McCartney III – And Here’s Another Clue for You All

Seems Capitol Records is mailing this little promotional item out to random fans:

This didn’t come to us but to one of our Instagram followers who lives in the United States. They say they’re just a regular fan and have no idea why they were sent this promotional item. Interesting!

Like us they’ve been reading the speculation that an announcement is due anytime, that there’ll be a teaser track released to go with the announcement, and that the likely release date for McCartney III is Friday, 11 December.

Added to this is the previously dormant ‘holder’ webpage for the as-yet un-announced McCartney III. It is slowly springing to life, playing once again on the pervasive dice motif.

If you go to dice.mccartneyiii.com you’ll land on a page that takes you through to a VR dice image you can manipulate and have fun with – if you have an iPhone or iPad. There’ll no doubt be more on this unique site shortly.

Paul McCartney’s ‘We All Stand Together’ 7″ Picture Disc

Well, here we all were, waiting for something like a Plastic Ono Band 50th anniversary deluxe re-issue, or maybe even a big All Things Must Pass 50th anniversary box set.

Heck, some fans were even speculating about an LP of brand new solo music from Paul McCartney that had supposedly been recorded in lockdown. They’d even given it a title already: McCartney III….

But which announcement did we get?

To mark what would have been the 100th anniversary of the cartoon character Rupert the Bear on November 6 we’ll be getting this:

Now, we’re not against novelty items like this. Not at all. Nor are we against Paul McCartney’s dedicated support of the art of animation over the years. It’s great. But ‘We All Stand Together’ by Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus is a very long way away from the Plastic Ono Band album, or George Harrison’s triple LP opus All Things Pass. I guess it’s a case of expectation meeting reality…..

Having said all that, ‘We All Stand Together’ (a.k.a. ‘The Frog Song’) is really quite sweet and beautifully orchestrated and produced by George Martin. This limted edition 7″ single cut-out shaped picture disc will be a faithfull reproduction of the original shaped picture disc that came out in 1984. As then, it will accompany the re-release (in lovely 4K quality, and with a new audio mix) of the short animated film Rupert and the Frog Song that McCartney began work on in 1981 with animator Geoff Dunbar. In it Paul voices the character of Rupert.

‘We All Stand Together’ has been remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Alex Wharton along with the B-side instrumental ‘We All Stand Together (Humming Version)’, which was also included on the original release.

The single features The King’s Singers and the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral.

‘We All Stand Together’ is available for pre-order now, and the cleaned up film Rupert and the Frog Song will be re-released on YouTube on November 6.

Beatle Podcast – Beatles City

We’ve only just become aware of a pretty decent and worthwhile Beatle podcast called Beatles City.

This one definitely sits more under the “History” genre subtitle than it does “Music” – so maybe that’s why it’s eluded us so far. But it’s great and well worth a listen!

Esquire magazine recently included Beatles City in their “93 Best Podcasts of 2020” list:

It’s the 50th anniversary of the band’s poisonous break-up, but this project from the Liverpool Echo digs back into the very early years of the Beatles. Everyone in Liverpool has a Beatles story in their family, whether it’s nana seeing them at the Cavern on her lunch hour or your dad’s mate’s uncle’s mate who swears blind he sold George Harrison a Ford Cortina in 1963. This project from the Liverpool Echo tries to record them all before they fall out of living memory – take Helen Anderson, for instance, a contemporary of John Lennon at Liverpool College of Art. She made clothes for Lennon from sketches he gave her, and sat in on his early rehearsals at the college with Paul and George.

Beatles City is co-hosted and curated by Ellen Kirwin and Laura Davis and is funded by the Liverpool Echo newspaper. The podcast is an effort to document, in audio form, the early history of that city’s most famous sons – and as much as possible through the eyes of the local people who were there at the time, watching this band form and take on the world.

Now in it’s fourth series, the podcast has some extraordinary eye-witness accounts from names we know like Pete Best and Freda Kelly, through to the more obscure (but none-the-less interesting) aquaintances and bit-players in the larger story.

Check out the trailer for Series 1:

Flaming Pie – What We Already Have

By now you’re probably aware that the next installment in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection series will be his 1997 release, Flaming Pie. It is due out on July 31 and, as usual, there are a number of formats and packaging variations – some of which are proving a little contoversial with some fans objecting to the high prices be asked, especially for the Deluxe Box Set (which is 50% more expensive than its Venus and Mars equivalent from 2018), to the top-of-the-range Collectors Edition box, which is listed at a cool US$600.00!

You can see all the different iterations of the planned releases here, and read about them in one of our favourite sources of information and commentary – the SuperDeluxeEdition site – where there’s a great summary article, or just take a look at this promotional “unboxing” video:

So, we don’t feel the need to go into a lot of detail on what’s planned….

Rather, we’ve put together a look at what is already been officially out there in the form of Flaming Pie releases, plus collectable and non-album tracks – all of which is to included in the expensive new re-issue.

First up, the original vinyl editions of Flaming Pie from 1997. Unlike the forthcoming re-issues, this is a single LP. These are now fairly rare and fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Discogs, for example, has the sales history of UK pressings and it ranges from around US$100.00 to US$280.00. Here’s the UK press and, as usual, click on any of the images to see larger versions:

Both the UK and US pressings are gatefolds:And they contain an inner sleeve with lyrics and credits on both sides:

The UK vinyl and a close-up of the label:

The UK LP is distributed by MPL and Parlophone:

Flaming Pie was also issued on vinyl by Capitol in the USA. Ours is open but still in its shrink wrap with the hype sticker on the front: Because of the shrink we can’t show the US gatefold but here are the inner sleeves:

The label on the US pressing is a little more vibrant than the UK. Note the Capitol Records credit.

While on the subject of vinyl, there were three picture disc singles released from this album, but only in the UK. These all came in a clear plastic outer sleeve with a coloured cardboard insert. There was a different colour scheme for each single. First up was ‘Young Boy’ backed with the non-LP track, ‘Looking For You’:

The second single was ‘The World Tonight’/’Used To Be Bad’. Both songs are on Flaming Pie:

And then ‘Beautiful Night’ backed with a further non-album track, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’:

In our collection we have three versions of the original 1997 CD release of Flaming Pie. These come from, in descending order in the photos, the USA, UK and Australia:

These are all fairly straightforward. Not a lot of variation here, just some different barcode placements and slight changes in the colour printing. As you can see, the Australian version is quite a bit darker on the front and rear covers, and on the CD label itself.

Where it gets complicated is in the range of CD singles released from Flaming Pie in 1997, and the number of non-LP tracks of interest at the time for avid collectors. Let’s deal with two of the easiest to begin with.

In the US, the only CD single was ‘The World Tonight’. It came in a proper CD jewel case and has the non-LP bonus track ‘Looking For You’, plus a track called ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. This is an extract from a radio show of the same name broadcast on the American radio network Westwood One. It was hosted by Paul McCartney and contained demos, rehearsals, live performances, unreleased recordings and chat. There were six such extracts contained on the UK CD singles (more on this below), but the US only got one of them:

In Australia there was a slight variation to the US CD single release. The only song we got here was ‘Young Boy’, accompanied by the same bonus material offered on the US ‘World Tonight’ CD single – ‘Looking For You’ and ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. The CD came in a slimline plastic jewel case:

The real bonanza was the UK CD singles. Like the vinyl picture discs above there were three songs released – ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ and ‘Beautiful Night’. Each CD single had two additional tracks plus, available separately, were three more companion CD singles. Each also contains either ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ or ‘Beautiful Night’, plus an additional one or two “rarity” non-LP offerings. The main (or Part 1) CD single is in a full size jewel case, the companion (or Part 2) CD single is in a slimline CD case:

So, if you purchased all six of these CD singles in 1997 the non-LP extras you got were: ‘Looking For You’, ‘Broomstick’, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’ and ‘Same Love’, plus Parts 1-6 of the ‘Oobu Joobu’ radio show spread across the six singles.

The new Flaming Pie Collectors Edition, Deluxe box set, and the 2CD set will each contain the four non-LP songs, but it seems the ‘Oobu Joobu’ content (found only on the Collectors Edition and Deluxe box sets) will be different edits to the originals because they are all quite a bit shorter in duration.

While we’re on the subject of ‘Oobu Joobu’, in the USA when you purchased Flaming Pie at a Best Buy store, you received a voucher for a bonus CD of further ‘Oobu Joobu’ content. The CD was limited to 3000 copies. It contains a cut down version of Episode 5 of the show called ‘Ecology’. It runs 41:55.

In the Netherlands there was a Promo CD for ‘Young Boy’ issued to radio stations. It came in plain slimline jewel case:

And in the UK a Promo CD for ‘The World Tonight’:

And also one for ‘Beautiful Night’:

Both these came in a slimline jewel cases, with orange and yellow Flaming Pie logos stencilled onto their clear plastic doors.

Also included in the forthcoming re-issue box sets is McCartney’s 1996 collaboration with poet Allen Ginsberg called The Ballad of the Skeletons. This will be on the CD4-B-sides disc plus, in the US$600 Collectors Edition, it will be issued on vinyl for the first time as a 12” single with vinyl etching, and a poster.

Back in 1996 the four track Ballad of the Skeletons CD looked like this:Our copy is still sealed, so these CD and booklet images are courtesy of our friend Andrey:

 

(As usual, click on any of the images above to view larger versions.)

Vale Robert Freeman – Beatle Photographer Extraordinaire

If you don’t think you know the work of photographer Robert Freeman, you do.

He captured some of the most iconic images of his generation. Today has come the sad news that Robert Freeman, the Beatle photographer who has given us so much joy, has passed away at the age of 82.

The official Beatles site has posted a memorial, as have newspapers around the world. This is because of Freeman’s creative legacy, not the least of which is some of the most memorable album covers of all time:

The Paul McCartney official website has run a tribute today, testament to the regard in which he, and The Beatles, held Robert Freeman:

Dear Robert Freeman has passed away. He was one of our favourite photographers during the Beatles years who came up with some of our most iconic album covers. Besides being a great professional he was imaginative and a true original thinker. People often think that the cover shot for  Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor. I think it took no more than half an hour to accomplish.

Bob also took the Rubber Soul cover; his normal practice was to use a slide projector and project the photos he’d taken onto a piece of white cardboard which was exactly album sized, thus giving us an accurate idea of how the finished product would look. During his viewing session the card which had been propped up on a small table fell backwards giving the photograph a ‘stretched’ look. Instead of simply putting the card upright again we became excited at the idea of this new version of his photograph. He assured us that it was possible to print it this way and because the album was titled Rubber Soul we felt that the image fitted perfectly.

I will miss this wonderful man but will always cherish the fond memories I have of him.

Some Unusual Asian Beatle Items – Part Five

Well, it seems that all good things (eventually) come to those who wait.

You know what it’s like in this Beatle collecting business. You have titles and versions on your list you’re on the lookout for and they just never seem to appear during any of your travels, or in searches online….

That’s what happened here. Way back in 2010 we had a holiday in Vietnam and found a few interesting Beatle items along the way. Amongst them, in a Hanoi CD store, was a series called The Beatles Double Golden Collection. This is a series where two, separate Beatle albums have been issued in one double CD box, each with an outer cardboard slipcase. You can read more about what these look like here.

The sets on display in the store were Magical Mystery Tour/Yellow Submarine; Please Please Me/Sgt. Pepper; Revolver/WIth The Beatles; Help!/Rubber Soul; Abbey Road/Let It Be; and Hard Day’s Night/Beatles For Sale. I know, odd pairings.

These all seem to have been pressed around 2009, the same time as the then-new Beatles Remastered CD reissues because each disc in these sets also had mini-documentaries included.

One album from the canon has been obvoius by its absence. Missing from the shelves in Hanoi was the legendary The Beatles (or The White Album). It just wasn’t in the store when we were there. So, every now and then since 2010 we’d have a quiet look at eBay to see if anything like The Beatles Double Golden Collection popped up in searches. It never has….

Until last week.

After nine long years this has finally been added to the collection:

That’s the front cover of the outer cardboard slipcase. It’s not an exact match (it doesn’t say Beatles Double Golden Collection, for example), but this is clearly from the same company that produced the other CDs as just about every other detail is identical. Here’s the rear of the slipcase: Inside is a larger than usual plastic CD jewel case. Not sure why, but it is bigger:This jewel case holds two discs, one each side of one of those flip-over trays:And inside is a booklet that contains no real text (except for photo location details), just lots of images of The Beatles, most but not all of them time relevant to the the recording dates of the The White Album! The rear cover of the booklet is from the Let It Be sessions:So, not sure what the moral of this story is. Patience pays off? Finally, after nearly a decade, the basic set of Beatle albums in this sereis is complete. Also, after a lot of research on these, we’re pretty sure they are not official.

As usual click on the images if you’d like to see larger versions.

See also: Some Unusual Asian Beatle Items – Part One; Some Unusual Asian Beatle Items – Part Two; Some Unusual Asian Beatle Items – Part Three; and Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Four.

Pro-Ject – The Singles Collection Turntable

As part of the forthcoming The Beatles: The Singles Collection box set due on November 22, Apple Records has once again teamed up with the Pro-Ject turntable guys to produce a Beatle-themed turntable so that you can play your new 45rpm box set discs:In a Beatle USA webstore exclusive to celebrate the release of The Beatles: The Singles Collection, Pro-Ject Audio Systems will be releasing “The Singles Turntable”.

The record player deck features a collage of all the original Beatles single sleeves. The unit will be based on Pro-Ject’s award-winning Debut III model but will feature the following upgrades:

  • Electronic speed change (33/45)
  • 8,6” Aluminium S-shaped tonearm with two SME headshells, each with its own pre-calibrated cartridge so you can easily change headshells to switch between a mono and stereo cartridge for playback
  • The two included cartridges are a new Pro-Ject designed Ortofon manufactured Pick It Mono cartridge for mono record playback, and an Ortofon 2M Red for stereo record playback
  • Heavy acrylic platter

This turntable will only be available on the official Beatles web store, and on Pro-Ject’s own website, and will only be available for order and purchase through to December 31 this year.

Check out our article on all the other Beatle-related turntables that Pro-Ject has produced.

Revolutions: Records + Rebels – Five Years That Shook the World

Got the chance on the weekend to visit Melbourne Museum and the second-to-last day of a significant exhibition (mounted in conjunction with The Victoria and Albert Museum in London) called Revolutions: Records + Rebels – Five Years That Shook the World.

This extensive collection explores five explosive years between 1966–1970, focussing on the immense cultural shifts being experienced around the world by a liberated, post-war generation coming of age. It’s the 60s we’ve heard about brought to life with a massive amount of memorabilia, fashion, books, art, posters and music.

And of course, The Beatles are scattered liberally throughout.

The project highlights many of the key subject areas that shaped the late 60s: revolution, fashion, drugs, sub-cultures, human rights, feminism, war, protests, consumerism, festivals… all the while set against an awesome rock & roll soundtrack of the time.

On display are some iconic Beatle items, including original posters advertising their albums:

Beside this poster for the album Revolver (above – eye reflections are in the glass) is another one called ‘A is For Apple’, designed by the Dutch artists The Fool whose psychedelic and colourful work was highly influential on The Beatles. This poster promoted the band’s short-lived Apple Boutique on Baker Street in London:

Also on display were John Lennon’s hand-written lyrics for ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’:

And the brocade frock coat he wore while filming the historic 1967 Our World broadcast of the Beatles song ‘All You Need Is Love’:

Of course Lennon’s original  Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band uniform drew a big crowd:

There were also two original, hand-lettered Hair Peace and Bed Peace signs from 1969 and the ‘Bed-In For Peace’ events held by John Lennon and his newly-married bride Yoko Ono. The one in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada was where they recorded ‘Give Peace a Chance’ with Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and others. These two come from the collection of Yoko Ono:

Another item from her collection is this notepad sheet from the The New York Hilton containing hand-written lyrics to Lennon’s ‘Imagine’:

And just across from it, the jacket that John wore when filming the song at the white piano in the couple’s lounge room in their Tittenhurst Park estate:

All images from Revolutions: Records + Rebels – Five Years that Shook the World. The exhibition at the Melbourne Musum in Victoria, Australia was extended by popular demand from its original closing date of Sunday, August 25 to Sunday, October 6.

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.

Original “Blackbird” To Get An Orchestral and Choral Overdub

For the first time ever° an original version of a Beatle song has been overdubbed with strings and choir and will be included on a forthcoming charity album called Animal Requiem.

Animal Requiem is the brainchild of composer (and wife of Pete Townsend), Rachel Fuller. An animal lover, she has written a musical work with the intention of celebrating, remembering and honouring all the animals we have loved and lost.

As a long-time animal rights supporter Paul McCartney was also keen to be involved, and has granted permission for the Beatle song ‘Blackbird’ to be included. It’s apparently the original White Album recording (featuring McCartney’s vocal and guitar), but now accompanied by an entirely new classical arrangement performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Choir of London, conducted by Robert Ziegler.

Rachel Fuller, Animal Requiem composer
            Rachel Fuller, Animal Requiem composer. Picture: Terry McGough

Rachel Fuller said, “I composed the Animal Requiem for all of us who have lost a much beloved pet – the pain we feel is equal to the love we felt for them. With this music, I honour and remember all the animals I have loved and lost. All their lives have had an extraordinary impact on mine and I am forever grateful.”

The Requiem has been created for every person who is passionate about animal welfare, who believes in a world where animals are treated with kindness and compassion, and that each and every life is a valuable one.

All profits from the album and ticket sales from concert performances will be donated to animal charities and small independently run shelters around the world.

The album will be released in the UK on March 8. It is already available as a digital download in the US, with ‘Blackbird’ only downloadable if you purchase the whole album.

° Of course there was the lovely George Martin string arrangement for ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ used in the Cirque Du Soleil stage show and included on the Beatles Love album. But that’s a different vocal/acoustic version of the song, not the original from The White Album. Have there been any others?