A Very Happy Christmas To All

A very happy Christmas and a joyous New Year to all our readers.

May you all have a safe and fun holiday season.

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The Music of Destiny Volume 1 – Sold Out Already

We have been on an email waiting list for about six months to be alerted to when the official vinyl release of The Music of Destiny – Volume 1 would once more become available.

That email finally came in this morning, stating that the 6-disc Collectors Edition Vinyl Box Set was now back in the Bungie online store. As Paul McCartney fans will know, he contributed to the soundtrack behind their video game called Destiny.

When we first clicked through the set was definitely showing an “Add To Cart” button. But when we clicked through again about two hours later, the Bungie order page was once more listing it as “Sold Out”. Strange.

There are two main McCartney contributions to The Music of Destiny. He shares a joint composing credit with Martin O’Donnell for the instrumental passages used throughout the game. This is called ‘Music of the Spheres’. Plus there was a new song recorded specifically for the game to accompany the extensive closing credits – much like those at the end of a movie. That song is called “Hope For the Future” and is produced by Giles Martin. The song was recorded at Abbey Road, and at Sir Paul’s own Hog Hill Mill studio in East Sussex, England.

The ‘Hope For The Future’ song (in a number of versions) was subsequently officially issued by McCartney himself as a 180 gram, 12″ vinyl extended single – this was way back in January, 2015.

Then, as some will know, about Christmas time last year, two fans took matters into their own hands and unofficially released their own compilation of the soundtrack to the video game. They also called this Music of the Spheres, and this was distributed on the web as a download.

Bungie finally came good with a limited physical vinyl box set released (we think – it’s a bit vague) in around June this year, though this wasn’t widely publicised. It’s the same 6-disc set linked to above. It too quickly sold out, and the email notification sign-up offer for news about when it would be back in print was made.

Now it seems The Music of Destiny – Volume 1 was briefly made available again for a few days but is once more sold out……

You can however still order a digital download of Destiny – The Official Soundtrack:

The Complete Beatles Songs – The Stories Behind Every Track Written by The Fab Four

Here’s a nice little Christmas stocking-filler for you.

If you’re on the lookout for a decent Beatle book this holiday season, you should consider The Complete Beatles Songs – The Stories Behind Every Track Written by The Fab Four. It is written by the respected music writer, Steve Turner, and has just been re-published in a paperback format:

This book has actually been around in a couple of different forms and editions dating back as far as 1994.

You might know it as A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song, and over the years more than 440,000 copies have been sold. That’s because when it was first released the book was a first of its kind, a definitive examination of Beatle lyrics all gathered together in one complete package.

And this is why it has stayed in print, and why it is regularly updated and re-issued with new information as it comes to hand, and as new titles in the Beatles discography are added. It has been expanded considerably over the years with new findings added, and it has jettisoned some false information along the way too.

The book’s purpose is the definitive analysis of the words of the songs. It includes the full lyrics to each, and details why, how and where the recordings were created. The meaning behind each song is explored, as are the characters, places and themes. It is richly illustrated throughout too.

Steve Turner is a journalist, biographer and poet who writes about music, and has done so for a wide range of publications over many years. He’s the author of a number of books, and in 2016 wrote the critically acclaimed Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year.

As he writes in the Introduction to The Complete Beatles Songs, “More than forty years since the band stopped playing, those songs still mean something to us. They are like old friends who we met when we were young and who made life a little more exciting and easier to cope with. Because of what they did for us, we heave great affection for them. It is because we hold such affection for them that it makes sense to find out where they came from”.

So, maybe your old copy of Steve Turner’s original is getting a bit dog-eared and beaten-up, or you just want to get this latest, updated edition, or maybe this will be your very first copy of this essential book. Either way, The Complete Beatles Songs should find it’s place in every serious Beatle collector’s library.

The edition shown here was re-issued in paperback by Carlton Books in October this year.(As usual, click on the images for larger versions)

McCartney ‘Wild Life’ and ‘Red Rose Speedway’ Unboxings

We all greatly appreciate the many fans putting up “unboxing” videos of the latest Beatle and solo releases.

But Paul McCartney has gone one better by inviting the writers who contributed the main essays to his latest Paul McCartney Archive Collection deluxe edition reissues, Wings Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway, to talk through what they think of each album and in the process unpack the contents for us. Brilliant stuff.

First up is David Fricke, senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine who penned the Wild Life essay:

And then Amanda Petrusich, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine who wrote the essay that accompanies Red Rose Speedway:

Beatles White Album 50th Anniversary SDE – Anyone Else Worried?

We’ve just taken delivery of the new Beatles 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album), and we love the look of the packaging.

It is undeniably beautiful in its pure-white, large format book form, and the clear plastic slipcase – printed with the four band members on the front and the track listing on the back –  creates a very special first impression. But for how long?

While we appreciate the design, we couldn’t help but be reminded of two similar approaches to this style of packaging that have not stood the test of time.

Both examples signal that there will be definitely be a long-term deterioration to your pristine new 50th Anniversary White Album clear plastic slipcase.

As it turns out the two examples were both released twenty years ago in 1998, and the first is from the Beatles own Apple Records, so you might have thought that they’d have learned something about what happens to clear plastic outer slipcases over time.

It’s actually The White Album in its 30th anniversary edition version:

While a much smaller and more modest design, the 30th anniversary White Album also comes in a clear plastic outer slipcase, similar to the new 50th anniversary edition. The example shown here was purchased brand new in 1998 and we’ve tried hard to keep it in mint condition. But even so, that plastic outer sleeve is beginning to show the first signs of ageing and yellowing:

Likewise, there’s a wonderful deluxe, long-box style book and three CD set called The Look of Love – The Burt Bacharach Collection, that’s showing even worse signs of age on its once crystal clear plastic outer sleeve:

This too has been in our collection since new from 1998, but that plastic outer sleeve – on which is printed the album title and a list of some of the top songs it contains – is now almost completely yellowed, especially around the spine area where it is glued:

At the time of release this clear slipcase was a real design plus – but sadly it’s now looking quite ordinary and aged:

Interestingly the cardboard packaging part of the design inside both slipcases have stayed nice and white:

So, it begs the question: in twenty years time what will your 2018 Super Deluxe Edition of The Beatles White Album look like?

McCartney Red Rose Speedway – Deluxe Edition Unboxing

Paul McCartney has now issued an “unboxing” video of the forthcoming deluxe edition of his album Red Rose Speedway. This accompanies a similar video released last week for Wings Wild Life:

Red Rose Speedway and Wild Life are the next two titles in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection series, and both are due for release on December 7. Full details are contained in the official press release.

The Red Rose Speedway video reveals quite a bit more about the packaging, and just what will be included in the deluxe box set – even a short extract of the never-before-seen, fully restored The Bruce McMouse Show video in its own special folio. 

Really looking forward to this one!

New Book: The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 3

If you’ve got the first two volumes in this impressive (and growing) body of work, then you’ll definitely want to have Jerry Hammack’s latest installment, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 3: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band through Magical Mystery Tour (late 1966-1967) as part of your collection:

Hammack is a Canadian-American musician, producer and recording engineer known for his in-depth knowledge of vintage recording techniques. You can learn more about Jerry at his website jerryhammack.com

Like previous volumes, this book contains song-by-song reconstructions of the session work (for both performance and technical) that went into each of The Beatles’ singles, EPs and albums – from the start of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band era to the release Magical Mystery Tour.

Hammack’s reconstructions of what went down come from his painstaking examination of the most reliable and authoritative resources, including original EMI studios documentation; recollections and interviews with the original engineers who worked on the sessions; photographic and film evidence of the band at work; and of course analysis of the actual recordings themselves, including the many out-takes, session recordings and remixes available. Where there’s doubt or conflicting information, Hammack tries to document and reconcile discrepancies and offers well-considered justifications for the views he is putting forward.

The particular period covered in this volume offers rich pickings because The Beatles had recently given up touring in preference to immersing themselves entirely in the recording process and learning to make the studio itself another one of their instruments. As Hammack writes: “Spanning 189 days between November 24th, 1966 and June 1st, 1967 the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band era forever set The Beatles apart from any other band in the history of popular music. If Revolver had freed the band from the four-piece format that best suited live performance, Pepper shattered those shackles entirely.”

A good example comes from the first song to be recorded in the Pepper sessions, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. This required work, on and off, over a 35 day period with 12 different recording sessions before it was completed.

What we find for each song is when and where each recording session took place; which instruments were played; what type of microphones were used; what signal processing was in place; what effects units were used; even details on the types of speakers in the studios and control rooms used to listen back to and mix the recordings. The detail here for those who are into the minutiae of this sort of stuff is extraordinary. Added to the detail are informative, song-by-song visual representations of how each song came together:Looking ahead, Hammack has only Volume 4 to go. It will be the final book in the series and covers off the LPs The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) through to Abbey Road (1968-1970). The plan is to release that volume in about 6 months time.

See also our review of Volume 1 and Volume 2 in the series, plus Jerry Hammack’s official Beatles Recording Reference Manuals website for the book, and Amazon’s Look Inside if you’d like to get a better idea of the format and what each book contains.