Egypt Station – The Packaging

Now that the general public and the reviewers verdicts are in (all generally very positive btw), and now that Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station has entered the Billboard 200 at No.1, making it his first No.1 album on the US charts in over 36 years (the last time was Tug Of War in 1982), maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the cover art and design of the album – both in LP and CD form – because these too seem to have met with a very favourable reception from fans:

Explaining the album’s concept, Paul says, “I liked the words ‘Egypt Station.’… I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from.” The title is taken from the piece of art which is featured on the album cover. It’s a limited edition lithograph, the original of which Paul himself painted back in 1988:

“My original inspiration [for the painting] was….Egyptian symbols and shapes I got from looking at a reference book on Egypt. I was interested in the way they drew sunflowers, so two appear on the left and on the right. It was a nice shape, so I took that and then I also love the way they symbolize trees. I like the way they reduce a tree to just some very simple symbols.”  Paul McCartney

The art directors hired for the project are Ferry Gouw, an illustrator, graphic designer and video director based in London, and Gary Card, a set designer, illustrator and artist also based in London. They’ve taken McCartney’s original painting and extended out its themes and style across many panels (for both the CD and the LP) in a spectacular way.

At first the two seem an odd choice as on the surface they both appear to work in very different worlds to that of Paul McCartney. Gouw inhabits more of an out there, conceptual electronic dance music, skater/cartoon world. He’s also the in-house designer for James Blake’s record label, 1800-Dinosaur. This video is a little old, but it gives a taste of Gouw’s style:

So, you might wonder how Gouw got the McCartney gig. Then you discover that earlier this year Roxy Music hired him to produce a new video interpretation of their legendary song (from 1972), ‘Virginia Plain‘. Gouw says:

“I wanted it to feel like a kaleidoscopic holiday in glamorous, but surreal locations, that only exist in vintage posters and your imagination. The song is so dense – the imagery comes thick and fast, so they all have to pop up in a stream of consciousness. So I researched vintage holiday posters, Americana pin-up icons, art deco jazz posters, and re-drew all the elements to make up the video.”

It was Bryan Ferry who commissioned the piece after being impressed with Gouw’s work on a video for his solo album, Olympia. The result has been described as the creative rebirth of an iconic track in British musical lore:

On the other hand, Gary Card seems more into groovy and colourful pop sculpture of late. By way of example there’s this amazing eight foot high plasticine Christmas tree he made for a London hotel last holiday season:Both Gouw and Card have been on Instagram since the release of Egypt Station“After months of hard work this beauty is finally out in the world. So proud to see it everywhere, it’s a real privilege to be a part of this. Expect me and @garycard to be spamming Instagram with this for the next few years LoL” – Ferry Gouw

Woke up this morning to news that the Paul McCartney album we designed is number 1 in the U.S 👍🏻 here’s the full art work @ferry_gouw n me based around @paulmccartney‘s original painting #egyptstation” – Gary Card. He then posted this image of the  6-panel “concertina” style packaging they devised for the CD:

When folded up the CD cover is held in place with a bright red cloth fabric elastic band:

For the exclusive Target and HMV editions (which have two bonus songs) the elastic band is green in colour to help set it apart:

It’s not the first time that McCartney has employed elastic bands to hold together a cover. In 1999, under his The Fireman persona, he released a 12″ vinyl featuring remixes of a song called ‘Fluid’, taken from the Rushes album. That folded cover has a red rubber band to keep everything in place too:

The Egypt Station “concertina” idea for the CD is also used for the vinyl record, but only in the “Deluxe Edition” design. This is a three-panel gatefold and you can see Sir Paul holding an example of it here:The LP cover is quite spectacular in this larger format, with a beautifully textured feel to the paper used giving a high quality tactile feel. There’s also a tri-fold lyric sheet in a deep blue which fits within – also beautifully designed by Gouw and Card. Here’s one page from the lyric sheet:

You can see how the LP package folds compared to the CD version a little more clearly here:

The attention to detail extends further inside, with the labels on each side of the LP being individually custom designed as well. Another nice touch:

And that brings us to the vinyl colours. Egypt Station is offered in black vinyl (140 gram standard, and 180 gram deluxe); in blue and orange coloured vinyls for the deluxe version – only available via McCartney’s official site; in red vinyl as a Barnes & Noble store exclusive; and in green vinyl – offered to Spotify subscribers first, but for a period also available to all via the McCartney site as well.

When the images for Egypt Station first began to appear many likened the cover to George Harrison’s 1982 outing, Gone Troppo:

Yes, there are certain similarities in the colours and the pastiche style used, but Egypt Station‘s artwork goes far beyond. It harkens back to the days when albums really were works of art. They could be folded out and explored and enjoyed as an immersive experience in themselves, quite apart from the music contained within. We think Ferry Gouw and Gary Card should be congratulated.

Interesting peice of trivia: In 2004, when Paul headlined the Glastonbury Festival in England, the same Egypt Station artwork from his original painting adorned the pre-show curtain:

There is a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package of the year. In 2018 there was a tie for first place and so two winners were recognised (click here to see the list and scroll down to Award Number 65):

Above on the left is Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) – Sasha Barr, Ed Steed and Josh Tillman, art directors.

On the right is Magin Díaz’s El Orisha De La Rosa – Carlos Dussan, Juliana Jaramillo, Juan Martinez and Claudio Roncoli, art directors.

There’s a good article about both albums and their cover art here. There’s further information on both here also.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until January, 2019 to see if: a) Egypt Station receives a Grammy nomination for its extraordinary packaging, and b) it wins!

Paul McCartney always puts a lot of effort into the design and presentation of his albums. Two excellent examples are the totally integrated concept for his Electric Arguments release as The Fireman in 2008/09, which saw the standard CD right through to an extraordinary limited edition deluxe box set executed with aplomb; and his album New from 2013. You can find the story behind the cover art for that one here.

FOR MORE ON EGYPT STATION SEE ALSO:

Record Store Day Double A Side to be released; a retro Egypt Station Cassette; some Egypt Station Reviews; the Spotify Egypt Station Green Vinyl; and Packaging Variations of Egypt Station.

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Strange/Unusual Find of the Month – Vintage Beatle Sheet Music

Aren’t friends kind when they remember your passion for collecting Beatle stuff, and out of the blue they give you something that is really worth adding to your collection?

That’s what happened the other day when a very dear family friend told us she had embarked on a month-long challenge.

To live more simply (and to create more space in her apartment) every day for a month she was going to throw out anything not used or looked at for years. However, and here’s the big challenge, the number of things going out each day had to correspond with the date of the month. So, for example, on day one she’d be dispensing of one item, but by the end of the month (in this case January) she had to come up with thirty-one items – to bin or pass on to some more deserving person!

My friend used to play the viola and also a little bit of piano back in the day, and therefore had a big stack of sheet music in her house. In amongst these were two original vintage Beatle music books – one for Revolver, and the other for Let It Be

They’re both made and printed in Australia, and are in very good condition. Here are the rear covers:

From the Revolver LP you get the music for eight of the fourteen songs (on the UK/Australian release), including ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, ‘For No One’, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, and this George Harrison composition:

From the Let It Be LP you also get eight songs (out of the original thirteen tracks on the record): ‘Let It Be’, ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’, ‘Dig a Pony’, ‘One After 909’, ‘Two of Us’, ‘Across the Universe’, ‘The Long and Winding Road’, and this one with a song-writing credit to the whole band, ‘Dig It’: As the old saying goes: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”

Vale Bruce Hamlin – Australian Beatle Collector

Some very sad news has come through that the well-known and respected Australian Beatle expert Bruce Hamlin has passed away.

Bruce ran the The Beatles Records Information Service, and he issued regular and comprehensive updates to his many email newsletter subscribers – right up until the last.

In 1981 Bruce wrote a compendium, the first of its kind for this country. It details the Beatles’ released catalogue in Australia. Called simply The Beatles Records in Australia, his book pulled together their complete discography to that date. It was self-published and limited to just 450 copies, but it stands as a unique record for collectors.

Bruce was also a supporter and regular at the many record fairs in the greater Sydney area, always there with a Beatle-themed stall and always willing to chat and share his considerable knowledge of the Beatles and their solo releases. 

Like me Bruce lived on the north side of the city and I would regularly bump into him at local garage or yard sales. Like me too he was always on the lookout for second-hand treasures, and to be honest my heart would sink if I saw that Bruce had arrived before me at a sale as I knew it would have been well picked over and that he would have found anything worth finding there! We’d still stop and have a chat and pass the time of day though. We’d talk about the latest Beatle news, and then be on our way.

The local representatives at EMI would often utilise Bruce’s expert knowledge and his extensive record collection, not only for sound but also vision. They’d come to him for advice and in 1983 he helped compile a unique Australian LP release called The Number Ones. It contained 23 Beatle songs (including three songs on a special bonus EP) that made it to the number one position on the Australian charts.

EMI Australia would also sometimes ask Bruce to appear in local promotional videos – like this one from May last year for the 50th Anniversary Edition release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Looking back at the video again it’s clear that Bruce had not been well. However, in his regular newsletters he never overtly came out and said that he was in a life and death battle. On the contrary, he always appeared eternally optimistic. Take this email from as recently as January 15 this year where he lists all the significant Australian Beatle release anniversary dates for 2018, and is looking forward with enthusiasm to likely new releases and reissues:

Well here we are at the beginning of another Beatles year..

First up, our Australian 50th anniversary of releases in 1968:

8 Feb – GEPO 70044 Norwegian Wood (EP)

22 Feb  – PCSO 7533 The Beatles Greatest Hits Vol 1 – after 20 months, finally in stereo!!

14 Mar – MMT 1 Magical Mystery Tour (EP)

14 Mar – SMMT 1 Magical Mystery Tour (EP in stereo)

29 Mar – A 8293 Lady Madonna/The Inner Light

16 May – PMCO 7016 A Collection Of Beatles Oldies – held over for a year

16 May – PCSO 7016 A Collection Of Beatles Oldies – and in stereo

4 July – GEPO 80045 Penny Lane (EP)  (the last of the original ep’s)

20 Sept – A 8493 Hey Jude/Revolution

26 Sept – APPLE 8526 Those Were The Days/Turn Turn Turn – Mary Hopkin

10 Oct – APPLE 8537 Sour Milk Sea/The Eagle Laughs At You – Jackie Lomax

4 Dec – PMCO 7067-8 The Beatles (the double white album)

4 Dec – PCSO 7067-8 The Beatles (double White in stereo)

So that’s 13 reasons to party down in 2018. Especially for those of us who were around then.

For those not around here are some 40th Anniversaries to celebrate – 1978:

9 Jan – 2001 751 Sneaking Sally Through The Ally/Tango All Night – Ringo

23 Mar – A 11687 With A Little Luck/Backwards Traveller-Cuff Link – Wings

3 Apr – PAS 10012 London Town – Wings

29 May – 2310 599 Bad Boy – Ringo

19 Jun – A 11746 I’ve Had Enough/Deliver Your Children – Wings

21 Aug – A 11787 London Town/I’m Carrying – Wings

28 Aug A 12000 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends/Within You, Without You

9 Oct – 2001 787 Lipstick Traces/Bad Boy – Ringo

29 Nov – BC 13 The Beatles Collection (13 lps in imported box)

29 Nov – PSLP 261 Rarities – included in the above box set.

4 Dec – P 256 Wings Greatest – Wings

Another 11 parties to be had.

So what can we expect in 2018 ?? I very much doubt we will get another Beatle to tour our country.

Ringo’s 2 most popular albums are due for the 180g treatment on 26 January, Ringo and Goodnight Vienna. So that will really kick the year off.

There should be another new album from Paul probably mid year. Supposedly with a TRUMP comment included on it.

Another Archive Series box set – maybe Red Rose Speedway – it’s overdue.

After the Christmas singles box set just released, expect the album for next Christmas, the American version for America and the UK version for the rest of the world, so you have to buy it twice. If we are lucky the CD release will wait until 2019 and again with the 2 different covers. Double dipping into our pockets yet again.

3 more of Yoko’s early albums, on white vinyl, black vinyl and CD, all nicely remastered by Sean.

John’s Imagine album is due for the ‘Archive’ style treatment, I wonder if they will do a good a job as Vigotone did with 5 CD’s worth of unreleased material!!

Expect Sean to have several more side projects popping up and Dhani probably will have at least one new release in 2018.

Now that Paul’s current world tour is almost over, perhaps a live album and DVD!

And it’s still only mid January.

Hurstville Record Fair on 14 February.

Cheers till next time,

Bruce

I think you can detect above an essence of optimism in that newsletter, a continuing energy and love of the band that he’d followed so closely since his early teens and for all his adult life.

I was very saddened to hear the news of Bruce’s passing and my condolences go out to his family for their loss. Bruce will be missed. His energy, enthusiasm and knowledge about the band he loved so dearly was extraordinary.

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.

The Sgt. Pepper Jukebox!

And the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th anniversary news just keeps on coming…..

The official Beatles merchandise store has announced that there’s a Sgt. Pepper themed vinyl jukebox coming soon. 

The exact dates that these are to be available is a little confusing. On the official Beatles merchandise site it says “coming soon”, while on the manufacturers site (Sound Leisure Classic Jukeboxes in Yorkshire, England) the spectacular player appears to be available for order already – at a cool £8,995 which includes delivery to mainland UK addresses.

The machine will be distributed in the US and Canada by Deer Park Distributing and will have its official launch at the global consumer technology trade show CES in Las Vegas in January.

Rather than being mass-produced, each jukebox is being hand-made to order. And that is for a period of two years. After that – no more. If you have the cash, this does look like an opportunity to obtain a unique, limited and hand-crafted official Beatle item.

The jukebox holds seventy 7″ records – although it is not clear whether these are supplied as part of the purchase price. If you don’t have seventy 45’s to fill it, never fear. The Sgt. Pepper jukebox has Bluetooth – so it can also stream digital music from anywhere.

It features officially sanctioned artwork from the iconic 1967 album cover – and we’ve gotta admit it looks VERY cool.

As to the question of these jukeboxes being hand-made to order, take a look at this intriguing video showing how each one is put together. You’ll get a clear idea of the care and workmanship involved:

Sound Leisure has been manufacturing high quality Jukeboxes in Yorkshire since 1978. Still family owned, the company remains one of only two traditional jukebox manufacturers in the world. In addition to hand building a wide range of classic styled CD and digital jukeboxes they are the only manufacturer to be producing a vinyl playing jukebox.

More on McCartney Coloured Vinyl

Seems the confusion over the availability of eight limited-edition, coloured vinyl versions of Paul McCartney’s Archive Series releases (so far) has been cleared up.

After a week of silence on just how and where these could be purchased, both the Universal Music UK and Universal Music US sites are now listing them again as being available for pre-order, with a shipping date of November 17th. However, there’s still a lot of confusion in the UK over the pricing of the coloured vinyl editions….

Meanwhile, there’s even more news on the coloured vinyl front.

The official Record Store Day site has this week confirmed that two Paul McCartney vinyl singles (one red, one green) will be available in limited numbers as part of their Black Friday special event.

The red single will be Paul McCartney and Jimmy Fallon (backed by The Roots) singing a version of ‘Wonderful Christmastime’. The B-side is Norah Jones singing ‘Peace’ (recorded live at the Sheen Centre).

The green single will have the same version of ‘Wonderful Christmastime’, but this time the B-side will be a song called ‘Jesus Christ’ performed by The Decemberists.

Only 3,500 of each are being pressed apparently, so it looks like these may join a 2012 McCartney RSD Black Friday coloured vinyl Christmas release, ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)’. This was also issued on red and green vinyl in very limited numbers. Both have become a rare and collectable items.

If you miss out on the vinyl singles then you can always pick up the song ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ on the CD Holidays Rule – Volume 2 which was released on October 13th: 

Another Beatle Podcast Worthy of Your Consideration

We’ve just discovered another great Beatle podcast. It’s called Fabcast – A New Way of Talking About The Beatles…

Fabcast is three highly opinionated but very well-informed Beatle fans sitting together and discussing a set topic at length. The three are music writer Howie Edelson, musician Stephen Bard, and veteran record company publicist and executive Dave Morrell.

Their podcast started last year and they are now thirteen episodes in – and counting.

The trio begin each show with these words: “The only home of intelligent, cool and forward-thinking Beatles discussion…”, and yes – they have very strong and often unique opinions. But they back this up with great knowledge, a passion for the band and, in Dave Morrell’s case, first-hand insider experience having worked with and for a number of the Beatles directly – notably John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Overall, across this podcast there’s a reverence for and love of the Beatles’ music throughout.

Episode Thirteen is one of their longest, and best. They had as their guest eminent Beatle historian Mark Lewisohn. The Fabcast trio talked with him (and sometimes at him) for nearly two and a half hours! Yes, it’s a long episode, but it is great stuff. 

Hear all the guy’s podcasts on Soundcloud, or subscribe using Apple iTunes.

P.S. The other great podcast we’d highly recommend is Something About The Beatles by Richard Buskin and Robert Rodriguez. They’re now 120 episodes in and counting and we reckon they too are a “…home of intelligent, cool and forward-thinking Beatles discussion”!