Capitol 75 and the Elusive 2017 Reissue Series

Late last year Capitol Records announced an ambitious range of projects to take place across 2017 in celebration of it’s 75th anniversary producing, releaseing and distributing music.

Principle among the plans was the release on vinyl of 75 titles from their vast catalogue that best represented the wealth of talent signed to, or associated with Capitol over the last 75 years.

The label convened an advisory board to decide on the final list of albums, and of course amongst them are a number of titles of interest to Beatle and solo-Beatle record collectors and readers of beatlesblogger.com.

Despite the fact that the year is just about done, it seems that there have not been any/many of the five Beatle titles on the list released as yet – at least from what we can tell. Nor has the John Lennon Imagine album, George Harrison’s All Thing Must Pass, or Wings Band on the Run shown up anywhere identified as part of the celebrations.

According to the press release the US store Crate and Barrel is the main outlet and you can see a swag of titles that have already been issued here (some with a “Celebrating 75 Years of Capitol’s Music” logo on their front covers, some without). There are seventeen titles on that page – still far away from the seventy-five total.

However, Amazon in October listed a 2017 re-issue of James Taylor’s eponymous 1968 Apple Records release, James Taylor and this one of the titles on the Capitol 75 list too:The front cover image Amazon shows doesn’t have any “Celebrating 75 Years of Capitol’s Music” logo or sticker, but the rear clearly shows it to be an Apple/Capitol/Universal Music release. Look below the barcode:

(Double click the image for a larger version)

Just by the way, according to The Daily Beatle site there is a problem with the pressing of this record. Side Two should have a song called ‘Brighten Your Night With My Day’. It is listed on the label, but is not present when you play the LP! Maybe that’s why when we ordered a copy for our collection, Amazon is saying they cannot give an exact delivery date. Maybe all copies have been withdrawn and corrected pressings are being prepared?

Meanwhile, still over at Amazon, a pre-order listing has appeared for Ringo Starr’s Ringo LP. This album is on the Capitol 75 list too, and the image below seems to have a Capitol 75th Anniversary identifier on the front cover (though we are not sure if this is genuine or has been photoshopped in by someone else):Amazon says that Ringo will be released on January 19, 2018.

Curiously, Amazon is listing Goodnight Vienna for a January 19 release as well, but this title does not appear on the Capitol 75 list……not sure what is going on there.We’ve contacted Crate and Barrel directly and asked for some more background on the Capitol 75th Anniversary releases – especially around Beatle and Beatle-related titles. We’ll update you when they get back to us – or feel free to share any info you have by using the “Comments” section.

UPDATE:  On 8 December we had an email back from Crate and Barrel customer service saying: “We have double checked our stock of the 75th Anniversary re-issue vinyls. Unfortunately, we either never carried some of those vinyls you mentioned [Beatle or Beatle-related], or we no longer have them in stock. At this time, it does not look like we are getting in any new shipments of the anniversary vinyls. Our website is updated often, so feel free to check in to see if anything will get added to our current collection of the 75th Anniversary Records collection. Currently, we only have 12 records that are listed under the anniversary collection. If you have any further questions, feel free to call our customer service at 800-237-5672.”

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McCartney ‘Archive Collection’ Coloured Vinyl – Confusion Reigns

Five days on from the official announcement on the Paul McCartney website that there are to be eight titles in the McCartney Archive Collection series re-issued as single discs on the Capitol label (on CD, black vinyl and limited coloured vinyl), confusion reigns about just how anyone can actually order the coloured vinyl.

Both McCartney’s own site, and the Universal Music store site included links to order these but by the weekend both had been quickly taken down. The Universal link is just dead (and again here), while the official McCartney links for each album have since been altered and only take you through to the US Amazon site where there is no mention of the coloured vinyl whatsoever. The links are clearly for the black vinyl editions only.

Many online stores over the weekend quickly put up thier own images and prices – both for individual coloured LPs and bundles – but these too have since been either completely taken down (for example SoundStage Direct in the US), or now carry an apology (for example the Bull Moose store) stating that they’ve been asked by the artist and the label NOT to sell these titles online.

To quote collectors on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums thread, many of whom have pre-orderd and paid their money before the links just disappeared:

“Seriously, what a mess. I was actually stoked about this. Now i can see it’s probably not going to be easy…..”.

and:

“Yes I’m worried about sites filling the orders. If the link was pulled from Paul’s site on the official announcement then I would worry about them being filled at any other site [too]. I have them pre ordered thru the link that was on his site and even thru that I’m worried I won’t get them. They seem very limited and none of the sites seem to be able to confirm they will honor the pre orders.”

It has to be said that this looks like a complete and utter stuff up my MPL and Capitol. They’ve gone into print and raised epectations, but they haven’t thought through what they were publicising, nor communicated how fans and collectors could get their hands on these eight coloured vinyl editions. Pretty bad form and does not auger well for the McCartney/Capitol/UMe relationship.

UPDATE: This just in from the Record Store Day site: Indie record stores are the ONLY physical retailers in the US to have the limited edition colored vinyl versions…..

“Great Record Labels” Book

Chanced upon a small local garage sale (or yard sale) this morning and found this book:great-labels-cover

Great Record Labels, written by Al Cimino and published by Chartwell Books in 1992, is quite an interesting overview of some of the most famous record companies, admittedly with a strong US bias. It has some really good images liberally scattered throughout, not only of the various record company labels themselves, but also many of the artists signed to the labels too.

Cimino has split his book into five broad categories covering music from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s. He starts with Sun Records in the Fifties, and ends with Def Jam in the Nineties, and works his way through most of the big labels in between – like Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Decca, A&M, CBS, Warner Brothers, Island, and Virgin – to name but a few.

There are two main segments of the book where The Beatles pop up. First is the chapter on the British EMI/Parlophone label:great-labels3great-labels4

In the section on EMI’s US subsidiary Capitol Records there is only fleeting reference to The Beatles, despite the huge amounts of money they made for the company:great-labels9

But to make up for that there’s no less than four pages dedicated to The Beatles’ own Apple Records:great-labels5great-labels6great-labels7great-labels8

Here’s the rear cover of Great Record Labels (the dust cover has seen better days…):great-labels-rearDespite being a little beat up, this is a nice little find and a good book to have in the collection.

Paul McCartney Back with Capitol Records Again

Paul McCartney has just announced that he’s signed a worldwide recording agreement with his old label, Capitol Records.

The deal encompasses McCartney’s entire body of post-Beatles work, from his 1970 McCartney album, through his decade with Wings, to the dozens of solo and collaborative works and is a welcome home to the label where he began his career.

“This is genuinely exciting for me,” McCartney said. “Not only was Capitol my first U.S. record label, but the first record I ever bought was Gene Vincent’s ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ on the Capitol label.”

McCartney is currently working on a new studio album, while a comprehensive plan for the artist’s catalogue is being conceived by Capitol and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) – in conjunction with the artist and his management team – and will be implemented beginning July 2017**. The catalogue moves to Capitol/UMe from the Concord Music Group, Paul’s previous label partner.

Capitol Music Group (CMG) Chairman and CEO, Steve Barnett said “Paul McCartney’s association with Capitol has long defined so much of our historic legacy, and all of us here are extremely proud and honored that he has chosen to come back home. Paul’s indelible contributions to our culture are second to none, and his constant evolution as an artist and performer continues to inspire and enrich the lives of countless millions of people. We are overjoyed that Paul will be creating new music for years to come, and that Capitol will be helping to present it to the world.”

Paul McCartney High in the cloud recording session

** Just what this means will be interesting for collectors and fans. We’re in the middle of a huge McCartney Archive re-issue program in conjunction with Concord Records. So, what happens to that is one question that comes immediately to mind. Hopefully we’re not looking at starting over with an entirely new back-catalogue release program…..

Beatles With Records – Part 29

Time for another Beatles With Records, this time courtesy of The Beatles Archive blog site.

On the afternoon of 29 August, 1965 the Beatles gave a press conference at the famous Capitol Records Tower building in Hollywood. Alan Livingston, then President of Capitol, presented the band with gold discs for sales of the US edition of their Help! soundtrack LP:usa_helpbeatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-05-700x459beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-01 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-02 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-03 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-04 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-06 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-08 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-09 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-10 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-11 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-12 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-13 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-14 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-15 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-16 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-17 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-18 beatles-hollywood-29-august-1965-19Afterwards an armored truck drove the Beatles to perform at the Hollywood Bowl, where 18,000 people attended.

See the other instalments of The Beatles With Records here.

Beatles 1984 Capitol Records Promo Video

In this the Beatles 50 Years celebrations of first making it big on the US charts, it’s interesting to watch how in 1984 Capitol Records visually marked what was then the band’s 20th anniversary….

See also the British 20th Anniversary singles.

Some Fans Angry About The New U.S. Albums Set

While it’s always great to have some new Beatles product, some fans are only just starting to realise that the new The U.S. Albums set is making them purchase a lot of content they probably already own.

The plea for more information by Beatlesblog reader Alex in the comments section of this post is typical of the confusion buyers face over which versions are being used on The U.S. Albums:

Can anyone out there confirm if these cds are indeed the original mixes released by Capitol. Many folks insist that only the original lp covers have been included in this box set. Further, all the mixes are from other sources, hence don’t sound at all like the original unique Capitol releases. So many stories and I simply will not be able to verify this myself without committing to this purchase. It just should not be so difficult to get this information. All of the marketing sites that I’ve seen are very vague about this issue. Any help on this would be great!

Well, to answer Alex’s query the best description we can find so far detailing exactly what the tracks are (and how they were chosen) is on the very well-informed and researched Beatles Rarity site. Happy Nat writes:

“The new set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes. Apple has cited in a press release that this would not have created the best possible listening experience due to some fidelity limitations with the Capitol mixes. These include mixes made from second, third or even fourth generation tapes and many of the songs being in a duophonic mix instead of “true” stereo (duophonic, otherwise known as “fake” or “rechannelled” stereo is a means of simulating stereo from a mono source). For this reason and with a few exceptions that I will get to in a minute, the remasters that were issued in 2009 of the British mixes will be used and enhanced with a touch of additional echo to give them a more “Americanized” sound.”

And Beatles Rarity goes on to give specific information about the methodology used to select the source of these recordings:

  1. If Capitol’s original mix on a stereo album was a duophonic mix – the true stereo UK mix remastered in 2009 was used instead (e.g. “Ticket To Ride” but lots of others that were for the most part a & b sides of singles)
  2. If Capitol’s original mix on a mono album was a “Type B” mono (i.e. reduced to mono from stereo mix) – the original UK mono mix was used instead. This would cover tracks on the mono Meet The Beatles!The Beatles Second AlbumThe Early BeatlesHelp! and even “Drive My Car” from Yesterday And Today.
  3. In the few cases where there was no stereo mix to use and Capitol made duophonic mixes (e.g. “She Loves You,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do”) – the original UK mono mix was used instead.
  4. There are a few edits and mixes sent to Capitol by producer George Martin that make the US versions of certain tracks unique. Apple has confirmed that these will be remastered and included with the set. However, there is no confirmation on what specific tracks these are. I’ve annotated 5 possibilities and what’s different about the original US Capitol US mix vs. the 2009 remasters below:
    • “I’ll Cry Instead” – extra verse on mono version of A Hard Day’s Night andSomething New
    • “I’m Looking Through You” – false starts on the stereo mix of Rubber Soul
    • “I’m Only Sleeping” – backwards guitar fading up and down in different spots than UK mixes on both stereo and mono versions of Yesterday And Today
    • “Dr. Robert” – slightly longer fade on mono version of Yesterday And Today
    • “Paperback Writer” – reversed right and left channels on Hey Jude

    Of course the first two in this list were already released on the earlier Capitol box sets.

  5. For everything not covered in 1-4 above – the 2009 remasters will be used.

So, unlike the 2004 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 1) which included four of these albums in mono and stereo, and the 2006 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 2) containing an additional four of these albums also in mono and stereo, The U.S. Albums set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes – most of the time. And it’s this information which is getting some avid Beatle fans and collectors upset. As an example here’s an extract from an email we recieved from Bruce Hamlin who runs the Beatles Records Information Service here in Australia:

I have not received my box yet but according to all internet reports what you are getting is the American Albums artwork reproduced in 5″ format, with special attention given to ‘Yesterday And Today” having a removable cover. However the most important part of any musical format is the music, and it appears what has happend here is you end up with someone in the record company’s opinion of the best version of each song title. NOT in every case the original American Capitol mix of the songs as issued on the American original vinyl albums. Because basically we in Australia (and New Zealand) originally got the English sets of albums, the American ones had a special facination to them. Different album names, different and shorter track listings, funny sounding mixes in both mono and stereo version. Fake stereo on a lot of tracks (they called it Duophonic) and in lots of cases our singles appeared on their albums. Great mystical stuff. BUT what we now get under the misleading title of ‘American Albums’ is just the artwork, and tracklistings. NOT the  music. I will be getting a copy in a few days, but I know although the music will be great, it will not be what I thought I was buying. All we will be getting is mono and stereo versions of the American Albums running order but with mostly the 2009 UK remixes.
When will EMI/Apple/Capitol/Universal ask/employ some Beatles Fans to assist them with compiling new releases? I’m sure half a dozen fans from around the world would actually give the purchasing Beatles fans what they want and in doing so, increase the profits of the record company. God bless the bootleggers who have given us all of this stuff anyway in it’s correct format and correct sound. And at just a smidgen below the record company’s quality. No wonder people don’t buy the record company products. They are crap. It’s not the internet, or downloads or anything else. It’s the Record Companies fault.
So for once I will give a negative recomendation – ONLY buy this package if your are a completist. It is not the real thing, not what it’s title suggests.

I think you can hear the anger there.

Now, of course this cuts both ways. If the set did indeed use the original Capitol master tapes at least eight of the albums would already be in keen collectors hands because they’d most likely already have The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 from 2004, and The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 from 2006. We’d be paying again, but in a different way, for already released material. No doubt there’d be some angst around the internet about this as well.

We’re very interested in your views too.

Would you have preferred the original, nostalgic U.S. Capitol mixes, or the fresher 2009 re-mixes? Did you buy the box set (or individual albums) thinking you were getting something different to what you have?

Beatles US Albums Box