Digging For Some Beatle-Related Singles

A recent trip to Melbourne (capital city of the Australian state of Victoria) turned up some more Beatle-related treasure in the form of some nice vinyl singles. (Click here for the results of our previous visit).

Some of these titles we already had, but in pressings from different countries. The others definitely fill some gaps in the collection. As always, click on the images below to see larger versions.

The first two we found were at a flea market – and going very cheaply. Mary Hopkin’s ‘Goodbye’ was produced by Paul McCartney and released in 1969. This one is the UK release:

We already had two other versions of this. The US release – in a picture sleeve:

And the Australian pressing, with two different label variations. One with a Northern Songs publishing credit stamp, and one without:

The other find at the flea market was also a UK pressing – of the Radha Krishna Temple’s ‘Hare Krishna Mantra’, also from 1969:

The pressing we already had of this is probably more rare. It’s the Australian pressing, also nice to have:

After the flea market we headed over to one of our favourite second-hand record haunts, Licorice Pie Records. As usual they had a good selection of used Beatle and Apple artist 45’s. Like this one, an Australian pressing of Paul McCartney and Wings from 1974 with ‘Mrs Vandebilt’:

Despite years of collecting, this single was not in the collection – so it was a good find. As was this next one – Badfinger and ‘Baby Blue’ (again an Australian pressing):

Paul McCartney’s brother Mike McGear released an album in 1974 simply called McGear. On it he had a lot of help (and songs) from his older sibling and members of his brother’s band, Wings. The McGear album is set to be reissued on June 28 on 180 gram vinyl and on a CD + DVD set (with lots of rarities included). The original album saw this single issued with a non-album track on the flip side: Note the McCartney producing credit and the Paul and Linda writing credits on both songs.

The next year, Warner Brothers issued another single, only this time the non-album track (‘Dance the Do’) was the A-side, while the B-side was taken from the McGear LP:

So, all in all a successful trip. Next post we’ll detail the LPs we found.

Four Beatles-related Finds at Record Fair

We’ve just returned from the annual Glebe Record Fair – one of the biggest of the year – held in the Sydney suburb of Glebe:Glebe-April-2015

The two photos below were taken just after opening time at 9.00 am. This was before the venue really became absolutely packed with patrons hungrily seeking out vinyl, books and CDs. As you can see it’s already very crowded:Glebe 2015 1Glebe 2015 2

And the crowds just got bigger and bigger. In the melee that ensued we were lucky to discover four interesting little 45 singles. First up, a US white-label pressing of George Harrison’s ‘This Song’ from 1976 on his Dark Horse label, complete in its original outer sleeve. First pressings of this came with these white labels, while later issues have the traditional colour label:Harrison This Song1Harrison This Song2

At the same vendor’s stall we also discovered this unusual New Zealand pressing of Paul McCartney and Wings controversial ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’, dating from 1972. As was the case in most of the rest of the world this is on a custom Apple label:Give Ireland Back

A little later in another pile of 45s we spied this nice US pressing (and original picture sleeve) of Mary Hopkin singing ‘Goodbye’:Goodbye1Goodbye2

By this time we were feeling pretty weary, and the crowds had built considerably. We were just about to leave and doing one final trawl through some singles at another table when out popped this rare little gem:Seaside Woman1Seaside Woman2Seaside Woman3

It’s a 1986 UK pressing with re-mixes of the Suzy and the Red Stripes song ‘Seaside Woman‘ (a.k.a Linda McCartney and husband Paul). This was originally released on the A&M label back in 1980 with this cover:Seaside Woman4

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?

Mary Hopkin – Australian Vinyl

Last weekend I was visiting a cool Sydney second-hand record store called Revolve Records and Relics. As you can see if you click here, its a full-on searching experience when you walk inside…I was actually there on the hunt for an Australian pressing of the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band LP to send to Andrey, a Russian collector and reader of this blog.

Anyway, I didn’t turn one up for him (yet), but I did find an LP for myself that I’ve been searching for now for about ten years or so. It’s an original Australian pressing on Apple Records of the Mary Hopkin compilation “The Best of Mary Hopkin”:

You might know this record as “Those Were the Days”. In the UK and the USA that’s what it was called when released back in 1972. It has the same Apple Records catalogue number here as the UK issue – SAPCOR 23 (in the US this was SW3395) – and the same 11 tracks and running order:

There’s a bit of a backstory for me regarding this LP. I did spy a copy of it once at a garage sale about 10-15 years ago. I was just about to reach for it when another person at the garage sale spotted it first and grabbed it. It must genuinely be one of the Apple rarities as I’ve never seen another copy of it since!

So, thanks to Andrey, I have one more item ticked off in the quest to own every Apple LP on vinyl.

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.

 

Apple Records – Re-releases Announced

I’ve been away traveling for a while without ready access to a computer and so have missed updating the blog with a significant announcement by Apple about some forthcoming non-Beatles re-releases. So, in case you missed it, here’s a catch-up post.

I’ve been buying records on the Apple label since I was a teenager. They were all Beatles releases of course as at the time that was the extent of my interest and my knowledge of the Beatles record label’s activities. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I realised that alongside their Beatles releases the record label also issued a wealth of other artists, and so I began trying to catch up on these and started to collect the entire Apple catalogue in earnest. I’m still engaged in that quest. There are a lot of original records out there still to track down…..

As one fellow blogger put it “…part of what makes Apple so fun to collect is that the label’s artist roster in the late 60s and early 70s was so varied. Apple covered everything, from the Modern Jazz Quartet, to the folk of Mary Hopkin, to the avant-garde orchestration of John Tavener. The label also released a handful of film soundtracks, and launched the careers of some pretty high-profile artists such as James Taylor and Badfinger.”

Well, when I got back from my travels the other day I found this emailed press release (dated July 6) from Apple Corps Ltd in my inbox:

Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, and more. Apple Records catalogue remastered and reissued on CD and digital download – Classics Set For Release on October 26th

Launched by The Beatles in 1968, as the new outlet for their own recordings as well as the music of an eclectic roster of artists – James Taylor, Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, Doris Troy, and Jackie Lomax among them – who were all personally brought to the label by The Beatles (individually and/or collectively), Apple Records made popular music history from the very moment it opened its doors.

Four decades later, Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music raise the curtain on remastered CD and digital download releases of 15 key albums from the Apple Records catalog. All 15 titles will be released on October 26th. Most of the physical CDs will include bonus material. Together, the 15 albums represent the first ever Apple Records releases to be available via digital download.

In the revolutionary spirit of 1968, The Beatles’ explosive musical output (characterised by their double-LP White Album) was only exceeded by their fascination with what they saw and heard going on around them. Five years into The Beatles’ reign, Apple Records afforded them the unique opportunity to sign new (and established) artists who appealed to each of them. In turn, the introduction of an artist on The Beatles’ record label was an imprimatur taken very seriously by fans across the universe.

Apple Records’ utopian artist-orientated mission immediately set it apart, as the first operation of its kind in the major-label sphere. Diversity was celebrated, and artists were encouraged to record and release their music in a friendly creative environment. Apple developed a distinctive graphic aesthetic, from its legendary ‘apple-core’ logo to its advertising and merchandising, in the process setting a subtle new benchmark for the industry to follow.

From 1968 to 1973, Apple Records bedazzled the world with a rainbow spectrum of releases – and fans were unusually well-informed about individual involvements of The Beatles with nearly every project. 1968’s self-titled debut album by Boston-based singer-songwriter James Taylor, for example, features Paul McCartney and George Harrison on “Carolina In My Mind”. Paul was instrumental in bringing the Welsh chanteuse Mary Hopkin to Apple, and produced her debut single, “Those Were The Days”. Badfinger, also from Wales, was still known as The Iveys when they recorded “Come And Get It”, written and produced by Paul (for The Magic Christian movie soundtrack).

The Beatles had been fans of Billy Preston ever since seeing him in Little Richard’s band in Hamburg in 1962. George went on to produce and play on Preston’s Apple debut, That’s the Way God Planned It. Harrison was one of the producers and played (along with Ringo Starr) on Doris Troy’s self-titled Apple album. George also produced and played (with Paul and Ringo) on Jackie Lomax’s debut album, Is This What You Want? featuring the Harrison composition, “Sour Milk Sea”.

John was much taken with the music of The Modern Jazz Quartet, who released the only two jazz albums in the Apple catalogue. Ringo was intrigued by the music of contemporary British classical composer John Tavener, and his Apple album, The Whale has become one of the most sought-after Apple collectibles of all time.

Each of the 15 albums in this bumper batch of Apple Records releases has been digitally remastered at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London by the same dedicated team of engineers behind The Beatles’ recent remastered catalogue releases of 2009.

For details about the release, visit www.applerecords.com

Many Thanks

thebeatles.com

The releases (15 titles in all) are:

  • James Taylor (1968) by James Taylor
  • Magic Christian Music (1970) by Badfinger
  • No Dice (1970) by Badfinger
  • Straight Up (1972) by Badfinger
  • Ass (1974) by Badfinger
  • Post Card (1969) by Mary Hopkin
  • Earth Song, Ocean Song (1971) by Mary Hopkin
  • That’s The Way God Planned It (1969) by Billy Preston
  • Encouraging  Words (1970) by Billy Preston
  • Doris Troy (1970) by Doris Troy
  • Is This What You Want? (1968) by Jackie Lomax
  • Under The Jasmine Tree (1968), and Space (1969) by the Modern Jazz Quartet (a 2-on-1 CD)
  • The Whale (1970), and Celtic Requiem (1971) by John Tavener (a 2-on-1 CD)

It has to be said that this is not the first time these titles have been re-issued by Apple. There was another major campaign between 1991-1993 when they were all released for the first time on CD. That campaign also saw them released as vinyl LPs, complete with the original artwork and lots of bonus tracks, additional photographs, etc….So, for many collectors it will be a case of having to decide whether or not to get these 2010 releases a second time. What’s new is that they have all been freshly re-mastered by the engineering team at Abbey Road (who did the recent Beatles re-masters), and that they’re to be available as digital downloads for the first time making these re-issues the first Apple product ever available in that form. Can an announcement about the Beatles catalogue being digitally down-loadable be far behind?

To mark that 1991-1993 release campaign Apple Records released this special apple-shaped extended play CD.