McCartney to Concord Records

Paul McCartney has announced he’s to reissue his extensive post-Beatles catalogue through the independent label, Concord Music. It means that the struggling EMI Group, his former label, misses out on a potentially huge revenue spinner, though they still remain in control of the lucrative Beatles material.

Concord, which started life in 1973 primarily as a jazz label, has previously released McCartney material. In 2007 it was the album Memory Almost Full, and last year it was the CD and DVD standard and deluxe editions of the live performance release Good Evening New York City. Both albums were distributed under the Hear Music brand, a partnership between coffee chain Starbucks and Concord. A fact I wasn’t aware of until I started to research the announcement is that there’s now a strong Australian connection to Concord, and hence a direct connection to Paul McCartney. In 2008 the label merged with Australia’s Village Roadshow Pictures Group. Veteran TV producer and writer, Norman Lear (co-owner of Concord from 1999), is still chairman of the label following the merger.

So, McCartney has turned over his substantial catalogue of about two dozen albums to Concord. The deal includes all his releases from 1970 to 2006.

Concord has announced that the first reissue they’ll produce is 1973’s Band on the Run. The CD is scheduled for an August 2010 release and will be remastered, featuring enhanced packaging and rare bonus tracks.

“I’m always looking for new ways and opportunities to get my music to people and Concord share this passion,” McCartney said of the new deal.

According to the label’s website fans “can expect both physical and digital distribution of gems from solo offerings like McCartney, Ram, Pipes of Peace, Give My Regards to Broad Street, and Flaming Pie, as well as Wings landmarks such as Wildlife and Red Rose Speedway. In addition, the re-releases will include stuff done under McCartney’s pseudonyms: Percy ‘Thrills’ Thrillington, The Fireman and Twin Freaks.”

The Los Angeles Times has a really interesting article about the journey of the Concord label to this point, and how they’ve expanded their stable of artists significantly, including the acquisition of the legendary folk and roots label Rounder Records, and deals with artists as diverse as Macy Gray, John Fogerty, Joni Mitchell, Loudon Wainwright III, Eric Bibb, Stanley Clarke, Carole King and James Taylor.  The company has some well-known record labels in it’s stable, including Milestone Records, Fantasy Records, Pablo, Prestige, Stax and Telarc.

(Sources: Concord Group website; New Music Express; the Gibson website; LA Times; and BBC News)

UPDATE:  New Release Date Announced.

McCartney Mail on Sunday Free Live CD

Here’s a heads-up if you live in the UK.

This coming weekend (Sunday January 17, 2010) the British newspaper the Mail on Sunday will contain a free giveaway CD of Paul McCartney live tracks.

All the songs on the CD have been chosen by Paul McCartney, and he apparently designed the CD cover art himself  (which, by the way, is based largely on a previous limited edition live 12 inch record he released in 2007 called “Amoeba’s Secret” – more on this below). However, as the Mail on Sunday says, this new giveaway will be “….a CD that is unavailable anywhere else”.  The cover will look like this:

Mail on Sunday - free giveaway - front cover

Mail on Sunday - free giveway - rear cover

The free CD will feature seven Beatle songs – including “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Lady Madonna”, “Get Back”, “Blackbird” and “Hey Jude”,  as well as five of McCartney’s solo compositions. So, twelve tracks in all. That makes it quite different to any previous releases and therefore a collectable item for Beatles fans. From what I can tell from the info so far, the songs all come from a live gig recorded at the huge Amoeba record store in Los Angeles. Of the twelve tracks to be given away free this Sunday, only five have been previously released: “Only Mama Knows”, “That Was Me”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “C Moon” on the limited edition 12 inch “Amoeba’s Secret” (2007) and CD (2009), and “Dance Tonight”, which was a bonus live song on the CD single for “Ever Present Past” (2007). Therefore all the additional tracks are bonuses.

As well, this Sunday’s “Live” magazine will feature an interview with McCartney with some previously unseen backstage pictures.

As you can see the artwork is very similar to the original used for both the vinyl and CD covers of “Amoeba’s Secret”:

"Amoeba's Secret" - limited edition - front cover

Its not the first time McCartney has teamed with the Mail on Sunday though.

On Sunday 18 May, 2008 his 13 track album “Memory Almost full” was given away free to millions of readers. It was essentially identical to the officially released version of the album of the same name, just with much simpler packaging.

Mail on Sunday - "Memory Almost Full" free giveaway - front cover

Mail on Sunday "Memory Almost Full" free giveaway - disc image

As you can see in the pics above, the cover contains the Mail On Sunday logo, which is also on the disc itself. Both contain the words “For Promotional Use Only – Not For Sale”. The “Live” magazine supplement that came with the previous week’s Mail on Sunday newspaper included a track-by-track analysis by Paul and exclusive photos of him too.

Following on from McCartney’s “Memory Almost Full” giveaway CD, the Mail On Sunday also gave away a free John Lennon CD on January 18, 2009.

Unlike McCartney’s freebie though, which was his most recent studio album, Lennon’s is a selection (12 tracks) of greatest hits and album tracks – largely taken from the official best-of CD release “Working Class Hero – The Definitive John Lennon”. Like the “Memory Almost Full” CD, the Lennon release came in a similar small cardboard sleeve:

Mail on Sunday - "John Lennon" free giveaway - front cover

Mail on Sunday - "John Lennon" free giveaway - rear cover

Ever Present Past – Rare CD Single

Front cover of "Ever Present Past" - the CD version

For some unknown reason this official McCartney CD single (and what a rarity CD singles themselves are becoming!) was pressed and distributed by MPL/Universal/Hear Music in only very limited quantities. Hence it has become extremely rare and difficult to find – even on Ebay. Those that can be found usually go for top dollar. I went along to a local record and CD fair recently (in Parramatta in Sydney) and happened across the one you see here.

Yes, I too had to pay big bucks even at the record fair, but after many years of looking it was the first time I’d ever seen one of these in real life. I’d been searching on Ebay for quite some time but this CD single, when it very occasionally came to light,  always sold for much more than I was prepared to pay.

So, when I saw this CD sitting on Beatles’ collector Bruce Hamlin’s stall I was overtaken by the desire to finally get my hands on a copy and have it in the collection.

The song comes from the album “Memory Almost Full”, from way back in 2007….yes, that’s how long I’ve been looking for this one! At the time McCartney also issued a vinyl 45rpm disc of the same track. These seem to be freely available even now and, while nice to have, are proving to be not that collectable – although they do have a unique song on the “B” side. More on this below.

The 45’s therefore are pretty much a dime-a-dozen, whereas the CD single is much more rare.

As I said, I really don’t know why so few were released to the general public. If you know any other details or background to the story please drop me a comment.

OK, a couple of details about the CD single. It comes in a card sleeve, and you can see images of this above and below. The CD itself also has an image printed on it. It is of the girl dancers who feature prominently in the video clip for the song which was shot in an art gallery. There is also an insert for the card sleeve with two images of McCartney on one side taken during the filming of the video, and the song details on the other, along with with a cut-out “Mobius Strip” wrist-band and instructions on how to make one. A completed “Mobius Strip” is the featured image on the the front cover in case you are wondering what one is….

By the way, the vinyl 45 cover is very similar, with the same images and insert, only bigger than the CD version. And the 45 has on the “B” side a different song to the CD. Its a live version of “House of Wax”, recorded at Amoeba Music in Los Angeles, while the CD single has two live tracks: “Only Mama Knows” and “Dance Tonight”, also both recorded live at Amoeba. “Only Mama Knows” was subsequently released on the “Amoeba’s Secret” vinyl and CD singles. So, that makes the other two live tracks kind of collectable too I guess.

Paul McCartney  Ever Present Past

Universal/MPL/Hear Music

Cat. No.: 8 8807230620 2

EU/2007/CD single/2 bonus live tracks/picture sleeve

Rear Cover Ever Present Past

Rear cover of Ever Present Past

CD Ever Present Past

CD image of Ever Present Past

Insert Ever Present Past

Insert - with cutout "Mobius Strip" on the other side