Wonder upon wonders, "new" material from the Beatles is still springing forth — on Apple apps, videodiscs, CD, and soon at a movie theater near you.
George Harrison was the gearhead of the group — quite a good photographer and gadget lover — and also a media hoarder. Evidence comes to the fore Tuesday with the home-video release of Martin Scorsese's documentary film "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" and the simultaneous release of the Abrams Books multitouch iPad/iPhone/iPod e-book of the same name.
Chock full of rare performance clips plus stories from the late Harrison, family and friends, Scorsese's monumental two-part, four-hour epic delves deeply into the musician's spiritual nature as an alternative path into the Beatles' history. This treasure trove has been playing on HBO and HBO Go for a few months and will screen again at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday on HBO2 East. If you buy it Tuesday on DVD, Blu-ray or iTunes download, you'll also be treated to bonus features like a "lost" Harrison guitar solo from "Here Comes the Sun." The DVD/Blu-ray combo edition also boasts a 10-song CD collection of stripped-down demos, including several from his landmark solo album "All Things Must Pass." The same CD ("Early Takes, Volume 1") is available separately, too.
The multitouch encounter
Widow Olivia Harrison gets top billing on the companion touch-me/move-me Abrams digital book, a $15 downloadable app from the iTunes store in the vein of the recently issued "Guitar Collection: George Harrison." The latter, selling for $9.99, helps fans make mental connections from George's guitars to the tracks he played them on, with iTunes song snippets (or complete performances, if you own them), a/v clips from the artist himself and other "hands-on" demos by awe-struck musicians including Mike Campbell, Gary Moore and George's son Dhani Harrison.
Olivia Harrison found a lot of her multimedia e-book's contents while rummaging through drawers at home. Among the discoveries was a digital picture frame wherein George's voice welcomes, "Hello, magic mirror frame."
Beatles at the cinema
Also full of promise is the new documentary "The Beatles: The Lost Concert," coming to movie theaters May 17 and 22. Pundits including Philadelphia news legend Larry Kane (who trailed and befriended the Beatles on their early U.S. visits), rock original Chuck Berry and concert producer Sid Bernstein get to talk about the Beatles invasion of February 1964, so welcome and distracting just three months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
All that remembering is warm-up to the real reason you'll come out to see this documentary, as it shifts to a "long lost" film of the Fab Four's first U.S. concert Feb. 11, 1964, held at the Washington (D.C.) Coliseum, later shown in theaters via closed-circuit broadcast but "missing" for decades.
That broadcast process and the production's eight-camera black-and-white shoot were considered quite high-tech for the day. Still, you gotta laugh at the primitiveness of the stage setup during the dozen-song show. Performing in the round, the Beatles first faced one part of the audience for a couple of songs, then physically shifted their angle and gear themselves (no stage hands!) to face a different part of the crowd. Pity poor Ringo and his drum kit!
Reunion plans? Don't hold your breath
As for the recurring buzz of a surviving Beatles (plus offspring) "reunion concert" in London this summer, which 2012 Olympics organizers have been pushing for … Paul ("I'm still a Beatle") McCartney is game. But Ringo Starr says he'll be busy touring the U.S. And Julian Lennon (who can sing just like his dad) has less-than-zero interest. n