Beatles archive heads for the cloud

Sir Paul McCartney does deal with HP

The man who took skiffle to the world half a century ago, Sir Paul McCartney, is 'getting a little help from his friends' HP to put his entire oeuvre into an accessible online archive, it has been announced.

The archive will digitise McCartney's large collection of cover artwork, photographs, paintings, film and videos, as well as masters of songs from his Beatles and Wings days, and beyond.

HP's role will be to run the technology that makes all this possible, from transferring physical entities into a high-definition digital form, built atop a 'private cloud' for McCartney's company MPL, served from a data centre.

"Paul McCartney has always been a trendsetter in the music industry and HP has been at the forefront of technology innovation," said HP sales and marketing person, Tom Hogan, in a valiant piece of spin where none was probably needed.

Perhaps the archive will help researchers answer one of the great mysteries of popular music: how did a group of ordinary 15 year-old boys from humble Liverpool row-homes manage in under a decade to go from performing helter-skelter rock-and-roll at church fetes to writing a series of deeply avant-garde albums that changed the whole of modern music culture?

Culturally, it was if the Wright Brothers had gone on to invent the jet engine in 1915.

No mention has been made of how fans will access the archive, but being run through McCartney's own commercial wing, it is likely to cost hard cash.

Putting his archive online does mean that McCartney's legacy will at last be available back in the USSR. What would Nikita Kruschev and John Lennon have said?

Entirely coincidentally, McCartney's most famous solo album, 1973's Band on the Run, is being reissued. Less coincidentally, Apple Records has reportedly recently blocked comedian Harry Hill from naming his next album in homage to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band.

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John E Dunn

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