McCartney III – And Here’s Another Clue for You All

Seems Capitol Records is mailing this little promotional item out to random fans:

This didn’t come to us but to one of our Instagram followers who lives in the United States. They say they’re just a regular fan and have no idea why they were sent this promotional item. Interesting!

Like us they’ve been reading the speculation that an announcement is due anytime, that there’ll be a teaser track released to go with the announcement, and that the likely release date for McCartney III is Friday, 11 December.

Added to this is the previously dormant ‘holder’ webpage for the as-yet un-announced McCartney III. It is slowly springing to life, playing once again on the pervasive dice motif.

If you go to dice.mccartneyiii.com you’ll land on a page that takes you through to a VR dice image you can manipulate and have fun with – if you have an iPhone or iPad. There’ll no doubt be more on this unique site shortly.

McCartney III – Rumours and Expectations Build


It’s looking more and more as though Paul McCartney’s rumored third “one-man-band” album, McCartney III is set for a release announcement very shortly.

It kind of makes sense. Like everyone, Paul has been in isolation and no doubt has been in his home studio a lot as a result.

His long-time lead guitarist Rusty Anderson, who’s been recording and performing with McCartney since 2001, appeared on the Tone-Talk! podcast at the end of September and pretty much confirmed the McCartney solo set saying: “Paul said that he — ’cause we’ve been hangin’ in Covid — he basically, kind of, finished a record. ‘Cause he had, sort of, nothin’ to do but go down to his studio and record, y’know? So, he sort of, did everything himself. I think there’s a song that we ended up on, that we cut earlier.”

And, as he’s done in the past, McCartney is using his considerable social media presence – and streaming services – to drop subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints.

For example, if you play any song from McCartney or McCartney II on Spotify at the moment a hand continually picks up a dice and rolls a three:

That “dice” motif is continued in a low-key way on his official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Here’s Twitter:

Here’s Insta:

And of course Facebook, where he’s promoting that Spotify playlist (which is all tracks where Paul plays all the instruments), and it states: “It’s coming up, it’s coming up, it’s coming up like a flower…”, and the dice with the THREE is there again.

Then there’s the obvious symmetry to the release years for McCartney, McCartney II, and a potential McCartney III = 1970/1980/2020.

I think we can expect an announcement soon. And that it will be a December, 2020 release.

What do you think?

Drop us a line in the Comments section below.

Paul McCartney’s ‘We All Stand Together’ 7″ Picture Disc

Well, here we all were, waiting for something like a Plastic Ono Band 50th anniversary deluxe re-issue, or maybe even a big All Things Must Pass 50th anniversary box set.

Heck, some fans were even speculating about an LP of brand new solo music from Paul McCartney that had supposedly been recorded in lockdown. They’d even given it a title already: McCartney III….

But which announcement did we get?

To mark what would have been the 100th anniversary of the cartoon character Rupert the Bear on November 6 we’ll be getting this:

Now, we’re not against novelty items like this. Not at all. Nor are we against Paul McCartney’s dedicated support of the art of animation over the years. It’s great. But ‘We All Stand Together’ by Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus is a very long way away from the Plastic Ono Band album, or George Harrison’s triple LP opus All Things Pass. I guess it’s a case of expectation meeting reality…..

Having said all that, ‘We All Stand Together’ (a.k.a. ‘The Frog Song’) is really quite sweet and beautifully orchestrated and produced by George Martin. This limted edition 7″ single cut-out shaped picture disc will be a faithfull reproduction of the original shaped picture disc that came out in 1984. As then, it will accompany the re-release (in lovely 4K quality, and with a new audio mix) of the short animated film Rupert and the Frog Song that McCartney began work on in 1981 with animator Geoff Dunbar. In it Paul voices the character of Rupert.

‘We All Stand Together’ has been remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Alex Wharton along with the B-side instrumental ‘We All Stand Together (Humming Version)’, which was also included on the original release.

The single features The King’s Singers and the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral.

‘We All Stand Together’ is available for pre-order now, and the cleaned up film Rupert and the Frog Song will be re-released on YouTube on November 6.

If you’ve not heard the song, or seen the animation, here it is in fairly poor quality. Looking forward to seeing it in 4K:

 

Beatle Music Collecting in the age of COVID

Does anyone remember when Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie – the Archive Collection Edition – was officially released?

Oh yeah, it was back on Friday, July 31. Seems like such a long time ago now.

It was officially announced on June 12:Back then, just after that first announcement, we posted this article on some of the items the forthcoming deluxe box set would contain, some of the rarities that’ve previously been released only as B-sides, etc.

It was an exiting time, expectation was building and we dutifully pre-ordered from the Paul McCartney official store site.

Well, it’s now September 3 and we are still waiting for our box set and LP’s to be delivered here in Australia. I know these are weird times and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but patience is running a little thin.

Things were looking really good early on. The day after the official release, August 1, we got this hopeful email:

It’s on its way! But the helpful tracking info soon revealed that it didn’t get very far.

When you think about Paul McCartney and his “store”, you tend to think it might be in Britain. But no, our box was coming from the USA. By August 11 the package had been “received by the partner carrier” and, from what we can tell, was taken to a loading facitlity in New York. We guess this was somewhere near one of the big airports, either John F. Kennedy or La Guardia. And there it sat. And sat.   

The package didn’t move from this spot for so long we wrote to Customer Service at the McCartney store. To their credit they responded immediately saying it had “….probably missed a scan somewhere”, and assured us that our Flaming Pie goodies were indeed making progress.

It took until August 22 for the tracking site to register that the package had finally “Departed Terminal Location”. Woo hoo! Progress.

On August 29 we got a note it had in fact arrived in Australia.

In Perth.

On the other side of the country.

Australia is a lot bigger than most people realise. We’re talking 3,280 kilometers or 2038 miles away by air.And as of today, five days later, that’s where it remains. So close, yet so far.

I know. First World Problems. It’s only music, and in the scheme of things a tiny inconvenience. Everyone is trying their hardest, trying to keep things as normal as possible. And the number of flights between the USA and Australia is now severely curtailed, while the number of people seeking home delivery for just about everything has risen exponentially. Times are tough.

But is anyone else in the same boat as us and still waiting for their Flaming Pie to be delivered? Let us know in the comments box below.

McCartney Flaming Pie – Unboxing

As usual, the Super Deluxe Edition site has provided one of the most comprehensive unboxing videos of Flaming Pie, the new Paul McCartney Archive Collection release.

It is shown in all its variations and in all its glory, from the humble 2 CD through to the mammoth (and expensive) Collector’s Edition.

Check it our here:

McCartney Flaming Pie – Rare Tracks For Download [UPDATE]

As he’s done a number of times in the past Paul McCartney, in the lead-up to the deluxe Archive Collection box set re-issues of Flaming Pie next week, has begun to release a few ‘teaser’ rare tracks.

These are tracks that won’t be included in the forthcoming box sets. The only way to get them is to sign up and download them from his official site.

Today sees the release of three free songs on the download site: ‘Somedays [Without Orchestra]’, ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ – which is in its original 1986 mix version, and ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’.

‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ will be on the Deluxe Box Set and the Collector’s Edition of Flaming Pie, but it will be embedded in a longer track called ‘Oobu Joobu – Part 5’. (‘Oobu Joobu’ is a series of short radio-like shows made in 1997 to promote Flaming Pie. These were included on maxi CD’s that came out featuring singles from the record). All six episodes of ‘Oobu Joobu’ are included on the bigger box sets, but on the McCartney site you can now download all 6 minutes and 10 seconds of ‘Beautiful Night [1986]’ as a stand-alone track.

The download-only version of ‘Somedays’ is minus the beautiful 14-piece string ensemble orchestration by Sir George Martin but it’s great to hear it in this more embryonic form. This version won’t be included on any of the forthcoming box sets.

Nor will ‘Calico Skies [‘In The World Tonight’ Campfire Acoustic]’, which is an alternative acoustic version of ‘Calico Skies’, part of which is featured during the In The World Tonight documentary.

Moving away from the official McCartney download site, if you visit Rolling Stone magazine they’ve been given an exclusive instrumental version of a song from the Flaming Pie sessions called ‘Broomstick’. The original with vocal (also a rarity) was previously only available on the B-side to the ‘Young Boy’ single. This one, which does not appear in the new box set, is an all-acoustic instrumental backing track jam that features just McCartney and Steve Miller, who plays guitar. This instrumental version also lacks the sound effects that closed out the vocal version.

Finally, according to those who have received their Flaming Pie Deluxe Box sets (ours is still to arrive so we can’t confirm), there are at least two “Easter Eggs” or hidden tracks on a couple of the discs.

On CD 2 – the Home Recordings disc – after the final track ‘Great Day’ make sure you don’t stop your CD player. Let it keep playing and an additional 30-second instrumental of the song will play.

Likewise, on CD 3 – the In The Studio disc – after the “rude cassette” version of ‘Heaven On a Sunday’ there’s a period of silence followed by about a minute and a half of Paul and Ringo vamping on the track ‘Beautiful Night’.

Wings Greatest – Strange Bulgarian Pressing

There’s nothing we love more than discovering a strange or different pressing of a very well-known album – and this one, Paul McCartney and Wings’ Wings Greatest, fits the bill perfectly.

It’s the official Bulgarian release on the Balkanton label, and we were alerted to it by old friend Andrey – who helps maintain the fantasticly comprehensive The Beatles Get Back in the USSR site.

This copy of Wings Greatest is not only distinguished by its unusual labels (see below), but also the fact that it comes with one less song than every version we can find released anywhere else in the world. You can see that Side 1 is missing the track ‘Live and Let Die’. In every other market Side 1 has six tracks. In Bulgaria they got just five:Just to refresh your memory, here’s the US Capitol version of this 1978 compilation LP:

If you were browsing in a second-hand bin (and this LP comes up for sale a lot), you could very easily flip straight past the Bulgarian version without noticing that it’s actually quite rare.

We wonder if there was some sort of a licencing issue in Bulgaria with the song ‘Live and Let Die’ because it is from the soundtrack of the James Bond film of the same name? It would be part-owned by United Artists. Maybe that was it?

Now you can see on the rear cover in the place ‘Live and Let Die’ should be the words “Manufactured under licence by Balkanton in Bulgaria”.

(As usual, click on the images above to see larger versions)

McCartney – Ten Years of Archive Reissues

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s now been a decade since Paul McCartney started his Archive Collection reissue campaign. There have been 12 albums given the Archive treatment so far, and they are about to added to in July with the release of Flaming Pie.

To mark the tenth anniversary, Paul Sinclair at the Super Deluxe Edition site has put together a special 52-page keepsake booklet featuring reviews of all the reissues to date and some additional analysis and features. The booklet is the same size and format as the books that come in the Archive Collection box sets, so it can be easily stored alongside them.

McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues will feature in-depth illustrated reviews of the McCartney reissues via a combination of archive content from the SuperDeluxeEdition.com website (some of it updated), alongside new reviews and fresh insight.

Sinclair has a bit of a track record already with these booklets. You might recall the one he issued for the Flowers In The Dirt Archive Collection releases. If that was anything to go by, this new one will be well worth getting hold of too.

There will be only 1000 numbered copies of McCartney: 10 Years of Archive Reissues produced, and it’s only available via the SDE shop.

If you want to find out a little more on the details you can read about it here.

Flaming Pie – What We Already Have

By now you’re probably aware that the next installment in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection series will be his 1997 release, Flaming Pie. It is due out on July 31 and, as usual, there are a number of formats and packaging variations – some of which are proving a little contoversial with some fans objecting to the high prices be asked, especially for the Deluxe Box Set (which is 50% more expensive than its Venus and Mars equivalent from 2018), to the top-of-the-range Collectors Edition box, which is listed at a cool US$600.00!

You can see all the different iterations of the planned releases here, and read about them in one of our favourite sources of information and commentary – the SuperDeluxeEdition site – where there’s a great summary article, or just take a look at this promotional “unboxing” video:

So, we don’t feel the need to go into a lot of detail on what’s planned….

Rather, we’ve put together a look at what is already been officially out there in the form of Flaming Pie releases, plus collectable and non-album tracks – all of which is to included in the expensive new re-issue.

First up, the original vinyl editions of Flaming Pie from 1997. Unlike the forthcoming re-issues, this is a single LP. These are now fairly rare and fetch high prices on the second-hand market. Discogs, for example, has the sales history of UK pressings and it ranges from around US$100.00 to US$280.00. Here’s the UK press and, as usual, click on any of the images to see larger versions:

Both the UK and US pressings are gatefolds:And they contain an inner sleeve with lyrics and credits on both sides:

The UK vinyl and a close-up of the label:

The UK LP is distributed by MPL and Parlophone:

Flaming Pie was also issued on vinyl by Capitol in the USA. Ours is open but still in its shrink wrap with the hype sticker on the front: Because of the shrink we can’t show the US gatefold but here are the inner sleeves:

The label on the US pressing is a little more vibrant than the UK. Note the Capitol Records credit.

While on the subject of vinyl, there were three picture disc singles released from this album, but only in the UK. These all came in a clear plastic outer sleeve with a coloured cardboard insert. There was a different colour scheme for each single. First up was ‘Young Boy’ backed with the non-LP track, ‘Looking For You’:

The second single was ‘The World Tonight’/’Used To Be Bad’. Both songs are on Flaming Pie:

And then ‘Beautiful Night’ backed with a further non-album track, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’:

In our collection we have three versions of the original 1997 CD release of Flaming Pie. These come from, in descending order in the photos, the USA, UK and Australia:

These are all fairly straightforward. Not a lot of variation here, just some different barcode placements and slight changes in the colour printing. As you can see, the Australian version is quite a bit darker on the front and rear covers, and on the CD label itself.

Where it gets complicated is in the range of CD singles released from Flaming Pie in 1997, and the number of non-LP tracks of interest at the time for avid collectors. Let’s deal with two of the easiest to begin with.

In the US, the only CD single was ‘The World Tonight’. It came in a proper CD jewel case and has the non-LP bonus track ‘Looking For You’, plus a track called ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. This is an extract from a radio show of the same name broadcast on the American radio network Westwood One. It was hosted by Paul McCartney and contained demos, rehearsals, live performances, unreleased recordings and chat. There were six such extracts contained on the UK CD singles (more on this below), but the US only got one of them:

In Australia there was a slight variation to the US CD single release. The only song we got here was ‘Young Boy’, accompanied by the same bonus material offered on the US ‘World Tonight’ CD single – ‘Looking For You’ and ‘Ooobu Joobu – Part 1’. The CD came in a slimline plastic jewel case:

The real bonanza was the UK CD singles. Like the vinyl picture discs above there were three songs released – ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ and ‘Beautiful Night’. Each CD single had two additional tracks plus, available separately, were three more companion CD singles. Each also contains either ‘Young Boy’, ‘The World Tonight’ or ‘Beautiful Night’, plus an additional one or two “rarity” non-LP offerings. The main (or Part 1) CD single is in a full size jewel case, the companion (or Part 2) CD single is in a slimline CD case:

So, if you purchased all six of these CD singles in 1997 the non-LP extras you got were: ‘Looking For You’, ‘Broomstick’, ‘Love Come Tumbling Down’ and ‘Same Love’, plus Parts 1-6 of the ‘Oobu Joobu’ radio show spread across the six singles.

The new Flaming Pie Collectors Edition, Deluxe box set, and the 2CD set will each contain the four non-LP songs, but it seems the ‘Oobu Joobu’ content (found only on the Collectors Edition and Deluxe box sets) will be different edits to the originals because they are all quite a bit shorter in duration.

While we’re on the subject of ‘Oobu Joobu’, in the USA when you purchased Flaming Pie at a Best Buy store, you received a voucher for a bonus CD of further ‘Oobu Joobu’ content. The CD was limited to 3000 copies. It contains a cut down version of Episode 5 of the show called ‘Ecology’. It runs 41:55.

In the Netherlands there was a Promo CD for ‘Young Boy’ issued to radio stations. It came in plain slimline jewel case:

And in the UK a Promo CD for ‘The World Tonight’:

And also one for ‘Beautiful Night’:

Both these came in a slimline jewel cases, with orange and yellow Flaming Pie logos stencilled onto their clear plastic doors.

Also included in the forthcoming re-issue box sets is McCartney’s 1996 collaboration with poet Allen Ginsberg called The Ballad of the Skeletons. This will be on the CD4-B-sides disc plus, in the US$600 Collectors Edition, it will be issued on vinyl for the first time as a 12” single with vinyl etching, and a poster.

Back in 1996 the four track Ballad of the Skeletons CD looked like this:Our copy is still sealed, so these CD and booklet images are courtesy of our friend Andrey:

 

(As usual, click on any of the images above to view larger versions.)

Music on Bones – Hearing Beatle Music the Hard Way

One of our favourite Beatle websites is The Beatles Get Back in the USSR – mostly because it’s a treasure trove of information on every aspect of Beatle collecting in Russia, but also because it is clearly a labour of love and a remarkable resource.

The level of research, scholarship and effort that’s been put into this site is immediately obvious. Not to mention the amazing and extensive image libraries accompanying each topic written about.

If, for example, you’re interested in all the different pressings and versions of Paul McCartney’s ‘Russian album’ Choba B CCCP (first issued on the Melodiya label in 1988), then you can’t go past the site’s chapters on it here (first edition – 11 tracks), here (mispressed edition – 12 tracks), and here (second edition – 13 tracks). The depth of information is impressive.

The latest example of this sort of thorough analysis has recently been uploaded to the site. 

Web pages for a chapter called Illegal and Semi-legal Beatles Releases in the USSR are the result of more than ten years of work to find records/images/information and to analyze and describe all the content – and it tells an extraordinary tale. These illegal and semi-legal releases bear witness to the extraordinary lengths people in Cold War Russia went to hear and share western music, especially rock’n’roll, and of course – Beatle music.

Right through the 1960s, and well into the1970’s, there were practically zero officially released Beatles records issued Russia. Rock music was considered decadent and not suitable for the masses. So, the people took matters into their own hands.

Using smuggled-in originals from England and Europe, they made their own un-official copies of songs the only ways they knew how. This was done using two main processes. The first was to utilise the many small, commercial recording booths that were dotted around Russian cities and towns. These were set up to record short audio ‘postcards’ that could be sent through the post. This was, back in the day, a popular way of sending loved ones a message along with a photograph of the place or holiday location you’d been visiting. They looked something like this:The postcard/record above is like a one-sided flexidisc, with the “message” recorded onto the picture side. But this particular example contains a recording of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’! These ‘postcard’ flexies played at 78rpm and only conatined enough space for one song. Also, the quality wasn’t great – but, you got to hear The Beatles in a country that didn’t allow you to freely listen to them.

The other means of copying and distribution was through home tinkerers who set up illegal recording lathes to cut Beatle songs directly onto old medical x-rays. Yes, medical x-rays. These became known as “music on bones” or “music on ribs” – for obvious reasons:These freaky-looking x-rays above both have a Beatle song cut into them and they can be played on a turntable.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and these thick celluloid sheets of x-ray film were one of the few resources available to people in Soviet Russia at the time.

Like the postcard/records, these “music on bones” play at 78rpm, and to be honest, to our ears now they don’t sound that great. But this was the only way that anyone was going to be able to hear this type of music at the time. And don’t forget – making them and owning recordings like these could get you into big trouble with the authorities. Some ended up in prison just because they wanted to listen to rock’n’roll.  

This is fascinating history and you can spend quite a while on the site discovering a lot more about this little-known avenue of Beatle collecting. A shout out to Andrey, an old friend of beatlesblogger.com and one of the contributors to the extraordinary research that has gone into creating this online resource.

Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the front page where you’ll see a series of images. These are all links leading to the sub-chapters with many examples, more detailed information and sometimes videos of the discs actually playing.

And see below for a short documentary on the strange story of Soviet “music on bones” – gramophone grooves cut onto x-rays of skulls, ribcages and bones: