New release of the Budokan concerts

Upcoming DeLuxe release of the Budokan material – CD version

The Beatles performed five concerts over three days, one on June 30, and two on each of the two following days, July 1 and 2 at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo in 1966. Two of the concerts, the one from June 30 and the first from July 1, 1966, were videotaped by Nippon Television. The two shows were edited together and broadcast in the show “The Beatles Recital from Nippon Budokan, Tokyo”, which was screened on the NTV (Nippon Television Network Corporation) Channel 4 on 1 July, 1966 from 9pm. The June 30 concert (dark green suits) was shown in Japan three times: in 1977, 1980 and 1988. The July 1 concert (light striped suits) was only shown in Japan in 1966 and never reprised.

Dark green suits on stage at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo, 1966

As the story goes, VAP released the June 30 concert (dark green suits) as a VHS and a Beta video cassette in Japan in the eighties and got away with it. VAP was the “sound & visual” department under the wing of NTV, which originally had filmed and broadcast the two concerts in 1966 and still owns the copyright today.

VHS edition

Somehow Apple Corps Ltd allowed VAP to release the video commercially in 1984, but ONLY in Japan. The concert film was initially released on VHS & Beta tapes in a presentation box, then in normal plastic case. When they wanted to release it on laser disc in 1993, Apple got involved. It was eventually released with their approval, as witnessed by the Apple logo on the sleeve. But the laser disc was also only released in Japan for the domestic market. Still, it did find its way to import shops around the world, and we were able to buy it from a CD and laser disc store in Oslo, Norway back in the day. Actually, the 1984 beta cassette release of the this concert is considered the best in quality, as the laser disc suffered from audio problems and artifacts from the video conversion. And beta was a better quality video system than VHS, but you probably knew that.

THE BEATLES CONCERT AT BUDOKAN 1966, Official laser disc released in Japan only.

This laserdisc contains one of the Beatles’ concerts in Budokan Hall,1966, in colour, as well as black and white documentary stuff from the Beatles visit to Japan.

The back cover of the laser disc

Someone looked up this release on the website discogs recently, and fount that it had been branded a bootleg. This is not true. Allan Kozinn asked Apple director Neil Aspinall about this release back in the day, and Aspinall confirmed that it was an official release for Japan only, and approved by Apple. The Apple logo is also displayed on the front cover. Incidentally, even though the photos on the laserdisc cover is from the superior July 1st concert (“the light striped suits” concert), the actual concert on the disc is the inferior opening concert on June 30th (The Beatles wearing dark green suits), the one that Brian Epstein didn’t permit to be broadcast because Paul’s microphone was behaving badly, and the band delivered an abysmal performance. Brian took home with him a copy of the good concert, and who knows where it’s at now. A few bits of it was shown on The Beatles Anthology.

George Harrison in his light striped suit on stage at the Budokan Hall

The Beatles and Apple’s negligence of releasing this concert worldwide for the home cinema market is a mystery, but for bootleggers that has been a blessing for years. In 2016, we reported about a release from HMC (His Master’s Choice) which brought us both concerts on one DVD, but upon reviewing it, we found it rather lacking in quality and the DVD had no menu.

Which brings us to today’s little news item. Under EU copyright law, stuff that hasn’t been released by the copyright holder for fifty years after it was recorded is considered “public domain” here in Europe, meaning anyone can release it and just pay for the mechanical rights. In USA, legislation is stronger, so these releases are typically not shipped to U.S. customers.

Townsend Music has announced a new release for March 5th, 2021 featuring the Budokan material: “Beatles In Tokyo” consists of a limited edition hand-numbered CD (or vinyl LP), a DVD and a hardback book. Here’s what they have to say about their package:

With work on Revolver just completed, the Beatles played their first-ever dates in Asia in late June 1966. By that time they had grown weary of the rigours and confinements of touring, but Japan was a novelty they were looking forward to. Despite finding their visit uncomfortably regimented, their shows at the hallowed Budokan on June 30th and July 1st were a great success and broadcast on Nippon Television.

  • Features the Beatles, live in Tokyo at the Nippon Budokan, two nights in 1966
  • Includes the entire NTV Channel Four broadcast
  • 90-page hand-numbered hardback book with background notes and archival imagery
  • Includes exclusive DVD (NTSC region) containing live footage and interviews.
  • Professionally re-mastered with background liners and many rare and unseen photographs.

Territory restrictions apply (which is, we guess, their way of saying that this is considered an illegal release in certain markets and will not be shipped there).

White vinyl edition of the package.

We do have our doubts regarding the video material on the DVDs, as we have been disappointed by previous releases of this. But if they have managed to secure a good copy of the TV video master (see sample below while it’s still there) we are in for a treat.

As always with these semi-legal releases, they do feature some material that the original copyholder has released: A couple of clips from the July 1 concert was used in the Anthology TV series and subsequent VHS and DVD releases. So they should be considered officially released and if Townsend Music would want to be absolutely in their right to release this, they should have to delete the released songs from their upcoming release. But we have raised this issue previously with other grey marked releases and neither Universal Music nor Apple Corps have taken any action against these. We think they are happy as long as these releases are kept out of their biggest market, USA. Of course, the new release should also be considered illegal in Japan, since the dark green suit concert is out there, through the official releases in the eighties and nineties.

Track Listing

Budokan Hall, Tokyo, 30th June 1966
1. Rock ‘n’ Roll Music 1.32
2. She’s A Woman 3.13
3. If I Needed Someone 2.56
4. Day Tripper 3.02
5. Baby’s In Black 2.35
6. I Feel Fine 2.32
7. Yesterday 2.24
8. I Wanna Be Your Man 2.29
9. Nowhere Man 2.24
10. Paperback Writer 2.39
11. I’m Down 2.17

Budokan Hall, Tokyo, 1st July 1966
12. Introduction 1.13
13. Rock ‘n’ Roll Music 1.33
14. She’s A Woman 2.49
15. If I Needed Someone 2.50
16. Day Tripper 3.31
17. Baby’s In Black 2.27
18. I Feel Fine 2.27
19. Yesterday 2.21
20. I Wanna Be Your Man 2.28
21. Nowhere Man 2.38
22. Paperback Writer 2.33
23. I’m Down 2.54

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15 Responses

  1. Reed says:

    The Pre-order link from Townsend Music is not operational at this time.

  2. Bryan Smathers says:

    Just wondering if u can get a vinyl LP copy in the USA here

  3. darkpain69 says:

    You shouldn’t advertise such illegal things

    • admin says:

      Technically, they are legal. And if Apple Corps and Universal Music cared about these matters, they would have taken action against the companies responsible for these products. They let the European copyrights slip out of their hands, and now this and other products are the consequences.

  4. rick says:

    When and where will we be able to purchase it and for how much money?

  5. Duke_Viking says:

    Per my inquiry if this is available to the US market via their Instagram page:

    Hi, this release is not available in the US through our supplier, sorry.

  6. Ian says:

    Townsend will not ship this product to Australia.

  7. Illex says:

    All that matters is if they’re sourced from master copies, otherwise you’re just buying the packaging.

  8. Johnno says:

    Just saw this now. I can’t believe they’re selling such a beautiful box set for £25, and the photos of the set says there are white vinyl LPs too. Neil Young has a similar set of his 1991 Catalyst show (LP, CD, and DVD, maybe a BVD underwear too!) for $99.98 and NO book. His online store is called the Greedy Hand. and it is……

    Actually, I (and some of your readers too) really liked the TMOQ cd/dvds, they were the best I remember, altho I haven’t probably A/B’d all the copies i’ve had. Gosharootie, imagine if Apple put out something that nice they haven’t put out a thousand times before……. :^(

  9. Nico says:

    For the 2nd time the release date of Beatles In Tokyo Vinyl has been changed, first time to 2021-04-30 and now to 2021-07-30.

  10. Alfredo Roccia says:

    I got my copy today but didn’t go through the whole little box set. I just tried the DVD on my laptop to check the quality: I’m having issues with it, even using different softwares. The video doesn’t appear and I can’t get to the menu. However, I managed to open the single Video tracks inside, and picked up the black suit concert: I guess that’s still the VHS quality, but I don’t think one could expect a restoration in 2K.

    Btw, if anyone knows how I can solve that DVD issue, it would be appreciated. Thanks!

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