I’ve been away traveling for a while without ready access to a computer and so have missed updating the blog with a significant announcement by Apple about some forthcoming non-Beatles re-releases. So, in case you missed it, here’s a catch-up post.
I’ve been buying records on the Apple label since I was a teenager. They were all Beatles releases of course as at the time that was the extent of my interest and my knowledge of the Beatles record label’s activities. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I realised that alongside their Beatles releases the record label also issued a wealth of other artists, and so I began trying to catch up on these and started to collect the entire Apple catalogue in earnest. I’m still engaged in that quest. There are a lot of original records out there still to track down…..
As one fellow blogger put it “…part of what makes Apple so fun to collect is that the label’s artist roster in the late 60s and early 70s was so varied. Apple covered everything, from the Modern Jazz Quartet, to the folk of Mary Hopkin, to the avant-garde orchestration of John Tavener. The label also released a handful of film soundtracks, and launched the careers of some pretty high-profile artists such as James Taylor and Badfinger.”
Well, when I got back from my travels the other day I found this emailed press release (dated July 6) from Apple Corps Ltd in my inbox:
Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, and more. Apple Records catalogue remastered and reissued on CD and digital download – Classics Set For Release on October 26th
Launched by The Beatles in 1968, as the new outlet for their own recordings as well as the music of an eclectic roster of artists – James Taylor, Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, Doris Troy, and Jackie Lomax among them – who were all personally brought to the label by The Beatles (individually and/or collectively), Apple Records made popular music history from the very moment it opened its doors.
Four decades later, Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music raise the curtain on remastered CD and digital download releases of 15 key albums from the Apple Records catalog. All 15 titles will be released on October 26th. Most of the physical CDs will include bonus material. Together, the 15 albums represent the first ever Apple Records releases to be available via digital download.
In the revolutionary spirit of 1968, The Beatles’ explosive musical output (characterised by their double-LP White Album) was only exceeded by their fascination with what they saw and heard going on around them. Five years into The Beatles’ reign, Apple Records afforded them the unique opportunity to sign new (and established) artists who appealed to each of them. In turn, the introduction of an artist on The Beatles’ record label was an imprimatur taken very seriously by fans across the universe.
Apple Records’ utopian artist-orientated mission immediately set it apart, as the first operation of its kind in the major-label sphere. Diversity was celebrated, and artists were encouraged to record and release their music in a friendly creative environment. Apple developed a distinctive graphic aesthetic, from its legendary ‘apple-core’ logo to its advertising and merchandising, in the process setting a subtle new benchmark for the industry to follow.
From 1968 to 1973, Apple Records bedazzled the world with a rainbow spectrum of releases – and fans were unusually well-informed about individual involvements of The Beatles with nearly every project. 1968’s self-titled debut album by Boston-based singer-songwriter James Taylor, for example, features Paul McCartney and George Harrison on “Carolina In My Mind”. Paul was instrumental in bringing the Welsh chanteuse Mary Hopkin to Apple, and produced her debut single, “Those Were The Days”. Badfinger, also from Wales, was still known as The Iveys when they recorded “Come And Get It”, written and produced by Paul (for The Magic Christian movie soundtrack).
The Beatles had been fans of Billy Preston ever since seeing him in Little Richard’s band in Hamburg in 1962. George went on to produce and play on Preston’s Apple debut, That’s the Way God Planned It. Harrison was one of the producers and played (along with Ringo Starr) on Doris Troy’s self-titled Apple album. George also produced and played (with Paul and Ringo) on Jackie Lomax’s debut album, Is This What You Want? featuring the Harrison composition, “Sour Milk Sea”.
John was much taken with the music of The Modern Jazz Quartet, who released the only two jazz albums in the Apple catalogue. Ringo was intrigued by the music of contemporary British classical composer John Tavener, and his Apple album, The Whale has become one of the most sought-after Apple collectibles of all time.
Each of the 15 albums in this bumper batch of Apple Records releases has been digitally remastered at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London by the same dedicated team of engineers behind The Beatles’ recent remastered catalogue releases of 2009.
For details about the release, visit www.applerecords.com
The releases (15 titles in all) are:
- James Taylor (1968) by James Taylor
- Magic Christian Music (1970) by Badfinger
- No Dice (1970) by Badfinger
- Straight Up (1972) by Badfinger
- Ass (1974) by Badfinger
- Post Card (1969) by Mary Hopkin
- Earth Song, Ocean Song (1971) by Mary Hopkin
- That’s The Way God Planned It (1969) by Billy Preston
- Encouraging Words (1970) by Billy Preston
- Doris Troy (1970) by Doris Troy
- Is This What You Want? (1968) by Jackie Lomax
- Under The Jasmine Tree (1968), and Space (1969) by the Modern Jazz Quartet (a 2-on-1 CD)
- The Whale (1970), and Celtic Requiem (1971) by John Tavener (a 2-on-1 CD)
It has to be said that this is not the first time these titles have been re-issued by Apple. There was another major campaign between 1991-1993 when they were all released for the first time on CD. That campaign also saw them released as vinyl LPs, complete with the original artwork and lots of bonus tracks, additional photographs, etc….So, for many collectors it will be a case of having to decide whether or not to get these 2010 releases a second time. What’s new is that they have all been freshly re-mastered by the engineering team at Abbey Road (who did the recent Beatles re-masters), and that they’re to be available as digital downloads for the first time making these re-issues the first Apple product ever available in that form. Can an announcement about the Beatles catalogue being digitally down-loadable be far behind?
To mark that 1991-1993 release campaign Apple Records released this special apple-shaped extended play CD.