Venus & Mars and Speed of Sound Re-issue Dates Announced

The long-expected official announcement of the next two instalments in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection has just been made.

Paul McCartney and Wings’ Venus and Mars (1975) and At The Speed of Sound (1976) will both be issued on 22 September in the UK and 23 September in the US, slotting into an already crowded Beatles and related release schedule for September:Venus and Mars Archive CollectionSpeed of Sound Archive Collection

Both albums will be available in a variety of physical and digital formats:

The Standard Editions will be a 2 CD set featuring the original albums remastered, plus a second CD of bonus material including demos and previously un-released tracks.

The Deluxe Editions will each contain 2 CDs plus a DVD, housed in a numbered hardback book featuring new articles, interviews, photographs, facsimile archive inserts and expanded track-by-track information. The DVD will feature material filmed at the time of each album’s release, some of which is previously unseen.

Both albums will be issued on vinyl in special gatefold covers. Digital downloads will be available for both Standard and Deluxe, and in a variety of formats including hi-res versions.

The detailed contents of each (including full track-lists) can be found at the Paul McCartney official page, and there’s more info in these two new YouTube clips which have just gone public:

A Visit to Some San Francisco Record Stores – Part 3

The final instalment of the recent visit to San Francisco. Last time we looked at the vinyl purchases. This time it’s the CDs and DVDs. Both Rasputin, Recycled Records and Amoeba Music have lots of vinyl. They also have lots of CDs and also (Rasputin Music in particular) many, many DVDs to choose from.

First to the CD’s and at Rasputin I found a US copy of Paul’s Choba B CCCP on CD:

Choba B 1Choba B 2

I already have a UK version of this on Parlophone, but a US copy on the Capitol label to join it (at a very low price) was too much to resist.Choba B 3

Also at Rasputin I found a copy, released by 20th Century Fox, of Paul McCartney’s 1984 ill-advised excursion into the world of movie-making Give My Regards to Broad Street:Regards 1Regards 2The movie had a less-than-enthusiastic reception when it first came out. To quote one user review from IMDB: “I wouldn’t go so far as to call this movie a ‘crap-fest’. I have definitely sat through much worse….I wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure, either. Though it wasn’t a complete waste of time, it was awfully trite and clichéd. It plays like an extended music video….Although it didn’t completely suck, Sir Paul really should stick to writing songs and leave screen writing to professionals.”

Hmmm. I can only vaguely remember seeing the film once when it was first released. So when I saw this DVD (which came out in 2004 in this version) for just $3.99 I grabbed it. At that price it is well worth the cost of admission for another viewing. The disc itself is one of those two-sided DVD’s. One side has the full screen version, and the other a wide screen version – so the DVD itself looks pretty bland:

Regards 4

However, there’s an insert inside the case with a great photo of Paul and Ringo in costume:Regards 3

The other DVD I got at Rasputin was also $3.99, and also from Paul McCartney:Back in US 1Back in US 2

This is the 2002 concert film Back in the U.S. I’ve got the two CD set of this concert, but never actually seen the video. Again, that that low price well worth adding to the collection.Back in US 3

Before leaving Rasputin Music’s Powell Street store I also discovered a nice, sealed CD copy of Electric Arguments by The Fireman (a.k.a. Paul McCartney and Youth).Electric 1Electric 2

Now, regular readers of Beatles Blog will know I have a bit of a passion for collecting versions and variations of this particular CD – and this was a variation I’d not seen before. Originally this disc came out when Paul was not signed to any particular label, and so in the UK it was distributed on the One Little Indian label. In the US it came out on ATO Records. More recently though Paul has been signed to the Hear Music label, part of Concord Music Group, and they have re-issued a few titles from that time when he was “between labels” – including Electric Arguments. The giveaway is that white barcode sticker on the rear cover where you can see the disc has been given a different catalogue number and there are tiny logos for MPL (McCartney’s company) as well as Hear Music and Concord:Electric 3Next stop was Recycled Records on Haight Street, and a very nice US copy of the CD Working Classical:Working C 1Working C 2

This came out on the EMI Classics label in back in 1999. I have the vinyl (now worth quite a bit as it is rare, in mint condition, and long out of print). A CD copy for the princely sum of $8.00 was worth it:

Working C 3

The final CD purchase came from Amoeba Music, also on Haight Street. For some time now I’ve been on the lookout for a CD copy of the 2001 McCartney “best of” release Wingspan – Hits and History. It originally came in a cardboard slipcase which has a holographic front cover. Getting copies in good condition is difficult because the slipcase is sometimes missing, or it’s in poor condition. This one I found has the holographic cover and its in pretty good nick too:Wingspan 1Wingspan 2Wingspan 3Wingspan 4

So, that’s it – the results of a holiday visit to the US city of San Francisco. A great city with some great record stores to boot.

Beatles Collecting – The Nice Things People Do

Sometimes you don’t go looking for Beatle records. Sometimes, Beatle records come looking for you. That was my experience about three weeks ago when an old friend asked me if I was still interested in collecting the Beatles because she had a couple of records and would I like them?

Well, yes of course I would! Always open to donations. She dropped them in a couple of days later, and you’d have to say it’s a mixed bag of goodies….

The first one wasn’t even the Beatles. It was Wings. Well, not even Wings really, just an obscure band called P.K. and the Sound Explosion doing covers of Wings:PK Wings frontPK Wings rear

I think there are only two saving graces about this one. One is the daggy cover design featuring a (poorly) stylised version of the official Wings logo of the time. This is what the real thing looks like: Wings logo2

The other saving grace is that this copy is still sealed in protective plastic and is in mint condition. This is a US copy that came out on the Pickwick Records budget label back in 1977. It is so bad, it’s good! (P.K. and his group have also done a Disco Christmas LP, the Beach Boys Songbook, a Paul Williams Songbook, and the Bee Gees Songbook).

Next came three of the real thing, some it has to be said in better shape than others. For instance this very well-used example of the Australian-only cover of Beatles For Sale:Beatles For Sale FrontBeatles For Sale Rear

You’d have to say this is a copy that has had a good life. I’m not sure about you, but it has so much patina of age that I’m tempted to keep it just because it looks so pre-loved and lived-in. There was one other intriguing thing. When I took out the vinyl it’s the mono pressing, but not the Australian version. Here’s what I got:

BFS UK LabelThis is what it should look like:BFS Aust Label-tiff

Clearly the original Aussie pressing has been played to death and someone, over the course of the long history of this particular copy of the album, has sought out another to replace it – that being the UK mono we see above….

There was another Australia-only cover in the four records my friend donated. It’s the 1972 release The Essential Beatles on the Apple label. This is a “best of” compilation and as its catalogue number suggests (TVSS 8), it was associated with a TV advertising campaign by EMI in Australia:Essential Beatles frontEssential Beatles rearEssential label

This copy of The Essential Beatles has a well-used cover but the vinyl inside is actually in pretty good shape.

Finally a double LP of the soundtrack to the documentary movie Imagine John Lennon:Imagine FrontImagine rear

This is a gatefold album of twenty-one Beatles and Lennon songs. It is in what I would describe as good (G) to very good (VG) condition. The Internet Movie Database says of the film: This “biography” evolves around the nearly 240 hours of film and videotape fortuitously taken by Lennon of his life. The archive footage is transformed into a fascinating life story of one of the most complex and fascinating men of the modern music era….Includes some very personal and insightful footage, never before made available to the public.

The gatefold has some nice photos:

Imagine GF1 Imagine GF2

This is the Australian pressing, on the black and silver Parlophone label:

Imagine labelSo, some varied, interesting and unusual donations from a friend. Sometimes you don’t have to go looking too far. Beatle records just come to you.

A Minor Wings Find

I have posted very rarely on Wings in this blog, but of course collecting records and CDs by (or related to) the Beatles and Paul McCartney means that the band is well-and-truly included. During a recent visit to Canberra (the capital of Australia) I came across a second-hand shop I’d not visited before in the city’s downtown area. They mostly specialise in CDs, DVDs and games, but on the floor there was a large amount of unsorted vinyl where I found a small but interesting addition to the collection.

I already have a German pressing of the Wings single “Good Night Tonight” (1979). It’s the 12″ full version (7 minutes 15 seconds) of the song, on a green EMI Electrola/Odeon label:

Good Night Tonight frontGood Night Tonight rearGood Night Tonight Odeon Label

As you can see, the cover is not in great shape but the vinyl is in mint condition. Anyway, in the Canberra store I found the Australian release of this same disc.  It came out here with an orange Parlophone label:

Good Night Tonight Parlo label

The two releases have pretty much identical exterior artwork throughout with the only real difference being the colour of the inner sleeves. The German inner sleeve is made from thin paper and is printed in black and white:

Good Night Tonight inner1Good Night Tonight Inner2

While the Australian inner sleeve is made of thicker cardboard and is more deep blue in colour:

Good Night Tonight inner3Good Night Tonight inner4

I also have the 7″ 45rpm edited version (4 minutes 18 seconds) of “Good Night Tonight” on an Australian black and silver Parlophone label:

Good Night Tonight 7 in single

Good Night Tonight Parlo2 label

It’s nice to have the orange Parlophone version, and at the cost of just A$3.00, a small but worthwhile addition to the collection.

Version Variations You Didn’t Know About

Collecting Beatles recordings is sometimes a confusing business. You think you’ve got a particular CD or LP and then you find out (sometimes years later) that there’s a different version or variation available. That’s what happened to me while surfing the web the other day.

I’ve had for many years a vinyl copy of Paul McCartney’s “All The Best”, which is a two LP “best of” set featuring his greatest solo and Wings hits. It came out in 1987.  This vinyl edition has 20 tracks. The cover is a gate-fold looks like this:

Then, about 12 months ago I was browsing a second-hand book and CD sale in Sydney and found the CD of this same title. It was an Australian pressing (which is the same as the UK release) but I discovered it only has 17 tracks – as opposed to the 20 tracks on the double LP. It misses out on “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Goodnight Tonight” and “With A Little Luck”. The CD was only $4.00 and so I figured I might as well have as somebody else, it’s different to the LP, and it has a slightly different cover:

OK.  So, as far as the collection goes I figure I’ve pretty much got this album. No need to bother with any other copies….

Until the other day when I accidentally notice on the web that the US compact disc version has a slightly different cover again…..and that it has a different song running order as well:

On the UK (and Australian) versions of the CD (released on EMI/Parlophone) you get “We All Stand Together”, “Mull of Kintyre”, “Pipes of Peace” and “Once Upon a Long Ago”.

On the US CD (out on Capitol Records) those songs are deleted and replaced with “Junior’s Farm”, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, “Goodnight Tonight” and “With A Little Luck”.  All the other songs are the same.

That got me thinking. Are there any other examples of this sort of thing out there?

One that immediately came to mind is the 2002 and 2003 versions of the McCartney double live CD’s “Back in the US” and “Back in the World”.

They have very subtle cover changes both front and rear:

A cursory look down the song lists for each would suggest that they’re exactly the same CD just with a slightly different title, but in fact they are different too.

Back in the US” (released to the US market in 2002) gets the songs “Vanilla Sky”, “C’Moon” and “Freedom”.  However, those songs don’t appear at all on “Back in the World” (released in the UK in 2003). Instead it gets “Calico Skies”, “Michelle”, “Let ‘Em In” and “She’s Leaving Home”. Otherwise, all the other songs are the same – and in roughly the same running order.

Do you know of any further examples of this sort of thing? Let us know.

The McCartney Family Talk About “Life in Photographs”

Paul McCartney has just posted a new YouTube clip of him and daughters Mary and Stella talking about the book and exhibition project “Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs“:

The music used in the clip is Linda’s “Love’s Full Glory” from the album “Wide Prairie” (1998).

Paul McCartney On His Cloud Computing Archive

This is a video (posted earlier this month on June 2) on Paul McCartney’s MPL Music Publishing site detailing further the big project announced last year that he would be digitising his entire, extensive personal archive. Its a little bit commercial in its plugs for the HP computer group who are working with the McCartney team, but its interesting and sounds like they are making good progress on what must be an enormous task.

They’ve posted two different versions of the clip – this one is a shorter version but has some different speakers and information:

Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs

I wrote in March about a new book about to be released which is dedicated to the photographic work of Linda McCartney. Last Saturday my local paper (The Sydney Morning Herald) published a four-page article about it and dedicated the front cover of its Good Weekend magazine to the book. Here’s the promotion of the paper’s weekend magazine article on the front page masthead of the newspaper:

They used a great shot of Paul, Mary and Heather on their farm in Scotland in 1970 for the front cover of the magazine itself:

Inside is an article by journalist Janice Turner detailing a flip through the book – with Paul McCartney at her side. Turner asks: “So how does McCartney feel, looking again at these private moments, captured by his soul mate of those years, now long gone? “It’s funny. I think when you have a bit of distance from someone you have lost, you can just look at it with pleasure. Because they were great times. It is tinged with sadness because you lost that person, but the main feeling for me looking at these is joy. Mostly, these pictures are uplifting.”

Here are a few more of Linda’s photos which appear in the book, published by Taschen:

Of course the Sydney Morning Herald’s weekend article has been syndicated around the world and comes from a London Times Magazine which was published last month – but it was a nice surprise last Saturday morning to find it in my local Sydney paper…

UPDATE:  “Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs,” a New York exhibition of photos by Linda McCartney, opened last Thursday and runs through to July 29 at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery, Level 13, 41 East 57th St., New York City. The gallery has posted lots more photographs here (check out the prices, too). This is the poster for the exhibit:

UPDATE 2:  Paul McCartney has posted a YouTube clip of he and daughters Mary and Stella talking about the project.

FAB: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney – Reviewed

This is the US cover of the hardback edition of “FAB: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney” by well-known biographer Howard Sounes.

I posted previously on this book when I got a copy of the Australian edition in softback. If you click on the link you can see it was published with a very different cover to the rather subdued and conservative North American edition.

It has really taken me some time to actually read the book and write this appraisal.

What happened was I’d published that earlier post and then Da Capo Press, the US publishers of the book, saw the post and wrote offering me a review copy of the US release. It took a while to get here via snail mail and then, at 634 pages, it took me a while to read it from cover-to-cover.

I found it a pretty good read actually. Sounes writes in an engaging style and the book had just enough new details to keep me coming back. All-in-all it really was a great summer holiday read (its still summer here in Australia!). The book is not sensationalist – it pretty much sticks to the facts and tells it like it is – and that is refreshing.

One thing does stand out though – like many books on the Beatles it’s still written from an outsiders perspective. No matter how many interviews you do with some of the main players in and around McCartney’s life (and Sounes did many – he says he interviewed over 220 people for the book), he didn’t interview McCartney himself and so you still get this feeling of an outsider looking in.

Having said that, “FAB: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney” is very revealing of the man himself, showing us aspects of the Paul personality we’ve perhaps thought were there but were never really sure. What we tend to see is the facade Paul wants us to see: “Macca”, the thumbs-up, positive, likable guy. This book goes deeper and reveals his his perfectionism; the fact that he he doesn’t suffer fools lightly; that for a wealthy man he was often quite frugal (for example paying Wings band members a very basic wage); that he wants above all to be remembered for having made a mark and leaving some sort of legacy; that family is very, very important; and that his mother (and her early death) has played a central role in his life, in his creative work, and in his relationships.

Sounes’s book is also good because it brings the reader right up to the present day. Its not just about the pre-Beatles and Beatles glory days. It includes a lot of detail about the Wings years, and about Paul’s solo career right up to 2009’s “Good Evening New York City“. In fact a good half of the book deals with the post-Beatles life of Paul.

It also gives a hint of what it must be like to live, practically for your whole life,  as one of the most famous and wealthy people in the world. Paul is a man who is used to getting his way and getting what he wants. Its not a life to be envied really. Everyone around you agrees with you because you are Paul McCartney. They suck up to you, they pay their respects. It must be incredibly difficult to keep a handle on what is real.

The gratifying thing about this book is that it’s not sensationalist. To be sure there’s plenty of opportunity to do that – particularly in that period of his later life (post Linda McCartney) when McCartney made some really bad relationship choices – but Sounes wisely sticks to the facts.

The book also has some great photographs. Who better to step us through the contents using some of those than the author Howard Sounes himself:

Label Variations – Part Five “Band on the Run”

I have to thank the very wonderful Chained and Perfumed blogsite for this one. Every now and then this site features photos of interesting record labels from their own collection. One recent post highlights a whole raft of great images – different versions of “Band on the Run” (on vinyl) from around the world.

Chained and Perfumed got these from Ebay from a seller who has on offer a large number of versions of Paul McCartney’s classic album, itself recently re-issued on vinyl.

Like Chained and Perfumed we like seeing different global variations – so here are few from the Ebay collection, followed by a couple from my own collection. First off a couple of different Korean pressings:

Then Greece and Italy:

And France (on nice yellow vinyl):

India and Sweden both used the traditional Apple:

While for some strange reason New Zealand used the same Apple colour as those used on George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” original vinyl:

The Japanese pressings used the original custom labels. Here are two versions, one with the Apple logo, the other with the Capital and MPL logos:

And now for Argentina and Mexico:

Here’s an interesting version on Odeon Records in Germany:

There are a couple of Russian versions on Ebay. Firstly one on Santa Records and then the more common Melodiya:

Next come a couple of UK versions. The first is a pretty standard issue, but without the Apple logo appearing:

The next is a special limited edition of the disc from 1997, released to celebrate the EMI Records Centenary – 100 Years of recording:

Here are some labels that are from my own collection which are not represented  above which you might also find interesting if you are into this sort of thing. First is a Canadian pressing – which I think is actually exactly the same as the US:

We had a strange example from New Zealand above. The re-issue of “Band on the Run” in that country came out on Parlophone Records:

Of course there is always the standard, original UK pressing with the Apple logo:

In Australia the original release also looked very much like the UK:

The re-issues in Australia though came out on the Capital label. Here are two variations, one on purple Capital the other on blue Capital:

Finally, in 1999 for the 25th anniversary of the release of “Band on the Run” there came a two-disc, limited edition, remastered version. This is the UK pressing of disc 1:

And here’s the second disc, which contained previously unreleased material featuring alternate versions and special interviews on the making of “Band on the Run”:

If you’d like to see some more Beatles and Beatles related record label variations you can go to:

Label Variations – Part One “Sgt Pepper”

Label Variations – Part Two “Let It Be”

Label Variations – Part Three – McCartney’s “Choba B CCCP”

Label Variations – Part Four  “Shaved Fish”

“All Things Must Pass” – Variations and Collectors Items

and

The Beatles “Love” collectable variations