Beatles live recording to be released?

The Beatles as matadors

Spanish music site Efe Eme reports that a recording of The Beatles’ concert in Madrid, Spain from 2 July 1965 at Plaza de toros Las Ventas is to be officially released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the show. The Beatles: Concierto en Madrid will be a limited edition 220 gram vinyl album on Cocodrilo Records, also containing the contents of the album on an accompanying CD. Included will also be a book containing 50 photographs of the Beatles in concert and in their hotel, by the photographer Francisco Barahona. The concert will also be accessible online for free.

The concert was officially recorded with Brian Epstein’s permission (a signed contract still exists) on a Grundig reel-to-reel on 2 channels with four AKG microphones, and mixed live. The concert consists of these songs:

  1. Twist and Shout (Medley-Russell)
  2. She’s a Woman (Lennon-McCartney)
  3. I’m a Loser (Lennon-McCartney)
  4. Can’t Buy Me Love (Lennon-McCartney)
  5. Baby’s in Black (Lennon-McCartney)
  6. I Wanna Be Your Man (Lennon-McCartney)
  7. A Hard Day’s Night (Lennon-McCartney)
  8. Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby (Perkins)
  9. Rock and Roll Music (Berry)
  10. I Feel Fine (Lennon-McCartney)
  11. Ticket to Ride (Lennon-McCartney)
  12. Long Tall Sally (Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell)

The concert was recorded by José Luis Alvarez, and is described to be in great quality.

Alvarez was editor of the Spanish music magazine “Fonorama“, and had met up with Brian Epstein in April 1965 on one of Epstein’s frequent visit to Spain, a country he was very fond of. To Alvarez’ surprise, Epstein was aware of Fonorama, which had started publication in 1963. Alvarez wanted to know if The Beatles would perform concerts in Spain that year, to which Epstein replied “No.” Brian Epstein was a numbers man and had thought that since The Beatles sold so little records in Spain that they weren’t very popular there. The Beatles had sold only around 3 800 records in Spain, according to Epstein, whereas their records were selling in hundreds of thousands or millions in other countries. Alvarez then told him that under the current Franco regime, the number of gramophone players in the country was just around 2 000, but these players were put to good use. Putting up speakers in windows, owners of record players would put on records and street parties would form. Alvarez was able to convince Epstein that each copy sold in Spain would be enjoyed by a large audience due to these street parties. Long story short, Epstein relented and The Beatles added Spain to their European tour.

Fonorama, the magazine Alvarez edited. This is #6 from April, 1964.

When in Madrid, Alvarez hooked up with The Beatles, and they gave an interview which was published in Fonorama. Whereas the other newspaper men in Spain asked the Beatles about their hair, how they liked Spain and the national dish, “paella”, Alvarez and his journalist Roberto Sanchez-Miranda to The Beatles’ delight asked them more serious, music related questions.

After the interview, Alvarez told Epstein that he wanted to record the concert. He had yet to set up his independent Cocodrilo Records label, but thought that other companies might be interested in releasing the recording. Unusually, Epstein agreed to this, and the pair borrowed the hotel’s Olivetti typewriter and drew up a contract with only six lines. Since then, the taped performance has been gathering dust in Alvarez’ archives. After the death of John Lennon, Alvarez had talks with then president of EMI records in Spain, Manolo Diaz about releasing the recording, but the two lost touch after Diaz went to Miami and then went on to live in USA.

Interview album from Cicadelic Records.

In the early 1980s Alvarez offered the tape to Cicadelic Records for $10,000. The company had already released nine albums of Beatles interviews. However, Cicadelic thought the asking price was much too high, or may have concluded that the copyright belonged to the artist, which was true at the time.

Alvarez has also written a book about The Beatles’ visit to Spain.

In the 90s Alvarez planned writing a book about the Beatles in Spain and sought permission from Apple Records’ Neil Aspinall to include a CD of the concert with his book. He was denied such permission. The book was finally released in 2009. A second edition was released in late 2013.

Life then got in the way, but the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the concert sparked renewed interest and the project looks like it’s finally coming to fruition. And with the current copyright situation in Europe still untested (recordings unreleased after fifty years are entering the public domain), the independent release may prove difficult to stop (see our earlier article about Peacock Records).


3 Responses

  1. georgefromhenley says:

    I thought the copyright expands the year AFTER fullfilling the 50year time frame…

  2. wogew says:

    Yes, there may be a 6 month delay.

  3. David Brailsford says:

    Thanks for the info and ALLL of your updates!

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