Paul McCartney – 2018 Record Store Day Single

The Record Store Day people have just announced their Black Friday release list, and it features a Paul McCartney 7″ vinyl single.

On November 23 Capitol Records will issue a limited edition, hand-numbered, one-time pressing of the special Double A Side single ‘I Don’t Know’/’Come On To Me’.

The two tracks, from Paul McCartney’s 17th solo album, Egypt Station, were initially only released as a “digital” Double A Side single in the lead-up to his LP release.

The vinyl single is described as a Record Store Day exclusive (i.e. a title that is physically released only at indie record stores), and only 5,000 will be issued worldwide.

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Egypt Station – The Packaging

Now that the general public and the reviewers verdicts are in (all generally very positive btw), and now that Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station has entered the Billboard 200 at No.1, making it his first No.1 album on the US charts in over 36 years (the last time was Tug Of War in 1982), maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the cover art and design of the album – both in LP and CD form – because these too seem to have met with a very favourable reception from fans:

Explaining the album’s concept, Paul says, “I liked the words ‘Egypt Station.’… I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from.” The title is taken from the piece of art which is featured on the album cover. It’s a limited edition lithograph, the original of which Paul himself painted back in 1988:

“My original inspiration [for the painting] was….Egyptian symbols and shapes I got from looking at a reference book on Egypt. I was interested in the way they drew sunflowers, so two appear on the left and on the right. It was a nice shape, so I took that and then I also love the way they symbolize trees. I like the way they reduce a tree to just some very simple symbols.”  Paul McCartney

The art directors hired for the project are Ferry Gouw, an illustrator, graphic designer and video director based in London, and Gary Card, a set designer, illustrator and artist also based in London. They’ve taken McCartney’s original painting and extended out its themes and style across many panels (for both the CD and the LP) in a spectacular way.

At first the two seem an odd choice as on the surface they both appear to work in very different worlds to that of Paul McCartney. Gouw inhabits more of an out there, conceptual electronic dance music, skater/cartoon world. He’s also the in-house designer for James Blake’s record label, 1800-Dinosaur. This video is a little old, but it gives a taste of Gouw’s style:

So, you might wonder how Gouw got the McCartney gig. Then you discover that earlier this year Roxy Music hired him to produce a new video interpretation of their legendary song (from 1972), ‘Virginia Plain‘. Gouw says:

“I wanted it to feel like a kaleidoscopic holiday in glamorous, but surreal locations, that only exist in vintage posters and your imagination. The song is so dense – the imagery comes thick and fast, so they all have to pop up in a stream of consciousness. So I researched vintage holiday posters, Americana pin-up icons, art deco jazz posters, and re-drew all the elements to make up the video.”

It was Bryan Ferry who commissioned the piece after being impressed with Gouw’s work on a video for his solo album, Olympia. The result has been described as the creative rebirth of an iconic track in British musical lore:

On the other hand, Gary Card seems more into groovy and colourful pop sculpture of late. By way of example there’s this amazing eight foot high plasticine Christmas tree he made for a London hotel last holiday season:Both Gouw and Card have been on Instagram since the release of Egypt Station“After months of hard work this beauty is finally out in the world. So proud to see it everywhere, it’s a real privilege to be a part of this. Expect me and @garycard to be spamming Instagram with this for the next few years LoL” – Ferry Gouw

Woke up this morning to news that the Paul McCartney album we designed is number 1 in the U.S 👍🏻 here’s the full art work @ferry_gouw n me based around @paulmccartney‘s original painting #egyptstation” – Gary Card. He then posted this image of the  6-panel “concertina” style packaging they devised for the CD:

When folded up the CD cover is held in place with a bright red cloth fabric elastic band:

For the exclusive Target and HMV editions (which have two bonus songs) the elastic band is green in colour to help set it apart:

It’s not the first time that McCartney has employed elastic bands to hold together a cover. In 1999, under his The Fireman persona, he released a 12″ vinyl featuring remixes of a song called ‘Fluid’, taken from the Rushes album. That folded cover has a red rubber band to keep everything in place too:

The Egypt Station “concertina” idea for the CD is also used for the vinyl record, but only in the “Deluxe Edition” design. This is a three-panel gatefold and you can see Sir Paul holding an example of it here:The LP cover is quite spectacular in this larger format, with a beautifully textured feel to the paper used giving a high quality tactile feel. There’s also a tri-fold lyric sheet in a deep blue which fits within – also beautifully designed by Gouw and Card. Here’s one page from the lyric sheet:

You can see how the LP package folds compared to the CD version a little more clearly here:

The attention to detail extends further inside, with the labels on each side of the LP being individually custom designed as well. Another nice touch:

And that brings us to the vinyl colours. Egypt Station is offered in black vinyl (140 gram standard, and 180 gram deluxe); in blue and orange coloured vinyls for the deluxe version – only available via McCartney’s official site; in red vinyl as a Barnes & Noble store exclusive; and in green vinyl – offered to Spotify subscribers first, but for a period also available to all via the McCartney site as well.

When the images for Egypt Station first began to appear many likened the cover to George Harrison’s 1982 outing, Gone Troppo:

Yes, there are certain similarities in the colours and the pastiche style used, but Egypt Station‘s artwork goes far beyond. It harkens back to the days when albums really were works of art. They could be folded out and explored and enjoyed as an immersive experience in themselves, quite apart from the music contained within. We think Ferry Gouw and Gary Card should be congratulated.

Interesting peice of trivia: In 2004, when Paul headlined the Glastonbury Festival in England, the same Egypt Station artwork from his original painting adorned the pre-show curtain:

There is a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package of the year. In 2018 there was a tie for first place and so two winners were recognised (click here to see the list and scroll down to Award Number 65):

Above on the left is Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) – Sasha Barr, Ed Steed and Josh Tillman, art directors.

On the right is Magin Díaz’s El Orisha De La Rosa – Carlos Dussan, Juliana Jaramillo, Juan Martinez and Claudio Roncoli, art directors.

There’s a good article about both albums and their cover art here. There’s further information on both here also.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until January, 2019 to see if: a) Egypt Station receives a Grammy nomination for its extraordinary packaging, and b) it wins!

Paul McCartney always puts a lot of effort into the design and presentation of his albums. Two excellent examples are the totally integrated concept for his Electric Arguments release as The Fireman in 2008/09, which saw the standard CD right through to an extraordinary limited edition deluxe box set executed with aplomb; and his album New from 2013. You can find the story behind the cover art for that one here.

FOR MORE ON EGYPT STATION SEE ALSO:

Record Store Day Double A Side to be released; a retro Egypt Station Cassette; some Egypt Station Reviews; the Spotify Egypt Station Green Vinyl; and Packaging Variations of Egypt Station.

‘Egypt Station’ – Available on Cassette

The Paul McCartney Official US Store is now offering McCartney’s new Egypt Station album on cassette:

You can buy it (with a digital download included) for US$9.98! It’s the sixteen track version – no bonus tracks.

This is not the first time McCartney has dabbled with what some might view as a redundant format. Last time was for Record Store Day 2017, when a 3-song cassette of Flowers In The Dirt demos with Elvis Costello was offered as a limited edition:

The cassette of Egypt Station takes the number of different variations of the album for collectors to seek out to eight. That’s five different vinyl editions, two different CDs, and now the cassette. And there is still a super deluxe edition in the pipeline. No details on what that will contain have been released to date.

Paul McCartney’s ‘Egypt Station’ – A Review

One of Australia’s leading music critics has given Paul McCartney a big thumbs up for Egypt Station, released last Friday.

Veteran music journalist Bernard Zuel writes:

“…this is what you get when a man who was brilliant in his 20s and 30s and stumbled into mediocrity a bit too often in his 40s and 50s, shows [that] the creative rejuvenation of his 60s continues at a fine pace….

It works. But then he’s Paul McCartney, we’re not, and that’s the deal…..”

You can read Bernard’s full, track-by-track review at bernardzuel.com

The respected UK newspaper The Times has also given the album high praise, with a four out of five star rating:

“…..here he is, aged 76, with his most emotionally satisfying work in decades….Egypt Station displays McCartney’s unique ability to write songs that are direct and sophisticated. Who else could construct the minor key piano melody of Hand In Hand from just a few notes nobody thought of arranging that way before, and then set it against words about sharing your life with someone, that are conversational yet poignant?

Likewise with Dominoes, which chugs along with the lighthearted rock’n’roll Wings did so well, but comes with a philosophical message about accepting the here and now. As with so much McCartney material, it is more profound than it seems.” 

McCartney’s ‘Egypt Station’ – Yet Another Vinyl Version Available

There was another twist yesterday in the increasingly strange and frustrating story of the number of different versions of Paul McCartney’s soon-to-be-released Egypt Station.

Spotify subscribers who were somehow determined to be dedicated McCartney streamers were sent this email:

Now, that’s kind of odd. Firstly, offering people who mostly consume their music digitally the only access to an exclusive green vinyl double LP was seen by some avid collectors as, well, strange: The popular Super Deluxe Edition page and the Daily Beatle quickly weighed in, as did many followers on McCartney forum pages, asking why such an exclusive physical product would be offered to a fan group that – potentially – had little interest in such a thing, while collectors who love getting hold of actual product were excluded.

Then, within 24 hours, the story took another turn.

It seems the limited Spotify green vinyl wasn’t as “exclusive” as it was first portrayed. Anyone can now log on to the official Paul McCartney online store and order a copy…..

The green vinyl joins the Barnes and Noble exclusive red vinyl:

And the Paul McCartney site-only orange and blue Deluxe Vinyl Edition: 

Has the marketing of this LP now run to too many versions, both on vinyl and on CD? There’s still a Super Deluxe version to be announced. No one knows yet what that will contain.

McCartney’s Egypt Station – Packaging Images Emerge

As the release date of September 7 draws near, more images of Paul McCartney’s eagerly awaited release Egypt Station are beginning to trickle out.

This is helping collectors to delineate just what is what in the still-confusing array of variations on offer.

First up the humble standard 16 track CD:This will be joined by a version with two bonus tracks that will only be available at Target stores in the US and HMV stores in the UK. The two tracks will be ‘Get Started’ and ‘Nothing For Free’. Note the “Exclusive” Target sticker at bottom left:The CD plus two bonus tracks will also be available at some independent record stores in Europe: As has often been the case in the past with Japanese McCartney releases those two bonus tracks will also be available on a higher-priced SHM-CD edition of the disc in that country. (The standard CD will be the 16 track edition with no bonus tracks).

Then there are the Standard Edition vinyl iterations. The Standard Edition vinyl comes in a single sleeve with two discs, not a gatefold cover. Firstly here it is in black vinyl:

However, Barnes and Noble in the US is also offering a Standard Edition in an exclusive red vinyl:Both versions come with a pink lyric sheet insert.

Then there are the Deluxe Edition vinyl versions, with two main variations. These will come in what is described as “180g Heavyweight Double Vinyl, Tri Gatefold Concertina Jacket with a 6 Panel Canvas Concertina Folder”. Firstly the black vinyl Deluxe:As you can see, the lyric sheet insert for this is a deep blue colour and is also tri-fold.

Meanwhile, only at the official McCartney store, you can order an exclusive coloured vinyl Deluxe Edition – and the colour of those discs has today been revealed for the first time: We’ve gotta say it looks pretty cool!   (click on images for larger versions)

A Little More Info on the Recording of ‘Egypt Station’

“I love that he’s pushing the boundaries in his songwriting harmonically and   lyrically. … I would see him bringing in new chord progressions that I still haven’t heard.”

So says producer extraordinaire, Greg Kurstin, who worked with Paul McCartney for over two years on Egypt Station, the maestro’s new album due out in September.

Kurstin has opened up at length in Rolling Stone for an interesting interview with Andy Greene about the new record, and just what it’s like to work with one of the icons of the music industry. The question everyone wonders about did come up: what’s it like telling a Beatle how to improve a song?

It is strange, but I know that’s what he really wants from me. I just have to take a breath and say it. Sometimes it might not go over very well, but he was always really cool. I remember a couple of times where I might have suggested something that might have been challenging. I can’t remember specifically, but I remember him just sort of carrying on and I’m wondering, “Did he hear me?” Then maybe half an hour would go by and I’d say, “Hey, Paul, what about that idea I mentioned a little while ago?” He said, “Oh, I heard you. I was just pretending to ignore you.” If he challenged me and wasn’t into the idea, I would realize, you know, that this is coming from a Beatle. He’s tried everything at this point. He’s done experimental albums. He’s done pop albums. Anything I could possibly ever want to do in the studio, he’s been there and tried it.

We also get to learn more about the contents and making of Egypt Station, a record that despite two songs being released as “singles” there’s been precious little detail about so far. Just one example:

I see that the album begins with “Station I” and ends with “Station II.” What can you tell me about those tracks?
That started with a choir piece that Paul had worked out on the keyboard. Then we brought in David Campbell to help arrange the choir. We went into a cathedral to record that, which was really cool. It started with us in the studio. Paul had worked out some chords that he wanted the voices to do. Then we started creating different ambient noises, some of which came from tape loops. He had a little portable reel-to-reel player, the one they used on Revolver for “Tomorrow Never Knows.” That was done on this little Brenell tape machine. We created some of the sounds on that, like slowing down guitars.

Great stuff that really makes you want to hear this album…..

There’s also picture by MJ Kim (courtesy of McCartney’s MPL Communications Ltd) showing the pair in the studio. The interesting thing is the copyright date – 2016: