Days In The Life – A Father and Son on a Beatles Tour

days-in-the-life_origAt first glance this Beatle book looks to be an unlikely coupling of two broad and un-related concepts: the places visited and lectures delivered across seven US states by professional Beatles music scholar Aaron Krerowitcz, all wrapped up as a road-trip journal by a father and son duo (the son being the aforementioned full-time Beatle expert, and his dad John, a retired journalist and keen bird-watcher).

While the overall approach is a touch quirky (birding and Beatles?), as a whole Days in the Life – A Father and Son Beatle Tour hangs together. Not only is it a charming tale of two blokes out on the road, it’s also a vehicle to deliver lots of interesting Beatle facts, observations, history and, importantly, the context of the band’s music and its continuing success – especially around the American experience of the Beatles.

It’s clear that as a former journalist, Aaron Krerowicz’s father John can write. The sections of the book he pens are engaging and relate not only his sometimes humorous bird-watching exploits across the course of their journey, but his ability to put some history into the book. John relates his generation’s first-hand experience of this group from Liverpool which formed such a lasting bond with US teenagers back then. It’s a bond that endures today.

Son Aaron meanwhile has youth and some solid graduate and post-graduate musical scholarship on his side. The fact that he is so young initially confounds some of the folks who come to listen to his library lectures. How could someone who was born fifteen years after the Beatles broke up be so knowledgable? They generally leave impressed.

Of course when you do book reviews it’s good to try to find out more about the author – and a popular chat forum turned up the following un-solicited recommendation from an avid  Beatle fan who attended one of Aaron’s library presentations (this time on the Sgt Pepper album):  “I came home last Thursday, picked up the paper and saw my local library was having a presentation on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper. I figured I would go – it’s close, it’s free, it’ll be fun. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to learn anything. I’ve been listening to, and reading about the Fabs for over 35 years at this point and this is a free program at the local library – how good is it really going to be? Probably some fan like me, who’s going to just tell you about the sound effects, John’s Mr. Kite poster, A Day In The Life being based on newspaper articles, and the run-out groove.

I was wrong, and very, very impressed. Aaron Krerowicz is a composer and music educator in his late 20s pursuing on-going Beatles study. In November 2011, Aaron won a research grant through the University of Hartford to explore connections between mid-Twentieth Century avant-garde art and the Beatles. His presentation covered most of the obvious stuff any Beatles nut would expect (which was extremely well researched and presented), but he also spoke to the music theory and composition behind the songs, which I found really enlightening. He presented clearly, and never spoke over people’s heads when discussing some of the more esoteric stuff, which is a real gift. He highlighted multi-tracks to isolate certain parts of the songs he was referring to, which was also really illuminating.

You’ve got to admit, that’s high praise.

Best bits from the book Days in the Life? Aaron’s writing on how he, a classical music aficionado, came to get so deeply into the Beatles in the first place. Anyone who can list The Beatles 1 album as a favourite alongside Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ and J.S.Bach’s violin concerti is OK with me. Also, his insights into particular songs – for example the genesis and recording of ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’, one of John Lennon’s best from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – make for interesting reading.

As far as the sections written by John Krerowicz, his recollections of witnessing that first, black and white, US TV performance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show bring a personal, family-level insight into what the broadcast meant cross-generationally in the United States. That, and his highly descriptive writing about the simple joy of travel and being out on the open highway, were highlights for me.

What didn’t work? The three pages of photographs of (admittedly) over-priced Dallas Cowboy merchandise in the club’s AT&T Stadium gift shop, the three pages of drawings from a family game of Telestrations, and an unnecessary joke about Michael Jackson. Otherwise, this is a great little book.

For more details about Aaron, his lecture schedule and other activities check out his website. Details about his other Beatle books can be found here, and for examples of Aaron’s Beatle scholarship, have a look at his video series  Beatles Minute – One Analytical Nugget in One Minute.

George Harrison – Behind The Locked Door Biography

Just got a copy today of George Harrison – Behind The Locked Door by Graeme Thomson and am taking it away on holiday this week to read. Looking forward to it immensely:george-harrison-biog Here’s a review from the Chicago Tribune.

Wingspan – More Unusual Variations

Since we published information on the Limited Edition version of Paul McCartney’s Wingspan – Hits and History CD collection last week, our friend Andrey in Russia has provided information about three more unusual and collectable versions.

The first is this Ukrainian release. Here’s the rear cover:ukraine2a

(click on any of the images to see larger versions)

And here are the two Ukrainian discs:ukraine1bVersion 2

Andrey also provided information on not one, but two very collectable Japanese variants:Version 2Version 3As you can see from the shots of the spines below these carry the same Japanese catalogue number and barcode:  wingspan-japan-spines-2versions-1

And both come with an additional booklet (written in Japanese and English). However, in one version this booklet is incorporated inside the slipcase (its white spine can be seen below), while the other version has the added booklet outside the slipcase (orange spine in the image below):wingspan-japan-spines-2versions

(click on any of the images to see larger versions)

The other main differences between these two releases are detailed further here (and in all pictures Version 1 is above, and Version 2 is below):

1) JAPANESE Version 1:
– the “hands” image on the front of the slipcase is printed (i.e. not holographic)
– slipcase in made in Japan
– additional booklet is inside the slip case
– The obi strip on the left hand side is a regular sized obi (i.e. small)
2) JAPANESE Version 2:
– the “hands” image on the front is the holographic image
– slipcase is made in the EU/UK                                                                                          – the additional Japanese/English booklet is outside the slip case
– the obi is large – it wraps right around and covers the entire rear of the outer slipcase

Another thing to note is that in Japan Wingspan – Hits and History contains an additional track to the rest of the world. It’s the song ‘Eat At Home’ and this can be found as track 19 on CD 1. (EU and US versions only have 18 songs on this disc).

Wingspan – Deluxe Limited Edition Version

When we were in the United States a while back we managed to pick up a nice copy of the standard edition of McCartney’s Wingspan – Hits and History two-CD retrospective compilation from 2001.

It was originally issued in a jewel case with an outer cardboard slipcase with a holographic front cover. Getting copies of this in good condition is difficult because the slipcase is often missing or damaged.

Then I learned that there was also a Limited Edition version of Wingspan – Hits and History released as well. It has the same two discs and running order of songs, but is packaged in a hard-back book that fits inside a similar but slightly larger outer slipcase, also with the hologram “hands” image on the front.

Well, we’ve finally secured a copy of the book version on eBay for a very reasonable price:wingspan-outer  The book inside looks like this:wingspan-book1wingspan-book2

The CDs sit in two clear plastic holders inside the front and rear covers:wingspan-book-insidewingspan-inside-2

It’s the same 22-page booklet inside. However, it is produced specifically for this set as it’s in a larger format to the standard CD booklet:

wingspan-inside-4wingspan-inside-3The standard CD set in the UK has the barcode number 7243 5 32876 2 7, while this limited edition set was made in the USA and has the catalogue number 7243 5 32943 2 8. It caries the Capitol and MPL logos on the cover and on the CDs.

wingspan-cd-1wingspan-cd-2

This set also had this sticker on the outside (which the previous owner very kindly kept and placed inside the book):

wingspan-sticker

Just by way of comparison, here’s the size difference between the standard and limited edition versions:wingspan-sizewingspan-cover-2

 

Eight Days A Week – Excitement Builds

On the day of the official launch of the new Beatle documentary film Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years, excitement is building.

This is the front page of the regular weekend lift-out in my local paper, The Sydney Morning Herald, today:img_2035img_2036

And this two-page article appeared in the paper’s Sunday edition two weeks ago:img_1928

Even The Big Issue, a great magazine that’s sold on the street in Australia to assist homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people, has been getting Beatle-happy:img_1925img_1926

We’re off to the Sydney premiere this evening and really looking forward to seeing what director Ron Howard has done. Reports so far suggest his film hits just the right note as far as satisfying die-hard Beatle fans as well as those new to the band.

Eight Days A Week – The Hulu Extracts

Hulu, which has the rights to show the new Ron Howard-directed Beatle film Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years, has begun uploading some extracts ahead of it being available to stream live from September 17.

There are five of these so far. First up is “How The Beatles Fought Segregation”:

Also, “When Paul Met John”:

A Whoopi Goldberg memory of seeing the Beatles at Shea Stadium:

The Beatles describe their writing process:

And a very fast fan summary of who they like best, and why:

Meanwhile, over at the official Eight Days A Week website there’s now a downloadable podcast featuring Giles Martin, the producer who supervised the audio for both the film and the new compact disc:

Of course, the best way to see Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years will be on the big screen in the cinema where, as a bonus, the film will be accompanied by screenings of a newly-restored version of The Beatles At Shea Stadium – 30 minutes of rare footage from the historic 1965 concert:

tbedawtty_beatles_caption-shea-stadium-copyright-subafilms-ltd

(Image copyright: Subafilms Ltd.)

 

Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years premieres in cinemas in the U.S. on September 16, in the U.K., France, Germany and Australia on September 15, and in Japan on September 22.

The Last Gig – Candlestick Park, 1966

Now on the official Beatles YouTube site:

“It was to be the last ticketed concert for the band, ever. This short film was recorded at the last major event at Candlestick Park in August 2014, Paul McCartney’s ’Farewell to Candlestick: The Final Concert’.

See the exclusive presentation of The Beatles 30 min performance Shea Stadium, only in theatres along with Ron Howard’s Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years. From September 15.”