In something of a change of pace, the Super Deluxe Edition site has recently been looking back at a couple of classic box set releases from the past.
Their latest unboxing-style video features the very rare Paul McCartney (a.k.a. The Fireman) box which is based around the 2008 release, Electric Arguments.
This was McCartney’s third album with musician/producer Youth, and as Paul Sinclair from SDE says, “… [it] broke the mould inasmuch as unlike the previous two albums, it was openly promoted by the record label as being the work of the ex-Beatle. A limited box set edition was available only via McCartney’s website and arrived six months late, in July 2009.”
If you’d like some more detail on this one, check out our comprehensive article on all the releases associated with the Electric Arguments project, including the CD singles, promo CD’s, the single CD editions, vinyl, and spme more of the background to this very limited box set. For the real completists out there see also this post.
Paul Sinclair from Super Deluxe Edition has also revisited the wonderful 2009 Beatles in Mono box set too:
The final instalment of the recent visit to San Francisco. Last time we looked at the vinyl purchases. This time it’s the CDs and DVDs. Both Rasputin, Recycled Records and Amoeba Music have lots of vinyl. They also have lots of CDs and also (Rasputin Music in particular) many, many DVDs to choose from.
First to the CD’s and at Rasputin I found a US copy of Paul’sChoba B CCCP on CD:
I already have a UK version of this on Parlophone, but a US copy on the Capitol label to join it (at a very low price) was too much to resist.
Also at Rasputin I found a copy, released by 20th Century Fox, of Paul McCartney’s 1984 ill-advised excursion into the world of movie-making Give My Regards to Broad Street:The movie had a less-than-enthusiastic reception when it first came out. To quote one user review from IMDB: “I wouldn’t go so far as to call this movie a ‘crap-fest’. I have definitely sat through much worse….I wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure, either. Though it wasn’t a complete waste of time, it was awfully trite and clichéd. It plays like an extended music video….Although it didn’t completely suck, Sir Paul really should stick to writing songs and leave screen writing to professionals.”
Hmmm. I can only vaguely remember seeing the film once when it was first released. So when I saw this DVD (which came out in 2004 in this version) for just $3.99 I grabbed it. At that price it is well worth the cost of admission for another viewing. The disc itself is one of those two-sided DVD’s. One side has the full screen version, and the other a wide screen version – so the DVD itself looks pretty bland:
However, there’s an insert inside the case with a great photo of Paul and Ringo in costume:
The other DVD I got at Rasputin was also $3.99, and also from Paul McCartney:
This is the 2002 concert film Back in the U.S. I’ve got the two CD set of this concert, but never actually seen the video. Again, that that low price well worth adding to the collection.
Before leaving Rasputin Music’s Powell Street store I also discovered a nice, sealed CD copy of Electric Arguments by The Fireman (a.k.a. Paul McCartney and Youth).
Now, regular readers of Beatles Blog will know I have a bit of a passion for collecting versions and variations of this particular CD – and this was a variation I’d not seen before. Originally this disc came out when Paul was not signed to any particular label, and so in the UK it was distributed on the One Little Indian label. In the US it came out on ATO Records. More recently though Paul has been signed to the Hear Music label, part of Concord Music Group, and they have re-issued a few titles from that time when he was “between labels” – including Electric Arguments. The giveaway is that white barcode sticker on the rear cover where you can see the disc has been given a different catalogue number and there are tiny logos for MPL (McCartney’s company) as well as Hear Music and Concord:Next stop was Recycled Records on Haight Street, and a very nice US copy of the CD Working Classical:
This came out on the EMI Classics label in back in 1999. I have the vinyl (now worth quite a bit as it is rare, in mint condition, and long out of print). A CD copy for the princely sum of $8.00 was worth it:
The final CD purchase came from Amoeba Music, also on Haight Street. For some time now I’ve been on the lookout for a CD copy of the 2001 McCartney “best of” release Wingspan – Hits and History. It originally came in a cardboard slipcase which has a holographic front cover. Getting copies in good condition is difficult because the slipcase is sometimes missing, or it’s in poor condition. This one I found has the holographic cover and its in pretty good nick too:
So, that’s it – the results of a holiday visit to the US city of San Francisco. A great city with some great record stores to boot.
When I published a blog about all the different variations of Paul McCartney’s 2008 Fireman project “Electric Arguments” I thought I’d covered off just about everything….
Seems not because I’ve just received this variation which I’d never seen before – it comes in a clear plastic jewel case:
The standard single-disc CD in most major markets (e.g. the US, UK, and Japan) came out in a cardboard digipac cover. For example, here’s the Japanese cover (front and rear):
However, the seller I got the jewel case variation from was from Italy, and so I thought there might be a chance that is was unique to that country. Perhaps it is – but there’s nothing printed in this plastic jewel case version on either the booklet or the tray insert to say “Made in Italy”:
It all looks very generic inside and out and so this version of the packaging may also have turned up in other markets outside Italy. If you know anything about it then let us know too.
The CD itself is pressed in the UK and it is on the One Little Indian label:
Compare this to the original One Little Indian UK version from 2008:
If anyone knows anything more about it please use the comments box below.
Maybe it’s a lower cost version released more recently? I say this because the booklet is just 15 pages of photographs compared to the original release booklets which were very thick by CD booklet standards – they’ve got 46 pages. Here is the 15 page booklet from the jewel case version:
And here’s the cover of the 46 page booklet include in the original digipac editions from 2008:
The jewel case format therefore means that this cover of the booklet is unique. The black square with the album title, etc. and those coloured circles which look like stickers are actually printed onto the paper. On the original US and UK digipacs these were on a large clear plastic sticker attached to the outside of the shrink-wrap around the cardboard cover. You can see that here:
While I was trawling the web for photographs to help illustrate all the extensive variations McCartney produced for this project I came across what looks like one further intriguing packaging variation. It’s this one:
As you can see, it looks like a cardboard sleeve with a kind of folding envelope top where the CD is kept. If anyone also knows about the origins of this one let us know. Maybe it is a limited promo cover, or a prototype that never went into production?
This latest addition to my collection was released a little while back now – but I’ve just been able to secure a very nice copy of the very rare and limited deluxe edition of the 2008 release “Electric Arguments” by The Fireman (a.k.a Paul McCartney and his producer, Youth). This is a truly over-the-top item, a bespoke, hand-made item with unique artwork and inserts.
Before we get to the details of this release, we’ll take a look at the standard editions first – and there are a quite a few. Just the scale of the different versions and artwork created for the “Electric Arguments” project is staggering.
The most common commercially-released and readily available version of “Electric Arguments” came out as a single CD. McCartney was between labels at the time and so in the UK it was released and distributed on the One Little Indian label. In the US it was released and distributed by ATO Records.
In both markets the CD is contained in a cardboard digipac gate-fold, the cover of which looked like this in both markets:
The black square and those circles that look like stickers on the front of the cover are actually printed onto the shrink-wrap plastic around the cardboard cover, not on the cover itself. The only difference between the two countries is the catalogue number and the printing on the CD – which carries the name and logo of the record company releasing it:
The UK CD released and distributed by One Little Indian – catalogue number: tplp1003cd
The US released – distributed by ATO Records – catalogue number: 88088-21640-2/ATO 0063
(If you’d like to see larger versions of any photographs here just click on the image).
The CD gate-fold contains a 46 page booklet, which slips into a pocket inside the cover:
This official, commercial CD release was supported by three promotional CDs. These were only sent to music reviewers and to radio stations. The first contained exactly the same 13 tracks as the commercially-released album, but with a completely different cover and artwork, and different printing on the CD, which states “For promotional use only”. Its catalogue number is MPL 922:
There were also two separate, single-song promo CD’s sent to radio stations to promote the album. The first (and more common one) was for the song “Sing the Changes”. It came out in a simple digipac gate-fold with unique artwork and printing on the CD itself. It has the catalogue number MPL 1006-CDPROMO:
The second and more difficult to find promo CD contains the song “Dance ’til We’re High”. Again, like the other two promos, it is presented as a unique picture disc mounted on a clear tray in a digipak cover with alternate artwork. The CD printing was different, and the catalogue number is 1011tp7cdp:
There was also a limited edition, double LP vinyl pressing of the album (catalogue number tplp1003/5016958 1040 1 6) which has been Direct Metal Mastered at the Abbey Road studios. The two LPs are in a gate-fold cover which has the same artwork as used on the outside as the commercially released CD. Its pressed on heavy 200g vinyl and the cover comes inside a thick clear-plastic outer with a yellow limited edition numbered sticker on the outside:
Inside the gate-fold cover of the 2 LP set is a 15 page book:
The LP packaging also contains a CD copy of the album which is held in a simple custom slipcase envelope. Here are the front and rear covers:
The records themselves are also held in thick paper inner sleeves with even more artwork on them and each side of the the vinyl has these custom designed labels:
Then, a few months after all these releases above (LP and CDs) came what could only be described as a very special and limited edition of the whole “Electric Arguments” project. This version has the catalogue number TPLP1003DE. It came sealed in this large, custom-made paper satchel:
Inside the bag is a heavy-duty steel box:
Before we go any further, I must acknowledge and talk about the person responsible for the entire design of The Fireman “Electric Arguments” packaging. Art direction for the project (including the standard CD, promo CDs and the Deluxe Edition) is by Norman Hathaway, a creative director based in Brooklyn, New York who has done a number of other projects for Paul McCartney, including CD covers and books. It’s not the first time Hathaway has done a Fireman album either – he also did the artwork for “Rushes”, Paul McCartney’s second collaboration with producer Youth. His work on “Electric Arguments” though, particularly this Deluxe Edition, is very special. I’m really not sure how they manufactured it – parts really do have the look and feel of being hand-made.
Once you open the metal box you see this sheet pasted inside the lid:
As you can see, its like a replica studio reel-to-reel tape box, listing the contents, and stating it was recorded at May Hill, McCartney’s own Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex in the UK. Down the bottom it says in Paul’s handwriting: “This is not a pizza. Enjoy it: Paul McCartney x x “. The next thing you see is the first of two art prints, exclusive to the box set:
Underneath these is a deep red cloth-bound folder, with embossed writing on the outside saying “the fireman – electric arguments – paul mccartney – youth”:
This opens up to reveal not one, but four separate CDs:
This CD holder looks truly handmade – you can see it in the image above, and it has nice detail touches, like the words “electric arguments” imprinted on the cardboard inside the place where the CD sits. The CDs are: the full 13-track album (with different printing on the disc to the standard release); a 7-track bonus song CD; a high resolution stereo audio CD with all 13 songs from the standard edition, plus a further bonus track (a dub-step remix of the song “Highway”), and three videos (“Sing the Changes”, “Dance ’til We’re High” and “In the Studio”); and finally a multi-track audio files data DVD containing mixing “stems” for 5 different tracks from the album:
OK. Then comes a 46 page art book, which is the same as the booklet you get with the standard CD but in a larger format:
And then a copy of the 200g vinyl 2 LP set:
Really, for the collector and completist it is all fairly breathtaking!
Finally, to get an idea of the Deluxe packaging in it’s entirety here are two short videos of owners “un-boxing” their copies. The first is a bit rough in places, but it gives you a good idea of the way this entire project is put together: