What more could you want on Valentines Day than to find a bit of BeatleLove treasure?
Rummaging through some old theatre programs at our local St Vincent de Paul Society thrift shop (the equivalent of Goodwill stores in the US), what should we come across than a thick, lavishly illustrated program from the Beatles/Cirque du Soleil production Love, which is still showing at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
This is a beautifully produced book, about the same size and shape as an LP record, and it’s filled with photographs, drawings, cast details and information about this long-running success story – which last year celebrated its tenth year in production.
Inside there are fantastic drawings, illustrations, and photographs from the stage show – like these:
Impressively laid out, with some four page fold-out sections included, this particular theatre program seems to date from around February, 2008 as inside on the credits page in small print it says “Love.02.08”. The photograph of co-Music Director, Giles Martin is a decidedly youthful one:
Right in the very centre of the book there are two pages of BeatleLove stickers. In the copy we found the previous owners have only removed two – the rest are perfectly intact:
Here’s that full credit page in more detail:And the rear cover:A nice Valentines Day find……(click on the images to see larger versions).
With the 10th anniversary of The Beatles/Cirque du Soleil Love album and stage show coming up on July 14, the official BeatleYouTube site has uploaded a “making of” style video for the George Harrison song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.
It includes a tribute to the late George Martin and information on how elements of the Las Vegas show are being tweaked and updated with fantastic new graphical elements for 2016:
The official Beatles site also has the song in full – complete with the fancy new graphics – all part of the 10th anniversary revamp:
Since the lucrative Beatle catalogue went over to Universal Music for distribution (as part of the sale and break-up of the EMI company in 2012) there’s been a steady stream of product from released – most of it (it has to be said) re-issues of stuff we already have.
The latest of these – four albums on vinyl – are a case in point: the Beatles 1962-1966; the Beatles 1967-1970; the Beatles Number 1; and the Beatles Love.
Each of these are re-issues containing no new material. The only thing that can be said to be slightly different is that the two sets, 1962-1966 (a.k.a. TheRed Album), and 1967-1970 (a.k.a. TheBlue Album) are reportedly the original analogue mixes. The discs are cut direct from the analogue tapes used for the 1973 LP sets—with a few exceptions (i.e. mono versions using EQ from the latest mono box set replace the few faux stereo tracks originally used). AAA it seems is definitely the new DDD…..
It has to be said though that the packaging on each of these four Universal re-issued double LPs is impeccable. The Red and Blue albums, for example, are faithfully reproduced in thick cardboard with very shiny covers and inners.
If you speak Spanish (and you don’t get seasick from the all the camera movement) this “unboxing” YouTube video from keen Beatle collector shakespearecub gives you a good indication of both the Red and Blue LP’s in all their glossy finery (if you are pressed for time, scroll in to about 4’10”):
Here are those 2014 stickers on the front of each:
And this is the main point of difference – Universal Music logos on the back, and mentions of Universal Music and Calderstone Productions in the small print….it’s not Parlophone, Capitol, or EMI anymore:
These albums are also manufactured in the Netherlands – according to small transparent stickers on the back of each LP:
And while we’re on the subject of the Red and Blue LPs and the EMI company, here’s a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the Angus McBean shoot for the Red, Blue – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me LP. Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at the former EMI headquarters in Manchester Square, London with the group looking down over the stairwell. The building has since been demolished:
The rear photo, taken in 1969, was initially intended for an LP to be called Get Back, but those plans changed and we got the Let It Be album instead. The photo was eventually used on both the 1962–1966 and 1967–1970 LP’s.
The 2014 Universal Music edition of the BeatlesNumber 1 LP set also comes in a thick cardboard, this time with a matt finish gatefold cover (just like the original 2000 edition) complete with the inners, large poster (depicting Beatle singles picture covers from around the world), and the four psychedelic photographs of the individual Beatles. It’s all very nice. Again the main point of difference now is in the logos used and the small print credits:
The Love LP comes in a thick cardboard gatefold cover – just like the original from 2007. And it has the same thick, glossy booklet. Top marks go to Universal for the packaging. The 2007 release had a small brown sticker on the front:
While the 2014 edition has a larger red, white and yellow sticker:
On the rear of the gatefold the logo line-up has changed. The 2007 release has Apple, Parlophone and Cirque du Soleil logos:
The 2014 has just Apple and Cirque either side of the barcode, and a small Universal Music Group logo on the far lower right. There’s also a change to the small print. No EMI Records reference, and interestingly the Universal edition has a copyright date of 2006, while the earlier EMI/Parlophone/Apple edition is 2007. Curious:
shakespearecub has also done an “unboxing” video of both the Number 1 and the Love LPs:
Beatles Examiner reports that the two new iTunes exclusive “Love” tracks aren’t new – they date back to 2006 when George and Giles Martin originally mixed the music for the Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas theatrical production. To get the additional new tracks (“Fool on the Hill” and “Girl”) you have to download the whole Beatles “Love” album from the iTunes Store……that’s the only way they are officially available.
That got me thinking about how many more tracks might have been given the “Love” treatment back then and are just awaiting an opportune time for release.
And that reminded me of an interview Giles Martin gave on Australian radio when he was doing the worldwide publicity rounds for the “Love” CD back in 2006.
When explaining how they made “I Want To Hold Your Hand” he told The Music Show host Andrew Ford on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that there were quite a few more tracks sitting in the can ready to go:
Did you hear that? He said there’s a whole swag of Beatles rock songs that were prepared for Cirque du Soleil that were never used in the show and quote: “….maybe we’ll stick them out later on.” Giles specifically mentions “Love” versions of “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “A Hard Day’s Night”. I think we can look forward to more releases in the future.
Got an email from beatles.com , and from EMI Records this morning advising that the Beatles “Love”, on both the CD and the documentary film “All Together Now”, are available for the first time as downloads on iTunes.
The “Love” album includes exclusive, previously-unreleased “Love” versions of the songs “The Fool on the Hill” and “Girl”, and comes as an iTunes LP featuring an art gallery that blends images of the Beatles with colourful photos from the Las Vegas stage production. “Love” will also be available to purchase and download as individual songs.
The “All Together Now” documentary film will be offered with iTunes extras including the 84-minute film, three bonus featurettes and a trailer for the “Love” stage production. It will also be available to rent.
You can see short film trailers from the spectacular Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil live show here.
Following my post on some of the release variations I have in my collection of the Beatles “Love” CDs and LP, I had a note from Ned in the United States who has a very interesting and unique CD single from the “Love” releases.
He has in his collection this rare Japanese promo CD single:
LOVE rare promo single - front cover
As you can see above, it has the familiar bright yellow “Love” cover art work – but it contains just one track from “Love” called “Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows”, a mash-up mix by George and Giles Martin of the basic track and vocal from “Within You Without You” (originally released on “Sgt Pepper”), and the drum track from “Tomorrow Never Knows” (taken from “Revolver”). Giles Martin said “This was the first thing we did (for the “Love” project). We played it for them (Paul and Ringo) and they said ‘we want more like that!’ We had to remind them, ‘Fellas, you know that on most songs you did actually change chords!” George Martin said at the time: “‘Within You’ is not the most memorable song, but it’s much more interesting with that rhythm.”
According to Ned this CD single was created for Japanese radio stations and issued by EMI Japan without the full knowledge of EMI’s London office. When they found out it was withdrawn shortly after release, thus making it a very collectable item. “It is absolutely NOT an unauthorized release but remains the only CD single issued from the “Love” project”, says Ned.
LOVE single - inside
It has a nice insert that lists the other tracks on the full CD release:
LOVE single - booklet
Ned writes: “I mail ordered this from Japan right at the time of the opening of the show in Vegas. I believe it ran me around US$20 – including shipping. I have no idea what the value is now as I only collect what I like and not what might be worth something someday. Apparently, Yoko Ono had (has) the same collecting philosophy and it has served her well.
Ned has two other favorite Beatles-related items. One is a still-sealed, 4 CD Lennon box from 1990 with a blank space on the back cover art where the song “Imagine” should be listed (the song is on the disc, however). “I bought this one from a woman going through a bad divorce. She only wanted US$15 for it. Even though I was very much interested I IMPLORED her to ask for more because I knew she could get it. However, she insisted because, to her, it represented her former husband. (Years earlier, I had regretfully sold my copy…and I was desperate to get a copy back in my possession).”
The other item is a withdrawn, mid-80’s CD release of Lennon’s Shaved Fish – manufactured in Japan for the U.S. market – that has slightly different artwork on it. “It was withdrawn because EMI either failed to use “No-Noise” on the master tapes or the tapes they did use were from inferior sources. Either way, the hiss is more apparent than the common one. But the fact that it was quickly pulled off the market makes it of interest”, says Ned.
But back to the “Love” promo CD. “Promo Sample” is printed in Japanese around the hub. The catalogue number on the disc is PCD-3275.
LOVE single - the Japanese promo writing around hub
Sincere thanks to collector Ned for all the info and photos. Here’s a clearer picture of the black promo writing around the center of the CD single’s hub:
At the Beatles own official website there’s a lot of info about “Love” their 2006 album, which is not only the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil performance show celebrating the Beatles music, but also a controversial departure for the Beatles in that its made up of some of their best-known songs remastered and re-mixed with sounds and songs from across their extensive catalogue. “Love” is produced by longtime Beatles producer Sir George Martin and his son Giles, and it won two Grammy Awards in the categories Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Medium, and Best Surround Sound Album.
For dedicated Beatles fans and collectors it proved to be a bit of of a challenge. Firstly, had the Beatles done the unthinkable and started to mess with the canon? Debate still continues as to whether this was a smart move, or a folly. Additionally, there were numerous release variations to buy if you were an avid collector. Two CD versions, promotional CDs, and other bits and pieces to track down for the completists amongst us…
To start with there was a single disc with the standard stereo mix in a standard jewel case:
"Love" single CD - front cover
"Love" single CD - rear
"Love" CD - with the single CD artwork
Then there was a two-disc set that came with more elaborate packaging. It’s a double fold-out Digipac in a thick slipcase. The package contains the single CD with the standard stereo mix (but with a slightly different printed image on the CD to the single version CD shown above). Added to this is a separate DVD disc containing the 5.1 surround sound mix. Same track list and songs – but if you have a 5.1 stereo set-up at home, the songs and sound effects surround you. It has the same booklet as the single CD release.
"Love" two disc edition - front cover
"Love" two disc edition - rear of slipcase
The final official commercial release (which came out a few weeks after the CD’s) was the vinyl LP. It arrived in a deluxe, 2 disc, gate-fold package. Mine is still sealed, so these images I’ve borrowed from the web.
"Love" vinyl LP set
"Love" gatefold open
"Love" vinyl LP - rear
As you can see the vinyl edition came with custom labels for each LP, and is contained in a gate-fold cover with a large-format book. Its similar to the CD booklet, but because of the large format – complete with rich colour images from the Cirque du Soleil production – it is way more impressive.
There was also a four-song radio sampler released to stations around the world. This was done in an effort to generate publicity and conversation about the forthcoming new Beatles release for 2006. The songs on it were “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Octopus’s Garden”, “Lady Madonna” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (which was one of the most anticipated tracks from the whole album as it was George Harrison’s original demo tape of the song accompanied by a completely new string arrangement composed by George Martin for the new “Love” record). This promo CD was sent out with a press release containing quotes from Sir George Martin and his son Giles – who co-produced the album – talking about the four tracks on the promo CD. They describe how those songs were selected and give some of the background to the production techniques employed in mashing together different parts of Beatles songs to pretty much make completely new versions -a radical thought at the time. The cover of the radio sampler promo CD looks like this:
"Love" radio sampler promo CD - front
And the rear:
"Love" radio sampler promo CD - rear
Apple/EMI was obviously determined to give “Love” the full promotional and marketing treatment because they also pressed and distributed (in limited numbers) a special “Interview Disc” featuring Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George and Giles Martin in conversation about “Love”. The interviews were recorded in October 2006, and they are all stand-alone statements about dirrent aspects of the work that went into producing “Love”, and the running order works through the release track-by-track. Its an interesting historical artifact to have in the collection. And definitely an authentic, original release. As you can see, again it has a colour variation of the “Love” artwork common to all releases:
"Love" promotional interview disc - front cover
"Love" promotional interview disc - rear cover and CD art
This disc is entirely spoken word and contains edited voices only. No music. The idea was that radio stations would get the songs from the official CD and make their own radio specials. For a time there on the web, via Ebay and the like, there was also a disc called “The Beatles Love – Radio Special”, purportedly distributed by Capitol in the US. I got a copy of this but, while someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it look authentic, there is something suspicious about this one. The special is hosted by a DJ named Andre Gardner. If you Google him he seems legit, very much associated with covering Beatles news, hosting a show on WMGK in Philadelphia and having a Facebook page dedicated to the Beatles. Now, Capitol may well have commissioned this radio special and hired Andre to host it. It does have additional material to the official “Interview Disc” in that there are comments on “Love” by Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono in addition to Paul, Ringo, and George and Giles Martin. And it comes with an official-looking running sheet, with track details and outcues. Here’s a short extract from the program:
There are some images of this CD below. If anyone can shed any more detail on this release – drop me a comment and let me know….
"Love" Capitol Records Radio Special - front cover - genuine?
"Love" Capitol Records Radio Special - CD
Meanwhile….at the time of the “Love” release the Beatles official website had not long been launched (it looked quite different to it’s present incarnation), and Apple used the new site to deliver a series of five down-loadable podcasts to further promote “Love”. Each was between six to seven minutes in duration, and like the official “Interview Disc” above, it contained extracts 0f Paul, Ringo, George Martin and Giles Martin talking about “Love”. Hosted by UK presenter Robert Lindsay, it contains music extracts mixed with the spoken word extracts. Quite nice to have.
Yet another spin-off for collectors was the DVD “All Together Now”, a documentary film about the creation of the Cirque du Soleil show and the accompanying soundtrack CDs. Earlier this year took out a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. (I posted about this at the time).