This latest addition to my collection was released a little while back now – but I’ve just been able to secure a very nice copy of the very rare and limited deluxe edition of the 2008 release “Electric Arguments” by The Fireman (a.k.a Paul McCartney and his producer, Youth). This is a truly over-the-top item, a bespoke, hand-made item with unique artwork and inserts.
Before we get to the details of this release, we’ll take a look at the standard editions first – and there are a quite a few. Just the scale of the different versions and artwork created for the “Electric Arguments” project is staggering.
The most common commercially-released and readily available version of “Electric Arguments” came out as a single CD. McCartney was between labels at the time and so in the UK it was released and distributed on the One Little Indian label. In the US it was released and distributed by ATO Records.
In both markets the CD is contained in a cardboard digipac gate-fold, the cover of which looked like this in both markets:
The black square and those circles that look like stickers on the front of the cover are actually printed onto the shrink-wrap plastic around the cardboard cover, not on the cover itself. The only difference between the two countries is the catalogue number and the printing on the CD – which carries the name and logo of the record company releasing it:
(If you’d like to see larger versions of any photographs here just click on the image).
The CD gate-fold contains a 46 page booklet, which slips into a pocket inside the cover:
This official, commercial CD release was supported by three promotional CDs. These were only sent to music reviewers and to radio stations. The first contained exactly the same 13 tracks as the commercially-released album, but with a completely different cover and artwork, and different printing on the CD, which states “For promotional use only”. Its catalogue number is MPL 922:
There were also two separate, single-song promo CD’s sent to radio stations to promote the album. The first (and more common one) was for the song “Sing the Changes”. It came out in a simple digipac gate-fold with unique artwork and printing on the CD itself. It has the catalogue number MPL 1006-CDPROMO:
The second and more difficult to find promo CD contains the song “Dance ’til We’re High”. Again, like the other two promos, it is presented as a unique picture disc mounted on a clear tray in a digipak cover with alternate artwork. The CD printing was different, and the catalogue number is 1011tp7cdp:
There was also a limited edition, double LP vinyl pressing of the album (catalogue number tplp1003/5016958 1040 1 6) which has been Direct Metal Mastered at the Abbey Road studios. The two LPs are in a gate-fold cover which has the same artwork as used on the outside as the commercially released CD. Its pressed on heavy 200g vinyl and the cover comes inside a thick clear-plastic outer with a yellow limited edition numbered sticker on the outside:
Inside the gate-fold cover of the 2 LP set is a 15 page book:
The LP packaging also contains a CD copy of the album which is held in a simple custom slipcase envelope. Here are the front and rear covers:
The records themselves are also held in thick paper inner sleeves with even more artwork on them and each side of the the vinyl has these custom designed labels:
Then, a few months after all these releases above (LP and CDs) came what could only be described as a very special and limited edition of the whole “Electric Arguments” project. This version has the catalogue number TPLP1003DE. It came sealed in this large, custom-made paper satchel:
Inside the bag is a heavy-duty steel box:
Before we go any further, I must acknowledge and talk about the person responsible for the entire design of The Fireman “Electric Arguments” packaging. Art direction for the project (including the standard CD, promo CDs and the Deluxe Edition) is by Norman Hathaway, a creative director based in Brooklyn, New York who has done a number of other projects for Paul McCartney, including CD covers and books. It’s not the first time Hathaway has done a Fireman album either – he also did the artwork for “Rushes”, Paul McCartney’s second collaboration with producer Youth. His work on “Electric Arguments” though, particularly this Deluxe Edition, is very special. I’m really not sure how they manufactured it – parts really do have the look and feel of being hand-made.
Once you open the metal box you see this sheet pasted inside the lid:
As you can see, its like a replica studio reel-to-reel tape box, listing the contents, and stating it was recorded at May Hill, McCartney’s own Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex in the UK. Down the bottom it says in Paul’s handwriting: “This is not a pizza. Enjoy it: Paul McCartney x x “. The next thing you see is the first of two art prints, exclusive to the box set:
Underneath these is a deep red cloth-bound folder, with embossed writing on the outside saying “the fireman – electric arguments – paul mccartney – youth”:
This opens up to reveal not one, but four separate CDs:
This CD holder looks truly handmade – you can see it in the image above, and it has nice detail touches, like the words “electric arguments” imprinted on the cardboard inside the place where the CD sits. The CDs are: the full 13-track album (with different printing on the disc to the standard release); a 7-track bonus song CD; a high resolution stereo audio CD with all 13 songs from the standard edition, plus a further bonus track (a dub-step remix of the song “Highway”), and three videos (“Sing the Changes”, “Dance ’til We’re High” and “In the Studio”); and finally a multi-track audio files data DVD containing mixing “stems” for 5 different tracks from the album:
OK. Then comes a 46 page art book, which is the same as the booklet you get with the standard CD but in a larger format:
And then a copy of the 200g vinyl 2 LP set:
Really, for the collector and completist it is all fairly breathtaking!
Finally, to get an idea of the Deluxe packaging in it’s entirety here are two short videos of owners “un-boxing” their copies. The first is a bit rough in places, but it gives you a good idea of the way this entire project is put together:
Paul is an amazing artist, as this post amply demonstrates. He was recently named our MusiCares Person Of The Year, and we are very excited to have someone of his stature receive this honor. There will be an additional related announcement coming very soon, and we will post here to keep in you the loop.
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I recently bought the 2LP+CD edition, which is supposed to be a numbered edition, according to the yellow sticker it has, but… there is no number!!! The catalogue number is the same tplp1003/5016958 1040 1 6, it cames with the same clear plastic cover, the same yellow sticker… Do you know if it can be a more recent edition? Or do I own a super-mega-rare misprinted one? (Don´t think so, but…)
Thanks for submitting your question. It looks like your copy of the disc missed getting the Limited Edition number stamped onto it. I don’t think this makes it any more valuable. Its interesting though!
impressed by the ocd approach you’ve given this project. happy to see someone appreciate all the small details.
Really great to hear from you, and glad you appreciate the effect your fantastic work has on us end-users – the collectors! We certainly appreciate the detail that goes into producing the imaging, design and artwork which accompanies the music we love. The Electric Arguments project went above and beyond. Any insights you’d like to impart as to how that metal box and it’s contents was put together? For example, was it all as bespoke and hand-made as it looked? Where was it manufactured? etc.