A is For Apple Book – More Info

Since we reported back in September on a new series of books detailing the history of the Beatles Apple company, there’s been a flurry of activity and a lot of further information coming through.

The authors of A is For Apple now have a cover for Volume 1, which is due for publication in April next year:A is For Apple Cover

And they’ve produced a YouTube video, too:

There are a couple of further very interesting draft sample pages now available here and here. (These come with a “big file” warning and may take some time to download).

For Apple fans these both contain great info and photos.

And there are now details about some special offers and bonus material which will come with Volume 1 of A is For Apple.

One Apple artist has given the publishers permission to release two rare recordings with the project. Jackie Lomax, just a couple of days before his tragic death in 2013, signed an agreement to include an exclusive 7“ vinyl of his previously unreleased track ‘Land Of People’, and the demo version of ‘Is This What You Want?’. Both songs will be included with Vol. 1 of A is For Apple.A is For Apple Bonus1A is For Apple Bonus2

Additionally, if you pre-order Volume 1 before December 3, you not only save €5 Euro on the purchase price but also receive a strictly limited edition bonus flexi disc of The Iveys‘ unreleased 1968 Christmas Record:A is For Apple Bonus3

In late 1968 The Iveys (later to become Badfinger) taped a Christmas message for their fans just like the Beatles had done since 1963. But contrary to the Beatles‘ annual Crimble messages this one has never been released. Only very recently the A is For Apple people got permission to include this Christmas flexi disc that never was.

For the whole story of the project so far see the A is For Apple website.

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:


Our First Four – A Very Collectable First Apple Release

One of the reasons I got into this Beatles collecting caper, apart from a love of the music, was that I became fascinated by the band setting up their very own record label – Apple Records.

The Beatles were amongst the first, if not the first, band to do so and (apart from themselves) they signed up an eclectic range of artists to the label.

Their very first releases were marked by the issuing of a limited edition press kit of the first four 45rpm vinyl singles to come out on Apple – which they called “Our First Four”.

In the UK there seems to have been two versions of this.

One was in a stronger, hard plastic outer case. Examples of this version were very limited, and these were hand-delivered to dignitaries like Stanley Gortikov, President of Capitol Records in 1968; to Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace; to her sister Princess Margaret at Kensington Palace; to the Queen Mother at St James’s Palace; and to the then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Number 10 Downing Street, London. The plastic box set looked like this:45OurFirstFourUK

The other, lower cost version was posted to radio disc jockeys, music journalists and critics. It was in a cheaper, thin black cardboard box.

Both versions contained four singles: 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).

Each single was accompanied by a press release printed on the outside of a coloured folder containing an artist photo and a plastic sleeve to hold the record.

The reason for this post is that a copy of the cardboard “Our First Four” has just sold on Ebay for an impressive AU$6,199 (that’s US$5,700, or £3,643 UK Pounds).

The price it fetched is testament to it’s rarity. And as it is not often seen (and because the listing had such a good selection of photos of the item – showing in detail how the box worked and what was inside), I couldn’t resist reproducing a selection of them here:off-a2off-boff-coff-doff-fapple1-aapple1-bapple2-aapple2-bapple3-aapple3-bapple4-aapple4-bThe Beatles official site has reproduced a nice press advertisement for “Our First Four”.

In the United States the press kit mailed to DJ’s and music journos was perhaps a little less colourful and extravagant, but its contents were definitely as interesting (and collectable). Respected Beatle writer and discographer Bruce Spizer has a great article on the background to this one:folder-closedOPENFOLD-7-inch

If you had a lazy six grand lying around would you purchase one of these?

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 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.