Joe Strummer – Assembly – Dark Horse

Dark Horse Records last month released Assembly, a double LP or single CD compilation of the work of Joe Strummer, post his Clash days.

This one kind of passed us by somehow, but for lovers of the Dark Horse label (now newly revived) this is a very worthwhile purchase – and we say that not only for those label completists out there but because it contains some truly great music. It was released on March 26:

Dhani Harrison last year announced that Dark Horse (the label established by his father, George Harrison) was back, and there ensued a raft of digital-only re-issues of previously available material.

There seems now to be more physical product slowly emerging. For example, as part of Record Store Day last year there was a double LP of Ravi Shankar’s beautiful Chants of India. Produced by George Harrison this was the first time that title had been issued on vinyl – and on red vinyl at that.

Now comes the Joe Stummer compilation Assembly. And it too is on lovely red vinyl:

It’s also available on black vinyl:

And it can be had on CD too:

Why is Dark Horse issuing a “Best Of” style release for Joe Strummer? What’s the connection? Your guess is as good as ours. We can only surmise that Dhani Harrison must be a major fan of the late singer’s work. Interestingly the recent Ravi Shankar Chants of India had the catalogue number DH0001. The Joe Strummer LP has the catalogue number DH0002. Bring on DH0003, 0004, 0005……

The LP is beautifully presented in a gatefold sleeve with lyric inserts and liner notes by Jakob Dylan (who last year was involved in the Dark Horse digital-only release of the Tom Petty estate charity single ‘For Real – For Tom’ also featuring Dhani Harrison, Amos Lee, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, and Willie Nelson). It sounds fantastic too because it’s remastered by one Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios and obviously well-known here for his work on Beatle, George Harrison and John Lennon re-issues.

It is fantastic to see that Dark Horse Records label back on physical product. If you’re not familiar with Strummer’s solo work (or his work post The Clash with The Mescaleros) check this out if you can. He’s pretty amazing and Assembly makes for great listening.

McCartney III Imagined – Out This Week

This week we get to hear what McCartney III Imagined sounds like in full – at least on digital services. The physical mediums for this one aren’t coming until July….

There’s already been a bit of shock from some welded-on McCartney followers about the three tracks previewed from the album so far. They are a re-interpretation of ‘The Kiss of Venus’ by Dominic Fike; ‘Find My Way’ – featuring Beck; and a remix of ‘Slidin” by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien.

Stand by for quite a few more surprises.

It’s becoming fairly obvious we should all keep an open mind about what else might be in store because, based on what we’ve heard so far, some of it is going to be “out there” and out of the comfort zones of many fans. And that’s a good thing because it means these songs will be heard and appreciated by a far wider (and younger) audience than would have been the case if this remained just a McCartney-only release.

It’s clear that Paul McCartney and MPL sent out the raw elements of his songs to an eclectic and interesting bunch of musos and told them to do with them what they will.

If you want a contemporaneous example of a similar approach then look no further than Crowded House. They’ve got a new album coming in June and have released a single in the lead-up called ‘To The Island’. Check it out below in its original form:

Then have a listen to this:

Just like McCartney has done, Crowded House invited a third party (in this case Kevin Parker from Tame Impala) to do a remix. Here’s what Neil Finn said about it in an email to fans:

With all the world up-ended and nothing in its right place, we became curious to hear how our favourite contemporary musicians and record makers might re-imagine a Crowded House song. I emailed our version of ‘To The Island’ to Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) with an invitation to take it apart and reassemble in his own unique way. Happily, he really liked the song and it was an absolute delight to hear what he made from it, an exotic fantasy I would call it.

I think you’ll agree that the end result is very different – and in some ways quite confronting. But it means that Crowded House (a legacy band still making great new music) will also be heard by a much wider audience.

Strap in because McCartney III Imagined is going to be ‘To The Island’ writ large.

Personally, we’re excited to hear it.

RAM Gets 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master

In March last year we got news that there was to be a 50th anniversary Half Speed Master edition of Paul McCartney’s first solo outing – which of course was simply called McCartney.

This year it’s the turn of RAM, Paul and Linda’s great LP from 1971.

The new RAM vinyl will be very limited (reportedly just 2000 copies for the UK) and it will only be available via independent stores and the usual McCartney/Universal channels.

The RAM Half Speed Master will be released on May 14, so if you want a copy you’d better get your skates on.

‘Double Fantasy – John & Yoko’ Exhibition – Tokyo

There’s a terrific exhibition on at the moment in Tokyo called Double Fantasy – John & Yoko:There are a couple of interesting collectors items that you can purchase from this exhibition. The first is the official exhibition catalogue – a thick book that serves as a comprehensive overview of everything on display:

It’s in Japanese and English, and packed with a wealth of great photos detailing all the displays. It’s available through the gift shop at the exhibition venue (Tokyo’s Sony Music Roppongi Museum), from Amazon Japan, or The Blue Sheep Shop.

We also liked the look of these two Limited Edition, 10-inch clear vinyl records which are only available through the Double Fantasy – John & Yoko museum store:

These contain interviews with John and Yoko. The first is ‘John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Special Interview, January 25, 1971 at the Imperial (Teikoko) Hotel’.

The second is ‘John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Special Interview, September 2, 1971 New York’. They are both on the same label as Ono’s album re-issues for the Secretly Canadian/Chimera label in the US, and the Sony Records International label in Japan – featuring a cut grapefruit instead of an apple.

There’s also this Limited Edition Yoko Ono single on white vinyl, released on November 25. Again this appears to be exclusive to the exhibition store:

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko is a large-scale exhibit which was first mounted in John Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool (at the Liverpool Museum in England) between May, 2018 and November, 2019.

In 2020 that very same exhibition has come to Yoko Ono’s hometown, Tokyo.

There are many connections for the couple with Japan. John, Yoko, and Sean Ono Lennon visited the country every year between 1977 and 1979 and enjoyed numerous family trips to various places as John’s green card (granted to him in 1976) made it possible for them to once again travel outside the United States.

Japan’s NHK TV last week ran a story about the exhibition. It included this insightful interview with Sean who shared his memories of visiting Japan, about growing up as the son of two of the most famous people in the world, and the role his parents played in promoting peace – it’s well worth a look.

Yoko was deeply involved in the curation of Double Fantasy – John & Yoko and it contains a wealth of rare original historic documents, photographs, films, objects, artworks and personal items from key moments in the lives of the two. It apparently takes more than two hours to view everything and get a thorough overview of what is on offer:   One of the treasures is John’s hand-made, teenage satiric magazine (from c.1957) containing his cartoons and drawings called The Daily Howl:

There’s also an original copy of Yoko’s book Grapefruit which she gave to John as a gift. First published in 1964, Grapefruit represents a seminal piece of conceptual art that had a direct influence on the lyrics and concepts behind the song ‘Imagine’:

Also on display are numerous handwritten lyrics by Lennon including ‘Imagine’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Give Peace a Chance’, ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’, and ‘Woman’.

There’s also one of the famous works that Yoko showed at her Unfinished Paintings and Objects exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London in 1966. It’s where John first encountered her art up close:Of course there’s also the previously mentioned Museum Shop offering a wide variety of other merchandise…..

Double Fantasy – John & Yoko opened at Tokyo’s Sony Music Roppongi Museum on October 9, the 80th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth.

It runs until January 11, 2021, and has marked the 40th anniversary of his death by setting up a place for visitors to remember John by leaving messages and floral tributes.

McCartney’s 2009 Box Set Electric Arguments Revisited

In something of a change of pace, the Super Deluxe Edition site has recently been looking back at a couple of classic box set releases from the past.

Their latest unboxing-style video features the very rare Paul McCartney (a.k.a. The Fireman) box which is based around the 2008 release, Electric Arguments.

This was McCartney’s third album with musician/producer Youth, and as Paul Sinclair from SDE says, “… [it] broke the mould inasmuch as unlike the previous two albums, it was openly promoted by the record label as being the work of the ex-Beatle. A limited box set edition was available only via McCartney’s website and arrived six months late, in July 2009.”

If you’d like some more detail on this one, check out our comprehensive article on all the releases associated with the Electric Arguments project, including the CD singles, promo CD’s, the single CD editions, vinyl, and spme more of the background to this very limited box set. For the real completists out there see also this post.

Paul Sinclair from Super Deluxe Edition has also revisited the wonderful 2009 Beatles in Mono box set too:

Record Store Day 2020 Rescheduled

In the world-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Record Store Day has become the latest in a long line of events to be postponed. The official site now states:

We’ve decided that the best of all possible moves is to change the date of Record Store Day this year to Saturday, June 20.

We think this gives stores around the world the best chance to have a profitable, successful Record Store Day, while taking into consideration the recommendations of doctors, scientists, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the need to be good citizens of both local and worldwide communities.

We’re working with all of our partners and our stores to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone who participates in Record Store Day: customers, record stores, artists, labels and more.  Record Store Day is everywhere and we want to hold our party when everyone can gather around safely to celebrate life, art, music and the culture of the indie record store.

This means we’ll have to wait a little longer to purchase the three Beatle-related items that were announced just over a week ago – but that’s OK.

This is a fast-changing situation and we all need to keep up to date with the latest directives from our governments, and more importantly to personally do what is necessary to reduce our exposure.

We’ll get through this folks. Keep safe!

Record Store Day 2020 – Beatle Related Titles

It’s been a bit quiet on the new Beatle product front for a while. Then comes the 2020 Record Store Day official lists – and not one, but three titles that will be of ineterst to collectors.

First up, Paul McCartney and yet a further re-issue of his first solo album from 1970, simply called McCartney:

This time around, for it’s 50th anniversary, McCartney is getting the Half Speed Master treatment. There will be just 7000 copies produced. If you’d like to know more about Half Speed Mastering UMe has produced this article. Abbey Road Studios engineer Miles Showell (who worked on this 2020 re-issue of McCartney) explains more here:

And, as one wag said on one of the better re-issue forums (Super Deluxe Edition – which we love): “Just as he did fifty years ago, Paul’s making sure his solo album gets released before Let It Be hits the streets…” That’s actually very funny. History repeats.

Also on this year’s Record Store Day list, a Ravi Shankar Centennary Edition of his Chants of India album, produced by George Harrison in 1997. In what is the first physical product to come out of the new distribution relationship between BMG and Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, this LP is being issued for the first time on vinyl – and it will be on red coloured vinyl to boot! 3000 copies are being pressed, and the 2LP set will come in a gatefold cover with an exclusive photo print:

Finally, a John Lennon title is included in the 2020 RSD list. A 7″ black vinyl single of his 1970 hit ‘Instant Karma!’ is being billed as the 2020 Ultimate Mixes. The single will feature newly mixed audio and a faithful reproduction of original UK sleeve artwork. 7000 copies are being pressed:

Record Store Day this year is on Saturday, April 18. Check here for the full list of what is planned for release. You can find the US RSD store here. The official RSD UK store is here.

Digging For Some Beatle-Related Singles

A recent trip to Melbourne (capital city of the Australian state of Victoria) turned up some more Beatle-related treasure in the form of some nice vinyl singles. (Click here for the results of our previous visit).

Some of these titles we already had, but in pressings from different countries. The others definitely fill some gaps in the collection. As always, click on the images below to see larger versions.

The first two we found were at a flea market – and going very cheaply. Mary Hopkin’s ‘Goodbye’ was produced by Paul McCartney and released in 1969. This one is the UK release:

We already had two other versions of this. The US release – in a picture sleeve:

And the Australian pressing, with two different label variations. One with a Northern Songs publishing credit stamp, and one without:

The other find at the flea market was also a UK pressing – of the Radha Krishna Temple’s ‘Hare Krishna Mantra’, also from 1969:

The pressing we already had of this is probably more rare. It’s the Australian pressing, also nice to have:

After the flea market we headed over to one of our favourite second-hand record haunts, Licorice Pie Records. As usual they had a good selection of used Beatle and Apple artist 45’s. Like this one, an Australian pressing of Paul McCartney and Wings from 1974 with ‘Mrs Vandebilt’:

Despite years of collecting, this single was not in the collection – so it was a good find. As was this next one – Badfinger and ‘Baby Blue’ (again an Australian pressing):

Paul McCartney’s brother Mike McGear released an album in 1974 simply called McGear. On it he had a lot of help (and songs) from his older sibling and members of his brother’s band, Wings. The McGear album is set to be reissued on June 28 on 180 gram vinyl and on a CD + DVD set (with lots of rarities included). The original album saw this single issued with a non-album track on the flip side: Note the McCartney producing credit and the Paul and Linda writing credits on both songs.

The next year, Warner Brothers issued another single, only this time the non-album track (‘Dance the Do’) was the A-side, while the B-side was taken from the McGear LP:

So, all in all a successful trip. Next post we’ll detail the LPs we found.

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.

Beatles “White Album” 50th Anniversary Turntable

There’s another Beatle-themed turntable out there: 

Turntable manufacturer Pro-Ject Audio Systems, in association with Universal Music, has launched a Beatles White Album model to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the legendary recording.

Based on a Pro-Ject 2Xperience SB model, the limited White Album version really is all-white, down to the platter, tonearm, switch gear, and even a specially produced white-bodied Ortofon 2M cartridge pre fitted at the factory:The company now has seven Beatle-related record players: the Yellow Submarine model; two Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band models (in Drum and Limited Edition versions); a Beatles 1964 edition; a George Harrison turntable , and now a Ringo Starr “Peace and Love” turntable as well:

PeaceAndLoveTurntable-1-1024x684 2The Beatles White Album turntable is limited to 500 pieces worldwide. It looks to have a limited edition number stamped on it, just like the original LP covers did back in 1968, but it’s not clear if these are individual or not:The Pro-Ject White Album Limited Edition is up at the higher end of Pro-Ject’s turntable offerings and retails for US$1799 (and in Australia for $2699). You can read the official press release here.