Beatles’ Pop-up Radio Station for Abbey Road Anniversary

The Beatles and the BBC have announced a special 4-day pop-up radio station called Radio 2 Beatles as part of the celebrations around the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road.
Here’s the BBC press release:
BBC Radio 2 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album with RADIO 2 BEATLES, a four-day pop-up DAB radio station. It will feature programs fronted by Gary Barlow, John Bishop, Martin Freeman, Guy Garvey, Dave Grohl, Giles Martin, Cerys Matthews, Paul Merton and many more.

Broadcasting from Thursday 26 to Sunday 29 September from London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios, the station will honour John, Paul, George and Ringo as a group, and as individual artists, and as songwriters. All the live shows on Radio 2 Beatles will come direct from Abbey Road – with some also simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds – and broadcast alongside pre-recorded specials and classic Beatle content from the unique BBC archive.

All programs featured on Radio 2 Beatles will be available to listen to on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2 says: “The Beatles are woven into the fabric of UK culture. They inspired and continue to inspire artists of all generations and created some of the world’s most loved music. As their seminal album Abbey Road is 50 years old, I am delighted that Radio 2 is celebrating the Fab Four with a four-day pop-up DAB radio station.”

Programme highlights include We Write The Songs, where Gary Barlow interviews Paul McCartney about the music, where Paul discusses how The Beatles only began writing because other bands were stealing their act, and describing how he’s stayed at the top of the music business for six decades.

In the series My Beatles, Dave Grohl, Jack Savoretti and Tom Odell talk about the influence the Fab Four’s music had on them; across the daily series I Was There, the likes of Tony Blackburn and radio critic Gillian Reynolds talk about what it was really like being part of the swinging Sixties, whilst Martin Freeman presents the story of The White Album across two shows.

6 Music Breakfast and Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne presents Desert Island Beatles, featuring the many guests who’ve selected one of their group or solo records, as a must-have track, plus Liza Tarbuck meets pop-artist and Sgt. Pepper sleeve designer Sir Peter Blake, while Jimmy Tarbuck hosts an hour of novelty versions of hit Beatle songs.

Gary Barlow says: “It was an absolute honour that Paul McCartney, one of my true heroes and a legendary songwriting genius, agreed to talk in depth about his work for my Radio 2 series We Write The Songs. This particular episode really is a masterclass from the master! I am thrilled to launch my first series on the network as part of Radio 2 Beatles, which sounds like it is going to be four days of unmissable radio.”

Simulcast on Radio 2 and BBC Sounds, and broadcasting live from Abbey Road studios on Thursday morning, Radio 2 Beatles will be launched by Ken Bruce whose show will feature a special Beatle themed Tracks Of My Years and PopMaster quiz (9.30am-12pm). Later that day, Jo Whiley will present her Radio 2 evening show live from Abbey Road with live performances and very special guests (7pm-9pm). On the Friday, the day kicks off with The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, with a special Friends Round Friday (6.30am-9.30am) including music from Rick Astley.

Later that day, Sara Cox is joined by the listeners for a Beatles All Request Friday (5pm-7pm), and that evening Friday Night Is Music Night presents The Beatles Orchestrated. Guy Garvey will be hosting, with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a guest list of artists, including Cerys Matthews, Katie Melua, Level 42’s Mark King, alongside Guy himself, all performing songs from across the Beatles catalogue (8pm-10pm). On the Saturday morning Dermot O’Leary presents his show live from Abbey Road (8am-10am), followed by an extra hour exclusive to the Pop-Up, where Dermot speaks to writer Richard Curtis about his recent film Yesterday (10am-11am).

Other shows exclusive to Radio 2 Beatles include Grace Dent presenting Hip to the Trip focussing on free love, fashion and The Fab Four, while Nicky Campbell discusses the crucial role played by the band’s producer Sir George Martin, with his son Giles. Actor Himesh Patel, the star of the movie Yesterday, tells the incredible story behind Abbey Road – the band’s last recorded album – in a new two-part special and songwriter Guy Chambers looks at the genius of their lyrics and melody.

Craig Charles uncovers some of the BBC’s incredible archive audio, and Paul Merton takes to the imaginary stage to introduce The Beatles Fantasy Concert, featuring the ultimate collection of live performances recorded by The Beatles as a band and as solo artists. Scott Mills takes us on an alphabetical trip through the Beatles back catalogue, Paul Gambaccini tells the musical story from the other side of the Atlantic, and Tris Penna presents a four-part series charting each of the Fab Four’s individual music careers and most memorable albums.

Radio 2 Beatles has also commissioned a special chart from the Official Charts Company – The Beatles Downloaded: Official UK Top 60, will be revealed across the Saturday and Sunday afternoons (5-7pm) with Janice Long and Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Greg James counting down the most downloaded and streamed Beatle songs in the UK. Plus Steve Wright presents a special Beatles Love Songs, Trevor Nelson playing classic soul Beatles’ covers in Rubber Soul, Radio 1’s Alice Levine explores the Fab Four’s various musical pairings, and Country Covers with Ben Earle, from country band The Shires, features Fab Four tracks covered by country artists.

From the BBC archive Radio 2 Beatles will be broadcasting When John Met Paul with Bob Harris, Radio 4’s Mastertapes with Paul McCartney, and Sgt. Pepper Recreated, recorded in 2007 and featuring performances from Oasis, Bryan Adams, and Kaiser Chiefs.

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More ABC Radio Beatle LP Podcasts

Back in 2014 the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) began hosting an ongoing series celebrating the 50th anniversary release of each British Beatle LP.

As each album marks its anniversary ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn speaks to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert Jude Southerland Kessler. Jude is the author of the extraordinary (and ambitious!) nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest instalment in Jude’s amazing series was released late last year – Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details scroll down after clicking).

Well, after a bit of a break, the pair are back. In October last year they took a look back at both sides of the original Yellow Submarine album:

Then came the big one, The Beatles (or The White Album) 50th Anniversary. It took Jude and host Rod Quinn some time to work through all four sides of the legendary album on air, but they’ve put the results together in one, long podcast:

They also talked through highlights of The Esher Demos bonus disc that came with 50th Anniversary release of The White Album last year:

Each of these podcasts are very insightful – and really are well worth a listen.

Previous broadcasts/podcasts have covered Please Please MeWith the BeatlesA Hard Day’s NightBeatles For Sale and of course, Help! – in two parts: Side One here, and Side Two here.

You can hear Rod and Jude talk about Rubber Soul; Revolver; and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by clicking here.

Great New Beatle-related Movie – “Yesterday”

Imagine you woke up one day and there were no Beatles.

No one you speak to has ever heard of them, and there are no references to the band or their songs online, in music stores, libraries, or anywhere. But….you can remember them clearly, and you know how to play their songs.

That’s the premise of an interesting new comedy movie coming out later this year called Yesterday. It comes from Danny Boyle (who directed Slum Dog Millionaire and Trainspotting), and Richard Curtis (the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually).

Jack (played by Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter who dreams of making it big, but his career is going nowhere. His biggest supporter is his best friend, Ellie (Lily James). Then, something mysterious happens. During some sort of global electrical blackout, Jack gets hit by a bus and wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Only thing is, he remembers them clearly, starts to perform their songs, and from there things really start to get interesting….

Yesterday looks like it will be real fun for Beatle fans. It is due in movie theatres on June 28.

The Music of Destiny Volume 1 – Sold Out Already

We have been on an email waiting list for about six months to be alerted to when the official vinyl release of The Music of Destiny – Volume 1 would once more become available.

That email finally came in this morning, stating that the 6-disc Collectors Edition Vinyl Box Set was now back in the Bungie online store. As Paul McCartney fans will know, he contributed to the soundtrack behind their video game called Destiny.

When we first clicked through the set was definitely showing an “Add To Cart” button. But when we clicked through again about two hours later, the Bungie order page was once more listing it as “Sold Out”. Strange.

There are two main McCartney contributions to The Music of Destiny. He shares a joint composing credit with Martin O’Donnell for the instrumental passages used throughout the game. This is called ‘Music of the Spheres’. Plus there was a new song recorded specifically for the game to accompany the extensive closing credits – much like those at the end of a movie. That song is called “Hope For the Future” and is produced by Giles Martin. The song was recorded at Abbey Road, and at Sir Paul’s own Hog Hill Mill studio in East Sussex, England.

The ‘Hope For The Future’ song (in a number of versions) was subsequently officially issued by McCartney himself as a 180 gram, 12″ vinyl extended single – this was way back in January, 2015.

Then, as some will know, about Christmas time last year, two fans took matters into their own hands and unofficially released their own compilation of the soundtrack to the video game. They also called this Music of the Spheres, and this was distributed on the web as a download.

Bungie finally came good with a limited physical vinyl box set released (we think – it’s a bit vague) in around June this year, though this wasn’t widely publicised. It’s the same 6-disc set linked to above. It too quickly sold out, and the email notification sign-up offer for news about when it would be back in print was made.

Now it seems The Music of Destiny – Volume 1 was briefly made available again for a few days but is once more sold out……

You can however still order a digital download of Destiny – The Official Soundtrack:

The Complete Beatles Songs – The Stories Behind Every Track Written by The Fab Four

Here’s a nice little Christmas stocking-filler for you.

If you’re on the lookout for a decent Beatle book this holiday season, you should consider The Complete Beatles Songs – The Stories Behind Every Track Written by The Fab Four. It is written by the respected music writer, Steve Turner, and has just been re-published in a paperback format:

This book has actually been around in a couple of different forms and editions dating back as far as 1994.

You might know it as A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song, and over the years more than 440,000 copies have been sold. That’s because when it was first released the book was a first of its kind, a definitive examination of Beatle lyrics all gathered together in one complete package.

And this is why it has stayed in print, and why it is regularly updated and re-issued with new information as it comes to hand, and as new titles in the Beatles discography are added. It has been expanded considerably over the years with new findings added, and it has jettisoned some false information along the way too.

The book’s purpose is the definitive analysis of the words of the songs. It includes the full lyrics to each, and details why, how and where the recordings were created. The meaning behind each song is explored, as are the characters, places and themes. It is richly illustrated throughout too.

Steve Turner is a journalist, biographer and poet who writes about music, and has done so for a wide range of publications over many years. He’s the author of a number of books, and in 2016 wrote the critically acclaimed Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year.

As he writes in the Introduction to The Complete Beatles Songs, “More than forty years since the band stopped playing, those songs still mean something to us. They are like old friends who we met when we were young and who made life a little more exciting and easier to cope with. Because of what they did for us, we heave great affection for them. It is because we hold such affection for them that it makes sense to find out where they came from”.

So, maybe your old copy of Steve Turner’s original is getting a bit dog-eared and beaten-up, or you just want to get this latest, updated edition, or maybe this will be your very first copy of this essential book. Either way, The Complete Beatles Songs should find it’s place in every serious Beatle collector’s library.

The edition shown here was re-issued in paperback by Carlton Books in October this year.(As usual, click on the images for larger versions)

McCartney ‘Wild Life’ and ‘Red Rose Speedway’ Unboxings

We all greatly appreciate the many fans putting up “unboxing” videos of the latest Beatle and solo releases.

But Paul McCartney has gone one better by inviting the writers who contributed the main essays to his latest Paul McCartney Archive Collection deluxe edition reissues, Wings Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, to talk through what they think of each album and in the process unpack the contents for us. Brilliant stuff.

First up is David Fricke, senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine who penned the Wild Life essay:

And then Amanda Petrusich, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine who wrote the essay that accompanies Red Rose Speedway: