available at Amazon.