More (and we mean more!) McCartney III Variations

Oh boy. Just when you thought that 9 vinyl colour variations, plus 2 CD cover variations – and a cassette – were enough, the folks at MPL and Capitol have devised even more ways to get you to buy the forthcoming McCartney III album – due out December 11.

If you are a collector of rare audio then hidden in amongst what, at first glance, looks like a merchandising onslaught are four bonus “secret demo” tracks. But to get them you have to buy four more copies of the main McCartney III CD. And as you’ll see there are LOTS of permutations….

It’s all a bit confusing. We’ll try to unpack it for you starting with what is available on the official US McCartney Store site (because it’s different on the UK McCartney store site).

First thing to get clear in your head are the colours: white, red, blue and yellow.

For example, on the US store you can buy a box containing a McCartney III white cover, store-exclusive mini-jacket CD (that includes one secret bonus demo track unique to that white cover CD), plus one of the following: a white McCartney III dice set in a pouch; a white McCartney III t-shirt; a white McCartney III cap; or a white McCartney III face mask.

These box sets are obviously custom printed, but also seem to be specially made to hold the CD too. If you look closely there is a black cardboard slot inside that surrounds the CD. It’s got an opening on the right hand side to get your finger in to neatly lift out the cover: If you prefer red you can buy a box containing a McCartney III red cover, store-exclusive mini-jacket CD (that includes one secret bonus demo track unique to that red cover CD), plus one of the following: a red McCartney III cap; a red McCartney III dice set in a pouch; a red McCartney III face mask; or a red McCartney III t-shirt.

And so on for the blue and yellow boxed CDs and merch.

Note however that each colour has a different McCartney III logo. (The pouch and logo for the dice sets remain the same though. Click on the image below for a larger version):

So, that means for the extremely keen collector of merchandise and audio you’d have to buy 16 boxes to get absolutely every variation – but, you still only end up with the same 4 “secret bonus demo tracks”.

Staying on the US site, if audio is your main thing, for US$7.33 you can purchase separately each of the four secret demo edition store-exclusives as mini-jacket CDs. These are the same as those in the merch-related box sets above. We believe (but it’s not definitive at this point) that the CDs contain the standard CD track listing, plus one unique demo for each colour. Here’s the yellow example. As you can see it comes in a simple card sleeve cover only – no booklet, etc:Or, for US$14.33, you can purchase separately each of the four secret demo colour-coded editions in what is described as a “Deluxe Edition” softpak CD cover. These we presume are similar to the standard retail CD packaging and will come with a gatefold and booklet. The yellow example is shown below and this would also contain the standard CD tracklisting plus the unique “yellow” secret bonus demo track:

So, for the absolute US completist they’d also have to buy four more copies of this CD to have every possible permutation.

It’s interesting that no details have been given about the titles of the four demo tracks. I guess that’s why they are secret!

Meanwhile, over at the UK McCartney store, the offer is slightly different. There, if you purchace one of the four coloured merchandise boxes on offer, you get all the merchandise (plus your CD colour of choice) in one box.

For example, if you order the white box it will bundle together the white cover, store-exclusive mini-jacket CD (including the “white cover” secret bonus demo track), the white dice set, white t-shirt, white cap, and white McCartney III face mask:

Likewise the red, blue and yellow bundles.

Also, unlike the US store, at the UK store you can’t get the simple card sleeve coloured versions separately, you only have the “Deluxe Edition” softpak CD on offer. But you can get just the red tee if you want, or just the blue dice, or just the yellow face mask. No need to get the bundle if you don’t want to.

On fan blogs and forums fans are debating this new announcement, not only trying to nut out all the confusing variations but also asking the question why? There are now 10 CD variations. Why so many permutations? And why make us buy multiple copies of the CD to add these four tracks of bonus materials to our collections?

One astute observer probably has it correct: “The whole reason for this is to juice the first-week sales of the ALBUM. Selling a CD single won’t do that. Between the four CD versions here, the green one, the regular one and the black/white/red/green/cokebottle/[blue]/pink vinyl versions (not even counting the yellow one, because hardly anyone got it), some members here will likely have purchased 5-10 copies of this EACH! Hello, Billboard…”

It’s not so much about money (though no doubt that plays a factor) – it’s about trying to get a Number 1 album on the charts the first week the record goes on sale.

Check out McCartney’s Twitter feed too.

‘We All Stand Together’ Unboxing and 4K Premiere

Paul McCartney’s faithful re-issue of his 1984 die-cut single ‘We All Stand Together’ is now out. It’s been done for the 100th anniversary of the cartoon character Rupert the Bear.

Paul Sinclair over at Super Deluxe Edition has done a video unboxing of how it looks:

McCartney has also issued on YouTube a newly-restored 4K version of the 1984 animated short film Rupert and the Frog Song. It was written and produced by Paul McCartney and directed by animator Geoff Dunbar:

Just out of interest we dragged out our copies of the original 1984 UK black vinyl 7″ single, and also the shaped picture disc. The black vinyl came in this picture sleeve:

The 1984 shaped picture disc came in a clear plastic cover:The sleeve is colour printed on the outside:Sadly, the shaped picture disc inside is showing definite signs of age. The clear vinyl is yellowing quite a bit in places.  Here’s the A-side:

And the B-Side (note the yellowing around the edges):

Compare this to the 2020 edition:

 

McCartney III – Rumours and Expectations Build


It’s looking more and more as though Paul McCartney’s rumored third “one-man-band” album, McCartney III is set for a release announcement very shortly.

It kind of makes sense. Like everyone, Paul has been in isolation and no doubt has been in his home studio a lot as a result.

His long-time lead guitarist Rusty Anderson, who’s been recording and performing with McCartney since 2001, appeared on the Tone-Talk! podcast at the end of September and pretty much confirmed the McCartney solo set saying: “Paul said that he — ’cause we’ve been hangin’ in Covid — he basically, kind of, finished a record. ‘Cause he had, sort of, nothin’ to do but go down to his studio and record, y’know? So, he sort of, did everything himself. I think there’s a song that we ended up on, that we cut earlier.”

And, as he’s done in the past, McCartney is using his considerable social media presence – and streaming services – to drop subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints.

For example, if you play any song from McCartney or McCartney II on Spotify at the moment a hand continually picks up a dice and rolls a three:

That “dice” motif is continued in a low-key way on his official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Here’s Twitter:

Here’s Insta:

And of course Facebook, where he’s promoting that Spotify playlist (which is all tracks where Paul plays all the instruments), and it states: “It’s coming up, it’s coming up, it’s coming up like a flower…”, and the dice with the THREE is there again.

Then there’s the obvious symmetry to the release years for McCartney, McCartney II, and a potential McCartney III = 1970/1980/2020.

I think we can expect an announcement soon. And that it will be a December, 2020 release.

What do you think?

Drop us a line in the Comments section below.

New George Harrison For RSD Black Friday

This year Record Store Day just keeps on giving.

We’ve already had the main Record Store Day release program for 2020 spread out over three separate “drops”. This has stretched out the process considerably.

And now the folks at RSD are adding to that with the traditional Black Friday set of releases thrown into the mix as well.

Amonst the Black Friday offerings (which is November 27 this year) is one for Beatle collectors, a 45 rpm single of George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’/’Isn’t It A Pity’:

This will be limited to 7,500 copies worldwide, and comes in a re-created picture sleeve – the one pressed for the Portuguese market in the former Portuguese colony of Angola back in 1970. Curious to know if it will come complete with the same mis-spelling on the B-side of the original, ‘Ins’t It A Pity’?

Not sure why we’re getting this Angola/Portuguese picture sleeve, but it looks cool. I guess this is in line with the Beatles’ The Singles Collection box set that came out about this time last year, with every Beatle single in a picture sleeve from a different place around the world?

(Just as an FYI – Valentim de Carvalho CI SARL was a Portuguese record company that, in a joint venture with EMI, had the contract for pressing Beatle and Beatle-related titles back in the 1960’s and 70’s. They had a plant in Angola which, back then, was still a Portuguese colony. Aparently the quality of these pressings was excellent.)

Note that this reissue single is listed as a ‘RSD First Release’. These titles are sold first at independent record stores, but may also be released to other retailers or webstores at some point in the future.

For the full RSD Black Friday release list click on the icon below.

 

Two Lennon Books, and an Apple CD

With COVID-19 restrictions now easing quite a bit in most parts of Australia (sadly still not for our friends in Melbourne, Victoria – we’re thinking of you guys!), some of the previously closed opportunity shops around Sydney are re-opening and getting back to normal.

One near us that’s been completely closed for at least six months has suddenly opened its doors once again, and so a forage there over the weekend turned up a couple of interesting items.

With what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday looming large this coming Friday, it was a coincidence that all three of the finds where Lennon-related.

They are two books, We All Shine On – The Stories Behind Every John Lennon Song, 1970-1980 and John Lennon – In My Life.

We All Shine On – The Stories Behind Every John Lennon Song, 1970-1980 is by journalist and author Paul Du Noyer.

This is an original Australian edition paperback in a large format, dated 1997. It’s a book that’s been published and re-published numerous times over the years. According to Du Noyer’s website, the latest version is from 2020. The book is also available in German, Spanish, Italian and Czech language editions.

The title says it all: it is the track-by-track story of John Lennon’s last ten years, revealed through the music he made.

In fact we already had a revised and updated UK edition of this same title (in a small paperback format from 2010), but this earlier edition has a slightly different layout. Here are some images of what’s inside:

The second book is quite a fascinating account from former Lennon friend and personal assistant, Pete Shotton (as told to Nicholas Schaffner):

Pete Shotton’s friendship with John Lennon spanned more than thirty years, from the time they met as children in Liverpool to their last meeting in John’s Dakota apartment building in New York. They grew up together in the leafy Liverpool suburb of Woolton and Pete stayed close right through his friend’s rise to fame, wealth and stardom – not as a hanger-on, but as a trusted buddy or mate whom Lennon valued. He was someone who knew Lennon well and didn’t treat him like a star.

Nicholas Schaffner is an author and acknowledged Beatle expert – probably best known for his book The Beatles Forever. In this book Shotton and Schaffner reveal an insider’s view of many of the key public events in Beatle history, but also the private life of John Lennon throughout his career.

As you can see, the text is accompanied by many photographs and documents to help tell the story. This book is well worth seeking out if you haven’t got it already. It was first published in 1983. Here’s the rear cover (and yes, it’s a reverse image of the front):

Also in amongst the CD’s at the opportunity shop was this Apple recording. The photos are ‘as-found’ as they tell a bit of a story in themselves:

This is John Tavener’s The Whale. Tavener was a young classical composer signed to The Beatles’ Apple label in 1969. And it was John Lennon who was influential in making that happen. From the CD booklet:

“Although it was Ringo Starr who became Tavener’s main contact at Apple and who was responsible for getting The Whale onto disc, it was in fact Lennon – contrary to stories elsewhere – who took the first initiative and provided the composer with an introduction to the company. [They] first met in 1969, at a dinner party in London’s Hereford Square, and they marked the occasion by swapping tapes of their latest works. Lennon brought along his avant-garde experiments with Yoko Ono, whilst Tavener played extracts from his opera Notre Dame Des Fleurs, and the BBC recording of The Whale. On the strength of the opera, Lennon invited Tavener to join Apple, although it was The Whale which eventually sufaced on the label.”

The Whale is based on the the story of Jonah and the Whale, and has been described as both a ‘dramatic cantata’ and a ‘Biblical fantasy’. It is performed by the London Sinfonietta and the London Sinfonietta Chorus, conducted by David Atherton. It was recorded in 1970. This CD edition though came out as part of the Apple Records re-issue program in 1991/1992.

It’s interesting to note that the original purchaser of this disc (her name and address is on a sticker on the back) paid $46.99 Australian for it at the time! That’s US$33.74 by today’s exchange rate, or £26 UK pounds. That’s a lot of money – even today. It would have been a huge amount in 1992. The record store JB Hi Fi (it’s a big Australian music chain store) has put a “JB Hi Fi Special Import Sticker” on the spine of the jewel case.

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

Paul McCartney’s ‘We All Stand Together’ 7″ Picture Disc

Well, here we all were, waiting for something like a Plastic Ono Band 50th anniversary deluxe re-issue, or maybe even a big All Things Must Pass 50th anniversary box set.

Heck, some fans were even speculating about an LP of brand new solo music from Paul McCartney that had supposedly been recorded in lockdown. They’d even given it a title already: McCartney III….

But which announcement did we get?

To mark what would have been the 100th anniversary of the cartoon character Rupert the Bear on November 6 we’ll be getting this:

Now, we’re not against novelty items like this. Not at all. Nor are we against Paul McCartney’s dedicated support of the art of animation over the years. It’s great. But ‘We All Stand Together’ by Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus is a very long way away from the Plastic Ono Band album, or George Harrison’s triple LP opus All Things Pass. I guess it’s a case of expectation meeting reality…..

Having said all that, ‘We All Stand Together’ (a.k.a. ‘The Frog Song’) is really quite sweet and beautifully orchestrated and produced by George Martin. This limted edition 7″ single cut-out shaped picture disc will be a faithfull reproduction of the original shaped picture disc that came out in 1984. As then, it will accompany the re-release (in lovely 4K quality, and with a new audio mix) of the short animated film Rupert and the Frog Song that McCartney began work on in 1981 with animator Geoff Dunbar. In it Paul voices the character of Rupert.

‘We All Stand Together’ has been remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Alex Wharton along with the B-side instrumental ‘We All Stand Together (Humming Version)’, which was also included on the original release.

The single features The King’s Singers and the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral.

‘We All Stand Together’ is available for pre-order now, and the cleaned up film Rupert and the Frog Song will be re-released on YouTube on November 6.

Buy George Harrison’s ‘Rocky’ Fender Guitar

Fender Guitars has a custom shop that replicates some of their old and most famous models exactly.

One of their latest projects is George Harrison’s legendary hand-painted Fender Stratocaster called ‘Rocky’:

The original ‘Rocky’ was a pale blue 1961 Strat that, sometime in 1967, was creatively decorated by George using dayglo poster paints and nail polish.

You can find out more about ‘Rocky’ here.

Can’t see any prices mentioned on the Fender website, but I guess if you have to ask the price you can’t afford it!

This replica certainly looks amazing, and because it is strictly limited it is a guitar that will definitely be an investment as it will only go up in value. And it is a beautiful work of art to boot.

Back in January Fender displayed a couple of early versions of these replicas as a teaser. They are now for sale. Turns out there are just 100 available……

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 out here: