Two More Apple Vinyl Re-Issues for the Collection

In our last post we featured a new series of books being prepared called A is for Apple, a history of the Beatles’ Apple Corps company. Volume 1 in the series will be released in the first half of next year.

Apple Corps was established not only to release the Beatles own records but also to promote new talent – to build a stable of newer and undiscovered artists. In the late 1960s and early 1970s they signed and released a series of albums and singles by a wide range of performers.

In 2010 Apple re-issued a selection of those artists on CD.

But well before that (between 1991 and 1996) they had a similar re-issue program under way – releasing on CD and vinyl a selection of the artists signed to Apple. There were 23 titles in all, re-issued in five main phases over the course of five years.

We’ve slowly been collecting examples of these re-issues on vinyl – the reason being that most of them (but not all) came with unique, additional discs on the Apple label containing bonus material, previously unreleased tracks, etc.

You can see some examples of these here (e.g. Jackie Lomax’s Is This What You Want?; The Ivey’s Maybe Tomorrow; Badfinger’s No Dice and Straight Up; and Billy Preston’s Encouraging Words), and also here (Badfinger’s Magic Christian Music). 

We’ve just added two more to the collection. They are John Tavener’s The Whale, and Billy Preston’s That’s the Way God Planned It.

The Whale frontThe Whale rear

The Whale was re-issued on vinyl in June, 1992. Like the original 1970 release it comes in a beautiful gatefold cover which opens to reveal a fantastic painting (click image to see a larger version):The Whale gatefoldThe Whale does not come with any bonus material and so it is a single LP disc. The labels look like this:

The Whale Label AThe Whale label B

Unlike the original release though this 1992 re-issue comes with an inner sleeve containing an article about the recording and how a modern classical composer like Tavener came to be signed to Apple. It is by Andy Davis (from Record Collector magazine). On the other side is some detail about the re-issue:

The Whale inner aThe Whale inner b

Our other recent find was a copy of Billy Preston’s That’s The Way God Planned It, which was reissued on vinyl in 1991: Preston God coverPreston God rear

Unlike the original 1969 release this one comes in a gatefold cover. That’s so that the cover can hold a second vinyl record with the three bonus tracks (click image to see a larger version of the gatefold image below). As you can see, That’s The Way God Planned It was produced by George HarrisonPreston God gatefoldPreston God Side 1

Preston God Side 2Preston God Bonus APreston God Bonus B

Note that while the bonus tracks come on a 12″ disc, it plays at 45 rpm.

The hunt for other vinyl examples in this 1990s Apple re-issue series continues!

Strange Fruit – The Beatles’ Apple Records

A recent trip to Canberra, Australia’s capital city, afforded a visit to the second-hand store  Flip Side Exchange which specialises in CD’s, vinyl and DVDs.

Found this great DVD there:Strange Fruit frontStrange Fruit rear

It is a 2012 documentary on the Beatles’ record, film, publishing and electronics company Apple. Reviewer Carlos Gonzales wrote at the time of release: “….other than their music, the Beatles tried to do something good for their fellow man, in this case struggling musicians that needed a break, a chance. It was then that they created Apple Records, and the wonderful Strange Fruit -The Beatles’ Apple Records provides us with an honest view and great, historic information about the history of the label and its artists.

The film is quite long (162 minutes), and it is loaded with history and music…..Strange Fruit -The Beatles’ Apple Records [tells] how the label began working on projects, beginning with the production of the film “The Magical Mystery Tour.” They then signed singer-writer Jackie Lomax, Mary Hopkin, The Iveys, James Taylor and others. They also made the Beatles White album. By 1969, the Beatles — pushed by John Lennon — hired Allen Klein, who promised them that he would clean up their finances. That year they signed Billy Preston, The Iveys became Badfinger, and the Beatles began disintegrating as a group. From then on, the filmmakers examine year by year everything that happened to the label, ending in May 6, 1975, when Apple announced that it would cease operations. Along the way, we learn about other groups that were signed by Apple….for example, Ravi Shankar, Yoko Ono, John Tavener, Modern Jazz Quartet, and Brute Force. Of course, we hear some of their music along the way.

The movie has interviews with some of the players, such a Jackie Lomax (who said that Apple Records was ‘utopia’), Ron Griffiths (from the Iveys), Joey Molland (Badfinger), and others. There are also interviews with historians, like Stefan Granados, Chris Ingham, Mark Paytrees, and more. In the end, we are told that Apple was a “curious disappointment in the history of rock music. A revolutionary label that never reached its potential.” And the big lesson, perhaps, is that “artists can not take care of other artists.” You will be the judge. Strange Fruit — The Beatles’ Apple Records is a great document of our times. With no apparent help from or sanctioned by the Beatles, the documentary tells the history of this controversial — for lack of a better word — music label.”

It’s a must for all collectors of the Apple Records releases.Strange Fruit disc

For a sneak preview:

 

Fresh From Apple – The Apple Box Set Unboxed

The newly re-issued Apple Records compact discs are available separately, or if you really want to lash out, as a complete box set containing 17 discs. The box is called “Fresh From Apple Records“.

“Fresh From Apple” box (front)

Its a very flimsy box, printed to look like a wooden crate containing apples, and made of thin cardboard – so you need to take a lot of care when opening it and putting discs in and out. The rear of the box lists the content:

“Fresh From Apple” box (rear)

The box “lid” opens at the top only and there are two flaps either side:

“Fresh From Apple” top opening

As you can see, the cardboard is pretty thin and will tear easily…..Looking down on the box when it’s open here’s what’s inside:

“Fresh From Apple” – the CD’s

All the CD’s come in gatefold cardboard sleeves, and in the box set you get an “extras” double disc as a bonus, plus the “Come and Get – It Best Of Apple Records” disc:

This disc, which comes with a really nice booklet (as do all the CDs), contains some tracks replicated on albums in the box, but also a lot of previously difficult to find Apple singles that were never released on albums. These include songs like “Saturday Night Special” by The Sundown Playboys, “Give Peace a Chance” by the Hot Chocolate Band, “King of Fuh” by Brute Force and the instrumental “Thingumybob” by the Black Dyke Mills Band. Inside the gatefold of “Come and Get It” they have reproduced some original Apple Records press ads:

Just about every CD in the box has bonus material, but there also an extra two CD set (available only in the box) which contains all the bonus material that was initially only going to be available by digital download. There is one whole CD of bonus Badfinger material. The other CD of bonus tracks is shared by Mary Hopkin and Jackie Lomax. These two CDs come in a gatefold cover:

The front cover of the 2 CD “Extras” discs

This cover on the outside is plain white, with some intentional “yellowing” around the edges to make it look old. That Apple logo on the bottom right-hand corner isn’t printed on. Its a sticker:

Inside the gatefold they have reproduced the Apple Studios original tape boxes and used this look to give the track listings for both CDs:

Kinda nice.

There are two reissues in the box which contain two original Apple LPs. These are the Modern Jazz Quartet with “Under the Jasmine Tree” and “Space” both on one CD:

The other is classical musician and composer John Tavener, who had two LPs original released on Apple Records – “The Whale” and “Celtic Requiem”:

One of the late additions to the 2010 reissue plans was the disc by the Radha Krsna Temple. It was added after the initial announcement of the extensive Apple reissues back in August this year. It contains a single bonus track this time around – and (if you haven’t seen it before) it has a fantastic front cover:

There are two CDs from Billy Preston (“That’s The Way God Planned It” and “Encouraging Words”), two from Mary Hopkin (“Post Card” and “Earth Song-Ocean Song”), and no less than four CDs from Badfinger (“Magic Christian Music”, “No Dice”, “Straight Up” and “Ass”):

Other CDs come from Jackie Lomax (“Is This What You Want?”), James Taylor (“James Taylor”), and Doris Troy (“Doris Troy”).

It’s not the first time these titles have appeared as re-issues. There was a previous reissue program which started in 1991 and continued over a couple years.

All in all it’s a pretty nice set. It is good to have all these discs freshly re-mastered and gathered together in one place. I think though, for the money, they might have provided a more interesting (and sturdy) box to contain them…

Apple Records Re-Issues – New Videos

Now on the official Apple Records site – a new series of videos telling the Apple Records story.

There are also some rare promotional film clips on the site:

Apple Records Special – Record Collector Magazine

As part of the extensive coverage of the new re-issues from the Apple Records catalogue, the famous “Record Collector” magazine in Britain (in it’s September issue – only just on news stands in Australia!) has The Beatles on the front cover and has devoted 16 pages of feature articles and photographs about Apple Records:

The articles included are “A is For Apple” – a salute “…to the Beatles’ final flourish of creativity”; an A-Z of the label and its artists; “The 2010 Re-Masters”, where Apple consultant Andy Davis talks about the 15 newly-remastered CDs released worldwide just this week; there’s a comprehensive Apple Records discography (complete with a price-guide for the rarities and not-so rarities); interviews with Mary Hopkin, Peter Asher, Patrick Olive (formerly of The Hot Chocolate Band), Jackie Lomax, and Joey Molland from Badfinger.

Pretty nice coverage really.

Apple Artist LP Reissues – From 1991 to 1996

There are about to be 16 Apple artists titles reissued on CD (many with bonus tracks) by the Beatles’ record company, Apple Records. But it’s not the first time that Apple has had such a big re-issue program. They’ve done it at least once before – only over the period of a couple of years in the early 1990’s in what they then called release “phases”. Phase I of the original reissue program started in 1991 with five newly digitally remastered CDs and vinyl seeing the light of day for the first time since they  originally came out back in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. For collectors of Apple vinyl these were interesting items because it often meant that the LP’s were expanded – with the bonus material contained on unique, separate, additional discs. The original single-sleeve covers also became gate-fold doubles. The Phase I titles included James Taylor – “James Taylor”; Mary Hopkin – “Postcard”; Billy Preston – “That’s the Way God Planned It”; Jackie Lomax – “Is This What You Want?”, and Badfinger – “Magic Christian Music” To mark Phase I there was a vinyl EP released, and also a CD with the same tracks. However, it was issued in a special apple-shaped cardboard container. There was also a promo CD with 14 tracks that was sent to radio stations featuring selected songs from each release that is now a real collectors item:

Apple “Phase I” limited edition promo CD cover

The Phase II titles came in 1992 when Apple re-issued (on vinyl and CD): Mary Hopkin – “Earth Song Ocean Song”; Badfinger – “No Dice”; Doris Troy – “Doris Troy”; The Iveys – “Maybe Tomorrow”; George Harrison – “Wonderwall Music”, and John Tavener – “The Whale”. Phase II also had a special, limited edition promo CD (also with 14 tracks) that’s become a highly prized collectors item as well:

Apple “Phase II” limited edition promo CD cover

Phase III was in 1993 and included John Tavener – “Celtic Requiem”; The Radha Krsna Temple London – “Radha Krsna Temple”; Billy Preston – “Encouraging Words”; Badfinger – “Straight Up”, and The Modern Jazz Quartet – “Under the Jasmine Tree”. There was then quite a break with nothing released until 1995 when two “Best Of” discs came out, one of which – from Badfinger – was a completely new, digitally remastered title. These were Mary Hopkin – “Those Were the Days” (previously released in 1972) and Badfinger – “Come and Get It – The Best of Badfinger”. Both were available on vinyl and CD. In 1996 Apple finished off the reissue series with I guess what must have been Phase IV by that time – although they’d given up actually using that term: The Modern Jazz Quartet – “Space”; Ravi Shankar/Ali Akbar Khan – “In Concert 1972”; Badfinger – “Ass”, and George Harrison – “Electronic Sound” (on the Zapple Records label). As mentioned before – the reason these vinyl releases were of interest to me was that most of them (but not all) came with unique, additional discs containing the bonus material:

Jackie Lomax “Is This What You Want?” – rear vinyl LP cover detail (1991)

The full-sized, 12-inch bonus discs  all play at 45 rpm (not 331/3 rpm like an LP):

Jackie Lomax – Bonus Disc Side 1

This Jackie Lomax reissue came out in 1991, has five bonus songs, and as you can see is a European pressing. Here’s Side 2:

Jackie Lomax – Bonus Disc Side 2

From the Phase II series in 1992 comes the album “No Dice” from Badfinger, also with five previously unreleased tracks:

Badfinger “No Dice” (1992 vinyl reissue) rear cover detail

Again, the 12-inch bonus records were to be played at 45 rpm:

Badfinger “No Dice” bonus songs – Side 1

Badfinger “No Dice” bonus songs – Side 2

An earlier incarnation of Badfinger was a band called The Iveys. In 1969 they had an Apple LP called “Maybe Tomorrow”. In 1992 it was re-issued by Apple on vinyl with four bonus tracks, two of them previously unreleased:

The Iveys “Maybe Tomorrow” (1992 vinyl reissue) rear cover detail

The labels from the bonus disc looked like this:

The Iveys – bonus disc Side 1, from “Maybe Tomorrow” released in 1992

The Iveys – bonus disc Side 2

The next release “phase” came in 1993 and on vinyl I’ve got four of the five releases (haven’t got the Radha Krsna Temple). Of those, two came with bonus discs:

Billy Preston “Encouraging Words” vinyl LP rear cover detail (1993)

Billy Preston’s “Encouraging Words” record was co-produced by George Harrison and it was great to get on vinyl one previously unreleased song:

Billy Preston “Encouraging Words” bonus disc Side 1

Billy Preston “Encouraging Words” bonus disc Side 2

There were also bonus tracks on the Badfinger “Straight Up” LP. Here’s the rear cover of the 1993 release:

Badfinger “Straight Up” (1993 vinyl re-issue) rear cover detail

Inside the gate-fold cover was an additional record with six bonus tracks, five of which were previously unreleased:

Badfinger “Straight Up” bonus disc – Side1

Badfinger “Straight Up” bonus disc – Side 2

The forthcoming 2010 Apple CD reissues will contain bonus material as well, and in most cases these will be additional to the tracks already re-issued on these vinyls and on CD in the early 1990’s. Some of the additional tracks in 2010 will be included on the new CDs, but some will be only be available for digital download – that is unless you buy the box set of all the CD albums complete. Then you get an additional two CD’s containing absolutely everything.

Everything Old Is New Again at Apple

At Apple Records they sure do know how to re-use and re-cycle.

Just discovered that the  cover image they are using for the “Come and Get It – The Best of Apple Records” CD (to be released on October 25th) featuring selections (plus some rarities) from the entire Apple Records artist catalogue, has been used before.

When Apple had its original vinyl series of reissues starting way back in 1991 they issued an EP (that’s a four song, vinyl single which plays at 45rpm for those of you not familiar with early vinyl releases!) with exactly the same artwork:

From way back in 1991.....

The EP contains:

1. Those Were The Days – Mary Hopkin                                                                       

 2. That’s The Way God Planned It – Billy Preston                                                        

 3. Sour Milk Sea – Jackie Lomax                                                                                     

4. Come And Get It – Badfinger

Compare that cover to the about to be released CD:

From 2010.....

There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel I guess…..

More on those original Apple Records vinyl re-issues from the early 1990’s shortly.

 

Apple Records – Re-releases Announced

I’ve been away traveling for a while without ready access to a computer and so have missed updating the blog with a significant announcement by Apple about some forthcoming non-Beatles re-releases. So, in case you missed it, here’s a catch-up post.

I’ve been buying records on the Apple label since I was a teenager. They were all Beatles releases of course as at the time that was the extent of my interest and my knowledge of the Beatles record label’s activities. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I realised that alongside their Beatles releases the record label also issued a wealth of other artists, and so I began trying to catch up on these and started to collect the entire Apple catalogue in earnest. I’m still engaged in that quest. There are a lot of original records out there still to track down…..

As one fellow blogger put it “…part of what makes Apple so fun to collect is that the label’s artist roster in the late 60s and early 70s was so varied. Apple covered everything, from the Modern Jazz Quartet, to the folk of Mary Hopkin, to the avant-garde orchestration of John Tavener. The label also released a handful of film soundtracks, and launched the careers of some pretty high-profile artists such as James Taylor and Badfinger.”

Well, when I got back from my travels the other day I found this emailed press release (dated July 6) from Apple Corps Ltd in my inbox:

Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, and more. Apple Records catalogue remastered and reissued on CD and digital download – Classics Set For Release on October 26th

Launched by The Beatles in 1968, as the new outlet for their own recordings as well as the music of an eclectic roster of artists – James Taylor, Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, Doris Troy, and Jackie Lomax among them – who were all personally brought to the label by The Beatles (individually and/or collectively), Apple Records made popular music history from the very moment it opened its doors.

Four decades later, Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music raise the curtain on remastered CD and digital download releases of 15 key albums from the Apple Records catalog. All 15 titles will be released on October 26th. Most of the physical CDs will include bonus material. Together, the 15 albums represent the first ever Apple Records releases to be available via digital download.

In the revolutionary spirit of 1968, The Beatles’ explosive musical output (characterised by their double-LP White Album) was only exceeded by their fascination with what they saw and heard going on around them. Five years into The Beatles’ reign, Apple Records afforded them the unique opportunity to sign new (and established) artists who appealed to each of them. In turn, the introduction of an artist on The Beatles’ record label was an imprimatur taken very seriously by fans across the universe.

Apple Records’ utopian artist-orientated mission immediately set it apart, as the first operation of its kind in the major-label sphere. Diversity was celebrated, and artists were encouraged to record and release their music in a friendly creative environment. Apple developed a distinctive graphic aesthetic, from its legendary ‘apple-core’ logo to its advertising and merchandising, in the process setting a subtle new benchmark for the industry to follow.

From 1968 to 1973, Apple Records bedazzled the world with a rainbow spectrum of releases – and fans were unusually well-informed about individual involvements of The Beatles with nearly every project. 1968’s self-titled debut album by Boston-based singer-songwriter James Taylor, for example, features Paul McCartney and George Harrison on “Carolina In My Mind”. Paul was instrumental in bringing the Welsh chanteuse Mary Hopkin to Apple, and produced her debut single, “Those Were The Days”. Badfinger, also from Wales, was still known as The Iveys when they recorded “Come And Get It”, written and produced by Paul (for The Magic Christian movie soundtrack).

The Beatles had been fans of Billy Preston ever since seeing him in Little Richard’s band in Hamburg in 1962. George went on to produce and play on Preston’s Apple debut, That’s the Way God Planned It. Harrison was one of the producers and played (along with Ringo Starr) on Doris Troy’s self-titled Apple album. George also produced and played (with Paul and Ringo) on Jackie Lomax’s debut album, Is This What You Want? featuring the Harrison composition, “Sour Milk Sea”.

John was much taken with the music of The Modern Jazz Quartet, who released the only two jazz albums in the Apple catalogue. Ringo was intrigued by the music of contemporary British classical composer John Tavener, and his Apple album, The Whale has become one of the most sought-after Apple collectibles of all time.

Each of the 15 albums in this bumper batch of Apple Records releases has been digitally remastered at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London by the same dedicated team of engineers behind The Beatles’ recent remastered catalogue releases of 2009.

For details about the release, visit www.applerecords.com

Many Thanks

thebeatles.com

The releases (15 titles in all) are:

  • James Taylor (1968) by James Taylor
  • Magic Christian Music (1970) by Badfinger
  • No Dice (1970) by Badfinger
  • Straight Up (1972) by Badfinger
  • Ass (1974) by Badfinger
  • Post Card (1969) by Mary Hopkin
  • Earth Song, Ocean Song (1971) by Mary Hopkin
  • That’s The Way God Planned It (1969) by Billy Preston
  • Encouraging  Words (1970) by Billy Preston
  • Doris Troy (1970) by Doris Troy
  • Is This What You Want? (1968) by Jackie Lomax
  • Under The Jasmine Tree (1968), and Space (1969) by the Modern Jazz Quartet (a 2-on-1 CD)
  • The Whale (1970), and Celtic Requiem (1971) by John Tavener (a 2-on-1 CD)

It has to be said that this is not the first time these titles have been re-issued by Apple. There was another major campaign between 1991-1993 when they were all released for the first time on CD. That campaign also saw them released as vinyl LPs, complete with the original artwork and lots of bonus tracks, additional photographs, etc….So, for many collectors it will be a case of having to decide whether or not to get these 2010 releases a second time. What’s new is that they have all been freshly re-mastered by the engineering team at Abbey Road (who did the recent Beatles re-masters), and that they’re to be available as digital downloads for the first time making these re-issues the first Apple product ever available in that form. Can an announcement about the Beatles catalogue being digitally down-loadable be far behind?

To mark that 1991-1993 release campaign Apple Records released this special apple-shaped extended play CD.

Beatles USB Apple – not the First Apple-shaped Product Released….

I’ve always had a fascination with the Beatles and their music. From the very first days of being old enough to buy my own records I’ve had at least some copies of their albums and singles in my collection – mostly vinyl, starting with Sgt Pepper, The White Album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be, plus the odd single here and there.

But the way I got into seriously collecting a wider range of related records, CDs and books was when I became intrigued by their Apple Records label and the eclectic stable of artists they signed up – both the well-known and the more obscure. Its a quest I’m still on. There are some titles and artists out there on Apple Records that I still don’t have…

In launching Apple Records in 1968 the Beatles produced what was then and is now an exceptionally rare promotional box-set of the very first Apple singles called “Our First Four”.  According to Richard DiLello in “The Longest Cocktail Party”, his 1972 memoir about being an Apple Records “house hippie”, this was a presentation box containing the first four 45 rpm vinyl singles from the label. It was “….a box made of plastic, 10 by 12 inches in matte black with a recessed lid carrying the Apple sticker that announced it as Our First Four, 3 Saville Row, W1.” It contained The Beatles “Hey Jude/Revolution” (R 5722), Mary Hopkin – “Those Were the Days” (APPLE 2), Jackie Lomax – “Sour Milk Sea” (APPLE 3), and The Black Dyke Mills Band – “Thingumybob” (APPLE 4).  Richard DiLello again: “There was a single coloured folder containing the biographies and photographs of the artists with the records in a polythene sleeve. The name of the person to whom the box was going was printed on the outside Apple sticker. This was primarily an inter-industry gift presentation package for the benefit of Capitol Records and selected disc jockeys and journalists.” Here’s a website that has a photo of one of these extremely rare boxes – although I’m not sure how authentic it is. DiLello says in his book that one of these boxes was presented to Stanley Gortikov, President of Capitol Records in 1968. Others were hand-delivered to the Queen Mother at St James’s Palace; Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace; Princess Margaret at Kensington Palace; and to British Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Number 10 Downing Street, London.

In 1991, when it came time for Apple to conduct a big re-issue program of all the Apple album releases, they decided to do something similar (but not exactly the same – and certainly not as rare) with a special Limited Edition CD.

The Apple EP

The Apple E.P. (1991) CD

As you can see it’s an official, apple-shaped CD release to mark the re-issuing of the Apple LP catalogue on both CD and vinyl – back in 1991.

When you open the “apple” it looks like this:

Apple EP

The Apple EP opened to reveal the 4-track CD

Inside is a 4-track compact disc with a song each from Mary Hopkin – “Those Were the Days”; Billy Preston – “That’s the Way God Planned It”; Jackie Lomax – “Sour Milk Sea”; and Badfinger – “Come and Get It”. Not exactly the same tracks as Our First Four, but still two tracks written by Beatles (“Sour Milk Sea” by George Harrison and “Come and Get It” by Paul McCartney):

Apple EP - rear cover

The Apple E.P. - rear cover with track details

As well tracks 1 and 4 were produced by Paul McCartney, and tracks 2 and 3 were produced by George Harrison.

OK, so there is no “Hey Jude”/”Revolution”,  but there is still a pretty large Beatle quotient here. And for me its a reminder that the current Beatles USB (containing all the remastered Beatles albums in high quality digital format) is not the first time that Apple has used an apple-shaped object to market product.

Apple EP CD

The artwork for the Apple EP compact disc (1991)

Its also not the first time that Apple has collected together four songs from artists in their stable and released an EP for promotional purposes. In 1969, not that long after Our First Four, they gave permission for the British ice cream company Walls to issue a vinyl EP:

Walls Ice Cream EP

The Walls Ice Cream EP from 1969

Click here for more information on this release.

As for the Apple re-issue program from 1991, I have quite a few of the vinyl LP re-issues from that time (complete with bonus tracks and original and additional artwork) and will post some pictures and info on these in the future.