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: It’s still unclear if the Japanese CD version Egypt Station will contain bonus tracks, as has often been the case with McCartney releases there in the past. In Japan there will be a standard CD plus a higher quality SHM-CD version released.

Then there are the Standard Edition vinyl iterations. The Standard Edition vinyl will most likely come in either a single sleeve with two discs, or a gatefold cover with two discs. It is not really clear from the photos or online descriptions. 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 appear to 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)

Now, in all the discussion of different versions, it’s not clear if Egypt Station will also be available in a plain sleeve, single disc vinyl edition. Some sites say yes, others no. Apparently this image appeared recently on a Japanese site showing what appears to be a single disc edition, but we can find nothing about it on the official Universal Music Japan site:A full (verified and official) track list for the LP is yet to appear, though it can’t be far off. There is also speculation that a third song from Egypt Station will be released some time soon.

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Another Great Beatle Podcast to Check Out

Since the terrifc Something About The Beatles podcast became Robert Rodriguez presenting solo (with frequent guest co-hosts), we’ve been wondering what happened to his original partner, Richard Buskin – who mysteriously disappeared from the show a while back.

Well, it turns out he’s struck out in the new direction with a new co-host and has launched an equally clever and entertaining Beatle-related podcast called Swinging Through the Sixties

Swinging Through the Sixties sees the knowledgable and funny Buskin joined by Beatle fanatic and collector Eric Taros. Together they present a quirky romp through the music of the 1960s. Some episodes are purely about the Fab Four while others range more widely, but always with an ever-present undercurrent of how The Beatles fitted into whatever topic they have chosen to cover.

It is good stuff and worth checking out.

Paul McCartney – Teaser Campaign For Latest Solo Album?

Paul McCartney’s social media sites have seen some mysterious images appear.

On Instagram in the last 12 hours we first had this – posted twice (what looks to be just a blank white page):

Many people were speculating it was something to do with an impending announcement about a release for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the The Beatles White Album. However, that post was soon followed with this black and white freehand drawing:

On Facebook it was a similar story. First the blank page was posted as his new cover photo:

Then cam this, with a notification it was his new profile picture:

The story was similar on the official Paul McCartney Twitter account – only this time no blank page, just the same freehand drawing (and notice that McCartney’s avatar image has also been changed to the same drawing):

And at the McCartney Google+ site too: 

So……what can it all mean?

One person on Reddit reckons it looks a bit like the new Apple Airplay2 logo!

We’d take an eductaed guess that it’s very likely McCartney’s rumoured new studio album. He played a track from it live in Liverpool only the other day. Just that rough smart phone recording exists, but it sounds like a pretty good song!

Also, both he and The Beatles have used extensive teaser campaigns in the past.

Remember The Beatles 1 DVD/BluRay? The recent Sgt Pepper 50th Anniversary box coloured images? And Paul McCartney’s own NEW LP and CD from 2013, plus his Pure compilation from 2016 – to name just a few. Each had multiple teasers in the lead-up to their release…..

Yellow Submarine Picture Disc

The Beatles official site has announced that a limited edition ‘Yellow Submarine’ 7″ vinyl picture disc single is to be released on July 6:  
This will mark 50 years since the Yellow Submarine animated film hit movie screens around the world:

Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an officially released ‘Yellow Submarine’ 7″ picture disc. As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations for each British Beatle single, EMI issued a series of picture discs. This one came out in 1986 – marking 20 years since the band’s 13th single ‘Yellow Submarine’/’Eleanor Rigby’ was issued in August, 1966:

The new 7″ vinyl picture disc will come in a coloured die-cut sleeve and will be released on Friday, 6 July. A high-resolution, 4K restoration of the Yellow Submarine film will open at selected movie theatres in the UK, Ireland and the US in the following days. Tickets are here.

New Book: The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 2

As author, recording engineer and musician Jerry Hammack says in the introduction to his book: “If you have read Volume 1 of The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, you will understand that the goal of these books is a straightforward one; to document the creation of The Beatles’ catalogue of recorded work – from first take to final remix. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Now comes the next installment in his impressive series, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 2: ‘Help!’ through ‘Revolver’ (1965-1966).

Hammack’s intention here is to fill in the gaps between Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Andy Babuik’s Beatles Gear, and Recording The Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew. It’s also about how the band’s recording processes evolved as they became more experienced recording artists, as recording technology developed, and as the resources available to them expanded.

Jerry has spent nearly ten years now carefully de-constructing each Beatle recording. He does this by listening to out-takes, bootlegs, and original stems containing isolated solos and vocals (which can be unlocked in the video game RockBand). He pores over studio logs to see exactly where the recording took place, who the engineer was, even what tape machines were being used. Then there’s studio film footage and still photography that can also yield up valuable evidence. These things can all give hints as to how each song must have been created. The information can then be logically worked through to make a near-as-can-be definitive picture of what we now hear on the final mixes. Bear in mind that in arriving at his conclusions Hammack cross referenced some 5,500 tracks!

These reference manuals serve as a terrific listening companion to use as you sit in front of your speakers, or have your headphones on. With them at hand you can clearly identify what is going on with any given track. There are both text explanations and simple diagrams detailing what occurred in the studio as each track became the final mixes we have today, and sometimes these contain fascinating new information. I mean, who knew John Lennon played drums on the George Harrison composition ‘I Need You’ from Help!?

As in Volume 1 there are numerous appendices at the back of the book covering release versions, gear and instruments used, and more.

Gotta say too, just in passing, that the cover image for Volume 2 is super cool!

Jerry Hammack has created a website to support the book series, and you can purchase his book through Amazon.

Additionally, the fab Something About the Beatles podcast, hosted by Robert Rodriguez (with Ben Rowling), recently interviewed author Jerry Hammack. It comes in two parts. Have a listen to both Part One and Part Two. Well worth it.

Looking ahead, Volume 3 will cover off Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, and then the final book in the series, Volume 4, will take in the LPs The Beatles (aka The White Album, through to Abbey Road (1968-1970). The plan is to release each at  about 6-monthly intervals.

If you are a “gear nerd” or you just want to get the absolute detail, song-by-song, on how each Beatle track was recorded, the instruments and technology used, and who played what, these books are a must.

Brilliant New Beatle Book – Visualizing The Beatles

They say there are four basic types of learners: those who like to listen (auditory); those who like to take notes and read (reading/writing); those who like to be hands-on (kinaesthetic); and those who prefer to see the information in order to visualise the relationships between ideas (visual).

Well, if you fall into the visual camp, then you’re going to love this new Beatle book because on each of its 276 pages it packs a huge amount of data told in a truly unique way: using fantastic infographics.

Even if you’re not a “visual” person you’ll love this book for the breadth of the information it contains, and the fun, innovative way it tells the Beatle story anew. There’s really nothing else like it on the market:

The book is called Visualizing The Beatles – A Complete Graphic History of the World’s Favorite Band. Not only does it mange to squeeze three US spellings into it’s title, it crams a truly amazing amount of facts, figures, maps, history, stories and information between it’s covers – all told using infographics. Because of this the book forces you to think about the band we all know so well in very different ways, often bringing new understanding to how four young musicians from Liverpool had such an impact on the world.

Authors John Pring and Rob Thomas organise their information in a fairly standard fashion – each album in the order it was released, starting with Please Please Me and ending with Let It Be – but the way they go about deconstructing each has a unique telling. As they say in their introductory note: “It is by no means a definitive history of The Beatles. Instead, it is an attempt to create something beautiful, vibrant, and original from the data their music left behind. It is an attempt to present the facts in a way you haven’t seen them before, so you can spot, in an instant, the patterns, anomalies and changes.”

There are infographic pages for each LP detailing (amongst many other things):

  • An album overview
  • A song lyrics “word map”
  • Composer
  • What keys the songs were in
  • Instruments used
  • Album design details
  • Track lengths + original work v. covers
  • Who took lead vocals?
  • Success of the album – and any singles released

By way of example, here are a couple of pages. The first visually represents the many instruments used – and who played what – on Abbey Road, released in September, 1969:

As usual, click on these images to see larger versions. This next page covers off songwriting duties for the 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour

And this page shows the song titles – and the musical keys for each – on Rubber Soul from 1965:

Slowly, as you flip through the book, these images build to reveal a unique way of looking at the band’s output. Additionally, there are pages graphically representing things like all their US releases and the chart positions each achieved; a Beatle filmography; there are timelines detailing what else was happening in the world at the time of each album release; what the Beatles were wearing and their hairstyles through each phase of their career; where each album was recorded; tour maps; and key places of interest in the cities they lived in and visited, and much, much more.

One particularly interesting map page shows the city of Liverpool with flags dotted across it marking where the band lived in relation to each other; the locations of places like Strawberry Field and Penny Lane; schools and key performance venues from the early days. It is simple, but instantly gives a whole new context by visually representing basic facts from the Beatle story in a brand new way.

Visualizing The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas is published by Dey Street Books. It goes on sale in the USA on May 1st. [FYI the book was originally published as Visualising the Beatles in the UK in 2016].

You will definitely learn things you didn’t know about the Beatles. Highly recommended.

Paul McCartney – ‘Music of the Spheres’

On Christmas Day, two keen music fans leaked their version of the as-yet unreleased original symphonic music composed for the the video game, Destiny.

There is of course a Beatle connection here in the form of Sir Paul McCartney who contributed to the soundtrack for the game, most notably the end-credits song ‘Hope for the Future‘.

The Destiny: Music of the Spheres suite is the work of Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, but it took the fan duo of Tlohtzin Espinosa and Owen Spence to bring it to the public. They spent more than a year pulling together all the elements they could get their hands on to compile what is essentially a complete soundtrack album of Destiny:

You can hear it on Soundcloud, and on YouTube. Download links are out there on the World Wide Web too if you are interested.

There’s more background on how all this came to be in an article on the Ars Technica site, plus you should also see this Reddit post by the two fans who took the risk of putting it out there in the first place.