New George Harrison For RSD Black Friday

This year Record Store Day just keeps on giving.

We’ve already had the main Record Store Day release program for 2020 spread out over three separate “drops”. This has stretched out the process considerably.

And now the folks at RSD are adding to that with the traditional Black Friday set of releases thrown into the mix as well.

Amonst the Black Friday offerings (which is November 27 this year) is one for Beatle collectors, a 45 rpm single of George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’/’Isn’t It A Pity’:

This is limited to 7,500 copies worldwide, and it will come in a re-created picture sleeve – the one used in the country of Angola back in 1970. Curious to know if it will come complete with the same mis-spelling on the B-side of the original, ‘Ins’t It A Pity’?

Not sure why we’re getting the Angola picture sleeve, but it looks cool. I guess this is in line with the Beatles’ The Singles Collection box set that came out about this time last year, with every Beatle single in a picture sleeve from a different place around the world?

Note that this single is listed as a ‘RSD First Release’. These titles are sold first at independent record stores, but may also be released to other retailers or webstores at some point in the future.

For the full RSD Black Friday release list click on the icon below.

Harrison on Harrison – A New Book

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is a new anthology of the words of George Harrison by Grammy Award winning author Ashley Kahn.

Being a Beatle (and an ex-Beatle) meant that Harrison was interviewed literally thousands of times over the course of his life. This carefully curated and chronologically arranged anthology pulls together some of his most revealing and illuminating interviews, personal correspondences and writings. It spans the years 1962 to 2001 and provides a remarkable insight into the man he really was. You come away from this book with evidence that George Harrison was way more than just “the quiet Beatle“. He was an articulate, funny, candid and deeply spiritual human being.

In many cases Kahn has uncovered interview tapes that have never been shared publicly in full before, and he includes them here unfiltered, without bias or interpretation.

Some of the stand-outs for us are the interviews by David Wigg, Anthony DeCurtis and Maureen Cleave. Cleave wrote a fascinating piece on Harrison for the London Evening Standard in 1966 entitled “How a Beatle Lives. Part 3: George Harrison—Avocado with Everything . . . ”.  Now, remember, he’s just 23 years old at this point in time but in the second paragraph of Cleave’s article she states that Harrison is: “…a strong-willed and uncompromising character with a strict regard for what he considers to be the truth, and an even stricter regard for his own rights.” This is a trait that stayed with him throughout his life.

Three years later, David Wigg asks Harrison how he comes to terms with fame and being a Beatle:

George Harrison: All I’m doing, I’m acting out the part of Beatle George, and, you know, we’re all acting out our own parts. The world is a stage and the people are the players. Shakespeare said that. And he’s right, you know.

David Wigg: Do you expect another part, later?

Harrison: Oh, many parts. Yes.

Wigg: Is that why you’ve come to terms with it?

Harrison: Yes, because you just do whatever you can do. I mean, even if it’s being a Beatle for the rest of my life, it’s still only a temporary thing. And, I mean really, all we did was get born and live so many years and this is what happened. I got born seemingly to become Beatle George. But it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you are, because that’s only a temporary sort of tag for a limited sort of period of years.

That approach to life (in this temporal world and beyond) were to remain a constant.

Nearly twenty years later, in an interview with Anthony DeCurtis for Rolling Stone magazine around the time of the release of the album Cloud Nine, Harrison was still looking to keep the same even keel to his life, to keep things in perspective:

DeCurtis: One of the things about it, in mentioning that, you’ve always been a person who’s taken such care to keep a private life, to maintain that kind of thing. Does it feel sort of strange to be back in the record company office, sitting down, interviews, tapings? All this business?

Harrison: Not really, not really. I feel it’s like, sort of, say, somebody who is a fireman, or something, and he doesn’t sit around in his fireman suit all of his life. But when he goes to work he puts it on and he goes and gets on his fire engine. It’s sort of like that. Once I’ve done all this bit, I’ll walk away and I’m still . . . I mean it’s only the moment I’m in Warner Brothers office, or, somebody comes up to me and says, “Hey, will you sign this record,” or something, that I’m conscious of being an ex-Beatle and being George Harrison. I don’t live my life thinking that I’m this sort of . . . pop person. And so I think, now even more so, it’s just much easier for me to talk to people. I just talk to them like one human to another. And although that’s all superimposed on top of my being, all this past and present, but I just walk away from these interviews and just carry on as if nothing happened.

Of course being based in Australia we were pleased to see included a 1988 interview by the respected Australian journalist, Ray Martin, who got another perspective on how Harrison counteracted that “Beatle George Harrison” expectation that accompanied him wherever he went:

Martin: There is a quote….of you saying that “I have to be more ordinary than ordinary people are.” Why do you have to be more ordinary?

Harrison: [Chuckles.] Well, because, um, people have—we all have concepts of each other, you know? And the concept is, somebody see[s] me on a plane or in the streets or something, and they immediately remember all this Beatle stuff, and they have this concept of me as that person. But in reality, I don’t go around thinking of myself as “George Harrison the Beatle,” or whatever. I do now because I’m on the television, but normally I’m just like you, you know, just like everybody else; I’m just a human, and sometimes you have to, rather than just be ordinary, you have to make an effort to be more ordinary, in as much as that they will calm down and try to see that there’s actually a person in here [gestures toward himself]—other than this big myth about the Beatles. That’s all.

This is just one of many themes running through the content painstakingly gathered together for this book. George’s words reveal the complexity of his character: wise but at times naïve, sensitive but also self-deprecating, and always refreshingly, unabashedly human. As editor Ashley Kahn writes in his preface: “Read his words and know the man. Read, and know a life well-lived.

George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters is published by Chicago Review Press.

As a side note, Chicago Review Press has an extensive number of titles done in the same style as this book. They are part of a ‘Musicians In Their Own Words’ series, and the list of artists is lengthy including Dylan, Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Bowie and Miles Davis – to name but a few. One you might also want to seek out is Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon.

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!

Record Store Day 2020 – Beatle Related Titles

It’s been a bit quiet on the new Beatle product front for a while. Then comes the 2020 Record Store Day official lists – and not one, but three titles that will be of ineterst to collectors.

First up, Paul McCartney and yet a further re-issue of his first solo album from 1970, simply called McCartney:

This time around, for it’s 50th anniversary, McCartney is getting the Half Speed Master treatment. There will be just 7000 copies produced. If you’d like to know more about Half Speed Mastering UMe has produced this article. Abbey Road Studios engineer Miles Showell (who worked on this 2020 re-issue of McCartney) explains more here:

And, as one wag said on one of the better re-issue forums (Super Deluxe Edition – which we love): “Just as he did fifty years ago, Paul’s making sure his solo album gets released before Let It Be hits the streets…” That’s actually very funny. History repeats.

Also on this year’s Record Store Day list, a Ravi Shankar Centennary Edition of his Chants of India album, produced by George Harrison in 1997. In what is the first physical product to come out of the new distribution relationship between BMG and Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, this LP is being issued for the first time on vinyl – and it will be on red coloured vinyl to boot! 3000 copies are being pressed, and the 2LP set will come in a gatefold cover with an exclusive photo print:

Finally, a John Lennon title is included in the 2020 RSD list. A 7″ black vinyl single of his 1970 hit ‘Instant Karma!’ is being billed as the 2020 Ultimate Mixes. The single will feature newly mixed audio and a faithful reproduction of original UK sleeve artwork. 7000 copies are being pressed:

Record Store Day this year is on Saturday, April 18. Check here for the full list of what is planned for release. You can find the US RSD store here. The official RSD UK store is here.

BMG Signs Deal with George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records

Billboard and Music Week are reporting that music distributor and publisher BMG has formed a new multi-faceted worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.

The deal not only includes releases from the back-catalogue of Dark Horse, but also Harrison’s Indian label imprint, HariSongs. It’ll also include the solo work of Joe Strummer, including his work with The Mescaleros.

Dark Horse will also release entirely new recordings through BMG, like the recent Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ that featured Jakob Dylan, Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson.

Initial releases are digital only. The first slate of under the deal will include the George Harrison-produced Chants of India by Ravi Shankar; the live album Ravi Shankar & Ali Akbar Khan In Concert 1972; Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ albums Rock Art and The X-Ray StyleGlobal A Go-Go, and Streetcore; and Attitudes Ain’t Love Enough: The Best of Attitudes.

However, the good news for collectors of physical product is that future releases in 2020 will include compilations, live albums, and box sets featuring rare and unreleased recordings from the Dark Horse label. That means we might see new releases (plus bonus material) on CD and LP from the likes of Splinter, Stairsteps, Keni Burke, Jiva, the late Henry McCullough, and maybe even some Ravi Shankar…..

 

Unusual New Zealand ‘All Things Must Pass’

We scored an unusual example of George Harrison’s 1970 solo triple LP All Things Must Pass the other day.

It’s an original, early pressing from New Zealand, and a couple of things set it apart.

Firstly the box. It has the familiar photograph of George and his gnomes in the garden of his home at Friar Park on the front, but the hinged box itself is not black, but a lovely deep blue colour which I hope you cane pick up in the images below:

As you can probably see, the front cover photo isn’t in great shape, having had something removed from the top left-hand corner, but otherwise the box itself is in reasonable condition. This box set is quite rare as only the first run of this album was shipped with the box made in New Zealand. After these ran out HMV NZ imported the Australian triple gatefold version of the sleeve.

Here’s the inside of the lid listing song titles and credits:

The three LPs inside come in the familiar inner lyric sleeves. However, these too are different in colour to other international versions:

And the orange Apple labels are also unique, done in that slightly washed-out colour tone common to New Zealand pressings:

These Apple labels don’t have the “cut” Apple on the flip side, while the third Apple Jam label is particularly nice:

Here are two close-ups of the New Zealand manufacturing credits:

And finally the box spine, with the gold lettering – this time on a deep blue background:(As usual, click on the images to see larger versions)

We also have an unusual Singaporean copy of All Things Must Pass that’s worth a look.

Beatles “White Album” 50th Anniversary Turntable

There’s another Beatle-themed turntable out there: 

Turntable manufacturer Pro-Ject Audio Systems, in association with Universal Music, has launched a Beatles White Album model to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the legendary recording.

Based on a Pro-Ject 2Xperience SB model, the limited White Album version really is all-white, down to the platter, tonearm, switch gear, and even a specially produced white-bodied Ortofon 2M cartridge pre fitted at the factory:The company now has seven Beatle-related record players: the Yellow Submarine model; two Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band models (in Drum and Limited Edition versions); a Beatles 1964 edition; a George Harrison turntable , and now a Ringo Starr “Peace and Love” turntable as well:

PeaceAndLoveTurntable-1-1024x684 2The Beatles White Album turntable is limited to 500 pieces worldwide. It looks to have a limited edition number stamped on it, just like the original LP covers did back in 1968, but it’s not clear if these are individual or not:The Pro-Ject White Album Limited Edition is up at the higher end of Pro-Ject’s turntable offerings and retails for US$1799 (and in Australia for $2699). You can read the official press release here.

The Results of a Day Spent Crate Digging for Beatle Treasure

We had the chance to visit the lovely city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia last weekend. A friend directed us to a record store they knew nearby – Licorice Pie – in the suburb of Prahran, not far from the CBD. If you are ever in Melbourne, this place is well worth a visit as they have heaps of well catalogued stock and at very reasonable prices.

Of course we were on the trail of some Beatle treasure, trying to fill in some gaps in the collection, and Licorice Pie did not disappoint.

We’ve been looking for some time for a copy of John Lennon’s Mind Games on the Axis label. Axis was an EMI subsidiary, the Australian equivalent of the UK budget label Music for Pleasure.

Axis released Mind Games three times in all, and each release is slightly different and even has different catalogue numbers. We had two of the three, but not the third – until now: 

This one has the catalogue number AXIS.6441 (the others are AX701272 and AX1009, both of which have yellow Axis labels). This one has black and white labels:

The sleeve also contained an original advertising insert with lists of other Axis budget titles on both sides, all for just A$4.99!

Licorice had some other John Lennon records we couldn’t resist. For example, this 7″ single in a picture cover, released in November, 1981 on the Parlophone label. It’s got two ‘A’ sides:

And this Lennon/Ono 7″ picture sleeve, a single taken from the Milk and Honey LP, released in 1984:

This next find is going to sound pedantic. It’s an Australian pressing of The Beatles ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’. We had it already, but not with the Northern Songs publishing credit printed on the left-hand side of the Apple label:

When we discovered ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ it was in a large box full of other Apple 7″ singles – quite a few of which we were after. Probably the most collectable was Paul and Linda McCartney’s ‘Eat At Home’ single from the Ram period (1971):

This one is interesting because not only is it kind of rare (you don’t see many copies of it around), but it has an uncut Apple label on the ‘B’ side (the song ‘Smile Away’, also from Ram):

There was a nice clean pressing of George Harrison’s ‘Give Me Love [Give Me Peace on Earth]’ in the box too: 

Then two non-Beatle artists signed to the Apple label. First up, Badfinger with ‘No Matter What’:

And finally, the late great Billy Preston from 1969 and ‘That’s The Way God Planned It’:All these records filled gaps – they were records we didn’t have, despite years of collecting. That’s testament to a great record store. Get along to Licorice Records in Melbourne if you can!

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

Traveling Wilburys – 30th Anniversary Picture Disc Announced

The official George Harrison social sites (Instagram, Twitter) have been carrying cryptic Traveling Wilbury teasers for a couple of days:

It’s now been revealed what it’s all about:

Universal Music, via a Concord Records’ subsidiary Craft Recordings, is to release a limited edition, 30th Anniversary picture disc pressing of The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 LP.Pre-order pics show that Side 1 carries the Wilbury logo, while Side 2 features an image from this video for ‘Handle Me With Care’, shot by Alberto Tolot:

The picture disc will be issued on November 2.

The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 Picture Disc Track List

A1. “Handle With Care”
A2. “Dirty World”
A3. “Rattled”
A4. “Last Night”
A5. “Not Alone Any More”
B1. “Congratulations”
B2. “Heading for the Light”
B3. “Margarita”
B4. “Tweeter and the Monkey Man”
B5. “End of the Line”

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.