The great rock and roll swindle
|The Beatles in Madrid (the photos, that is)|
Okay, we fell for it, hook, line and sinker. It was after all, a good story with a beautiful bonus at the end – a chance to hear a professionally recorded stereophonic representation of a full Beatles concert from 1965, with not too much screaming going on.
|Efe Eme book|
José Luis Álvarez Sánchez set the trap with an exclusive feature at the Spanish music site Efe Eme in May 2015. How he had made an agreement with The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein to record The Beatles’ only concert in Madrid, July 2, 1965, and that it was now finally going to be made available for fans of the group for the fiftieth anniversary of the concert, July 2, 2015. A photo of the tape was also featured on the website alongside the interview.
In the interview with Efe Eme, Álvarez also claimed that in a chance meeting with Epstein in April 1965, he himself had persuaded the manager to include Spain in the upcoming European tour. Epstein had been worried about the lack of Beatles record sales in Spain, but Álvarez had convinced him that this was only due to the country’s shortage of record players, and that there were plenty of Beatles fans. Epstein relented, and Spain was included in the tour.
There’s just one big flaw in this story:
|Contract from Brian Epstein about the concerts in Spain, dated February 5, 1965|
A letter from Brian Epstein confirming the concerts in Madrid on July 2 and Barcelona the next day still exists, and is dated 5 February, 1965 – a couple of months before Álvarez’ presumably fictious meeting with Epstein took place. As the meeting was not taped and photographs not taken, we now have to conclude that Álvarez invented the story. One of the other things Álvarez recounted from this meeting, was that Epstein had been following his music magazine Fonorama since issue 1 in 1963.
Alvarez was at the time of the concert, editor of the magazine called Fonorama. No doubt, Álvarez and other members of his staff would have been able to meet Epstein and The Beatles during the press conference in Madrid prior to the concert, and they featured this and an account of the concert in their magazine at the time.
|Fonorama 15/16, 1965|
What they probably didn’t do, was record the concert. And in the unlikely event that it really did happen, something must have gone wrong. The tape may have been unplayable, or they may just have lost it. Because the vinyl and CD record released by Álvarez’ independent record label Cocodrilo Records on July 2, 2015 does not contain the Madrid concert. It’s not even in stereo. What the record does contain, is a hodgepodge of recordings, mainly from two Paris concerts. And this is not the first time Alvarez has been selling this fake, it’s only a bigger event this time around, with the online music store Fnac reporting that it’s currently their biggest seller! And Álvarez has been touring Spanish radio and TV channels with this record for the past couple of days.
|An earlier, less successful outing of the tape creation.|
Apparently, the fake was created as early as 1992. The following elements were used in the “recreation” of the Madrid concert:
From the June 20, 1965 Paris afternoon concert:
“Twist & Shout”, “She’s a Woman”, “I’m a loser”, “Can´t Buy Me Love”, “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “A Hard Day´s Night”
From the June 20, 1965 Paris evening concert: “Everybody´s Trying To Be My Baby”, “Ticket To Ride” and “Long Tall Sally”
From the June 30, 1966 Tokyo concert: “Baby´s In Black”, “Rock And Roll Music” and “I Feel Fine”.
From Paul McCartney’s 2 November, 1989 Madrid concert:
Song introduction in Spanish.
The one thing on this album that could be authentic, is the opening announcement from Torrebruno, introducing the Beatles on stage. Judging from the nature of the rest of the material, this was probably recreated by Torrebruno himself, back in 1992 – with added audience noise.
So we’ve all been duped. The Spanish señorita was a Frenchman in drag. The Beatles’ concerts in Paris were great, but are better enjoyed in their natural surroundings, like on this bootleg:
|A great bootleg of the Beatles in Paris, come 2016 it will even be legal in Europe.|
If you have been lead astray by our enthusiastic first reports about the Madrid concert recording here on WogBlog, our sincerest apology. If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. As we are typing this, there’s a copy on it’s way to us, too. And one other thing: at least you will have a photo booklet and a nice record sleeve with a great story behind it: how we all were fooled by José Luis Álvarez Sánchez. Print this blog post and stick it in the record sleeve. It will reveal the true story behind the record. Show the record to your friends and let them in on the story. Give it enough time, and you’ll laugh at it, too.
Update: Statement from Efe Eme.
The store of Efe Eme has released this statement:
In the wake of the rumors generated in the last few hours on the authenticity of the audio of the album “The Beatles: Concierto en Madrid”, Efe Eme wants to clarify that this album is not a product produced by us and that, like other stores, all we do is sell it. The producer is José Luis Álvarez under the label Cocodrilo Records.
We have always been aware of the doubts that surrounds this recording, which is why, when we interviewed Álvarez in efeeme.com, at no time did our editor confirm the authenticity of the audio (he could not do it) and actually asked Alvarez about that.
Before putting the album on sale in the store of Efe Eme, we again turned our attention to the authenticity of the recording, and Alvarez again confirmed it was genuine. In any case, the store of Efe Eme cannot see nor assure the authenticity of the content of products produced by third party (only the ones that we publish ourselves under the brand Efe Eme). And so here is a typical example: If the author of a book produced by another company has copied texts of another work, it is not in our power to know. If we knew everything, our wisdom would be infinite, and this is not the case (and it is impossible). With “The Beatles: Concierto en Madrid”, it’s the same thing. So, we made it clear that José Luis Álvarez “ensures that it was recorded that night with approval from Brian Epstein”. That is to say, he ensures it, not we. And we only have offered it on sale, as did other stores.
At the moment it seems obvious that the bulk of the content of the album is extracted from the recordings of the two concerts of the Beatles in Paris of August 1965 (sic) (never released officially but circulating as “bootlegs”), In those concerts the Beatles performed the same repertoire as in Madrid. Added to this were inserted recordings from Torrebruno and Paul McCartney talking in Spanish which, honestly, we do not have the slightest idea about where it comes from.
For all these reasons, and since you have bought the album, we want to state that the audio of this concert is not appropriate to that of the concert in Madrid (which probably does not exist). If you want to return your order, you just have to communicate with us and negotiate the return.
If you have bought the numbered edition, unless we hear from you before the 7th of July that you want to cancel the purchase, when we receive this edition, we are going to ship it to you: towards the 15th of July.
In any case, yes we would like to warn that these editions in these three formats, and which are based on a small lie, over time will turn into a collector’s item. It may be in the part of the record collection labeled “bizarre” or “Made in Spain”, if you like, but nonetheless collectible. Oddities, “bootlegs” which in all likelihood will rub discographers given its strange origin, and the value that is placed upon pieces related to the Beatles discography.
For the time being, we have withdrawn the albums from sale, but we are thinking, for this collector’s market, we will keep selling the units that we have got in stock. But, of course, while warning of their falseness.
As vendors, we want to apologize to all those shoppers who have felt cheated and the inconvenience that all this can entail. It has not been our intention.
The store of Efe Eme
José Luis Álvarez Sánchez has now left a commentary in the comments section of this blog post. He now seems to have accepted that the record he has released is not what it purports to be. His defense is chiefly that someone must have switched his tape out with a false one at some point in time without him noticing it.