Is Australia the very first country to see the new Beatles Remastered Stereo Vinyl Box Set delivered?
The new records aren’t due for release in the UK and the USA until next week (12 and 13 November respectively). However, today I got a call from my local record store in Sydney saying “Come on in – your order for the Beatles box set is ready for collection today“. (That’s Thursday, 8 November)
Naturally I high-tailed it down there – and here are the first pictures of it being unpacked. It comes in a big protective outer box:
The large sticker declaring the contents is placed on both sides of the box:
The two shipping labels on the side. Both say “Deliver Thursday”:
When you open the box you see what looks like another box-within-a-box:
It is held in place by two thick white foam inserts that you usually see in packaging for large electrical goods like TV’s, etc. At this point I should say this package is incredibly heavy. You actually have to lie it on its side to slide it out:
What initially looked like an inner box is actually a thick brown cardboard wrap around the main package (above). Once you take it off you see this:
It’s just like the Beatles Remastered Stereo CD box released in 2009. There’s a thin cardboard outer sleeve around the record box itself. As you can see above it has “The Beatles” and an Apple logo printed on the front. This is what’s printed on the rear:
The outer sleeve slides off to reveal the main, lidded box:
Opening the lid – there are two pieces of black foam and two large moisture absorbing packs:
The book and all the LPs are completely sealed in heat-shrink plastic:
“Let It Be” (below) has the green Apple on the rear:
The book is really heavy and looks amazing – even in its heat-shrink wrap:
It has black-edged pages:
One side of the outer sleeve has the record and book edges printed on it. I guess that’s so it’ll look good when sitting on a shelf with that edge facing out:
Well, that’s about it for now. Hope you enjoyed this. Haven’t had time to open up any of the records or the book. Just wanted to get this up quickly for all to have sneak peek at the new Beatles Remastered Stereo Vinyl Box Set.
Well the news is well and truly out, and as usual Wogblog had it pretty much ahead of of anybody else (see his posts here, here, here, here, andhere). The guy is amazing.
Apple and EMI are about to formally announce that the entire digitally remastered Beatles stereo back-catalogue (released on CD back in 2009) is finally to be released on vinyl. The albums will be available individually, or collected in a limited edition (50,000 copies) box set:
Accompanying the box will be a new 252 page hardbound book written by Beatles historian Kevin Howlett, with dedicated chapters for every album a wealth of photos – many not used in the 2009 CD booklets:
The box set will contain all twelve studio albums, plus “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Past Masters – Volumes 1 & 2”, all sourced from the original master tapes:
Pressed using 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl, the individual albums will also faithfully recreate the original artwork and come with the same extras as the original albums – for example the poster and four individual photographs with the “White Album”, and the cutout sheet and psychedelic inner sleave in “Sgt. Pepper”. As you can see below the labels (Parlophone and Apple) will be faithful to the originals too:
All-in-all this looks like it will have been worth the very long wait as a lot of time and effort has gone into preparing the vinyl for re-issue. Music Direct has some further technical information on the painstaking process of getting the vinyl properly and authentically pressed to an exacting standard.
The individual LPs and the box set and book will be released on November 12 in the UK and Europe, and on November 13 in the USA.
It was released today (Friday, September 2) in Australia:
This is the re-issue, in newly remastered form, of “The Beatles 1” compilation which first came out in the year 2000. As the sticker on the front cover says: “27 Classic Number 1 Singles – Remastered”. Here’s the rear cover:
These are the remasters done at the same time as the big release of all the albums back in 2009. It comes in a cardboard gatefold sleeve that’s in the same format as all the 2009 re-issues.
Below is the front cover of the booklet, which despite some speculation that it would be different, has exactly the same 30 pages and layout as the 2000 issue:
Each page is dedicated to a particular song and gives the recording place and date, chart information and full colour photographs of various record sleeves of that single from around the world. Even the CD printing is the same as the 2000 issue:
I was in Hobart, Tasmania this week and a friend mentioned at dinner that he’d just picked up a new biography of Paul McCartney.
“What new biography?” I said, as I’d not heard of it. “Oh, its just been released. Looks good”, said he.
Well, next day I had an hour or two to kill waiting for the plane home, and so decided to take wander along the main street of the town. I popped into the local Angus and Robertson bookstore – and to my great surprise there it was on the shelf in its paperback form:
Front cover "FAB: An Intimate Life of Paul Mccartney"
As you can see from the Australian and UK cover above (yes, I bought a copy), it’s called “FAB: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney”, written by Howard Sounes. Harper Collins is the Australian publisher and their website says it was published here and in the UK only very recently – on 25 August, 2010.
Until this week, I’d never heard of it! It has certainly flown under the radar as there hasn’t been much written about it in the lead-up to its release. At least, it flew under my Beatles radar….
In the US it gets a different cover:
As one reviewer asked, does the world need another Paul McCartney biography? The answer is that while this one does trawl through the early days once more, it brings us up right up to date with what has been a prolific and interesting later career. In fact the work includes “Electric Arguments”, “Good Evening New York City”, the Beatles Remastered releases, and his illustrated children’s book “High in the Clouds” released last year.
And it is big – 634 pages. I only got it yesterday – so a review will be coming later.
Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music have announced that The Beatles original 1973 compilations, “1962-1966” (‘Red’) and “1967-1970” (‘Blue’) have been digitally remastered for worldwide CD release on October 18 (October 19 in the USA).
Both will be 2CD packages and each will include expanded booklets with original liner notes, newly written essays by Bill Flanagan, and rare photos. However, in typical EMI/Apple fashion they will not have contain any bonus material, nor any bonus DVD discs 😦
Its the same team at Abbey Road Studios responsible for remastering The Beatles original studio albums remasters in stereo and mono last year who have carefully maintained the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings of the “Red” and “Blue” albums. The result will be the highest fidelity versions the catalogue has seen since its original 1973 release.
See the official Beatles news site (now with cover art) here, and the EMI Music press release here.
This blog is sub-titled “Adventures in Collecting Beatles Music”, and this post continues an examination of some South East Asian Beatles releases purchased in Hanoi on a recent trip to Vietnam.
Further investigation of these hasn’t categorically ruled out their legitimacy but it seems more likely that they’re actually illegal fakes that someone (in China) has taken a lot of time and trouble to manufacture to make them appear very much like official releases…..
In Part One I wrote about the 5 DVD “Anthology” box-set I found in Hanoi. This next post is about a series of six double CDs called “The Beatles Double Golden Collection”:
It’s a series where two Beatles albums have been released in one CD box, each with an outer cardboard slipcase. The ones I was able to purchase were:
Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine
Please Please Me and Sgt Pepper
Revolver and WIth the Beatles
Help and Rubber Soul
Abbey Road and Let It Be
Hard Days Night and Beatles For Sale
Each CD has the same documentaries as those found on the recent stereo “Beatles Remastered” discs. So, its clear that these CDs came out following the October 2009 release of those new “remastered” CDs.
If that’s the case then I can only assume that there must be at least two more titles in the “Beatles Double Golden Collection” series. There should be one that has the2 CD “The Beatles” (White Album)”, and one for the 2 CD “Past Masters” release. These would then fill out the catalogue. The shop in which I purchased the CD’s above mustn’t have these two titles in stock at the time – so I was able to get only these six.
These releases are interesting for a couple of reasons. As you can see above, they have a large logo at top left of the packaging for something called SHM-CD or “Super High Material CD”. According to the internet this is “…an advance in the materials used in the production of Compact Discs that uses super quality, enhanced transparency polycarbonate material in the manufacture of CD’s”. The aim of this is to improve the sound. A Google search reveals what looks to be legitimate information about SHM-CD . It says it was invented by Universal Records and the Japanese electrics company JVC – both well-known and respected companies. This official-looking website has more information about the technology and some of the releases on SHM-CD. The rear of the slipcase also has some detailed information (in Chinese) about SHM-CD – see the top right-hand side of the image below (click on the image to make it larger):
Slipcase for Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine, with panel about SHM-CD
There’s also a panel showing what looks like very official logos for Apple Records, QuickTime, Enhanced CD, and Compact Disc:
I’d really love to hear from anyone out there who can read Chinese and can shed some light on what the small print says, or who knows if these are legal Chinese copies of Beatles discs.
As to the contents of each CD, they appear to be exactly the same as the recent Beatles Stereo Remastered series – and the quality of the recordings is first rate. The 2-CD jewel cases are not of a standard size but larger in every dimension. You can see this clearly below when they are placed side-by-side with a standard CD jewel case:
Standard CD jewel case (top) compared to Double Golden Collection jewel case (below)
The spines are also wider than standard:
Spine of a standard CD (right) compared to the Double Golden case (left)
Inside there are two CD’s on a swinging inner “door” with CD disc “A” on one side and CD disc “B” on the other:
The booklets in the “Double Golden Collection” contain lots of photographs of the Beatles. There is no text in the booklets at all. All the photos are exactly the same as those found in the booklets which come with the latest official Beatles “Remastered” series:
"Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper" booklet
"Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper" booklet
Here’s a closer shot of one of the CDs in the set:
"Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper" CD 1
The rear cover of the jewel case details all the songs on the two albums. Notice the reference to the the special mini-documentaries. These were produced by Apple and accompany each album in the “Remastered” series as well:
Rear cover of the CD jewel case for "Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper". Notice the last track for each title is the "making of" mini documentary for each album - just like in the official "Remasters" series
Again, the official logos (including Apple) and even a bar-code appear, making it tough when you are standing in a Hanoi record store trying to decide if these are indeed legitimate releases sanctioned by the Beatles and their record company Apple Records. If these are fakes whoever produced them has gone to extraordinary lengths to make them appear to be legitimate Beatle releases.
The other thing is – since returning home I’ve researched these titles fairly extensively on the web and can find nothing about them. I think that this post may be the very first to detail them.
At the Beatles own official website there’s a lot of info about “Love” their 2006 album, which is not only the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil performance show celebrating the Beatles music, but also a controversial departure for the Beatles in that its made up of some of their best-known songs remastered and re-mixed with sounds and songs from across their extensive catalogue. “Love” is produced by longtime Beatles producer Sir George Martin and his son Giles, and it won two Grammy Awards in the categories Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Medium, and Best Surround Sound Album.
For dedicated Beatles fans and collectors it proved to be a bit of of a challenge. Firstly, had the Beatles done the unthinkable and started to mess with the canon? Debate still continues as to whether this was a smart move, or a folly. Additionally, there were numerous release variations to buy if you were an avid collector. Two CD versions, promotional CDs, and other bits and pieces to track down for the completists amongst us…
To start with there was a single disc with the standard stereo mix in a standard jewel case:
"Love" single CD - front cover
"Love" single CD - rear
"Love" CD - with the single CD artwork
Then there was a two-disc set that came with more elaborate packaging. It’s a double fold-out Digipac in a thick slipcase. The package contains the single CD with the standard stereo mix (but with a slightly different printed image on the CD to the single version CD shown above). Added to this is a separate DVD disc containing the 5.1 surround sound mix. Same track list and songs – but if you have a 5.1 stereo set-up at home, the songs and sound effects surround you. It has the same booklet as the single CD release.
"Love" two disc edition - front cover
"Love" two disc edition - rear of slipcase
The final official commercial release (which came out a few weeks after the CD’s) was the vinyl LP. It arrived in a deluxe, 2 disc, gate-fold package. Mine is still sealed, so these images I’ve borrowed from the web.
"Love" vinyl LP set
"Love" gatefold open
"Love" vinyl LP - rear
As you can see the vinyl edition came with custom labels for each LP, and is contained in a gate-fold cover with a large-format book. Its similar to the CD booklet, but because of the large format – complete with rich colour images from the Cirque du Soleil production – it is way more impressive.
There was also a four-song radio sampler released to stations around the world. This was done in an effort to generate publicity and conversation about the forthcoming new Beatles release for 2006. The songs on it were “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Octopus’s Garden”, “Lady Madonna” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (which was one of the most anticipated tracks from the whole album as it was George Harrison’s original demo tape of the song accompanied by a completely new string arrangement composed by George Martin for the new “Love” record). This promo CD was sent out with a press release containing quotes from Sir George Martin and his son Giles – who co-produced the album – talking about the four tracks on the promo CD. They describe how those songs were selected and give some of the background to the production techniques employed in mashing together different parts of Beatles songs to pretty much make completely new versions -a radical thought at the time. The cover of the radio sampler promo CD looks like this:
"Love" radio sampler promo CD - front
And the rear:
"Love" radio sampler promo CD - rear
Apple/EMI was obviously determined to give “Love” the full promotional and marketing treatment because they also pressed and distributed (in limited numbers) a special “Interview Disc” featuring Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George and Giles Martin in conversation about “Love”. The interviews were recorded in October 2006, and they are all stand-alone statements about dirrent aspects of the work that went into producing “Love”, and the running order works through the release track-by-track. Its an interesting historical artifact to have in the collection. And definitely an authentic, original release. As you can see, again it has a colour variation of the “Love” artwork common to all releases:
"Love" promotional interview disc - front cover
"Love" promotional interview disc - rear cover and CD art
This disc is entirely spoken word and contains edited voices only. No music. The idea was that radio stations would get the songs from the official CD and make their own radio specials. For a time there on the web, via Ebay and the like, there was also a disc called “The Beatles Love – Radio Special”, purportedly distributed by Capitol in the US. I got a copy of this but, while someone has gone to a lot of trouble to make it look authentic, there is something suspicious about this one. The special is hosted by a DJ named Andre Gardner. If you Google him he seems legit, very much associated with covering Beatles news, hosting a show on WMGK in Philadelphia and having a Facebook page dedicated to the Beatles. Now, Capitol may well have commissioned this radio special and hired Andre to host it. It does have additional material to the official “Interview Disc” in that there are comments on “Love” by Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono in addition to Paul, Ringo, and George and Giles Martin. And it comes with an official-looking running sheet, with track details and outcues. Here’s a short extract from the program:
There are some images of this CD below. If anyone can shed any more detail on this release – drop me a comment and let me know….
"Love" Capitol Records Radio Special - front cover - genuine?
"Love" Capitol Records Radio Special - CD
Meanwhile….at the time of the “Love” release the Beatles official website had not long been launched (it looked quite different to it’s present incarnation), and Apple used the new site to deliver a series of five down-loadable podcasts to further promote “Love”. Each was between six to seven minutes in duration, and like the official “Interview Disc” above, it contained extracts 0f Paul, Ringo, George Martin and Giles Martin talking about “Love”. Hosted by UK presenter Robert Lindsay, it contains music extracts mixed with the spoken word extracts. Quite nice to have.
Yet another spin-off for collectors was the DVD “All Together Now”, a documentary film about the creation of the Cirque du Soleil show and the accompanying soundtrack CDs. Earlier this year took out a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video. (I posted about this at the time).
It must have been 27 years ago. It was a chance visit to a local record shop in Forestville, a northern suburb of Sydney, Australia.
Back then “record” stores were just that. They sold vinyl records. However, at the time many were in a state of transition. Compact Discs had just come out and the writing was very much on the wall for the humble vinyl record. At the time this record shop was in the process of getting rid of it’s vinyl, settling into the retailing of CD’s, and transitioning to become a video movie hire shop – on the way out of music all together.
I walked in for a look around and saw this small box set on one of the shelves:
Box set – The Beatles E.P.’s Collection
It was sitting alone. Catalogue number: Odeon Mono EAS-30013-26.
You had the definite feeling that it had been on that shelf quite some time….had not sold…and the owners were definitely keen to shift it. I took it down and noticed it didn’t have a price sticker on it. I also noticed that amongst the individual vinyl singles they still had displayed that they’d opened at least one other similar box set to break up the contents and sell the EP records it contained individually.
I walked up to the counter and asked “How much is this one?”, holding up the box set. “You can have it for A$25.00”, said the guy behind the counter. Now, back then it wasn’t dirt cheap, but it was cheap for the quality of this mint, red vinyl Japanese copy of the entire Beatles Extended Play vinyl discs. I bought it.
What you see here is that same box set from all those years ago.
Beatles E.P.’s Collection – box spine
This Japanese release is the same as the U.K. set, except that all fifteen records inside are pressed on red vinyl and the two-record Magical Mystery Tour is in mono instead of stereo. All discs in fact are mono – except The Inner Light, which is in stereo.
The Beatles E.P.’s Collection – lid opening
Each of the fifteen EP records inside come with plastic covers:
All the discs have plastic covers
Another interesting thing is that these discs play at 33 and 1/3 r.p.m, not the usual 45 r.p.m. There’s a paper sheet inside (in Japanese) with some information about the release:
Beatles E.P.’s – paper insert sheet
The famed 2-record EP Magical Mystery Tour comes complete with the gatefold and booklet just like the original, and as already mentioned, is in mono:
Mono Japanese Magical Mystery Tour
And all the discs come pressed in a delicious-looking transparent red vinyl, and all with the original cover artwork:
The lovely red vinyl “Nowhere Man” EP
Note the “33and 1/3 r.p.m.” on the left-hand side of the label.
The red vinyl again – and each disc has plastic inner sleeves
So that left the Beatles Stereo Remastered box set still to do as an “unboxing”.
Instead of me doing it in still photos, I thought I’d have a quick look around on YouTube to see if there was a decent video example of the Stereo Box set being opened so you can see what it contains, and also to see if there was anything on the little Beatles USB that contains all the CD remasters in both MP3 and FLAC 24-bit quality, plus all the mini documentaries and the artwork for each album.
Turns out there is one video that does both the Stereo Box and a really detailed look at the packaging for the USB and the little Apple USB itself. Two for the price of one:
In searching for these I also found a guy who shows the user interface for the USB once it is plugged into your computer. You get to see what he’s seeing as he moves around the menus: