About beatlesblogger

Adventures in collecting Beatles music.....Beatles Blog is a page dedicated to the avid Beatles music collector, with regular updates about new Beatles releases and collectable vinyl, CDs and DVDs – either by the Beatles as a group, or as solo artists. It's also about those artists associated with the band. There'll be information about books and magazines too. As new items come into our collection we update the blog with details, cover photos, catalogue information and stuff like that. Please feel free to contribute information – especially if it'll assist other collectors in their knowledge of things Beatle.

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!

The Wait Is Over – Lennon/Plastic Ono Band Finally Announced

The dream wait is over, what can I say? The dream wait is over, yesterday….

It’s taken a while (there’s even been an official countdown clock ticking down just for the announcement) but Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon have at last revealed the release date (16 April), and the contents of the 50th anniversary box set of John Lennon’s legendary Plastic Ono Band solo album.

And it looks really good. The wait appears to have been worth it:

Rather than detail it all here it’s best to click through to the official John Lennon website which has all the information – and more – about what this 6 CD, 2 Blu-Ray Audio Disc Plastic Ono Band Ultimate Collection deluxe box set will contain. They’ve created a fantastic site with masses of information, images and memorabilia.

There is of course also a 2LP Half Speed Master release, a two CD edition, and a single CD release as well. Accurate track listings for each for each of these are also included on the Lennon site.

Also, for a great summary article, you can’t go past the great Super Deluxe Edition site.

The Lennon camp has embarked on a social media blitz to publicise the release, and there will be no doubt be more to come.

Given the tempo of the times, we particularly liked this image which appeared on Twitter and on Insta:

The caption reads: “What’s the meming of this?” 🙂

Inspiration for McCartney’s ‘The Kiss of Venus’

Speaking of books, here’s the little one that Paul McCartney referenced as part of the inspiration for his song ‘The Kiss of Venus’, found on the recently-released McCartney III.

“I had a cool little book Jools Holland’s wife had given me, kind of an astrology book, all about the planets and the movements and the fantastic synchronicity of it all. A fascinating book, actually, when the planets go through all the little things, if you look at a graph, as it were, of them all, it like makes a lotus. It’s trippy. There was some great little phrases – “the kiss of Venus” was one of them. So I was loving that book and I was making up a song about that, but that was an instance of forcing myself to write. And I felt good after it. I thought, ‘Yeah that’s a pretty good little song.’ I haven’t had time to record it, but I will.”

It is indeed a lovely little paperback by John Martineau called A Little Book of Coincidence in the Solar System, which examines geometry and harmony in the universe and yes, there is a chapter entitled The Kiss of Venus.

Martineau is the publisher and editor of the award-winning Wooden Books pocket liberal arts series, which has been translated into 20 languages worldwide.

The “kiss” of Venus with the Earth occurs every 584 days and, over an eight year period (exactly!), that movement of the heavenly body as it moves around the Earth draws a beautiful geometric pattern.

Meanwhile, the song features Paul on vocals and guitar, and there’s a neat little harpsichord solo included as well:

A demo “phone” version of ‘The Kiss of Venus’ is one of the four bonus tracks on the Japanese CD edition of McCartney III. It’s can also be found as a single bonus track (Track 12) on one of the four “budget” CD versions of the album released in the UK and in the US:

I wonder if we’ll learn anything more about the origins of ‘The Kiss of Venus’ in McCartney’s forthcoming The Lyrics book?

McCartney – ‘The Lyrics’ Book

Does this 78 year-old ever stop?

The latest content announced from the ever-prolific Paul McCartney is to be a comprehensive, two-volume book examining the lyrics to 154 of his songs dating back to 1956 and progressing to the present day. And it really looks like is going to be something special.

Simply called The Lyrics, the 960 pages will feature never-before seen photographs, letters, drafts, and more.

The Lyrics is edited by the Irish Pulitzer Prize–winning author and poet Paul Muldoon, who also penned the introduction. It is based on conversations with McCartney about his songs and his songwriting craft, conducted over a five year period.

“These commentaries are as close to an autobiography as we may ever come,” Muldoon said in press materials. “His insights into his own artistic process confirm a notion at which we had but guessed—that Paul McCartney is a major literary figure who draws upon, and extends, the long tradition of poetry in English.”

Rather than a traditional autobiography, the book will cover the inspiration behind the lyrics and McCartney’s reflections on them. It won’t be in chronological order, but alphabetical.

The book itself is two hardcover volumes that slide into an outer slipcase. The volumes will not be available separately and each one is 480 pages in length. The outer slipcase of the UK edition features the same photograph, taken by Paul’s brother Mike, that was used as the cover to McCartney’s 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.The US edition appears to have a different, plain green outer slipcase, and a different spine:

The Lyrics will be published on November 2.