John Lennon The Ultimate Edition – Finally

Guess what landed on the front doorstep yesterday? Our Universal Music bundle of the John Lennon Ultimate Edition box set, Imagine 2 LP (on clear vinyl), Imagine/Gimme Some Truth Blu-ray, and the Imagine movie poster!

Ordered 24 August, officially released 5 October………delivered 30 October: 

This order was placed directly with Universal’s uDiscover UK music store. Despite being the commercial arm of the actual publisher and distributor of these titles, it has to be said uDiscover don’t have a great track record for delivering items on time, nor keeping their customers up-to-date on what is going on. Usually it’s because they can’t get stock. Go figure. This time they ran out of the Imagine/Gimme Some Truth Blu-ray, and so had to hold back dispatch of the bundle until more copies came in.

One needs patience when dealing with uDiscover. Stuff usually does arrive, it’s just a matter of when.

Thankfully, everything (except the poster) arrived in very good shape – this is despite the four items being shoved into a plastic courier bag with no additional padding around them. Yes, they were each in individual cardboard mailers, but they’d been banging around together in that bag all the way from Europe to Australia, so it was with a sigh of relief that we opened each to find no dings, bent corners, rips or other damage.

There was however one casualty. They’d packed the rolled-up movie poster into a long triangular-shaped box that simply wasn’t up to the task. It had been bashed around and squashed along the way, putting deep creases into the good quality paper stock the poster is printed on. It’s a shame because it is an impressive piece, but sadly now far from mint condition.

We’re counting that as minor collateral damage, and just thankful the main content (i.e. box set, 2 LP and Blu-ray) is finally here and in pristine condition….

Advertisements

Label Variations Part Eleven – Happy Xmas (War is Over)

A Christmas theme for the next installment in our occasional Label Variations segment.

This time it’s John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band, with the Harlem Community Choir  and the 1971/1972 song ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’. Early versions (and some re-issues) were on green vinyl to suit the season.

The US Bell Sound test pressing:

Other US variations:

Some of the UK releases:

And Australia/New Zealand:

Here are some European releases. First Spain ‘Feliz Navidad’:

The Netherlands:

Italy:

France:

Greece:

Sweden:

An EU-made CD single from 2003:

Back to vinyl, this one is from Yugoslavia:

And a couple of South American countries, including Venuzuela ‘Felices Pascuas (Se Acabo La Guerra)’:

Brazil:

Mexico ‘Feliz Navidad (La guerra termino)’:

Here’s one from Japan ‘ハッピークリスマス戦争は終わった’:

Later on, when John Lennon was signed briefly to Geffen Records, that label released ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ too:

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

Please note that not all these are from our collection! Check out this link to a ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ 40th Anniversary page. Catch some others in the Label Variations series here. And visit the Imagine Peace (War is Over!) site.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers.

New John Lennon Vinyl Box Set Coming

Whenever new Beatle or Beatle-related vinyl is mentioned we get interested.

Yes, like most collectors we have these albums already (in some cases many times over….) but the completist in us has to have the latest. And the latest announcement is that a new box set of eight John Lennon LPs is due for release on June 8. For all the details go to johnlennonmusic.com – but in a nutshell these will be faithful reproductions on 180-gram vinyl of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band; Imagine; Some Time in New York City; Mind Games; Walls and Bridges; Rock ‘n’ Roll; Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey:Lennon_Box

All artwork, including inner bags, posters, postcards and original labels will be reproduced:plastic_labels 2plastic_labels 3mind_games_labels 2mind_games_labels 3double_fantasy_label 2double_fantasy_label 3

Looks like the LPs come in a white box with the same design cues as the John Lennon Signature Box from back in October, 2011:

John-Lennon-Signature-Box---S-536618

That set contains the same titles – only on CD – plus it has two bonus discs of non-album tracks, studio outtakes and home recordings:

Signature-box-insert

Of course there’s been a previous incarnation of a John Lennon , 8 LP vinyl box set.

Beatles with Records – Part Fourteen

Since the last instalment we’ve been swamped with some great content – enough for at least two or three more posts featuring the Beatles (or people close to them) photographed or filmed with records or CDs – either their own or those of other artists.

This first one comes from beatlesblogger.com reader Ariel, who sent in this great YouTube clip of John Lennon and Yoko Ono strolling past a crowd of reporters and photographers:

The footage was clearly taken in 1970 when John and Yoko were publicising this Plastic Ono Band album:

john-lennon2

The footage comes from a 1977 film by French film-maker Gérard Courant, whose website says of the film:  “The year punk music exploded, Courant gave his most avant-garde outburst by relating for the first time the shattering experiences that took place in the second half of the 20th century…with the rock culture that clamored that same idea of rupture…”. Lennon and Ono can also be seen publicising the same LP in Part Five and also in Part Two.

Staying with John Lennon for a moment here’s an image sent in by Andrey in Russia of the Lennon’s in New York – holding court with assembled media and hangers-on in their apartment in February, 1972 in Greenwich Village:

Lennons Greenwich Village

There’s obviously a record you can see sitting there at the foot of the bed:

Lennons New York 2

But what and who is it? I was having real trouble identifying this one. Well, thanks to Andrey’s Russian-speaking friends we’ve been able to find that LP. He asked one of the Beatles.ru forums for some help. Which artist could it be? Andrey says he got the answer in about ten minutes:

The Album Soup Front CD SZSOUP BACK CD SZ

The Power Pop website says that the group Soup was from Wisconsin in the USA and the members were Doug Yankus, Rob Griffith and David Faas . The band released a self-titled album in 1970, however what we can see here is the bands second LP, The Album Soup, from 1971. How it came to the attention of John Lennon, and what he thought of it we’ll probably never know.

Continuing on the Lennon theme – this time with Yoko and a gentleman named Kristofer Englehardt, author of the book “The Beatles Undercover“, holding a copy of her solo LP from 1971 called Fly:

Undercover1-1

Fly

In Part Six there’s a terrific photo of George Harrison in the back of a limo holding up a copy of his All Things Must Pass LP. Here’s another good one from around the same time:

RSSpecial2-1

harrison-all-things-must-pass-1970

Could it be that this photo below was taken on the same day and location? It looks very much like the same shirt George is wearing above. Perhaps he’s playing one of the sides from All Things Must Pass on his record player at home?

George with Record Player

One final shot of George taken in 1972 according to the caption, this time with his triple LP from 1971 The Concert for Bangladesh:

RSSpecial1-1BanglaDeshCover

When you are Paul McCartney, just getting into a building you are visiting can have it’s challenges. The photo below shows the type of crush which can eventuate when everyone wants a photograph or an album signed – including one fan bravely holding up a copy of the 1988 Russian release Снова в СССР:

Choba CCCP Paul

Choba b CCCP

Here he is again – this time with fans thrusting forward copies of (amongst other things) Help! and Tug of War (you can see the cover of Tug of War at the very bottom right-hand side of the photo):

Paul Signing - Help!beatles-helpTug of War

One other final shot of Paul holding a 45 single, this time with Ringo and John. It is what is reported as a test acetate recording (printed in limited quantities and used by the band and engineers for checking the quality and the mix) – it is supposedly of a song from Sgt Pepper:

Sessions3-1

There’s another photo from the studio on the same day below –  from a different angle with George also in attendance and more acetates lined up on the piano:

Deliev2-1

One final photo for this instalment – again of the Beatles as a group and possibly arriving in Rome. I say that because the gentleman in the light coloured jacket, moustache and glasses (who is a fellow named Alf Bicknell – the Beatles chauffeur between 1964-1966) is holding a copy of the Italian version of A Hard Day’s Night. You can tell it’s the Italian cover of the LP because the large type across the top saying “The BEATLES” is distinctively different to the standard UK release:

FMTY28_1-1_Alf_Bicknell

italy_a_hard_days_night_lp-580x578

Thanks to all those who have sent in content and further information. You can see the other parts in “The Beatles with Records” series here: Parts 123467 , 89101112131516 and 17.

There will be more “Beatles with Records” soon….

Label Variations Part Nine – Plastic Ono Band “Cold Turkey”

In Label Variations Part Eight an unusual New Zealand Parlophone label version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was featured.

I’ve stumbled across another from NZ –  this time Lennon’s anguished drug withdrawal song “Cold Turkey“, performed by the Plastic Ono Band. It’s definitely original and as you can see pretty beat up, but interesting I guess – especially for one particular reason which will be revealed later:

Plastic Ono Band Cover 1

It is in it’s original New Zealand Parlophone bag – very faded, but the rear side is interesting with it’s groovy “Young Internationals” advertisement for Air New Zealand (only $397.50 one-way to Singapore or Hong Kong!):

Plastic Ono Band Cover 2

The main point of interest though is the black and yellow Parlophone label:

Plastic Ono Band Label 1

The printing on the A-side is kind of faded and difficult to read because the silver-coloured lettering does not stand out well on the black background. Like the UK edition, this 45 rpm single carries the catalogue number APPLES 1001, and as in other markets around the world the flip-side is the Yoko Ono song “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)”. However, this New Zealand pressing has a spelling mistake. It clearly says “Don’t Worry Kajoko”, and it has no sub-title printed on the label:

Plastic Ono Band Label 2

Some people quite like collecting label printing mistakes and so this makes it interesting as well. The spelling should be “Don’t Worry Kyoko….”:

cold-turkey-Don't Worry Kyoko

Here are some other label variations from around the world, starting with Australia:

cold-turkey-Aust

These images following aren’t from my collection but gleaned from the web. Here are two different variations from Brazil:

cold-turkey-Brazilcold-turkey-brazil2a

The original UK version looked like this:

cold-turkey-UK

And the US and Canadian versions:

cold-turkey-USAcold-turkey-canada

Here’s one variation from Germany, followed by one from the Netherlands:

cold-turkey-german

cold-turkey-netherlands

And since posting this I’ve been contacted by Claude Defer in France with two French variations. He says: “In France, we have 2 types of labels : the first one has «Cold Turkey» on the white part of the apple and the second one has «Cold Turkey» on the green part of the apple. The first one was probably a misprint and the second one fixed it.”:

Cold-turkey-france 1Cold-turkey-france 2

Also, Andrey in Russia sent another France variation which is very similar to the one above, just a greener Apple:

ColdTurkeyFranceMonoSide1

If you have any other label variations you would like to share please email me.

John Lennon – a Jazz Reinterpretation

I’m usually not a big fan nor collector of Beatles cover versions. But I must admit that when I first saw this CD cover I was intrigued:

It’s a Lennon reinterpretation that is very worthy of further investigation. Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell is one of the world’s great musicians – as the small sticker on the front of this CD proclaims:

While he’s been around a long time I only became aware of Bill Frisell relatively recently when Elvis Costello teamed up with veteran composer and arranger Burt Bacharach in 1998 to produce an album of new songs called “Painted From Memory”. Both Costello and Bacharach are favorites and this album is great. The interesting thing about their project is that they gave all their new songs to guitarist Bill Frisell very early in the process to create his own jazz versions of their new work. As a result he released his album “The Sweetest Punch” almost simultaneously with their “Painted From Memory” disc. Quite unusual in the music business. I got both “Painted From Memory” and “The Sweetest Punch” back then and have enjoyed them immensely since…..hence my interest in the work of one Bill Frisell.

Then, late in 2011 came this record – “All We Are Saying” – Frisell plays Lennon. Naturally I was interested to hear how it sounded – and was lucky enough to be given it as a Christmas present from my son:

As you can see from the rear cover song-list, Frisell does a wide range of Lennon compositions from the Beatles days (both early and late), through to the Plastic Ono Band, Lennon’s early solo work, and right up to songs from the final John Lennon/Yoko Ono album “Double Fantasy”.

The cover art is also interesting. Inside the gatefold digipac it’s revealed that the project has the blessing of Yoko Ono and the Lennon Estate because they have officially licensed the cover art which is a John Lennon original drawing.

Here’s the detail from the image above:

So – it all looks and feels very original. These are all songs I know well, and the interpretations that Frisell and his band deliver are fresh takes on familiar material. As I say, Beatles cover versions are not my thing – but this album delivers on many levels, not the least being that it comes from an artist who respects and loves the originals.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – 40th Anniversary

Now in its 40th year – the peace campaign and song by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir.

The single “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” was released in December, 1971 in the United States (but due to a publishing dispute not until November the following year in the UK and worldwide). Here are some single releases from around the world – not all in my collection! (On most images you can click to see a larger version):

To find out more and to download the original poster in your language and in a range of sizes just click here.  And keep praying for peace in the world.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)