Two Books, Two CD Variations, and One DVD – Beatle Finds

We attended the quarterly fundraiser for a Sydney community radio station last week. About every three months the classical music station Fine Music 102.5 set up a hall full of tables loaded with donated books, CDs, DVDs, sheet music and a small number of vinyl records.

In the book section there was a very interesting Beatle-related book and a John Lennon book too. In the CD section we found two CD’s – both variations of titles already in the collection – by The Beatles and Paul McCartney. And amongst the DVDs a fun item featuring one Ringo Starr…..

First up, the Beatle-related book:Derek Taylor front

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today came out thirty years ago as part of what was then the 20th anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love. It uses the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP as a stepping off point to build an historical appreciation of what was a fairly wild and crazy year in music, art, fashion, politics, religion, relationships and generational change.

Written by a genuine Beatle insider (former Apple press officer Derek Taylor), this book is also associated with a television program of the same name released that year.

Derek Taylor is witty, erudite and clever at pulling together a massive amount of information to give a detailed impression of what was going on around the world in a year of countercutural change. The book includes lots of archive interviews, observations, and photographs as well as extensive transcripts from the Granada TV documentary. Really interesting.

Jump ahead about twenty-five years and you have the second book we discovered. It’s also a reminiscence of times past, evident in the title: Days That I’ll Remeber -Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Author Jonathan Cott has been a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and has written for The New York Times and The New Yorker. He is the author of 19 books on a wide range of topics, including works on Bob Dylan, classical music, children’s literature, and poetry – but especially music. Cott’s relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono dates back to 1968 when he went to interview them in their London flat. 

During that meeting a friendship was born that lasted for the rest of Lennon’s life, and continues today between Cott and Yoko Ono. It was Jonathan Cott who conducted what was to become the final Lennon print interview before his death. In Days That I’ll Remember Cott is presenting – for the first time – complete versions of all his significant interviews with the pair, and as such this is an important and significant work to have in the collection.The other finds are probably of lesser importance or interest, but we’ll detail them here for you anyway!

First up a CD version of The Beatles’ compilation album from 2000. Simply called 1 it contains (as the hype sticker on the front states) “27 No.1 singles on 1 CD”. Millions of these were sold around the world. So what’s new/different here? Only that this copy comes from South Africa, and there are a few distinguishing differences, namely the words “Made in the RSA” near the bar code on the rear:

There’s also a different, country-specific catalogue number there (CDPCSJ (WE) 7213), and it is also printed on the CD inside:

Plus there’s a really small logo on the left at the bottom. It has a musical note in it’s design, with some lettering that is tiny and difficult to read, but it says “A.S.A.M.I. Seal of Approval”. We’re guessing that is (or was) some sort of South African recording industry association that vouched for the autheticity of the pressing:

Otherwise all other presentation and content will be very familiar if you already have this CD:

Also on the CD tables was Paul McCartney’s 1997 large-scale classical recording, Standing Stone:

Above is the front and back of the outer cardboard slipcase which holds the CD jewel case and thick booklet with lyrics, photos, reproduced artworks, and an essay about the compostion and performance of the work. The one we found here is the UK pressing (we already have US and Canadian pressings of this which both have small variations on what you see here):

Here are the front and rear covers of the booklet:

The beautiful cover images are by Linda McCartney, and here is a peek inside. This artwork is by Paul:Finally, to end on a lighter note, a little kid’s DVD called Thomas & Friends:

If you look closely at the credits you can see listed there as Storyteller – Ringo Starr:

It’s great to have an example of Ringo’s work narrating this classic kids animation series. He did the voice-overs for the first two series only.

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

A Visit to Some San Francisco Record Stores – Part 3

The final instalment of the recent visit to San Francisco. Last time we looked at the vinyl purchases. This time it’s the CDs and DVDs. Both Rasputin, Recycled Records and Amoeba Music have lots of vinyl. They also have lots of CDs and also (Rasputin Music in particular) many, many DVDs to choose from.

First to the CD’s and at Rasputin I found a US copy of Paul’s Choba B CCCP on CD:

Choba B 1Choba B 2

I already have a UK version of this on Parlophone, but a US copy on the Capitol label to join it (at a very low price) was too much to resist.Choba B 3

Also at Rasputin I found a copy, released by 20th Century Fox, of Paul McCartney’s 1984 ill-advised excursion into the world of movie-making Give My Regards to Broad Street:Regards 1Regards 2The movie had a less-than-enthusiastic reception when it first came out. To quote one user review from IMDB: “I wouldn’t go so far as to call this movie a ‘crap-fest’. I have definitely sat through much worse….I wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure, either. Though it wasn’t a complete waste of time, it was awfully trite and clichéd. It plays like an extended music video….Although it didn’t completely suck, Sir Paul really should stick to writing songs and leave screen writing to professionals.”

Hmmm. I can only vaguely remember seeing the film once when it was first released. So when I saw this DVD (which came out in 2004 in this version) for just $3.99 I grabbed it. At that price it is well worth the cost of admission for another viewing. The disc itself is one of those two-sided DVD’s. One side has the full screen version, and the other a wide screen version – so the DVD itself looks pretty bland:

Regards 4

However, there’s an insert inside the case with a great photo of Paul and Ringo in costume:Regards 3

The other DVD I got at Rasputin was also $3.99, and also from Paul McCartney:Back in US 1Back in US 2

This is the 2002 concert film Back in the U.S. I’ve got the two CD set of this concert, but never actually seen the video. Again, that that low price well worth adding to the collection.Back in US 3

Before leaving Rasputin Music’s Powell Street store I also discovered a nice, sealed CD copy of Electric Arguments by The Fireman (a.k.a. Paul McCartney and Youth).Electric 1Electric 2

Now, regular readers of Beatles Blog will know I have a bit of a passion for collecting versions and variations of this particular CD – and this was a variation I’d not seen before. Originally this disc came out when Paul was not signed to any particular label, and so in the UK it was distributed on the One Little Indian label. In the US it came out on ATO Records. More recently though Paul has been signed to the Hear Music label, part of Concord Music Group, and they have re-issued a few titles from that time when he was “between labels” – including Electric Arguments. The giveaway is that white barcode sticker on the rear cover where you can see the disc has been given a different catalogue number and there are tiny logos for MPL (McCartney’s company) as well as Hear Music and Concord:Electric 3Next stop was Recycled Records on Haight Street, and a very nice US copy of the CD Working Classical:Working C 1Working C 2

This came out on the EMI Classics label in back in 1999. I have the vinyl (now worth quite a bit as it is rare, in mint condition, and long out of print). A CD copy for the princely sum of $8.00 was worth it:

Working C 3

The final CD purchase came from Amoeba Music, also on Haight Street. For some time now I’ve been on the lookout for a CD copy of the 2001 McCartney “best of” release Wingspan – Hits and History. It originally came in a cardboard slipcase which has a holographic front cover. Getting copies in good condition is difficult because the slipcase is sometimes missing, or it’s in poor condition. This one I found has the holographic cover and its in pretty good nick too:Wingspan 1Wingspan 2Wingspan 3Wingspan 4

So, that’s it – the results of a holiday visit to the US city of San Francisco. A great city with some great record stores to boot.

Yellow Submarine DVD – Korean!

I don’t know why I bought this. Might have been something to do with all the hoopla about the recent re-issuing of the Beatles “Yellow Submarine” on DVD, BluRay and also the re-issue of the “Songtrack” CD….

I saw it on Ebay and the idea of having the official Korean DVD release in the collection seemed appealing, although it’s not a recent copy. The cover is kind of cool though.

It all looks like it is official. I think this one dates back to the same time as the Universal Pictures release to western countries in 1999. It is very similar features-wise to that DVD (below) which will be familiar to most people:

When you first load the Korean DVD there’s a different menu set on screen with different graphics and music, and the “Special Features” section (while similar to the United Artists release) is pretty limited. For a start there is no audio commentary by John Coates, and there are only about eight or nine “Behind the Scenes Photos” from the production included. In the United Artists release you get thirty photographs. Other than that the two are pretty similar, and the quality of the video transfer is about the same.

Another (Record Store) Day – McCartney

This week (on Saturday) we once again celebrate the importance of independent record stores around the world. And once again there’s some Beatle-related treasure for collectors. Not as significant as the last Beatle release as part of Record Store Day’s Black Friday editions last year, however still collectable. This time there’s a Paul McCartney 45 on offer. It comes in the lead up to the numerous special McCartney Archive editions of “Ram” in May.

MPL/Hear Music/Concord are releasing a limited edition (just 2000 copies) of the 1971 single “Another Day/Oh Woman Oh Why“:

The Record Store Day site says: “A classic Paul McCartney vinyl single reissue manufactured exclusively for Record Store Day! “Another Day” was originally recorded in 1970, during the sessions for the album Ram. It was the first single of his solo career. It was originally released February 19, 1971 with “Oh Woman, Oh Why” as the B-side. Upon its release “Another Day”/”Oh Woman, Oh Why” reportedly sold over a million copies worldwide. It was a number one hit in France and Australia, in the U.K. it reached number two, in the U.S. it reached number five. This exclusive reissue single is taken from the forthcoming Paul McCartney Archive Collection edition of Ram coming this spring!”

You can read more about it here on the excellent Second Disc blog.

And it all leads to the next significant installment in the Archive Series – “Ram”. The Second Disc also has some info on this forthcoming release.

McCartney stated: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is an album from a long, long time ago, when the world was different. This is an album that is part of my history…it goes back to the wee hills of Scotland where it was formed. It’s an album called Ram. It reminds me of my hippie days and the free attitude with which was created. I hope you’re going to like it, because I do!”

There have been some great Beatles collectables associated with previous Records Store Days. I’ve already mentioned last year’s Beatles singles box; in 2010 there was a special re-issue of  Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass“; there was another McCartney limited edition single released as part of the McCartney Archive Series; there was also the BeatlesPaperback Writer“; and of course the great Lennon Singles Bag.


“New” Yellow Submarine?

You’re no doubt aware that there’s a BluRay and DVD re-issue of “Yellow Submarine” due in May. There’ll also be a re-issue of the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” CD too.

But what will we actually get that is really “new”?

The Beatles site says (quote):  “Bonus features for the Yellow Submarine DVD and Blu-ray include a short making-of documentary titled “Mod Odyssey”, the film’s original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by producer John Coates and art director Heinz Edelmann, several brief interview clips with others involved with the film, storyboard sequences, 29 original pencil drawings and 30 behind-the-scenes photos. Both Digipak packages will include reproductions of animation cels from the film, collectible stickers, and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Yellow Submarine aficionado John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios)”.

That got me thinking, and so I got down off the shelf my 1999 edition of the DVD. This was issued at the same time as the newly digitally remastered “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” CD first came out. The cover looks like this:

Listed on the back in that yellow box breakout are the Special Features. They are: a short making-of documentary titled “Mod Odyssey”, the film’s original theatrical trailer, full length audio commentary, interviews with crew and vocal talents, storyboard sequences (including two not used in the original film), original pencil drawings, behind-the-scenes photos, a collectible booklet, and a music-only track highlighting the film’s score.

So, this new addition coming in May adds what exactly? I figure it’s the “….reproductions of animation cels from the film, collectible stickers, and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Yellow Submarine aficionado John Lasseter”.

And that’s it.

Apart from the individually hand-cleaned, frame by frame digitisation – which I’m sure is going to look fantastic – there’s not a real lot else I’m afraid.

I’ll probably get the BluRay (the complete-ist in me will have to have it), but I just wish Apple Corps and the remaining Beatles would stop forcing us to re-purchase stuff we already have and re-issue some genuinely new material.

What do you think?

Harrison Film Biography – The Verdict

“There are two ways to look at George Harrison. The nicer one is that he was a top-line and under-appreciated guitarist…, that he wrote at least two classic songs (“Something,” and “Here Comes the Sun,” two more than most songwriters write) and another half-dozen quite good ones….The other and arguably more realistic appraisal might be that George Harrison’s contributions as a guitarist were pretty much limited to a few Beatles riffs.”  – Bill Wyman from Slate gets stuck into the Scorsese film.

“One aspect that doesn’t shine through fully enough is his sense of humour.” – Martin Chilton in the UK Telegraph.

Paul McCartney described George as a “cocky little guy” and producer George Martin labeled him as “so cheeky.” –  Rachel Ray, The Telegraph’s US TV reviewer.

“….if you’re a big Beatles fan (I am), then it’s never going to lack interest…He looked inwards, chanted mantras, spent his life trying to forgive and give. A good egg, but no Lennon…” – Ben Walsh, The Independent.

“With Martin Scorsese’s documentary about the quiet Beatle….it is time to appreciate Harrison as a teacher and a transmitter.” – Philip Goldberg focuses on George’s spirituality in The Huffington Post.

“One facet of George Harrison’s personality that came into sharper relief for me during a preview screening of Martin Scorsese’s documentary was his role…as a provocateur.” – The LA Times Randy Lewis.

“In Martin Scorsese’s documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” Harrison’s journey is traced as a search for himself in the tumult of incoming distractions.” – Roger Ebert in The Chicago Sun-Times.

And from today’s paper in my home town:

“In the footage and text, George Harrison comes across as someone who had mixed views about a life indelibly marked by his tumultuous decade in the most famous pop band of all time…If nothing else, the book and film reveal a man for whom friendships mattered more deeply than almost anything.” – Bernard Zuel, music critic with the Sydney Morning Herald

And finally, not so much a review but another interesting article about George’s spirituality in the film from The Washington Post.

Unboxing “Living in the Material World” DVD/BluRay Box Set

Haven’t got this yet because it is only available in the UK so far….but one fan has posted a video of his unboxing of the Deluxe Edition of the DVD/BluRay/CD set: