New John Lennon Compilations – Gimme Some Truth

Just officially announced: it’s Gimme Some Truth. Again………..but different.

10 years ago we got a four CD compilation box set called Gimme Some Truth.

Today comes the announcement that, as part of the celebrations for John Lennon’s 80th birthday, a new selection of his solo recordings have been completely re-mixed from scratch for a new collection called (you guessed it), Gimme Some Truth:  Huh? What’s this all about, and why?

This is yet another “Best Of” selection, this time around chosen by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, and in physical format it will be issued in a plethora of ways:

1 CD (19 tracks); 2 LP (19 tracks); 2 CD’s (36 tracks); 4 LP Box Set (36 tracks); and a Deluxe Box Set with 2 CD’s + Blu-Ray (audio only with High Definition 24-96 Stereo,
5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos mixes) + 124 page book, poster, postcards and sticker (36 tracks).

Of the 36 tracks on offer here, 30 of them were already included on the 2010 Gimme Some Truth box.

However, the Lennon official site says that what differentiates this 2020 Gimme Some Truth is that all the tracks have now (quote) “…been completely remixed…using brand new transfers of the original multi-tracks, cleaned up to the highest possible sonic quality…radically upgrading their sonic quality, presenting them as a never-before-heard Ultimate Listening Experience.”

This new box set has been mixed and engineered by multi GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks.

It was Hicks who did the mixes for Imagine – The Ultimate Collection in 2018 and, it has to be said, he did an exceptional job so it’ll be interesting to hear the improvements to these 36 tracks.

“After weeks of painstaking preparation, the final mixes and effects were completed using only vintage analogue equipment and effects at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles (formerly A&M Studios, where John had recorded some of the Rock ‘n’ Roll album), and then mastered in analogue at Abbey Road Studios in order to ensure the most beautiful and authentic sound quality possible.”

Have a listen and make up your own mind on this preview track on YouTube:

So, there will be the inevitable claims of another cash grab and that this is another go at selling us music we already have. Personally, I’m looking forward to these tracks being presented in the best possible audio. But that’s just me. What do you reckon? Let us know in the comment section below.

The question a lot of collectors are now asking is does this mean we won’t be getting the rumoured big re-issue campaign for Plastic Ono Band, John’s 1970 masterpiece which has its 50th anniversary later this year? It seems we won’t.

The Famous Q Magazine Comes to an End

It was sad to read last week that after 34 years the influential and very readable Q magazine has shut up shop for good. Here’s the cover of the last-ever edition:. Editor Ted Kessler said in a tweet: “The pandemic did for us, and there was nothing more to it than that.” In an editor’s letter in the final issue he writes: “We’ve been a lean operation for all of my tenure, employing a variety of ways to help keep our head above water in an extremely challenging print market. Covid-19 wiped all that out. I must apologise profusely for my failure to keep Q afloat.”

The magazine’s circulation had fallen to 28,000 per month from a peak of 200,000 in 2001.

Q was founded in 1986 by Smash Hits writers Mark Ellen and David Hepworth. It arrived at the same time as the CD revolution took off – and its glossy, aspirational format chimed perfectly with the times.

Over those 34 years Q, like many other music magazines, has had its fair share of Beatles on the cover. They are, and remain, a way to sell more copies – just take the latest edition of British GQ magazine that has Paul McCartney front and centre – including an extensive new interview:

In a trip down memory lane, here are a few favourite Q magazine Beatle-inspired covers from over the years. Turns out McCartney graced the very first Q :

He became a fairly frequent visitor:

As was John Lennon on many an occasion: As they did above, sometimes Q would produce multiple versions of a cover to make a particular commemorative edition more collectable – like this series for Lennon’s 70th birthdate:

The Beatles as a band were not all that frequently seen, though certainly written about often:

This image of John and Paul is memorable:

As are these two of Paul, firstly with his Hofner bass: And then as a mystery man:
So, fare-thee-well Q mag. You’ll be missed. It’s been mighty real over the last 34 years. Sad to see yet another casualty of COVID-19. The shockwaves of this thing continue to ripple outwards.

McCartney Flaming Pie – Unboxing

As usual, the Super Deluxe Edition site has provided one of the most comprehensive unboxing videos of Flaming Pie, the new Paul McCartney Archive Collection release.

It is shown in all its variations and in all its glory, from the humble 2 CD through to the mammoth (and expensive) Collector’s Edition.

Check it our here:

McCartney Flaming Pie – Rare Tracks For Download [UPDATE]

As he’s done a number of times in the past Paul McCartney, in the lead-up to the deluxe Archive Collection box set re-issues of Flaming Pie next week, has begun to release a few ‘teaser’ rare tracks.

These are tracks that won’t be included in the forthcoming box sets. The only way to get them is to sign up and download them from his official site.

Today sees the release of three free songs on the download site: ‘Somedays [Without Orchestra]’, ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ – which is in its original 1986 mix version, and ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’.

‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ will be on the Deluxe Box Set and the Collector’s Edition of Flaming Pie, but it will be embedded in a longer track called ‘Oobu Joobu – Part 5’. (‘Oobu Joobu’ is a series of short radio-like shows made in 1997 to promote Flaming Pie. These were included on maxi CD’s that came out featuring singles from the record). All six episodes of ‘Oobu Joobu’ are included on the bigger box sets, but on the McCartney site you can now download all 6 minutes and 10 seconds of ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ as a stand-alone track.

The download-only version of ‘Somedays’ is minus the beautiful 14-piece string ensemble orchestration by Sir George Martin but it’s great to hear it in this more embryonic form. This version won’t be included on any of the forthcoming box sets.

Nor will ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’, which is an alternative acoustic version of ‘Calico Skies’, part of which is featured during the In The World Tonight documentary.

Moving away from the official McCartney download site, if you visit Rolling Stone magazine they’ve been given an exclusive instrumental version of a song from the Flaming Pie sessions called ‘Broomstick’. The original with vocal (also a rarity) was previously only available on the B-side to the ‘Young Boy’ single. This one, which does not appear in the new box set, is an all-acoustic instrumental backing track jam that features just McCartney and Steve Miller, who plays guitar. This instrumental version also lacks the sound effects that closed out the vocal version.

Finally, according to those who have received their Flaming Pie Deluxe Box sets (ours is still to arrive so we can’t confirm), there are at least two “Easter Eggs” or hidden tracks on a couple of the discs.

On CD 2 – the Home Recordings disc – after the final track ‘Great Day’ make sure you don’t stop your CD player. Let it keep playing and an additional 30-second instrumental of the song will play.

Likewise, on CD 3 – the In The Studio disc – after the “rude cassette” version of ‘Heaven On a Sunday’ there’s a period of silence followed by about a minute and a half of Paul and Ringo vamping on the track ‘Beautiful Night’.

50 Years Since Let It Be – Podcast

Time for the final podcast instalment in what has been a long and winding Beatle road.

Back in 2014 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) began a series celebrating the 50th anniversary release of each British Beatle LP.

As each album anniversary came around ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn spoke to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert, Jude Southerland Kessler.

Jude is the author of the ambitious nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest book in the series is Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details for this volume scroll down after clicking through).

In May the pair finally made it to Let It Be, the final LP released by the band.

You can find it online here, or just click on the red US Let It Be Apple label below:

Previous broadcasts/podcasts in the series are Please Please MeWith the BeatlesA Hard Day’s NightBeatles For Sale and of course, Help! – which is in two parts: Side One here, and Side Two here.

You can hear Rod and Jude talk about Rubber SoulRevolver; and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by clicking here.

And they tackle Yellow SubmarineThe Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album), and The Esher Demos disc here.

The Abbey Road podcast is here.

Wings Greatest – Strange Bulgarian Pressing

There’s nothing we love more than discovering a strange or different pressing of a very well-known album – and this one, Paul McCartney and Wings’ Wings Greatest, fits the bill perfectly.

It’s the official Bulgarian release on the Balkanton label, and we were alerted to it by old friend Andrey – who helps maintain the fantasticly comprehensive The Beatles Get Back in the USSR site.

This copy of Wings Greatest is not only distinguished by its unusual labels (see below), but also the fact that it comes with one less song than every version we can find released anywhere else in the world. You can see that Side 1 is missing the track ‘Live and Let Die’. In every other market Side 1 has six tracks. In Bulgaria they got just five:Just to refresh your memory, here’s the US Capitol version of this 1978 compilation LP:

If you were browsing in a second-hand bin (and this LP comes up for sale a lot), you could very easily flip straight past the Bulgarian version without noticing that it’s actually quite rare.

We wonder if there was some sort of a licencing issue in Bulgaria with the song ‘Live and Let Die’ because it is from the soundtrack of the James Bond film of the same name? It would be part-owned by United Artists. Maybe that was it?

Now you can see on the rear cover in the place ‘Live and Let Die’ should be the words “Manufactured under licence by Balkanton in Bulgaria”.

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

McCartney – Ten Years of Archive Reissues

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s now been a decade since Paul McCartney started his Archive Collection reissue campaign. There have been 12 albums given the Archive treatment so far, and they are about to added to in July with the release of Flaming Pie.

To mark the tenth anniversary, Paul Sinclair at the Super Deluxe Edition site has put together a special 52-page keepsake booklet featuring reviews of all the reissues to date and some additional analysis and features. The booklet is the same size and format as the books that come in the Archive Collection box sets, so it can be easily stored alongside them.

McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues will feature in-depth illustrated reviews of the McCartney reissues via a combination of archive content from the SuperDeluxeEdition.com website (some of it updated), alongside new reviews and fresh insight.

Sinclair has a bit of a track record already with these booklets. You might recall the one he issued for the Flowers In The Dirt Archive Collection releases. If that was anything to go by, this new one will be well worth getting hold of too.

There will be only 1000 numbered copies of McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues produced, and it’s only available via the SDE shop.

If you want to find out a little more on the details you can read about it here.

Flaming Pie – What We Already Have

By now you’re probably aware that the next installment in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection series will be his 1997 release, Flaming Pie. It is due out on July 31 and, as usual, there are a number of formats and packaging variations – some of which are proving a little contoversial with some fans objecting to the high prices be asked, especially for the Deluxe Box Set (which is 50% more expensive than its Venus and Mars equivalent from 2018), to the top-of-the-range Collectors Edition box, which is listed at a cool US$600.00!

You can see all the different iterations of the planned releases here, and read about them in one of our favourite sources of information and commentary – the SuperDeluxeEdition site – where there’s a great summary article, or just take a look at this promotional “unboxing” video:

So, we don’t feel the need to go into a lot of detail on what’s planned….

Rather, we’ve put together a look at what is already been officially out there in the form of Flaming Pie releases, plus collectable and non-album tracks – all of which is to included in the expensive new re-issue.

First up, the original vinyl editions of Flaming Pie from 1997. Unlike the forthcoming re-issues, this is a single LP. These are now fairly rare and fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Discogs, for example, has the sales history of UK pressings and it ranges from around US$100.00 to US$280.00. Here’s the UK press and, as usual, click on any of the images to see larger versions:

Both the UK and US pressings are gatefolds:And they contain an inner sleeve with lyrics and credits on both sides:

The UK vinyl and a close-up of the label:

The UK LP is distributed by MPL and Parlophone:

Flaming Pie was also issued on vinyl by Capitol in the USA. Ours is open but still in its shrink wrap with the hype sticker on the front: Because of the shrink we can’t show the US gatefold but here are the inner sleeves:

The label on the US pressing is a little more vibrant than the UK. Note the Capitol Records credit.

While on the subject of vinyl, there were three picture disc singles released from this album, but only in the UK. These all came in a clear plastic outer sleeve with a coloured cardboard insert. There was a different colour scheme for each single. First up was ‘Young Boy’ backed with the non-LP track, ‘Looking For You’:

The second single was ‘The World Tonight’/’Used To Be Bad’. Both songs are on Flaming Pie:

And then ‘Beautiful Night’ backed with a further non-album track, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’:

In our collection we have three versions of the original 1997 CD release of Flaming Pie. These come from, in descending order in the photos, the USA, UK and Australia:

These are all fairly straightforward. Not a lot of variation here, just some different barcode placements and slight changes in the colour printing. As you can see, the Australian version is quite a bit darker on the front and rear covers, and on the CD label itself.

Where it gets complicated is in the range of CD singles released from Flaming Pie in 1997, and the number of non-LP tracks of interest at the time for avid collectors. Let’s deal with two of the easiest to begin with.

In the US, the only CD single was ‘The World Tonight’. It came in a proper CD jewel case and has the non-LP bonus track ‘Looking For You’, plus a track called ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. This is an extract from a radio show of the same name broadcast on the American radio network Westwood One. It was hosted by Paul McCartney and contained demos, rehearsals, live performances, unreleased recordings and chat. There were six such extracts contained on the UK CD singles (more on this below), but the US only got one of them:

In Australia there was a slight variation to the US CD single release. The only song we got here was ‘Young Boy’, accompanied by the same bonus material offered on the US ‘World Tonight’ CD single – ‘Looking For You’ and ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. The CD came in a slimline plastic jewel case:

The real bonanza was the UK CD singles. Like the vinyl picture discs above there were three songs released – ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ and ‘Beautiful Night’. Each CD single had two additional tracks plus, available separately, were three more companion CD singles. Each also contains either ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ or ‘Beautiful Night’, plus an additional one or two “rarity” non-LP offerings. The main (or Part 1) CD single is in a full size jewel case, the companion (or Part 2) CD single is in a slimline CD case:

So, if you purchased all six of these CD singles in 1997 the non-LP extras you got were: ‘Looking For You’, ‘Broomstick’, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’ and ‘Same Love’, plus Parts 1-6 of the ‘Oobu Joobu’ radio show spread across the six singles.

The new Flaming Pie Collectors Edition, Deluxe box set, and the 2CD set will each contain the four non-LP songs, but it seems the ‘Oobu Joobu’ content (found only on the Collectors Edition and Deluxe box sets) will be different edits to the originals because they are all quite a bit shorter in duration.

While we’re on the subject of ‘Oobu Joobu’, in the USA when you purchased Flaming Pie at a Best Buy store, you received a voucher for a bonus CD of further ‘Oobu Joobu’ content. The CD was limited to 3000 copies. It contains a cut down version of Episode 5 of the show called ‘Ecology’. It runs 41:55.

In the Netherlands there was a Promo CD for ‘Young Boy’ issued to radio stations. It came in plain slimline jewel case:

And in the UK a Promo CD for ‘The World Tonight’:

And also one for ‘Beautiful Night’:

Both these came in a slimline jewel cases, with orange and yellow Flaming Pie logos stencilled onto their clear plastic doors.

Also included in the forthcoming re-issue box sets is McCartney’s 1996 collaboration with poet Allen Ginsberg called The Ballad of the Skeletons. This will be on the CD4-B-sides disc plus, in the US$600 Collectors Edition, it will be issued on vinyl for the first time as a 12” single with vinyl etching, and a poster.

Back in 1996 the four track Ballad of the Skeletons CD looked like this:Our copy is still sealed, so these CD and booklet images are courtesy of our friend Andrey:

 

(As usual, click on any of the images above to view larger versions.)

Music on Bones – Hearing Beatle Music the Hard Way

One of our favourite Beatle websites is The Beatles Get Back in the USSR – mostly because it’s a treasure trove of information on every aspect of Beatle collecting in Russia, but also because it is clearly a labour of love and a remarkable resource.

The level of research, scholarship and effort that’s been put into this site is immediately obvious. Not to mention the amazing and extensive image libraries accompanying each topic written about.

If, for example, you’re interested in all the different pressings and versions of Paul McCartney’s ‘Russian album’ Choba B CCCP (first issued on the Melodiya label in 1988), then you can’t go past the site’s chapters on it here (first edition – 11 tracks), here (mispressed edition – 12 tracks), and here (second edition – 13 tracks). The depth of information is impressive.

The latest example of this sort of thorough analysis has recently been uploaded to the site. 

Web pages for a chapter called Illegal and Semi-legal Beatles Releases in the USSR are the result of more than ten years of work to find records/images/information and to analyze and describe all the content – and it tells an extraordinary tale. These illegal and semi-legal releases bear witness to the extraordinary lengths people in Cold War Russia went to hear and share western music, especially rock’n’roll, and of course – Beatle music.

Right through the 1960s, and well into the1970’s, there were practically zero officially released Beatles records issued Russia. Rock music was considered decadent and not suitable for the masses. So, the people took matters into their own hands.

Using smuggled-in originals from England and Europe, they made their own un-official copies of songs the only ways they knew how. This was done using two main processes. The first was to utilise the many small, commercial recording booths that were dotted around Russian cities and towns. These were set up to record short audio ‘postcards’ that could be sent through the post. This was, back in the day, a popular way of sending loved ones a message along with a photograph of the place or holiday location you’d been visiting. They looked something like this:The postcard/record above is like a one-sided flexidisc, with the “message” recorded onto the picture side. But this particular example contains a recording of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’! These ‘postcard’ flexies played at 78rpm and only conatined enough space for one song. Also, the quality wasn’t great – but, you got to hear The Beatles in a country that didn’t allow you to freely listen to them.

The other means of copying and distribution was through home tinkerers who set up illegal recording lathes to cut Beatle songs directly onto old medical x-rays. Yes, medical x-rays. These became known as “music on bones” or “music on ribs” – for obvious reasons:These freaky-looking x-rays above both have a Beatle song cut into them and they can be played on a turntable.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and these thick celluloid sheets of x-ray film were one of the few resources available to people in Soviet Russia at the time.

Like the postcard/records, these “music on bones” play at 78rpm, and to be honest, to our ears now they don’t sound that great. But this was the only way that anyone was going to be able to hear this type of music at the time. And don’t forget – making them and owning recordings like these could get you into big trouble with the authorities. Some ended up in prison just because they wanted to listen to rock’n’roll.  

This is fascinating history and you can spend quite a while on the site discovering a lot more about this little-known avenue of Beatle collecting. A shout out to Andrey, an old friend of beatlesblogger.com and one of the contributors to the extraordinary research that has gone into creating this online resource.

Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the front page where you’ll see a series of images. These are all links leading to the sub-chapters with many examples, more detailed information and sometimes videos of the discs actually playing.

And see below for a short documentary on the strange story of Soviet “music on bones” – gramophone grooves cut onto x-rays of skulls, ribcages and bones:

McCartney on Songwriting

How does Paul McCartney write a song? What goes through his mind when he’s at the piano? What’s an “oobley” chord? And where do the lyrics come from when he’s noodling away?

Those were some of the questions Alan Alda asked Sir Paul when they sat down together for a lengthy chat recently on Alda’s regular podcast called Clear+Vivid:

McCartney has been interviewed more times than most people have had hot breakfasts, and so he can at times resort to re-telling the same, oft-told stories from his past. Frequently when you hear him interviewed there’s very little new or interesting on offer.

But, for the most part, that’s not the case here. In this podcast its more of a discussion, a meeting of the minds and Alda puts McCartney at ease. He sounds relaxed and at times unguarded. As the PR blurb says, we “…learn some of the never before heard secrets behind this legendary musician’s magic.”

Well worth a listen.  (Season7, Episode2, released on 03/03/2020)