Friday, 25 November 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 123 (Intro)

November 25th:

Well, that was an interesting week. I’ve never felt as ‘ahead’ of myself as I have with last week’s newsletter (which seemed to arrive out of nowhere before I’d quite planned to write it!) and after filling in a load of heavy benefit forms was looking forward to some much-delayed rest and recuperation for my chronic fatigue and a chance to gte cracking on the next one. Only - no – two days after sending in my forms (three weeks early) I’ve already been given the date for a medical (‘because we need more information’ - oh the irony of that sentence after writing 14,000 words on my illness, longer than some novels!) and its not easy preparing for it given all the ways they try to ‘trip you up’ and make assumptions you don’[t get a chance to correct. To boot, I’ve also had two unexpected additional forms to fill in all in the same space of time and asking for virtually the same information and including a long list of hideous consequences if I don’t get it back to them ‘in a few days’ – why can’t these departments talk to each other?! And why should I bust my poorly body pushing it past its limits because they can’t be arsed to do their job? Surely its easier for them to log onto one computer in the same building than it is for poorly me to look up all this info again and write it? And why should it be any of their business if  - as on one question - I’ve been abroad or not since starting my claim – luckily I haven’t, but why should they care?I’d have thought ill people were more likely to need holidays than anyone else and are more likely to be looked after if travelling with people who have time off work to look after them. Thank goodness I’m used to writing long realms of information (see below and every other issue on this website!) otherwise I’d go mad. Perhaps I am already? What would anyone in power actually care about what their forms do to me?

Just to add to my grievances I also temporarily lost my password to my nice new site at Windows Live (where all these articles are stored) and couldn’t get them to send me a new one - thankfully I got it sorted (by adding another account and sending myself a ‘friend request’ under the old system which took an age to be accepted which was quite funny – honestly, if you can’t be friends with yourself, who can you be friends with?!).

Now that I’ve got most things cleared I feel too fired up to rest, like everyone who knows anything about this illness tell me I should be doing, so here’s another newsletter earlier than anticipated in the hope that next week might be calmer. I mkight well be delayed writing the next one, so please bear with me and rest assured I will be back writing some time, even if its not for a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m glad to hear from some of you that you’re enjoying both my own composed music (even if it is a decade old now – oh hang on, that still makes it quite modern for this site, ahem!) and posting your top album links on ‘Best Ever Albums’ (please keep emailing your posts to me at or adding your links to our forum, even if they’re nothing like the reviews we post I always find my readers’ thoughts fascinating!) Perhaps one day, if I get enough entries, I’ll give you a top five all of your own! We’ve also hit 11,000 views earlier than expected too – this looked like it was going to be a good week till I got that phone-call and all hell broke loose...


Beatles News: Maccas honeymoon has taken him to Abu Dhabi, where Macca performed a free concert on the Sunday and attended his first ever formula one grand prix on the Saturday! An emotional Macca spoke to the BBC f1 team about how it felt really strange to be in a grand prix on (give or take a week) the tenth anniversary of George Harrisons death, enjoying for the first time something his friend and colleague had enjoyed all his life. Former team boss Eddie Jordan added a rare anecdote about George attending the grand prix in disguise as a mechanic during Damon Hills two years at the team (for those who dont know, George funded Damons career at a time when dad Grahams death in an microlight accident held the family up in litigation for years and they had no money coming in George paid for Damon to get into f1 on the basis that he never revealed who his mystery benefactor was till after his death, something an emotional Damon did in 2002).  

In other Macca news, theres a new DVD out to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 concerts he helped organised. The documentary, titled The Love We Make after a line from the Beatles Abbey Road medley, will be released on November 28th and features clips from the show as well as unseen backstage footage.

In other Beatles news whats all this about yet another Lennon documentary, released in October, titled Lennon NYC? I havent read a thing about it anywhere (the music mags are all full of George this month so it seems a strange time to put it out) but I presume its a belated release for the TV version of a similar name that was on earlier in the year. This DVD looks at Lennons life 1972-1980, when he first moved to America in the wake of the Imagine album and takes in the green card scandal, Lennons house-husband phase and his sudden death. The audio soundtrack features rare outtakes, some of which have been heard officially but some only on bootlegs and features interviews with a better class of subject than most similar docs. Alas there are no extras on the DVD, although if you havent seen it the 90 minute playing time is pretty generous. 

Finally, look out for a repeat of Michael Palins sensitive tribute to George Harrison, What Is Life? (which dates back to 2003 or so) which is repeated on BBC6 on Tuesday, November 29th at 3am (as part of the documentary slot). Its not up to the new George Harrison film (well, the second part at least) but covers a lot of ground well within the hour playing time and Palin makes for a good mix of good friend and dispassionate observer.

CSN News: Word has it that Graham Nash is busy working on the long awaited third installment of his CSN box sets dedicated to his longtime partner Stephen Stills. Despite the hefty prices both the David Crosby set Voyage and Nashs own set Reflections (see news and views no 22) were superb, full of unreleased gems from the vaults, stunning booklets full of photos and backgrounds to each and every song and a pretty fair pick of recordings. Lets hope the Stills set is just as fine it certainly sounds that way as Nash has admitted he has so much more material to cover than in the other two sets, especially given Stills reputation for abandoning tracks and sometimes whole albums unfinished. The set, as yet untitled, is tentatively due for early next year (two years on from the Nash set) but seeing as weve already had so many CSN projects postponed or cancelled in the past two years anything could happen (and knowing CSN probably will...)

Hollies News: At last my copy of the new Hollies documentary Look Through Any Window has arrived the first real documentary the Hollies have ever been given outside Germany. And generally speaking its fabulous, even if it doesnt quite match up to Reelin In The Years earlier Small Faces set (still one of the best DVDs in my collection). New interviews with Clarke, Hicks, Eliott and an especially chatty Nash are interspersed with some fabulously rare footage and there are some tales to tell we havent heard before (eg Jennifer Clarke and Rose Nash nee Eccles didnt just inspire Jennifer Eccles, they helped write it; Bobby Elliott came up with the double-time ending of Im Alive, etc). Weve mentioned some of the vintage performances on our recent Youtube top 60, little knowing these clips were about to get their first official releases but its fantastic to see properly: Little Lover where the band look about 12 and a lot of middle-aged shoppers look down on the band disdainfully while they play; an especially rocking Rockin Robin from a 1964 NME pollwinners concert that knocks spots off The Hollies studio version; a fascinating promo for King Midas where Nash writes on a tree and the band stage a swordfight using flowers (well, it was 1967!), a rare promo for Wings that I never knew existed and a concert from Yugoslavia right near the end of Nashs time in the band with the group on cracking witty form. To be fair this DVD is still missing a lot (especially given that we took the liberty of compiling a Hollies listing ourserlves way back on news and views 69) such as a classy live reading of Curly Billy on a 1972 TOTP, a 1970 mimed TOTP Gasoline Alley Bred, Tony Hicks appearance on Blue Peter advertising a new wireless guitar, a Croatia and a BBC concert both from 1969, anything from the two German-only docs we never got to see in the 80s and 90s and, most puzzling of all because I think I read that it was being included, the clip of the band playing Nows The Time in the middle of Willie Rushton film Its All About Town for no apparent reason! What we get is, by and large, just the Hollies hits over and over again and whilst thats not a bad thing this set could have been perfection with just another hours worth of material added (and we know the makers got the rights to some TOTP and BBC clips at least as two are on this release). Still, £11 for two hours worth of previously unreleased or at least rare material is still very very good lets hope the British Invasion series copies our other four suggestions for DVDs (The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Who) and I shall be one happy reviewer!

Oasis News: Just as I was dispairing of the inanities on the latest series of Later...With Jools Holland along comes Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds to brighten up the last episode, shown on Tuesday, November 22nd at 10pm and given an extended repeat (Its a live programme for goodness sake!) on Friday, November 25th at 11.50pm, BBC One. To be honest Noel will be lucky to get one song in given the amount of stars stuffed into this show (did Jools expect half of them to cancel?!)

Rolling Stones News: BBC6 have a repeat of last Decembers R2 Altamont documentary, about the Stones/CSN/Airplane/Dead/Flying Burritos gig that went badly wrong when a) the Airplanes Marty Balin got beaten up by Hells Angels security men after telling them to cool it  b) The Dead refused to play and fled the scene in terror and c) infamously that audience member Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death while the Stones played Under My Thumb. The documentary was fascinating, albeit less interesting than the Gimme Shelter film the Stones bravely released in 1971 and given the unfortunate and needlessly provocative title Shedding Hippie Blood. You can hear it on BBC6 this Friday (November 18th) at 3am. Another Stones repeat the following week is 2009s In Exile, a slightly disappointing doc that came out to publicise the re-issue of Exile On Main Street that year. Now that we know the new songs well from the record (and surprisngly good they are too, some better than the album highlights) we really dont need this doc so badly.   

The Who News: BBC6 are repeating two Keith Moon items this coming week. First up, theres a repeat for Radio 2s delightfully titled two-part biography Im Keith Moon Whats Your Excuse? this Tuesday and Wednesday, November 22nd and 23rd at midnight. One of the highlights of that documentary, presented by Phil Daniels (Jimmy from The Who film Quadrophenia) was a rare outing for Keith Moons short-lived radio show Life With The Moons (which ran for a week in 1976 when John Peel was on holiday). A cross between the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band and Kenny Everett, its a bizarre surreal take on what Keiths life is really like and twice as weird as you think even if you know what Keith Moon really was like and try to think really really hard what a bizarre programme would sound like. Parts of it were released on the otherwise disappointing Who box 30 Years Of Maximum R and B, but otherwise you never get to hear it until now, when BBC6 have put together an hours compilation for broadcast on Wednesday, November 23rd at 3am.

ANNIVERSARIES: Birthday parties are in order for this week’s crop of AAA anniversaries (those born between November 29th and December 5th): Gilbert O’Sullivan who turns 65 on December 1st and Chris Hillman (bassist with The Byrds 1965-68) who turns 69 on December 4th. Anniversaries of events include: Lennon is busted for possession of cannabis on the same day he and Yoko release their experimental LP ‘Two Virgins’ (November 29th 1968); The Beatles top the NME ‘favourite group’ poll for the first time – with the exception of 1966 when The Beach Boys win it, The Beatles will hold the title right up until their dissolution in 1970 (November 30th 1963); Wings release their second band single which is, incidentally, their second banned single – the controversial drug taking ode ‘Hi Hi Hi’ (most fans will probably know the B-side ‘C Moon’ better) (November 30th 1972); John Lennon and Yoko Ono release ‘Happy Xmas’ (War Is Over) on December 1st 1971, a date so close to Christmas that the single flops badly on first release before becoming a mainstay of the charts in the festive season of 1972; The Monkees score a record that has still to be broken when fourth album ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones’ becomes their fourth non-compilation #1 record of 1967 (December 2nd); The Moody Blues release the last of their ‘original’ pre-split albums ‘Seventh Sojourn’ (December 2nd 1972); Members of The Who and associates are jailed overnight for causing $6000 of damage to a hotel in Montreal. John Entwistle is not amused – he slept through all the destruction and has no idea why there are policemen knocking on his door! (December 2nd 1973); Pink Floyd’s inflatable pig flying over Battersea Power Station (as seen on the front cover of the band’s 1977 LP ‘Animals’) breaks free from its moorings and disrupts airspace for a good few hours, confusing several pilots and getting the band a great deal of free publicity (December 3rd 1976); Eleven audience members are killed and dozens are hurt during a rush for seats to see The Who in Cincinatti on December 3rd 1979, an event that contributes to the band’s eventual split in 1982 and finally, The Rolling Stones publicise their new album with a fondly remembered ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ with the world’s music press which degenerates into a food fight! (December 5th 1968).

News, Views and Music Issue 123 (Top Twenty): Rarest AAA Records

Got a spare Beatles acetate sitting in the loft? Or perhaps a Monkees corgi Monkeemobile is more your thing (one of the most expensive TV tie-ins they ever did!) Perhaps you have an autographed copy of the first Pink Floyd album? Or you’ve got the Spice Girls tied up in your attack. Where do you turn? Well, for all but the last one (for which you should give pest-control a call) you can turn to the Record Collector Price Guide for information, which is what we’ve done for our latest top 10 – one which we’ve had to do effectively twice because so many blooming Beatles albums seemed to creep up on it! – along with some ‘newer’ auction prices we’ve heard about! Now I can’t afford to get this mammoth 1500 page book every year (even if I myself have written around that many pages this year), so some of these listings may be out of date – please get a copy of the latest book (I think its the 2010 one, with a 2012 one due soon) if you really want to know the absolute definite price guide to the following). This listing was inspired by the recent auction of our no 1 item that had collectors salivating when they first learned of its existence about five years ago – and have been waiting to get their hands on it ever since, hence the – quite frankly – ridiculous price tag. Presumably there’s some other AAA memorabilia that’s just as rare if not rarer (like John Lennon’s cap worn in the ‘Help!’ film that went for thousands not long ago, or his white piano), but the high price tags there are because they’re unique one-offs and unless youhad a relation that worked for Abbey Road/Top Of The Pops/ went on tour with an AAA band you’re unlucky to have one of those sitting in your loft. So for this article we’re sticking just to records, in all their shapes and forms and giving prices that relate to their being in ‘mint’ (ie ‘as new’) condition. By the way, if you do find that you own one of these rare items then why not sell it via our partners Amazon? (and encourage your bidders to give us 5% of the sale price while you’re about it! Well, it was worth a try wasn’t it?!) Happy hunting!

General Top 10:

10) Pink Floyd “A Saucerful Of Secrets” (mono copy, 1968 in mint condition) worth £400

This album, the Floyd’s second (reviewed on these pages not long ago as news and views 118), was for them a comparatively slow seller. Especially in mono – stereo recorders had taken off in a big way in 1966-67 (legend has it that most fans switched so they could hear ‘Sgt Peppers’ in stereo) and by 1968 records built to sound the same in both speakers were dead in the water. So if you own a ‘perfect’ copy of this record (and yes don’t panic, the ‘coffee cup’ circles are meant to be there on the front cover!) then this record is certainly a saucerful of secrets for you!

9) The Who “Who Did It?” (Track Records Sampler, 1970) worth £400

Back in the late 60s, in the pre-Tommy years, Track Records really went to town pushing re-issues of their best-selling artists. That re-issue series includes such delights as ‘The Ox’ (a compilation of John Entwistle songs), Track Allsorts (a bit of everything!) and, most memorably, this album which features side one of the album ‘A Quick One While He’s Away’ and side one of the album ‘Who Sell Out’ (why???) However by 1970 The Who were into their rock-opera stage and needed their works to be heard complete – which might be why this sampler sold so poorly and was catually withdrawn weeks after release. There’s a snazzy cover you can’t see anywhere else too (with the band in ‘boxes’ on the cover with different coloured backgrounds)

8) The Rolling Stones “Live Stones” (unreleased compilation, 1975) worth £500

‘Rolled Gold’ is for many the definitve Stones compilation, full of classic hit singles and album tracks. ‘More Rolled Gold’ is less so, featuring a pick of all the stuff that wasn’t chosen the first time. ‘Live Stones’ is pushing the box even further – a jumble of tracks from the two live albums the Stones had cut up to that time (‘Live’ and ‘Get Yer Ya Yas Out!’), which might be why Decca pulled this album before official release (though some copies did leak out or were given to friends or disc jockeys or something). Apparently the price applies to ‘pink labels’ only by the way!

7) The Rolling Stones “Golden B-Sides” (unreleased compilation,1973) worth £600

Decca were really desperate to milk their cash-cow weren’t they?! Actually a compilation of B-sides sounds like one of their better ideas – there are certainly enough gems in the Stones catalogue, some of which (‘Dandelion’, ‘Child Of The Moon’ ‘Play With Fire’ ‘The Spider And The Fly’ etc) are the best things they ever did. So I’m sorry that this album never made it to official release either – if you do have a copy then its probably a ‘test pressing’ (ie one made in the factory to see how they would sound rather than issued to the public).

6) The Kinks “Are The Village Green Preservation Society” (unreleased 12 track version, 1968) worth £600

If you own an original mint-edition copy of this album, The Kinks’ worst seller at the time but now largely regarded as their masterpiece, then congratulations: your copy is now worth either £125 (in mono) or £80 (stereo). If you own the original shorter version of this album though (given to sample disc-jockeys and the band themselves) then you’re in for a treat (£600 to be honest). Ray Davies was unhappy with it and asked record label Pye for more time to record five new songs – leaving two songs that didn’t appear on the final LP. ‘Days’ came out as a single and fits the nostalgia vibe of the record well, though its ‘Mr Songbird’ that’s unique to this record (till the 1990s CD re-issue anyway), a chirpy, retro pop song about taking all your troubles away that fans used to have to pay a fortune to hear.

5) The Rolling Stones “History Of The Stones” (unreleased 3 album box set, 1975) worth £800

This release is another Decca compilation that was abandoned in favour of ‘Rolled Gold’. The track listing would have been similar, but longer, with yet more A sides, B sides and album tracks added to the mix. Interestingly no sleeves were ever produced for this compilation and it’s yet another test pressing, with ‘pink’ labels, unavailable to the public at large.

4) The Rolling Stones “Their Satanic Majesties Request” (promotional copy, 1967) worth £1000

‘Promo’ albums are copies that were sent to record company executives, DJs, in fact anyone who would help get a record on the air and were designed to be ‘desirable’ and largely unique so they’d be more likely to be played and the receiver would forever be in the band’s debt (or at least less grumpy about getting whacked with food during the cake fight the Stones had to promote ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ the following year!) The ‘Satanic Majesties’ promo is particularly desirable because it features the album’s 3D cover imprinted not on a cardboard sleeve but on silk! Can I request one of those please, your satanic majesties?...

3) The Rolling Stones “Fortune Teller” (withdrawn single, 1963) worth £1000

Before the Stones bumped into Lennon and McCartney and were given ‘I Wannna Be Your Man’ as their second single, The Stones wanted this well-loved song to be their second single. The song itself later turned up on the Stones’ ‘Got Live If You Want It’ EP smothered in fake screams (!) and actually sounds like one of their better early recordings. After all, it’s hard to go wrong with a song as funky and rhythmic and yet as silly and genuinely laugh out loud funny as ‘Fortune Teller’ – a song The Hollies and The Who also did, among many non-AAA bands. ‘Poison Ivy’, another gem relegated to that live EP, would have been the flip and, again, in my opinion would have made for an improvement on both debut single ‘C’mon’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’.

2) The Rolling Stones “The Rolling Stones” (LP first pressing, 1964) worth £1200

So how do you know if you have a first pressing of this album? (originally only produced in limited numbers because Decca never expected it to sell that well!) It has the matrix number XARL 6272-1A scratched into the album’s second side and a much shorter edit of the early Jagger/Richards song ‘Tell Me’ that only runs 2:52, not 4:06. So there.

1)    Pink Floyd (promotional copies of first four singles, 1967-68) worth £2000 each

For those who don’t know, that means promotional copies of the four singles with Syd Barrett in the band: ‘Arnold Layne’ ‘See Emily Play’ ‘Apples and Oranges’ and ‘It Would Be So Nice’ (although even promo copies of later single ‘Point Me At The Sky’ is worth £1000). The reason these promos in particular are so collectible are that, yet again, the Floyd were giving DJs and record executives something unique in return for plugging their single. Each of these five promotional singles come in their own unique picture sleeve which never appeared on any other Floyd release. Hence the rather extreme price tag!

Beatles Top 10

10) ‘Our First Four’ (promotional pack featuring The Beatles, Mary Hopkin, The Black Mills Dyke Band and Jackie Lomax, 1968) worth £1000

The first releases of The Beatles’ new label Apple Records were a big event and everybody wanted a copy of the first batch of releases – including The Queen, whos asked for ‘Hey Jude’ (hmm, I wonder if she ever listened to B-side ‘Revolution’?!) The Beatles were never one not to make a big event if the public wanted it and so copies of ‘Hey Jude’ ‘Those Were The Days’ ‘Thuingumybob’ and ‘Sour Milk Sea’ respectively were given the works: ‘mounted on a PVC pocketon a printed dayglo card insert in a 10”x 12” card or scarcer plastic box’ according to the Record Collector Price Guide! The ones without the box are worth £750 by the way, still more than enough money to give the whole of the Sgt Peppers audience a slap-up meal. 

9) Please Please Me (demo of single, 1963) worth £1500

The first of two demos on this list, this is for The Beatles second (and probably second-rarest) 45rpm single.Like most EMI ‘demo’ singles pre-1967 this one is printed on a white label with a big red ‘A’ stamped across the label of the main side. So now you know.

8) Yesterday and Today (American LP with original ‘butcher’ sleeve, 1966) worth £2000

Possibly the most famous item on this list, this is the price for a mint edition of the ‘original’ version of this American album, back in the days when America released albums in a different order to their British cousins and so squeezed an extra three albums of materiasl out of the band in the early 60s. This particular one mixes seven tracks from ‘Rubber Soul’ and three songs from ‘Revolver’ plus ‘Yesterday’ (which had just become a US #1). The reason its famous, though, is because of that infamous cover by Robert Freeman picturing The Beatles surrounded by baby dolls with torn off heads and slabs of meat (this was originally meant to be the ‘back’ cover and released without the photogrpaher’s permission – the original ideas was for the four Beatles to be ‘born’ between the legs of a writhing female fan!) Understandably EMI-Capitol weren’t best pleased with the cover and withdraw the album after a public outcry.They then hastily ordered a much more innocent shot of the fab four fooling around with a packing case (on which all but Paul look so bored and annoyed they look ready to kill the cmereman for the inane stunt) which they promptly pasted in over the top of the top of the old one. When fans and collectors realised how rare the original sleeves were they started ‘peeling’ the new covers off with steam from a kettle, even though what generally happened was that they ended up with a nasty mix of the two covers. That’s why mint condition copies of this record are so few and far between – although there are a handful of a few hundred albums with the origibnal cover that were sold before they were re-called.

7) John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band “You Know My Name” (withdrawn single 1969) worth £2000

Most Beatles fans know ‘You Know My Name’ because its the last officially released Beatles product till 1994 (as the B-side of last Beatles single ‘Let It Be’), although its goonish humour actually dates from late 1967 in a break in the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ sessions (and features Stone Brian Jones on saxophone, with the single finally released some six months after his death). Not as many fans know that Lennon, who loved the recording, wanted to get it out the vaults and release it under his own name (even though McCartney wrote as much of the song as Lennon, if not more). The B-side would have been ‘What’s The New Mary Jane?’, an even stranger collage of screams, sound effects, handbells and one of the most irritating choruses in rock. The ‘song’ didn’t end up being released until Anthology 3 in 1997 and most fans regard it as a bad move, although there is some sort of a hypnotic trance about the whole thing if you hear it long enough (plus Lennon made about half a dozen very different mixes of it, of which to date we’ve officially only heard one – and not the best one either). As the follow up to the poor-selling ‘Cold Turkey’ no doubt this single would have died an even bigger death, but it was long a source of pride amongst Beatles collectors. As the single was never officially released, only acetates of it exist, with a label stating ‘Apple Custom Made’ and handwritten catalogue numbers physically written onto the disc.

6) John Lennon/Yoko Ono “Two Virgins” (first pressing 1969) worth £3000

To think they actually made more than one pressing of this audio verite album! Actually, this is the ‘mono’ version of the record, which again sold less copies than the stero mix which had all but taken over by 1969. As well as the sound, there’s a difference to the sleeve that lists the name of the artists and the fact they are ‘merrie and olde in England’ on the front of the sleeve, not the back (like the stereo copy). Despite having an ‘Apple’ catalogue number, the few fans in the world to own a vinvyl copy may note that the label itself is of ‘Track Records’ (the home of The Who in the 60s). Apple, still owned by EMI, were furious that Lennon wanted to release an album with that cover (him and Yoko naked) and refused to release it. Even a rare personal plea from Lennon to Sir Joseph Lockwood (the head of EMI) reminding him about all The Beatles had done for the label only solved half the matter – that they would issue the album if another distributor got involved (good for Track, we say, who actually lost money on the record). The record originally came wrapped in a brown paper bag – the way they used to sell top-shelf magazines in those days – but few if any of the bags still exist today!

5) Love Me Do (demo of single, 1962) worth £3000

The second of our two Beatle ‘demo’ discs, this one is notable for two reasons. One is that nobody at EMI has a clue who this group are and figure they don’t even need to check up on details – which is why both A and B side are credited to ‘Lennon/McArtney’(!) Secondly, as a new unknown group very few of these ‘test’ discs were ever pressed – the experts reckon only about 250 of them. As the first bit of Beatles magic ever manufactured on the EMI label (surprisngly original copies of ‘My Bonnie’ with The Beatles backing Tony Sheridan actually aren’t rare enough to make this list but would have made the bottom end of the top 20), these few copies are sought by many a collector.

4) The Beatles With Frank Ifield Live On Stage (American compilation, 1964) worth £3000

I always felt really sorry for US record label Vee-Jay. When the American branch of EMI (Capitol) passed on the Beatles’ first three singles, someone somewhere was sharp enough to hear something in ‘Love Me Do’ ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘She Loves You’ – before Capitol finally got their act together and heavily promoted fourth single ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ (an almost permanent #1 in Summer 1964). Vee-Jay never got the rights to another Beatles record, but luckily they still held the rights to three A sides and three B sides, which they released endlessly on all sorts of singles, EPs and LPs. This one is one of the weirder concoctiosn they came up with: figuring that Frank Ifield was British and therefore appealed to the same people, they stuck their same old six tracks on one side of the record and Ifield’s yodelling crooning on the other. The other infamous Vee-Jay fab four comp was ‘The Beatles vs The Four Seasons’, but at least they had some musical similarities (though not many – a Four Seasons vs The Beach Boys record, on the otherhand, made a lot of sense). As for that patronising sleeve of an English caricature (this record’s full name is ‘Tally Ho, what! The Beatles and Frank Ifield On Stage’, though thankfully most people don’t call it that anymore) the least said the better – and just why is this record ‘on stage’ when it was all made in the studio?!

3) Please Please Me (1st and 2nd pressings of album in stereo,1963) worth £3000

Want to know which pressing you’ve got? Well, have a gander at the music publishing. The first pressings came with a ‘Dick James and Co’ credit for ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ ‘Please Please Me’ ‘Misery’ ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret?’ and ‘There’s A Place’. However by the time of second pressings the Lennon/McCartney publishing group ‘Northern Songs’ has bought up the rights to all these songs (albeit they never did get to own ‘Love Me Do’ or ‘PS I Love You’, which are the only two songs that one of the Beatles (Paul) actually owns. The reasons these albums are so rare is that they were so limited – EMI gave The Beatles the go-ahead on the back of one top 20 hit and one top five hit and never in their lives expected this cash-in album to dominate the charts the way it did. The reason the stereo copy is so much rarer than the mono is because so few people had the technology back in 1963, when stereo was still very much the lesser cousin to mono.

2)    ‘The Beatles’ (AKA ‘The White Album’) copies 1-10 (1968) worth £10,000

The idea behind ‘The White Album’ was to make it seem like a ‘limited edition’ that only ever actually sold as many copies as the public bought. The ‘number’ was printed on the bottom right hand corner and, for the record, my vinyl copy is number 9782 so, alas, I’m not as rich as I’d hoped. Generally speaking you need a copy numbered in the first thousand for it to be worth anything special, with albums numbered between 11 and 100 worth around £7000 in mint condition. The reason the first 10 fetch so much more is because they were ‘bagged’ by The Beatles themselves to give away to friends or family – Ringo actually got copy #1, much to Lennon’s annoyance because he thought he’d ‘bagged’ it first!

1)    “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (special mock-up featuring Capitol music executives, 1967) worth £70,000

I still remember the fuss in Record Collector when this album was finally confirmed to be true and not just a mad fan rumour. Back in 1967, with ‘Sgt Peppers’ breaking all records, the record guys at Capitol (the American branch of EMI) wanted to celebrate and so commisioned a mock-up of the famous cover, but with the pictures of themselves and their mates appearing instead of John, Paul, George, Ringo and assorted film stars, sports stars, politicians, friends and gurus. Only 100 copies of this record were ever made (given to heads of department and some employees as Christmas present) and to date only three are confirmed to have survived- the most recent of which sold for this record price last month.If you happen to have one in your attic then start getting the champagne in now!

And that ends yet another newsletter. Join us next week – if you aren’t too busy counting the money you’ve just made at a record auction...