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 – 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.

Record Store Day 2020 Rescheduled

In the world-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Record Store Day has become the latest in a long line of events to be postponed. The official site now states:

We’ve decided that the best of all possible moves is to change the date of Record Store Day this year to Saturday, June 20.

We think this gives stores around the world the best chance to have a profitable, successful Record Store Day, while taking into consideration the recommendations of doctors, scientists, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the need to be good citizens of both local and worldwide communities.

We’re working with all of our partners and our stores to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone who participates in Record Store Day: customers, record stores, artists, labels and more.  Record Store Day is everywhere and we want to hold our party when everyone can gather around safely to celebrate life, art, music and the culture of the indie record store.

This means we’ll have to wait a little longer to purchase the three Beatle-related items that were announced just over a week ago – but that’s OK.

This is a fast-changing situation and we all need to keep up to date with the latest directives from our governments, and more importantly to personally do what is necessary to reduce our exposure.

We’ll get through this folks. Keep safe!

Ringo Starr – Playing For Change

We must have been living under a rock because we totally missed this one when it first came out in September last year.

It’s Ringo Starr guesting on a terrific Playing For Change 50th anniversary version of The Band’s classic, ‘The Weight’:

It really works, don’t you think? Composer Robbie Robertson and Playing For Change producer Mark Johnson talk about the making of the track here and, like Robbie says, “It gives it a very special soul to me, seeing music come together like that.”:

Playing For Change have also recorded and filmed (in 2011) a version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’:

Playing for Change grew from a dream to make the world a little brighter, and now supports musicians all over the world. For $5 a month you can become a member and enjoy the entire PFC music catalogue (with exclusive content), receive a 25% discount in their shop, and know that 20% of your membership is donated directly to the Playing for Change Foundation. Just click on the Become A Member button on the site.

A Happy Christmas to All – And a Beatle Podcast Discovery

Thanks to all our followers and readers – it has been a hectic 12 months, but here we are at the end of another year, and another decade!

Wishing you and yours a very special holiday season, with lots of good things to eat, drink and of course good music to listen to (especially Beatle music)!

One small gift to leave you on this Christmas Eve – the discovery of a great podcast.

This one has been around quite a long time but has, until now, flown under our radar. There’s a lot to catch up on!

It is simply called I’ve Got A Beatles Podcast! and it’s great fun. Hosts Dave and Chris deliver content that will be right up your alley if you like our blog. Their aim is to be “an educational, informative, and irreverent look at all things Beatles“, and this podcast delivers. It’s terrific and well worth a listen.

If I’ve Got A Beatles Podcast! is new to you too, and you don’t know where to begin, then why not start this Christmas by checking out their Annual Holiday Gift Episode.

Beatles 2019 The Singles Collection Unboxing – Super Deluxe Edition

If you’re looking for the definitive unboxing video of the recent Beatles The Singles Collection box, then you’d be hard pressed to go past this one.

Paul Sinclair is the editor of Super Deluxe Edition, a terrific website dedicated to detailing and discussing all sorts of box sets and re-issues. As his website strapline says, it’s “the box set and reissue music site for fans who love holding the music in their hands”.

Note: this video is about the box set presentation, not about the sound quality of the vinyl.

McCartney – ‘Coming Up’ Sheet Music

Sometimes record-hunting can have very slim returns.

A recent trip to Melbourne, which is a great city and usually a very good place to go crate digging, turned up very little. All we came home with was this, found not in a record store but a second-hand bookshop:

It’s the sheet music for Paul McCartney’s song ‘Coming Up’, the single taken from the McCartney II LP, released back in 1980.

And that was it. Must admit, it was fairly easy to bring home on the plane!

The White VW Beetle and Abbey Road

In the big marketing lead-up to the release of the 50th Anniversary editions of The Beatles Abbey Road a couple of months ago a number of companies jumped on the advertising bandwagon.

Probably most prominent among them was the car maker, Volkswagen. After all, apart from the four Beatles striding across the road on the famous front cover, one of the company’s cars is also on prominent display – a white VW Beetle, just behind George.

Well, to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road Volkswagen Sweden has produced – in limited numbers – a reprint of the album cover, only this time minus the fab Four but with the white Beetle correctly parked up against the gutter instead of up on the footpath/sidewalk as it was in the original:

The album cover is called The Beetle’s Abbey Road – Reparked Edition. Volkswagen did it to advertise a feature available on their latest models called Park Assist that automatically helps you get the tricky task of reverse parking done just right.

Here’s the rear cover (as you can see, ours got almost bent in half of the long journey from Sweden to Australia!):

The LP cover was available for mail order only through the VW Sweden site. All proceeds raised are going to Bris – a children’s rights organisation.

There’s no vinyl inside – you’ll have to provide that yourself – but it’s a cute advertising gimmick. A lot of other people must agree with that because the first run sold out in no time. We kept checking back and there was a second print run which also quickly sold out. At present the site is again showing as “SOLD OUT”, but it’s probably worth checking back from time to time to see if they do a third print run.

The good news is that if you’d like a CD-sized version of The Beetle’s Abbey Road – Reparked Edition to print up for yourself, you can download a pdf file of the front image for free from the VW Sweden site here.

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

New Book: The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 4

How did The Beatles get the particular and unique sounds they achieved on their records?

If that’s a question you’ve been asking, then you’ll find a lot of the answers in a series of books written by Canadian musician, producer and recording engineer Jerry Hammack.

To date Jerry has produced an impressive body of work across three previous volumes in what he calls The Beatles Recording Reference Manuals (check out our reviews of Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3). In these books you’ll discover in intricate detail how The Beatles went about the recording process: the studios and equipment they used, their instruments, personnel, processes and recording dates and times. In short, just how they created their masterpieces.

Well, released today is the latest instalment in the series, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 4: The Beatles through Yellow Submarine (1968-early 1969).

This new book picks up where the third left off, covering the period 1968 and early 1969. The songs recorded for the double LP, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) are dealt with in great detail. By comparison Yellow Submarine, which is included due to it’s release in the time span covered, isn’t. That’s because most of the Beatle songs used for that project (except for ‘Hey Bulldog’) were recorded earlier and are covered off in previous volumes. Also included here are the singles ‘Lady Madonna’/’The Inner Light’ and ‘Hey Jude’/’Revolution’.

This series is a labour of love that has taken Jerry Hammack more than ten years to complete, and this latest volume serves as a fantastic companion to last year’s remixed and remastered 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles double LP.

You can follow the journey of each song, from first take to final mix. There are text explanations and simple diagrams detailing what occurred in the studio as each track became the songs that we know and love today.

As Hammack says: “We are aware of most of the “when” and “where”, but the “what was done?” isn’t always clear. We rarely know what guitars or amplifiers were used on a song-by-song basis. There is even less knowledge about the format of the recordings or the studio equipment used on a specific song or session. It takes a lot of detective work to figure these facts out, and a number of popular sources for the information are in conflict, out of date, or just plain wrong. A picture of the work that comprised the creation of each song must be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Thus began my quest to research, gather and organize both the narrative and core technical details of each of the classic Beatles recording sessions.”

The background introductions to each song often contain some pertinent observations. Take this one for ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’:

“The fact that McCartney would insist on beating the song to death over eight recording sessions, and three different versions, would only add fuel to the fire of frustration. While songs like Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields Forever had taken more sessions to record, they were perfected in a spirit of cooperation, where everyone was on-board regarding the value of the work being done. Times had changed. No doubt the extent of the animosity surrounding The Beatles sessions was somewhat exaggerated (though Starr did walk out, Martin deliberately absented himself, and business affairs under Apple were another matter). However, the seeds of the band’s ultimate unravelling through a single member’s insistence on his own particular vision were undoubtedly planted here. Bra.”

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

Bring on the fifth and final volume that will cover the period 1969 to early 1970 (Let It Be and Abbey Road) where maybe, finally, the lengthy and sometimes tedious debate on Beatle chat rooms at the moment about who played drums on ‘Old Brown Shoe’ might finally be put to rest! (If you’re interested in this discussion it’s on this particular thread beginning about here. It continues for about fifty pages…..)

In the meantime, try and get yourself a copy of Jerry Hammack’s The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 4. Check it out here on Amazon.