Latest Beatle Vinyl on the Universal Music Label

Since the lucrative Beatle catalogue went over to Universal Music for distribution (as part of the sale and break-up of the EMI company in 2012) there’s been a steady stream of product from released – most of it (it has to be said) re-issues of stuff we already have.

The latest of these – four albums on vinyl – are a case in point: the Beatles 1962-1966; the Beatles 1967-1970; the Beatles Number 1; and the Beatles Love.

Each of these are re-issues containing no new material. The only thing that can be said to be slightly different is that the two sets, 1962-1966 (a.k.a. The Red Album), and 1967-1970 (a.k.a. The Blue Album) are reportedly the original analogue mixes. The discs are cut direct from the analogue tapes used for the 1973 LP sets—with a few exceptions (i.e. mono versions using EQ from the latest mono box set replace the few faux stereo tracks originally used). AAA it seems is definitely the new DDD…..

It has to be said though that the packaging on each of these four Universal re-issued double LPs is impeccable. The Red and Blue albums, for example, are faithfully reproduced in thick cardboard with very shiny covers and inners.

If you speak Spanish (and you don’t get seasick from the all the camera movement) this “unboxing” YouTube video from keen Beatle collector shakespearecub gives you a good indication of both the Red and Blue LP’s in all their glossy finery (if you are pressed for time, scroll in to about 4’10”):

Here are those 2014 stickers on the front of each:

Beatles Red stickerBeatles Blue sticker

And this is the main point of difference – Universal Music logos on the back, and mentions of Universal Music and Calderstone Productions in the small print….it’s not Parlophone, Capitol, or EMI anymore:

Beatles Red rearBeatles Blue rear

These albums are also manufactured in the Netherlands – according to small transparent stickers on the back of each LP:

Beatles Netherlands

And while we’re on the subject of the Red and Blue LPs and the EMI company, here’s a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the Angus McBean shoot for the Red, Blue – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me LP. Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at the former EMI headquarters in Manchester Square, London with the group looking down over the stairwell. The building has since been demolished:

The rear photo, taken in 1969, was initially intended for an LP to be called Get Back, but those plans changed and we got the Let It Be album instead. The photo was eventually used on both the 1962–1966 and 1967–1970 LP’s.

The 2014 Universal Music edition of the Beatles Number 1 LP set also comes in a thick cardboard, this time with a matt finish gatefold cover (just like the original 2000 edition) complete with the inners, large poster (depicting Beatle singles picture covers from around the world), and the four psychedelic photographs of the individual Beatles. It’s all very nice. Again the main point of difference now is in the logos used and the small print credits:Beatles 1 LP rear

The Love LP comes in a thick cardboard gatefold cover – just like the original from 2007. And it has the same thick, glossy booklet. Top marks go to Universal for the packaging. The 2007 release had a small brown sticker on the front:Beatles Love 1

While the 2014 edition has a larger red, white and yellow sticker:Beatles Love 2

On the rear of the gatefold the logo line-up has changed. The 2007 release has Apple, Parlophone and Cirque du Soleil logos:

Beatles Love 3

The 2014 has just Apple and Cirque either side of the barcode, and a small Universal Music Group logo on the far lower right. There’s also a change to the small print. No EMI Records reference, and interestingly the Universal edition has a copyright date of 2006, while the earlier EMI/Parlophone/Apple edition is 2007. Curious:

Beatles Love 4

shakespearecub has also done an “unboxing” video of both the Number 1 and the Love LPs:

Here, There and Everywhere – Geoff Emerick

We recently purchased a nice, used hardback copy of Geoff Emerick’s fantastic Beatle book Here, There and Everywhere – My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles.

Not having read it before it’s currently our favourite, especially given the release in the last week of the The Beatles In Mono vinyl LPs as a boxed set (and also as individual albums).Here, There 1 Here, There 2Geoff Emerick was George Martin’s right-hand man in the control room at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London. At the age of 15 (on just his second day at EMI) he was present – as an assistant recording engineer – when a scruffy-looking quartet from Liverpool came in for their very first studio session. Emerick progressed from that recording (“Love Me Do” in 1962), to being directly involved with the majority of the band’s classic albums. He confirms on a number of occasions in his book that a lot more time was spent getting the mono mixes correct as compared to the time taken over stereo.

With his ability to interpret the sounds that John, Paul, George and Ringo had in their heads as they worked at getting their songs down on tape, Emerick made a huge contribution to their records. He wanted as much as they did to experiment – to take the recording process into new and un-charted waters. Here, There and Everywhere takes us into the famous Studio’s One and Two at Abbey Road as history was literally being made.

Amongst other things we read about the antiquated attitudes, policies and equipment at EMI Records during the 1960s. Given their strict and old-fashioned rules it’s incredible that the greatness of the Beatles was ever captured at all. EMI management back in the day seemed stuck in the 1940s and 50s. As an organisation it frequently stood in the way of creativity rather than fostering it. It was Geoff Emerick who was willing to go out on a limb and flaunt the studio rules at Abbey Road to capture the sounds we have today.

One of the other big surprises in the book is Emerick’s low opinion of George Harrison. There are frequent mentions of how stand-offish and surly Emerick found him to be, not to mention that he regarded George as a pretty lacklustre lead guitarist….

Here, There and Everywhere was published way back in 2006, but it is highly recommended if you are at all interested in the Beatles and their music. The copy we have is a signed copy. It’s not dedicated to us because this one is second-hand – but that doesn’t matter. There is the signature of Geoff Emerick (and his co-author Howard Massey), a man who had a significant impact on the Beatles legacy.

We wouldn’t have the Beatle canon without him.Here, There 3

George Harrison – Living in the Material World – 1973 Pressing Plant Footage

Check out this great YouTube promotional video posted on the George Harrison official YouTube page.Living in the Material World footageThe footage – shot in 1973 on 16mm film – was taken both at the EMI pressing plant in Hayes Middlesex in the UK (the black & white film), and in the USA at Capitol Records (colour film).

It shows the packaging and testing of the original vinyl pressings of George Harrison’s Living in the Material World LP – back when vinyl was king!

The album has been newly remastered for the forthcoming The Years 1968-1975 CD box set – to be released on September 22.

Beatles Australian 50th Anniversary Celebrations Are Hotting Up

Here in Australia the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles one-and-only tour Down Under are beginning to get exciting.

The Beatles arrived in Sydney on June 11, 1964 and EMI Australia has today posted a great Australian tour highlights video on its official YouTube site:

The site publicises Australia’s contribution to the 50th anniversary – a 2 CD set called Then & Now – Australia Salutes The Beatles. It’s a compilation of some of Australia’s finest artists covering classic Beatle songs:Then-Now-Australia-Salutes-The-Beatles

Details about the release can be found here.

It has to be said it is a bit underwhelming with the news that this was actually EMI Australia’s second choice as a way to mark the historic visit. Initially the company was working on a unique two-disc set which was to have included a DVD of the complete Melbourne concert (which was filmed live and broadcast nationally at the time), with extra songs and partial songs included. This was to be partnered with a CD containing the studio recordings of those particular songs from the concert. It could have been a nice double-disc package, complete with a booklet – a real collectors item, unique to Australia. By comparison the double CD’s of Aussie cover versions is a real let-down.

EMI Australia was apparently told by Apple head office that as they are working on a live project of their own the local project could not possibly proceed…..

There’ll be more news on other Australian celebrations to mark the anniversary across June – including a major television documentary produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and a “pop-up” digital radio station which will run for a week and play ’64 Beatles tour music as well as rare audio from the archives. This will also be streamed live around the world – so more on these broadcasts soon in future posts.

The Beatles 20th Anniversary Singles

We know. Seems odd in the Beatles 50th anniversary year to be writing about what was done in the UK for the 20th anniversaries of each of their single releases, but as we recently acquired a complete set of those anniversary singles here goes…

Back in 1982, to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of “Love Me Do” – the Beatles first UK single, EMI released the record in a special picture sleeve. (They also released it as a picture discs as well, but that’s another story).love-me-do1Love Me Do LabelThen over the following eight years, on the 20th anniversary release date of each the official UK singles, they continued to do the same for each and every disc. That means it took some collectors eight years to complete the set! All singles were released on black vinyl and, as already mentioned, in picture disc versions too. (A 12″ single of “Love Me Do” was also released to correct an error made by EMI in choosing the wrong version for the 7″ single. Sound familiar?). They are all either on the Parlophone label (a red label for “Love Me Do”, and then in black and silver for the remainder), or on the green Apple label.

Here’s a small selection of the covers and labels used:The-Beatles-Day-Tripper---20t-462203 Day Tripper LabelBeatles_Get_Back beatles-singles-collection-label-2

R5722-Sl-A-1982 R5722-B-1976The release program for this set of singles was as follows:

Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You (Parlophone/October 4, 1982)
Please Please Me / Ask Me Why (Parlophone/January 10, 1983)
From Me To You / Thank You Girl (Parlophone/April 11, 1983)
She Loves You / I’ll Get You (Parlophone/August 22, 1983)
I Want To Hold Your Hand / This Boy (Parlophone/November 28, 1983)
Can’t Buy Me Love / You Can’t Do That (Parlophone/March 19, 1984)
A Hard Day’s Night / Things We Said Today (Parlophone/July 9, 1984)
I Feel Fine / She’s A Woman (Parlophone/November 26, 1984)
Ticket To Ride / Yes It Is (Parlophone/April 9, 1985)
Help / I’m Down (Parlophone/July 23, 1985)
We Can Work It Out/ Day Tripper (Parlophone/December 2, 1985)
Paperback Writer / Rain (Parlophone/June 9, 1986)
Yellow Submarine/ Eleanor Rigby (Parlophone/August 5, 1986)
Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane (Parlophone/February 16, 1987)
All You Need Is Love / Baby You’re A Rich Man (Parlophone/July 6, 1987)
Hello Goodbye / I Am The Walrus (Parlophone/November 23, 1987)
Lady Madonna / The Inner Light (Parlophone/March 14, 1988)
Hey Jude /Revolution (Apple/August 30, 1988)
Get Back / Don’t Let Me Down (Apple/April 10, 1989)
The Ballad Of John And Yoko / Old Brown Shoe (Apple/May 30, 1989)
Something / Come Together (Apple/October 30, 1989)
Let It Be / You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)(Apple/March 3, 1990)

Of course if you had the ready cash back in December 1982 you could have purchased all these singles at once in a blue and gold box set called The Beatles Singles Collection which contained each single with the same unique picture covers. The box was a limited issue and held twenty-six vinyl 7″ singles in all – each of the standard twenty two UK singles listed above, plus another four singles that had been released since 1976. These were: “Yesterday/ I Should Have Known Better”, “Back In The U.S.S.R./ Twist and Shout”, “Sgt.Peppers/With A Little Help From My Friends/ A DAy in the Life”, and “The Movie Medley”.The Beatles Singles Collection

This box was different to the 1976 black and gold UK singles box set (which had a different set of picture covers) and was only ever available via mail order. We have the 3rd edition of that particular box, which was issued containing 25 singles in 1978:

beatles-singles-collection-front

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.

The Beatles “20 Greatest Hits” – plus an Australian “23 Number Ones”

I scored a couple of copies of the Beatles’ 20 Greatest Hits LP the other day – but not the typical British or US versions. One is Korean, the other from Brazil.

20 Greatest Hits was released in 1982 to mark the 20th anniversary of the group’s first record release “Love Me Do” in the UK. It was the last Beatles album to be released with different variations for the US and UK markets (because some Beatle hits in the US were not released as singles in the UK and vice-versa, such as “Eight Days a Week” and “Yesterday”).

The Korean and Brazilian versions I got both have the US artwork and the same running order of songs. First up the Korean cover, front and rear:20 Greatest Korea Front20 Greatest Korea rear

The Korean copy has a plastic “Oasis Records” inner sleeve. Oasis manufactured Parlophone records in South Korea:20 Greatest Korea Inner Bag

And here is the label:20 Greatest Korea Label

I don’t know if you can make out the small print around the outside, but is says: “Approved by the K.E.C.P.P. Ministry of Culture and Information Registration 16”. (Click on the image to see a larger version)

Next up, the pressing from Brazil:

20 Greatest Brazil Frony20 Greatest Brazil Rear

The Brazilian copy comes with a nice printed cardboard inner sleeve: 20 Greatest Brazil Inner bag

And it’s on the EMI label, not Parlophone:20 Greatest Brazil Label

Meanwhile, in Australia a very similar album with practically the same cover art came out a year later (in 1983) – but with a completely different title and running order of songs to both the US and UK versions. Here it was called The Number Ones, and our version contains twenty-three hit songs, not twenty. The extra three songs came on a special three-track 45rpm single included only with the set. Here’s the Australian cover, front and rear:23 Number Ones Aust FrontThe Number Ones Aust Rear

And here’s the label of the LP:23 Number Ones Aust Label

And this is the unique extra 3-track single:Aust Single 1

It came in two different variations. One with a printed sleeve with a cut-out (above) to show the label, and one variation (below) without the cut out:Aust single 2These are the labels of the bonus Australian single, A and B sides:

Aust Single Label 1Aust Single label 2And some copies in Australia came with a bright neon-orange sticker on the front:

Aust Sticker