Sunday, 24 May 2015

The live Temporary Secretary

The Temporary Secretary 12" single

"Paul finally plays his biggest hit live!"
- YouTube uploader Paul Eggleton


When Paul McCartney played his song "Temporary Secretary" live in London last night, it was a dream come true for many younger McCartney's fans - and of far greater importance than Dave Grohl guesting a McCartney stage again for "I Saw Her Standing There". Paul was on his Höfner bass guitar for "Temporary Secretary". A friend of mine, a Beatles fan who grew up in the nineties who went to the concert, immediately texted me when the song was performed - an indication of how important this was to him. The song has been described by Rolling Stone magazine as a cult favourite, and an "oddly catchy electro-pop nugget, about a slightly creepy-sounding guy looking to hire a temp."  It ranked 36 on their list of all-time Paul McCartney post-Beatles songs, while at the same time it placed at 7 on their list of the 12 weirdest McCartney songs. On that list, they described it thusly: "An insane highlight of McCartney II. It's got a classic McCartney melody and lyric – set over bleeping music that could be drawn from an 8-bit Nintendo game. It sounds like McCartney is trying to simultaneously invent drum and bass and They Might Be Giants."

The song was released on the highly experimental, yet strangely popular "McCartney II" album in 1980. At the time, record companies weren't sure what to do with the new 12" single format - basically it was a single in the same size as an album - and experimentation with the format followed. After a while, it was established that the format could be used to feature an extended mix of the song from the regular 7" disc, but this use of the format had yet to come. Meanwhile, the 12" size singles could well be stand alone releases on their own. "Temporary Secretary" was such a release, a 12" single only. The single was limited to 25,000 copies and therefore failed to chart - not a big hit by any standard. Not all copies of the single had a picture sleeve, some just had a standard black sleeve. A 7" single exists only as a demo for radio stations. I desperately wanted to get that 12" single back in 1980, but I was unsuccessful at the time - I don't think it was released here in Norway at all. I did manage to find a copy a year or two after its release, when a guy on the other side of town sold his record collection. The reason why I needed the single was both because it had a great picture sleeve, and because the B-side, the 10+ minutes long "Secret Friend" was not released anywhere else. Contemporary Beatles biographers Roy Carr and Tony Tyler describe "Secret Friend" as sounding like "the unobtrusive soundtrack to ten minute second feature on alpaca-combing in Peru."

Part of the Parlophone R-series, it had the catalogue number 12 R 6039. "McCartney II" was a vanity project for Paul, an outlet for his more experimental side. The album was initially not intended for release at all, but he used to play a cassette copy to his friends. The title "Paul McCartney goes to far" comes to mind, I guess. After his friends had urged him to release it, he cut down the double album's length by chucking out the most experimental tracks, and then released it as a single album. The original double album was later released unofficially as a bootleg. Two of the songs that were removed from the album line-up appeared as B-sides to singles, "Check My Machine" was the B-side to "Waterfalls". "McCartney II" was his first album after Wings, and even though he did intend to keep the band going after this, it wasn't to be. Paul McCartney handles the vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards and drums on "Temporary Secretary".

The back cover - photo from the shooting of the "Waterfalls" music video.
"It's like a disposable secretary, and it struck me as being funny. The song is written from the point of view of a fellow who just wants a disposable secretary, and he's writing to a bureau to try and get one. I just like the idea. I just thought it was funny, you know, asking for a temporary secretary rather than a secretary."

"That sound on the track, which is like a space typewriter, is a sequence machine. I used that to give me a tempo and, again, I just made the song up as I went along. It was a little influenced by Ian Dury." - Paul McCartney.

The "Mr Marks" in the lyrics would have been very familiar to brits, because the Alfred Marks recruitment agency used to have posters on the streets and in shop windows, advertising temporary and permanent staff to a wide range of job sectors. I remember seeing such posters when I first visited London in 1982. I only took notice of them because of the "Temporary Secretary" reference. To McCartney, this was a joke - because a radio comedian when McCartney grew up was also called Alfred Marks. "It was just the funny paradox of seeing adverts for the Alfred Marks Bureau, the idea of some comedian having a bureau was just funny." The Alfred Marks Bureau was sold to Adecco in 1983.

"I did have temporary secretaries. After I left Apple I still had business stuff coming up, so in trying to figure out how I could cope with that there were a couple of times I just grabbed someone to just put my letters in order and help. But that track isn't about a specific person. It said 'Temporary Secretary', and I thought, that's a kind of funky thought. Then there was the secretary thing: take a letter Miss Smith, sit on my lap... all that kind of stuff." - Paul McCartney, The Quietus, 2011

Contemporary Beatles biographers Roy Carr and Tony Tyler describe "Temporary Secretary" as being built from an initial, repetitive synthesizer theme, with more substantial instrumental portions added over time, and finally an insubstantial vocal. They complain that the song was done without commitment and that it "grows irritating towards the end."

In 2011, reviewing the McCartney Archive  reissue of McCartney II, music website popmatters.com said:

"Temporary Secretary” is a manic, futuristic laser blast with an actual melody simmering underneath. It would be pointless to compare it to anything McCartney had ever done before, and would be equally so to compare it to anyone else as it couldn’t possibly be anyone else. More than any other song on either eponymous album, “Temporary Secretary” illustrates the complex nature of Paul McCartney’s musical output."

The song is probably much more popular in Great Britain and Europe than in the USA. In 2014 "Temporary Secretary" was ranked the 167th greatest song of all time by critics of NME magazine. They described it as "wonky electro-pop that didn't sound so much ahead of its time as out of it altogether."

In 2003, a limited edition (500 copies) re-edit of "Temporary Secretary" by Radio Slave was released on Parlophone as a promo only, with the catalogue number TEMPSEC 01. To help promote a CD (or 2-disc vinyl) collection going by the title New Religion presents A Secret History, where the regular version of "Temporary Secretary" was included, Paul McCartney authorized remix master and deejay Matt Edwards, alias Radio Slave, to create an extended dance mix of “Temporary Secretary” for release as a promotional-only 12-inch single in December 2003. The one-sided single sports the classic black Parlophone label and is the only release of Radio Slave’s nearly seven and a half minute mix of the song. All the copies were numbered and distributed mainly to a few radio stations in Europe, as a Christmas gift. In June 2004, a various artists compilation was put together by Uncut magazine titled Something For The Weekend – Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury Groove. This CD contained - among other things - a shorter (6:20) edit of the Radio Slave mix of “Temporary Secretary”.

Label of the rare 2003 re-edit of "Temporary Secretary"
The release may have been a contributing factor to the 2004 McCartney European tour rumour among the fans about "Temporary Secretary" being included in the set list. However, the song was only featured in the pre-concert music mix. DJ Freelance Hellraiser (Roy Kerry) performed a half hour set prior to the concerts, in which the Kerry remixed various McCartney tracks into unusual and often unrecognizable forms, one of which was "Temporary Secretary". After the tour, a double vinyl album, "Twin Freaks" was released in June 2005 with more of these mixes, and a 4:12 version of "Temporary Secretary" was featured. All these revisits of the song considered, it's actually quite strange that Paul has kept it out of his live set until now.

Recently, McCartney's keyboard player Paul "Wix" Wickens was heard rehearsing the basic track of the song at a soundcheck, which rekindled McCartney's fan's hopes to get to hear the song performed live - and yesterday they were finally rewarded at London's O2 Arena.

Here is a YouTube upload of the faithful first live performance - and another uploader describes it as "Paul finally plays his biggest hit live!". I understand that sentiment. To a younger McCartney fan, the live performance of "Temporary Secretary" is far more important than the inclusion of another hitherto unplayed Beatles track. For the regular concertgoer, it's a likely bathroom break. Still, the great audience reaction to the song was proof that there were lots of appreciative McCartney fans at the O2 Arena, and I do hope he keeps it in the set list, at least until the European tour finishes. A film has been made to play on the big screen behind the band while the song is played, so that's a good sign. The film has green line drawings of the typical secretary's work equipment on a black background, 8-bit style and pics of temps.



Sources:
Wikipedia
Rolling Stone magazine
Happy Nat's Rare Beatles

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Checking out the roof

New photo © Apple Corps Ltd.
The Beatles' Facebook page has published this hitherto unseen photo of Paul, Ringo, Mal Evans, Kevin Harrington and some unidentified people checking out the roof of the Apple building at 3 Savile Row to determine if it's fit as a stage for them to play their final concert. This comes in addition to this earlier released photo.

Previously published © Apple Corps Ltd.
Looks like the camera man is checking out angles from which to film. It'd be nice if the publication of these photos are signs of The Beatles' company working on the "Let It Be" movie.

Friday, 22 May 2015

OxTango to release Kinfauns demos

OxTango Music: Esher Sketching
OxTango Music, who previously released Star Club, Live Vol. 1-3, and Get Back nagra tapes have announced that they are about to release "Esher Sketching – the Kinfauns White Album Demos". The collection comprises the complete home demo recordings The Beatles made at George Harrison’s "Kinfauns" estate in Esher, Surrey in May, 1968.

Considered by many to be an alternate "unplugged" version of the White Album, the Esher demos are unique not only for offering stripped-down, acoustic versions of songs that would later be rocked up and/or more elaborately arranged in their White Album incarnations, but also several rarities never formally recorded by the band. But even more than that, there’s a pervasive spirit of fun and relaxed joy in their collaborative music-making here that would be all too rare in their final working years as a unit. The collection is to feature the 27 available recordings newly re-mastered, and is due out in mid June.



The company has also started a new blog – "Vintage Re-masters" – where you can hear source and remaster audio comparison clips for all the tracks included.

Vintage Re-masters

The 27 songs believed to have been taped at Kinfauns were recorded on Harrison's Ampex four-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, a fact that he mentioned in an early nineties interview with Musician magazine. They were mostly grouped together by the composer of each song, although John Lennon's songs were more scattered across the day. They were most likely taped in this order:

  1. Cry Baby Cry - with a different intro and ending from the album version
  2. Child Of Nature - unreleased, but later became Jealous Guy with a new set of lyrics
  3. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - the other Beatles make animal noises
  4. I'm So Tired - with a slightly different spoken passage
  5. Yer Blues - John Lennon is 'insecure' rather than 'suicidal'
  6. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey - far less frenetic than the studio version
  7. What's The New Mary Jane - included on Anthology 3
  8. Revolution 1 - lacks the 'you say you'll change the constitution' verse
  9. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - with different lyrics in places
  10. Circles - unreleased by The Beatles
  11. Sour Milk Sea - unreleased by The Beatles
  12. Not Guilty - a studio version is included on Anthology 3, but the Esher demo is different.
  13. Piggies - rather than 'eat their bacon', the piggies 'cut their pork chops'
  14. Julia - in a higher key and with the verses in a different order
  15. Blackbird - with a double-tracked vocal, no break, a slightly slower tempo
  16. Rocky Raccoon - shorter, without the opening and final verses
  17. Back In The USSR - lacks the final verse
  18. Honey Pie - released on Anthology 3, with the final verse edited out
  19. Mother Nature's Son - without the guitar intro of the studio version
  20. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - with a double-tracked vocal from Paul McCartney
  21. Junk - included on Anthology 3
  22. Dear Prudence - with a spoken ending and double-tracked vocals
  23. Sexy Sadie
  24. Happiness Is A Warm Gun - lacks the intro and the final section
  25. Mean Mr Mustard - his sister is called Shirley, not Pam
  26. Polythene Pam - slightly different chords; 'well it's a little absurd but she's a nice class of bird'; the verses are repeated
  27. Glass Onion - with double-tracked gobbledygook from Lennon
Most of the recordings were widely bootlegged, although the release of Anthology 3 resulted in previously-unheard demos of the four final songs. The seven Kinfauns demos included on Anthology 3 - licensed to Apple by George Harrison - were also of a better quality than the bootlegs.

It is possible that not all of the demos were recorded at Kinfauns, and it has been speculated that some were recorded alone by the songs' composers. Alternatively, previously-made recordings may have been brought to Harrison's house for overdubbing, but, again, this is far from clear.

Of the songs unreleased by The Beatles in 1968, perhaps the best known is Child Of Nature. This was inspired by a Maharishi Mahesh Yogi lecture, and was lyrically similar to Mother Nature's Son. Lennon later reused the melody for 1971's Jealous Guy.

What's The New Mary Jane was based around a nursery rhyme-style melody, and in the studio became one of Lennon's first avant garde compositions. It remained unreleased until Anthology 3, despite Lennon's various attempts to have it released by The Beatles or the Plastic Ono Band.

Two of Lennon's songs, Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam, were held back until 1969's Abbey Road, when they became part of the 'long medley'.

Just one of Paul McCartney's songs - Junk - was unreleased by The Beatles, although they returned to it during the Get Back sessions in early 1969. It eventually found a home on McCartney's first solo album.

Harrison fared less well, with three of the five demos failing to be included on the White Album. A studio version of Not Guilty should have appeared on that record, although it was eventually included on Anthology 3. Circles, meanwhile, wasn't issued until Harrison's 1982 solo album Gone Troppo.

Sour Milk Sea was subsequently given to Apple recording artist Jackie Lomax. It was his debut single later in 1968, produced by Harrison with McCartney on bass and Ringo Starr on drums.

It isn't known whether any of The Beatles' wives or girlfriends were present, although a female voice may be discernible on Revolution 1. Mal Evans and Derek Taylor are also addressed by the group on the bootleg recordings, and may have contributed.

The demo songs were mono mixed by Harrison, with copies given to each Beatle. The general public first heard them in the late 1980s as part of the Lost Lennon Tapes radio series, and 23 had entered general circulation by the early 1990s.

Source: The Beatles Bible

In a recent Daily Mail article, then 19-year-old Beatles fan Michael Herring tells a story about attending an Esher demo session on May 28, 1968 where Paul McCartney was the only Beatle not present.

Phone interview with Paul



Paul McCartney is interviewed by BBCs Matt Everitt before the upcoming London concerts.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Meet the Threetles

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and David Letterman (Photo: Jay Johnson/Worldwide Pants)
Here's an interesting story from a former segment producer for David Letterman, Daniel Kellison:

There was a standing offer of $500 from Dave to anyone who booked a Beatle on the show. In 1989, Morty (Robert "Morty" Morton, the show’s executive producer) booked Ringo Starr and went to Dave to collect his money. Dave told him, "Ringo doesn’t count."

I really wanted to book Paul McCartney — and actually had a connection. My first four years on the show, my girlfriend and I were sharing a two-story duplex apartment on Morton Street with another friend and his girlfriend, Louise Eastman, who was Paul’s niece. I’d also become somewhat close to Paul’s daughters, Stella and Mary — and subsequently became friendly with Paul. But one night at dinner I had also witnessed a woman we were eating with ask Paul for a picture, and he had very gracefully declined, telling her, "Either you are a friend or a fan. You decide, dear, but you can’t be both." I loved Paul, and being a kid from a small town in Vermont, I couldn’t help but be in awe any time I was in his presence. And Paul was every bit as personable and warm as he appears in interviews. Quick with a story or a song (which always made everyone just stop cold — because this was, instantly, the coolest moment of everyone’s life), he was very eager to talk music or anything else.

So, ambivalently, I decided I was going to try to book Paul — but I didn’t want to ask him directly. I wanted to remain "a friend." So instead I struck up a "professional" relationship with his affable publicist, Geoff Baker. And I’ll cut to the chase here — it never happened. But I did get a cool story out of it. While in London, we were staying at a Sheraton in Knightsbridge. I had arranged to meet up with Stella and Mary, and they told me to meet them at the Hyde Park Hotel, which was across the street. So I was waiting in the lobby, and Morty — who, by coincidence, was staying in the same swanky hotel — came in and saw me, and gave me a look like "What the f*ck are you doing in here?"
I said I was meeting a couple of friends and left it at that. We talked for a couple of minutes — and then all a sudden Morty’s face turned sheet-white: "Holy f*ck, look at that …" And out of the elevator came Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney with Stella and Mary. Stella and Mary waved to me. I waved back, and then from Paul came the hearty hello: "Dan the Man!" Morty looked at me like I was from Mars. And then I got to introduce Morty to Paul — and we both got to meet Yoko and all the remaining Beatles. And I realize there’s basically no way to write this story without it sounding like a complete brag, but it was definitely one of the coolest moments in my career. And in the end, I may have never booked Paul, but, for that moment, I was perfectly content to be more friend than fan.

Source: http://grantland.com/features/my-letterman-years/

Identifying Revolver cover photographers

Who took all these photos? Help solve the puzzle!
I have had a message from Ken Orth, who are working together with Piet Schreuders to identify the photographers who took the photos used by Klaus Voormann for the "Revolver" cover. Amazingly, they have managed to identify the names of the photographers for all but two of the photos – one of Ringo and one of John. The images in question are these:

John

Ringo
Can you help them to find out who took these photos? Bonus points if you can tell them the source where each photo was published (other than on the "Revolver" cover, of course), when and where each was taken, and the purpose of each. Use the comments section to share your information, or send me a mail if you're unable to comment in public.
When they have solved this puzzle, a full list of the photos and sources will be published. The search is on!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Ultimate Ed Sullivan DVD Collection - a review

TMOQ Gazette Volume 20: The Ultimate Ed Sullivan DVD Collection 
This offering from the underground label HMC collects all the Beatles appearances on the famous Ed Sullivan Shows in USA, both when they appeared in person, as well as when they sent greetings in the form of promotional music videos to be shown.
The image and sound of the first appearance on February 9 in New York City is crisp and clean, some video artifact lines are visible here and there, but these are also present on the official releases.
Ed Sullivan was used as a way to tie together the Anthology TV series narration in the mid nineties, every so often he would pop up and introduce the Beatles throughout the series.

Next up is the rehearsal (audience present) for the appearance on the 16th of February at the Deauville Hotel in Miami. The quality is not quite as crisp as the former, but it's still more than good enough and wouldn't look out of place on a commercial release. In general, the audio has been remastered for this release. For the second part of the rehearsal performance, Paul's microphone is not switched on for half the opening number, I Saw Her Standing There, and he can mainly be heard by John's microphone catching some of his vocals.
John does his cripple routine, something that was dropped for the performance that was actually broadcast. The sound disappears for a while during Ed's outro of the group.

Third show, but actually the first.
Next up is the third appearance on February 23, which was actually pre-recorded on February 9, before their first live appearance. Great quality.

Ed interviews The Beatles for the May 1964 show.
The next item is from 24 May, 1964 and features a short interview Ed conducted with the boys on the set of "A Hard Day's Night" in London, as well as an outtake from the film of The Beatles miming to You Can't Do That. An original cigarette advert for Kent is included, in a bit worse quality than the rest of the item. Ed's interview with the Beatles is crisp and clean, although the sound is a bit muffled. This is probably what it originally sounded like, and is just how Ed's single microphone captured the talk. "You Can't Do That" is decidedly better here than the version included with last year's remastered release of the "A Hard Day's Night" film.

The 1965 show.
Pre-recorded the night before The Beatles were to play Shea Stadium, the next appearance was broadcast on 12 September, 1965. Still in black and white, the show switched to colour just after the Beatles had been guesting. The black and white images are crisp and clean and rendered great on my modern day flat screen LED TV, surely much better than what the TV audience saw in 1965.

Next up is something we haven't seen before: some rehearsal footage from the 1965 show. It starts with Ed introducing the upcoming show, The Beatles start performing Help! under the credits, some rewinding of the tape, Ed comes on again for another take of his speech, Lipton and Kent commercials while The Beatles are playing Help! and Dick Van Dyke interrupts to announce his own show. This appears to be another take of Help! where John doesn't mess up his lyrics as much as on the released take. It fades before it is finished. The quality is quite okay, but the interruptions by commercials are making this a not so entertaining tidbit as it could have been. DVD 1 ends here.

DVD 2 start with the actual broadcast of the Miami 1964 show, on DVD1 we just saw the rehearsal. The show is presented complete and uncut, which means we get to see all the other acts too, as well as the commercials, Lipton and Kent included. The image quality is as good as it gets, but the sound is a bit less crisp than on the previous DVD. some audio improvement can be detected during the Beatles' performances.

In 1966, the Beatles recorded an introduction for the Ed Sullivan Show of their recent promotional videos for Paperback Writer and Rain. The colour Abbey Road studio videos were especially filmed with the Ed Sullivan Show in mind, since Britain had yet to commence broadcasting in colour. This introduction was also included in the Anthology TV series, followed by a mixture of Paperback Writer videos. For the video cassette, laser disc and DVD versions of Anthology, the videos were substituted for the newly discovered Chiswick Park colour videos for these songs. On this DVD, we get to see the videos that were actually broadcast on the Ed Sullivan Show. These were also recently posted on DailyMotion.

The 1966 show.
In 1967, the Beatles just sent in one of their videos for Hello Goodbye and left the introduction to Ed. It was the "Pepper suits" video that was broadcast on the show, and it's presented here without the faux black-and-white-goes-into-colour version that was used on Anthology. The 1966 and 1967 shows in colour are not as crisp as the earlier black and white shows, but the Hello Goodbye promo film seems to be from another source and is of a much better quality than Ed's intro, probably as good as we have ever seen it. However, the quality drops noticably for the Maori finale, which is shown as it was in the Ed Sullivan Show, complete with audience reaction.

The Pepper suits version of Hello Goodbye
The 24 pages gazette is all about the Ed Sullivan Shows and includes a bio on Ed himself. Illustrated with photos throughout, we can only question the inclusion of a Top of The Pops 1966 rehearsal photo, which seems out of place in this context. Also included are some ads for the McCartney fronted "Meat free Monday" concept, a "War Is Over" slogan and a one page ad for the Imagine No Hunger charity, which is supported by the estate of John Lennon. Transcriptions from the Beatles' interview after having arrived back in London after their first U.S. visit, a second interview for BBC's "Grandstand" and their press conference at JFK airport on February 7 are also included.

All in all, all you need from the Ed Sullivan shows in the best quality to date.

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Long and Winding Road documentary - a review

TMOQ Gazette from HMC: The Long And Winding Road
The new releases from HMC was in the mailbox this morning, and I have had a first look at the one that interested me the most.

As a video collector ever since I got my first video cassette recorder back in 1981, Neil Aspinall's "The Long and Winding Road" has been a documentary film we only ever heard about and never got to see. The film eventually evolved into the "Beatles Anthology" TV-series, video cassettes and DVD collection, a far better product than it's starting point. Still, finally getting to watch it was a hoot, but it must be said that the clips used in the documentary were of a quality very much similar to "The Compleat Beatles" documentary from 1982, or worse – we are now accustomed to much better qualities of the same film clips in projects like "The Beatles' First U.S. Visit" and the afore mentioned "Beatles Anthology". Not to mention the sound, Neil's film seems to have the unprocessed sound from the clips the film was assembled from.

Like "Beatles Anthology", Neil's film relies on interviews with the Beatles instead of narration, but for the Anthology Paul, George and Ringo were allowed to comment in hindsight and included interviews with Neil himself and producer George Martin as well as archive interviews with John Lennon.  Here's a rundown of the "Long and Winding Road" film, as presented on this new underground release from HMC.

The opening is from the "Yellow Submarine" cartoon. "Some Other Guy" from the Cavern Club is up next, with Brian Epstein talking over it. The Beatles in Liverpool from "The Mersey Sound", doing "Love Me Do" is next up – with interviews of George, John, Paul and Ringo from that same film. "From Me To You" is played, illustrated with clips of the Beatles departing and arriving at airports and fans in the streets. "The Beatles Come To Town" offers "She Loves You" and "Twist and Shout" with a lot of audience noise. Arriving in New York at JFK airport, we get a little bit from the press conference, and get in the limousine with the Beatles listening to their portable Pepsi radio. Some footage from the Maysles brothers' documentary "What's Happening: The Beatles in the USA" is shown, and we get an incomplete "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from the Ed Sullivan Show, before we board the train to Washington D.C. The Washington press conference is intercut with footage from the concert at the Coliseum (just setting up, no performance), and we leave America to arrive back in London. The airport interview follows, before we go to next year's Blackpool concert for George's introduction of "Yesterday", which we get in full. Back to 1964 and a clip from "Around The Beatles" show the Beatles in Shakespearian costumes in parts of the "Midsummer Night's Dream" sketch. We now get a three way split screen with the concert portion of "Around The Beatles" in the lower screen, whereas the two upper screens show the Beatles on tour in various countries, Jimmy Nicol deputising for Ringo. A bit of the "A Hard Day's Night" film is up next, before we get quite a bit of "The Beatles at Shea Stadium" with "I Feel Fine", "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" and "Act naturally". The two latter ones had transparent footage of the Beatles performing overlayed on audience shots. The segment ends with "I'm Down" from the opening of the film. A marching band performs the theme song of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" for a segment about the Beatles getting their MBE's with them posing and clips from the press conference after having left the palace.  "Help!" film clips are up next. The screen is now split in two, with the film performances of the songs "Another Girl", "I Need You" and "You're Going To Lose That Girl" on the left and action scenes from the film on the right.
The word CHRIST comes on the screen, followed with the familiar Ku Klux Klan spokesman interview on half the screen and statements from John, Paul and Brian on the other half. The "Beatles are bigger than Jesus" segment ends with John's excuse from the press conference. The "lesbians and prostitutes" press conference is next up, with perhaps a bit more footage than usual, but we don't get Paul's funny reply. Scenes from "How I Won The War" goes into the "Strawberry Fields Forever" promo film in quite crappy quality.  The promo film for "A Day In The Life" is next up, it too in mediocre quality, both sound- and picturewise. The final chord is missing, and a Paul interview about coming clean about his involvement with drugs is inserted. Split screen time again, with the "Our World" broadcast on the right and the Beatles going about with their rendezvous with the Maharishi in Bangor on the left. The final "A Day In The Life" chord punctuates the song, and the Bangor interview with John and George about Brian Epstein's death fills the screen.  "Hello Goodbye" is played, starting with footage of the "Flying» clouds" going into the Savile Theatre promo film in Pepper suits, which cuts over to the "outtakes" version (no. 3), returning to the Pepper version for the end and the Maori finale. This is followed by clips from "Magical Mystery Tour" TV-film, "Blue Jay Way", the four or five magicians, drunken bus singalong going into "I Am The Walrus", aunt Jessie and Ringo quarreling, John's interaction with little Nicola and the "Your Mother Should Know" sequence ends the brief excursion into this film.  The title song lingers through the opening of the Apple boutique with colour footage from that event and the familiar news film voiceover. The computer printout of Beatles titles reveals that we are about to see some clips of the staged rehearsal of "Hey Jude" from the "Music! Experiment in Television" film, with the two Georges in the control room, supervising. This goes over into one of the Twickenham promo clips for the song before it returns to the "Experiment in Television" version again. John and Paul talks about the formation of Apple Corps in an American interview, before we get "Revolution" from Twickenham, with inserts from the Apple promo film with the Dick James board discussion taking place. The Apple boutique closes and finishes with a funny shot of a businessman escaping with a free dress. John and Yoko are arrested, followed by "You Win Again" from the "Let It Be" outtakes. There is some unpublished footage here from that film, including a jam with Yoko Ono, footage from the control room, "I've Got A Feeling" from Apple studio going into the rooftop version, and we also get "Get Back" from the rooftop, evolving into scenes from Paul and Linda's wedding and John and Yoko's bed peace. Ringo rows a boat while being interviewed about going into films. John is interviewed about the future of the Beatles and has an arguement with Gloria Emerson, before we get the "Something" promo clip. "The End" from Abbey Road ends the film sonicwise, accompanied with the end of the "Magical Mystery Tour" TV-film, I'm sure the video here was just a placeholder for whatever collage Neil was planning to assemble for the real ending. Curiously, the song from which the documentary got it's title is never played.

I'm really glad they later employed film researchers who managed to find the original films, or at least better copies than used here, as Neil's assembled documentary is no feast neither for the eye nor the ears. Still, it was great to finally be able to watch the film we heard so much about. It does indeed look a lot like both the previously mentioned "Compleat Beatles" documentary, as well as the Beatles segments from Tony Palmer's "All You Need Is Love" TV-series from 1976. What it lacks is coherence, essentially it's just a string of clips from various TV-shows and other films - there's a story to be told, but then again perhaps the story was already well known.

The bonus material is of a much better quality and really interesting! If you're not into the Long and Winding Road film, these clips are well worth the whole price of the package.

We get colour outtakes from:
- Rain (Chiswick Park)
- Strawberry Fields Forever
- A Day In The Life
All featuring outtakes or early versions of the songs as audio accompanyment.
The DVD finishes off with a complete, unedited Paperback Writer video no 4 in great quality (black and white)

I have yet to play the CD from the package. The Gazette has a brief history of the film, a chapter on Neil Aspinall, a rundown of the film itself, as well as notes on the contents of the audio disc.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Abbey Road rehearsal

The Abbey Road zebra crossing.
Extract from the new ebook by Kevin Harrington, "Who’s The Redhead On The Roof....?"

"Towards the end of the recording sessions I was asked, along with Steve Brendell, to meet on a Sunday morning at EMI Studios. Iain Macmillan, the photographer, wanted to take a few shots of four people walking across the zebra crossing outside the studio on Abbey Road to show the boys what the album cover idea would look like. To make up the foursome, two studio porters were drafted in as well. I know a photo exists of the four of us but I am not in a position to publish it."

"Iain then proceeded to show the boys the photo for the forthcoming album cover and a week later the iconic album cover picture was taken. This time Ian brought a step ladder with him, and fortunately a policeman happened to pass by on his beat and kindly stopped what little traffic there was on this early Sunday morning a couple of times whilst the boys crossed the road. It was all over in 30 minutes or so."

Kevin's story has been incorporated into our main story about the Abbey Road photo session.

Kevin Harrington started out as an office boy for NEMS in 1966, went on to work for Tony Bramwell at Saville Theatre, and then became an assistant of The Beatles at Apple and at the recording sessions from the White album (singing along on "Bungalow Bill") through Abbey Road and beyond. He has written an account of his days with the Beatles and through George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" sessions. His ebook is a light and entertaining read from someone who was there at the time. It's available from Amazon UK and Amazon (US) now.

Here he is, holding up the lyric sheet for John to sing, Kevin was also the one
pushing the piano with Mal at the very start of the "Let It Be" film.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Fake Madrid concert circulating

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles' concert in Madrid will be celebrated where it happened.
In the aftermath of the news story about a hitherto unknown professional recording of The Beatles' concert in Madrid July 2, 1965, someone has put together a fake presentation of the concert. The set list from Madrid has been replicated by putting together the same songs in the same order, but the performances are from other locations. The fake Madrid concert has been circulating on social media networks, and as a podcast.

Meanwhile back in Spain, British Beatles cover band "The Bootleg Beatles" have been hired to recreate the set list and then some for a 50th anniversary of the concert - at the same date and the same venue as the fabulous foursome. There are several Beatles fan clubs in Spain.

After Madrid, the Beatles travelled to Barcelona. The police and the authorities were much more friendly than in the capital, and the final concert on the European tour saw a packed bullring, "Plaza de Toros Monumental". Still, Paul McCartney wasn't all happy about it: "I remember playing a big bullring in Barcelona, the Plaza de Toros, where the Lord Mayor had great seats and all the rich people had seats but the kids, our real audience, were outside. We used to get upset about that: 'Why are we playing to all these bloody officials? We should be playing to the people outside. Let them in...' But of course they wouldn't." From The Beatles' Anthology.

Incredibly, the Beatles' concert in Barcelona was also captured on tape, a soundboard tape is said to exist, but it has not been bootlegged so far and is not circulating among collectors. The set list is the same as in Madrid.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Madrid - film at 11



As a follow up on our story earlier today of an upcoming attempt to release an audio recording of The Beatles' concert in Madrid, we have located this piece of film, which has captured several clips from the concert. The Beatles performed just once concert in Madrid in Spain. It took place at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, the city's bullring, where Beatles manager Brian Epstein had watched a bullfight on the previous day.



The Beatles arrived from Nice, France the day before, and held a press conference. The concert began the next day at 8.30pm. By this point in the tour The Beatles had become concerned at the level of violence they'd seen police use against the fans.

"The thing I remember about Madrid, where we played another bullring, was that the police were so violent. It was the first time I'd really seen police beating kids up.
I went to a bullfight there, and it was the saddest thing I ever saw. It was really sorrowful to see the bull just getting weakened and weakened. And then, when they finally kill the bugger, they wrap a chain round its leg and bring in a couple of cart-horses and drag the corpse away. I always thought it was such a miserable end. That's the only bullfight I ever went to, and I've never been interested in seeing one again."
Ringo Starr, The Beatles' Anthology.

Press conference on July 1.
The police weren't just brutal to the fans who had gained entry to the concert, in his book, "The Beatles en España", author José Luis Álvarez says that only 4,000 or 5,000 people saw the Beatles in concert in Madrid, when the capacity was 18,000 to 20,000. The police is to have blocked access for as much as 10,000 people to the concert, to keep the riff raff out. Apparantly they feared scandals, for whichever reason. Álvarez says that the arrival of The Beatles to Spain was not well received by neither the Franco regime, their loyal press, or the police.

Even just before the concert was to take place, it was said that The Beatles did not yet have the appropriate permissions to perform. But because these events took place in the year which saw The Beatles receive their MBEs from Queen Elizabeth, a fact which was public knowledge at the time, the regime didn't want to upset Great Britain, and the appropriate permissions were granted.

Beatles live recording to be released?

The Beatles as matadors
Spanish music site Efe Eme reports that a recording of The Beatles' concert in Madrid, Spain from 2 July 1965 at Plaza de toros Las Ventas is to be officially released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the show. The Beatles: Concierto en Madrid will be a limited edition 220 gram vinyl album on Cocodrilo Records, also containing the contents of the album on an accompanying CD. Included will also be a book containing 50 photographs of the Beatles in concert and in their hotel, by the photographer Francisco Barahona. The concert will also be accessible online for free.
The concert was officially recorded with Brian Epstein's permission (a signed contract still exists) on a Grundig reel-to-reel on 2 channels with four AKG microphones, and mixed live. The concert consists of these songs:
  1. Twist and Shout (Medley-Russell)
  2. She’s a Woman (Lennon-McCartney)
  3. I’m a Loser (Lennon-McCartney)
  4. Can’t Buy Me Love (Lennon-McCartney)
  5. Baby’s in Black (Lennon-McCartney)
  6. I Wanna Be Your Man (Lennon-McCartney)
  7. A Hard Day’s Night (Lennon-McCartney)
  8. Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby (Perkins)
  9. Rock and Roll Music (Berry)
  10. I Feel Fine (Lennon-McCartney)
  11. Ticket to Ride (Lennon-McCartney)
  12. Long Tall Sally (Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell)
The concert was recorded by José Luis Alvarez, and is described to be in great quality.

Alvarez was editor of the Spanish music magazine "Fonorama", and had met up with Brian Epstein in April 1965 on one of Epstein's frequent visit to Spain, a country he was very fond of. To Alvarez' surprise, Epstein was aware of Fonorama, which had started publication in 1963. Alvarez wanted to know if The Beatles would perform concerts in Spain that year, to which Epstein replied "No." Brian Epstein was a numbers man and had thought that since The Beatles sold so little records in Spain that they weren't very popular there. The Beatles had sold only around 3 800 records in Spain, according to Epstein, whereas their records were selling in hundreds of thousands or millions in other countries. Alvarez then told him that under the current Franco regime, the number of gramophone players in the country was just around 2 000, but these players were put to good use. Putting up speakers in windows, owners of record players would put on records and street parties would form. Alvarez was able to convince Epstein that each copy sold in Spain would be enjoyed by a large audience due to these street parties. Long story short, Epstein relented and The Beatles added Spain to their European tour.

Fonorama, the magazine Alvarez edited. This is #6 from April, 1964.
When in Madrid, Alvarez hooked up with The Beatles, and they gave an interview which was published in Fonorama. Whereas the other newspaper men in Spain asked the Beatles about their hair, how they liked Spain and the national dish, "paella", Alvarez and his journalist Roberto Sanchez-Miranda to The Beatles' delight asked them more serious, music related questions.

After the interview, Alvarez told Epstein that he wanted to record the concert. He had yet to set up his independent Cocodrilo Records label, but thought that other companies might be interested in releasing the recording. Unusually, Epstein agreed to this, and the pair borrowed the hotel's Olivetti typewriter and drew up a contract with only six lines. Since then, the taped performance has been gathering dust in Alvarez' archives. After the death of John Lennon, Alvarez had talks with then president of EMI records in Spain, Manolo Diaz about releasing the recording, but the two lost touch after Diaz went to Miami and then went on to live in USA.

Interview album from Cicadelic Records.
In the early 1980s Alvarez offered the tape to Cicadelic Records for $10,000. The company had already released nine albums of Beatles interviews. However, Cicadelic thought the asking price was much too high, or may have concluded that the copyright belonged to the artist, which was true at the time.

Alvarez has also written a book about The Beatles' visit to Spain.
In the 90s Alvarez planned writing a book about the Beatles in Spain and sought permission from Apple Records' Neil Aspinall to include a CD of the concert with his book. He was denied such permission. The book was finally released in 2009. A second edition was released in late 2013.

Life then got in the way, but the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the concert sparked renewed interest and the project looks like it's finally coming to fruition. And with the current copyright situation in Europe still untested (recordings unreleased after fifty years are entering the public domain), the independent release may prove difficult to stop (see our earlier article about Peacock Records).

Source: EfeEme.com

Monday, 11 May 2015

In memory of Margaret Grose

Yours truly in Margaret Grose's tiny living room in 10 Admiral Grove back in 2011. 
This weekend Margaret Grose passed away. Many Beatles tourists to Liverpool will have met Margaret. She was the old lady who resided in Ringo Starr's childhood home at 10, Admiral Grove, and she willingly opened her home for Beatles tourists who wanted to come inside. She never wanted any money to do this, but kindly asked her guests to donate to her favourite charity, the Linda McCartney Centre. Over the years, she collected £10,000.
One of Margaret's good friends was Jackie Spencer, who is a guide in the Beatles city: "Margaret was such a wonderful ambassador for Liverpool, welcoming Beatles Fans into Ringo Starr's former home, and in return for a donation to the Linda McCartney Centre. Now Margaret is no longer with us, In her memory I would love to match the figure she has already raised with her unique hospitality, RIP Margaret. Beatles fans around the World will miss you." The funds raised will go to purchase specialist equipment and improve facilities for patients and staff at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals.

Link:
JustGiving.com/MargaretGrose

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Messages from John, Paul, George and Ringo

The Beatles: Messages from John, Paul, George and Ringo
Excerpts from Chris Hutchins' recently released book, "The Beatles: Messages from John, Paul, George and Ringo" were published in the Daily Mail and several other online editions of British newspapers today. The postcard on the cover of this book says it all. The card was written by John Lennon and sent to his friend Chris Hutchins. On the card’s  photograph of the Beatles, John had drawn a fifth member – the founder of the group Stuart Sutcliffe who John went on to describe as the best friend he ever had. This is the kind of confidence John, Paul George and Ringo shared with writer Hutchins who they befriended in their days as ‘unknowns’ in Hamburg.

He shared their adventures during the heady days of Beatlemania; he was with them during their American tours in the 60s, sharing their euphoria and their sad moments. It was, for example, at Hutchins’ Chelsea apartment that Paul met the love of his life, the actress Jane Asher. And it was Hutchins who arranged a party with Elvis Presley, the man they had always wanted to meet – alas, a meeting which was to cause a cataclysmic feud between Presley and Lennon which the author explains in detail along with how President Nixon and J Edgar Hoover got involved.

The stories excerpted in today's Daily Mail was the evening Chris and Ringo spent with Little Richard and Billy Preston in Hamburg, the first encounter with Jane Asher, the night three Beatles met Jayne Mansfield, when Bob Dylan  pushed the Beatles and Brian Epstein off their chairs, and several other, highly entertaining stories.

Sources:
The Daily Mail
The book at Amazon.com

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Beatles go to Cannes



Clips from The Beatles' Live Project documentary will be shown to prospective buyers in Cannes, France next week. The film is currently in post-production. White Horse Pictures and Studiocanal are the companies representing the film in Cannes.

The film is still only known under its working title and there has been no announcement about when the film will be released. No wonder, they haven't got a distributor anywhere yet. Still, the film will be completed this year. Giles Martin is in charge of producing the audio side of the release, as far as concert sound is concerned. Will he be able to create an immersion surround sound from the raw material? Is he going to record office girls screaming the names of John, Paul, George and Ringo and overdub it to audience footage again?

Producer Ron Howard's idea is to give fans an "all access VIP pass" to the Beatles concerts, we are hoping that this is something he will be able to fulfill. Hitherto unseen concert footage has been promised. An earlier released promotional clip from the film just used familiar footage from Washington D.C. 1964 and Shea Stadium 1965.

Links:
The Beatles Live Project
Le Marché du Film - Cannes
Variety