The Beatles ‘The Singles Collection’ – First Unboxing Video and Review

Once again* every other reviewer and music writer has been beaten to the draw by US critic Michael Fremer of Analog Planet website fame.

Fremer has not only the first review of The Beatles new The Singles Collection box set, but also the first unboxing video showing in detail what the box, the 23 seven-inch singles and booklet look like. This box set is not officially released until this coming Friday (22 November), but Fremer uploaded his unboxing video on November 16:

The review, which followed the unboxing, is not kind.

Fremer, who had hoped the laquers for the singles had all been cut direct from the original analogue tapes, says: “The new box sounds dry, flat and boring. All of the voices reside on a flat plane, attack is stunted, sustain minimized and decay almost non-existent—all of the telltale signs of bad digitization—obvious even on the early “primitive” tracks. After comparing a few I moved forward to “Baby You’re a Rich Man” and after that comparison I stopped to write this.”

He went on to compare these latest singles with those from the 1978 World Records/EMI box set containing 25 Beatle singles. These he writes “…sound alive, exciting and packed with transient details and depth. The top end sparkles where appropriate—like on “Ticket to Ride”, where the guitar jangle is intense and Ringo’s toms have depth and texture.” 

“To say I’m disappointed with the sound [of this new box] is an understatement. It’s as weak as the packaging is strong. As a souvenir or attractive shelf item this set gets an 11. As something you’d want to play it gets a 5: middling. I don’t know what happened here but it produced a dull top, rubbery bottom, congested midrange, flat, dry perspective and heavy dynamic compression.”

This has re-ignited the hot debate about whether or not these new singles are indeed all analogue (AAA), or if they have been digitised and then cut to vinyl. You can read Fremer’s full review here.

* Fremer did the same with the 50th anniversary re-issue of Abbey Road in September this year, and The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) in October last year.

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.

Unusual New Zealand ‘All Things Must Pass’

We scored an unusual example of George Harrison’s 1970 solo triple LP All Things Must Pass the other day.

It’s an original, early pressing from New Zealand, and a couple of things set it apart.

Firstly the box. It has the familiar photograph of George and his gnomes in the garden of his home at Friar Park on the front, but the hinged box itself is not black, but a lovely deep blue colour which I hope you cane pick up in the images below:

As you can probably see, the front cover photo isn’t in great shape, having had something removed from the top left-hand corner, but otherwise the box itself is in reasonable condition. This box set is quite rare as only the first run of this album was shipped with the box made in New Zealand. After these ran out HMV NZ imported the Australian triple gatefold version of the sleeve.

Here’s the inside of the lid listing song titles and credits:

The three LPs inside come in the familiar inner lyric sleeves. However, these too are different in colour to other international versions:

And the orange Apple labels are also unique, done in that slightly washed-out colour tone common to New Zealand pressings:

These Apple labels don’t have the “cut” Apple on the flip side, while the third Apple Jam label is particularly nice:

Here are two close-ups of the New Zealand manufacturing credits:

And finally the box spine, with the gold lettering – this time on a deep blue background:(As usual, click on the images to see larger versions)

We also have an unusual Singaporean copy of All Things Must Pass that’s worth a look.

My Love – McCartney’s Wings

Back in 1973 when Paul McCartney and Wings released the vinyl single ‘My Love’, in most places around the world that’s how it was credited on the label: Paul McCartney and Wings.

For example, here’s the UK pressing:However, in a couple of territories they obviously didn’t get the memo detailing just how the band should be credited on the label.

We’ve just picked up a New Zealand pressing which is interesting for a couple of reasons. Number one is that it’s on the green Apple label. The other is the name of the band – McCartney’s Wings: Seems that this mistake may have been caused back in England when a few copies of ‘My Love’ also escaped into the public arena there with that very same band credit – McCartney’s Wings. Here’s a UK pressing that was probably quickly withdrawn and replaced with the proper band credit (seen on the UK pressing above):

And it looks like at least four other countries (Sweden, Israel, France and Venezuela) also stuffed up:In the rest of the world it is definitely Paul McCartney and Wings that performed ‘My Love’……..but we’re glad to have a unique New Zealand pressing now in the collection.

As usual, click on the labels to see larger versions. And if you know anything more on the back story to this one, please use the Comments section to let us know.

The Beatles: The Singles Collection

Long speculated upon, now officially announced. Apple Records will be releasing a new Beatles box set of 23 UK 7-inch vinyl singles titles, each with unique cover art from around the world faithfully reproduced – right down to the record labels used in the particular country.

The set includes all 22 singles issued in the UK between 1962 and 1970, plus a single that is unique to this set – a double A-side of the songs ‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’. All the singles have been remastered from the original mono and stereo tapes at EMI’s Abbey Road studios and will be pressed on “180-gram vinyl”. Don’t they mean just heavyweight vinyl? A 180-gram vinyl 45 is gonna be kind of thick…..

The box will include a 40-page illustrated booklet with an essay by respected Beatle historian Kevin Howlett.

You can read the full press release from Apple/Universal Music, which includes a full track listing and details the country from which each cover comes from. Glad to see that Australia will be represented by the double A-side ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’/’Penny Lane’! The picture cover for this was used in a number of markets, but the labels are unique:

The Beatles: The Singles Collection will be released on Novemver 22nd.

 

Record Store Day Black Friday 2019 – McCartney Release Announced

Just when you thought that all the Egypt Station releases had been tapped to the full, there’s more.

The Record Store Day people have just announced that Paul McCartney will be issuing a further two tracks from his Egypt Station recording sessions as a limited edition vinyl single for RSD Black Friday, coming up on Friday, November 29. The songs are ‘Home Tonight’ and ‘In A Hurry’:Both ‘Home Tonight’ and ‘In A Hurry’ are previously unreleased and were produced by Greg Kurstin during the sessions for the LP – which has come out in numerous versions and iterations in the year since its release.

The limited edition vinyl picture disc will feature new artwork exclusively created for this RSD Black Friday release, based on the parlour game Exquisite Corpse, and includes a lyric insert.

See the full list of RSD Black Friday special releases here.

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.