Ringo’s New CD: Postcards From Paradise Harks Back to Beatles and More

 Ringo’s Starring on a new CD out Tuesday March 31st. His 18th studio release called “Postcards from Paradise” is seemingly timed with his upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18th, where he’ll be brought into the club by lifelong pal, Paul McCartney.RS POSTCARDS“Postcards from Paradise” (not to be confused with “Postcards From The Boys”, a book of mementos sent to Ringo from his pals, published in 2004), is Ringo’s new CD with 11 tracks, all written by Ringo and a fellow musician, with one exception: “Island in the Sun”, the first song ever written by Ringo and his All Starr Band: fellow members Richard Page, Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather and Gregg Bissonette.

The standout track and title song, “Postcards From Paradise” is a wistful, bouncy number that strings together Beatles and Ringo’s lyrics to tell the story of the drummer’s rise to fame and fortune. Lyrics like “I searched here there and everywhere until I saw you standing there” fill the ditty with audio mementos of Ringo and The Boys‘ 8 years together.  Perhaps it’s Ringo’s upcoming induction into the Rock Hall that allows the often forward-looking drummer to take on the back beat of his life, though he’s done so before in songs like “Liverpool 8”, “In Liverpool” and “The Other Side of Liverpool”. Do I see a theme here?


In case you’re wondering, there are 30 lyrical references to Beatles songs, compositions and Ringo tunes in “Postcards from Paradise”, 6 are repeated in the songs chorus, adding up to a total of 36 and only one was NOT composed by a member of The Beatles. Can you guess which one?  The answer and one other bit of trivia is coming up.

The new CD opens with a track called “Rory and The Hurricanes”, written by Ringo and Dave Stewart, that clearly harks back to his drum beginnings, in an upbeat tribute to his first band, along with a nod to Tommy Steele, often regarded as England’s first teen idol and rock and roll star.

“You Bring the Party Down”, track 2, was written by Ringo and Toto member Steve Lukather. Hey, Debbie Downer, this one’s for you.

“Bridges” was penned by Richie and his brother in law, Joe Walsh, with encouraging lyrics like, “Down every road we come to bridges. Crossing Bridges is the best way to grow”.

“Right Side of The Road” was co-written by Richard Marx, a former All Starr Band member and hit maker on his own. “You’re on the right side of the wrong side of the road” and “something’s gotta change”, say the boys. Beatle-buddy Peter Frampton (who has a son named Julian), plays guitar on this song and “Let Love Lead”.

Another Marx co-penned effort is called “Not Looking Back”, a heartfelt dedication to wife Barbara, where Ringo sincerely says “I’m looking forward, not looking back”.

“Bamboula” is “engagin’ the ragin’ that’s Cajun with gumbo rumble and mumbo jumbo”. It rolls along with pure Cajun lyrics, a spirited back beat and a hearty, upbeat lead vocal by Ringo that’s “callin’ …you all in…New Awlins”. Though a month late for Mardi Gras, “Bamboula” won’t fool ya, it’s guaranteed to be played up and down Bourbon Street this year.

“Island in the Sun” is the track written by the entire All Starr Band. In this reggae flavored tune, the band’s searchin’ for that island in the sun in lyrics like “don’t worry ’bout the future but don’t forget about the past”, a theme that’s running through this CD.

For “Touch and Go”, Ringo reunites with former Roundhead members Gary Burr and Steve Dudas with Burr sharing co-writing credit.

“Confirmation” reaffirms a love that wasn’t easy and features Glen Ballard, who is most know for co-writing and producing Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” plus he’s worked with dozens of other monster hit-makers including Michael Jackson, Dave Mathew’s Band and Shakira.

“Let Love Lead” is the final track on the CD, co written by country singer / Grammy winning musician Gary Nicholson who shares a past with All Starr Band member Todd Rundgren as having both been in Nazz at different times.  “Let Love Lead” ends the CD on a positive note and asks you to allow love into your heart when you’re having a tough time and don’t know what to do.

You know what you can do? Pick up or download Ringo’s “Postcards from Paradise”, due out Tuesday from Universal Music and two days later on vinyl.

As for the count of Beatles and solo references in the title track “Postcards from Paradise”, it’s 30 with 6 lyrics repeated as mentioned earlier. The only lyric quoted from a song NOT written by Lennon-McCartney-Harrison or Starr is “Twist and Shout”, a song written by Bert-Russell and first made famous by The Isley Brothers.  You may also have spotted the “Bad to Me” lyric, a song written by Lennon – McCartney, but recorded by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas.


Listen to hear tracks from Ringo’s “Postcards from Paradise” on Joe Johnson’s Beatle Brunch with a chance to win your copy in the Mind Games portion of the program.  Go to www.brunchradio.com to find a station that streams the show, or join The Beatle Brunch Club for pennies at day.  Remember to follow Beatle Brunch on Twitter and connect with us on Facebook.




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East Meets West: Paul is working with Kanye and She Loves it, Yeah Yeah Yeah

Setup Introduction by Joe Johnson:

The following opinion piece was written by Nikki Denet.  Beatle Brunch listeners / readers may know Nikki for her excellent behind the scenes coverage of two significant Macca events: Paul’s secret performance for Ringo’s 70th birthday, and Paul guest starring and playing on The Colbert Report. Nikki’s a young Beatle fan, so her take on Paul working with Kanye will more than likely differ from anyone’s opinion who’s over 50.  I’ve heard the Kanye song “All Day”. It doesn’t do anything for me, (I can’t even count the amount of “N” words in it) BUT, the fact that The Beatles made it very clear that they were inspired by rhythm and blues, or music by black artists of the 50’s and early 60’s when they started out (they covered The Isley Brothers, Larry Williams, The Shirelles, The Donays, Smokey Robinson, Little Richard and dozens more and even told Larry Kane in 1964 that they would boycott their September 11, 1964 concert at The Gator Bowl in Jacksonville if there was going to be any segregation), gives us pause to consider the current musical synergy between Sir Paul and Sir-Interupptus. We’ve loaded the song on our website if you dare listen. It’s on The Vox amp on the upper left corner of our home page http://www.brunchradio.com. Now Nikki, “I’mma let you finish”.

Now: Nikki Denet’s special article to Beatle Brunch:

“All Day,” Kanye West’s latest and greatest new track from his upcoming seventh album “So Help Me God,” features PaulAllan Kingdom and Theophilus London, and samples a 45-year-old demo Paul made that was an experiment in trying to write a song using only two fingers on the guitar, which eventually became “When The Wind Is Blowing,” from the Rupert The Bear soundtrack. Unlike his other Kanye-collaborations “Only One,” and “FourFiveSeconds,” (the latter including Rihanna, landing the trio in the top-5), “All Day,” is much more lyric-heavy, high-powered and beat-driven than its predecessors, making it almost reminiscent of 2013’s “Yeezus,” and is a clear sign that, unlike the first two tracks, Paul hasn’t gotten Kanye to mellow on us completely.


The general reception of this collaboration – certainly among longtime McCartney/Beatles fans – has been mixed, with confusion and for some, even outrage. Of course, it can’t be denied that it’s an unusual pairing, and it’s human nature to judge what we don’t know (“we mock what we don’t understand”, to borrow a phrase). Hip-hop is one of the few musical genres that Paul has previously never attempted to conquer, but let’s be honest, it was inevitable that he would. Paul McCartney didn’t get to where he is by placing musical limits on himself, and even at 72 years old, he continues to strive towards exercising and challenging himself creatively. Quite simply, it would be un-Paul-like of him to continue to make contemporary music without venturing into what has become such a powerful force in the music industry.


It would certainly make sense that Paul would begin to work with – and pass on his creative savoir-faire to – younger artists at this point in his career. Hip-hop has become synonymous with contemporary music, even if contemporary music is highly criticized, since it is music that is not made with the conventional forms of “skill” and “talent” that some associate with music that is considered to be worthy of being labeled “good.” Nevertheless, contemporary music is based, as it was in years past, on utilizing and taking advantage of what modern technology has afforded us. The Beatles themselves were notorious – and celebrated – for using new methods of recording techniques and developing methods to assist them in deviating from the traditional ways in which music was recorded. Similarly, Hip-hop is a genre that challenges the conventional creative mold completely, which likely led to the delay in it being accepted as a legitimate musical category (The Grammys did not even recognize rap/hip-hop music until they introduced the “Best Rap Performance” in 1989,) and in decades since, has advanced, cultivated and transcended from a popular genre into a universally celebrated lifestyle. Kanye West is undeniably at the forefront of this influence, and continues to indulge himself in every single aspect of the creative process of making a hip-hop record, so if Paul were likely to collaborate with anyone on his foray into the genre, few people would’ve likely been more qualified.

Critics may believe this is Paul’s embarrassing attempt at “staying relevant,” but then, what artist doesn’t work at staying relevant? On the other hand, for someone who has achieved as much as Paul has at this point, no matter what kind of music he creates, should there even be a question as to whether or not he’s attained relevance? It’s actually pretty amazing that Paul chooses not to spend this point of his career upholding some unachievable standard that deems him “too good,” to work with contemporary artists. Considering his age and his legendary status in popular music, the fact that he is still modest in his willingness to continue to contribute to a genre that he’s played such an significant role in revolutionizing is rather incredible. The man is no snob, especially when it comes to his music.

Love it or hate it, one thing that it indisputable is that this collaboration shouldn’t be surprising. Both Kanye and Paul have been both directly and indirectly associating themselves with the other for years now. Paul has been vocal about the fact that he’s been a fan of Kanye’s, even name-dropping Kanye and Jay-Z’s 2011/2012 “Watch The Throne,” tour as one of his favorite concerts that he attended (and one could assume Paul might’ve gotten the idea to incorporate a mini rising stage during his concert from attending this tour, which featured an identical set up.) Likewise, Kanye has been incorporating Paul into his music as far back as 2003, when he was still working as the in-house producer for Roc-A-Fella records. “Encore,” one of two tracks he produced for Jay Z’s critically-acclaimed “Black Album,” features a sample of John Holt’s cover of Paul’s “I Will,” (officially credited to Lennon-McCartney). Additionally, in 2006, Kanye recorded his live album, “Late Orchestration,” at Abbey Road Studio’s, with the album cover depicting Kanye’s mascot and trademark, the Dropout Bear, emulating the album cover of The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”

Kanye achieved much of his early success (first as a producer, and then as a rapper) in hip-hop by sampling artists that you wouldn’t hear on a typical hip-hop record; fusing them into his music to create a unique sound that appeals to hip-hop as well as mainstream popular music. Over the course of his career, he has sampled and incorporated an eclectic mix of songs into his music such as Elton John’s ”Someone Saved My Life Tonight” (“Good Morning”), Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” (“Champion”), Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nothings” (“Bound 2”), Nina Simone’s cover of “Strange Fruit” (“Blood On The Leaves”), Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up” (“Touch The Sky”), and Bon Iver’s “Woods” (“Lost In The World”) among countless others. Additionally, every one of Kanye’s albums details a distinct musical progression that most contemporary artists fail at attaining. This is predominantly why Kanye is consistently credited with changing the face of hip-hop, because he aims to defy the convention of what tradition deems as “good” music and like Paul, he is constantly searching for new outlets to showcase his creativity.

Since it’s clearly Kanye’s M.O. to sample songs from highly respected artists, it’s expected that a product of his and Paul’s collaboration would be a track that samples one of Paul’s original songs. “All Day,” does what “Only One,” and “FourFiveSeconds,” didn’t do: refuses to play it safe. From a creative perspective, “Only One,” and “FourFiveSeconds,” are both songs that are not lyric-heavy, and they do not attempt to deviate that far from Paul’s comfort zone as much as it does Kanye’s. Paul is kept safely in the background on tracks, and Paul’s fans who are not familiar with hip-hop or Kanye’s music can listen to it without much cause for complaint. In contrast, “All Day,” changes this formula completely, and rightfully so. It transcends the invisible boundary that musical genres dictate, it challenges and adds yet another facet to Paul’s musical breadth (something that is quite difficult to achieve in a 50 plus year career). It familiarizes Paul’s fans with a contemporary genre that they may have been previously ill-versed in, and it also transforms and pushes his lesser-known 45-year-old tune onto the mainstream stage and into the ears of a brand new audience. Check out the views and recent comments on any YouTube video of Paul’s 1999 Parkinson Show appearance (where he demonstrated the “Where The Wind Is Blowing” passage). The song is doing its job already.

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Paul On The Run for Last-Minute Surprise Irving Plaza Concert

With little fanfare and hardly any notice, Paul McCartney took “Out There” “In There”, to Irving Plaza on Saturday night, where 1000 “true” Macca fans were able to take part in the festivities and enjoy the show. The following report was filed by Beatle Brunch contributor Tom Frangione, who also writes for Beatlefan Magazine.

Paul: “Hello Irving”


Adding to the already festive atmosphere in The Big Apple this holiday weekend, what with the NBA All-Star Game and the Saturday Night Live (SNL) 40th Anniversary celebration, Paul McCartney delivered fans a surprise Valentine by playing a secret gig at a small downtown concert hall. McCartney has done these last-minute shows here and in other cities, but having one on a night made for lovers seemed all too fitting.


A sizable chunk the 1025-capacity hall was taken up by the VIP loge (spotted were numerous SNL folks, including Lorne Michaels, David Spade and Chris Rock along with comedian Larry David, and music friend (Little) Steven Van Zandt. The remaining tickets were distributed to fan club members selected from the paulmccartney.com website registry and via a very limited, cash-on-the-barrelhead, one-per customer numbered-wristband sale the morning of the event. Needless to say, these were snapped up before most fans were even aware of their availability.

Band 1

For those of us selected at random from the website registry, calls were made the night before the show from the Crowd Surge ticket office, advising of the show and that Paul wanted some real fans to be there (recalling the old Wings Fun Club modus operandi). No other details such as the show time or venue were shared; all we were told is that a follow-up email would be forthcoming. A few hours later the email arrived, providing only an address to pick up wristbands (we could bring a guest and get two) between 4 and 9 pm, meaning the show would be a late one.

Acoustic 1

Upon arriving at the hospitality suite to get the wristbands, guests were each given a single long stem rose, and an envelope with foil hearts and some chocolate kisses. Photos were taken of couples in front of a holiday themed backdrop complete with teddy bears, balloons, hearts and flowers. Most importantly, the venue and instructions to line up at 9:30 were also provided.

Paul sat

After an intimate dinner, we headed over to the venue, and spotted some other familiar/friendly faces in the queue. The admission process was swift and efficient, and we were in the hall by 9:45. Of course, there was a rush to the front of the standing-room-only, general admission ballroom. While mostly organized, cordial and uneventful, some “packing in” caused at least one fan to pass out during the hour-plus wait for the show to begin. Our vantage point was the equivalent of about the 5th row, just left of center.

paul sat 2

Paul and the band took to the stage just after 11pm, and delivered a tight 24-song / 100-minute set, truncated from the normal stadium/arena repertoire, and with several set list surprises. The close quarters on the stage, and stripped down production made the band seem more “locked in”, benefitting the performance greatly.

The set list ran as follows:

Paul on bass:

  • Eight Days A Week
  • Save Us
  • All My Loving
  • One After 909 (a rarity. This one hadn’t been played here in NYC since the Apollo Theatre show in 2010. A terrific performance, with only a minor lyric flub / repeated line in the bridge after the guitar solo). 

Paul on electric guitar:

  • Matchbox (while a staple of the sound checks, Paul noted they wanted to play a few that aren’t in the normal set list. Interestingly, Ringo Starr kicked off the latest leg of his All-Starr Band tour this weekend, and this one is typically the opening number).
  • Let Me Roll It (with the customary “Foxy Lady” reprise)\

Paul on piano (note, the psychedelic piano was nowhere to be found. All piano performances were done on the Yamaha grand):

  • Nineteen Hundred Eighty Five
  • My Valentine (the big “production number”, complete with real – and paper – rose petals floated over the ballroom throughout)
  • Maybe I’m Amazed

Paul on acoustic guitar:

  • I’ve Just Seen A Face
  • It’s So Easy (the Buddy Holly number, a true set list rarity, complete with a lyrical twist in the last verse, with Paul and the band singing “it’s so squeezy”)
  • Every Night
  • Another Day (with Paul on 12-string guitar)
  • We Can Work It Out
  • And I Love Her

Paul on piano:

  • New
  • Lady Madonna

Paul on bass:

  • Jet
  • Drive My Car

–          Interesting placement; these two numbers are typically found in the opening set

  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Back In The USSR

Paul on piano:

  • Let It Be (an exceptionally stunning version)
  • Hey Jude

ENCORE (Paul on piano and electric guitar):

  • Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End

–          Yes, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. A befitting ending to the evening.

While one could go on and on about other ballads that would have been appropriate for inclusion (“My Love”, anyone ?) it was an interesting set given the omissions of some staples – “Yesterday” and “Band On The Run” among them. But again, this was a decidedly “boutique” affair. And while the rumors of surprise guests – ranging from Billy Joel to Kanye West – proved unfounded, nobody can say they didn’t get their 40 bucks worth.

As an added touch, all fans were given a commemorative hard-stock poster as a souvenir of the show upon exiting the venue.

As Paul’s concert travels did not include a stop in New York City this past year (Albany was as close as he got), it was a splendid homecoming.

photos and images courtesy of Mitch Axelrod and Tom Frangione

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Feeling Like a King on The Queen Mary 2 Beatles Cruise


I was on a Fab journey recently, feeling a bit like Beatles’ royalty on board The Queen Mary 2, one of Cunard’s luxurious ocean liners. I was invited by Cunard to come aboard and present three lectures on The Beatles, “The Beatles Ed Sullivan Show Appearances”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, and “The Beatles from Sgt. Pepper to Abbey Road.”


This transatlantic crossing was new to me because it was on a non-stop journey across the north atlantic from New York to Southampton. This type of traveling gives one a chance to relax and enjoy the ocean liner for all she has to offer. There were films, live performances, high tea at 3:30, pools, a gym, an amazing spa and specialty programs, with a Beatles theme running through our entire week on board.


The highlight was being invited to present three talks on The Beatles and enjoy our other special Beatles guests, Ivor Davis, who was with The Beatles on their first American tour in 1964 and The Beatles’ Experience tribute band, who played two shows for us on board The Queen Mary 2 and participated with Ivor and me in a live question and answer for a nice crowd of Beatle fans.

Ivor Davis and I have become fast friends, having The Beatles in common, of course. Ivor has a new book out called “The Beatles and Me on Tour” full of personal stories of spending intimate time with The Beatles in their suites, their limousines, on the charter jet and backstage. Ivor has never before heard stories of his time with The Beatles, like the night The Beatles met Elvis (he was the only press person allowed inside the house with The Beatles that night).  So many other stories and photos fill the book. It’s a must-read for Beatle fans.




SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI met a shipload of Beatle fans on board, who were kind enough to come up and chat after each of my lectures, and I was invited by DJ Chris to be on his ship-wide radio show the night before my last lecture.



There’s no way I could have had a successful trio of lectures without my Production Manager and now Fiance, Coop, who was there when my videos went dark and saved the day with her backup Mac. Thanks Coop!


Here now is Ivor Davis’ blog account of the transatlantic crossing. I urge you to find his book on Amazon.com and order a copy for yourself and a friend.  Also visit his website for more on this wonderful author and friend.


                                            MY ADVENTURES ON THE VENERABLE QUEEN MARY 2
By  Ivor Davis—
“Travelling by boat has this wonderful, timeless romantic aspect. The Atlantic just rocked me peacefully to sleep each night”
I have a particular fondness for the Queen Mary passenger liners.  The original Queen Mary of course, was the way to go in the heyday of the glamor pre World War II years.  But then during the War it became “The Grey Ghost” and was retro-fitted as a troop ship carrying at one time 15,000 servicemen and women on a single voyage.
But then in l967—back as a glorious luxury passenger liner– it brought my wife to be, Sally Ogle from Northern Ireland to the United States, and then in late l967  I travelled on the very last historic voyage, the final leg of the legendary liner from Acapulco to Long Beach California— its final resting place, on  an historic voyage.
Fast forward to 2014—and I recently had the opportunity to sample the delights of the new Queen Mary II, on a trip from New York to Southampton.  This year is the 50th anniversary of The Beatles invasion of America—and on a recent crossing to Southampton my “gig”—if you can call it that—was as a guest lecturer talking about The Beatles.  I chatted about my new book “The Beatles and Me On Tour”, which as blog readers know, recounts my amazing first hand travels with The Fab Four when they first came to tour America in the Summer of l964.
As most Beatle fans know, the tour followed hard on the heels of their sensational appearances on the Ed Sullivan TV show in February l964 and went on to change the face of rock and roll history. Part of my job–I told passengers– on that amazing journey with the Fab Four,  was to ghostwrite Beatle George Harrison’s newspaper column.
 Also along for this crossing, was a popular British Beatles cover band (“The Beatles Experience.”)  There was me, of course,  along  was another Beatles expert, Joe Johnson, who is the host of the enormously successful syndicated Beatle Brunch radio program. He has interviewed The Beatles and listening to him speak I learned lots of stuff I never knew about the Liverpool lads. Joe’s producer, the lovely Jamie Cooper, was a precious resource during lectures.
My transatlantic passage was fun.  I got the chance to tell some of the  2,600 guests on the crossing what it was like to hang out  with John, Paul, George and Ringo, at a time when even The Beatles didn’t think their popularity would last longer than a few years.  As a lecturer (and there have been many) I joined the ranks of rocker Rod Stewart, Monty Python stalwart John Cleese, the late David Frost, Donald Trump and Carly Simon who have entertained guests on the liner.
I enjoyed fine dining, good wines, superb entertainment and a tremendous diversity of passengers from all over the world who were on the crossing. The highlight for me was a performance by a British singer named Phillip Browne, (“The Lion King”)  who has an incredible voice and is hugely popular on the QM2.
I also enjoyed looking for the “ghosts” of The Queen Mary, and viewing the wonderful gallery of big blow up black and  white photos of some of the greats of showbusiness and the literary world, who had traveled on the Queen.  They included Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Buster Keaton, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Noel Coward, Bing Crosby, Burt Lancaster,  David Niven, Rita Hayworth and screen Tarzan Johnny Weismuller.
The lectures were well attended—mainly, I presume, because those on the crossing were not having to worry about whether to sign up for a tour during the Atlantic journey. There’s no stops on this voyage–except to disembark in England.
Following my lectures,  I went up to the 8th floor library and book store where I signed and sold my books.  My only blip was the time an elderly gentleman, not being aware of the scheduled book signing in the library, which required me to converse and be friendly with those who wanted to share Beatle stories and get their books autographed, charged up to me and declared, “Sir, have you no respect for the library noise etiquette.”  Of course, I did. I apologized for not speaking in a whisper– and then the gentleman sat back in a comfortable armchair in the library– and promptly fell fast asleep!


(above, our maitre’d Luis, along with Coop and Beatle Brunch host Joe Johnson) 

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Updated: A Lennon Story: With Love From Us to You

I’ve just revised this column because I found some historic audio. Please continue reading: 

People who listen to Beatle Brunch often ask me who in The Beatles’ circle I’ve interviewed for the show. The answer is pretty much everyone in the inner circle with the exception of John and George, and how I would have loved to speak with either one or both. I did have an almost-John moment and here’s how it went.


John and Yoko, 1980 New York City

Back in 1980, when John turned 40, my morning radio partner and I were both committed Beatle fans. Though I was only 22, I loved The Beatles and took any opportunity to pay tribute to them on the air.  On October 9th, 1980, when John turned 40, my radio partner Dave Caprita and I sang a duet in tribute to him (with apologies to “From Me to You”) called “From Us to You” using the instrumental side of the released stereo hit with vocals on one side and instruments on the other.  The lyrics, a parody of John getting older, sang “When a Beatle reaches 40, he ain’t so young no more, ‘cause his grey hair don’t look sporty, when it reaches to the floor”. Well you can just imagine how corny and funny it might have been to John, who still had his Liverpool sense of humor.

JJ studio 1

me in the air chair, circa 1980

We played it on the air a few times and even considered using it on a morning show best-of album we were working on. Of course back in 1980, there were no radio stations streaming on line, so the only chance John would have had to hear it is if he were in town staying at his Palm Beach home. Knowing that he probably didn’t hear it, I grabbed a cassette of it and considered popping it in the mail to him, but for some reason I never did. Producing last weekend’s Beatle Brunch tribute to John I was reminded of what a huge Beatle fan he was by one of the artists I spoke with for this show, Dave Morrell. Dave, a super Beatle fan and later, New York record rep in the 70’s, was contacted by John who wanted to see a rare Beatles record from Dave’s collection. The two met and John was so impressed, that he gave Dave a signed copy of his personal Beatles Butcher Cover album (below). Dave’s book is called “Horsedoggin: The Morrell Archives Vol. 1”, and it’s a fun read about John and Dave’s antics in the crazy world of record promotion.


Dave Morrell’s signed Butcher Cover

By the way, I never got the chance to meet or speak with John, and sadly, he was killed just two months after I recorded that tribute song for him.  But, I’ve just revised this blog because I went back to my tape archives from 34 years ago and found the tribute song on a reel to reel. I’ve uploaded it to the Beatle Brunch website. Just click on the VOX amp in the upper left hand corner of the home page.  Remember, this was 34 years ago, before we had multi track and digital recording, so it was sung “live” to the track in a couple of takes (and I was 22 at the time).  Hope you enjoy it for what it is. It’s strange to hear it today and think that John was still alive when we recorded it.

In closing, to add to my opening statement, I have had the chance to meet and interview Yoko Ono on several occasions and I can tell you, she gives a warm, humble and loving interview.  Imagine that.

Happy Birthday John, your hair would have looked sporty reaching to the floor.


Me and friends at Strawberry Fields, Central Park, l-r Al Sussman,  Tom Frangione, yours truly, Susan Ryan.

You can find Dave’s book on amazon.com. It’s a fast and fun read. And I hope you had a chance to listen to last weekend’s tribute to John featuring an interview with Dave Morrell and Jude Southerland Kessler, as well as Tim Piper’s musical tribute to John. Join The Beatle Brunch Club to hear the show on demand, with bonus content and click VOX on the home page to hear the song from 1980.


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George Harrison The Apple Years Box Set Coming

Beatle Brunch is excited to be partnering with Universal Music Group to offer our listeners the chance to win the newly remastered George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75 (6 CDs 1 DVD) – To Be Released September 23rd in the U.S.)

green logo

Here’s the story on the box:

In November 1968, George Harrison released “Wonderwall Music”. A soundtrack to an art film called “Wonderwall” this predominantly Indian music collection was the first solo album to be released by a Beatle and also the first album on the newly formed Apple Records. George would continue to release albums on Apple (and EMI) through to 1975’s soul-influenced “Extra Texture (Read All About It)” touching on experimentalism with “Electronic Sound”, the magnificent triple album “All Things Must Pass”, the chart-topping “Living In The Material World” and the, perhaps, less well-known “Dark Horse”. This box brings all these eclectic albums together in one set that mirrors 2004’s “Dark Horse Years” box set and will contain a perfect bound book with a DVD. All albums have been remastered by Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks and all will be packaged in high-quality card packs and all albums, apart from “All Things Must Pass” and “Living In The Material World” contain newly written notes by Kevin Howlett. The DVD contains a brand new, never before seen video which has been painstakingly overseen by Olivia Harrison and all packages contain new photos – many never seen before.

Universal Music Group and the Harrison family are proud to announce that George Harrison’s first six solo albums, released between 1968 and 1975 on The Beatles’ Apple Records label, have been digitally remastered from the original analogue masters for CD and digital release on 23 September by UMG.  Wonderwall MusicElectronic SoundAll Things Must PassLiving In The Material WorldDark Horse, and Extra Texture (Read All About It).


Watch a video of what’s in the box here

box full

Wonderwall Music
“The album was a film soundtrack but as a standalone vision it embraces a glorious multiverse of sonorous vignettes like nothing I’ve ever heard. It speaks of a fearless heart.” – Nitin Sawney

Released in November 1968, George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music was the first solo album released by a member of The Beatles and the first LP to be released by Apple Records. The soundtrack music for director Joe Massot’s debut feature-length film, Wonderwall, the predominantly instrumental album is an intricate, vibrant tapestry of Western rock music and compositions in an Indian classical style. In 1992, George recalled, “I decided to do it as a mini-anthology of Indian music, because I wanted to help turn the public on to Indian music.”  Three bonus tracks have been added to the remastered album:  “In The First Place” by Liverpool group The Remo Four, who played the rock elements of the recording sessions, a previously unreleased alternate take of “The Inner Light,” (Beatle Brunch is VERY excited about this track!) and the previously unreleased “Almost Shankara,” a raga that was not used in the film or for the soundtrack LP. The booklet also includes a new essay of appreciation by the acclaimed musician, producer and composer Nitin Sawney and newly written historical notes by Kevin Howlett.

Electronic Sound
“Squalls of cavernous sound, white noise explosions, beautiful delicate patterns, the sound was wild and fluid and bore no relation to George’s other work.” – Tom Rowlands (The Chemical Brothers)

As a direct result of The Beatles’ keen curiosity about experimental music and other avant-garde artistic expression, Apple Records launched its short-lived Zapple subsidiary in February 1969 as a forum for unfettered sonic exploration, or, as announced at the time, “more freaky sounds.” George’s Electronic Sound and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions, both released in May 1969, were Zapple’s only releases before it was closed down.  Electronic Sound’s cover art, painted by George, depicts his Moog IIIP (which was later used on four tracks by The Beatles on their album Abbey Road) with the four modules from which the sound was synthesized. Each side of the Electronic Sound LP featured one exploratory long-form work. However, the American version of the album placed the pieces on opposite sides to the UK record, but with the same titles retained on the labels. Consequently, there has been confusion about which track is which. Research for the out-of-print album’s new release revealed that the UK LP was correct with “Under The Mersey Wall” on Side 1 and “No Time Or Space” on Side 2. The CD booklet includes new essays by The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands and Dhani Harrison, as well as newly written historical notes by Kevin Howlett.

All Things Must Pass (previously released on its own)

“It is both an intensely personal statement and a grandiose gesture, a triumph over artistic modesty, even frustration. In this extravaganza of piety and sacrifice and joy the music itself is no longer the only message.” – Ben Gerson (excerpt, 1971 Rolling Stone review)

All Things Must Pass was released by Apple Records in November 1970. Co-produced by Harrison and Phil Spector, many musicians contributed to the album, including Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Pete Drake, Gary Wright, Klaus Voormann, members of Badfinger, players from Delaney and Bonnie band, and John Barham. The triple-LP topped charts around the world and earned universal acclaim as a rock masterpiece.  George became the first Beatle to have a solo number one single in both the UK and America with the album’s lead single, “My Sweet Lord,” which introduced his signature slide guitar playing.  George co-wrote the album’s opening track, “I’d Have You Anytime” with his friend Bob Dylan, who also wrote another song on the landmark album, “If Not For You.”  The new package includes the five additional tracks added to the album’s 2001 reissue: “I Live For You” (outtake), “Beware Of Darkness” (demo), “Let It Down” (alternative version), “What Is Life” (backing track), and “My Sweet Lord (2000).”

Living In The Material World  (includes never before released tracks)

“What we need isn’t material, it’s spiritual. We need some other form of peace and happiness.” – George Harrison (1967)

 In May 1973 came the release of George’s second studio album of new songs, Living In The Material World.  He was joined in the studio by several musician friends who had also played on All Things Must Pass and others like Jim Keltner, with whom he had worked during The Concert for Bangladesh concerts in 1971.  The album and its lead single, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” both reached number one in America and on charts around the world. The spiritual nature of Living In The Material World, described by Rolling Stone as “miraculous in its radiance,” is also reflected in the inclusion of an illustration from the Bhagavad-Gita in the artwork. The new release adds a remix of the single version of “Bangla Desh,” which has previously been available only on The Best Of George Harrison (1976), as well as two B-sides included on the album’s 2006 reissue, “Deep Blue” and “Miss O’Dell.”

Dark Horse (includes never before released tracks)
“To write a song is, to me, more a case of being the vehicle to get over that feeling of that moment, of that time.” – George Harrison  

Released in December 1974, Dark Horse capped a prolific year for George, during which he had established his own Dark Horse record label, built a recording studio in his Friar Park home in England, and completed an ambitious tour of North America.  Throughout the year, Harrison produced albums for several artists while also recording his own. The songs on the LP document both George’s fallibility, in “Simply Shady,” and his spirituality, in “It Is ‘He’ (Jai Sri Krishna).”  Dark Horse reached the top five in America, sounding a high note at the end of Harrison’s rather frenetic year. The new release adds “I Don’t Care Anymore,” a sought after B-side making its CD debut, and a previously unreleased early, acoustic take of “Dark Horse.” The CD booklet includes newly written historical notes by Kevin Howlett.

Extra Texture (Read All About It)  (includes never before released tracks)

“The songs on Extra Texture are as introspective as any of George’s albums.  The first track is what he would call a pop song and the last song is an eccentric homage to Bonzo Dog “Legs” Larry Smith. But in between are tracks with strong melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. They are moody and personal and some of my favourites.” – Olivia Harrison

In late 1974, George returned to California to record his next album, the soul-tinged Extra Texture (Read All About It), his final album to be released through Apple Records. Leon Russell played piano on “Tired Of Midnight Blue,” and for some of the sessions, Harrison was joined by guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, plus Jim Keltner, Paul Stallworth, and David Foster from new band Attitudes, who were later signed by George’s newly formed Dark Horse label.  Two of the LP’s songs date from 1974 sessions for Dark Horse at George’s home studio: the soulful love song “Can’t Stop Thinking About You” and the backing track of “His Name Is ‘Legs’ (Ladies & Gentlemen).”  The new release adds “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying),” a song Harrison rerecorded in 1992 as a demo for Dave Stewart, who plays electric guitar on it. More than ten years later, the track received overdubs by Ringo Starr on drums, Dhani Harrison on guitar, and vocalist Kara DioGuardi.  The CD booklet includes newly written historical notes by Kevin Howlett.

Designed to complement Harrison’s 2004 collection, The Dark Horse Years 1976-92, the new box features an exclusive DVD with several video pieces, including a new seven-minute film with previously unreleased footage. The Apple Years box also includes an exclusive perfect-bound book with an introduction by Dhani Harrison, new essays by award-winning radio producer and author Kevin Howlett, and rare and previously unpublished images.

This project has been overseen by George’s son, Dhani Harrison:I am so happy that what we started a decade ago by releasing The Dark Horse Years is now complete with the release of his first six albums as The Apple Years. Some of these records have long been out of print, and so I cannot wait for music lovers to get their hands on these newly remastered versions. It’s a very proud moment for us, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped us in any way to achieve this.

The six albums have been digitally restored and remastered at Lurssen Mastering in Los Angeles by a GRAMMY® Award-winning team of engineers including Paul Hicks, Gavin Lurssen, and Reuben Cohen.  Wonderwall MusicLiving In The Material WorldDark Horse, and Extra Texture (Read All About It) are all newly expanded with previously unreleased or rare additional tracks. All Things Must Pass includes the five extra tracks first released in 2001.

See Olivia Harrison at 2:23 into this video for Crackerbox Palace (not part of the new Apple Box).

Beatle Brunch will be offering the full box set as a grand prize to a member in the Beatle Brunch Club, join up now at www.brunchradio.com we will also be featuring songs from the set as well as interviews with those involved in its reissue.

Don’t get to hear Beatle Brunch where you live?  Go to this station’s page and find a local radio station that streams the show at a time that’s convenient for you, or join The Beatle Brunch Club and hear every week’s show on demand.


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Ultimate Beatles Cruise Setting Sail This Fall on QM 2

Beatle fans, now you can cruise with Beatle Brunch host Joe Johnson from one Beatles historic port to the next, on board Cunard’s luxury liner, The Queen Mary 2.


Join Joe on board The QM 2 on a transatlantic cruise departing New York City, (the site of The Beatles first U.S. visit), on Tuesday October 28th, sailing across the pond to Southampton, where The Beatles famously played the Gaumont Cinema on The Roy Orbison tour, 1963, along with Gerry and The Pacemakers.


On this cruise, Joe will present several multi-media talks on the history of The Beatles, including an all-inclusive presentation of A Hard Day’s Night, which just had it’s 50th anniversary remastering for blu ray and DVD.


Hear and see behind the scenes stories on the making of this landmark film, a “Marx Brother’s” film of its day, via newly released photos and enhanced video.  Joe will also present two other Beatle talks and be looking for Beatle fans to interview for an upcoming Beatle Brunch program.


Also on board, legendary author Ivor Davis, who will talk about his new book, “The Beatles and Me on Tour”, a chronicle of that tour told by an insider, then a young reporter for the London Daily Express. Ivor traveled with The Beatles as the only British newspaper writer invited on the entire tour.


Through thirty-four days, Davis traveled with The Beatles watching them make rock history. He enjoyed unrestricted access to the four boys fresh from Liverpool—from their hotel suites to backstage at concert arenas to their private jet. He fended off excited girls, and their insistent mothers, attempts to hook up with the band. Ivor played all night games of Monopoly with John Lennon, became the ghostwriter of a newspaper column for George Harrison, and witnessed many other private happenings.


The Fab soundtrack on board will be provided by The Beatles Experience Tribute Band, performing on board in the  Royal Court Theatre.


This truly authentic tribute to Britain’s finest musical ensemble, The Beatles Experience  has been entertaining millions around the globe since they began in 2004. Their show covers the depth of The Beatles career from the heady days of the early sixties to their final farewell on a London rooftop at Saville row.

The band is regularly invited to play at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club and was the official band for the launch of Beatles Rock Band music video game published by MTV Games which was held at the Cavern.

The highlight of their career was in 2013, when they played on the grounds of Buckingham Palace (a rare privilege indeed for a tribute act) and were then invited to tea and sandwiches!

Right now you can book this amazing luxury cruise on the QM2 by clicking here.

Queen Mary 2 is Cunard’s flagship and the most magnificent ocean liner ever built. Booking a Transatlantic Crossing to or from New York on this incredible ship is a holiday like no other and her European cruises from Southampton are also very special.  Queen Mary 2, affectionately known by customers as, QM2®, offers so much space on board and such an array of state of the art facilities including a 3D Cinema, planetarium and a superb spa.


Included in your luxury cruise on the QM2:


All of your on board meals are included in the main restaurants or the self service buffet restaurants. A 24 hour room service menu is also available. Specialty restaurants can also be found on board and a nominal fee will apply for dining in these alternative restaurants.

A 5348


Tea, coffee, water and fruit juice are available 24 hours a day at the Lido Restaurants on board Queen Mary 2.

Alcoholic drinks and speciality teas and coffees will be charged to your on board account.

For a limited time, you can reserve a balcony stateroom for the same fare as an inside cabin.

Book today before this luxurious ship is sold out. Click here. 

Beatle Brunch is also presenting a Beatles themed cruise February 1-8, 2015 on The Allure of The Seas sailing out of Ft Lauderdale.

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