McCartney’s Egypt Station – Explorer’s Edition Officially Announced

The rumour mill has been humming for weeks, but it’s now official.

There will be yet another version of the Paul McCartney album Egypt Station to collect. The Egypt Station – Explorer’s Edition is to be released on May 17.

After the super-deluxe, suitcase Egypt Station – Traveller’s Edition was announced many fans who just wanted the new music it contained and not all the trinkets (like jigsaw puzzles, playing cards and the like), were hopeful that stand-alone – and way cheaper – CD and LP sets would be made available. Now, that wish has been granted.

Sporting a cool new colour variation on the original cover art, Egypt Station – Explorer’s Edition is comprised of the original record plus a second album, Egypt Station II. The bonus disc collects all the bonus materials that were to be included in the super deluxe Traveller’s Edition.

The Explorer’s Edition will come in three forms: as a digital download, as a two CD set and as a triple 180 gram “Limited Edition” black vinyl LP. 

There has been speculation that there’d also be a coloured vinyl version, but the official announcement today makes no mention of it.
However, it has popped up as available for pre-order on the Canadian Musicvaultz online music store site – but it’s already listed as sold out – and at the German JPC online store where it is still listed as available:The track listing for the Egypt Station II bonus disc is:
Get Started *
Nothing For Free *
Frank Sinatra’s Party [previously unreleased]
Sixty Second Street [previously unreleased]
Who Cares [full length version]
Get Enough [previously available only as a digital download]
Come On To Me [recorded live at Abbey Road Studios]
Fuh You [recorded live at The Cavern]
Confidante [recorded live at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts]
Who Cares [recorded live at Grand Central Station]
* [previously only available on Egypt Station CDs purchased at Target (US), HMV (UK), and some independent record stores, and on the Japanese release of Egypt Station]
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More ABC Radio Beatle LP Podcasts

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

As each album marks its anniversary ABC Radio presenter Rod Quinn speaks to US John Lennon biographer and Beatle expert Jude Southerland Kessler. Jude is the author of the extraordinary (and ambitious!) nine-volume John Lennon narrative biography. The latest instalment in Jude’s amazing series was released late last year – Volume 4: Should Have Known Better (to see the details scroll down after clicking).

Well, after a bit of a break, the pair are back. In October last year they took a look back at both sides of the original Yellow Submarine album:

Then came the big one, The Beatles (or The White Album) 50th Anniversary. It took Jude and host Rod Quinn some time to work through all four sides of the legendary album on air, but they’ve put the results together in one, long podcast:

They also talked through highlights of The Esher Demos bonus disc that came with 50th Anniversary release of The White Album last year:

Each of these podcasts are very insightful – and really are well worth a listen.

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

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

John Lennon – Record Store Day 2019

Universal Music and the organisers of Record Store Day have announced that John Lennon’s Imagine [Raw Studio Mixes] will be released as a Limited Edition on heavyweight 180-gram black vinyl for Record Store Day 2019:

“These mixes capture the exact moment John and The Plastic Ono Band recorded each song raw and live on the soundstage located at the center of Ascot Sound Studios at John & Yoko’s home in Tittenhurst. The tracks are devoid of effects (reverb, tape delays, etc.) offering a unique, unparalleled insight & an alternate take on the record. These mixes have been pressed in the original album sequence appearing for the first time on vinyl.”

Side A
• Imagine – Take 10 / Raw Studio Mix
• Crippled Inside – Take 6 / Raw Studio Mix
• Jealous Guy – Take 29 / Raw Studio Mix
• It’s So Hard – Take 11 / Raw Studio Mix
• I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier, Mama – Take 4 / Raw Studio Mix
Side B
• Gimme Some Truth – Take 4 / Extended / Raw Studio Mix
• Oh My Love – Take 20 / Raw Studio Mix
• How Do You Sleep? – Take 11 / Raw Studio Mix
• How? – Take 40 / Raw Studio Mix
• Oh Yoko! – Take 1 / Raw Studio Mix

The official Record Store Day release list is a little confusing as it lists this as a 2xLP package, but in other places it is referenced as definitely just one disc. There will be 5,500 copies made available worldwide.

Rob Stevens, who worked on the Raw Studio Mixes for the John Lennon Imagine: The Ultimate Collection box set from last year says:

“The Raw Studio Mixes are the basic track performances of the musicians playing together in the same rather cramped room….There are no effects placed on the instruments or vocal, e.g. chamber reverb and tape slap for example. Just a bit of EQ and compression when the nature of a particular track warranted it.

John was notorious for wanting his voice bathed in both, and mixed as part of, rather than above the track, so at times you had to really focus your ears and mind to hear his nuances and lyrics clearly.

In the Raw Studio Mixes, there is none of that. John is front and center – clear, unadulterated, live and raw.

Whereas Double Fantasy Stripped Down does have some production enhancements and overdubs, The Imagine Raw Studio Mixes are completely raw and unadorned – they capture the sessions before the gloss was added. The unique challenge in mixing the songs with Yoko was to balance the instruments in a way that fused them into a whole while keeping each individual performance clear, but without the benefit of reverb and effects to do so.”

Record Store Day this year is Saturday, April 13.

Great New Beatle-related Movie – “Yesterday”

Imagine you woke up one day and there were no Beatles.

No one you speak to has ever heard of them, and there are no references to the band or their songs online, in music stores, libraries, or anywhere. But….you can remember them clearly, and you know how to play their songs.

That’s the premise of an interesting new comedy movie coming out later this year called Yesterday. It comes from Danny Boyle (who directed Slum Dog Millionaire and Trainspotting), and Richard Curtis (the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually).

Jack (played by Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter who dreams of making it big, but his career is going nowhere. His biggest supporter is his best friend, Ellie (Lily James). Then, something mysterious happens. During some sort of global electrical blackout, Jack gets hit by a bus and wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Only thing is, he remembers them clearly, starts to perform their songs, and from there things really start to get interesting….

Yesterday looks like it will be real fun for Beatle fans. It is due in movie theatres on June 28.

The Beatles, “Let It Be”, and Peter Jackson

Of course you’ll have heard by now that the multi-award winning film maker Peter Jackson has been selected by to re-cut the hours of Let It Be footage and audio from the winter of 1969 into an entirely new film.

We’ve been letting that huge news from last week sink in and percolate a bit – and have come to the conclusion that it’s a stroke of genius by the remaining Beatles and their Apple company.

We all know that the original Let It Be film has been languishing in the vaults for years, with seemingly no chance of unanimous agreement amongst the four-headed monster that controls these things (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison) that a re-issue – on its own – would ever get the green light.

But giving all the footage (over 55 hours of never-before-seen film and 140 hours of audio) to the Oscar-winning Jackson is something of a masterstroke.

First and foremost is the fact that Peter Jackson (who made the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies) is a mad keen Beatle fan, and has been for decades.

Secondly, his most recent project – the documentary film They Shall Not Grow Old – has seen he and his team at Park Road Post in Wellington, New Zealand, work wonders with the restoration and colorization of old photos and never-before-seen footage from World War I. The film was made to commemorate the centennial of the end of the war.

If you want proof of what they can do with footage and images from one hundred years ago just take a look at the trailer for They Shall Not Grow Old. It is breathtaking:

The services at Park Road Post include: restoration from scanned film – scratch and splice fixes, de-noise, image sharpening, stabilizing, re-speeding and re-timing; grading – black and white and final colour grading of specialised colour created footage; and dialogue recording, Foley, and pre and final sound mixing and mastering. So they are very capable experts in their field.

As to the legend that The Beatles’ time together during the filming of Let It Be was entirely fraught and only shows a band in its final death throes, Jackson – who has seen all the footage – begs to differ: “I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth. After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honoured to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

This all points to what should be something very special being produced.

As to fans who were worried that the new film would take the place of the original Let It Be, that it would forever consigned to the Apple dustbin, well that seems not to be the case. A restored version of director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s theatrical release is set to finally get its belated digital release “following the release of this new film”, according to Apple’s official announcement.

And, it’s kind of ironic that The Beatles once tried to obtain the film rights to The Lord of the Rings…..

Two New McCartney Box Set Downloads

As he has done in the past (for example with Flowers In The Dirt, Venus and Mars, etc.), Paul McCartney has just made available for free download two additional tracks not included in his two current Archive Collection box sets, Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway.

For fans and completists who simply must have everything officially available, these additional downloads when offered are welcome little “Easter Egg” extras to add to the materials in the box sets.

The reason behind why these two tracks didn’t quite make the final cut is explained at paulmccartney.com:

“When MPL began the research for Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, they had a good idea of what they would find in the audio archives. But, you can never be quite sure. The paperwork for the release was in good order, but often the more you look, the more gems you’re able to find. So, to make sure no stone went unturned, Paul’s audio team spent weeks listening to several days’ worth of material. Eventually this was whittled down to Paul’s preferences and what made sense for the story being told.

And sometimes you just end up having too many songs! So, as a thank you from us to you, we are happy to offer fans free downloads of two of those songs that did not make the final tracklisting…”

The first track is ‘Dear Friend (Orchestra Up)’. It’s an alternate version that comes from the Wild Life sessions:

“When Paul instructed arranger Richard Hewson about how to score the touching ‘Dear Friend’ – a note to former songwriting partner, John Lennon – he suggested it should sound, “as if there was an orchestra just over the hill. It wasn’t in your face. And when you’re at the top of the hill, there it is, full blown”. As often happens with a song, a number of mixes of ‘Dear Friend’ were done, to get the tone just right and, in this case, one of those mixes featured the orchestra playing a more prominent role.

For the release of Wild Life, it was decided to go with a version where the orchestra is a little more subtle, and today we’re happy to let you hear how it could have sounded.”

The other is ‘Hands Of Love (Take 2)’ from Red Rose Speedway:

“One of the – many! – highlights of Red Rose Speedway is the 11-minute medley that closes the release. Paul has mentioned previously how he enjoys writing medleys as it’s a challenge to make them fit together (it’s not always easy to go from one key to another, a certain amount of musical gymnastics are involved!). But even though a medley may be comprised of a number of songs, it doesn’t mean they’re recorded in one go. Often they’re pieced together after the recording. It’s a fascinating and chin-stroking process. The version of ‘Hands Of Love’ used in the medley of Red Rose Speedway was cut from the original tape and mixed with the other tracks to make the medley. However, we found the original tape had alternate takes, and this was our favourite.”

To get these downloads you’ll need to register as a user on the official Paul McCartney website, then go to his Download page and follow the prompts.