Wednesday, September 30, 2009

McCartney Citi Field music set for release

Good Evening New York City, a 2-CD/1-DVD set featuring music from Paul McCartney's series of concerts inaugurating New York's Citi Field will be released Nov. 17.

A deluxe edition of the set will feature expanded packaging and a bonus DVD featuring Macca's "Late Show with David Letterman" performance atop the Ed Sullivan Theater marquee from last July.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Boyhood essay by Paul McCartney rediscovered

A prize-winning essay Paul McCartney wrote at age 10 has been rediscovered.

The piece about the Queen’s Coronation was found among records at the Central Library by Mr Roach as he researched a new book.

It had been stored away for over 50 years in the library’s record office.

Mr Roach said: “It’s unique in its own right.

“It shows his handwriting at that age and shows how Paul was thinking at the time.

“His handwriting is well advanced - you would say it was written by someone who was older than 10-years-old, more like 14 or 15.”

The schoolboy compares the happy scenes expected outside the palace to the coronation of William the Conqueror nine centuries earlier, when a massacre of Saxons took place.

Original "Lucy in the Sky" dies

The woman who, as a girl, inspired fellow student Julian Lennon to draw a picture he called "Lucy in the Sky with Diamond," which in turn inspired his dad, John, to write a song of the same name, has died.

The St Thomas' Lupus Trust charity said O'Donnell had died aged 46 after losing a fight against the autoimmune disease lupus.

It said Julian and his mother Cynthia, Lennon's first wife, were "shocked and saddened by the loss of Lucy".

"It's so sad that she had finally lost the battle she fought so bravely for so long," the Trust's campaign director Angie Davidson said.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beatles remasters sell 2.25 million in five days

Beatlemania redux! The Associated Press reports:

Nearly 40 years after breaking up, The Beatles are still breaking records for album sales.

EMI Group PLC says consumers in North America, Japan and the U.K. bought more than 2.25 million copies of the Fab Four's re-mastered albums in the first five days after their Sept. 9 release.

Most of the records were broken for most simultaneous titles in the top-selling charts by a single artist.

On Billboard magazine's pop catalogue chart, for example, the band had 16 titles in the top 50, including all 14 re-mastered CDs and two box sets.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pop band Goldfrapp to score Lennon bio-pic

British band Goldfrapp will provide the music for "Nowhere Boy," an upcoming bio-pic about John Lennon.

Singer Alison Goldfrapp has announced on her official blog that she'll be a part of the much-anticipated new film, Nowhere Boy.
She writes, "I'm pleased I can now tell you about it (as it is official). we have written the score for a film called Nowhere boy. it's about John Lennon as a boy and stars Aaron Johnson, Kristen Scott-Thomas and Anne Marie Duff. It's Sam Taylor-Wood's first feature film and it's truly amazing that they gave us the opportunity to do this.
"We are all really excited about going to Abbey Road studios soon to record the strings with the full orchestra."

Famed Abbey Road street sign up for auction

An Abbey Road street sign once displayed near the famous street crossing shown on the Beatles' final album is up for auction.

The enamelled steel sign, which was installed near the world-famous St John's Wood zebra crossing six years ago, was removed in 2007 because graffiti messages from Beatles' fans could not be scrubbed off.

...Westminster Council is selling the disused sign on eBay to raise money for transport projects across the city.

It should be noted, however, that the sign is not featured on the cover of the Beatles LP.

See the auction here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lennon autographed magazine fetches $12,713

A copy of 1966 Datebook magazine containing John Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" comments has sold for #12,713 at auction.

An orthopedia surgeon at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center had the winning bid Thursday in a 17-day online auction run by RR Auction of Amherst, N.H.

Lennon signed "John C. Lennon" above his photo in the September 1966 "Datebook," even though his middle initial is W. for Winston.

In the magazine, Lennon said: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first - rock 'n' roll or Christianity."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beatles remasters dominate charts, rack up big money

From The Los Angeles Times:

The new and improved Beatles CDs sold 235,000 copies during their first two days in stores, and total first-week sales of the individual CDs and two box sets of the group's recordings were projected to be 500,000 to 600,000 copies, possibly higher.

That's welcome news for a beleaguered music industry, whose last significant uptick in sales came in the wake of Michael Jackson's death in June.

Beatles titles occupy nine spots in the Top 10 of Billboard's Pop Catalog Albums chart, which encompasses albums originally released more than 18 months ago (Jackson's "Number Ones," at No. 6, kept the Fab Four from a clean sweep of the Top 10); of the Top 20, 15 are Beatles albums.

Yoko donates big money to John's art school

Yoko Ono is donating £260,000 to Liverpool's John Moores University, where John Lennon studied art.

The artist is using her cash to fund a new John Lennon Imagine Awards scheme for Liverpool John Moores students who have been in care or become estranged from their families.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Proposal to restore Liverpool's historic Albert Docks

The manager of Liverpool's Beatles Story museum wants to ] the city's historic dockyard area.

“The dock is no longer a prime and lively destination but it CAN become one again – it can be turned into a place where people can come to be entertained, to have fun and spend a lot of time with their families."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't panic, don't get gouged: Beatles in Mono box set still available for $229.99 from Amazon--stereo box available too

I continue reading reports of people getting charged $500 or more for the "limited" Beatles in Mono box set. Yet you can still order copies on Amazon for less than half that amount. Plus, the Beatles in Stereo box--the most economical way to get ALL the stereo remasters, plus a bonus DVD with all the making-of documentaries on it--is still available too.

Don't get suckered. Here are links to both sets:

British charts: Dame Vera Lynn fends off Fabs

A 92-year-old British institution is the only thing keeping the remastered Beatles albums from hitting number one on the British charts, Billboard reports.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beatles mini-documentary director speaks

CNN has an interview with "Beatles Anthology" director Bob Smeaton, who directed the mini-documentaries that come with stereo versions of the remastered Beatles CDs.

One very interesting tidbit:

Originally what happened was, the albums were going to be released on iTunes but that deal, you know, fell through for whatever reason. Some sort of political reason. So we actually set about creating a mini-documentary for each of the albums, so that when you bought the albums on iTunes, if you bought the whole album, because on iTunes you can pick like one song, right, if you bought the whole album, as an incentive to buy the whole album rather than just to cherry-pick songs, you would get this mini-documentary.

Beatles remasters top world charts

The Beatles' remastered record catalog is topping the chart pretty much everywhere, the Guardian reports.

In the UK, the Beatles will dominate this week's album charts based on only one day of sales (plus pre-orders). According to the Official Charts Company, Liverpool's finest will have five albums in the top 20 – and 15 in the top 75 – led by Abbey Road and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. In their first day on the market, retailers sold more than 6,000 copies of the Beatles stereo box set – helping the expensive package into the UK top 20.

A quick look at Amazon's best-selling CDs shows the Beatles holding the top 9 slots of the top 10. The stereo and mono boxsets are tops, followed by the individual releases of Abbey Road, the "White Album," Sgt. Pepper, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Past Masters and Let it Be in the Top 9 slots, Whitney Houston's comeback album is number 10. The least popular remaster appears to be Yellow Submarine, down at number 22.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Covering the Beatles--a diverse selection

The BBC takes a look, and provides YouTube video links, to some of the more memorable covers of Beatles tunes from the past few decades.

Beatles box sets available on Amazon

Despite a virtual panic that the limited edition box set of Beatles in Mono was going to sell out and be impossible to find, fans can still snag copies via Amazon. The Beatles in Stereo set is also still in stock.

Just how limited is the mono box? The Los Angeles Times reports: "Reportedly only 40,000 copies of the mono box have been manufactured for worldwide distribution, with 13,000 of those allocated to the U.S. market."

Fans recall the Beatles' early days

What was it like to see the Fabs' in their early days in Britain? Fans from that period share their memories.

When the performance finished we walked down the side of the theatre, and found the door open. So we went in — and straight afterwards security locked the door. The Beatles were waiting to make their getaway, but couldn’t get out until the van came round. A lot of girls were banging on the doors, but we were inside — and for an hour so were the Beatles.

They were so friendly and nice, and once they knew we weren’t hysterical they were happy to have us. I don’t think Beatlemania took off until a year later. In some ways, it was a little bit of history lost for ever. They were very ordinary guys, very friendly. Cynthia Lennon was there, standing in the background with a cape on. John kept saying to her “Did you get that?” Nobody realised he was married — he was pretending she was a reporter. You can imagine what it was like the next day in school. My friends were incredibly jealous.

Tracklisting the Beatles' "lost album"

It's a game most of us Beatlemaniacs have played: If the band hadn't broken up, which tracks from the individual members' solo albums would've appeared on Beatles albums. Here, the Daily Telegraph takes a stab at it.

The Beatles ’Alone Together’ would have been an extraordinary album, number one in a parallel universe. We can dream, can’t we?

Beatles set to top records chart again

The Beatles' remastered albums are predicted to rule the record charts in Britain, Reuters reports.

the Fab Four predicted to take five of the top 20 album places, the Official Charts Company said on Thursday. Digitally remastered versions of the band's albums went on sale on Wednesday, and combined with an interactive video game, it led to a brief return to "Beatlemania" with queues at major music stores in London.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lost Lennon interviews presented

Times Online has a new piece by John Lennon/Beatles biographer Ray Connelly, in which he shares some previously unpublished tidbits from his interviews with Lennon.

Deep listening: Hear Beatles recording anomalies

Here's a cool selection of audio tidbits you may've not notice on Beatles records before.

Entertainment Weekly ranks the Beatles albums

Coming in last: The Yellow Submarine.

The Beatles on Record: BBC documentary

Another great new BBC documentary:

The Rise and Fall of Beatlemania BBC documentary

Watch this new BBC documentary on YouTube:

Do today's kids like the Beatles?

Some do, reports Times Online.

“The Beatles are great,” concludes Otto, with the conviction of someone who knows about these things. “The modern songs are a pile of dog c**p.”

Stereo on mono: How do you take your Beatles?

The Washington Post features two remasters reviews: One touting the Beatles in Stereo box as the way to go, the other saying bring back mono.

Me? I say you need both. Some tracks simply sound better in one format or the other. And, if you listen to the Beatles a lot (which, I presume most of us here do), it's fun to, um, mix it up mixwise--sometimes putting on Sgt. Pepper in stereo, sometimes in mono.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vintage Teen Life magazine cover with Paul McCartney

Beatles: Rock Band review

Here's one from the Chicago Tribune, featuring some details on various treats that can be uncovered whilst playing the game.

Achieve a three-star rating, and you'll unlock photos from the group's early days in the Cavern nightclub to sessions in the Abbey Road studio in later years.

Unlock enough photos, and you'll release a mini-movie, such as the band's first Christmas album for fan club members in 1963.

Many other treats abound. Progress far enough into the game, and you'll find recordings of the bandmates chatting between takes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Entertainment Weekly has Beatles cover feature

Here's the cover and info from the latest, Fabs-fronted issue of Entertainment Weekly:

With The Beatles: Rock Band and reissues of all their albums hitting stores Sept. 9, it’s time for another Beatles revolution. This week’s Entertainment Weekly offers fans our guide to what’s new — as well as the 50 best songs the world’s greatest band ever wrote and a gallery of rare behind-the-scenes photographs.

Do you find yourself occasionally slipping into a Liverpudlian accent? Hankering after a pair of granny glasses? Arguing with your friends about the best Beatles songs of all time? Then you’ve got a condition called Beatlemania, and if you don’t want it to get worse, then stay in bed on Sept. 9: The eyes and ears of the world will once again be on the Beatles — and now their hands and larynxes will be able to join them.

The reissues alone would be huge news, since the band’s albums haven’t been upgraded since their original CD release in the late ’80s. But if you’ve ever fantasized about actually playing with the Beatles, then Rock Band is equally drool-worthy. This installment of the massively popular franchise (more than $1 billion in sales and counting) lets you jam along with 45 tracks from all stages of the group’s career. It also offers previously unseen photos and never-heard audio clips of the quartet talking in the studio. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison were intimately involved in putting it all together.

“It’s very cool,” McCartney enthused to EW earlier this year. Now Rock Band seems set to turn an even younger generation on to the band. “I see people playing it and they look…completely funny,” says McCartney. “But I like the idea that it introduces kids to music.” Maybe Sept. 9, 2009, will soon be known as the day that the biggest band of the 20th century also became the biggest of the 21st.

UK Guardian review: The Beatles in Mono

The Guardian has posted a review of the Beatles in Mono box set of remasters.

The Beatles sound taut, vital and surprisingly brutal. Plenty of 60s British bands covered material by black US artists: they tended to bowdlerise it, but the Beatles made it more visceral. There's something authentically deranged about their covers of Twist and Shout and Money. Smokey Robinson's fabulous You Really Got a Hold On Me has its emotional compass shifted from melancholy to torment, with electrifying results.

Hear engineers discuss the Beatles remasters

Amazon, on its "Beatles Store" page now features interviews with Beatles remasters engineers Allan Rouse and Paul Hicks. Check 'em out here.

Amazon update on availability of Beatles in Mono box set

Amazon has posted this update about the availability of Beatles in Mono remasters box sets:

09/02/09 UPDATE: The manufacturer has informed us that they will be producing additional mono box sets due to high demand. While the mono box set will still remain a limited production item, it will no longer be limited to 10,000 copies for the U.S. market, as originally reported.

We will soon have more mono box sets back in stock. Sign up here to be notified as soon as they are available for order. We will likely have limited quantities, so check back here often for the latest information, or check your email frequently to make sure that you don’t miss out.

New York Times on the Beatles remasters

Fabs expert Allan Kozinn weighs in on the remasters with this piece from The New York Times.

The up side: In most cases this music has dimension and detail that it never had before, and the new packaging reflects each album’s musical and cultural importance. Over all, the new discs sound substantially better than the Beatles’ original CDs, which EMI issued in 1987. The most striking and consistent improvements are a heftier, rounded, three-dimensional bass sound, and drums that now sound like drums, rather than something in the distance being hit. But because each album has its own sonic character, due partly to developments in recording technology during the Beatles’ career, and partly to the growing complexity of their work, some discs are improved more radically than others, and some are hardly improved at all.

Probably the most revelatory of the new transfers is the stereo White Album. From the opening jet engine effects on “Back in the U.S.S.R” to the final orchestral chord on “Good Night,” this album now leaps from the speakers. Gentler songs like “Julia” and “I Will” have a lovely transparency, and hard rockers like “Yer Blues” and “Helter Skelter” — as well as John Lennon’s quirky vision of dystopia, “Revolution 9” — have a power and fullness unheard until now.

Remasters details from the remasterers

The Sydney Morning Herald and AZ Central both have interviews with Allen Rouse, head engineer on the upcoming Beatles remasters, who talks about the delicate balance between improving sound and changing it.

Some key excerpts:

Has A Day in the Life been improved, for example, by removing the squeak of the piano stool that punctuates the ultimate chord of doom? Heaven forbid, Rouse says.

"We agreed at the onset we would only remove things that were technically related. If it had anything to do with the Beatles' performance — breaths, coughs, squeaky bass drums, squeaky chairs — they stayed."

..."The Beatles spent upwards of two or three weeks mixing Sgt Pepper in mono. The stereo was done as an afterthought by George (Martin) and (engineer) Geoff Emerick — regrettably forgetting some of the things they had done on the mono mixes," Rouse says. of the things we did agree that we would be very cautious about is limiting, which is where you make them as loud as you can. That's the common process of most recordings today - make 'em as loud as possible so that they're as loud as the last band. We agreed that we would not do that, because these are 40-year-old recordings and they don't deserve to have the dynamics of their songs destroyed. At the same time, we felt, for the stereo master, that a small amount of limiting that didn't destroy the dynamics would be acceptable, so they are a bit louder.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beatles Disc cover--drinking Coke

NPR blog listens to (and likes) remastered Sgt. Pepper

Just to get you hankering for those remasters a little more, NPR's "All Songs Considered" blog shares observations on the spruced-up Sgt. Pepper. No sound samples with the story, unfortunately!

("She's Leaving Home")

Robin: You can hear the fingertips on the harp. This is a little like watching HDTV.
Bob: I was thinking that, too. Like plasma TV.
Robin: Listen to the falsetto harmonies. It reminds me a little of HD television in that HD reveals the flaws in people's faces. I feel like it's doing that a bit with this music, particularly in the vocals. It's not that they sound flawed. They just sound so naked. Those harmonies on this song have always sounded perfectly clear to me. But hearing it now, it's so clearly a group of guys singing in falsettos. The voices seem very naked. They sound human for the first time.

New Beatles: Rock Band TV commercial