Beatles With Records – Part 30

It has really been quite some time since we’ve done a Beatles With Records post.

Our Beatles With Records series is exactly that: photographs of the band actually holding those things they sold so many of: records and CDs. These can be Beatle discs, or discs by other artists.

The posts prompted quite a few readers to send in additional photographs, and also to do some amazing detective work on the sometimes mysterious records the Beatles are holding in photos. Sometimes the albums are easy to guess. Then there are others where you can only see a fragment of a cover, or the rear image of a sleeve, making it very difficult to identify – especially when the record is by an unrelated artist.

One recent photo to come to light is definitely in that latter camp. It comes from the recently released book by Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McCartney (a.k.a. Mike McGear).

His book, published by Genesis Publications, is called Mike McCartney’s Early Liverpool and it contains some never-before-seen early photos of The Beatles, including this gorgeous one of John and Paul (and most probably George too, on the left). It is called Mathew Street, 1962 and hey are no doubt standing outside the famous Cavern Club:

This one had us intrigued. Paul is clearly looking at some 45’s, and John has under his arm what at first appears to be an LP of some kind. Further investigation though reveals it not to be a record but a bag containing a record from Liverpool’s NEMS record store. NEMS of course was owned by the family of their manager, Brian Epstein.

Wouldn’t it be great to know which LP John had purchased? What it is will probably never be known….

A couple of other items of interest have surfaced.

This one shows George Harrison in his kitchen at home at Kinfauns:

Quite interesting to see pinned up on the wall behind him a John Lennon/Yoko Ono album cover:

Here it is again, a different angle from the same photo shoot (click on image for a larger version):

It is Unfinished Music No.2: Life With The Lions, an experimental album on the Zapple label from 1969:

It appears to be an album slick opened out containing the rear cover image as well:

George seemed quite fond of putting up album covers, or elements of album covers, on his walls. If you look at the top left of this photo – taken in what seems to be a hospital ward – you can see two prints of the Linda Eastman photograph of Apple artist Mary Hopkin. That image was used for the front cover of the Hopkin LP Postcard:

(Turns out that George was at London’s University College Hospital, where he got his tonsils removed in February, 1969)

Here’s an image of Paul McCartney with what could be an early rendering of the Klaus Voormann cover for the Beatles Revolver LP. Either that or an attempt by a fan to replicate Voormann’s amazing artwork:

And finally, a still taken from the incredible Peter Jackson/Disney+ 3-part series Get Back on the making of the Let It Be album, this image of John Lennon taking a look at the latest Rolling Stones LP of the day:

See the other instalments of The Beatles With Records here.

Dad Grass – A George Harrison Branded ‘Jazz Cigarette’

We checked the date and it isn’t April 1st. So this must be true, right?

Looks like the Harrison Estate has entered into a licensing agreement with a company that legally sells cannabis called Dad Grass.

The George Harrison connection centres around an advertising campaign and product line featuring the All Things Must Pass album, including spliff-toking gnomes and of course the track, ‘Let It Roll’:

There is a range of products, including (for US$42.00) a Dad Grass x George Harrison All Things Must Grass Dad Stash which can hold five cigarettes and looks just like a double music cassette outer box:

As the copy on the website explains, this allows you to “…hide your grass in plain sight”:

It does a pretty good job, right down to the song titles on the back cover, and is produced by Dad Grass and George Harrison. Rolled in the USA:

Other products include the Special Blend George Harrison Dad Grass Five Pack (crafted from a special blend of Organic CBD and CBG hemp flower), Harrison signature rolling papers, rollings trays and ashtrays.

Dad Grass the company describes itself as “….reviving the mellow sensibility of the casual smoke. Our 100% Organic hemp flower and pre-rolled joints serve up a clean buzz without the fuss. Our special collections of merch and apparel pay tribute to the timeless staples of dad style. Past, present and future. Like your dad’s stash, we keep things easy and dependable, never fancy or complicated.”

And…..

“Classic toke meets classic bloke with our special edition George Harrison Dad Grass pre-rolled joints, smoking paraphernalia and merch.”

We’d be interested in your thoughts on this form of commercialisation of the Harrison legacy and the classic All Things Must Pass LP.

Beatle and solo songs and images have been used in numerous advertising campaigns and associated with many products in the past. Paul McCartney has been doing it for years.

But is this particular product line a step too far? Too tacky? Potentially alienating for some fans?

Or is that just being prudish? Do you think it’s a fair thing?

Let us know in the Leave a Reply section below.

Harrison Estate and Dark Horse Sign Further Publishing and Album Release Deals with BMG

You might recall that back in 2020 the mega music distributor and publisher BMG announced that it had formed a multi-faceted, worldwide distribution partnership with Dark Horse Records, the George Harrison-founded record label now led by his son, Dhani Harrison.

Well, there have been some developments.

Last week there was a rather intriguing press release from BMG announcing that they’ve now secured the publishing rights to the entire George Harrison song catalogue, including his Beatle, solo, and Traveling Wilbury compositions.

Plus the company has secured the rights to distribute some existing – and additional – interesting legacy artists on the the Dark Horse record label.

Here’s the official 2-page press release. We’ve highlighted those bits that grabbed our attention:

So, while there’ll be new publishing deals being done by BMG/Dark Horse for George Harrison’s compositions, it also looks like we can expect a range of interesting physical releases on the Dark Horse label.

These will include another EP from Billy Idol, and the new studio album from former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. There’s also likely to be a slew of back-catalogue re-issues from the great Leon Russell.

Interesting times indeed.

See also our articles on the six BMG/Dark Horse Records already released so far: Joe Strummer’s Assembly LP, Billy Idol’s The Roadside EP, the Billy Idol Happy Holidays Christmas album, Ravi Shankar’s Chants of India LP, and Joe Strummer’s two Record Store Day 12″ singles: ‘Junco Partner’ and ‘Johnny Appleseed’.

‘All Things Must Pass: 50th Anniversary Edition’ Wins Grammy

They’ve just been announced – the 64th annual Grammy Awards.

On the Beatle front there wasn’t too much on offer this year.

Paul McCartney was nominated for ‘Find My Way’ in the Best Rock Song category (he lost out to the Foo Fighters and ‘Waiting On A War’). He was also nominated for his album McCartney III in the Best Rock Album category (and once again, pipped at the post by the Foo Fighters with their LP Medicine at Midnight).

However, in the category for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package the winners were Darren Evans, Dhani Harrison and Olivia Harrison for their art direction of last year’s George Harrison All Things Must Pass: 50th Anniversary Edition. This was for the now famous “Uber Box”:

All Things Must Pass won ahead of Soccer Mommy – Color Theory, Steven Wilson – The Future Bites (Limited Edition Box Set), Gang of Four – 77-81 and Mac Miller – Swimming in Circles.

Olivia Harrison has posted this shot of her holding the actual Grammy:

She also gave this post-Grammy ceremony interview about the win:

Well done, and congratulations to the Harrison Estate!

George Harrison’s ‘Let It Be’ Rosewood Fender Available Again

Fender guitars has once again produced a limited edition re-creation of the unique guitar we see George Harrison playing during the sessions for Let It Be – both in the studio and during the famous roof-top concert in 1969.

It is a lovely rosewood Fender Telecaster electric:

It’s not the first time the Fender Custom Shop has done this. Back in 2016 they also released a copy of what originally was a one-off prototype model, gifted to George in 1968 so he could try it out and give the brand some publicity:

Now, hot on the heels of the epic Peter Jackson Get Back documentary on Disney, the company has done it again – with a few additional customised touches:

The principle difference for 2022 is a custom George Harrison ‘Om’ logo neck plate on the rear of the guitar:

The story behind what happened to the original Telecaster is interesting. As we know, Harrison played it during the Let It Be sessions, but he didn’t keep it for long. Later in 1969 he gave it away to Delaney Bramlett, leader of the group Delaney & Bonnie. It was a gift to say ‘thank you’ for letting Harrison join in on a tour with the band – all part of George easing his way out of the Beatles and finding his feet as a solo musician. Bramlett kept the priceless instrument for quite some time and amazingly he modified the guitar quite a bit. The rosewood originally featured a satin finish, but Bramlett had it resprayed with gloss. He also swapped out the original Fender tuning keys for Schaller brand keys, and he even modified the electronics inside.

Thankfully, the guitar has since been returned to the Harrison Estate and the Rosewood Tele has been restored. Here’s a photo of Dhani Harrison in 2012 with the original Fender second guitar from left:

And here he is playing it:

Here’s an example of the reverence in which this guitar is now held – Josh Homme is invited to play the one-off, 1968 original:

Check out the Rosewood replica at Fender.

See also:

The Ole Black Gretsch

The Ole Black Gretsch – An Update

Harrison’s “Rocky” Fender Stratocaster

Buy John Lennon’s Martin Acoustic replica

Record Store Day 2022 – Some Titles for Collectors

Record Store Day is returning to ‘normal’ this year. Well, as much as is possible in these strange times.

It will be on Saturday April 23, but the organisers are proactively trying to avoid disappointment by also designating an ‘RSD Drops’ date on June 18. That date will serve as a safety net for titles that for any number of reasons don’t make it into stores on April 23.

The US Record Store 2022 Day List includes titles that are coming to record stores on Record Store Day in April and those that will be coming in June. As they become aware of issues for any specific title, that title will move to the RSD Drops date – and you’ll see that on the List on the website.

Two titles of most interest to us here are a lovely translucent ice blue vinyl 12″ single from the Dark Horse Records label:

‘I Am Missing You’/’Lust’ by was the first ever single released on Dark Horse in 1974. It is taken from the George Harrison-produced album Shankar Family ૐ Friends, which itself is due for an audiophile vinyl re-press some time later this year. The 12″ single will be limited to 2700 copies.

There are also reports of a Paul McCartney release. This is mentioned on the UK Record Store Day site only so far and is apparently a 12″ single of the song ‘Women and Wives’ from his McCartney III album backed with the same song performed by St Vincent found on the McCartney III Imagined version of the album.

UPDATE (3 March, 2022): It seems this McCartney 12″ is to be crowned Record Store Day’s inaugural Song of the Year. For its 15th birthday, RSD is instituting a new tradition: the Song of the Year Single. ‘Women and Wives’ will get a one-time worldwide run of 3000 numbered copies on June 18:

The other title on the RSD 2022 list is a translucent orange and a translucent blue re-issue of Ringo Starr’s Ringo the 4th LP.

Ringo the 4th will come in a gatefold cover, and both colours will be limited to 1000 copies. (Thanks to The Daily Beatle for the images). This Ringo album has been re-issued previously in the US on red vinyl, and also on gold vinyl, in 2020.

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…..

Billy Preston’s ‘Encouraging Words’ Gets an Apple Records Reissue

We weren’t even aware of this until alerted yesterday by Instagram poster @applerecordspictures…..

Billy Preston, currently wowing viewers for his keyboard prowess in The Beatles: Get Back documentary on Disney+, recently had his 1970 Apple Records LP Encouraging Words re-issued on vinyl by the label.

It was released in October as a way to celebrate Preston’s induction for Musical Excellence into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will only be available for a limited period.

First issued in the UK on September 11 1970, the album was co-produced by Billy and George Harrison. Encouraging Words contains covers of two of George’s songs – ‘All Things Must Pass’ and ‘My Sweet Lord’ where they appeared for the very first time, two months before George’s own recordings of those tracks appeared on his album All Things Must Pass. The LP also contains a cover of the Lennon/McCartney track ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, from The Beatle’s Let It Be LP.

So, while it is timely of Apple to mark his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, this reissue of Billy’s album is also a great tie-in with the release of Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back film too.

I wonder if we’ll be seeing any other Apple Records artists getting vinyl reissues?

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.

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.