Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery – The EMI Manchester Square Photos

Here’s a further instalment in our occasional series on Beatle (and Beatle-related) album covers or photographs that, over the years, have been borrowed as inspiration by others.

As observed on reddit recently, it’s a surprise that more bands haven’t used this iconic LP cover photograph as inspiration:pleasepleaseme

Given that Sgt Pepper, The White Album and Let It Be have all been imitated many times in one way or another by so many bands, why not the famous Please Please Me as well?

Maybe it’s because it would be limited only to EMI artists, and also that the actual building where the picture was taken now no longer exists…..

But still, there are a couple of examples out there. The Sex Pistols did it in 1977:sex-pistols-at-emi-1977

Then Blur in 1995:blur-at-emi

Even before The Beatles looked down from that balcony, the famous English bandleader Joe Loss (signed to the EMI subsidiary label HMV) did the same pose:joeloss-at-emi-1961

And in 1983 it was Dutch Beatle Fan Club President Har van Fulpern’s turn:

har_van_fulpen_dutch_beatles_fan_club_president_19When Universal Music re-issued the Beatles 1962-1965 (Red) and 1966-1970 (Blue) albums we posted some info on the Angus McBean photo shoot location here, including a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the shoot for the Red and Blue LPs – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me release.

Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at EMI’s former headquarters in Manchester Square, London – with the group looking down over the building’s stairwell. The building has since been demolished.red-frontblue-lpClick here for the other posts in “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”.

“Great Record Labels” Book

Chanced upon a small local garage sale (or yard sale) this morning and found this book:great-labels-cover

Great Record Labels, written by Al Cimino and published by Chartwell Books in 1992, is quite an interesting overview of some of the most famous record companies, admittedly with a strong US bias. It has some really good images liberally scattered throughout, not only of the various record company labels themselves, but also many of the artists signed to the labels too.

Cimino has split his book into five broad categories covering music from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s. He starts with Sun Records in the Fifties, and ends with Def Jam in the Nineties, and works his way through most of the big labels in between – like Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Decca, A&M, CBS, Warner Brothers, Island, and Virgin – to name but a few.

There are two main segments of the book where The Beatles pop up. First is the chapter on the British EMI/Parlophone label:great-labels3great-labels4

In the section on EMI’s US subsidiary Capitol Records there is only fleeting reference to The Beatles, despite the huge amounts of money they made for the company:great-labels9

But to make up for that there’s no less than four pages dedicated to The Beatles’ own Apple Records:great-labels5great-labels6great-labels7great-labels8

Here’s the rear cover of Great Record Labels (the dust cover has seen better days…):great-labels-rearDespite being a little beat up, this is a nice little find and a good book to have in the collection.

Here, There and Everywhere – Geoff Emerick

We recently purchased a nice, used hardback copy of Geoff Emerick’s fantastic Beatle book Here, There and Everywhere – My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles.

Not having read it before it’s currently our favourite, especially given the release in the last week of the The Beatles In Mono vinyl LPs as a boxed set (and also as individual albums).Here, There 1 Here, There 2Geoff Emerick was George Martin’s right-hand man in the control room at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London. At the age of 15 (on just his second day at EMI) he was present – as an assistant recording engineer – when a scruffy-looking quartet from Liverpool came in for their very first studio session. Emerick progressed from that recording (“Love Me Do” in 1962), to being directly involved with the majority of the band’s classic albums. He confirms on a number of occasions in his book that a lot more time was spent getting the mono mixes correct as compared to the time taken over stereo.

With his ability to interpret the sounds that John, Paul, George and Ringo had in their heads as they worked at getting their songs down on tape, Emerick made a huge contribution to their records. He wanted as much as they did to experiment – to take the recording process into new and un-charted waters. Here, There and Everywhere takes us into the famous Studio’s One and Two at Abbey Road as history was literally being made.

Amongst other things we read about the antiquated attitudes, policies and equipment at EMI Records during the 1960s. Given their strict and old-fashioned rules it’s incredible that the greatness of the Beatles was ever captured at all. EMI management back in the day seemed stuck in the 1940s and 50s. As an organisation it frequently stood in the way of creativity rather than fostering it. It was Geoff Emerick who was willing to go out on a limb and flaunt the studio rules at Abbey Road to capture the sounds we have today.

One of the other big surprises in the book is Emerick’s low opinion of George Harrison. There are frequent mentions of how stand-offish and surly Emerick found him to be, not to mention that he regarded George as a pretty lacklustre lead guitarist….

Here, There and Everywhere was published way back in 2006, but it is highly recommended if you are at all interested in the Beatles and their music. The copy we have is a signed copy. It’s not dedicated to us because this one is second-hand – but that doesn’t matter. There is the signature of Geoff Emerick (and his co-author Howard Massey), a man who had a significant impact on the Beatles legacy.

We wouldn’t have the Beatle canon without him.Here, There 3

The Beatles “20 Greatest Hits” – plus an Australian “23 Number Ones”

I scored a couple of copies of the Beatles’ 20 Greatest Hits LP the other day – but not the typical British or US versions. One is Korean, the other from Brazil.

20 Greatest Hits was released in 1982 to mark the 20th anniversary of the group’s first record release “Love Me Do” in the UK. It was the last Beatles album to be released with different variations for the US and UK markets (because some Beatle hits in the US were not released as singles in the UK and vice-versa, such as “Eight Days a Week” and “Yesterday”).

The Korean and Brazilian versions I got both have the US artwork and the same running order of songs. First up the Korean cover, front and rear:20 Greatest Korea Front20 Greatest Korea rear

The Korean copy has a plastic “Oasis Records” inner sleeve. Oasis manufactured Parlophone records in South Korea:20 Greatest Korea Inner Bag

And here is the label:20 Greatest Korea Label

I don’t know if you can make out the small print around the outside, but is says: “Approved by the K.E.C.P.P. Ministry of Culture and Information Registration 16”. (Click on the image to see a larger version)

Next up, the pressing from Brazil:

20 Greatest Brazil Frony20 Greatest Brazil Rear

The Brazilian copy comes with a nice printed cardboard inner sleeve: 20 Greatest Brazil Inner bag

And it’s on the EMI label, not Parlophone:20 Greatest Brazil Label

Meanwhile, in Australia a very similar album with practically the same cover art came out a year later (in 1983) – but with a completely different title and running order of songs to both the US and UK versions. Here it was called The Number Ones, and our version contains twenty-three hit songs, not twenty. The extra three songs came on a special three-track 45rpm single included only with the set. Here’s the Australian cover, front and rear:23 Number Ones Aust FrontThe Number Ones Aust Rear

And here’s the label of the LP:23 Number Ones Aust Label

And this is the unique extra 3-track single:Aust Single 1

It came in two different variations. One with a printed sleeve with a cut-out (above) to show the label, and one variation (below) without the cut out:Aust single 2These are the labels of the bonus Australian single, A and B sides:

Aust Single Label 1Aust Single label 2And some copies in Australia came with a bright neon-orange sticker on the front:

Aust Sticker

Love Me Do Reissue – A Further Big Mistake

Those of you following the debacle around the 50th anniversary re-issue of the Beatles “Love Me Do” vinyl single will be interested to know of a further BIG mistake on the now re-called disc.

Not only did EMI stuff up the version of the song on the A-side of the disc (see previous post on this), it is now emerging that there is also another big mistake.

They have put the wrong catalogue number on the B-side….

The “Love Me Do” single has the Parlophone Records catalogue number              R-4949. However, on the B-side of the 50th anniversary reissue (which contains the song “P.S. I Love You”), EMI have printed the catalogue number R-4714:

(click on image to see a larger version)

That R-4714 catalogue number actually belongs to the 1960 Matt Monro release “Portrait of My Love”:

Hence some people on Ebay getting a bit carried away with their pricing on this one….

Some are even claiming this this mistake is the 2012 equivalent of the infamous “Butcher Cover” all over again and stating that the value of the re-called “Love Me Do” will just grow and grow. What do you think?

 

Love Me Do Reissue – A Big Mistake

I’ve been away and out of circulation and so have missed the saga of the mis-pressed 50th anniversary single “Love Me Do”. But as reader Terry points out in the comments section for the post “Lots of Beatle Vinyl News – Part 2“,  EMI has ludicrously pressed up and issued the single with the album version by mistake.

Just before the day it was to be released they sent out messages to retailers telling them to return them to EMI. Apple ordered that all recalled stock be destroyed, which would make the single an instant collector’s item.

It’s apparently all due to an error in the manufacturing process where the anniversary single was pressed with the album version of the song featuring Andy White on drums and Ringo Starr relegated to tambourine. The original single version however featured Starr on drums.

I had my order for “Love Me Do” in with the HMV online store and have returned home to find no less than four confusing emails from them. The first says my order has shipped. The second says the product was faulty and was recalled. If I still want the product I should not do anything as once replacement copies are received by HMV they will be shipped to me.

Then a third email saying the order has been cancelled and the original charge has been refunded to my credit card.

Finally, a fourth email saying (quote):

“We have now received restocks, and we are currently in a position to replace your order”

This is all very confusing. The listing for the single has now disappeared from the HMV site.

Of course, some have got out and are on sale on Ebay. I’ve already seen one “Buy It Now” selling for a crazy £250 pounds (that’s over A$395!).  So, it is unclear at the moment if a corrected version will ever be issued.

Abbey Road Not For Sale – Says EMI

EMI has moved to allay fears that it was about to sell its famous Abbey Road studio complex (see my post on this last week).

On the contrary, the company says it is seeking partners to revitalise the historic building.

The Guardian newspaper is quoting an EMI press release stating:

“In mid-2009, we did receive an offer to buy Abbey Road for in excess of £30m but this was rejected since we believe that Abbey Road should remain in EMI’s ownership.”

Pretty unequivocal.

If you’d like to see the full statement you can read it at Wog Blog’s site (a site which I really like – thanks Roger).

So, not for sale after all….