Best Buy Wings/McCartney Archive Series

It’s taken a while to feature these latest Paul McCartney and Wings items because of the convoluted process involved in securing copies for the collection.

These are the Best Buy limited editions of the latest Paul McCartney Archive series of CDs. The CD’s themselves are the standard US triple gatefold two-disc sets consisting of the remastered album on one CD, plus a Bonus Audio CD of rare tracks. Here’s Venus and Mars:Venus BB coverVenus BB rearVenus BB disc1Venus BB disc2

And here’s Wings at the Speed of Sound:ATSOS BB coverATSOS BB rearATSOS BB disc1ATSOS BB disc2

But as you can see by the stickers on the front of each – these were sold with a voucher inside to receive a bonus, limited edition 7″ 45 single – one from each album. The difficult (and time consuming part) for collectors living outside the USA was that these singles (reportedly limited to 5,000 copies each) were only available to customers of the Best Buy chain who were US residents. The process is that you mail back the voucher with a small postage and handling fee included, and Best Buy then mails you a picture cover replica of an original vinyl single from either album. Residents outside the States had to find an accomodating Ebay seller who would do this – and then post the whole lot to you…..hence the delay in being able to show these items on this blog…..ours have finally arrived.

For Venus and Mars the vinyl single is ‘Letting Go’/’You Gave Me the Answer’ (not ‘Venus and Mars/’Rock Show’ as original advertised by Best Buy back in October last year):Letting Go coverLetting Go rearLetting Go labelAnd from Wings at the Speed of Sound its ‘Let ‘Em In’/’Beware My Love': Let Em In SingleLet Em In rearLet Em In label

Both these vinyl singles have front covers which are replicas of the originals, but the rear covers are dedicated to promoting the 2014 reissues of the Archive Collection CDs. And as you can see in the photos (if you look closely) there’s a sticker on the rear of each saying “Made in Germany”. It appears that subsequent to the Best Buy deal these singles were also made available in limited numbers to some independent record stores in Europe and the UK.

As with previous releases in this series, inside both CDs is a small paper insert advertising what could be the next two releases in the Archive Series Tug of War and Pipes of Peace:Venus BB insert

The other thing to note is that both the Venus and Mars and the Wings at the Speed of Sound Best Buy CDs have stickers pasted over the originals with different barcode/UPC numbers to the usual releases. These are 88072 36382 3 and 88072 36383 0 respectively. The non-Best Buy discs are 88072 35650 4 and 888072 35671 9.

For a video of how Venus and Mars and Wings At the Speed of Sound are packaged, the booklets, etc. have look at these YouTube clips prepared by Jose Miguel Grey:

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:

Lennon – “In His Own Write” and “A Spaniard in the Works” 50th Anniversary Editions

The final instalment in the Christmas/birthday gift series* features three books.

We were alerted to the impending publication of the first two last year by Wogblog. These are two faithfully reproduced replicas – re-published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the release of John Lennon’s two literary works. The first is In His Own Write (from 1964):

Own Write coverOwn Write rear

The back cover (above) contains a short biography penned by Lennon, done in the quirky word-play style of the whole book: I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who only had one). Anyway they didn’t get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn’t pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a member of the most publified Beatles my and (P, G, and R’s) records might seem funnier to some than this book, but as far as I’m conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I’ve ever ready. God help and breed you all.

In His Own Write was John’s debut as an author, a book of stories, drawings and poems that was received with great critical acclaim and became a phenomenon – selling over 600,000 copies in the UK alone and revealing a hitherto unseen side to Lennon’s artistic output and talent.

Then, in 1965, came the follow-up A Spaniard in the Works, which continued on in a similar vein:Spaniard coverSpaniard rear

Published by Canongate Books in the UK, these are both very nicely made little hardbacks and while we haven’t ever seen or owned a copy of an original release, they look to have recreated the originals well. They’re both very reasonably priced, and form a nice addition to the collection.

Here are two typical pages from inside In His Own Write:Own Write pages

And a typical couple of pages from A Spaniard in the WorksSpaniard pages

While looking around the web to track down these two books we came across a third publication by John Lennon – this one is a similar collection of stories, drawings and poems, but this time published after his death:

Skywriting cover

Skywriting by Word of Mouth is sub-titled And Other Writings, Including “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. It was first released in 1986 and includes an afterword by Yoko Ono. Like the two other works detailed here, this book contains miscellaneous writings and cartoons. It was written during the five years that Lennon took off as a holiday from the music business and he always intended to have it published.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” section kicks off the book and it is not the same as the famous song. It ranges over 23 pages and details his life with Yoko, and talks about the Beatles’ break-up: “When I finally had the guts to tell the other three that I, quote, wanted a divorce, unquote, they knew it was for real….I felt guilty….I had Yoko – they only had each other….”, and “I started the band. I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that”. Lennon says that he has no hard feelings against his former bandmates: “In retrospect, the Beatles were no more an important part of my life than any other (and less than some)”.

Lennon mentioned the manuscript in a 1980 Playboy interview: “At one point… I wrote about two hundred pages of mad stuff”. The manuscript was stolen from the Lennons’ apartment in 1982, and later recovered in 1986, when Ono had it published. Here’s a typical couple of pages:Skywriting pages

So, three books under the Christmas tree to complete our collection of John Lennon solo literary works.

P.S. Both In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works were gathered together in one volume in 1966 by Penguin Books in a book called The Penguin John Lennon. We found a second-hand copy in a bookstore in 2010. It has been re-published with different covers many times since. Quite by chance the Chained and Perfumed blog also posted an image of one of them just a couple of days ago….

* See also here, and here for more 2014 Christmas/birthday posts. 

Hope for the Future – Behind the Scenes & Vinyl Release

In case you missed this – just before Christmas Paul McCartney uploaded a “behind the scenes”, making-of video for his new single ‘Hope for the Future':

And here’s the finished result:

paulmccartney.com has confirmed that the new single will be released in physical form on 180-gram, 12″ vinyl next week. Yay! Would much rather have this than just the download….

The song – taken from the video game Destiny – includes the original version of ‘Hope For The Future’ alongside four special mixes. The vinyl will also come with a download card featuring all five tracks. You can find full details here.

The Beatles Lyrics – Hunter Davies

Continuing on the theme of recent Christmas and birthday gifts which have added to our ever-growing Beatles collection….

A very welcome birthday present was a copy of Hunter Davies’ new book The Beatles Lyrics – The Unseen Story Behind Their Music. This came out late last year and we’ve been keen to get our hands on it since. It joins his very good The John Lennon Letters from 2012. Davies is a prolific writer on many topics and is of course the first authorised biographer of the Beatles.Beatles Lyrics coverBeatles Lyrics rear

Davies makes the point in his introduction to The Beatles Lyrics that the work of the Beatles has been analysed ad nauseam – that is apart from the lyrics themselves. And so he set himself the task of tracking down as many original, hand-written examples of the songs as he could and then to use those to give new insights and background to each song. It makes for a fascinating read.

This Irish Times review sums it up well (and is worth reading in full): The result of these endeavours is a treasure of a book, a forensic, song-by-song exploration of the band’s creative process. Each set of lyrics is given a context by the author: the story or inspiration behind them, where and when they were written and what the band was doing at the time. Alongside these he produces John, Paul, George and Ringo’s first handwritten expression of the song, usually scribbled but occasionally spelled out in painstaking capitals, on scraps of paper, unpaid bills, hotel notepaper or whatever happened to be at hand when inspiration struck.

There’s another great review here.

As well as lots of insights, facts and information about each song there’s a wealth of visual content to pour over. Davies has painstakingly tracked down 100 original manuscripts from collections around the world. Most private collectors were happy to have their treasures included, but for security reasons (these items are now incredibly valuable) just about all of them wished to remain anonymous. The result is that we get to see gathered together for the first time a huge number of reproduced examples of the Beatles songs in their original form – jotted down on any bits of paper they had to hand. Here are three examples. The first from Lennon/McCartney (which was also artistically illustrated with felt pen by Paul McCartney at the time):Beatles Lyrics page2

A song from the hand of George Harrison:Beatles Lyrics page1

And finally – an example from Ringo Starr:Beatles Lyrics page3

As Davies says: “At last Ringo had done it – composed his first Beatles song…..”

You can hear an interview with Hunter Davies on Australian radio by ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly from October, 2014:

In the US the book has a different coloured cover:

Beatles Lyrics US cover

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: