Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mal's Diary

Mal Evans reports on the boys' recent recording session TV show and George's visit to Greece

I expect you've read the exciting news somewhere else in this issue about the imminent Beatles' LP records which will be coming out on the Apple label. Not long to wait for them, either! The fellows are putting the finishing touches to the final tracks as I write this month's diary piece for you. The aim is to have the set of two LP records issued in the middle of November at the latest so that everyone has plenty of time to collect them before Christmas.

In the November Beatles Monthly I'll go through all the LP recordings in detail -- about 24 of them in all -- and tell you exactly who wrote what, who sings what and who plays what on each of the new numbers. The titles are still "hush-hush" as yet but I'll be able to listen them all and give you all the answers in the November issue.

What I CAN say now is that there's a fantastic selection of different types of song, different backings, different moods amongst the LP material. To beat "Sgt. Pepper" we all know the Beatles had to come up with something really special. When you hear all the new recordings I think you'll agree that they make a worthy follow-up to "Sgt. Pepper". Beatles '68 are even better than Beatles '67--and that's certainly saying SOMETHING!

What else can I tell you about the LP? One of Paul's numbers is a calypso-style song about a bloke who has a barrow in a market place, a story-ballad about how he gets married. Both Paul and John play a fair bit of piano and John uses his own very special new electronic organ. Even the guitars and amplifiers used for all these sessions are new. Also the fellows move around and exchange guitars more than they have done in the past. On one track you find John and George playing bass together while Paul sings and plays lead guitar. Another track which started out lasting 24 minutes before the fellows shortened it has John on bass, Paul using Epiphone guitar and George on his new Gibson. Then there's a beautiful Paul ballad which he recorded on his own in the middle of the night after the other three had packed in. Just Paul sitting there alone in the box with an acoustic guitar. A few nights later he added a brass quartet backing and the whole thing was complete.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm teasing you unfairly by telling you all these bits and pieces without being able to give you the full story. So the rest of the LP details will be here next month.

Meanwhile it's time I looked back in my diary and caught up with the rest of the Beatles' latest happenings. How did you like the "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" telly appearances? Believe me, a lot of work went into those?

On previous occasions in the past year or two the Beatles have made little films showing themselves recording, walking around and so forth with their record playing in the background. Naturally, some of these ran into trouble with the telly people because the fellows came pretty close to miming sometimes and THAT is a terrible Deadly Sin so far as the unions are concerned. You're not allowed to mime to records on telly.

This time the Beatles decided to avoid all the problems by producing a full-scale LIVE performance, done in colour, at Twickenham Film Studios and intended for showing all over the world.

Pop Producer

The day before Neil and Suzie got married at the end of August I was asked to start making all the shooting arrangements with Michael Lindsay-Hogg, a television and film director who has been involved in plenty of big pop shows in the past.

It was Thursday night. By the following Wednesday we had to get together the technical crew, no less than 300 extras and a 36-piece orchestra! In between there was the August Bank Holiday weekend which meant it was hard to get hold of half the people we needed to reach to set things up.

How did we get that crowd of 300 extras together? We got 20 students to distribute invitation leaflets for us. The result was that all sorts of walks of life were represented--postmen, railwaymen, teenagers, senior citizens. I recruited a bunch of Beatle People from outside the recording studio and told them they'd be welcome to join us all at Twickenham and bring along a few mates.

Paul decided he'd like a 'twenties atmosphere at Twickenham so the musicians of the orchestra were dressed up in smart white tuxedos and colourful carnations for the occasion.

And very evident amongst the gathered -- together 300 was old Billy from Soho. Billy is a real character. If you've walked around Wardour Street or Old Compton Street in Soho you may have seen him, possibly with a bottle on his head, selling or giving away flowers. And, like as not, he'll have pulled out a photograph he's very proud of. It was taken months ago and shows him with the Beatles in a film cutting room--when the fellows were editing "Magical Mystery Tour". The photo went into the Daily Mirror at the time. So old Billy just had to be in on the "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" filming!

Paul on Piano

The Beatles arrived at Twickenham around lunchtime--1.30 p.m. The line-up was Paul playing an upright piano, George on bass, John on guitar and Ringo on drums. PLUS the 36-piece orchestra PLUS 300 singing extras to join in the big building-up on "Hey Jude" towards the end of the number.

While lights and cameras were being set up Paul entertained on the piano. He hadn't really planned to do so but old Billy came up on to the stage and yelled "Come on, Paul, give us some of the good old songs". And Paul did just that!

Looking back further in my diary I've got notes about my August trip to Greece with George. With George? Well, actually, it was with George, Pattie, George's mum and dad, George's two brothers Harold and Peter, their wives and children, plus my wife, Lil, and our youngster, Gary. Fifteen of us all told, including four kids and one baby!


We flew from London to the Greek island of Corfu on the morning of Saturday, August 17. Moored at Corfu, which is just to the west of Greece, was the M.V. Arvi, the same luxurious boat we used when the rest of the fellows visited Greece last year. We set sail on the Saturday night, wasting no time because for George this was to be a brief three-day mini-holiday with London recording sessions to get back to no later than the following Wednesday night. Everyone else was all set for a full fortnight in the sun, but for a Beatle and yours truly--duty called!

On Sunday we sailed to the isles of Ali Yannis and Parga. And we went to see (would you believe!) a SWEDISH film with GREEK subtitles in an open-air cinema. We watched from steel-framed chairs set out on the ground as birds flew in and out of the projector beam. We left after about 20 minutes when the lights came up for the man to change over reels! Very primitive!

Mostly we spent our days swimming, playing cards, sunbathing on the deck and water-skiing. Now water-skiing is something George is very good at. Our boat had all the right gear from flippers and underwater equipment to a nifty little speed boat. We just put life-jackets on the kids and threw them into the sea. They couldn't swim but they had a marvellous time. The crew was great. We all felt safe even when the kids were out of sight because we knew the crew were quite capable of looking after them and us.

All told there were eight or nine crew members. The food was fine too. All the usual cornflakes, egg and bacon for breakfast with Greek specialties to be sampled later in the day. Aubergines with everything!

On the Monday night we had ourselves a marvellous barbecue on the shore. Well, in the corner of a field just by the shore. George and I played Tarzan in the trees swinging on ropes all over the place! A lamb had been roasting for hours. At nine in the evening our party demolished it!


Tuesday was the last day for George and yours truly. A huge boatload of fantastic-looking birds and guys pulled up alongside in our bay. Turned out to be French students. They saw our Union Jack so they sang "God Save The Queen". We stood up, saluted smartly and gave them the French anthem to the tune of "All You Need Is Love"!

At seven on Wednesday morning we got up and had cornflakes and omelette. Before eight we had a quiet sit on the top deck thinking about all the ski-days we were going to miss. Then we caught our 'plane to Athens. From there it was London via Paris and home in time for George to be at the Beatles' session that same night!

I think that brings you up to date on my diary jottings for this month. And next month we'll have the LP special as promised.


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