Joe Strummer ‘Junco Partner’ 12″ Picture Disc for RSD Drop 1

It’s June 12, and that means the first of two Record Store Day Drops for 2021.

We weren’t aware (until we saw it just now) that there was anything of much interest for the “must have it all” completists among us – but there is!

The Dark Horse Records revival continues with a Limited Edition 12″ picture disc single of Joe Strummer’s ‘Junco Partner (Acoustic)’/’Junco Partner (Live)’:

It is available as part of Record Store Day – Drop 1 on June 12. There are just 3,500 copies available worldwide apparently.

The A-side features the home recording of the song ‘Junco Partner’, taken from Strummer’s latest LP called Assembly which is a compilation released earlier this year on the Dark Horse label. The B-side features a non-LP track, a live recording of the same song from Strummer and and his band The Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy in 2001.

‘All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary’ – Details (Finally) Announced

Well, it’s been an interesting week.

On Tuesday someone at the official George Harrison site stuffed up and, two days before the official announcement, accidently made public a couple of pages worth of information about the long-awaited All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary box sets. This included images, prices, and content details.

Of course fans around the world (including us) noticed and began sharing links and images.

The cat was very much out of the bag, but still Universal Music – with just two days to go until the official announcement – desperately tried to stop the spread of information.

In what is tantamount to using a sledge-hammer to crack a walnut, they had the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) write to anyone who had published images of the new All Things Must Pass box sets to issue an “Infringement Notice” and an order to take down those images. (FYI, the IFPI is a trade association representing some 1300 major and independent record companies in the US and internationally who create, manufacture and distribute sound recordings).

Some sites (like ours) complied, others didn’t.

All that effort on behalf of Universal Music and the IFPI and here we are – just two days later – with the whole kit and caboodle about this fantastic release now officially in the public domain. The publicity free-for-all can now proceed. “Free” being the operative word because sites like ours, made by fans and for fans, don’t make any money out of this. We just love the Beatles as a band, and as solo artists. And we help get the word out to others about new releases THAT PEOPLE MIGHT WANT TO BUY from Universal Music. Of course they have their own digital assets, but it is sites like ours that contribute to “word-of-mouth”, make recommendations, and the general buzz around new releases that record companies – like Universal – rely upon. But when someone makes a mistake at Universal Music, the first people they jump on is us?

Anyway, rant over.

The good news is that we’ve finally got the full details of the George Harrison All Things Must Pass – 50th Anniversay Edition, due out on August 6.

Uber Deluxe, Super Deluxe, and a variety of extended and standard editions (plus other merch) are now up on the official George Harrison online store site.

And there will be an Uber box set to rule them all – retailing for a cool US$999.98

It comprises:

  • An artisan designed wooden box (approx. 12.4″ x 12.4″ x 17.5″)
  • Elaborate and expanded 96 page version of the scrapbook, curated by Olivia Harrison, with previously unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era: handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more.
  • A second 44-page book chronicling the making of All Things Must Pass through extensive archival interviews with notes.
  • Wooden bookmark made from a felled Oak tree (Quercus Robur) in George’s Friar Park.
  • 1/6 scale replica figurines of Harrison and the gnomes featured on the iconic album cover
  • Limited edition illustration by musician and artist Klaus Voorman.
  • A copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Light from the Great Ones”
  • Rudraksha beads contained in individual custom-made boxes
  • The remixed and remastered album on 3 vinyl discs with a replica of the original album poster
  • 5 LPs of outtakes and rarities
  • 5 CDs and 1 Blu-ray
  • Set features 70 tracks, including 47 demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams, of which 42 are previously unreleased.
  • Blu-ray disc includes hi-res stereo, 5.2 surround and dolby Atmos mixes of the main album

The wooden box is huge. The packshot image above doesn’t give an indication how big this thing is. Here’s an Instagram image of Dhani Harrison sitting on the Uber crate at Friar Park – in what looks like the exact same spot the famous All Things Must Pass cover shot was taken:

There’ll also be a Super Deluxe 8 LP box containing the re-mixed and remastered album across 3 LPs, the 5 LPs of outakes and rarities included in the Uber, a book (not as comprehensive as the Uber edition version), and the original poster.

Also for vinyl lovers there’s to be a 5 LP set (original album on 3 LPs, plus two discs with 17 tracks of demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams outtakes):

And there’ll be the re-mixed album proper on its own: 3 LPs in a slim box – the way it was originally released back in 1970. There will be two versions of this edition. One on black vinyl:

The other 3 LP set is a Limited Edition on 180gram black and green splatter vinyl. This one we believe is only available from the George Harrison official site:

For those not into vinyl there’s to be a Super Deluxe CD/Blu-ray box set containing 5 CDs (the original album across 3 discs, plus 2 discs of the outtakes and rarities). This collects 70 tracks across those 5 CDs, including 47 (42 previously unreleased) demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams all housed in a beautiful slipcase. A Blu-Ray audio disc has the main album in hi-res stereo, 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos is also featured. The collection contains a 56-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with previously unseen images and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more. It also includes a replica of the original album poster:

There’ll also be a 3 CD set, with the third CD containing the original jams, plus additional demo recordings, session outtakes and studio jams. This will be housed in a square box with a scaled- down version of the original poster and a 20-page booklet with photos, introduction, and notes from Dhani Harrison and Paul Hicks on remixing the album:

And there’s a standard 2 CD with just the original album across two discs, re-mixed and re-mastered:

So, something for everyone. The Harrison camp has also just released a new video for the big reveal announcement.

It’s one of the outakes featured on the new releases – the song ‘Run Of The Mill (Take 36)’, a previously unreleased track. It really gives a clear indication of how the songs on All Things Must Pass were shaped and went through several permutations in the studio before the final, well-known and loved versions became part of popular music history:

See Universal Music? It’s not so hard. All we’re doing is trying to reach those people who are interested, and perhaps some of them are people you can’t reach.

‘McCartney 3, 2, 1’ is Coming to Hulu

Paul McCartney has just posted this on Instagram:

Seems the McCartney and Rick Rubin documentary series examining the former Beatles’ musical history has landed at Hulu.

It’ll be a fascinating six-part series that will launch on the streamer on July 16. News that two were working together on a documentary series first broke in December last year.

“Never before have fans had the opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share, in such expansive, celebratory detail, the experience of creating his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “To be an observer as Paul and Rick Rubin deconstruct how some of the biggest hits in music history came to be is truly enlightening. It is an honor that Paul chose to return to Hulu to share this one-of-a-kind series.”

For more detailed information see Deadline (which broke the original story), New Musical Express, or Rolling Stone.

McCartney Royal Mail Stamp Issue

From the Liverpool Echo:

Paul McCartney will be honoured in a new set of Royal Mail Special Stamps dedicated to his incredible musical career.

The set of 12 stamps is being issued to celebrate one of the UK’s most successful songwriters and a music icon.

McCartney, who founded Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), joins just three other individual music artists to be featured in a dedicated stamp issue.

The other two artists were David Bowie in 2017, and Elton John in 2019. 

David Gold of the Royal Mail said: “Paul McCartney remains a vital figure at the centre of rock and pop – an artist whose legacy is immense, but whose work continues to generate popular attention and critical acclaim.

“This dedicated stamp issue is a fitting tribute to one of the UK’s much loved and revered musical icons.”

From what we can tell from the accompanying images it looks like there’ll be eight individual coloured stamps featuring album covers (from McCartney in 1970 right up to McCartney III last year), plus four black and white performance shots on a separate single sheet.

If the Royal Mail Beatle stamp issue from 2007 is anything to go by, these McCartney stamps will be presented in a variety of collectable forms, with limited edition printed folders containing additional images, text and graphics. And of course there’ll be First Day Covers of varying kinds, post marked and date-stamped in different locations around Britain.

Macca fans can get their hands on the sought-after stamps and special sets from May 28.

See also John Lennon’s 2018 US Postal stamps.

Joe Strummer – Assembly – Dark Horse

Dark Horse Records last month released Assembly, a double LP or single CD compilation of the work of Joe Strummer, post his Clash days.

This one kind of passed us by somehow, but for lovers of the Dark Horse label (now newly revived) this is a very worthwhile purchase – and we say that not only for those label completists out there but because it contains some truly great music. It was released on March 26:

Dhani Harrison last year announced that Dark Horse (the label established by his father, George Harrison) was back, and there ensued a raft of digital-only re-issues of previously available material.

There seems now to be more physical product slowly emerging. For example, as part of Record Store Day last year there was a double LP of Ravi Shankar’s beautiful Chants of India. Produced by George Harrison this was the first time that title had been issued on vinyl – and on red vinyl at that.

Now comes the Joe Stummer compilation Assembly. And it too is on lovely red vinyl:

It’s also available on black vinyl:

And it can be had on CD too:

Why is Dark Horse issuing a “Best Of” style release for Joe Strummer? What’s the connection? Your guess is as good as ours. We can only surmise that Dhani Harrison must be a major fan of the late singer’s work. Interestingly the recent Ravi Shankar Chants of India had the catalogue number DH0001. The Joe Strummer LP has the catalogue number DH0002. Bring on DH0003, 0004, 0005……

The LP is beautifully presented in a gatefold sleeve with lyric inserts and liner notes by Jakob Dylan (who last year was involved in the Dark Horse digital-only release of the Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ also featuring Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson). It sounds fantastic too because it’s remastered by one Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios and obviously well-known here for his work on Beatle, George Harrison and John Lennon re-issues.

It is fantastic to see that Dark Horse Records label back on physical product. If you’re not familiar with Strummer’s solo work (or his work post The Clash with The Mescaleros) check this out if you can. He’s pretty amazing and Assembly makes for great listening.

Rare John & Yoko Limted Edition Interview 10″ Vinyl

As we eagerly await the release later this week of the Plastic Ono Band super deluxe editions it’s been interesting to listen to two rare John and Yoko interview discs recorded during the same era.

The two discs are John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (January 25, 1971, in Tokyo), and John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (September 2, 1971 in New York).

Both these were only made available recently, and only in Japan. The one place to purchase them was from the museum shop at the Double Fantasy – John & Yoko exhibition, held at the Sony Music Roppongi Museum in Tokyo in late 2020/early 2021. We were lucky as a family friend who lives there got both discs for us and sent them via snail mail to Australia. It took a while, but they eventually got here!

As the titles suggest, these recordings date back to 1971, and hearing John and Yoko talking about their then just-released Plastic Ono Band LPs (one from John, one from Yoko), and also about Lennon’s Imagine LP, adds to our understanding: what they were thinking and saying about the albums at the time.

As you can see, these have been lovingly created in the typical Japanese style. They both come in gatefold sleeves with Grapefruit OBI strips, and they’re both pressed on lovely 10″ clear vinyl.

Gatefold for John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview January 25, 1971
Gatefold for John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview September 2, 1971

Both album sleeves say “Printed in Japan”, and state that the vinyl is pressed in Czech Republic. However, inside the labels say “Made in USA”. Confusing.

Instead of Apple labels, these are on Grapfruit labels (just like the ones used for Yoko Ono’s album re-issue campaign with Secretly Canadian).

(Click on any images to see larger versions)

On the OBI strip and on the record labels there are Columbia Records logos (i.e. Sony Music), while on the covers there are Sony Music, Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music logos printed on the rear sleeves.

And of course being Japanese releases, these both have a paper sheet inserts printed on both sides with more detail and info (in Japanese!) about the EP and the Double Fantasy exhibition:

One of these interview discs at least (John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview (September 2, 1971 in New York) has been previously released. This was back in 1971 in Japan – and it came out on the Apple label. This release was a fan-only, 7″ 45rpm EP. It has the same artwork throughout as this 2020 re-issue and came in a gatefold cover too. Apparently in Japan in 1971 the first 1,000 copies of of Imagine contained a postcard which the buyer could use to order the interview EP for free:

Seeing the original Japanese Apple labels from 1971 reminds us of the amazing attention to detail the Japanese go to when recreating re-issues. If you look closely you can see that even the lettering has been meticulously copied from the Apple original to the 2020 version on the Grapfruit label:

The interview on January 25, 1971 took place in Tokyo’s Teikoku or “Imperial” Hotel. It is conducted in English and Japanese – but mostly Japanese. The Lennon’s state that they are in the country to visit Yoko’s family and are trying to keep a low profile, so it is not an official visit as such. But they’ve obviously called a short press conference to talk briefly about what would have then been their latest releases, the two Plastic Ono Band LPs.

As you can see from the sleeve images above, the two are photographed holding these albums (and The Wedding Album) on the front, rear and gatefold covers.

Here’s a short extract from this disc to give you a feel for what it contains. John is asked about the direct nature of his lyrics on Plastic Ono Band. Is it something like Japanese Haiku poetry?  

John Lennon & Yoko Ono Special Interview January 25, 1971 c. 2020 Yoko Ono Lennon

“This album is shibui!” he declares. Shibui refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. Like other Japanese aesthetics terms, it can apply to a wide variety of subjects, not just art or fashion (see Wikipedia).

There is a small amount of original music on the January 25, 1971 interview disc. At one point Yoko is busy speaking in Japanese to the interviewer while John Lennon in the background has obviously picked up an acoustic guitar and gently finger picks the melodies of ‘Sun King’ and then ‘Dear Prudence’. And at the very end of the press conference there is a short live version of ‘Give Peace A Chance’.

The interview on the second 10″ clear EP takes place in New York on September 2, 1971. Here they talk a lot more about Imagine as it has just been released, but John compares it to Plastic Ono Band, the LP which precedes it. Lennon says the Imagine album is more relaxed compared to Plastic Ono Band. And ‘Imagine’ the song, he says, has almost the the same story as the song ‘Working Class Hero’ from Plastic Ono Band, only ‘Imagine’ is expressed in a more “child-like” way. 

Sound-wise he says he wanted Plastic Ono Band to be very spare, but this time (on Imagine) he wanted strings and saxophone, and to work using more musicians. The other contrast between the two LPs he makes is along the lines of: “Last year [when I made Plastic Ono Band] I had long hair and a beard. Now I’ve got short hair and no beard. So it’s like shaving. It’s a bit cleaner looking, more acceptable to people”.

So, two interesting releases to have in the lead-up to the Plastic Ono Band The Ultimate Collection box sets and vinyl re-issues. These will sit alongside them quite nicely.

McCartney III Imagined – Out This Week

This week we get to hear what McCartney III Imagined sounds like in full – at least on digital services. The physical mediums for this one aren’t coming until July….

There’s already been a bit of shock from some welded-on McCartney followers about the three tracks previewed from the album so far. They are a re-interpretation of ‘The Kiss of Venus’ by Dominic Fike; ‘Find My Way’ – featuring Beck; and a remix of ‘Slidin” by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien.

Stand by for quite a few more surprises.

It’s becoming fairly obvious we should all keep an open mind about what else might be in store because, based on what we’ve heard so far, some of it is going to be “out there” and out of the comfort zones of many fans. And that’s a good thing because it means these songs will be heard and appreciated by a far wider (and younger) audience than would have been the case if this remained just a McCartney-only release.

It’s clear that Paul McCartney and MPL sent out the raw elements of his songs to an eclectic and interesting bunch of musos and told them to do with them what they will.

If you want a contemporaneous example of a similar approach then look no further than Crowded House. They’ve got a new album coming in June and have released a single in the lead-up called ‘To The Island’. Check it out below in its original form:

Then have a listen to this:

Just like McCartney has done, Crowded House invited a third party (in this case Kevin Parker from Tame Impala) to do a remix. Here’s what Neil Finn said about it in an email to fans:

With all the world up-ended and nothing in its right place, we became curious to hear how our favourite contemporary musicians and record makers might re-imagine a Crowded House song. I emailed our version of ‘To The Island’ to Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) with an invitation to take it apart and reassemble in his own unique way. Happily, he really liked the song and it was an absolute delight to hear what he made from it, an exotic fantasy I would call it.

I think you’ll agree that the end result is very different – and in some ways quite confronting. But it means that Crowded House (a legacy band still making great new music) will also be heard by a much wider audience.

Strap in because McCartney III Imagined is going to be ‘To The Island’ writ large.

Personally, we’re excited to hear it.

McCartney III Imagined: All The Variants – So Far

We did it for McCartney III, so it seems only fitting to do something similar for the follow-up LP, McCartney III Imagined.

Especially since the McCartney official store and UMe official stores in various places around the globe have just added the ninth vinyl colour variation (Dark Green – 2000 copies only worldwide) of the album.

Here is a chart with all the vinyl and CD variants of McCartney III Imagined we know about – so far:

For your interest, here’s where it got to with McCartney III in the end…….

Please let us know if we’ve missed anything! (Click on images to see larger versions)

RAM Gets 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master

In March last year we got news that there was to be a 50th anniversary Half Speed Master edition of Paul McCartney’s first solo outing – which of course was simply called McCartney.

This year it’s the turn of RAM, Paul and Linda’s great LP from 1971.

The new RAM vinyl will be very limited (reportedly just 2000 copies for the UK) and it will only be available via independent stores and the usual McCartney/Universal channels.

The RAM Half Speed Master will be released on May 14, so if you want a copy you’d better get your skates on.

Paul McCartney – McCartney III Imagined

After more dice being mailed out to certain fans and a short social media teaser campaign, it’s just been officially announced that there’s to be an album of McCartney III covers and remixes – called McCartney III Imagined.

The details are here and it looks to be a REALLY eclectic and inventive choice of artists:

It’s a 2LP set – and the coloured vinyl whirlwind begins all over again……

At the official McCartney store you can order a limited edition exclusive splatter vinyl, and exclusive cover art:

And of course plain old black:

As far as we know right now there’ll also be an exclusive limited edition gold vinyl version available through Indie stores:Plus a green Spotify exclusive version (available through the official McCartney store):Newbury Comics in the US has weighed in again, this time with red vinyl:

Barnes and Noble (in the US) has added blue to the rainbow:

While Target has announced a silver vinyl exclusive with “alternate artwork” enclosed:

Meanwhile, back over at the McCartney Store (only in the US) they now have a limited edition pink vinyl available, 2500 copies only:

And the official store in the US has also added a dark green vinyl variant. It comes in the same unique cover as the splatter and pink. This green is darker than the Spoitfy vinyl, and there are only 2000 copies available apparently:

McCartney iii Imagined 2There’ll be a single CD too:

And Target stores (US only) will have the CD “with alternate artwork enclosed”:The first YouTube video has also hit. It is Dominic Fike’s version of ‘The Kiss of Venus’. Interesting!

So, what is your take on it? Let us know in the comments below.

Some sites are saying the digital release is April 16. Looks like physical media won’t ship until July 23 though, which is a long way off.

Keep an eye on our site for more details (and vinyl colour variations) as they emerge!