John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth Box

This is the next installment of close-up, detailed photos of the current John Lennon re-issue program. We’ve already had a look at the “Signature” box set containing freshly remastered editions of all the original studio albums, plus two CDs of singles, home recordings and outtakes.

Now its the turn of the other box set issued as part of the program called “Gimme Some Truth”. First thing to say is that it is much smaller that the “Signature” box set (although that’s not saying much as the “Signature” set is huge). Its really just a slipcase kind of affair, designed to hold four CDs in cardboard sleeves plus a book. The other thing to say is that there’s nothing new here audio-wise for the avid collector. These are compilations completely made up of previously released tracks – most of which have been re-issued in a variety of forms many, many times…

The front and rear photos on the box are of John and Yoko in New York, only they’ve been superimposed on a drawing of New York Harbour (as imagined by John Lennon). It was taken by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, best known for his photo for the cover of “Abbey Road”:

"Gimme Some Truth" - front cover

And the rear:

"Gimme Some Truth" - rear cover

Here’s a shot from the same photo session with Iain Macmillan:

Inside the box are four themed CDs that gather John Lennon’s songs into categories. The first is “Working Class Hero”:

This photo is taken by Bob Gruen, a long-time friend and frequent photographer of Lennon who has taken some of his most iconic shots, including the images for the “Walls and Bridges” album, and he did the photograph used on the recent biography of John by Philip Norman. There are 18 tracks on this CD and they include “Power to the People”, “Steel and Glass” and “Give Peace a Chance”.

The second CD is called “Woman”, and gathers together love songs and songs specifically about the women in Lennon’s life:

This image is by Lilo Raymond, and is a photograph from the same sessions as the one used for the front cover of the 1983 posthumous LP release called “Heart Play – Unfinished Dialogue” which contained conversations with John and Yoko recorded in 1980:

The “Woman” CD also contains 18 songs, such as “Mother”, “Hold On” and “Jealous Guy”.  The third CD is “Borrowed Time”:

Got to be one of the saddest photos of John, don’t you think? So much potential there and a baby boy he won’t get the chance to see grow up….. Songs include “Nobody Told Me”, Watching the Wheels”, and of course “Borrowed Time”. The image was taken by Nishi Saimaru, who’s 1990 book “The John Lennon Family Album” features intimate family photographs taken over a three year period with the Lennon’s in New York, Miami, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. She also took the cover photo for that other four CD box set released in 1990, simply called “Lennon“.

The fourth and final disc collects Lennon covering tracks from his youth – early rock’n’roll standards plus a couple of other more contemporary rockers.

This is one of a series of famous images taken by Jurgen Vollmer of a young John Lennon in a Hamburg doorway. Vollmer, Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann met the Beatles in Germany in the early 60’s. Later, John was to write: “… Vollmer was the first photographer to capture the beauty and the spirit of The Beatles…We tried very hard to find someone with his touch after we returned from Hamburg, Germany…nobody could…The photographs…speak for themselves.” One of his photos from the same session was used on the cover of the 1975 album “Rock ‘N’ Roll”:

The “Gimme Some Truth” box also contains a 24-page book featuring an article (“Truth In All It’s Forms – The Songs of John Lennon”) by Anthony DeCurtis. DeCurtis also wrote the essay for the “Signature” box. It is illustrated with additional photographs, Lennon drawings and hand-written lyrics.

The front and rear covers of the book feature a Lennon drawing with his face morphing into Yoko Ono’s, and vice versa:

The final inclusion in the box is a business card-sized piece of cardboard with the word “Online” on one side and instructions and a PIN code for you to access the John Lennon Universe on the web on the other.

I’m not sure, but I think this card and PIN get you access to less comprehensive content in the “Universe” to that of the “Signature” box one. If anyone confirm that let me know.

See also the John LennonSignature Box” revealed, and the Paul McCartney Deluxe “Band on the Run” CD and vinyl sets.

John Lennon – Signature Box

Well, our copy of the new John Lennon “Signature Box” has finally arrived safely in the post, thanks to Amazon, all the way from America.

You’ll no doubt see lots and lots of small photos of the exterior and YouTube “un-boxing” videos, so I thought I’d scan in some extreme close ups of what’s inside to give you an idea of the contents from that perspective.

As you know (and any Google Image search will reveal) the exterior of the “Signature Box” and it’s main parts look like this:

You can see above that it is really a box-within-a-box as the entire exterior (which has the word “Lennon” in sky blue lettering on top, and a Lennon signature embossed in white on the front) slides up and off to reveal an inner box. What you first see at the very top of that box are three items: the first is a 60-page, hard-cover book with simply the word “Yes” deeply embossed in blue on the front cover:

There is a deep blue ribbon underneath this book to help you lift it out of the box neatly (those of you with the Beatles Remastered Stereo boxes will have seen something similar used in that box to help you lift out the CDs). This book contains a lengthy essay called “John Lennon – The Life and Afterlife” by Anthony DeCurtis. It is illustrated lavishly with photographs, drawings and hand-written lyrics. Also with the book at the top of the box is a four-page cardboard fold-out sheet with this on the front:

On one side are three separate messages about John Lennon and his legacy from Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon, all signed August 9th, 2010. On the other side are four words: Give Peace A Chance. The final item you find at the top of the box is a business card-sized piece of cardboard with the word “Online” on one side and instructions and a PIN code for you to access the John Lennon Universe on the web on the other.

(If you don’t have a PIN code you can still have a snoop around the “Universe” – only with a lot of the functionality disabled).

Once you have lifted these three items out you can see the CD’s tucked away vertically inside underneath the book. They’re held in place by a piece of white soft foam with finger cut-outs so that you can get the CDs out a little more easily:

All the CDs are housed in redesigned cardboard gate-fold covers, utilizing the original artwork but in the now-familiar style of all the newly remastered Beatles CD covers. (Incidentally, the new Paul McCartney archive re-issues [starting with “Band on the Run” next month] will also have this new look). The re-issued and remastered CDs now all have booklets with sleeve notes (by Paul Du Noyer), lyrics and additional photographs.  The only thing here that’s new music content-wise are two CDs housed together in a unique, plain white gate-fold cover. One of them contains six singles which are not on the albums:

The other contains 13 tracks which are previously unreleased studio outtakes or home recordings:

Then, at the bottom of the box is a slide-out drawer (its got a small blue ribbon tab so you can pull it out). It contains a white, hard covered folder with John Lennon’s signature embossed in white on the front. The drawer also has a long blue ribbon under the folder to assist you in lifting it out. Inside is a John Lennon 70th Birthday art print on high quality paper:

This tasteful art theme is continued on two sides of the inner box, with a further Lennon drawing appearing on the left-hand side:

And again on the right-hand side:

I hope this has given you a different perspective on the contents. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the packaging to try to make it hang together artistically in both design and colours. The strongest motifs are clouds, blue sky, and plain white). Its a MUCH bigger box than you’d expect – in fact the nine CDs inside look quite small by the time you get to them. There is a lot of packaging around them. It is significantly larger than the John Lennon  “Anthology” four-CD set and book that came out in 1998 (and which has some very similar design elements).

The Second Disc has written a comprehensive review of the “Signature Box”.

Next post will be a similar close-up, in-depth look at the new 4 CD “Gimme Some Truth” package.

See also the Paul McCartney Deluxe CD set, and the two disc vinyl.

Lennon Signature Box – Unboxing

The first of the YouTube videos showing the unboxing of the new John Lennon “Signature Box” (containing all eight re-issued and remastered studio albums, plus a double CD containing non-album singles and 13 previously unreleased studio outtakes and home recordings) have begun to appear. This is one of the best so far:

It is actually a much larger box than I had imagined. I think its a pity that the box does not contain the new “Stripped Down” version of “Double Fantasy” and that we have to go out and buy that again separately…..

Lennon “Gimme Some Truth”- Universe and Campaign Trailer

Just had an email from johnlennon.com

It reads (in part):

John Lennon ‘Universe’ Revealed + Campaign Trailer

The John Lennon ‘Universe’ is an immersive and interactive online
experience around John Lennon’s life and musical career, featuring
multimedia content, audio from the remastered solo career albums, videos
and fascinating essays in an exciting, interactive format.

Fans will be able to access ‘Universe’ with the physical and digital
versions of the following products from the 70th Birthday campaign:

– Power To The People (CD+DVD Edition)
– Gimme Some Truth
– John Lennon Signature Box
– Power To The People iTunes LP
– Double Fantasy Stripped Down iTunes LP

Watch the brand new ‘Gimme Some Truth’ campaign trailer, which walks you
through all the releases, by clicking on the image of John above.

New Lennon Film + Behind the Scenes Podcast Series

As part of an ever-growing number of events, books and CD re-issues to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday, comes a new documentary film. In a couple of days (on September 25th) “LennoNYC” will make it’s premiere as part of the New York Film Festival. It will also be broadcast on PBS TV in the United States (on November 22nd), and released commercially as a DVD (on November 23).

The film, which looks to be well-researched and gets access to a number of the main players in John Lennon’s life, traces his love affair with the city of New York and how, with the city’s help, he was able to reinvent himself both artistically and in his private life. It also delves into how he worked as a composer and recording artist.

In the lead up to the television premiere the makers of the film – Susan Lacy, Series Creator and Executive Producer of the American Masters series and a producer of “LennoNYC”, and Director/Writer Michael Epstein – are making ten, hour-long, exclusive podcasts freely available. These all contain extended and largely uncut versions of the interviews that were recorded for the film with those who knew and worked with Lennon intimately during his time living in the city.

The first is with Jack Douglas, co-producer (with Lennon and Yoko Ono) of the “Double Fantasy” LP, released just prior to Lennon’s death in 1980. Its timely because he’s just been involved in preparing the special “stripped down” edition of the album which will be released the week after next.

Here is Jack Douglas from the PBS podcast talking about his work on the new stripped down version:

In the hour-long podcast interview Douglas also reveals how “Double Fantasy” was made in top secret – and surprisingly – much of it in John Lennon’s bed:

There are many other great insights and stories from Douglas. He’s particularly poignant about John’s death and its impact on him and others who knew him closely. You can download the full podcasts here, or go to the iTunes store and subscribe there. New episodes will be posted weekly every Thursday until the Thursday after the TV broadcast on November 22.  The final podcast will be a question and answer session using the best questions submitted by users via email.

The “Imagine Peace” website has extensive coverage, information and articles about the film “LennoNYC” (scroll down the page), and there’s also been a trailer for the documentary uploaded to YouTube:

Two Apple Box Sets Coming

Steve Marinucci in his excellent Beatles Examiner column reports that both the Beatles “Red” and “Blue” plus the extensive Apple Records artists reissues will be available as box sets.

Called “The Beatles 1962 – 1970”, the box set containing the Red “1962-1966” and the Blue “1967-1970” will look like this:

Red and Blue Box Set front cover

Of course inside will be these two double disc sets:

The Red "1962-1966"

The Blue "1966-1970"

The initial information on these releases remains the same – they will be available as individual discs on October 18 (in the UK) and October 19 (in the US). The box set however is listed by Amazon UK for a November 29 release.

Meanwhile, the big Apple artists reissues also planned for October are to be gathered together in box set for those who would like to buy the complete set. The big news here is that the box will contain not only the “Come and Get It – Best Of” disc with its rarities, but also two additional discs featuring the additional and rare tracks that would have only been available as digital downloads – so, 17 CD’s in all. For collectors like me this makes this release a lot more interesting because I still like to have the physical disc in my hands, complete with the liners notes, photographs and artwork rather than the nebulous digitally downloaded audio….

The box set cover will look like this:

Steve Marinucci has a nice slide show of the box and all the discs it will contain.

The one problem I have with all this is that the Beatles and Apple have allowed such a large amount of collectable product to pile up all at the same time. Between now and November we’ll have George Harrrison’s “Collaborations”; John Lennon’s multiple “Gimme Some Truth” releases; Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” in multiple versions; The Beatles “Red” and “Blue”; and all the Apple re-issues. This makes it incredibly difficult if not impossible for most avid collectors to afford all at once.

Thanks to Beatles Examiner for this information.

105 Days with the Beatles

This isn’t new – it comes from back in December last year but I’ve only just discovered it and thought its worth passing on because it’s kind of interesting.

Its an interview on the Australian EMI site with Richard Lush – who worked at EMI during the 60’s as second engineer to Geoff Emerick recording the Beatles. As he says in a great quote from the article:”….I did 105 sessions; 105 days I walked across Abbey Road and went to work for the Beatles….”.  Not many people can make that claim.

“I was 18 years old and I had been there for 6 months. Before I started on “Revolver”, when we did “A Day in the Life”… Geoff and I, Geoff was 2 years older then me… Geoff would have been 20 and I was 18. I remember us in the control room joking to one another… isn’t amazing…they are actually trusting us… (We laughed)”

“People often ask me: “What’s the worst thing about working for the Beatles?” And I always said… The fact that they would always start late. Most bands in those days started in the morning (10am) but they would start around 2pm. So you would show up just before 2… There would be no fans, no screaming girls, so you knew they had not arrived yet. Then George Martin would show up about 4 o’clock, we would set up, still be waiting, and then the Beatles would roll in about 7 or 8pm and go to about 8 in the morning……I worked on “Pepper”, did a track on “Revolver”, about half   “The White Album”, some of “Magical Mystery Tour”.”

Anyway, check out the interview in full – its worth a read.

If you want to see Richard Lush in the studio here’s a short clip of him examining the piano and drum parts for the John Lennon track “God”, from his solo album Plastic Ono Band. This was part of the great “Classic Albums” video series:

Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Three

Herewith Part Three in a series of posts on some unusual Beatles and Beatles-related items I was able to buy on a recent visit to Vietnam. I should say again here that all my collection of records, CD’s, books and DVDs have been, to date, the official record company releases. I don’t collect pirate or illegal Beatles material. However, I was presented with something of a dilemma in Vietnam by not knowing if these quite intricately produced items were illegal or the real thing. As they were all sealed in heat-shrink plastic and on the outside had official-looking logos, etc. it made it very difficult to tell. In the end because they were so cheap and I didn’t have ready access to the internet to do research on them I decided to buy and check out their credentials later. So far I have not found anything on the web about this next CD.

Its another one I got in Hanoi in the country’s north:

As you can see its called John Lennon “Definitive Lennon”.  It has a shiny, iridescent almost 3D cover that is very nicely done in green, white, silver and black. It really looks expensively produced. The photo above is of the printed slipcase around the over-sized plastic CD jewel case, which contains two CDs.

CD 1 is exactly the same track list as an official EMI Asia and Australia-only release called John Lennon “Peace, Love and Truth” from 2005. The release I have of that CD was printed in the Philippines (see below for info and images).

CD 2 has the same track listing as the CD re-issue of John Lennon’s “Rock’n’Roll” which came out in 2004. It has the same bonus tracks as that CD.

The Vietnam CD has the same SHM-CD logos that are on the Beatles Double Golden Collection series I posted about earlier. SHM-CD seems to be a legitimate process to improve CD technology and they have quite a few authorised releases – you can read more about it here.

Here’s the front cover image of the CD jewel case for “Definitive Lennon”:

The rear cover contains the track-listing:

When you open the jewel case there’s a booklet (with song lyrics) and two CD’s on a swinging “door”:

Here’s a close-up of the printing on CD 1:

As with the “Beatles Double Golden Collection”, the CD box is oversized. Here’s a comparison with the standard CD jewel case for “Lennon Legend”:

You can also see this by comparing the spines of the CD cases. The unofficial one is much wider:

The is what appears to be an official-looking Universal records logo on the outer slipcase, though to my knowledge John Lennon never had a record deal with Universal:

As mentioned above CD 1 from this set is copied from an official 2005 release called “Peace, Love and Truth” which came out in the Asian and Australian markets only. It contains a number of (then) newly remixed version of some classic Lennon songs including “Give Peace a Chance 2005  (featuring Voices of Asia)”, “Gimme Some Truth (Remix), “Love (Remix)”, “Hold On (Remix)”, “Give Peace a Chance 2004 Y2K+”, “Imagine (Remix)”, “Bring On the Lucie (Remix)”, “Mind Games (Remix)” and “I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier (Remix)”. There are also versions of “Real Love (Slow Version)”, “Help ME To Help Myself”, “I Don’t Want to Face It”, “Bless You”, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, “Listen the Snow is Falling” and the standard version of “Give Peace a Chance”.  The cover of the official “Peace, Love and Truth” looks like this:

The rear cover:

The “Definitive Lennon” SHM-CD was amongst some other purchases made in Vietnam. You can see posts on those in Part One and Part Two.  Again, there has been quite a lot of thought, expense and detail put into the production of the disc and its packaging, making it difficult to categorically rule it out as a fake.

I think this is the first detailed information about this release I have seen on the Internet.

UPDATE: I just realised where this CD cover comes from. It always reminded me of something I’d seen before – and its the artwork for the cover of the 2009 charity release “Make Some Noise – The Campaign to Save Darfur”:

Make Some Noise - various artists cover John Lennon songs for the Amnesty International CD release to raise funds for troubled Darfur

If the South East Asian CD “The Definitive John Lennon” is a fake then not only are they ripping off the Lennon estate, they’ve stolen artwork probably donated to the Amnesty International cause……

See also Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part One, and also Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Two

Label Variations Part Four – Shaved Fish

Earlier this week I blogged about an interesting CD variation of John Lennon’s “Shaved Fish”.

That post prompted me to drag out the vinyl copies of this 1973 “Best Of” compilation and publish some photos of the different versions I have in the collection.

The front cover, rear cover, and inner sleeve of this album in LP form seems to be very consistent right around the world. Here’s a typical front cover. This one below is the Italian release:

Italian front cover of Lennon's 1973 "Shaved Fish"

And here is the rear cover:

"Shaved Fish" rear cover (Italy)

There is a strong Japanese influence to the graphic design throughout, which was provided by designer Roy Kohara who worked again with Lennon as Art Director and Designer for both his “Walls and Bridges” and “Rock’n’Roll” LP’s.

The sub-title for this album seems to be “Collectable Lennon” as this phrase is printed on the rear covers of both the Italian and British versions of the album. Its not on the US or Australian rear covers, but does appear on a big sticker on the front of the US copy of the LP that I have:

All copies seem to come with an inner sleeve which is solid red on one side with the lyrics for each song printed in white. The other side has a red rising sun, reminiscent of the Japanese national flag, continuing Kohara’s Japanese theme:

Red inner sleeve with lyrics - Italian release

Kohara's Japanese theme continued on inner sleeve

Here’s the label for the Italian release – a green Apple label:

Italian Apple label

I have two versions of the Australian release. The original Apple label:

Australian green Apple

And the later Parlophone black and silver re-issue:

Australian Parlophone re-issue

The U.S. release is a green Apple:

US green Apple label

And finally the U.K. release, again a green Apple label:

UK green Apple label

If you’d like to see some more label variations you can go to:

Label Variations – Part One “Sgt Pepper”

Label Variations – Part Two “Let It Be”

Label Variations – Part Three – McCartney’s “Choba B CCCP”

and

The Beatles “Love” collectable variations

John Lennon – A “Shaved Fish” Variation

A while back blog reader and correspondent Ned in the US sent through some photos of Beatles and Beatles-related oddities from his collection. I’ve already published a couple of posts featuring his rare “Love” CD single, and a still-sealed copy of the “Lennon” 4 CD box set with a unique printing error that he has.

Ned has also sent some shots of an unusual copy of John Lennon’s 1975 compilation CD “Shaved Fish”. Its believed this is a rare withdrawn release originally made in Japan but intended for the US market, and that it was subsequently withdrawn from sale and replaced with (the more common) locally pressed Capitol version. As you can see below there are variations in both the rear cover and interior artwork, and in the printing on the CD itself. Here’s the rear cover of the rare version:

Rear cover of the withdrawn "Shaved Fish" release

Ned writes: “The back cover art of the withdrawn “Shaved Fish” doesn’t list the producer credits on the bottom that are found on the common U.S. release.  Also notice that the label number CDP 7 46642 2 (upper right corner) is the same as the common [U.S.] one, indicating that the release was intended as the official U.S. CD.  Had this Japan-made CD been intended for the Japanese market or elsewhere it would have had a different reference number. I’ve also included a photo of both releases side-by-side.  It’s possible that the EU version of “Shaved Fish” has the same art as the withdrawn U.S. one but since I’ve never run into a European import of it I can’t confirm that”:

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Ned says: “The withdrawn version (pictured on top) has the words “Lennon Plastic Ono Band” at the top of the disc just under the EMI logo and the name, “Shaved Fish” at the bottom.  While the official and far more common re-release (pictured on bottom) shows the Capitol logo instead of the EMI logo while John Lennon’s full name appears without the addition of the Plastic Ono Band.  (It’s awkward to call the bottom one the “official release” since most people never knew there had even BEEN a withdrawn one).  How did I acquire this withdrawn one?  I really don’t know!  I just bought it when it came out and then it swiftly disappeared for a few years until I saw it again in it’s reincarnated state.”

Thanks again to Ned for providing these photos and info. If anyone has any further information on this Lennon release it’d be good to share it. Either post a comment using the blog “Comment” link below, or email me direct at beatlesblogger@gmail.com

I have a couple of vinyl LP versions of the “Shaved Fish” release in my own collection and Ned has inspired me to drag these out and do a Label Variations post on these – so keep an eye out for that soon.