McCartney’s ‘The Lyrics’ Wins British Book Award

Paul McCartney, no stranger to the odd prestigious award, has just won another.

His book The Lyrics:1956 to the Present has taken out the award for Best Non-Fiction Lifestyle book in the 2022 British Book Awards (otherwise known as The Nibbies):

Strangely Sir Paul’s acceptance speech (pre-recorded and played to the audience at the awards ceremony) could not be included in the YouTube clip.

Here’s some more info on the other books that were on the shortlist.

The judges wrote that The Lyrics was: “A work of art”; “a unique piece of publishing”; and a book that “belongs in a museum, not just our bookshelves.” They praised the two-volume set as a “fantastic visual diary”, singling out the original hand-written lyrics.

The book was supported by a free exhibition at the British Library and McCartney in Conversation at the Southbank Royal Festival Hall.

Publishers Allen Lane coordinated a global launch, simultaneously in 11 languages, attaining extensive broadsheet and radio coverage. Plus the book was released in multiple translations.

‘Live at the BBC’ – How a Fan Helped Make Beatle History

It’s reasonably well known in Beatle circles that when it came to compiling the 1994 album Live at the BBC (later re-issued in remastered form and accompanied by a second volume in 2013), Apple and EMI relied heavily on some previously unknown 1963 recordings made off the radio by a teenage fan named Margaret Ashworth.

Margaret was credited prominently in the liner notes of both. Here’s Volume 1:

And here are the credits for Volume 2:

Her name was there for all to see, and we knew she was the source of many songs and performances previously thought to be completely lost, or only available in very poor quality. But we didn’t really know the whole back story. She’s not even given a single mention in Kevin Howlett’s comprehensive book on the subject, The Beatles: the BBC Archives: 1962-1970.

Now, for the first time, Margaret Ashworth – a veteran journalist (now retired) who worked at the Daily Mail newspaper – has written extensively about just how she was able to come to the rescue of The Beatles and made a new release of their live radio performances possible.

Check out her Mail on Sunday article ‘How a besotted Beatles superfan who made amateur bedroom recordings of the band’s 1960s hits ended up with a personalised thank you on their hit BBC album three decades later‘, and also her personal music blog post on the subject ‘How I made a Beatles album (with a little help from my friends)‘. It covers similar ground but, goes into much more detail. They’re both great reads.

Realising that her homemade tapes were gold, the engineers at EMI immediately made seven sets of CDs of the full Pop Go The Beatles programs. They presented Margaret with one set:

When the album Live at the BBC was originally released in 1994, Margaret Ashworth says she could easily tell which of the tracks came from her tapes. Here’s one of them, ‘Ooh! My Soul’. It is the track the producers and engineers used to test the quality of her recordings when she first took them to the Abbey Road studios:

It’s so good to now have this story told in full, and by the Beatle fan who made it happen.

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.

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’.

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.

Origins of the ‘Revolver’ Cover Art

This collage detailing the source photos for Klaus Voormann’s legendary cover image for the Beatles’ 1966 release Revolver has been doing the rounds for a while but its worth returning to because it is awesome:

(Click on the image to enlarge) Those pictures with yellow circles are still being sought after. If you know, contact us in the comments section below.

There’s a great article on the genesis of the cover here. “Revolver was the first Beatles’ album that truly marked out the four distinct personalities of the group. Voormann’s illustration captures the band perfectly. Looking at it, you can see that the group is made up of four unique individuals, but they are also connected by kinship, a friendship and an affinity for one another. It is the perfect summation of the band’s relationship at that point in time.”

UPDATE: Thank you to reader Angel who sent us a link to the Dutch magazine Furore and the information that they did a major article on the Revolver cover. It really looks good.

For those interested the exact magazine issue is Furore No 22, from January 2012. and it appears that back-issues are still available to be purchased.

They pitch it as “an exhaustive ten-page story describes the genesis of Klaus Voormann’s iconic cover design of The Beatles’ Revolver album, now fifty years ago, and traces the source of each photograph used therein.”

You can see a teaser graphic on Furore’s back-issues page for the larger article that’s inside the magazine. It gives a hint of the detailed info they provide on the origins of the photographs that Klaus Voormann used. Here’s that teaser image:

Click on image to see a larger version.

And here are two pages from the article itself:

Again, click on the image to see a larger version.

Also, on Revolver, we’ve just discovered the very good I Am The Eggpod podcast. You really should have a listen. Check out the latest episode where host Chris Shaw and songwriter and musician Andy Bell discuss the1966 masterpiece.

The Fan Who Almost Threw a £10k Beatle Record Away

We love stories like this. This is the tale of a rare Beatle item that almost ended up as landfill. It comes from the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

A British man named Derek Plant was clearing out some records purchased by his late father at a car boot sale some 40 years ago when, by complete accident, he discovered an extremely rare Beatle acetate that no-one knew was there.

It was a recording of the song ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, made in September 1968. It’s an early take that is quite different to the one that eventually appeared on The White Album:

Back in the day acetate recordings were created at the studio when an artist wanted to take home an example of a song they were working on to listen to some more. They don’t stand up to many plays and are fairly fragile things. In this case an acetate was made for Paul McCartney.

How it came to be in that car boot sale box of records is unknown, but Derek was about to take it to the tip. Unbeknownst to him the rare disc was tucked away inside the cover of this children’s novelty record:

As he was packing his van the Ken Dodd and the Diddymen record just happened to fall out of the box, land on the driveway, and it was only then it revealed it’s Beatle treasure inside. The acetate had been hidden inside that record sleeve all along. Having been a Beatle collector for years, Derek knew immediately that he’d discovered something very special.

The acetate is now up for auction at Omega Auction House’s Beatles Auction in the UK where online bids close on September 28. It is Lot 100. The top estimate by Omega is for the 7″ disc to fetch £10,000 (that’s about US$13,800 or AUS$18,900).

It’s on the way to that figure. At the time of writing someone has already bid £5,000. Not bad for a record that was so very close to being literally thrown away.

‘McCartney 3, 2, 1’ is Coming to Hulu

Paul McCartney has just posted this on Instagram:

Seems the McCartney and Rick Rubin documentary series examining the former Beatles’ musical history has landed at Hulu.

It’ll be a fascinating six-part series that will launch on the streamer on July 16. News that two were working together on a documentary series first broke in December last year.

“Never before have fans had the opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share, in such expansive, celebratory detail, the experience of creating his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “To be an observer as Paul and Rick Rubin deconstruct how some of the biggest hits in music history came to be is truly enlightening. It is an honor that Paul chose to return to Hulu to share this one-of-a-kind series.”

For more detailed information see Deadline (which broke the original story), New Musical Express, or Rolling Stone.

A very Merry Christmas – from us to you

Wishing all our readers and followers the very best at this special time of year. Across 2020 we’ve shared our interest in collecting the Number 1 band in the world.

Despite these being very bleak times this has given us a lot of joy along the way.

To you and yours, stay safe. We wish you much happiness.

Here’s to a much brighter 2021!