SOME STUFFS: Papertwin cover George Harrison song for fun

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Papertwin released a new EP last month called Vox Humana, so does that mean they are Kenny Loggins fans? Unknown at this time but I can tell you they are fans of George Harrison, as they decided to cover “Fish On The Sand”, a song from his 1987 album Cloud Nine.

RECORD CRACK: New Beatles box set is ready for the holidays

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To say that this holiday season will be a treat for Beatles fans both old and new is putting it lightly. With heavy discussion about the remaster of the film Magical Mystery Tour, talk about a forthcoming Beatles remastered vinyl box set from EMI began as soon as it was a mere rumor. Now it’s a reality, which means Beatles fans will be buying this up like crazy, despite its $399 price tag.

The different between this and previous Beatles vinyl box sets? Most of the albums are the digital stereo remasters released on CD and digital in 2009, and they make their vinyl debut with this box. EMI are using Sir George Martin’s 1986 mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul, which is causing a bit of concern among Beatles fans and collectors who are looking at the bit-rate of those masters compared to the 2009 remasters. Some feel that the Canadian CD pressings of Help! and Rubber Soul, both of which used the original masters and not the 1986 mixes, could have been used, but as with anything Beatles, one path of discussion leads to an endless pool of other discussions. If your listening preference with The Beatles is vinyl, you may want to consider this one.

This new box will feature their entire UK album discography, along with the American Magical Mystery Tour album (released in the UK as a double 7″ EP, the US decided to make an album from that EP and add on the singles the band released in 1967), and the U.S. compilation Past Masters, created as a means to feature songs released in other forms and not on the proper albums. The box will also feature new versions of various inserts that were in the original albums, including the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cut-outs and inner-sleeve, the booklet in Magical Mystery Tour, and the posters in The Beatles (b/k/a The White Album).

You can pre-order the stereo Beatles remastered vinyl box set directly from Amazon. EMI does plan on doing a mono box set for 2013.

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DUST IT OFF/THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” 45 years later

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How does one begin to talk about one of the most talked about albums in rock’n’roll, and music in general, from one of the biggest and most influential bands ever? Even the first sentence of this article is so grandiose, younger generations might go “right, another celebratory Beatles article. Great.” But there are a few reasons why people continue to celebrate the music of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.


Other albums released on June 1, 1967:
Elvis Presley‘s Double Trouble
David Bowie‘s debut
Both are not celebrated as other albums in their discography.

1967 was also a year that gave us the debut albums by Pink Floyd, The Doors, Grateful Dead, The Amboy Dukes (featuring guitarist Ted Nugent), Big Brother & The Holding Company (featuring vocalist Janis Joplin) and The Velvet Underground & Nico. What was the saying, that maybe only 5000 copies were sold of the first Velvet Underground, but everyone who did formed their own band? If that’s not influence, I don’t know what is. You also had great albums by Jefferson Airplane, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Young Rascals, The Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones and many more. Yet somehow, if one talks about a few of these album, the trail will lead to Sgt. Pepper. Why does it always have to be so absolute?


  • The Beatles were a pop combo, a boy band that were not meant to last, if some critics and parents had their way. When The Beatles came to the United States in 1964, it came with a promotional push from Capitol Records that did not exist a year before. In fact, when Capitol initially rejected the offer to sign them, they had to be persuaded by Parlophone Records in England to do it, that it would be beneficial for everyone involved. When they did arrive with their “long” hair, they were seen not only as a “British invasion”, but some would say an intrusion. In less than a year, there were countless Beatles tribute records (including one by Bonnie Jo Mason, who would later be known as singer/actress Cher) but also their share of anti-Beatles records. With every hate song, there was a group who looked and sounded like them, even having names that might sound like they were “bugs”. Every other label wanted to cash-in, and did so without a problem. Labels who had signed them but had lost the rights to release new music by them kept on reissuing what they had left, before their license to do so expired. By being a pop combo/boy band, they were in countless teen magazines, and were a group who would license their own merchandise, one of the first to do so. That would lead to companies illegally making their own Beatles memorabilia. It was truly Beatlemania and it seemed for a good 30 month period, not only did the United States go nuts, but the world. While countless artists have falsely claimed to have worldwide status, there’s proof that The Beatles were being heard everywhere. Groups in India, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, the Philippines, Japan, and Israel had their own Beatles knock-off bands. There were also countless Beatles fan clubs, and if for some reason being a Beatles fan in your country was considered a disgrace to your culture, you had to do it in secret/hiding.

    Covering a Beatles song was considered good promotion, and artists did not have a problem covering a song or two, releasing it as a non-LP side, or even full albums. Even Capitol Records cashed in by having their house orchestra, The Hollyridge Strings, release many albums filled with nothing but Beatles songs. Having the Union Jack on your cover made you seem hip and cool, and speaking with a fake British accent? Ooh, you were intriguing.

  • When The Beatles performed their last concert on August 29, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the group felt it was the right type to do so. They had gained an amount of fame in three years that very few artists up to that point had ever accumulated. Rock’n’roll music wasn’t quite 10 years old when The Beatles broke through, and there wasn’t the term “rock band” just yet, or even “rock’n’roll band”. You were a “pop combo”, and The Beatles were the biggest pop combo in the world. But after playing live shows around the world for years, and not being able to hear themselves play over the screaming of fans (there were no pre-amps during those days, just the amplifiers behind them), they felt it was time to try something new. As the story goes, they decided to concentrate on staying in the recording studio and allowing their music to tour for them. Doing live shows was and still remains the bread and butter for most music artists, so for the biggest band to actually say “we had enough, no more live shows” seemed insane. For some, that meant the end of The Beatles was near, the fad was over, and 1967 would result in new fads and trends. Little did anyone know what would happen what the following year would bring.
  • The story from this point on is familiar to most Beatles and music fans. The group releases “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” as a single. Technically a double A-side, but “Strawberry Fields Forever” was the true A-side.

    The song was loved in England, but U.S. audiences thought it was too weird and freaky. On top of that, the song faded out and came back, which freaked out countless radio disc jockeys who would talk over the record when it faded out, only for the group to quickly return. American DJ’s preferred the pop-friendly (and easier to consume [read “not freaky]) “Penny Lane”, and it would reach #1 on the Billboard singles chart. “Strawberry Fields Forever” made it as high as #8.

    As the story goes, “Strawberry Fields Forever” was monumental for many in the world of pop music, allegedly becoming the start of Brian Wilson‘s mental decline when he was creating the Smile album for the Beach Boys. Both “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were originally meant to be part of the band’s forthcoming album, which was to be an album with a running theme about childhood. After the success of the single (the picture sleeve for which showed the group sporting new mustaches, a first for the band), they decided to scrap the two songs from the album and move forward.

  • Well, we all know the impact of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album that has always been analyzed from the moment the first review was printed. It gained a buzz from various musicians/close friends to The Beatles who were able to obtain test pressings/acetates of the album-to-come. The “summer of love” hadn’t quite sparked yet, but the album has now become a staple when it comes to mentioning the summer of 1967, with many wishing the connection would stop. Reason? There have been many who have said that The Beatles were never really a part of those who celebrated/participated in the summer of love, that it was bands like the Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and The Doors whose music was a part of what was in the air, along with the sounds of Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground.

    What Sgt. Pepper also did was somehow change the way pop music was looked at. With a new “wave” in sound came a new look, and with that came a new breed of critics. If pop music was “toss off” music for teens who could buy their 45 rpms and throw it around in their rooms like plates, then what to make of a group who were actually saying “we want you to listen to this album was if it was a concert, as if this was a show being presented to you”? Jazz artists have always recorded albums as if they were bringing you a concert, making sure it started off with something powerful, keeping you interested throughout, and then ending with something that kept you coming back for more. Rock’n’roll artists were slowly changing how albums were programmed and thus heard, but for the most part, a long playing (LP) album was just a coaster with 11 to 14 songs, not really done with much thought other than “we have new music, let’s sell it”. People felt that Sgt. Pepper was an important piece of music, and that it should be treated as “serious art”, and that alone has left many resentful of the album and perhaps The Beatles themselves. Fans loved the rawness of rock’n’roll, the potential of sex, drugs, and dancing the night away. With Sgt. Pepper, things started to get more business-like, a bit more corporate, and that did coincide with record labels also becoming more firm with how they ran their business. In the early 90’s, there was a great garage rock band called The Mummies who would release music on their own label, Pre-B.S.. I had interviewed one of them for a fanzine I did in the 90’s, and I asked about the name of the label. They felt that before the “bullshit” happened in rock’n’roll, the music was a lot better, vibrant, and festive. The Mummies were representatives of the ruthless rock’n’roll, before the bullshit. What did they view as “bullshit”? A certain British group sporting mustaches, which changed the dynamic of what people wanted out of their rock’n’roll. In other words, Sgt. Pepper was an album that sparked the start of bullshit music.

    Can an album that has been celebrated for 45 years be considered “bullshit”? Let’s be realistic: not everything has to be liked. Just because someone is celebrated doesn’t mean everyone has to agree. Again, look at all of the bands that made themselves known for the first time in 1967, all of the great debuts, all of the artists who released new music. 1967 is so much more than Sgt. Pepper and yet it somehow goes back to an album based on a group of musicians that did not exist, but wanted to go on tour in place of the real group that did not. Regardless, the album had done its damage, for better or worse, and the world would never be the same. It would be #1 on the Billboard Album Chart in the U.S. for 15 weeks, and #1 on the UK Album Chart for a massive 27 weeks. Even with no singles released from the album, radio stations would play each song as if it was a single, “forcing” fans to buy the full album. The album was meant to be listened to as a whole in one sitting, like a concert performance, and that would help to change the way music fans listened to their rock’n’roll. For better or worse.

  • The facts on how The Beatles recorded the album with only 4-tracks is a story onto itself. It lead to countless musicians and producers wanting to do the same within the limitations, leading to many innovations in recording studio technology in the next five years. But even if you don’t get technical about the music or the songwriting, why does this album hold up so well? Then again, some will say that out of the more celebrated Beatles albums, this is one that has not aged well. I feel it has aged gracefully and while it can be “of its time”, it too is very timeless. Some of the arrangements are meant to sound like that on purpose, things are deliberate. Sgt. Pepper is meant to represent the youth of The Beatles, and thus the sounds of the 40’s and 50’s were meant to date its sound from day 1. Day 1. The way it was used and mixed, along with sounds of audio tape moving backwards, tablas and sitars, and an orchestra dubbed a few times to create an orgasmic cacophony, was very much due to the expertise of producer Sir George Martin along with Paul McCartney‘s keen ear for arrangements, for as the other Beatles were at home or elsewhere, McCartney was becoming a studio rat wanting to know how the studio worked. Being someone who also loved orchestras, symphonies, and a bit of the experimental and avant-garde, he brought all of these elements into what would become Sgt. Pepper. Some of the things brought in were deliberate, other things were happy accidents, but it ended up creating one of the biggest happy accidents in rock’n’roll.
  • Regardless of what the music is or isn’t, the album continues to be a starting point for fans who want to find out more about its music, influences, and how The Beatles got from “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” to “A Day In The Life”. It also leads them out of The Beatles circle and into every other avenue of music. You don’t even have to be a fan of The Beatles to understand its mystique, you might even hate it, but it has a place in history as the bridge from one level of creativity and awareness to another, something that had not been considered to be something a rock’n’roll artist could or should do. No one cared, rock’n’roll stars were meant to offend and make young girls cry.
  • As for me, perhaps my fascination began with my dad, who was The Beatles fan of my family, but he did not play their records at home. Their music was always on the radio, as if they were new songs, but I grew up in a post-Beatles world. I heard all of the solo material, but as a kid I was also aware that people wanted these four people to reunite and become one. I don’t remember what was the first Beatles song I heard, but one of the first that struck me first and foremost was “Eleanor Rigby”. My dad went to his friend’s apartment for a bit of “smoking” and he had the red 1962-1966 album. I asked if I could borrow it, he wasn’t sure if a 9 year old kid could handle a record, but my dad said “he is okay”. I borrowed it. After a week, I had to return the record but asked if I could borrow it again. He said sure. I still have that album. I’m not sure if it was because I was hearing a rock band doing a song that sounded nothing like rock’n’roll, or if the string played by an eight piece orchestra created something that sparked something in me. I didn’t quite understand who Eleanor Rigby was or her role, or why people were lonely. It wasn’t an emotionally sad song, it just sounded cool, and I think I felt if “Eleanor Rigby” was this cool, what else did these Beatles do.

    They would damage my brain for life. When my mom created my first savings account, I eventually withdrew all of what I had left and bought Beatles 45’s at Music Box Records in downtown Honolulu. It wasn’t just the music that moved me, I wanted to know more and The Beatles became the first group that I became “nerdy” for, wanting to know who did what, how, and why, and every little aspect that I could find at book stores. The reason I became a record collector was the fact that I might be able to find a Beatles 45 with one extra T in their name, and I could sell it for $200 or more. In elementary school, I carried a Beatles discography book (All Together Now) that my friends said looked like I was carrying the bible. I not only wanted to know about the music, but felt I had to know catalog numbers, session people, release dates… if there was a possibility to find something new, something more, I had to know that more. When I found out one of my dad’s best friends had a Ravi Shankar album, I had to borrow that album too. It was the Capitol pressing of Three Ragas, and while I knew that Shankar helped to inspire George Harrison move deeper into Indian music, culture, and spirituality, I started to enjoy Indian classical music on its own merits. Again, one door leads to many doors, and it was never ending.

    Oh, as for my first copy of Sgt. Pepper? My dad gave me money to buy a copy at DJ’s Sound City at Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu, probably for $6.99 or $7.99, late 70’s/early 80’s purple label variation. I was sold. As someone with parents who loved swap meets, I clearly remember going to the Aloha Flea Market and seeing someone with a mono pressing of Sgt. Pepper, which I had known at the age of 11 that it was different from the stereo mix. I asked how much it was, and the guy was selling it for $5. Most swap meet records would go for a dollar or less, but $5? I asked my mom, and she said no. I held the album in my hand, saw that the catalog number was MAS-2653. I knew, from reading my Beatles “bible”, that MAS-2653 was mono, while SMAS-2653 had an S at the beginning to signify Stereo. I wanted it, even though it was just to listen. I couldn’t get it. Years later, I saw another copy of that album at a used record store for $75. I would eventually find a beat up copy of the mono pressing, sans cover, for under a dollar. I’ve heard the mono mixes since then, but still, to be able to just have it, U.S. or UK, doesn’t matter…

  • Looking back, it’s an album that represented a lot in the world of music, and perhaps the world, or at least it became a market in time for what happened back in 1967. I did not exist in 1967, but I know there have been times where I said “if there was a time machine, I’d love to be able to exist in a world right before Sgt. Pepper was released.” As I got older and understood world and cultural politics, I wonder if someone with my racial mixture would be able to explore music in the same way I do in the 21st century. Or would someone like me be considered as exotic as the Nehru jacket or a tabla? All I can do is wonder “what if?”

    Realistically, the album just shows what happens with passion, drive, and creativity can be used for something that was not meant to be celebrated as it is today, 45 years later, but merely as what was to be next for those four kids from Liverpool. Let’s hope it continues to excite and delight people in 2067. For a younger generation who wonder why albums that are 45 years old, by a group who haven’t been together in 42 years, continues to be praised as if it was something sacred: simply open your mind and listen. Forget the hype, forget the myths, and just listen. This was a collection of 13 songs that drove people to delight, because this was a boy band who decided to show that had been grown-up for a long time. Now it was time for everyone else to realize that too. It was by a group who felt they had the world, but wanted to see what happens if they pushed everyone’s limits and expectations, including themselves. That’s the beauty of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. For better or worse, it exists. Listen or not.

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  • RECORD CRACK: Master tape of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” sold for 2.8K on eBay

    An article at Ultimate Classic Rock revealed that a master tape for The Beatles‘ 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (which will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 12 days), was sold on eBay for $2,800 U.S. Even after reading the article, I wanted to investigate this a bit further.

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    There are many different versions of what is called a “master tape”, so for those who might be curious about its authenticity, I shall explain some of the technical information that I know.

    In the days of analog tape, when an artist is in post-production and mixes an album for release, it is mixed towards a final “master tape”. It is this “master tape” that becomes the source for a domestic pressing (i.e. the label in the home country of the artist) and all pressings around the world. However, the story doesn’t end there. When a “master tape” is made, that was generally preserved by the record company, a/k/a “the owners” of the intellectual property of the music. From this master tape, a small number of “safety copies” or “safety masters” were produced. In some instances, it is this “safety master” that is sent to various record affiliates around the world. Once again, the story doesn’t quite end there either. Sometimes, the “safety master” became the source to press up tapes that would be sent to label affiliates around the world. Basically, you have a bit of sound degradation with each copy, so by the time a record is pressed in a specific country, you’re hearing a 3rd or 4th generation tape of the original master tape. To add to this, some label affiliates would make a safety copy of their safety copy, or “a dub of a dub”, and keep that in the library for further use. When records are produced, a “mother” plate is created which is used as the source to press up records at the pressing plant. All “mothers” have a shelf life and can wear out with each record pressing, and with the nature of pressing plants, they could easily break. If one is worn out or breaks/cracks, another “mother” has to be made from the master tape they have available. This is why some collectors prefer to buy/have/fine the very first pressing of any specific record, because it usually means the sound is as best it can be. In some circles, this is called a “hot stamper”, which means you are getting some of the very first pressings from the original mother stamping plate, and a few collectors will pay premium. It has been the subject of debate.

    One more aspect. In the early 1960’s, when Beatles masters were sent to Capitol Records in the U.S. from Parlophone in the UK, some songs meant for release as 45rpm records were treated/drenched in reverb. This was done by Dave Dexter Jr., a A&R man and producer at Capitol who was in charge of what was and wasn’t released on his label. After initially rejecting the Beatles, the phenomenon was slowly growing into something, and with a number of smaller independent labels having a bit of success with Beatles singles, along with major persuasion from EMI in the UK, Dexter and Capitol were moved to sign them. When he received Beatles songs for release as singles, he would treat them with reverb at Capitol’s mastering studio. It was discovered that the U.S. pressings of these singles sounded quite different from the clean (some would say puritanical) mixes that were on the British pressings of the same songs. Years later, when someone confronted members of the group about these pressings, one of them (I think it was Paul McCartney) said he preferred the U.S. pressings over the British ones, because that American style of production is what they had always wanted to achieve, but never could. Beatles fans have come to love to hate these “Dexter-ized” pressings, but are still sought after by fans and collectors.

    I mention this because with Sgt. Pepper, it was a project that The Beatles wanted untouched from start to finish. It was a common practice for Capitol Records to chop up the sequence of British albums and release a few songs as singles and EP’s, of which there is no British counterpart. With Sgt. Pepper, the group made sure that every aspect of the album was as they wanted it from start to finish, including how the public heard it.


    What you see in the above photos are a look at a master reel tape and technical information, but with anything Beatles-related, one can ask “is this authentic? How can anyone just obtain a master tape?” In this case, this is a master tape made by Capitol Records in the U.S. for Capitol of Mexico. This means that when Capitol U.S. received their Sgt. Pepper master from Parlophone, they created a tape dub to be sent to the Mexican affiliate. This technically means that sonically, the Mexican pressing is one or two generations down from the American one. I am not sure if Capitol U.S. also made safety masters for Canada or other countries within the Americas (if anyone knows, feel free to reply).

    The master tape shown is the mono mix. The top shows the catalog number for the stereo Mexican pressing, which was SLEM-081. LEM-081 is typewritten on the page, and there’s also indication (with a checked box) that this is the mono mix. The sheet tells the pressing plant what the tape is for, so the sheet indicates that the tape is for a 12″ record at 33 1/3 rpm, and to be pressed with a Capitol label. Capitol had a number of subsidiary labels, and on this sheet, there are unchecked boxes for Angel, Seraphim (both Capitol’s classical divisions), Odeon, and Pickwick.
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    The information also shows how much silence is meant to be heard between each track. For Sgt. Pepper, a number of songs segue into one another without interruption, while others have less than a second of silence before the next song begins. It was normal for albums to have 2 to 4 seconds of silence between tracks. For this album, the length of each break (or lack of them) were intentional and for the most part. The master tapes would have the silence physically attached on the physical tape with “leader tape”, but there was also a command from Parlophone to leave the album “as is”. Mastering engineers around the world could sequence/master the album as they deemed fit, including changing the amount of space between songs. Mastering engineers could also change the dynamics of the album without telling anyone, but also had to deal with the technology and upkeep of their respective pressing plants. All of these technicalities were eliminated with compact disc and more specifically, when every label affiliate around the world would receive the exact digital master from the same source. But in this case, the information on the box shows how much silence is used in between songs that have them, and how some do not. One section of the box reveals that this master was prepared by Capitol Records U.S. for Capitol of Mexico on 5/2/67 (May 2, 1967), or a month before the official release of the album.
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    What I could not find in these photos was an indication to include the “dog whistle” and “secret ending” at the end of Side 2, what is commonly known as the “Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove”. This surprise could be found on every world pressing of the album except the U.S. version. I do see some handwritten notes on these boxes, but nothing that might suggest “there is audio at the end of the tape that will be used for Side 2” or instructions to keep that audio on the record as it moves towards the center of the record.

    After all of this technical information, this master tape would be the source of what you hear on this pressing:

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    When it comes to anything Beatles-related, if it was indeed the actual master tape The Beatles and producer Sir George Martin created, this auction would have been pulled/stopped immediately. Nonetheless, it is a rare occurrence that even a safety copy or a master tape dub, especially one with “Beatles status”, surfaces in a casual manner. This is very much an authentic tape. Collectors will buy them with no intention of playing it or finding a tape machine to hear it, for it is a piece of Beatles and music history that is worth preserving, even if as a “museum piece”. Not sure what the buyer plans on doing with it, but it’s interesting to know it exists.

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    VIDEO: “Yellow Submarine” digitally restored for DVD release in May


    It is a Beatles movie that would become a “midnight movie” favorite, it has been released on VHS and standard DVD, but they were mere transfers from the original film negatives. Now, almost 45 years after its original release in theaters, Yellow Submarine has been digitally remastered for Blue-Ray and DVD release in May.

    If you’re a Beatles fan and you have seen this film countless times, you’re probably thinking “how can this be better?” Take a look at the trailer above. According to the press release, this new version of Yellow Submarine is in 4K digital resolution and “all done by hand, frame by frame.”

    The soundtrack album will also be reissued, although judging from the mention at Billboard.com about it featuring 15 songs, this is most likely a new version of the 1999 Songtrack version of Yellow Submarine with then-new mixes of the songs, and not any of Sir George Martin‘s beautiful incidental music that was on the original 1969 soundtrack album.

    No word yet on if this will be shown in theaters for any one-off showings before the Blue-Ray/DVD release date.

    RECORD CRACK: P.S. I Love You – George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”

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    For George Harrison‘s first solo single following the announcement of the end of The Beatles in April 1970, he released what was to be a preview of a statement that was a long time coming for him. “My Sweet Lord”/”Isn’t It A Pity” was released as a double A-side on November 23, 1970. Up until 1969, the Billboard singles chart made it a regular habit to chart both sides of a single individually, so one record could have two different spots, with the A-side generally being higher than the B-side. If radio DJ’s felt strongly over the B-side, they’d give that a shot instead, so one side of the record might be a hit in one part of the country or state, while the other side might’ve been a hit elsewhere. That changed in 1969 when it was decided that if they were going to chart, both songs would chart “as one”. The first Beatles single to do that was “Something”/”Come Together”.

    For Harrison’s first, “My Sweet Lord” was a folk-flavored song that spoke highly about his spirituality, while “Isn’t It A Pity” was a moody and somber piece about the human condition. Radio received both songs very well, but since “My Sweet Lord” was released close to the 1970 holiday season, it mixed in with some Christmas song programming and thus becoming a tradition of hearing it during Christmas, even though it is not a Christmas song.

    What I love about “My Sweet Lord” is that it’s such an honest song for Harrison, which might seem funny considering he wasn’t honest about revealing the fact that its melody came directly from the girl group song “He’s So Fine” (by The Chiffons). Then again, anyone who listened to The Beatles’ Christmas records knew that pulling songs out of the air randomly was not anything new, since on the 1965 record, Ringo Starr would try to sing The Four Tops‘ “It’s The Same Old Song” before Harrison himself said the word “copyright”. Paul McCartney asks what will happen since they don’t have a copyright, and John Lennon states that perhaps “we’ll get the lilacs (lyrics) out of an old brown shoe”, a term Harrison would nick for himself when he and the band recorded “Old Brown Shoe” as the B-side to “The Ballad Of John & Yoko” four years later.

    Thievery aside, it was Harrison’s way of saying that living life is part of the struggle, but that hopefully one day he will be able to “meet him” someday. The first half of the song has him singing “I really want to see you/I really want to see you/I really want to see you, lord/I really want to see you, lord, but it takes so long, my lord”, mixed in with a chorus singing the word “hallelujah”, alluding to his upbringing as a Christian in Liverpool. Once the second half of the song comes around, he changes his calling, equal to him converting to his Hindi beliefs and admiration of the culture and religion of India. All of a sudden, the song has him singing the Hare Krishna mantra, the first time that had ever been done in a pop song, and the first time a #1 pop song featured the mantra:

    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
    Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Hare Rama Hare Rama

    This is followed by the Gurur Brahma, or a “daily prayer”
    Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu
    Gurur Devo Mahesh Varah
    Guru Shakshat Para Brahma
    Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah

    Anyone who had listened to Harrison’s work with The Beatles knew he was incorporating more Indian sounds and themes in his music since “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, so in many ways, the Hare Krishna mantra and a daily prayer was him showing his independence as a Beatle, and telling the world “this is me, this is very much a part of me, and I hope you will continue on this life voyage with me”. You don’t have to be religious to understand his devotion in the song, and thus it stands out as much more than just something to sing to alongside “Here Comes Santa Claus”.

    As the song gained recognition around the world, it would be released with different picture sleeves, a few simply taking excerpts from the All Things Must Pass album, some simply taking Beatles photos from the Get Back/Let It Be sessions:
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    The sleeve used for the U.S. and UK (shown at the top) was a somber pick meant to represent not “Beatle George” but a new George circa November 1970, and he never looked back.

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    SOME STUFFS: Ravi Shankar “Raga” documentary now out on DVD

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    Ravi Shankar connection with The Beatles, especially with George Harrison, allowed him not only to expand his audience but to bring Indian classical music to the rest of the world. Harrison released a few Shankar albums and singles on Apple Records, and he also went out of his way to produce a great documentary film on his music and life up to 1972 called Raga. The film was released on VHS but has not been widely seen for years, but now the film has been restored and remastered for DVD, which was released on October 12th.

    The DVD Raga also comes with a CD of the soundtrack album, highly sought after by Shankar and Apple Records completists.

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    RECORD CRACK: No. 006 – Some of the Beatles ins and outs

  • All of us record collectors have a point of origin, and this was mine. The primary means of listening to music as a kid was records, along with 8-track tapes, a few cassettes, and of course the radio. When the 80’s came, cassettes became a primary means of listening with the introduction of the Sony Walkman. But as far as the group that made me move from being a casual fan of records to someone obsessed buying them as possible investments, it was The Beatles and it was due to this newspaper article by Wayne Harada of the Honolulu Advertiser:
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  • Up until that point, records were merely vehicles to find music. Now I discovered a book that talked about record collecting, priced them, and placed them in an order that I appreciated. I was a young fan of the discography listing, and this would turn my curiosity into a lifelong obsession. I was a young Beatles fan who wanted all of the records and wanted to know anything and everything that had to do with their music, and I was fascinated with the variations, and also knowing there was someone who was fascinated with listing the variations. Just like the music and artists I would discover, it was about origins and roots, to find an answer to something I didn’t know about, and keep digging until there was nothing more to dig. One record can and will lead to another, and that moved me. I had seen issues of Goldmine magazine, which was very different from my reading habits at the time (Rolling Stone, Hit Parader, and Goldmine), but when I picked up, bought, and read my first issue at home, it felt like I entered a room full of secrets, the hidden info that I was now allowed to know.
  • The Beatles were the first group I actively collected, not only U.S. pressings, but whatever import pressings I could find at Tower Records. It was easy to find and buy British and European pressings, but I wanted the Japanese pressings. This was the early 80’s, and Odeon Records in Japan had reissued the entire Beatles catalog. I had learned from reading that these were the pressings to have because Japan had a standard in pressing that made them of audiophile quality. But at double or sometimes triple the domestic price, I could not afford that and forget about asking my mom about buying it. I remember one day walking into a record store called Froggie’s and seeing a counterfeit pressing of The Beatles’ Christmas Album I didn’t realize it was a fake pressing, but at $12, I had to have it. I told my parents “please, get me this record, it is rare, I will never ask for another record for the rest of the year.” $12 for a single record was quite high during a time when $8.99 seemed like an obscene price, but they buckled and got my album. I would get more and more, having my own allowance that I would later spend on records. I spent foolishly, sure, but in the process I began finding out what made their records worth so much and why, and also what to look out for. This article is not meant to be for the Beatles experts, but rather for the newbies who may be getting into record collecting for the first time, and what better way to do it than with one of the more collectible groups in the world?

  • When the mainstream media does a story on record collecting, it will usually lead to the discussion of Elvis Presley or The Beatles, because they are two of the most influential artists in rock’n’roll. They each have a level of popularity that continues years after they made their initial impact, and that has yet to stop. Naturally, the hobby of record collecting is discussed when Presley and The Beatles are discussed, and for good reason. Some of their records are very valuable, but that leads to the perception that any and every record they’ve ever made is worth hundreds, if not thousands. People feel that because they are Beatles fans, they are Beatles record experts, but with the internet in front of us, there’s no reason to not know about the record or its true value. Unfortunately, the internet makes it possible for dealers to sell records at obnoxious prices in order to jack up a price on a particular item.
  • There was a time when the value of a record was determined by supply and demand, so if you lived in Philadelphia and found a Buck Owens record for $25, you could find it in a smaller town in Virginia for $2. Record collector guides, like the one spotlighted in the scanned newspaper article above, was basically a rough-but-educated way on how to value records, and that was the unspoken law. With eBay, it’s not territorial anymore, which is good, any and all records can be found with patience. Unfortunately, the record you had seen in a store for $2 a few years ago is now up there for $259.99. Is it worth that much? Most likely, no, but that dealer is thinking of one thing: “all I need is one sucker to buy it for that price, and I’m $259.99 richer.” Now, if you are the seller and someone buys it for that price, you wouldn’t complain? Unfortunately, high minimum bids artificially raise the value of a record and suddenly it becomes unethical. only because we get to see the transaction in real time. Yet is it unethical to find a record for a dome and sell it on eBay for $499? It’s ruthless but that is a part of this fun hobby called record collecting, so you understand the extremes and deal with it.

  • For now, let’s get to basics with The Beatles and record collecting. Since I live in the U.S., I speak from a U.S. perspective. This will be important for Americans who choose to collect American pressings, but also those outside of the U.S. who want the American pressings, as they are of value. In record collecting, you can have any specialty that you want, there isn’t a law which says you can collect this and that, but not that over there. There are dealers who buy and sell Disney records, some who love Broadway and musicals, a few who love old Bozo The Clown story records, or people who enjoy picking up every record you could find on the back of a cereal box. If you have an interest in records from Canada, Hong Kong, India, or wherever, information is out there to guide you and if not, keep looking. Someone will share your passion.
  • In the United States, Beatles records were released by a number of record companies, with the primary label being Capitol. Initially the label rejected them, but in time would find a home with a Chicago record company known for soul, blues, and gospel called Vee Jay. As The Beatles promotional team were trying to find a way to bank on success in America, they found a way to have a record released on a small Philadelphia label called Swan. It was with this record, “She Loves You”/”I’ll Get You”, that became a pop hit, and would make Capitol Records reconsider their original position. They were signed to Capitol in late 1963, and the label were prepared to make an impact with their British find in January of 1964.

    The buzz would start, and American record labels were not sure what was going on. Only skiffle groups were known to come from England, and yet kids were enjoying the long-haired antics of a group from Liverpool? A few labels discovered that there were songs recorded in the group’s early days, and they obtained the rights to release them. They include MGM and Atco. For a brief moment, Capitol in the U.S. could not keep up with the demand, even though they had their own record pressing plants. In some markets, Beatles records unique to Canada (i.e. they were only released in Canada and did not have a U.S. counterpart) were imported into the U.S., and enough copies were sold to make a dent on the charts. These few records were on Capitol of Canada.

    While The Beatles were not signed by Vee Jay, it didn’t stop them from cashing in on Beatlemania that was attacking. The 14 songs they had acquired the rights to was released as the group’s first American album, the 12-track Introducing The Beatles (the American norm for pop was a 12-track album, while the UK standard was 14, so while there are different variations of Introducing The Beatles, one pressing features “Please Please Me” and “Ask Me Why” while another substitutes them for “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”.) Trying to find a way to sell the same set of songs to the public, those songs were released as singles and 4-song 7″ EP’s. They also released “Twist & Shout” on a subsidiary label, Tollie, which would become the most successful Vee Jay-related record, going as high as #2 on the Billboard singles chart during the week of April 4, 1964 when The Beatles dominated the 1-5 positions, which no one has ever done since (not even Justin Bieber. It did make it to #1 on the Cash Box chart.

    Not wanting to stop, Vee Jay would spread the songs apart and release them a number of ways:
    * a split album with Frank Ifield and releasing it with two different covers
    * a double album “battle” called The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons (later mocked by bootleggers in a number of ways, including the infamous Beatles vs. Don Ho)
    * a single album called Songs, Pictures And Stories Of The Fabulous Beatles
    * a series of “oldies but goodies” 45’s on the Oldies 45 label

    The only record Vee Jay could properly sell without protest was an interview album called Hear The Beatles Tell All. At the time, interview albums were considered almost disposable, so the idea of a record company owning interview recordings was not as big as the music. Speaking of which, Hear The Beatles Tell All did not feature any actual Beatles music, so the record sounds like a long-lost radio talk show but features some nice moments.

  • To make it even more interesting, almost every record on Vee Jay was counterfeited. This is a term to describe records that look official but were not actually ordered by the record company, and are often detected by blurry or off-center printing, different handwriting in the matrix number of the record, or using materials that are different from official pressings. With that said, it may be possible that the counterfeit pressings were printed “under the table”/”after hours” by Vee Jay, so that even as they had no rights to the recordings, they could still place records in stores so they could gain profits from sales. Even long after Vee Jay shut its doors, counterfeit pressings were popping up in the 1980’s, in fact I obtained Hear The Beatles Tell All and Introducing The Beatles from finding the counterfeits. Are these counterfeits of value? To the completist they might be, but since they were plentiful, they’re not often seen as high priced items. They look official, and sometimes the quality of the music sounds decent, but some collectors often desire specific pressings of a record for optimum quality, especially audiophiles. Counterfeits are often compared to old cassette tape dubs: it’s nice but it’s not the real thing.
  • As The Beatles grew in popularity, the band wanted to find a way to start their own company. By 1967, ideas were being thrown about and in 1968, Apple Records was born. “Hey Jude”/”Revolution” was the first record by The Beatles to be released on Apple, and it would be their sole outlet of their music until they split in 1970. Apple was distributed by Capitol Records, and in 1971, every Beatles record released on Capitol would be released with the Apple label, using the same catalog numbers as the originals. When Apple folded in early 1976, Capitol proper would reissue all of them again, a process that would continue with different label variations throughout the rest of the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s.
  • In between, you might find a Beatles song or two on a one-off compilation, or the discovery of old nightclub recordings would circulate and be released by countless smaller companies, but for all intents and purposes, these are the primary labels: Capitol and Vee-Jay (including Tollie and Oldies 45.)

  • If this hasn’t overwhelmed you yet, I’ll try to simplify things a bit, beginning with their first Capitol album, Meet The Beatles. It was customary at the time to release albums in both mono and stereo. Mono, or monaural, were meant to be played on record players/phonographs with one speaker. It was the ordinary, everyday record for everyone. Stereophonic (2-channel) records was promoted as being sophisticated, grown-up, and something to be played on more expensive equipment. Since more people had mono record players, most record labels pressed up mono and Capitol were no exception. The catalog # for the mono pressing is Capitol T-2047, while the stereo pressing is ST-2047, note the addition of the S, which signified “stereo”. You can find the catalog numbers generally on the top right hand side of the cover, the spine, or on the label. Also, stereo pressings of Meet The Beatles would clearly state “Full Dimensional Stereo” on the top:
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    When an album went Gold by selling 500,000 copies, the labels would often print up new covers which stated that title won a “Gold Record Award”, with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) logo. You can find it by looking below the Capitol Records logo on the right hand side:
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    This distinguishes it from early pressings, and is also a factor in pricing. Now, if you see this RIAA “Gold Record” logo, it means again that it sold 500,000 copies. This means technically that at least 300,000 coopies are still roaming the Earth, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a one-of-a-kind “rare” piece. If someone charges $500 for it and it looks like an old photo album found in the back of a pick-up truck, put it down and look elsewhere.

    Having the RIAA thing doesn’t mean it’s not rare or that you can’t sell it. Keep in mind though that most pop and rock’n’roll records were played by kids and teens who could care less about record care. Records were often left out of covers, so if someone stepped on it, it would scrape with the carpet. Not exactly great condition. Handwriting on the cover? Put it down. But if you manage to find a copy that looks like the cellophone plastic was just ripped from it, you *might* have something.

    But then you have the issue of record labels. It was also common for companies to change the design of the label every few years. The most popular titles would get the new labels, and that would be part of the practice until Capitol stopped pressing records on a regular basis. Since Meet The Beatles was released in 1964, Capitol’s labels looked like this:
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    What you see here is the first variation of the mono label, and there would be three others with different things on the label (primarily publishing information) distinguishing them from one another.


  • Trust me, it goes on and on but I find knowing the variations to be fun, and collectors do too. If you want to find out more about these variations and what to look out for, check out Fab 4 Collectibles, Rare Beatles, or some of the great books writing by Bruce Spizer. Even if you know their music inside and out, you might not know what record you have until you do the proper research. You no longer have to leave home to find the right collector’s guides, these three websites are the perfect way to start you on your research.

  • This type of research can and does apply to any other artist, any genre, any label, any decade. If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, you can find out which pressing you have and why yours is the preferred one. Or if you’re selling your copy and a potential buyer wants to know if the lettering is yellow or orange, you’ll know how to find out or know where to look. With The Beatles, it may feel like an endless journey and I think that’s why some collect it, because unless you’re wealthy, you’ll never be able to get every single variation. Part of the fun of record collection is establishing your own rules and boundaries, so have fun.

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  • SOME STUFFS: Register your White Album at WhiteAlbumRegistry.com

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    Do you have an original numbered copy of The Beatles‘ self-titled double LP from 1968? It’s the album commonly known as “The White Album”, and someone wants to know where all of the copies are, specifically the numbered pressings that were originally released in the UK and US? If you have a copy, or maybe your parents or grandparents have one too, make sure you register it at WhiteAlbumRegistry.com.

    The website also asks for some technical information on your copy too, such as how the labels look, how some songs are titled, and what pressing plants they were made at. For the non-record collector, the process of locating this information on your pressing is described at the website itself.

    OPINION: What’s next after The Beatles remasters?

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    Unless you haven’t had a television on for the last month, then you should know that next week will be a huge day for Beatles fans. September 9, 2009, a/k/a 9/9/09, b/k/a “the sacred day of the 9”, is the day that the long awaited Beatles remasters will be released on CD, as individual stereo discs, all of the stereo discs in one box, and a monaural box set for the audio junkies. What’s also coming out is The Beatles: Rock Band video game, where you are able to play along with The Beatles in animated form, with optional guitar, bass, and drum set to play along with. Deep Beatles fans also know that the video game contains digital multi-tracks of the various songs used in the game, which will make it possible to hear isolated bass, guitar, drums, and vocal tracks depending on how they were designed for the game. The CD’s have been put on the floor in some record stores in the U.S., while there were reports that a few of them have been sold at Wal-Mart’s before release day. Some people are also reporting that at a few Wal-Mart’s, some cashier’s will say that the title cannot be purchased until September 9th, but not all of them. In other words, the CD’s hit streets before the release date, so it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the remasters (and the video game) are now available online if you know where to look.

    The question remains: what’s next for The Beatles in terms of releases? Critics had predicted long ago that people would lose interest in the compact disc by 2009, and as fans move over to the MP3 for convenience over quality, it seems there’s a bit of merit to what those critics were saying. If you are to look at what’s being released and reissued, 2009 has shown a mad rush to get out as much music as possible, almost as if record labels are trying to give one last hurrah to their catalogs before it gets purchased by Verizon or Google. To a casual fan, it probably seems like EMI is doing all it can to milk the Beatles teet until it truly dries up. Before the CD, EMI in the UK and Capitol in the U.S. compiled Beatles music in countless ways to sell it to the market, making it possible to hear the same songs again in a new package. The 1987 CD pressings pretty much made compilations like Love Songs, Rarities, and Reel Music pointless, and when thousands of Beatles fans were not satisfied with some of the mistakes found on those 1987 CD’s, they pushed for justice. Over the years, EMI would release their BBC recordings and also come up with the three-part Anthology, something that fans felt was a relief over the same ol’, but it also showed how much of an influence bootleggers had on what appeared on the comp.

    Nonetheless, a casual fan will see the hairy Beatles on the front cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and go “again?” I’ve heard some of the stereo remasters, I’ll have a formal review later on, but I’ll briefly say that soundwise, The Beatles have not sounded any better. Mindblowing. However, what does the future have in store for Beatles fans? As with anything related to the group and their music, no one knows and no one is saying.

    In terms of music, there has never been an official release of their Christmas album.
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    The album was made by Apple Records in 1970 exclusively for fan club members, who would receive a flexi-disc or cardboard record during the holiday season between 1963-1969. These records had not been heard by most fans until the Christmas album was counterfeited. In the digital era, the Christmas album has been packaged countless times, including outtakes from the recording sessions. The album is no longer a secret, as many radio stations around the world will play them alongside regular Christmas fare during the holiday season, but still no legitimate release. Considering how widely available the album is online, perhaps EMI/Apple feel no need to release it but I’m sure someone is saying “when the time is right”. Well, best to do it now so that Paul and Ringo will be able to talk about it for inclusion within liner notes.

    Another side of The Beatles recordings that have been praised by fans are the acetates, where only a small handful were made for each member of the group, perhaps producer Sir George Martin, and close associates. Acetates, known to some as dub plates, were made when a song was recorded in the studio and one of The Beatles wanted to take the recording home for review. A rough mix of a song, the audio equivalent of a “rough sketch”, would be made into a one-off record and given to the intended person. What is of interest is the fact that most of these rough mixes were never released in this form, as they are unpolished and not produced, you’re hearing these songs in the most primitive form without the additions of strings, percussion, vocals, or other elements that may have been added during post-production. These acetates can go for $200+ when put on the market, which is a rare occasion. Existing acetates have also been bootlegged over the years, compiled into CD compilations so fans can hear songs develop from one take to the other. A very small handful are sourced from existing tapes, which would prove to be of value. A lot of times, the rough mix of a song was solely documented for an acetate, it was not saved on tape so the only way that mix can be heard in that fashion is by doing a vinyl transfer from the records.

    Over the years, fans and Beatles scholars have claimed that there isn’t much left in the tape vaults to dig up, that everything that needs to be heard has been released. As time goes on, there seems to be stories of newly discovered tapes, adding to the already valuable cliche of recordings. Another option would be to create alternate mixes of the songs directly from the multi-tracks, similar to what they did with the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. Or a series of isolated tracks from the multi-tracks where Beatles fans can hear just the drums, or just the bass, or maybe the string section? By doing that, it would lead to an endless amount of remixes, mash-ups and variations, which essentially opens the music of The Beatles to anyone and everyone, which arguably would diminish the value of the catalog. Almost 50 years after Decca Records rejected The Beatles, their power has yet to fade, but that’s now. There will come a time when the glory of The Beatles will be nothing more than a 20th century memory, and maybe a conspiracy theory will surface, claiming that The Beatles never existed, that the songs that have moved generations to listen to music differently, look at the world with broader strokes, and perhaps pick up an instrument or sing for the first time, were put together by session musicians from Los Angeles while waiting for Frank Sinatra to come in. Yet with all of the books, videos, and of course the music that exists, it’s all there.

    If anything, it will become one of the greatest phenomenons of the 20th century, how four goofy kids from Liverpool were able to inspire with something as simple as music. Even when there’s nothing left, people will continue to ask for more. Since there is more left, give the fans what they want.


    Here are some other resources you can take a look at for more information on some of the topics discussed in this article:

  • BeatleSource.com, featuring descriptions and photos of the many Beatles acetates that have surfaced over the years, along with promos, photos, and much more.
  • Beatle.net by Bruce Spizer, an author, fan, and collector of The Beatles whose many books on the band are criticially acclaimed and are considered essential by other fans and collectors around the world.
  • Recording The Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehey, by far best and most in-depth book on The Beatles recorded legacy ever made, period.
  • Rare Beatles, a look at some of the more collectible Beatles albums, from records to ticket stubs and more.
  • Beatles Worldwide, a 2-part book showing the many variations of Beatles records around the world.
  • Doug Sulpy, one of the premiere Beatles collectors and scholars, founder of the 910 Beatles fanzine and author of a number of Beatles-related books