For many years we’ve catalogued our Beatle collection using a fairly simple Microsoft Word document. There are columns for Artist, Title, Catalogue Number, Year and Place of Manufacture, plus space for any other details – for example does it have hype stickers, inclusions, it’s rarity, and finally a column for a quality rating for the cover and for LP or CD.
Over the years of course this document has grown and grown, and has become more and more bulky and a bit unwieldy to use.
So, why not transfer the whole thing into Discogs, the huge database and marketplace that contains many more details about each entry and is accessible when out and about crate digging or visiting stores if you need to check if you have a particular pressing or release.
With that in mind we’ve slowly been creating entries of what we have in the “Collection” section of Discogs. It’s going to take a while but we’ve been plugging away at it!
Imagine our surprise then, while interrogating the Discogs database, to learn that what we thought were legitimate CDs from The Paul McCartney Collection sereis from 1993 are actually Russian fakes?
We now have all sixteen CDs in the series but while entering them into Discogs it became apparent that 5 of them were definitely illegal copies:
On the surface they all look entirely legit. The external covers are correct in every detail, as are the CD booklets, and the CDs themselves. They look just like the originals. The barcode numbers match up, and the place of manufacture is listed as Holland (or the UK in the case of the McCartney CD).
However, when you go into Discogs there are usually more intricate details listed to help you identify exactly which country or issue you have. For artists like Paul McCartney, whose work is reproduced in multiple countries, there can be multiple entries to check through to confirm the one you have.
You do this by looking closely at what is etched in the tiny letters and numbers that appear on the “run out” section at the centre of the CD. And it’s here you’ll discover the true place of mastering and manufacture.
For us it was an eye opener to see an odd type of etching on these five of our Paul McCartney CD’s from The Paul McCartney Collection series. For McCartney it shows this:
Discogs says this is a Russian fake. They use the term “unofficial” and it is therefore not permitted for sale on their site.
For Red Rose Speedway the run out etching looks like this:
A bit of a pattern starts to emerge. Here’s the etching for Venus and Mars:
Here’s Wings at the Speed of Sound:
And finally an “unofficial” version of Tug of War:
The remainder of the CDs we have in this series are legitimate. It’s interesting that when you know you have a fake you can start to see some other tell-tail indicators. The most obvious with these CDs is the printing quality on the disc itself. The fakes are blurry while the legitimates are much more crisp and clear.
Here’s the fake Tug of War CD:
Compare this to a legit version of Band on the Run from the same series:
You can see that Band on the Run is much clearer. A close-up of the small print at the bottom illustrates this even better. Here’s the “unofficial” Tug of War:
And here’s the detail of Band on the Run:
By comparison the Tug of War printing is inferior. It is kind of blotchy and the lettering is unclear.
The subtitle of our blog is “Adventures in Collecting Beatles Music”. Looking out for fakes is part of the adventure I guess. But it’s a bit disheartening to learn that what you thought for many years was legitimate is not so after all.
If in doubt, check out Discogs – it’s a brilliant database.
This Paul McCartney Collection series will be celebrating it’s 30th birthday this summer. Time flies…
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I’ll need to check mine now. I remember going to a visit to bath and seeing loads of McCartney cds in a record store there. I come from Cornwall and before the internet it was very difficult to get hold of a lot of the less popular McCartney albums. So I bought all the ones I didn’t have. I think I spent around £250. So this collection means a lot to me. I recently finished the collection by buying wings greatest. As I never had it. I feel very sad about the popularity of cds falling. Being a Brit pop fan and now in my mid 40s it was always cds for me. I still buy physical copies of McCartney albums to keep my collection going, and Beatles albums.
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Whilst I was reasonably certain my set were all legit (they are), I hadn’t thought to check Discogs to see if I could find an explanation for my unusual “Wings At The Speed Of Sound” edition. I have the standard “album cover in the corner against a white background” version, but also another version where the album cover image fills the entire front cover. Same back cover, bonus tracks, catalogue number etc, except the booklet omits the pages that show the other available editions and a full-page cover image. The runout codes check out on both versions, but no mention of the different cover/booklet that I could find.
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Yes, I’ve also noticed that version of ‘Wings At The Speed of Sound’ when I’ve been looking around at this series. It is odd that there’s a legit version out there with a cover image that takes up the whole front of the CD booklet. If anyone knows why this is so please let us know!