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BOOK’S JOOK: The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”/”Revolution”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

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    August 26, 1968 marks the 46th anniversary of the release of the first Beatles record on their own Apple Records label, “Hey Jude” b/w “Revolution”. When I discovered this record, I was getting into the music of the group for the first time, which meant I was still in the single digits, which meant it was the late 1970′s. Paul McCartney’s and George Harrison’s music were all over the radio back then, same for The Beatles, and what I found interesting was that Beatles songs were played along with what was considered new. Pop music was just pop music, the wide divisions of music genres didn’t exist back then. If you wanted country music, hard rock/heavy metal, or jazz, you did have distinct stations but for the most part, you could hear a bit of everything on the right radio stations. I got into hearing The Beatles that way, enjoyed what I was hearing but once I got into who they were, what they were about, I wanted to know why this music moved me.

    When I got my 45 for “Hey Jude”, it would be a catalog number that I remember to this day: 2276. I loved the fact that the A-side was a full album while the B-side was a slice. I loved how the A-side had a song that was 7 minutes and 11 seconds, perhaps the longest song I had ever seen on a “little record” up until that point. However, my copy of “Hey Jude” was the purple variation on Capitol, so it would be a few years before I had my own copy on Capitol, but no matter.
     photo Beatles_2276purple_zps022ee2b3.jpg

    What I loved about the song was how it started off calm and mellow, and when it made its way about three minutes through, it had a four minute fade out. Yes, it would take four minutes for them to fade the song out, with McCartney sounding the closest to gospel he has ever been, bluesy yet happy at the same time with wild screams as if he was letting loose and didn’t want to stop. With each listen, I found myself wanting to remember every scream, every ad lib, it was incredible to hear and feel a song that felt as if it would never end. I loved the string section, the background vocals of the other Beatles, and how Ringo Starr would change up his drumming every few bars. What I also loved was how the band change into a slightly funky groove in its last 15 seconds, but by the time it reaches that point into the song, you have to turn it up very loudly because it’s close to the end.

    If “Hey Jude” was McCartney’s song, “Revolution” is of course a true flip side in that it is John Lennon’s song. I had heard my share of hard rock and heavy metal before, it was and is one of my favorite types of music, but to hear this guitar crunch right off the top felt explosive, as if the stereo was going to go on fire, then followed up by a mean scream from Lennon himself. The song was mid-tempo and while I didn’t know about the song’s meaning at first, it seemed that they were all about wanting to feel good and to “be…alright”. Once I started learning about the song, I realized Lennon was touching on everything from war to personal struggles. It was vocally, musically, and aurally loud, and it remained that way all the way until the end. The bluesy piano, played by Nicky Hopkins, sounded like it was meant to be there, not something foreign or weird, and not only did Hopkins have a solo during the moans and grunts Lennon provided, but he was able to play until the end as Lennon screamed “alright”. Once the song reached its conclusion, it felt as if you were exhausted and just worked up a sweat.

    As a kid, who didn’t want to experience more? “Hey Jude” is my favorite Beatles song of all time, and this record stands out as a solid masterpiece from start to finish. It is glorious, no one can tell me otherwise.

  • 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.

    COVERED: The Beatles vs. Cat Rapes Dog

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    The last album released by The Beatles was actually the second to the last album they recorded, but when Let It Be was released in May 1970, it was indeed the end of the group.

    Cat Rapes Dog released a new album a few weeks ago called Life Was Sweet (Artoffact). The Swedish electropunk band have existed since the early 1980′s, but this is their first album in 14 years. By honoring The Beatles with their album cover and giving it the Life Was Sweet title, one wonders if this will become the group’s last recording. Only time will tell.

    FREE MP3 DL: Kanye West & The Beatles’ “What’s A Black Beatle”

    It is not the first time there has been discussion of a fifth Beatle. Eddie Murphy once created the the character of Clarence Walker for Saturday Night Live, whose claim was that he added the word “man” in songs such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand, Man”.
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    In reality, one of the true “fifth Beatles” was the late Billy Preston, who jammed with the group in early 1969 which lead to him not only sitting in with the group, but being the only “extra” Beatle to receive a credit on their records for “Get Back” and “Don’t Bring Me Down”.
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    As for Kanye West, what business isn’t he getting himself into as of late? This is also not the first time West has come close to being within the Beatles circle, as he put together the Late Orchestration: Live At Abbey Road project.
     photo KanyeWestLateOrch_cover_zpsd8857898.jpg

    Now, with the help of the Tutankhamun Brothers (Mr. Troublesome & UveBrother), The Beatles and West have united again, at least in spirit.
     photo KanyeBeatles_cover_zpsc84d436e.jpg

    The Brothers have put together What’s A Black Beatle, a new mash-up project putting together Beatles instrumental portions with Kanye West’s verbal portions, and what you get is something quite nice. Even though The Beatles multi-tracks have been made available since the release of their Rock Band video game, where the possibilities of remixing and edits have been endless, this is brand new and quite nice. Stream and listen, or download it for free before the man takes it away, man.

    For other Tutankhamun Brothers projects, click here.

    RECORD CRACK: Kamehameha Drive-In and bootleg records

    Kam Drive-In
    On my website, I have referred to the Kamehameha Drive-In a number of times as a hot spot for me in my pre-teen years, as a young music loving vinyl junkie. I will now explain why with the help of this aerial shot.

    The photo you see is the remains of what was the Kamehameha Drive-In (or Kam Drive-In for short) out in a part of Honolulu called Aiea. I have itemized sections of the photo by numbering them, and I highlight it for a specific reason.

    1) This is Pearlridge Shopping Center, which remains to be the only place on Oahu to catch any level of a monorail system, at least for now. I was a kid who was raised “in town”, which meant Honolulu proper, which meant “closer to downtown”. Going to Aiea meant driving west in what felt like 15 to 20 miles, when in truth it’s eight to ten (then again, I was a kid with no car, any time in a car seemed like “forever” if it wasn’t a visit to the beach). According to Wikipedia, Pearlridge is the second biggest shopping center in Hawai’i, the first being Ala Moana.

    2) Kam Drive-In used to be a single screen drive-in for years, and this is where it was positioned.

    3) When the second screen opened in the late 70′s/early 80′s. I definitely remember seeing Clash Of The Titans (1981) on screen #2.

    4) This is where the snack bar and concession stand was. Burgers, grease ass fries full of ketchup, extra buttery popcorn, and ice cream malts were mandadory in our visits to Kam, and oh did that cheese smell so good. Even in 1981, it seemed incredibly dated but cool. If that food was made today, I might not find a liking to it but who knows, I might like it a bit too much. Then again, maybe those ingredients don’t exist anymore, so it’s a mixture of nostalgia and longing for what was.

    This leads me to the section in the photo that is:

    5) This was a wall, a border that separated the Kam-1 and Kam-2 sections. Anyone could walk around it or drive on the sides, there were no chains or police blocking anyone from walking back and forth if needed, but sometime in 1980, I witnessed something I hadn’t seen before nor have I seen since. As a kid getting into The Beatles for the first time, I had discovered a type of a record called a “bootleg”. This was a bit new to me, and the idea of someone random pressing up records of live recordings or studio outtakes seemed cool to me. One day in 1980, there was a dealer who was selling records by the truckload, and I mean a literal truck. Boxes and boxes of records in white covers with covers with pieces of paper that served as their covers, with weird colors although you could still see the photos and song titles. Oh, those song titles. I may not have known the Rolling Stones catalog deeply, but I knew that some of those song titles were incorrect on those sheets. It featured photos of the band I had never seen before, and it wasn’t just one or two Stones bootlegs, but at least 20. It seemed a good amount of them consisted of recording sessions from Some Girls and Black And Blue, as that would have been considered “current” for the time. I don’t remember if there were any boots in support of Emotional Rescue, but there were also albums for live concerts. I had never held a bootleg in my life, but I decided to browse through. As I did, I also saw Beatles titles I had never seen, along with one or two Bruce Springsteen records, an artist of which I knew little of but knew he was the “it” man at the time.

    My parents were frequent visitors of the Kam Swap Meet, my dad looking for car parts and magazines, and my mom looking for some bargain involving dresses or nick-nacks. As a young kid with my own record player, the swap meet was my first sense of finding great music at prices much cheaper than I would find at Woolworthy’s, Sears, or GEM’s, although as was the case, I didn’t get a record with each visit. When I did, I’m sure I promised that I’d never want another record for a long time, or I didn’t need a present for Christmas, anything to “get my way”. As I was looking in the bootleg section, I noticed the price: 10 to 15 dollars for each record. WHAT?!? These were much more than the album I could get at a regular store for $5.99 to $7.99, and these were singles. I was exp… well, my mom was expected to give me $15 for a single record? I dare not even ask for one, but I was blown away at the site of these illegal records of unknown origin. “Do they make them here in Hawai’i?” I’m sure I asked myself. Did someone from Asia ship them here? Are the sellers the bootleggers? I’ve never found an answer, nor did I see the bootleg dealers at the swap meet again.

    However, at record stores like Froggy’s (when it was next to Cinerama movie theaters), they sold bootleg albums like crazy. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and of course Bruce and The Beatles. They also sold counterfeit pressings of albums, and that’s when I had obtained a copy of The Beatles’ Christmas Album. Again, I’m a young Beatles fan who wanted to hear as much music as possible, and here was the album, THE ALBUM, sitting at Froggy’s. I remember telling my mom “I must have this, I must have this.” How much? $15. WHAT?!? There was no way she was buying it. I waited a few more weeks. I pleaded, asked her about it and said she wouldn’t have to buy me anything for the rest of the year. I had good grades and thus my mom bowed down and allowed me to have The Beatles Christmas Album. When I got it home, the first thing I noticed was that the label was a bit blurry. I found out later that that was definitely a counterfeit pressing, as no used record store would sell an original for under $100. I had the songs though, and I was very grateful.

    The bootlegs in the used record bins lasted for about two years or so before they were removed, although I would eventually purchased Beatles bootlegs like Sweet Apple Tracks I & II, Yellow Matter Custard and Indian Rope Trick, and Jimi Hendrix’s Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window, many from a great record store that used to be on King Street called Strawberry Fields Forever.

    To my eyes, seeing a swap meet dealer with boxes of bootlegs felt like I was looking at someone who worked at the bootleg factory, and while seeing boots at used record stores became part of the norm for me, it never topped the vision of those white covers in 1980.

    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.

    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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  • VIDEO: Sgt. Pepper… with help from some friends

    In honor of the 45th anniversary of The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album in full from those who have covered it.

    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

    With A Little Help From My Friends

    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

    Getting Better

    Fixing A Hole

    She’s Leaving Home

    Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite

    Within You, Without You

    When I’m Sixty-Four

    Lovely Rita

    Good Morning, Good Morning

    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

    A Day In The Life

    Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove

    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.


    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.