With the 2022 remaster and remix of The Beatles‘ Revolver album due to hit stores next month, there’s renewed interest in solving some of the remaining mysteries of just where cover designer Klaus Voormann sourced all those little images that make up the collage he created for this now-famous cover:
As you know last year we published an article about the latest thinking. There were still at least four images (circled in yellow) that remain mysterious as to their source (click on the image to see a larger version):
Now at least three of those four yellow circles have been solved (to an extent) by German fan and YouTuber, Yaacov (Jack) Edisherashvili.
Jack actually took a trip to visit Klaus Voormann in person and spoke with him about the Revolver cover. While there he asked him about where he’d sourced some of those photos.
You can see that video below. It’s interesting because in this first video Klaus talks about the cover and how it will be explained in the new book that’ll be included in the new 2022 release:
After Jack visited Klaus he wrote to us to say:
“The image on the top left corner – the three faces – was never published. This was given privately to Klaus by the band.
The Ringo image – on top right corner – Klaus says was shot on a boat trip.
The John Lennon image with cigarette – I forgot to ask, but looks to me taken from press conference pictures?“
So, that’s more information than we’ve had previously. Following his visit to Klaus, Jack has also uploaded this comprehensively researched YouTube with a detailed breakdown of the Revolver cover:
As you can see still a couple of mysteries remain.
If anyone knows the origins of the John Lennon photo with the cigarette – please let us know.
Also, two other outstanding questions are around the origins of the image of Ringo that Klaus used as inspiration for the drawing at the bottom left of the Revolver cover. Where was it published and who’s the photographer? And also the George image on the right – same questions:
Now that international travel is slowly becoming more feasible for many of us again, a visit to Liverpool – the city where it all began for The Beatles – might just be back on your travel “must do” list.
If so, it’d be nice to have a guide to point you in the right direction when you get there.
Liverpool, on the banks of the River Mersey always looms large in any discussion about the formation of the band and their influences. Many of the physical places they lived or frequented have become key parts of the Beatle story. It is of course the city where John, Paul, Ringo and George were born, grew up in, and knew well.
Now a new guide book The Beatles’ Liverpool – just released – takes you there by gathering more than fifty Liverpudlian localities. The fully illustrated guide then explains why those particular places played such a key role in the band’s development and success.
Of course there are the obligatory entries for the childhood homes (Menlove Avenue for John, Arnold Grove for George, Forthlin Road for Paul, and Admiral Grove for Ringo); there’s the background to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields; The Cavern Club; and the well-known St Peter’s Church, Woolton where John first met Paul.
But there are many more obscure listings too. Like Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight; the Neston Institute in Wirral; and 4 Rodney Street, birthplace of Beatle manager Brian Epstein.
There’s also a handy two-page guide map pinpointing the location of all the places mentioned in the guide.
If you’re planning a Liverpool visit, this book would be an essential to take with you – and it won’t cost you any excess luggage fees. At just over 44 pages The Beatles’ Liverpool is compact and light enough to easily slip into a travel bag or backpack to have with you as you walk the streets of the historic city.
Even if you’re still a way off physically getting to Liverpool, you can dive into The Beatles’ Liverpool and pay a visit vicariously. It’s the perfect armchair alternative to actually being there.
Author Mike Haskins was himself born and raised in Merseyside – and he still lives there! He’s worked as a scriptwriter and researcher for TV, radio and the stage, and has published over fifty books.
UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who entered. And congratulations to the two readers who were first in with the correct answers!
They are Fred, from Ontario, Canada; and Diane from New York, USA. They will receive a copy of The Beatles’ Liverpool book, courtesy of Pitkin Publishing and Batsford Books.
The correct answers to our questions were:
In their early career band members purchased many of their instruments from which famous Liverpool music store? Hessy’s Music Centre
Ringo’s family hails from Liverpool’s Dingle area. His Mum worked at pub called The Empress there. In what way did Ringo put that building on the map? It’s on the front cover of his Sentimental Journey LP
There’s no doubt there are some very generous souls in the Beatle collecting community and we’ve recently been the recipient of such generosity. In a tidy-up and down-sizing of his collection one beatlesblog reader found he had two copies of the 2009 release Beatles Box of Vision and, very kindly, decided to pass one of them along to us. And a welcome addition it is as we didn’t have this treasure in the collection.
The Beatles Box of Vision was the brainchild of former Capitol Records Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer and Beatle fanatic, Jonathan Polk.
Timed to coincide with the 2009 release of the Beatles stereo CD remasters, Box of Vision was a sumptuous way to store all that officially reissued CD catalogue – and more. Its storage section could contain every release from Please Please Me right up to the then-current Love, including Past Masters 1 & 2; the ‘best of’ albums 1962-1966 and 1967-1970; Live at the BBC; Anthology 1, 2 and 3; the Yellow Submarine Songtrack; the 1 compilation; and even Let It Be…Naked.
Box of Vision is large and impressively constructed. It comes shipped in a protective white cardboard outer (that is really worth keeping):
On the rear of this protective box is printed information about the contents:
When you open this white outer box the first thing you see inside is the large, well-protected, very good quality Box of Vision box. This initially looks like it might be designed to hold LPs instead of CDs because it is of LP-like proportions:
Taking it out reveals this still striking Robert Freeman image on the front cover of of what is a black linen covered storage box:
The box is deep and has the core collection LP spines printed along its edges :
As mentioned, the box is beautifully made. It is hinged on the left, opens like a large clam shell. It is designed to store, organise and display your Beatle CD collection. It contains two high quality books plus a set of plastic sleeves. The first thing you see when you open it up is a slim, soft cover book called The Beatles Catalography.
Then comes a series of 4 plastic storage sleeves – each of which can hold 8 CDs plus their booklets (4 on the front, 4 on the back of each sleeve). These have black and white images at each slot to show which CD goes where:
Then at the back of the box is an impressive cloth-bound hard back book containing all the full-sized artwork for every release. This is embossed on the front in shiny black lettering that simply says The Beatles:
Each box is numbered. This one is #1369:
Even the rear of the box has a nice detail:
Let’s look first at The Beatles Catalography book:
This is a guidebook to the unique history of Beatle releases. It details their UK and US catalogue in a side-by-side presentation so that you can immediately see the differences between the two countries, both in the artwork and the track listings:
Then comes the hefty, cloth-bound book The Beatles with high quality images of all the artwork associated with every official Beatle release in the UK to 2009.
Where that artwork extends to posters, special inserts or booklets these too are reproduced. For example, the story picture book stapled inside the Magical Mystery Tour LP is reproduced in full:
When you get to the 1 album an image of the poster is reproduced:
Likewise the booklet that came with the Let It Be…Naked LP:
The rear covers of each album are also faithfully reproduced:
Where did the name ‘Box of Vision’ come from?
At the time Jonathan Polk told The Houston Chronicle that title is from a song by Tom Russell. “The gist of the song is a father wishing he could give his child a box with all the things he would like her to experience in her life. I thought it was a good fit as I had envisioned this as a way to give a young fan the context to appreciate the history and chronology of the Beatles catalog, and what they were able to accomplish, in a much deeper way than as simply a bunch of hit songs.”
At the time you could order Box of Vision through the official Beatles site, or through a dedicated Box of Vision site – but that sadly is now long gone.
The Beatle/Apple connection – and the incredible quality of the images reproduced in both the books accompanying the storage box – very clearly hints at the close involvement the Beatles camp must have had with this project. They obviously supported the initiative fully, and it shows.
Thank you so much to reader Michael who very generously gifted us the Beatles Box of Vision.
Thanks also to Marc who read our article about The Beatles Box Of Vision and writes: “After it was released the Box Of Vision website had a PDF download containing corrections for three pages in Catalography book: one for the Let It Be/Let It Be…Naked page, and two of the Song/Album Reference pages.” Marc has made that PDF available. He hopes this is useful for others who may have missed it at the time. You can download those pages here:
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 Liverpooland 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 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 BeatlesRevolver 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.
NFT’s, or digital artworks, have become all the rage. And it looks like John Lennon’s son Julian is using them to sell one-off digital representations of some of the Beatle treasures from his personal collection: five gifts he received from his father, and one from Paul McCartney.
NFT stands for Non-fungible token. “Non-fungible” means that it is something unique and can’t be replaced with something else. NFT’s can be anything digital (such as drawings or music), but a lot of the current excitement is around using the tech to sell digital art. Oh, and you pay for them in Ethereum – a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin or dogecoin.
The Lennon NFTs are being sold through YellowHeart, an online site specialising in the NFT space, and also through Julien’s Auctions – a more traditional auction house. As you can see on the Julien’s site all current bids have already either met or exceeded the estimated selling prices. The auction closes on February 7.
The pieces for sale are three of John Lennon’s Gibson Les Paul guitars, his Afghan jacket from Magical Mystery Tour, the hooded cape worn for the movie Help!, and Paul McCartney’shand written notes for an arrangement of the song he wrote for Julian called ‘Hey Jude’ (it was originally called ‘Hey Jules’). Each NFT is animated and includes brief audio of Julian discussing the item with that voice-over being incorporated as a part of the NFT.
It should be noted that a portion of the proceeds from this auction will go to Julian’s White Feather Foundation which is active globally on issues relating to education, good health, the preservation of indigenous cultures, the environment and clean water.
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.”
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.
Host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway works with musicians to take apart their songs and, piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made – delving into the specific decisions that went into creating the work. Guests have included Fleetwood Mac, Billie Eilish, U2, Metallica, Solange, Lorde, Yo-Yo Ma, The Roots, Bon Iver, and more. Here’s the full list of episodes.
Now, Song Exploder has taken a deep dive into John Lennon’s song ‘God’, from his 1970 solo album Plastic Ono Band. It’s the first time Hrishikesh has unpacked a song posthumously, teaming up with the Lennon Estate for a special, first-of-its kind episode using demos, out-takes, multitracks and interviews from their vaults.
“Earlier this year, I got an amazing email—the estate of John Lennon said that they have a treasure trove of audio material from his life, and they were wondering if I would be interested in making an episode around the song ‘God‘. I’ve never tried making a posthumous episode before, because hearing directly from the artist is at the heart of Song Exploder. But with all the interview archives that they have of him speaking, plus all the isolated tracks from the recordings, and the original demo, it actually seemed possible. So this is a very different and special episode of the show.”
Speaking about the episode on Instagram Sean Ono Lennon said “I’m a big fan of Song Exploder and the way Hrishi analyzes songwriting and recording using the multitracks and sessions and the creator’s voice. The shows are always intelligent, well-researched and beautifully edited, so we felt comfortable and confident opening up the archive to them to tell the story of this important song’s creation. They’ve done an amazing job and I’m excited for everyone to hear this special episode.”
In the episode we hear from John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Billy Preston, and psychologist Arthur Janov.
After the tragic death of co-host Ryan Brady last year in a motoring accident, his podcast partner Chris Mercer has (understandably) been lying low for a while. The good news is that the show has returned.
Two weeks ago Mercer posted on Facebook: “I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Paul Kaminski as the new co-host of Take It Away. Many of you will have guessed as much already. When it comes to the Beatles, Paul Kaminski is the real deal. He’s also a highly accomplished podcaster, having worked on the Jack White-related Third Men Podcast, the Beatles podcast Yesterday and Today, The Lucy & Annabel Show, and Now Hear This!, which he co-founded with Ryan Brady. We‘ve already had a productive collaboration going for some time, and we can’t wait to talk everyone’s heads off about music we love!”
And they’ve announced there’ll be a Season 5 coming this fall. “While we will honor the show’s roots by covering McCartney‘s latest projects and expanding our Macca-related offerings, Paul and I are eager to take TIA to new places, and we think you’ll enjoy what we have planned” said Mercer.
On September 9, 2021, John Lennon’sImagine LP turns 50 years-old.
With that anniversary comes a new logo, and a new opportunity to sell the LP to us once more….this is despite it having had something of a spectacular re-mix campaign reissue just three years ago in a wide range of formats.
To celebrate it’s 50th, Universal Music yesterday announced a 50th anniversary, limited-edition “collectors” white vinyl 2LP of Imagine.
This features the exact same 2018 “Ultimate Mix” of the album by engineer Paul Hicks and produced by Yoko Ono on disc 1, and the exact same set of album outtakes on disc 2.
When that 2LP set was issued in 2018 it was offered on a 2LP black vinyl:
And there was also a limited edition 2LP clear vinyl set:
As you can see, its now a case of “spot the difference” with this latest white vinyl iteration:
So, what do you think? Will you be buying it one more time?
The white vinyl version ships on September 10th. Here’s the track listing:
Side A 1. Imagine 2. Crippled Inside 3. Jealous Guy 4. It’s So Hard 5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die
Side B 6. Gimme Some Truth 7. Oh My Love 8. How Do You Sleep? 9. How? 10. Oh Yoko!
Side C 11. Imagine (Original demo recorded at Ascot) 12. Imagine (Take 1) 13. Crippled Inside (Take 3) 14. Crippled Inside (Take 6 alternate guitar solo) 15. Jealous Guy (Take 9) 16. It’s So Hard (Take 6)
Side D 17. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (Take 25) 18. Gimme Some Truth (Take 4) 19. Oh My Love (Take 6) 20. How Do You Sleep? (Takes 1 & 2) 21. Oh Yoko! (From Bed Peace footage – Sheraton Hotel, Bahamas 1969)
As we eagerly await the release later this week of the Plastic Ono Band super deluxe editions it’s been interesting to listen to two rare John and Yoko interview discs recorded during the same era.
The two discs are John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (January 25, 1971, in Tokyo), and John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (September 2, 1971 in New York).
Both these were only made available recently, and only in Japan. The one place to purchase them was from the museum shop at the Double Fantasy – John & Yoko exhibition, held at the Sony Music Roppongi Museum in Tokyo in late 2020/early 2021. We were lucky as a family friend who lives there got both discs for us and sent them via snail mail to Australia. It took a while, but they eventually got here!
As the titles suggest, these recordings date back to 1971, and hearing John and Yoko talking about their then just-released Plastic Ono Band LPs (one from John, one from Yoko), and also about Lennon’s Imagine LP, adds to our understanding: what they were thinking and saying about the albums at the time.
As you can see, these have been lovingly created in the typical Japanese style. They both come in gatefold sleeves with Grapefruit OBI strips, and they’re both pressed on lovely 10″ clear vinyl.
Both album sleeves say “Printed in Japan”, and state that the vinyl is pressed in Czech Republic. However, inside the labels say “Made in USA”. Confusing.
On the OBI strip and on the record labels there are Columbia Records logos (i.e. Sony Music), while on the covers there are Sony Music, Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music logos printed on the rear sleeves.
And of course being Japanese releases, these both have a paper sheet inserts printed on both sides with more detail and info (in Japanese!) about the EP and the Double Fantasy exhibition:
One of these interview discs at least (John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (September 2, 1971 in New York) has been previously released. This was back in 1971 in Japan – and it came out on the Apple label. This release was a fan-only, 7″ 45rpm EP. It has the same artwork throughout as this 2020 re-issue and came in a gatefold cover too. Apparently in Japan in 1971 the first 1,000 copies of of Imagine contained a postcard which the buyer could use to order the interview EP for free:
Seeing the original Japanese Apple labels from 1971 reminds us of the amazing attention to detail the Japanese go to when recreating re-issues. If you look closely you can see that even the lettering has been meticulously copied from the Apple original to the 2020 version on the Grapfruit label:
The interview on January 25, 1971 took place in Tokyo’s Teikoku or “Imperial” Hotel. It is conducted in English and Japanese – but mostly Japanese. The Lennon’s state that they are in the country to visit Yoko’s family and are trying to keep a low profile, so it is not an official visit as such. But they’ve obviously called a short press conference to talk briefly about what would have then been their latest releases, the two Plastic Ono Band LPs.
As you can see from the sleeve images above, the two are photographed holding these albums (and The Wedding Album) on the front, rear and gatefold covers.
Here’s a short extract from this disc to give you a feel for what it contains. John is asked about the direct nature of his lyrics on Plastic Ono Band. Is it something like Japanese Haiku poetry?
“This album is shibui!” he declares. Shibui refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. Like other Japanese aesthetics terms, it can apply to a wide variety of subjects, not just art or fashion (see Wikipedia).
There is a small amount of original music on the January 25, 1971 interview disc. At one point Yoko is busy speaking in Japanese to the interviewer while John Lennon in the background has obviously picked up an acoustic guitar and gently finger picks the melodies of ‘Sun King’ and then ‘Dear Prudence’. And at the very end of the press conference there is a short live version of ‘Give Peace A Chance’.
The interview on the second 10″ clear EP takes place in New York on September 2, 1971. Here they talk a lot more about Imagine as it has just been released, but John compares it to Plastic Ono Band, the LP which precedes it. Lennon says the Imagine album is more relaxed compared to Plastic Ono Band. And ‘Imagine’ the song, he says, has almost the the same story as the song ‘Working Class Hero’ from Plastic Ono Band, only ‘Imagine’ is expressed in a more “child-like” way.
Sound-wise he says he wanted Plastic Ono Band to be very spare, but this time (on Imagine) he wanted strings and saxophone, and to work using more musicians. The other contrast between the two LPs he makes is along the lines of: “Last year [when I made Plastic Ono Band] I had long hair and a beard. Now I’ve got short hair and no beard. So it’s like shaving. It’s a bit cleaner looking, more acceptable to people”.