On October 9, 2012, Apple is releasing a re issue of the Magical Mystery Tour psychedelic film. Originally released in 1967 for live broadcast on the BBC, the film was later released in colour on VHS, laserdisc and DVD. Long out of print, it will be quite nice to finally have this piece of history available again for our home entertainment pleasure. The film will be released in both BlueRay and DVD and will offer many new features including different edits of song sequences, never before seen "behind the scene" clips and deleted scenes.
What will also make this re-release interesting is that a deluxe edition box set will be made available, including both the DVD and BlueRay, a 60 page booklet and also a vinyl pressing of the remastered mono UK EP. Now, although this will be available in Canada, it is not known yet if the items will be manufactured here. One could guess, after the recent release of Yellow Submarine, that the DVD might be made in Canada, but the BlueRay and the box set and vinyl will probably be imported from the US.
The Beatles.com websites also indicates that "For the first time ever there will be a limited theatrical release in certain territories from September 27th. Apple & EMI have partnered with Omniverse Vision, the leading distributor of music events to cinemas worldwide, to bring exclusive showings of Magical Mystery Tour to the big screen for the first time. Screenings will take place in selected cinemas from 27th September in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, and other countries worldwide.Once confirmed full listings will be available at www.beatles.com."
The restortion of the film was overseen by Paul Rutan Jr., and the songtrack was done by George Martin's son, Giles, at Abbey Road Studios.
Despite a rocky start on the 1967 black and white british television, this release is now seen as a landmark of the psychedelic period and thus makes this an important release with yet again more material to surprise us. The real surprise for most Beatles fan would still be to witness, after remastered versions of A Hard Day's Night, HeLP, Yellow Submarine and now Magical Mystery Tour, the re-release of the long awaited Let It Be movie.
Every Canadian record collector is familiar with the Capitol 45s of the 1960s; the glossy yellow and orange swirl, the Capitol logo on the left and the white "made in Canada" notice at the bottom. Whatever the artist or the song, the iconic Canadian Capitol singles are easily recognizable, and we collectors, scrutinize these records and labels to date and identify the origin of every pressing we find, figuring out whether they are pressed, for example, by the Compo pressing plant, or by RCA in Smiths Falls. In the past few years, collectors have been very good at laying the ground rules heLPing to identify these pressings, but sometimes, oddball items surface, puzzling everyone, fueling discussions for years over something as simple as the hue of a label that seems a little off, or the typeface used to print the titles; a detail unapparent to most oblivious eyes, but that sticks out for the observing record experts. This is precisely what happened with a curious series of 6 consecutive 45 RPM records from the 72000 series in late 1966.
Indeed, records 72426 to 72431 all bear a different typeface than the classic one used on all records from 1962 through the early 1970s. These records have a thinner, narrower, pointy font not seen on any other Capitol swirl pressings. Why would a change of font mean anything important, yet interesting, you might say? Well, that might be true for a one-off pressing, and Capitol has made such special pressings in the past, from custom labels to band logos like the Staccatos 45s for example. The difference here, is that not one, but six records have the same alternate typeface, and these six records all follow each other in the order of their catalog numbers. This then, becomes interesting because it means two things: these differences happened over a short period of time, possibly a few days, and therefore, they are not an accident.
The 6 records with a different typeface:
Capitol 72426 Gilbert Becaud What Now My Love / Nathalie
Capitol 72427 Andy Stewart Soldier Boy (The Sunset Call) / Scotland Yet
Capitol 72428 Yemm And The Yemen Black Is The Night / Do Blondes Really Have More Fun ?
Capitol 72429 Ian Whitcomb Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night ? / Poor Little Bird
Capitol 72430 Barry Allen Armful Of Teddy Bears / Sad Souvenirs
Capitol 72431 Davie Allen And The Arrows Theme From The Wild Angels / U.F.O.
The question is then, what happened during this week in the fall of 1966 that could have caused a temporary label change? Maybe they subcontracted pressings to another company, maybe machines broke down at the pressing plant, maybe a power outage, who knows… Unfortunately, nothing of the kind was reported in the local newspapers of the time. The answer may lie elsewhere, originating from a decision taken somewhere in the process between the headquarters' record selection of the week and the pressing of the actual records (or a little of both).
To figure out the secret of these mysterious pressings, we must first understand how they were manufactured. Records are pressed in a… pressing plant of course, but labels are printed blank beforehand (without black text, but only the swirl and the manufacturing notice) by a subcontractor (like Parr's and Ever Reddy printers for example) and then shipped to the different pressing plants hired by Capitol to press their records. Once they have been delivered to the plant, a precise order of a specific record is placed, and the equivalent number of labels is prepared accordingly with the proper text reprinted on the blanks. This step is done at the pressing plant itself. These prepared labels are finally pressed directly onto the hot vinyl biscuit that becomes a record a few seconds later.
Each plant had their different printing equipment and masters, which is why pressings from different plants vary on small details. On Capitol singles for example, the "L" on the company logo is full on RCA pressings, while it is an open loop on Compo pressings. All very technical you might say but this gives us very important information on how to investigate the origins of the odd pressings. All the thin print singles have the open loop logo and therefore all come from the Compo plant. This undoubtedly places the typeface hiccup at the level of the pressing plant, ruling out Capitol headquarters. Moreover, this means the change happened at the Compo pressing plant and not RCA!
That is all very interesting, but does it explain anything? Not just quite yet. So the question now becomes "do these odd records come from another pressing plant?" Most likely not, because they have all the characteristics of Compo pressings, and if Compo would have needed the heLP of another plant, supplying them with the blueprints for the labels, they would certainly have given them the typeface at the same time as the logo since they are printed together as one single blueprint master on the label. Maybe Capitol was experimenting on a new look then? We figured this could not be the case since this type of experiment and decision would not result from the initiative of one single pressing plant hired by Capitol, but from a decision taken by the head office itself.
This means we can establish that the differences occurred at the Compo plant, and was most likely not the result of a decision from Capitol headquarters. The idea that since one of the titles was so long, a different typeface could have been used instead was suggested, but this would be inconsistent with printing methods, in the sense that the use of a smaller version of the same font would have been favoured to a new typeface all together. If it was the case, this would have happened before on other records from the Capitol catalog as well. Furthermore, smaller versions of the usual font existed, one can simply compare the Beach Boys singles "HeLP Me Rhonda" and "Barbara Ann", one with the large usual Capitol font, and one with a small version of the same font.
Where did this "new" font come from then? As it turns out, this font was not really new, not to Compo at least. Another EMI subsidiary, Pathé, used the aforementioned thin font on their mid sixties pressings, notably some of the red labels, but mostly on their blue and white target pressings, like the Régine's 45 number 77795 pictured below. Incidentally, Pathé records were printed by Compo as well. Even though the font has been identified, the question remains: why the mix up?
The answer lies in the different facilities used to press records. Compo had moved its operations to its new Cornwall plant in 1964, and having newer equipment allowed larger quantities of records to be pressed on state of the art machines. All the big sellers, like the Beatles, the Beach Boys and so on, were almost exclusively pressed at their new factory in Ontario. The Lachine plant near Montreal was much smaller, but still in use for other labels with limited runs of records, like Pathé that was very popular in Québec with its French catalog, but not as much in English Canada. It is suspected then, that these six records, the selection prepared by headquarters for the week's release, would have been ordered at the Lachine plant instead of its usual Cornwall facilities. This partially explains the label change - "partially", because we might never know why they used the Pathé typeface; maybe a mistake, maybe a forgotten blueprint, maybe a defective machine… but it would make a lot of sense for Compo to decide to use their other plant in order to manage the production volumes by shifting some pressing jobs to Quebec. Keep in mind that deciding to move production between its own facilities to balance production and meet deadlines would have been in the hands of Compo, and not Capitol.
If we take a step back even further and look at the Capitol catalog and Sizzle Sheets from late 1966, the shift makes a lot of sense when one realizes that pressing plants were over-booked all around to meet their deadlines in time. First, November is the time where production is at its busiest to meet demands for the holiday season, and with all the huge sellers issued in late 1966, Capitol used all the pressing time and equipment preparing records like Yellow Submarine or Good Vibrations, so lower charting records obviously were second in line and were sometimes relegated to other pressing plants. On top of this, Capitol was also launching the Studio Two LP label, and pressing large quantities of Star Line oldies singles on the green swirl. Clearly, during October and November of 1966 Capitol just had too many new releases that were big sellers, and these would tie up both the RCA and Compo's main Cornwall pressing plant. So, add this to all the orders Compo was receiving from other record companies, and one can imagine its manufacturing calendar filling up quite rapidly before Christmas, requiring full production from both its facilities and finding the need for quick solutions to little problems in the turmoil of the holidays.
Here are excerpts of Sizzle Sheets' announcing releases for the fall of 1966 (while there were already hits on the charts by Peter And Gordon, The Hollies, The Dave Clark Five, not to mention Al Martino, Wayne Newton, and Lou Rawls - all with new singles):
The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations (huge seller in Canada)
Ian Whitcomb - Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night (thin print)
The Seekers - Georgy Girl
The Yardbirds - Happenings Ten Years Time Ago
Davie Allan - Theme From The Wild Angels (thin print)
Peggy Lee - So What's New
Barry Allen - Armful Of Teddy Bears (thin print)
We might never know for sure who or what is precisely responsible for the short typeface change on these cool Capitol swirl labels, but the differences remain in synch with the extremely high volumes of records ordered at the end of 1966 by Capitol and other labels at Compo. These few singles are not necessarily huge sellers, but they nonetheless become collectibles, as they are a witness to the inside gears of a record business constantly switching to meet the increasing demands of a booming industry at its busiest time of the year.
It is time for the recent sales column once again! As usual, many interesting and unusual Canadian items have surfaced and sold this month. Lee Gagnon's rare album "Je Jazze" sold once again, this time for 86$, While his other stereo album Jazztek sold for 20$. The Big Town Boys sold for 26$, and the George Martin red label mono album HeLP sold for 32$ while Martin's other album Plays Instrumental Versions Of The Hits sold for in stereo for 15$. Mann Made, by Manfred Mann sold for 30$ while the rare Joi Bangla Apple single by Ravi Shankar sold for 15$ and the green starline single 22003, Bits And Pieces / Glad All Over sold for 6$. A lot of difficult to find records surfaced in record shops around the Montreal area this week, one of them being a copy of the elusive mint condition Canadian pressing of David Peel's The Pope Smokes Dope that sold for 40$.
As for Beatles records, the rare mono Meet The Beatles and Second Album changed hands for a few dollars despite their ordinary condition, proving that some are still out there for you to find! The equally rare stereo pressing of Meet The Beatles with the Parr's sleeve also showed up for 50$, while a difficult to find mint condition mono HeLP! with brackets sold for 60$. Finally, a mint condition Canadian Ain't She Sweet album sold for 100$ and a yellow wax Canadian promo copy of Reel Music still in the shrink sold for 60$.
Otherwise, The green Starline Please Please Me single sod for an impressive 56$, Sie Libet Dich for 83$ while the rare Canadian EP without the sleeve sold for 15$. The yellow label My Bonnie is always popular among collectors and sold for 24$, and a mint copy of the Twist And Shout single sold for 44$. Even 8 tracks were popular this month, A Hard Day's night selling for 15$ in its original box, and a sealed Pickwick 1st Live Recording volume 1 for 17.50$. All in all, a great month for record collecting! If you are aware of interesting Canadian items sales that you would like to share in this monthly column, please contact Serge from our Join Us page.
Today, August 5, marks the 45th anniversary of Pink Floyd's first UK release of the Piper At The Gates Of Dawn LP. The album was released on Columbia/EMI's black silver and blue label in the UK in MONO on this date, and in STEREO a month later. USA and Canada also saw a release of this album, the Canadian album being released on the 6000 series as number (S)T 6242 and features the same title and tracklisting as the UK pressing. What is interesting to know is that the Canadian Mono pressing is actually not sourced from the UK mono master, but is instead a unique fold-down mix of the Stereo master done here in Canada. This means the Canadian album was therefore released two months later, sometimes in early October of 1967, both in Mono and Stereo. The USA pressing on the other hand, was released on TOWER records and featured an abbreviated track listing (replaced and faded out songs) and was simply titled "Pink Floyd".
The cover photo was shot by Vic Singh, who was a friend of George Harrison's. As the tory goes, he asked the band to dress up in the most colourful clothes they had for the shoot, and after a while and a little herbal heLP to relax, Singh took the famous picture with a lens given to him by his friend George.
The album has over the years, gained much recognition, being praised by many music magazines as a one of the founding psychedelic albums, even Paul McCartney was apparently very impressed by the album at the time. Nevertheless, this was not the case at first! Even though 1966-1967 was a period famous for emancipation, exploration and musical revolution; an era where a lot of bands had experimented in the studio, recording albums like Sgt Pepper's, The Velvet Underground, Pet Sounds or Their Satanic Majesties Request, Pink Floyd's new album was still quite weird and difficult to get your head around at first. In the video below, we can see that Hans Keller, host of the "The Look Of The Week" in 1967, does not quite appreciate the music, saying he is "probably too much of a musician to fully appreciate it", accusing the band to be very repetitive, therefore boring, extremely loud and a regression to childhood. The video is still quite interesting, featuring an interview with the band after the performance, where they are confronted to defend their point of view from the classically trained host's narrow minded questions.
The sound of this album was in great part due to Syd Barrett's creative input who gave a very unique sound to the band's music, but as early as 1967, Barrett was having what they then called nervous exhaustion… Pink Floyd did not officially tour the Piper album, besides a few shows here and there in Europe, but eventually set for an American tour with a modified set list. The tour did not last very long, becoming very difficult due to Syd's increasing problems.
To put it in June Child's words (a former secretary to Barrett's manager), "… I found him in the dressing room and he was so … gone. Roger Waters and I got him on his feet, we got him out to the stage … and of course the audience went spare because they loved him. The band started to play and Syd just stood there. He had his guitar around his neck and his arms just hanging down." Indeed, shortly after, Syd left the band just when Pink Floyd was becoming famous and after a few solo attempts in the years to come, retired to his mother's Cambridge basement to leave behind any kind of public life. Nobody is really certain if the reclusion was due to mental health problems, too many drugs, the pressure of being famous, or simply a mix of everything. Unfortunately, Barrett died a few years ago without offering any answers to these questions that his many fans have had for years.
An interesting fact to know for Canadian collectors, is that one of the first Pink Floyd interviews was actually done by a Canadian journalist for the CBC. The radio show was broadcasted by Capital Radio in London in 1976 and was called "The Pink Floyd Story - The Early Years". In the program they used an older CBC Radio interview that was recorded by a CBC freelancer in London sometime in late 1966, which was well before they recorded their first album. This is one of the few recordings where Syd Barrett talks about the bands early efforts. For more details on this interview, simply visit our Audio Clips Page.
Syd Barrett's quirkiness has certainly shaped this new music in a unique way, and many say that Pink Floyd's first album (recorded at Abbey Road at the same time as the Beatles recorded Pepper) is a mind blowing example of Syd's magical personal universe, but also of his fears, worries and paranoia. For a detailed Canadian discography of the early Barrett-influenced Pink Floyd singles issued on the 72000 series, visit our A-Z of Interesting Artists page.
This is an album most of us do not necessarily play on a daily basis, but it is one of the greatest albums issued on the 6000 series, so if you haven't played the record in a while, quickly run to your precious collection and put your turntable stylus on this rare plate as soon as your are done reading this article!
On Friday, November 22nd, 1963, when the Beatles issued their first album in North America on Capitol Of Canada, few could say that CHUM 1050 AM were paying much attention. In fact, other radio stations in Canada had been charting Beatles 45s many months earlier. Notably, Toronto's CFRB 1010 AM had played an imported Parlophone copy of The Beatles' Love Me Do 45 RPM record in late 1962.
But when CHUM finally caught the Beatles bug in December 1963, they moved swiftly to dominate the Beatlemania wave that began in earnest in Canada in early 1964. CHUM would feature The Beatles on many of its weekly CHUM charts between 1964 and 1970. They would also sponsor a Beatles fan club in early 1964 which produced 6 newsletters. When The Beatles arrived in Toronto, CHUM DJs would "emcee" their concerts. Between 1964 and 1966 there were many CHUM-sponsored Beatles contests and by the summer of 1966, CHUM would co-sponsor the Beatles final concert at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. CHUM demonstrated sheer brilliance at marketing The Beatles for its listenership during the peak of Beatlemania in 1964. They would later apply many of the same marketing techniques for Herman's Hermits, The Monkees, The Supremes, etc.
Rival Toronto AM pop station CKEY was simply out-gunned by the CHUM machinery when Beatlemania hit in early 1964. CKEY had also published an excellent weekly chart and these are also well worth seeking out although they are much more difficult to find. Today, the original 1960s CHUM charts and other CHUM memorabilia related to The Beatles are highly sought after by collectors. They serve to document the evolution of The Beatles music in Canada. This brief article explores some of those artifacts and also allows our good readers to also listen in on some audio articfacts recorded directly from the AM airwaves all those years ago.
According to Ron Hall, "CHUM radio first went on the air in 1945, with a mixed bag of programming". In May of 1957, CHUM boosted it's power and became the first 24 hour a day "Hit Parade Radio" (station) in Canada. The first "CHUM CHART" appeared on the 27th May 1957, listing the top fifty songs of the week.". The weekly CHUM top pop charts that were distributed to record retailers and teen shops in and around Toronto and these charts reflected both listener tastes and record sales in the greater metropolitan Toronto area.
A couple of indispensable books have been written about CHUM over the years:
Ron Hall, "The CHUM Chart Book 1957 - 1983", Stardust productions 1984 (hardback, 345 pages)
Ron Hall, "The CHUM Chart Book 1957 - 1986", Stardust productions 1990 (soft cover, 358 pages)
Allen Farrell, "The CHUM Story", Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd., 2001 (soft cover, 260 pages)
There is of course the CHUM Archives web site that is an excellent resource as well, and Doug Thompson and others have done a tremendous job putting that together.
There were of course numerous CHUM sponsored contests for Beatles concert tickets during 1964, 1965, and 1966 (many radio stations in Canada sponsored these) but there were four notable Beatles contests worth highlighting here.
The first interesting contest featured as it's prize a tape recording of The Beatles' Toronto press conference that was held on the stage of Maple Leaf Gardens on Monday, September 7th, 1964. The lucky winner received an open reel tape of the press conference. It is assumed that this tape was in fact a copy of the original tape recording made by CHUM on that day. Brian Epstein himself always frowned upon unauthorized recordings made at Beatles concerts and it is possible that CHUM was reminded of this.
Technologically-savvy teens with access to a reel to reel tape recorder at the time would have made their very own tape copy of the press conference when CHUM re-broadcast the press conference in it's entirety on Saturday, September 19th, 1964 from 6:05 PM through 7 PM. So ...it is not known whether this tape was ever actually given away. More information on the whereabouts of this original 1964 CHUM contest tape reel would be welcomed.
The second notable contest was announced on the weekly CHUM chart for the week of December 28th, 1964 and featured as its prize a John Lennon Christmas Card that was signed by all four Beatles. The winner of the contest, Cheryl Lightstone, was announced on the front cover of the CHUM chart for the week of January 18th, 1965. As seen in the image below, Cheryl was pictured holding her prized John Lennon Christmas Card along with two CHUM personalities. Perhaps Cheryl still has that prized signed John Lennon Christmas card from December 1964.
The third Beatles contest of interest took place in early January 1966 when the new Beatles 45 Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out was topping the charts. The CHUM chart for the week of January 10th, 1966 announced that three contest winners had each received a personally signed photo of The Beatles along with a copy of the UK Beatles Fan Club Xmas Flexi-Disc from December 1965. One of these 3 lucky CHUM prize winners was Pamela Green of Cobourg, Ontario who sent in a postcard (with her name and address on it) and won a signed Beatles glossy photo and a copy of the third Beatles Christmas Fan Club flexi disc. Pamela kept the signed photo for many years afterwards. According to some experts, the Beatles' signatures may actually have been carefully written on the cards by assistant Mal Evans but we would like to believe that they were in fact signed by The Beatles themselves.
The fourth CHUM contest, held in early 1966, used the very latest Beatles single Nowhere Man for its theme. The new single had been issued by Capitol of Canada on Monday, February 21st, 1966 and was on the CHUM chart for 14 weeks hitting the number one spot in April 1966. The CHUM chart for the week of April 18th, 1966 asked teens to send in a drawing of their own version of the Nowhere Man. This was a much more interesting contest in my opinion and CHUM would have received many original drawings from teens that would have been very cool to see.
At this time, the Beatles lyrics had become very introspective and Beatles fans were now able to listen to the lyrics and dwell on their meaning. The lyrics of Nowhere Man are a far cry from "I Want To Hold Your Hand" or "She Loves You" by way of example.
Many thanks to avid audio collector Kal Raudoja who has generously provided the following three audio clips which were saved from oblivion by Kal in his relentless searches for old audio tape reels that feature Canadian top 40 radio air-checks from the 1950s through the 1970s. Thanks Kal !
This is a very odd recording ... it is a young family playing around with what is obviously the father's reel-to-reel tape recorder. This is happening at some point in the early evening. Sounds like Dad has a moustache and has maybe brought out a new tape recorded to record his kids ... and the young boy Jimmy appears to be asking to play with the tape recorder. Jimmy appears to be holding the microphone. He and is brother are talking about The Beatles and Jimmy even sings snatches of She Loves You. His older (?) sister then tells him "don't stick your mouth there Jimmy". Yeesh ! You will also hear Jimmy ask his brother "Richie don't you want a sucker ?". Amid all this chaos you will then hear the CHUM announcer state over the CHUM airwaves that I Saw Her Standing There is at number 1. CHUM charted both sides of Capitol 5112 (I Want To Hold Your Hand / I Saw Her Standing There) at number one for the week of February 10th, 1964 through the week of March 16th, 1964. So this evening had to be sometime during that wintery period when folks were indoors and warm. The CHUM 1050 AM show in the background was called High School Hit Pickers and the DJ announces that the song is number one with the students polled at Kipling Collegiate, Eastern Commerce, and at Orangeville District Secondary School. This odd recording is quite a mini time capsule with much more going on in the background. The snatches of the radio playing in the background heLP us to narrow down the time period ... the very peak of Beatlemania in Canada !
This audio clip starts with the CHUM jingle for the Hit Picker Hotline and announces that the song is at number 2 this week. Capitol 5555 Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out was issued in Canada on Monday, November 29th, 1965. Unusually, the 45 was issued in Canada almost a full week before it was issued in the USA. The 45 was a double A-side on CHUM and was charted by CHUM for 15 weeks. It climbed the CHUM chart in December and was number one on CHUM in January 1966. The CHUM announcer states "Ho Ho Go Go on CHUM ... are you ready ... Hit Picker Hotline ... Home Favourite Number Two ... " suggests that this air check was recorded either in late December 1965 or early January 1966 ... sometime after December 20th when it was charted by CHUM at number 9 (up from 28).
When this air check was recorded to tape in April 1966, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" by B.J. Thomas was number two on CHUM. The tape stops and then restarts with a brief jingle saying "number one ". Then we are straight into "... he's a real Nowhere Man ". After that comes "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis And The Playboys from the previous year 1965 as on Sunday of this week every third song was a "pop of the past". From the CHUM chart advert this week (see above) we can conclude that this air check hails from a Sunday in April - probably Easter Sunday, April 10th, 1966.
We hope that you have enjoyed these brief audio snippets from a time when The Beatles music was freshly minted on CHUM 1050 AM. Special thank you's to Kal Raudoja and extra special acknowledgements as well to the "unsung" heroes who taped these Beatles songs directly from the air waves on their reel-to-reel tape recorders back in the 1960s. Thanks should also go to those dusty old magnetic tapes that lasted so long ... smile away !