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:

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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!

‘Concert For George’ – on LP and Two Deluxe Edition Boxes

To mark what would have been George Harrison’s 75th birthday in February there’s to be a major re-issue of the great 2003 Concert For George recordings and film.

For the first time the concert will be available on vinyl (as a four LP box set); new CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray combo packages; plus not one – but two – super deluxe boxed special editions.

On the official George Harrison site you can pre-order now two different “Exclusive” deluxe limited editions.There are just 1000 copies worldwide of the “basic” box:

Both boxes come with these contents: a gold-colored, fabric-wrapped box with a die-cut mandala window to display a numbered cutting from the original hand-painted on-stage tapestry backdrop used during the Royal Albert Hall concert on November 29, 2002; the complete sound and film recordings from the concert (on four 180-gram audiophile LPs, 2 CDs, 2 DVDs and 2 Blu-ray discs); plus a 12”x12” hard-bound 60-page book. The sets also include a note from Olivia Harrison, explaining the story behind the tapestry. The “basic” set costs US$350.

However, for an extra $100 you can get that same deluxe box, plus what is described on the site as a complete set of “…authentic Test Pressings (4-discs), pressed at Quality Record Pressings (QRP)”. There are only 15 copies of these Test Pressing sets available worldwide.

For those after the new vinyl pressing of the Concert For George here’s the pack image with its contents:    

As you can see above the four LP set only stretches across 7 sides, and so Side 8 on LP 4 features a cool-looking etched mandala.

The new 2CD sets with either 2 Blu-ray or 2 DVD included look like this:

These bundles are identical in content except for the Blu-ray which contains an additional ‘Drummers’ featurette not available on the DVD version.

The original two CD set is also being re-issued:All these Concert For George versions will be reissued on February 23. Proceeds from the sale of these products support The Material World Foundation.

Sgt. Pepper – Japanese 50th Anniversary Re-issue Extras

Got to admit, this is pretty cool and tempting:

In Japan, as they usually do, the forthcoming deluxe box set edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, will come with some neat additional extras – including a cut-out diorama of the classic cover image. Here’s what the diorama will look like when constructed:

As you can see on the advertising flyer above “assembly takes 2-3 hours (so you can enjoy the Sgt. Pepper album 3-5 times!)”. There’ll also be two mini gift cards, and this A2-sized poster included as a “first pressing bonus”:

Finally, the CD’s inside will be in the high-fidelity SHM-CD format – something audiophiles believe gives higher quality sound than just the usual CD pressing. This is also exclusive to the Japan edition of Sgt. Pepper’s.

Flowers In The Dirt – What Could/Should Have Been

As you’re no doubt aware, the deluxe Archive Collection box set of Paul McCartney’s 2017 re-issue of Flowers In The Dirt created quite an angry response amongst many fans and collectors.

The issue was around his decision to include a whole CD’s worth of B-sides, remixes and single edits, and three cassette demos as downloadable content only. No physical CD would be included in the four-disc set.

Well, no doubt many who purchased the box set have taken that download code provided and created their own CD burns to put inside the box. Here’s a look at the three CD’s and one DVD you do get (click on images to see larger versions):

And here’s what could have/should have been – one disc for the thirteen B-sides, remixes and single edits plus the three cassette demo songs:

Plus on the official Paul McCartney website there are a further three exclusive downloads (‘Distractions (Demo)’, ‘This One (Demo)’, and ‘Back on My Feet (Demo)’) not included in the box set at all, so why not a separate disc for these songs too?:

Call us pedantic and old-fashioned for wanting tactile, hard copies of this bonus material. And call us fussy for creating our own matching labels, but discs V and VI will now be filed inside our Flowers In The Dirt box alongside the other content provided in physical form to create a complete set. They’ll be in their own paper sleeves:

McCartney’s ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ Deluxe: There Will Be NO Extra Disc

When Paul McCartney announced that the deluxe edition of his forthcoming Archive Collection re-issue of Flowers In The Dirt would have a disc’s worth of bonus material as a digital download only, all hell broke loose amongst his fans.

Social media went troppo, and a number of petitions sprang up to try to have that decision re-considered by Paul and his management team. Leading the charge was Paul Sinclair who operates the very informative and interesting site, Super Deluxe Edition.

Paul Sinclair was eventually approached by Scott Roger, McCartney’s manager, who explained the reasoning behind the digital download idea, and confirmed that despite protests, there would be NO physical disc containing the bonus tracks. You can read the full report of their exchange at Paul’s site.

Along with many thousands of other collectors we’d like to register our disappointment in that decision.

Loyal and serious collectors like physical product, end of story. All officially released content associated with significant re-issues such as this one should be physically included in the box set. Completists and avid collectors are the reason that box sets like this exist in the first place. As Paul McCartney says in this clip promoting Flowers In The Dirt, “You can’t ask for anything more than that, man.”

Four discs in the box, and another CD’s worth of material on a hard drive somewhere else is wrong. It is an “Archive Collection” after all. Yes, many will download those bonus songs and burn them to a cheap recordable disc so that they can have the full collection in one place, but they shouldn’t have to do that. It just doesn’t cut it and cheapens McCartney’s product and his legacy.