Tough Times Being a Beatle Fan in Soviet-era Russia

The topic of Beatles collecting and fandom in Soviet-era Russia has been a popular topic on the web of late.

Andrey, a long-time friend of our page, alerted us to this comprehensive article recently posted (in Russian) on the beatlespress.com.ua site.

If you don’t read Cyrillic writing (and we don’t!), then Andrey has provided a link to a video in English on the very same topic:

Bottom line is that you had to be tough to be a Beatle fan in public in the late 1960’s/early 1970s. The Soviet secret service, the KGB, came down very hard on any young people who dared to say they “….loved Lennon more than Lenin”.

Their lives could – and were – turned upside down. Indeed, in the example cited where a group in the Ukraine turned out on the street to celebrate something as innocuous as Paul McCartney’s birthday, seven people were arrested and sentenced to 15 days jail for “disturbing public order”.

In addition, six were expelled from their university studies and from the Young Communist League – the latter almost certainly guaranteeing their failure in any future career. Younger high school students were forced to repeat whole years of study. There were ramifications also for their parents who were publicly humiliated in the Soviet media.

While we were pondering all this and how much we in the West take our freedoms for granted, we also stumbled upon this great video on a closely related subject. Its just been uploaded on the Parlogram Auctions YouTube Channel and is a study on how Beatle fans in the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain listened to The Beatles – including the spooky “music on bones” records we’ve written about before.

Meet the British Bobby Who Ended The Beatles Last Show

This is timely, and a lovely recollection 52 years on.

Daniele Hamamdjian from Canada’s CTV News speaks to Ray Dagg.

He was one of the police officers sent into the Apple building – on Savile Row in London – to shut down The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert in 1969.

Shankar Family ૐ Friends to get an Audiophile Release

The 1974 Dark Horse Records title Shankar Family ૐ Friends is to get an audiophile vinyl pressing in 2022.

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs site has it listed only as “Coming Soon” so far – but it will be on 180 gram vinyl under their Original Master Recording imprint. This will be the first time the record has been re-issued on vinyl since 1974.

An album by Indian master musician Ravi Shankar, Shankar Family ૐ Friends was recorded primarily in Los Angeles during the spring of 1973, but not released until late 1974. It features a host of top-flight Indian players.

The album was produced by George Harrison and also features western musicians like Tom Scott, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Nicky Hopkins and Jim Keltner. It was last re-issued on CD in 2010 as part of the Collaborations box set. Check out our unboxing here.

What is a little confusing is that on the MoFi website the release is listed as being a 180 gram numbered single LP, while in the Music Direct store catalogue it says it will be a 180 gram, 45rpm 2LP pressing…..

The Ages of Everyone in Get Back

These are the ages of all the key players in Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary, set in January, 1969:

Paul McCartney – 26, John Lennon – 28, Ringo Starr – 28, George Harrison – 25.

Producer/Engineer Glyn Johns is 26, Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg – 28, and Producer George Martin – 43.

Yoko Ono is 35, Linda Eastman – 27. Her daughter Heather is 6.

Roadie Mal Evans is 33, Keyboard Player Billy Preston – 22, Photographer Ethan Russell – 23, and Tape Operator Alan Parsons – 20 (wouldn’t be 21 until December).

It is a fascinating glimpse into the world of The Beatles at that time. Catch it on Disney+ if you can.

Wild Life Gets 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master

50 years ago, on December 7, Wings released their debut album Wild Life – recorded over an eight-day period at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Now it joins McCartney and RAM in getting the Limited Edition, 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master treatment:

Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Seiwell and Denny Laine arrived at the studios on 25 July, 1971 to begin recording with engineers Tony Clark and Alan Parsons.

“They rehearsed for a while, sang some old songs, wrote some new ones and in time headed for the big city studios. In three days they had laid down most of the tracks and by the end of a couple of weeks the album was finished. In this wrapper is the music they made. Can you dig it?”, wrote Clint Harrigan for the original album’s back cover liner notes.

On PaulMcCartney.com Paul wrote: “Wild Life was about spontaneity: the opening track ‘Mumbo’ was recorded in one take. I’d read that Bob Dylan had just made a quick album and I really liked the idea, because we tended to take longer and longer to make records. The early albums by The Beatles hadn’t taken long and it seemed to me that Dylan was getting to that. I was a great admirer of his – and still am to this day – so I thought, well, if it’s good enough for him, let’s do it.”

The 50th anniversary edition of Wild Life is cut at half speed at Abbey Road using a high resolution transfer of the original 1971 master tapes. The Half Speed 50th will be released on February 4. It is available for pre-order now.

Some Original Let It Be Lobby Cards

To celebrate the release this week of the Disney+/Peter Jackson marathon re-cut of the original Let It Be footage, here are some of the movie theatre lobby cards (and a poster) from the 1970 movie-length version, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg:

New Album and Soundtrack: The Beatles And India

The Beatles And India documentary film (released last month) is an historical chronicle of the influence that India had on the Beatles – and how that in turn changed perceptions of that country in the West.

Through rare archival footage, recordings and photographs, eye-witness accounts and expert comments, along with location shoots across India, the film brings alive the journey’s of George, John, Ringo and Paul “from their high octane celebrity lives to a remote Himalayan ashram in search of spiritual bliss that inspired an unprecedented burst of creative songwriting. It is the first serious exploration of how India helped shape the development of the greatest ever rock band and their own pioneering role in bridging two vastly different cultures”.

The Guardian newspaper wrote of The Beatles And India: “The memory of the Beatles’ relationship with India is revived in this engaging documentary, and if there isn’t much really new here, it’s still salutary to be reminded of how these four young men…used their colossal influence, greater than any politician or movie star or religious leader, to direct the world’s attention to India.”

Now, following the release of the film, comes the original soundtrack to the film:

Not only that, there’s also a companion album called Songs Inspired By The Film The Beatles And India. This CD features interpretations by contemporary Indian artists of the songs the Beatles were inspired to write as a result of the time they spent there.

The album is evidence of the legacy of the enduring cultural and musical crossover which occurred and it features a diverse cast of Indian artists (Vishal Dadlani, Kiss Nuka, Benny Dayal, Dhruv Ghanekar, Karsh Kale, Anoushka Shankar, Nikhil D’Souza, Soulmate and many others) – each bringing their own musical styles, as well as contemporary and classical Indian influences and techniques to the record.

The companion CD release also includes a bonus disc of the original soundtrack score to the film. The music is composed by award-winning composer Benji Merrison and was recorded at Abbey Road Studio 2 (the legendary home of The Beatles recording sessions), and also in Budapest in Hungary and in Pune, India.

Here’s Nikhil D’Souza’s interpretation of John Lennon’s ‘India, India’, a song written by Lennon and recorded in 1980 as a home demo, but not released until 2010’s John Lennon Signature Box.

The Beatles, Get Back and London: On the Trail of a Timeless Story

In the lead-up to the release next week of the Peter Jackson film The Beatles: Get Back, John Harris, editor of the new book of the same name, takes us on a fascinating journey to the three key locations in the making of the Let It Be album. It is delightful:

McCartney ‘The Lyrics’ – How Many Translations?

While looking around the web shopping for Paul McCartney’s fabulous new book The Lyrics, we stumbled across a couple of different translations, and it got us wondering how many countries were getting versions of the book in their own language?

There are of course two main English editions. The two most common of these are the US edition in the green outer box:

And there’s the UK edition – which has exactly the same content as the US, but externally is quite different in design:

Also worthy of mention is a third English language version of the book: the Limited Edition. This one is actually signed by Sir Paul. There have reportedly been just 175 copies made available worldwide, though as one reader points out there have been two different signed books with the number #95 sold on eBay. Each had a different publishing logo, raising doubt on the accuracy of “175 worldwide”. Maybe it is 175 in the US, and 175 in the UK. Either way, it comes in a distinctive bright orange box with blue lettering. The design inside is quite unique too – including the two volumes inside which are also in that distinctive orange binding:

Then we get onto the translations, and those we’ve been able to uncover (to date) all seem to have the same outer box and book binding as the US green version above.

Here is the German:

And the Dutch language edition:

Next up is the Spanish:

And close by (in terms of geography) there is the Portuguese:

There is a French language edition too, and it seems to come with an outer box re-design as well:

The Italian translation has only just been released (9 November). There aren’t any great images of how it is packaged yet – but we’ve asked one of the translators and can confirm that this is the cover:

As you can see, like the French edition, the Italians have gone for a white outer box. The translation has been done by Franco Zanetti and Luca Parasi, who is author of the highly regarded Paul McCartney reference book Recording Sessions (1969-2013).

A further confirmation that this is the way the Italian edition is presented are the images in this advertisement that the publishers, Rizzoli Libri, was running on Amazon:

And finally, two unexpected translations – one in Finnish:

And the other in Swedish (thanks to reader Ole for sending this one in). Interesting that the front covers of the two books inside appear to have the images and super-imposed lyrics used for the rear covers of the books in the rest of the world:

Is that all? Do you know of any others?

Let us know using the ‘Leave a Reply’ link below if you have any updates and we’ll publish them here.