The Beatles ‘Let It Be’ Unboxings

Quite a few Let It Be super deluxe unboxing videos are starting to pop up all over the internet.

Here’s Paul Sinclair’s unboxing of the 5 LP vinyl set. As usual, it is one of the best you’ll find out there:

And here’s an unboxing of the 5 CD 1 Blu-ray set from a collector in Japan:

A couple of things to note.

It’s interesting that the CD box set outer shell, book, folder and CD covers are all done in a matte finish, not shiny and glossy throughout – like you see in the LP set video. We didn’t know about that difference until we saw these unboxings.

It’s also great that, for the first time vinyl collectors are getting a full-sized, 100 page book to go with their records. And that Apple/UMe have produced two different sized books – one for the LP set, and a smaller format (with exactly the same content) for the CD box. That’s a lot of extra effort, but greatly appreciated.

Finally, despite a few complaints from some fans about the breadth of extra content on these discs, there’s generally been a very positive vibe about this reissue so far and the feeling that Giles Martin and his team have done a great job on the sound of the re-mix.

We can’t wait for our sets to arrive Downunder from the USA (where its a LOT cheaper than buying locally)!

Song Exploder does Lennon’s ‘God’, and the McCartney Podcast ‘Take It Away’ is Back

Song Exploder is one of the biggest music podcasts going around.

Host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway works with musicians to take apart their songs and, piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made – delving into the specific decisions that went into creating the work. Guests have included Fleetwood Mac, Billie Eilish, U2, Metallica, Solange, Lorde, Yo-Yo Ma, The Roots, Bon Iver, and more. Here’s the full list of episodes.

Now, Song Exploder has taken a deep dive into John Lennon’s song ‘God’, from his 1970 solo album Plastic Ono Band. It’s the first time Hrishikesh has unpacked a song posthumously, teaming up with the Lennon Estate for a special, first-of-its kind episode using demos, out-takes, multitracks and interviews from their vaults.

“Earlier this year, I got an amazing email—the estate of John Lennon said that they have a treasure trove of audio material from his life, and they were wondering if I would be interested in making an episode around the song ‘God‘. I’ve never tried making a posthumous episode before, because hearing directly from the artist is at the heart of Song Exploder. But with all the interview archives that they have of him speaking, plus all the isolated tracks from the recordings, and the original demo, it actually seemed possible. So this is a very different and special episode of the show.”

Speaking about the episode on Instagram Sean Ono Lennon said “I’m a big fan of Song Exploder and the way Hrishi analyzes songwriting and recording using the multitracks and sessions and the creator’s voice. The shows are always intelligent, well-researched and beautifully edited, so we felt comfortable and confident opening up the archive to them to tell the story of this important song’s creation. They’ve done an amazing job and I’m excited for everyone to hear this special episode.”

In the episode we hear from John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Billy Preston, and psychologist Arthur Janov.

Meanwhile in other podcast news, the very good Take It Away: The Complete Paul McCartney Archive Podcast is back.

After the tragic death of co-host Ryan Brady last year in a motoring accident, his podcast partner Chris Mercer has (understandably) been lying low for a while. The good news is that the show has returned.

Two weeks ago Mercer posted on Facebook: “I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome Paul Kaminski as the new co-host of Take It Away. Many of you will have guessed as much already. When it comes to the Beatles, Paul Kaminski is the real deal. He’s also a highly accomplished podcaster, having worked on the Jack White-related Third Men Podcast, the Beatles podcast Yesterday and Today, The Lucy & Annabel Show, and Now Hear This!, which he co-founded with Ryan Brady. We‘ve already had a productive collaboration going for some time, and we can’t wait to talk everyone’s heads off about music we love!”

The new team of Mercer and Kaminski sound great together and have released the final episode of Season 4 in which they unpack Paul McCartney’s McCartney III Imagined.

And they’ve announced there’ll be a Season 5 coming this fall. “While we will honor the show’s roots by covering McCartney‘s latest projects and expanding our Macca-related offerings, Paul and I are eager to take TIA to new places, and we think you’ll enjoy what we have planned” said Mercer.

McCartney’s The Lyrics: Special Edition

Penguin Books, publishers of Paul McCartney’s forthcoming book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, have announced there’s to be a Special Edition.

It is a very limited boxed set of the two-volume compendium of 154 songs with accompanying stories, photos, drafts and artifacts associated with each song from the McCartney archives.

Just 175 copies of this will make their way into the world. They are each signed by Paul McCartney, and come in a bright orange textured outer binder with the words to ‘Hey Jude’ embossed in the fabric.

The Special Edition is being distributed only to selected bookstores in the UK and the USA, and has a recommended retail price of US$2083.00 (or UK £1500.00), though some stores appear to be taking bids on the signed book, a bit like an auction.

The stores with the Special Edition in the UK were all listed on a Penguin Books website for a few days, but this now seems to have disappeared. Perhaps all copies have been sold already? The stores in the US are listed here.

For us mere mortals (i.e. poor people!) it joins two other more affordable editions. The one to be published in the UK under the Allen Lane imprint has this outer box and plain book spines for each volume:

And the other – in the US – will be published by Liveright Books. Their edition comes in a bright green outer box and has an image of McCartney on each spine:

The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present is published worldwide on November 2.

On Saturday, November 6 there’s to be a special event in London Paul McCartney In Conversation where he will appear live at the Southbank Royal Festival Hall along with the book’s editor Paul Muldoon. Tickets for the live event, and to join in online, are on sale here.

The official McCartney YouTube channel has also released this teaser video with Paul speaking to Bob Mortimer at the British Library about the inspiration for his song ‘Rocky Racoon’.

The Fan Who Almost Threw a £10k Beatle Record Away

We love stories like this. This is the tale of a rare Beatle item that almost ended up as landfill. It comes from the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

A British man named Derek Plant was clearing out some records purchased by his late father at a car boot sale some 40 years ago when, by complete accident, he discovered an extremely rare Beatle acetate that no-one knew was there.

It was a recording of the song ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, made in September 1968. It’s an early take that is quite different to the one that eventually appeared on The White Album:

Back in the day acetate recordings were created at the studio when an artist wanted to take home an example of a song they were working on to listen to some more. They don’t stand up to many plays and are fairly fragile things. In this case an acetate was made for Paul McCartney.

How it came to be in that car boot sale box of records is unknown, but Derek was about to take it to the tip. Unbeknownst to him the rare disc was tucked away inside the cover of this children’s novelty record:

As he was packing his van the Ken Dodd and the Diddymen record just happened to fall out of the box, land on the driveway, and it was only then it revealed it’s Beatle treasure inside. The acetate had been hidden inside that record sleeve all along. Having been a Beatle collector for years, Derek knew immediately that he’d discovered something very special.

The acetate is now up for auction at Omega Auction House’s Beatles Auction in the UK where online bids close on September 28. It is Lot 100. The top estimate by Omega is for the 7″ disc to fetch £10,000 (that’s about US$13,800 or AUS$18,900).

It’s on the way to that figure. At the time of writing someone has already bid £5,000. Not bad for a record that was so very close to being literally thrown away.

Another Joe Strummer for Record Store Day

Dark Horse Records has just announced there’ll be a further single taken from the Joe Strummer ‘best of’ compilation, Assembly, from earlier this year.

The label will be releasing, as part of Record Store Day Black Friday, a limited edition pink vinyl 12″ single with ‘Johnny Appleseed’ as the A-side and ‘At the Border, Guy’ as the B-side.

The 12″ will be limited to 4,500 copies worldwide and is out on 26 November. The single celebrates the 20th anniversary of Strummer’s album Global A Go-Go.

Both included tracks are remastered by Paul Hicks (The Beatles/John Lennon/The Rolling Stones/David Bowie) and will be cut at 45rpm on 12” vinyl for maximum audio quality.

The first single from Assembly was the picture disc 12″ of ‘Junco Partner’, released for Record Store Day Drop 1 on June 12.

Like Some Forgotten Dream – Book Review

In the lead-up to the re-mixed Let It Be album and all it’s associated special releases, and The Beatles: Get Back – the mammoth three-part, six-hour Peter Jackson film looking at the final days of the Beatles as a band – its tantalising to speculate on just what might have been had the band not called it a day back in 1970.

Enter Daniel Rachel’s new book, Like Some Forgotten Dream – What if the Beatles Hadn’t Split Up?

The first part of that title derives from the first two lines of ‘Real Love’, a John Lennon song recorded long after his death by the “Threetles” – the three surviving members of The Beatles: Paul, George and Ringo. Its a clever reference to exactly what is going on in this book: what if this incredible band actually went on to record again instead of going their separate ways in 1970?

This requires the reader to susupend disbelief for a moment around what is a very big “what if” question, but basing that suspension firmly around evidence and real events. Author Daniel Rachel steps us through a very well-researched premise that things in fact could have – with just a few changed decisions by the Beatles – worked out very differently.

This book is not a novel. It’s what I’d describe as ‘informed speculation’. It takes real facts and cleverly strings them together to form a narrative that proposes a possibility. Its a bit like that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors which examines an alternate reality of what might happen in a person’s life if just one or two decisions are different.

In-depth and scholarly, this book is, on the whole, exceptionally well-researched. Even if you can’t bring yourself to believe the book’s central premise, along the way you’ll learn heaps about The Beatles, their music, and what was going on around them at the time of their break-up.

Author Rachel delves into events and real statements made by John, Paul, George and Ringo in interviews that play into the story he is telling. As he states in his Introduction “Often, this necessitated taking words out of context to serve the argument, but it is important to stress that no words have been invented. Like Some Forgotten Dream is a fantasy [but] the information used – dates, facts, interviews – is all genuine.” He goes on: “The fantasy involves retracing the last years of the group’s working relationship, from the personal and the political to the artistic and the financial. The tragic death of manager Brian Epstein, the fragmented recording of the White Album and, in 1969, the problematic Get Back/Let It Be sessions that spawned a year of internal rancour and bitterness.”

Rachel skillfully re-evaluates all these areas, and through this we as readers catch a glimpse of an alternative to what really happened – a world where the band fought just a bit harder to stay together, compromised a little more, and negotiated their way through all their disagreements to release another Beatle album to add to the canon.

Like Some Forgotten Dream is presented in two parts. Part One: ‘Don’t Upset the Apple Cart’ examines the world of the Beatles pretty much from 1966 (the time they decided to stop being a touring band) through to late 1969/early 1970 and the eventual, drawn-out demise of the band. The sections on the Twickenham and Apple Studios Get Back/Let It Be sessions, their final live roof-top performance, and the sessions for Abbey Road are fascinatiing in their detail – essentail reading as we await the release of the newly remixed Let It Be album and its many outtakes due later this year.

Part Two is called ‘Four Sides of The Beatles’. It imagines that John, Paul, George and Ringo stay together to release one more double LP. This is based on a real suggestion put forward by Lennon in the dying days of the band: that each Beatle gets one side of an LP and is given free reign to fill it with their own songs. Daniel Rachel calls this album Four Sides of the Beatles and again, using real events and what actually transpired once they became solo artists, posits what those songs might have been.

Again, we learn heaps about the origins of real songs – songs which in many instances were released on solo albums. But here we’re invited to imagine what the end results might have sounded like with magic Beatle dust being sprinkled across each track as all four band members contribute to them in different ways.

I was a little sceptical about this book at first. I’m not usually big on speculative stories like this, but because this is not a fictionalised account but rather a premise firmly based around facts to build it’s case, Like Some Forgotten Dream turns out to be a fascinating read. It is well worth you it seeking out.

Daniel Rachel is a musician turned award-winning author. His previous books include the NME and Guardian Book of the Year Isle of NoisesEvening Standard Book of the Year Don’t Look Back in Anger, and Walls Come Tumbling Down, which was described as ‘triumphant’ by the Guardian and ‘superlative…brilliant’ by Q magazine, and was awarded the prestigious Penderyn Music Book Prize in 2017.

Like Some Forgotten Dream is published by Cassell, an imprint of Octopus Books. It was released on August 26 in the UK, and will be available in other territories shortly.

Lennon – Imagine 50

On September 9, 2021, John Lennon’s Imagine LP turns 50 years-old.

With that anniversary comes a new logo, and a new opportunity to sell the LP to us once more….this is despite it having had something of a spectacular re-mix campaign reissue just three years ago in a wide range of formats.

To celebrate it’s 50th, Universal Music yesterday announced a 50th anniversary, limited-edition “collectors” white vinyl 2LP of Imagine.

This features the exact same 2018 “Ultimate Mix” of the album by engineer Paul Hicks and produced by Yoko Ono on disc 1, and the exact same set of album outtakes on disc 2.

When that 2LP set was issued in 2018 it was offered on a 2LP black vinyl:

And there was also a limited edition 2LP clear vinyl set:

As you can see, its now a case of “spot the difference” with this latest white vinyl iteration:

So, what do you think? Will you be buying it one more time?

The white vinyl version ships on September 10th. Here’s the track listing:

Side A
1. Imagine
2. Crippled Inside
3. Jealous Guy
4. It’s So Hard
5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

Side B
6. Gimme Some Truth
7. Oh My Love
8. How Do You Sleep?
9. How?
10. Oh Yoko!

Side C
11. Imagine (Original demo recorded at Ascot)
12. Imagine (Take 1)
13. Crippled Inside (Take 3)
14. Crippled Inside (Take 6 alternate guitar solo)
15. Jealous Guy (Take 9)
16. It’s So Hard (Take 6)

Side D
17. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (Take 25)
18. Gimme Some Truth (Take 4)
19. Oh My Love (Take 6)
20. How Do You Sleep? (Takes 1 & 2)
21. Oh Yoko! (From Bed Peace footage – Sheraton Hotel, Bahamas 1969)

That’s not a Collection. THIS is a Collection.

The recent McCartney III release, and its follow-up McCartney III Imagined, will probably go down in history as having the most vinyl colour, cover artwork and physical format variations of any Beatle or Beatle-related release ever.

For the McCartney III LP, CD and cassette we produced this chart to help keep track:

(click on the image to see a larger version)

That’s no less than12 LPs in different colours (not counting the very rare Third Man Records test pressing – of which only 3 copies were made available in the world), 12 CD variants with colour, cover or track-listing differences, and 2 cassettes. It also doesn’t include all the different bundles that came in boxes containing either tee-shirts, dice, etc.

Then, as the variants of McCartney III Imagined started to pile up, we produced this chart:

(click on the image to see a larger version)

Here you can see there were 10 LPs in different colours and/or cover artwork, 6 CDs, and again two different cassette variations.

If you’ve ever wondered if anyone has actually succeeded in collecting absolutely every variation of those two releases, wonder no more.

One of our readers this week sent in this amazing image of all the variants he collected of these two releases and we think you’ll agree it is mighty impressive:

From what we can see for McCartney III he doesn’t have absolutely everything, but comes pretty darn close! Obviously missing is the very limited Third Man Records pressing on yellow and black vinyl and sporting a unique cover design. There were only 333 copies of this pressed. These were available only via the Third Man Records website, and only for a very limited time before all were snapped up.

As for the McCartney III Imagined LPs, CD,s and cassettes though…..we reckon he’s got the full set of everything. What an impressive collection!

At Last – A Blue Box for The Beatles Singles Collection

For quite a few years now we’ve had in the collection a complete set of all the Beatles UK singles that go inside the 1982 box set, The Beatles Singles Collection.

Only thing is, we didn’t have the lovey blue box with gold embossed writing to hold them.

Until now.

We’ve been searching on eBay and other places for quite some time to find an empty box in excellent condition. Have even bid on a couple over the years, but have never been successful.

Then, a few weeks back, a very nice example came up for sale, and here it is:

This box has the catalogue number BSCP1:

That BSCP1 marking means that the box should contain all 22 singles The Beatles released between 1962-1970, plus 4 singles that were issued following the break-up (‘Yesterday’ from March, 1976; ‘Back In The USSR’ from June, 1976; ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends’ from September, 1978; and ‘The Beatles Movie Medley’ from May, 1982). Each should also be housed in unique paper picture sleeves, plus (and this is what delineates this release from the earlier BSC1 Singles box), a picture disc of ‘Love Me Do’ should also be included.

So, that’s 27 discs in all.

It should also have a blue paper insert detailing the complete list of singles with recording dates, release dates and chart positions.

Each single has labels reproduced just as they would have been in the UK at the time of original release too. That means the first two singles, ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Please Please Me’, are on the red Parlophone label:

From the singles ‘From Me To You’ through to ‘Lady Madonna’, the labels are the black and silver Parlophone/EMI:

Then, from ‘Hey Jude’ through to ‘Let It Be’, we get the green Apple label:

Here are the covers and labels for the four additional singles, ‘Yesterday’, ‘Back In The USSR’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends’, and ‘The Beatles Movie Medley’:

The final single in this set is a ‘Love Me Do’ picture disc, housed in its original clear plastic sleeve:

Here’s the picture disc image on the flipside:

So, at last a blue box for The Beatles Singles Collection (BSCP1). See also our posts on the 1978 edition of 25 singles called The Beatles Collection; the Australian edition blue box containing all the LPs – also called The Beatles Collection. And the CD Singles Collection (two versions), and The Compact Disc EP Collection.

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

Ringo Starr Announces New EP

Ringo Starr has taken a somewhat unusual route to annouce the forthcoming release of his new EP, Change The World.

He appeared live yesterday on the US online marketing channel, talkshoplive®.

talkshoplive® is the first live streaming, social buying and selling platform that allows anyone, anywhere to sell and buy products – from mops to mopeds, frying pans to pearls. And, it seems, records, CDs and cassette tapes from former Beatles (the platform carried a pre-recorded plug from Paul McCartney at the time of the release of his McCartney III album late last year).

The difference here was that Ringo chatted to talkshoplive’s Steve Harkins for just over 45 minutes before throwing to a YouTube clip that debuted the title track of the new EP, ‘Let’s Change the World’.

True to his word last year when announcing the EP Zoom In, Ringo confirmed he’d only ever be releasing extended plays (or EP’s) from now on. Change The World contains just 4 new tracks – recorded in lockdown.

There’s the lead single ‘Let’s Change The World’, written by Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather; ‘Just That Way’, written by Ringo and Bruce Sugar; ‘Coming Undone’, written by Linda Perry and featuring Trombone Shorty; and Ringo’s version of the blues-rock track ‘Rock Around The Clock’. 

Change The World arrives in full on September 24th in CD form:

It’ll also be available on that same date in cassette form:

If you are after the 10″ vinyl you’ll have to wait until November 19: