Latest Beatle Vinyl on the Universal Music Label

Since the lucrative Beatle catalogue went over to Universal Music for distribution (as part of the sale and break-up of the EMI company in 2012) there’s been a steady stream of product from released – most of it (it has to be said) re-issues of stuff we already have.

The latest of these – four albums on vinyl – are a case in point: the Beatles 1962-1966; the Beatles 1967-1970; the Beatles Number 1; and the Beatles Love.

Each of these are re-issues containing no new material. The only thing that can be said to be slightly different is that the two sets, 1962-1966 (a.k.a. The Red Album), and 1967-1970 (a.k.a. The Blue Album) are reportedly the original analogue mixes. The discs are cut direct from the analogue tapes used for the 1973 LP sets—with a few exceptions (i.e. mono versions using EQ from the latest mono box set replace the few faux stereo tracks originally used). AAA it seems is definitely the new DDD…..

It has to be said though that the packaging on each of these four Universal re-issued double LPs is impeccable. The Red and Blue albums, for example, are faithfully reproduced in thick cardboard with very shiny covers and inners.

If you speak Spanish (and you don’t get seasick from the all the camera movement) this “unboxing” YouTube video from keen Beatle collector shakespearecub gives you a good indication of both the Red and Blue LP’s in all their glossy finery (if you are pressed for time, scroll in to about 4’10”):

Here are those 2014 stickers on the front of each:

Beatles Red stickerBeatles Blue sticker

And this is the main point of difference – Universal Music logos on the back, and mentions of Universal Music and Calderstone Productions in the small print….it’s not Parlophone, Capitol, or EMI anymore:

Beatles Red rearBeatles Blue rear

These albums are also manufactured in the Netherlands – according to small transparent stickers on the back of each LP:

Beatles Netherlands

And while we’re on the subject of the Red and Blue LPs and the EMI company, here’s a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the Angus McBean shoot for the Red, Blue – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me LP. Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at the former EMI headquarters in Manchester Square, London with the group looking down over the stairwell. The building has since been demolished:

The rear photo, taken in 1969, was initially intended for an LP to be called Get Back, but those plans changed and we got the Let It Be album instead. The photo was eventually used on both the 1962–1966 and 1967–1970 LP’s.

The 2014 Universal Music edition of the Beatles Number 1 LP set also comes in a thick cardboard, this time with a matt finish gatefold cover (just like the original 2000 edition) complete with the inners, large poster (depicting Beatle singles picture covers from around the world), and the four psychedelic photographs of the individual Beatles. It’s all very nice. Again the main point of difference now is in the logos used and the small print credits:Beatles 1 LP rear

The Love LP comes in a thick cardboard gatefold cover – just like the original from 2007. And it has the same thick, glossy booklet. Top marks go to Universal for the packaging. The 2007 release had a small brown sticker on the front:Beatles Love 1

While the 2014 edition has a larger red, white and yellow sticker:Beatles Love 2

On the rear of the gatefold the logo line-up has changed. The 2007 release has Apple, Parlophone and Cirque du Soleil logos:

Beatles Love 3

The 2014 has just Apple and Cirque either side of the barcode, and a small Universal Music Group logo on the far lower right. There’s also a change to the small print. No EMI Records reference, and interestingly the Universal edition has a copyright date of 2006, while the earlier EMI/Parlophone/Apple edition is 2007. Curious:

Beatles Love 4

shakespearecub has also done an “unboxing” video of both the Number 1 and the Love LPs:

John Lennon “Imagine” in Ultra Hi Res Audio

The next few posts will focus on gifts that were either under the Christmas tree, or given as birthday presents. Yes, Christmas is also birthday time around here, and so there are a few nice new items to add to the collection as a result!

The first is a copy of John Lennon’s Imagine album in High Fidelity Pure Audio:

Lennon Hi ResThis came out early in 2014. It is on a Blu-Ray disc containing just audio – no video content. High Fidelity Pure Audio is a Universal Music led initiative to reissue high resolution music physically on audio-only Blu-Ray discs. (See their Facebook page and this short video advertising the format). There are a number of titles out from the likes of Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Elton John, etc. (Click here for a full list).

This Lennon title uses the 2010 remaster in 24 bit/96 kHz audio with no compression. Lennon Hi Res Rear

Have not had the opportunity to do a serious A/B comparison with other versions of this album on CD yet. Reports on the web are mixed.

Lennon Hi Res DiscPackaging is OK. There’s a booklet unique in format to this release, but with content pretty much exactly the same as the 2010 CD release:Lennon Hi Res Book 1

Inside is an essay by Paul Du Noyer, plus photos from the original album, supplemented by some additional shots:Lennon Hi Res Book 2Lennon Hi Res Book 3

Also inside the Blu-Ray fold-out box you get this photo as the inside liner:Lennon Hi Res linerA download voucher is included in the pack which gives you access to a digital download of the album in MP3 format at a standard resolution so that you can access the music on the move on devices which don’t support HD audio:Lennon Hi Res coupon

Since this physical release on Blu-Ray, Universal Music and Apple have made a wider range of Lennon titles available for download only in High Res audio, although this looks to be region-specific and geo-blocks certain markets (like Australia).

Amazing Tower Records Footage from 1970

For those of us who remember the days of visiting good old “bricks and mortar” record stores to browse and buy the latest vinyl……this amazing footage of the legendary Tower Records on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in 1970 will take you back (and possibly take your breath away if you’re a vinyl nut!)

In it we spotted literally hundreds of plastic sealed copies of George Harrison’s then new box set All Things Must Pass being put out on display……a fleeting glimpse of Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band in the arms of a female customer…..stacks of McCartney’s McCartney LP…..Badfinger’s  No Dice……a copy of the Beatles Yellow Submarine….and from footage taken outside, a big John Lennon billboard.

Scenes from this great archival film were used to illustrate this spoken word advertisement for Tower Records voiced by John Lennon himself (possibly from 1973) – then promoting his latest LP Mind Games:

Three Great Beatle Auction Items

Over the years we’ve purchased a lot of pre-loved Beatle CDs (and vinyl) at online auctions (e.g. Ebay), but never before at a real, live auction – until now.

The Mossgreen Auction house in Melbourne, Victoria recently held a major sale of collectables. Part of it was a significant offering of Beatle items – memorabilia, books, records and CDs. You can view the catalogue online (the Beatle items start on page 8 at Lot No. 715. They continue to Lot No. 836).

These all came from one collector who was downsizing….pretty impressive.

For a while now we’ve had a hankering to get the previously-released CD boxed sets of the Beatles singles, and the CD EP’s. These came out way back in 1992 – and in the Mossgreen auction there was one lot containing both box sets: IMG_1006

There was also another separate lot with all the CD singles in a special box, all on 3-inch CD’s. This was issued in 1989:IMG_0993

Figuring we’d take a chance we put a pre-auction bid on both lots. It was one of those auction sites where you could watch and also listen in live online as the auction actually proceeded. The auctioneer steadily worked his way to our first lot (for the 3-inch CD single set). We won it in quick time – with nobody else bidding at all. The set was ours.

It comes in a very dark blue-black cardboard and brass-hinged hinged box:

IMG_0996

Each of the 22 tiny CDs is housed in an individual folder:

IMG_0995IMG_1001IMG_1005IMG_1003These 3-inch CD’s were also issued individually over a period of time (late 1988-1989), ut it’s nice to have them collected in one box. There’s a small black folder in the box detailing each single.

Next up in the auction was the lot of two boxed sets. One was the Beatles EP’s, and one the CD singles again, this time on individual, regular sized CDs. Again, our pre-auction bid was the only one made, and again we won. It was all over so very fast:IMG_1010

Each of these boxes is in mint condition. They’re both dark grey-black in colour with gold lettering and they’re hinged at the top. These boxes are quite beautifully made with a cloth-covered, thick board. In the photo above you can see the brass rivets holding them together. On the EP box the outer top tilts forward and there is a secondary flap inside which lifts to reveal the 14 CD sleeves (including a double CD Magical Mystery Tour):IMG_1012IMG_1013IMG_1015The 22 CD singles box is very similar:IMG_1016IMG_1017IMG_1018IMG_1021So, expecting to win maybe just one auction lot if we were lucky – we ended up with two! Three great CD box sets in all, and in mint condition from a Beatle collector in Melbourne who was selling off some of their prized items…..

Ringo’s ‘Beaucoups of Blues’ – German Pressing

Another visit to Audiomania, the eclectic second-hand record store not far from our local area, and another Ringo Starr record find….

Audiomania is a quirky shop located in a run-down, semi-industrial area. It only opens two days a week (Thursdays and Saturdays), and then for only four hours at a time. One side of the premises contains blue crates full of good quality vinyl (pop, rock, and blues, as well as lots of jazz and reggae). On the other side they sell used hi-fi, restored motor cycles….and artworks made out of old motorcycle and hi fi parts.

Like we said, it’s an unusual place:Audiomania

After a thorough trawl here last Saturday we ended up with two items.

The first find was a nice clean German pressing of Ringo Starr’s 1970 solo release Beaucoups of Blues. This one is on the Hörzu/Apple label, making it quite interesting:beaucoups doublebeaucoups_shze_label aBeaucoups of Blues_LP_label_b

Starting in the 1960s Hörzu (principally a radio and TV listing magazine) began producing and releasing records as a subsidiary of the Electrola company. Electrola had the rights to release EMI product (including the Beatles) in Germany.

Like we said in the previous post, we seem to moving from not having much Ringo as a solo artist on vinyl to now having quite a few of his releases.

Vinyl is the specialty of Audiomania, but while at the store we found a couple of small crates with some CDs. In there we turned up an original 1986 UK copy of Paul McCartney’s Press to PlayPress to PlayPress to Play label

This is the disc without the bonus tracks (which were added for the 1993 re-issues called The Paul McCartney Collection). The lovely lady who runs the store gave this one to us for free!

A is For Apple Book – More Info

Since we reported back in September on a new series of books detailing the history of the Beatles Apple company, there’s been a flurry of activity and a lot of further information coming through.

The authors of A is For Apple now have a cover for Volume 1, which is due for publication in April next year:A is For Apple Cover

And they’ve produced a YouTube video, too:

There are a couple of further very interesting draft sample pages now available here and here. (These come with a “big file” warning and may take some time to download).

For Apple fans these both contain great info and photos.

And there are now details about some special offers and bonus material which will come with Volume 1 of A is For Apple.

One Apple artist has given the publishers permission to release two rare recordings with the project. Jackie Lomax, just a couple of days before his tragic death in 2013, signed an agreement to include an exclusive 7“ vinyl of his previously unreleased track ‘Land Of People’, and the demo version of ‘Is This What You Want?’. Both songs will be included with Vol. 1 of A is For Apple.A is For Apple Bonus1A is For Apple Bonus2

Additionally, if you pre-order Volume 1 before December 3, you not only save €5 Euro on the purchase price but also receive a strictly limited edition bonus flexi disc of The Iveys‘ unreleased 1968 Christmas Record:A is For Apple Bonus3

In late 1968 The Iveys (later to become Badfinger) taped a Christmas message for their fans just like the Beatles had done since 1963. But contrary to the Beatles‘ annual Crimble messages this one has never been released. Only very recently the A is For Apple people got permission to include this Christmas flexi disc that never was.

For the whole story of the project so far see the A is For Apple website.

Beatles With Records – Part Twenty Five

It’s not often we get video of the Beatles with records. We have had only a couple over this course of this series (see: Part 6,  Part 14,  and possibly Part 23….although the jury is still out as to whether John Lennon is actually carrying a record up the steps on his way into the Abbey Road studios). Now comes film from way back in 1964. It was shot at Brian Epstein’s NEMS offices on May 30 that year, with the Beatles just beginning to enjoy their first taste of really big success. The first part of the YouTube clip below is fairly mundane – colour film of the band sitting in the office with various members of the press, fans and hangers-on milling about. Then at about the 2 mins 50 seconds mark a record executive (who looks to be an American) brings over some 45s and LPs for Paul McCartney to peruse. These appear to be US test pressings, and maybe even a gold record that’s yet to be framed…    At approximately 4 minutes into the video we see a copy of this US album flash by – which Paul looks quite pleased with: Meet the Beatles Just after that John Lennon joins Paul and they continue to examine the stack of discs. Quite apart from the records, it’s an interesting series of clips showing the natural, easy charm the band possessed – particularly John, and also Paul. In this photo below, taken during the band’s first “world” tour (which took in Denmark and saw drummer Jimmy Nicol briefly fill in for an ill Ringo Starr), we can see Paul McCartney holding the Danish pressing of the single “Long Tall Sally/I Call Your Name”, released on the Odeon label:long tall sally 1 long tall sally 2Here’s another photograph, this time from the first US tour in 1964. We know from other photographs taken on this tour that the band took the opportunity to pick up some US albums by their favourites. This one is George Harrison with an LP by one of his guitar idols – the great Chet Atkins:Pop Group The Beatles February 1964 George Harrison Beatle George Harrison 21st birthday sorting through the 52 sacks full of gr 2181295 The Beatles were always very generous with the time they gave to their fans, frequently stopping in the street or in their cars to sign autographs. Here’s George again, signing what could be a record – but it could also be some sort of a concert program or booklet: George Beatles with RecordsStaying with George, here he is much later during the Apple Records days with members of one of his signings to the label – the Radha Krsna Temple. They’re holding a copy of their 1971 Apple single called “Govinda”:George with Hare Krsnaradha-krishna-temple-govinda--apple_25-singleHere’s another amazing photograph of George – showing off his impressive guitar collection. It contains a number of mysteries which you might be able to help solve (click on the image below to see a larger version):clapton, badfinger, roger Probably taken at his home at Friar Park, we can see up on the mantle piece (up high and to George’s left) artwork for the cover of The Apple E.P. This was released in 1991 and was a 45 containing four songs, one song each from the first four non-Beatle artists ever to be released on the label. They are Mary Hopkin, Badfinger, Jackie Lomax and Billy Preston. It was a promotional release to mark the first round of Apple re-issues (on vinyl and CD) back in 1991:The Apple E.P. Also high up, and to the right in the photograph of George above is an image of Eric Clapton from around the time of the release of his album 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974). It looks like an album – but it is difficult to identify because it’s partially hidden by a box also on the shelf. There’s lettering across the top left of the photo which says “Eric Clapton”. The image of Clapton is very similar to the on the inside of the gatefold of 461 Ocean Boulevard: eric-clapton-461-ocean-boulevard-insideLower down from the sideboard, still on the right-hand side of the photo, there’s a pile of two or three LPs. On top is what looks like an older style cover. It seems to be by a singer from the 1930’s or 40’s, maybe a famous tenor or baritone? It is hard to make out the name – but it looks like the writing says “Robert….(something)”, with his picture in an oval shape below. Anyone with any information or ideas on what this album might be please let us know!Unknown Then to the far left of the photograph (i.e. to George’s right), on the floor and leaning up against the wall is a large image of his Dark Horse Records logo. It is lying on its side – so all we can see is the horse’s tail:darkhorsesticker1 There is an LP or a box obscuring the full logo, but it is impossible to know what this might be. To finish off this post, a topical one with the soon-to-be-released Archive Series re-issue of Paul McCartney’s Venus and Mars (1975). It’s Wings – sitting with what looks to be a proof sheet for the front cover artwork for the album:vamVenus and Mars frontThe 2014 re-master of Venus and Mars will be released on November 3 (November 4 in the USA).

You can see more in the Beatles With Records series here (just go to the links at the bottom of the page).