Ringo Starr – Vintage LP Finds

For some reason or other our Ringo Starr collection has grown exponentially over the last couple of weeks….

For a long time we’ve had an Australian pressing of his 1976 outing, Ringo’s Rotogravure

Below is the rear cover of the Australian pressing. US readers will note that the track listing for Side Two is five tracks instead of six. That’s because it is missing the short song, ‘Spooky Weirdness’: ‘Spooky Weirdness’ is however listed on the inner bag liner notes:

Like the rest of the world, this album came out housed in a gatefold sleeve. Here’s how it looks:

And here are the Australian labels. Note no ‘Spooky Weirdness’ listed on Side Two here either, and that the record company is different to the US release. The LP was issued Down Under on Polydor:

So anyway, we were picking around the bins at a favourite local second hand store when we randomly came across some variations of this LP.

First up was the aforementioned US pressing. It has the exact same front cover image, but there are few details on the rear cover that differ to the Australian: Note the Atlantic logo bottom left (above); a pink box at the bottom for the record company details/place of manufacture; and ‘Spooky Weirdness’ is listed on the tracklist for Side Two. The label is the famous green and red Atlantic Records too: Then, further into the bin, we noticed two more distinctly different pressings of this same title. First was a fairly rare budget edition that only ever came out in Australia. It was in really good condition and is on the now defunct Rainbow label. (You can find it listed on page 27 of this document):

The gatefold sleeve inside is printed in a much lighter blue to the original Australian and US releases:Because it’s a budget release there is no inner bag with the lyrics, but it is on a Rainbow Records label:Sitting just behind the Rainbow re-issue was an original New Zealand pressing of Rotogravure. Again, it has the exact same front cover image to the Australian and US pressings. Only the rear is a little different: And the labels (also on Polydor) mention “Made in New Zealand” – its in the small print at top left:

Lastly, a Canadian pressing of Ringo’s Bad Boy LP (from 1978) popped up in the bins as well.

As you can see, its a little beat up (writing on the cover; ‘cut out’ hole bottom left; foxing to the rear cover and inner bag from age, etc.), but worth grabbing at $5.00: 

So, not one – but four additions from the Ringo Starr back catalogue end up in our collection.

As usual, click on any of the images above to see larger versions.

More adventures in collecting Beatle records soon.

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McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ – Original Labels

Looking at the recently released Capitol Records coloured (and black) vinyl reissue of the Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace LP, we got thinking about the labels used for the original release back in 1983.

This is the label style used on both sides of the 2017 version:

As you can see, the custom designed labels are similar thematically (but not exactly the same) as those used for Side 2 of the 1983 vinyl release:

The chrome-plated chair image is larger and positioned differently, plus it has a different musical instrument on it.

But it’s the labels used for Side 1 in 1983 that fascinate.

For some reason Side 1 in each of the major markets around the world featured vintage depictions of either Parlophone or Odeon record labels (for those territories outside the US), or Columbia Records for the United States (becasue that was the label McCartney was signed to there at the time).

Here, for example, is the Side 1 label used in the UK – a vintage Parlophone in deep maroon:

And here’s the label used in the US, which was done in the style of an old-fashioned Columbia release:

In Australia it was a vintage Parlophone – done in a dark brown and gold:

For Europe, where the Odeon label was used to release EMI titles, they used a vintage version too. Here’s the one for Germany:

And Spain of course:And here’s the label used in France for Side 1. Unusually, it’s a vintage Parlophone – which is strange becasue you’d think it would more likely be on Odeon too:

It was definitely vintage Odeon for Japan: And in New Zealand it was a Parlophone: 

These next few are from smaller territories where we’re pretty sure that on both sides of the disc the  labels used were both the same. If you happen to have any further info on these please get in touch using the “Leave a Reply” section below. First up, India:

We can confirm that The Philippines definitely used a vintage black and yellow Parlophone for both sides of the disc:

Malaysia:

And to some South American countries now – Argentina:

Uruguay:

Bolivia:

And lastly, Columbia, which interestingly seems to be serviced by both Parlophone and Columbia/CBS records:

If you’d like to see these labels in more detail, click on the images to bring up larger versions.

And if anyone knows just why Paul McCartney wanted to use vintage labels for Side 1 only of Pipes of Peace, please let us know by commening below.

Strange/Unusual Find of the Month – George Harrison’s ‘Poor Little Girl’ Promo

Paid a visit this week to a new and second-hand record/book store we’d not visited before. It’s called Title, and they specialise in music, books and film.

One item in their “1/2 Price” sale bins caught our eye: 

It is a 12″ promotional-only single from Brazil containing two versions of a rare George Harrison solo song from 1989 called ‘Poor Little Girl’. Oddly enough the flip side of the disc is Rod Stewart singing a Tom Waits-penned song, ‘Downtown Train’:

Harrison’s ‘Poor Little Girl’ was only ever released on a 1989 compilation called The Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989, and it looks like this promo disc was issued to promote that album. The 12″ promo contains two versions of the song – an edited version that runs 3:25, and the LP version with a running time of 4:32.

As you can see, there was not great attention to detail by whoever prepared both the cover and label as they misspell George’s surname both times in the songwriting credits.

Strange to have come across this 12″ tucked away in the inner Sydney suburb of Surry Hills – but that’s sometimes the way record collecting goes…..

As usual, click on the images above to see larger versions.

New George Martin Biography – Maximum Volume

We have reviewed author Ken Womack’s work previously on beatlesblogger.com

He’s a recognised authority on The Beatles and their enduring cultural influence. His latest work is the first in what will become a two-volume biography devoted to Beatle producer, Sir George Martin.

First published last year in the United States, then quickly followed by a UK edition, the first installment is called Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Early Years: 1926-1966).

Here’s the US jacket:

And here’s the somewhat more tame UK cover

This book is long-overdue. There have been surprisingly few in-depth studies of the life of one of the most influential figures in popular music, a career spanning more than 60 years.

In Womack’s book we learn that George Martin scored his first real job in the music industry pretty much by accident when he joined the recording giant EMI as an A&R man for Parlophone Records and that in the 1950s being in A&R (or Artist and Repetoire) didn’t mean you were a producer – it was more about talent scouting and the artistic and commercial development of the artists signed to your label.

Martin had a natural musical talent and great training, and he’d had some success with comedy and novelty records for Parlophone. But he needed more than that. By the early 1960s to keep his label afloat George Martin needed to hit it big with a pop group – and soon.

Though he had tons of creativity, drive, and a solid musical background, Martin’s main handicap was that he had little knowledge or experience of the world of Rock & Roll.

Then, into his life walks a young, four-piece outfit from Liverpool.

These guys knew a lot about Rock & Roll, but had no knowledge about studios and how to record their music. The pairing of the two was a marriage made in heaven. What George Martin was able to bring to the table fitted perfectly with what the Beatles needed – and together they went on to make magic.

It wasn’t always plain sailing though, and Martin often had to be tough and give as good as he got because the Beatles were hard task masters. They were ambitious, confident, and didn’t suffer fools lightly. But George Martin had the chutzpah and the musical knowledge and ability to carry it off:

Martin: “Let’s have one more go at the backing, then we’ll record your voices separately. This time, we’ll get it exactly right.”

McCartney: “Why—what was exactly wrong?”

Martin: “The tuning sounded wrong. And you, George, should be coming in on the second beat every time instead of every fourth beat.”

Harrison: “Oh, I see.”

In its essence, this brief exchange demonstrated what people in the Beatles’ inner circle understood implicitly: namely, that George was possibly the single most influential person in their world, really the only one who could impinge upon the nature of their music. Even Brian [Epstein], whom they held in extraordinarily high esteem, held little, if any, sway in terms of influencing the direction of their creative lives. At one point, when Brian dared to offer an opinion about their efforts in the studio, John coolly replied, “You look after your percentages, Brian. We’ll take care of the music.” (pg. 252)

In Maximum Volume Womack candidly – and comprehensively – tells the story of George Martin from his very humble childhood and early adulthood, through to the heights of success he and the Beatles enjoyed globally. It’s a great read, a real page-turner in fact as the detail behind that enormous success unfolds.

As one reviewer put it, the book contains enough fresh information and informed insight about the group’s early years to satisfy [even] the most devout Beatlemaniac.

Maximum Volume takes a similar approach to that of Mark Lewisohn’s well-researched and highly regarded multi-volume telling of the Beatles story: there are footnotes detailing where Womack is getting his information and where his quotes come from; there’s an extensive bibliography; and there’s a comprehensive index. All these things point to the thorough research undertaken by Ken Womack and the efforts he’s gone to to put the life and work of George Martin into a context that can be supported by facts.

The importance of this approach to writing about the Beatles, or any subject or person for that matter where so much has been written over many years, is imperative. Sifting through the mass of it to find those kernels of truth about your subject before forming it into an accurate and entertaining narrative is paramount – and Womack pulls it off. For a great reflection on this subject it’s worth a listen to the Something About the Beatles podcast episode called “The Beatles and the Historians“. See too the show’s interview with Ken Womack himself: “George Martin – Maximum Volume“.

Womack’s second and final volume on the life and work of Sir George Martin will be published in September this year. It’s to be called Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Later Years: 1966-2016).

In the meantime, enjoy Volume One – Maximum Volume. It is highly recommended.

McCartney – Eight Coloured Vinyls Arrive

Like a lot of collectors around the world, we have been waiting patiently for Universal Music to sort out the delays and confusion around the supply and delivery of the recent Paul McCartney vinyl re-issues on coloured vinyl.

We ordered ours last year, weeks before the advertised shipping date – but it is only in the new year that they have finally arrived, and in two separate shipments. Ram clearly was in very short supply and it is pretty obvious that a pressing of more copies had to be hurriedly arranged. That LP came in a separate package a few following the main batch.

Having said all that, these look absolutely fantastic. Here are some images of the collection – the front “hype” stickers and record labels: 

(As usual, click on the images to see larger versions)

Paul McCartney – ‘Music of the Spheres’

On Christmas Day, two keen music fans leaked their version of the as-yet unreleased original symphonic music composed for the the video game, Destiny.

There is of course a Beatle connection here in the form of Sir Paul McCartney who contributed to the soundtrack for the game, most notably the end-credits song ‘Hope for the Future‘.

The Destiny: Music of the Spheres suite is the work of Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, but it took the fan duo of Tlohtzin Espinosa and Owen Spence to bring it to the public. They spent more than a year pulling together all the elements they could get their hands on to compile what is essentailly a complete soundtrack album of Destiny:

You can hear it on Soundcloud, and on YouTube. Download links are out there on the World Wide Web too if you are interested.

There’s more background on how all this came to be in an article on the Ars Technica site, plus you should also see this Reddit post by the two fans who took the risk of putting it out there in the first place.  

‘Concert For George’ – on LP and Two Deluxe Edition Boxes

To mark what would have been George Harrison’s 75th birthday in February there’s to be a major re-issue of the great 2003 Concert For George recordings and film.

For the first time the concert will be available on vinyl (as a four LP box set); new CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray combo packages; plus not one – but two – super deluxe boxed special editions.

On the official George Harrison site you can pre-order now two different “Exclusive” deluxe limited editions.There are just 1000 copies worldwide of the “basic” box:

Both boxes come with these contents: a gold-colored, fabric-wrapped box with a die-cut mandala window to display a numbered cutting from the original hand-painted on-stage tapestry backdrop used during the Royal Albert Hall concert on November 29, 2002; the complete sound and film recordings from the concert (on four 180-gram audiophile LPs, 2 CDs, 2 DVDs and 2 Blu-rays); plus a 12”x12” hard-bound 60-page book. The sets also include a note from Olivia Harrison, explaining the story behind the tapestry. The “basic” set costs US$350.

However, for an extra $100 you can get that same deluxe box, plus what is described on the site as a complete set of “…authentic Test Pressings (4-discs), pressed at Quality Record Pressings (QRP)”. There are only 15 copies of these Test Pressing sets available worldwide.

For those after the new vinyl pressing of the Concert For George here’s the pack image with its contents:    

As you can see above the four LP set only stretches across 7 sides, and so Side 8 on LP 4 features a cool-looking etched mandala.

The new 2CD sets with either 2 Blu-ray or 2 DVD included look like this:

These bundles are identical in content except for the Blu-ray which contains an additional ‘Drummers’ featurette not available on the DVD version.

The original two CD set is also being re-issued:All these Concert For George versions will be reissued on February 23. Proceeds from the sale of these products support The Material World Foundation.