Why There Are Two Versions of McCartney’s “Choba B CCCP”

Anyone vaguely familiar with the vinyl editions of Paul McCartney’s 1988 release Снова в СССР on the Russian Melodiya label will know that there are two different versions.

One, the earlier more limited release, came with 11 tracks, and a different rear cover:choba-b-cccp-1-frontchoba-b-cccp-1-rear

The second, and far more common edition, has 13 tracks: choba-b-cccp-2-frontchoba-b-cccp-2-rear

The two additional tracks are “I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday” (track # 7, the last on side 1), and “Summertime” (track # 2 on side 2).

Why this is so has never been fully explained – until now.

Friend and Russian Beatle collector Andrey has been doing some detective work and discovered this article from the time in the newspaper Sovetskaya Kultura (The Soviet Culture). It is dated July 15, 1989:%d1%81%d0%ba-1989-07-15-%d1%8110

In answer to a reader’s question to the newspaper a representative of Melodiya Records explains the existence of the two variations. Andrey’s translation of the Russian text follows:

READER ASKS A QUESTION – A MYSTERY OF TWO RECORDS

I bought the record of Paul McCartney’s Снова в СССР. After a while I saw it again on a shop counter and could not resist of buying it again. For good reason! It turned out that there are 11 songs on the first record, released on September 14, 1988, and the second one which was released on January 1, 1989, carried 13 songs. What a mystery!
A. Bogdanov.
Severodvinsk,
Arhangelsk region

With the request to clarify this mysterious story, we asked the chief editor, Deputy Director of the All-Union Recording Studio of “«Melodiya» Firm”, All-Union Creative-Production Association, Ivan Dmitrievich Nesvit:

– First of all I want to say that your reader is lucky. Why? Just how you will soon understand for yourself. According to the contract, this licensed disk should have consisted of 13 songs, and a special contract clause stipulated that the artist’s desires would be accepted in the design of the sleeve. However, «Mezhdunarodnaya kniga» (our intermediator) provided us with a tape with eleven songs. The recording fit with the Soviet State Standard in terms of running time and so we began working with it. According to the requirements of the contract, a test record and sleeve were sent to Mr McCartney. He studied them and made a few remarks. Although Leningrad Plant had already started pressing and distributing copies, we could not ignore these remarks. Corrections were therefore made to the design, the initial sleeve notes were replaced, and besides this we were sent the recordings of two more songs to include. For this reason the extended record plays longer than any domestic discs [i.e. Melodiya in its working history had never released any LP playing longer than the 13-track McCartney СНОВА В СССР].  And so two records with the same title appeared. By the way, the first record because of its “shamefulness” appearance and limited edition, became a rarity desirable for record collectors, especially abroad since it was intended for sale only in our country. As far as we know, in the USA and Europe 200-250 dollars were paid for this record. So the reader of «Sovetskaya kultura» became the owner of discophile rarity.

So, a little bit more information on the mystery as to how two different records (with the same catalogue number) came into existence.

For a full explanation of all the variations between the two editions and more see the excellent Russian site beatlesvinyl.com.ua. It contains intricate detail of every Russian Beatle release.

For the 11 track, first edition version of Снова в СССР click here.

For the 13 track second edition versions click here.

 

George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection 1968-2002 – Box Set Announced

Long rumoured, now official. The Harrison family has announced the release of George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection box set containing all of George Harrison’s solo studio albums on 180 gram vinyl in one collection for the first time:

The box set LPs (also available separately) will be in their original packaging, faithfully reproduced with all the original inserts, posters, etc. included.

However, it’s not clear if Universal Music is releasing the Somewhere In England LP as a separate album with its original black and white image of George’s head superimposed on a map of England. This makes it different to all the images shown for the box set version. Collectors should note that both the Harrison online store and the Universal music website for the individual albums currently show the alternative cover if you are buying it as a single LP….

Exclusive to the box set will be two 12″ bonus picture disc singles (‘When We Was Fab’ and ‘Cloud Nine’), housed in their own custom box.

Not only that, for an additional £429.00, there’s a cool-looking, custom-made Pro-Ject turntable to play your LPs on, plus there’s to be a re-issue (in expanded form) of the book  I Me Mine.

harrison-turntableharrison-book

Early birds who place orders for the 13-album box set online at the georgeharrison.com store will also get a limited edition set of enamel pins. harrison-pins

All the discs are housed in a high-quality two-piece rigid slipcase box with a 3D lenticular front cover image:harrison-lenticular

The original analogue master tapes were used for the new re-masters and were cut at the legendary Capitol studios to ensure exceptional audio quality throughout.

Wonderwall Music (1968)
Electronic Sound (1969)
All Things Must Pass (1970) (3 LP)
Living In The Material World (1973)
Dark Horse (1974)
Extra Texture (1975)
Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)
George Harrison (1979)
Somewhere in England (1981)
Gone Troppo (1982)
Cloud Nine (1987)
Live In Japan (1992) (2 LP)
Brainwashed (2002)
Bonus 12” Picture Disc Singles (‘When We Was Fab’ and ‘Cloud Nine’)

Happy Christmas Everyone!

chr-rec-63-01The first Beatles Christmas record was distributed by the Official Beatles Fan Club on December 9, 1963.

Beginning in 1963, the Beatles started a holiday tradition of recording Christmas messages for their fans. The first Christmas recording from the Beatles featured several renditions of the traditional carol “Good King Wenceslas” and individual messages from the four, ending with a closing chorus of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Ringo”. The recordings were edited and issued on flexi-discs through the Official Beatles Fan Club in England.

The records were not available for sale, but were distributed free to Fan Club members. Tony Barrow came up with the concept for the Christmas records and scripted the initial efforts.

The record was packaged in yellow paper gatefold cover. The open gatefold contains the Fun Club’s National Newsletter No. 2.chr-rec-63-04

Lynton Recordings pressed 25,000 copies of the one-sided seven inch discs, which have white labels with dark blue print. The disc plays at 33 1/3 – rpm. Total time: 5:00. Matrix number LYN 492-1U.
chr-rec-63-03

Thanks to thebeatles-collection.com for this Christmas information.

Days In The Life – A Father and Son on a Beatles Tour

days-in-the-life_origAt first glance this Beatle book looks to be an unlikely coupling of two broad and un-related concepts: the places visited and lectures delivered across seven US states by professional Beatles music scholar Aaron Krerowitcz, all wrapped up as a road-trip journal by a father and son duo (the son being the aforementioned full-time Beatle expert, and his dad John, a retired journalist and keen bird-watcher).

While the overall approach is a touch quirky (birding and Beatles?), as a whole Days in the Life – A Father and Son Beatle Tour hangs together. Not only is it a charming tale of two blokes out on the road, it’s also a vehicle to deliver lots of interesting Beatle facts, observations, history and, importantly, the context of the band’s music and its continuing success – especially around the American experience of the Beatles.

It’s clear that as a former journalist, Aaron Krerowicz’s father John can write. The sections of the book he pens are engaging and relate not only his sometimes humorous bird-watching exploits across the course of their journey, but his ability to put some history into the book. John relates his generation’s first-hand experience of this group from Liverpool which formed such a lasting bond with US teenagers back then. It’s a bond that endures today.

Son Aaron meanwhile has youth and some solid graduate and post-graduate musical scholarship on his side. The fact that he is so young initially confounds some of the folks who come to listen to his library lectures. How could someone who was born fifteen years after the Beatles broke up be so knowledgable? They generally leave impressed.

Of course when you do book reviews it’s good to try to find out more about the author – and a popular chat forum turned up the following un-solicited recommendation from an avid  Beatle fan who attended one of Aaron’s library presentations (this time on the Sgt Pepper album):  “I came home last Thursday, picked up the paper and saw my local library was having a presentation on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper. I figured I would go – it’s close, it’s free, it’ll be fun. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to learn anything. I’ve been listening to, and reading about the Fabs for over 35 years at this point and this is a free program at the local library – how good is it really going to be? Probably some fan like me, who’s going to just tell you about the sound effects, John’s Mr. Kite poster, A Day In The Life being based on newspaper articles, and the run-out groove.

I was wrong, and very, very impressed. Aaron Krerowicz is a composer and music educator in his late 20s pursuing on-going Beatles study. In November 2011, Aaron won a research grant through the University of Hartford to explore connections between mid-Twentieth Century avant-garde art and the Beatles. His presentation covered most of the obvious stuff any Beatles nut would expect (which was extremely well researched and presented), but he also spoke to the music theory and composition behind the songs, which I found really enlightening. He presented clearly, and never spoke over people’s heads when discussing some of the more esoteric stuff, which is a real gift. He highlighted multi-tracks to isolate certain parts of the songs he was referring to, which was also really illuminating.

You’ve got to admit, that’s high praise.

Best bits from the book Days in the Life? Aaron’s writing on how he, a classical music aficionado, came to get so deeply into the Beatles in the first place. Anyone who can list The Beatles 1 album as a favourite alongside Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ and J.S.Bach’s violin concerti is OK with me. Also, his insights into particular songs – for example the genesis and recording of ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’, one of John Lennon’s best from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – make for interesting reading.

As far as the sections written by John Krerowicz, his recollections of witnessing that first, black and white, US TV performance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show bring a personal, family-level insight into what the broadcast meant cross-generationally in the United States. That, and his highly descriptive writing about the simple joy of travel and being out on the open highway, were highlights for me.

What didn’t work? The three pages of photographs of (admittedly) over-priced Dallas Cowboy merchandise in the club’s AT&T Stadium gift shop, the three pages of drawings from a family game of Telestrations, and an unnecessary joke about Michael Jackson. Otherwise, this is a great little book.

For more details about Aaron, his lecture schedule and other activities check out his website. Details about his other Beatle books can be found here, and for examples of Aaron’s Beatle scholarship, have a look at his video series  Beatles Minute – One Analytical Nugget in One Minute.

George Harrison – Behind The Locked Door Biography

Just got a copy today of George Harrison – Behind The Locked Door by Graeme Thomson and am taking it away on holiday this week to read. Looking forward to it immensely:george-harrison-biog Here’s a review from the Chicago Tribune.

Wingspan – More Unusual Variations

Since we published information on the Limited Edition version of Paul McCartney’s Wingspan – Hits and History CD collection last week, our friend Andrey in Russia has provided information about three more unusual and collectable versions.

The first is this Ukrainian release. Here’s the rear cover:ukraine2a

(click on any of the images to see larger versions)

And here are the two Ukrainian discs:ukraine1bVersion 2

Andrey also provided information on not one, but two very collectable Japanese variants:Version 2Version 3As you can see from the shots of the spines below these carry the same Japanese catalogue number and barcode:  wingspan-japan-spines-2versions-1

And both come with an additional booklet (written in Japanese and English). However, in one version this booklet is incorporated inside the slipcase (its white spine can be seen below), while the other version has the added booklet outside the slipcase (orange spine in the image below):wingspan-japan-spines-2versions

(click on any of the images to see larger versions)

The other main differences between these two releases are detailed further here (and in all pictures Version 1 is above, and Version 2 is below):

1) JAPANESE Version 1:
– the “hands” image on the front of the slipcase is printed (i.e. not holographic)
– slipcase in made in Japan
– additional booklet is inside the slip case
– The obi strip on the left hand side is a regular sized obi (i.e. small)
2) JAPANESE Version 2:
– the “hands” image on the front is the holographic image
– slipcase is made in the EU/UK                                                                                          – the additional Japanese/English booklet is outside the slip case
– the obi is large – it wraps right around and covers the entire rear of the outer slipcase

Another thing to note is that in Japan Wingspan – Hits and History contains an additional track to the rest of the world. It’s the song ‘Eat At Home’ and this can be found as track 19 on CD 1. (EU and US versions only have 18 songs on this disc).

Wingspan – Deluxe Limited Edition Version

When we were in the United States a while back we managed to pick up a nice copy of the standard edition of McCartney’s Wingspan – Hits and History two-CD retrospective compilation from 2001.

It was originally issued in a jewel case with an outer cardboard slipcase with a holographic front cover. Getting copies of this in good condition is difficult because the slipcase is often missing or damaged.

Then I learned that there was also a Limited Edition version of Wingspan – Hits and History released as well. It has the same two discs and running order of songs, but is packaged in a hard-back book that fits inside a similar but slightly larger outer slipcase, also with the hologram “hands” image on the front.

Well, we’ve finally secured a copy of the book version on eBay for a very reasonable price:wingspan-outer  The book inside looks like this:wingspan-book1wingspan-book2

The CDs sit in two clear plastic holders inside the front and rear covers:wingspan-book-insidewingspan-inside-2

It’s the same 22-page booklet inside. However, it is produced specifically for this set as it’s in a larger format to the standard CD booklet:

wingspan-inside-4wingspan-inside-3The standard CD set in the UK has the barcode number 7243 5 32876 2 7, while this limited edition set was made in the USA and has the catalogue number 7243 5 32943 2 8. It caries the Capitol and MPL logos on the cover and on the CDs.

wingspan-cd-1wingspan-cd-2

This set also had this sticker on the outside (which the previous owner very kindly kept and placed inside the book):

wingspan-sticker

Just by way of comparison, here’s the size difference between the standard and limited edition versions:wingspan-sizewingspan-cover-2