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:

McCartney on Songwriting

How does Paul McCartney write a song? What goes through his mind when he’s at the piano? What’s an “oobley” chord? And where do the lyrics come from when he’s noodling away?

Those were some of the questions Alan Alda asked Sir Paul when they sat down together for a lengthy chat recently on Alda’s regular podcast called Clear+Vivid:

McCartney has been interviewed more times than most people have had hot breakfasts, and so he can at times resort to re-telling the same, oft-told stories from his past. Frequently when you hear him interviewed there’s very little new or interesting on offer.

But, for the most part, that’s not the case here. In this podcast its more of a discussion, a meeting of the minds and Alda puts McCartney at ease. He sounds relaxed and at times unguarded. As the PR blurb says, we “…learn some of the never before heard secrets behind this legendary musician’s magic.”

Well worth a listen.  (Season7, Episode2, released on 03/03/2020)

Record Store Day 2020 Rescheduled

In the world-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Record Store Day has become the latest in a long line of events to be postponed. The official site now states:

We’ve decided that the best of all possible moves is to change the date of Record Store Day this year to Saturday, June 20.

We think this gives stores around the world the best chance to have a profitable, successful Record Store Day, while taking into consideration the recommendations of doctors, scientists, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the need to be good citizens of both local and worldwide communities.

We’re working with all of our partners and our stores to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone who participates in Record Store Day: customers, record stores, artists, labels and more.  Record Store Day is everywhere and we want to hold our party when everyone can gather around safely to celebrate life, art, music and the culture of the indie record store.

This means we’ll have to wait a little longer to purchase the three Beatle-related items that were announced just over a week ago – but that’s OK.

This is a fast-changing situation and we all need to keep up to date with the latest directives from our governments, and more importantly to personally do what is necessary to reduce our exposure.

We’ll get through this folks. Keep safe!

Record Store Day 2020 – Beatle Related Titles

It’s been a bit quiet on the new Beatle product front for a while. Then comes the 2020 Record Store Day official lists – and not one, but three titles that will be of ineterst to collectors.

First up, Paul McCartney and yet a further re-issue of his first solo album from 1970, simply called McCartney:

This time around, for it’s 50th anniversary, McCartney is getting the Half Speed Master treatment. There will be just 7000 copies produced. If you’d like to know more about Half Speed Mastering UMe has produced this article. Abbey Road Studios engineer Miles Showell (who worked on this 2020 re-issue of McCartney) explains more here:

And, as one wag said on one of the better re-issue forums (Super Deluxe Edition – which we love): “Just as he did fifty years ago, Paul’s making sure his solo album gets released before Let It Be hits the streets…” That’s actually very funny. History repeats.

Also on this year’s Record Store Day list, a Ravi Shankar Centennary Edition of his Chants of India album, produced by George Harrison in 1997. In what is the first physical product to come out of the new distribution relationship between BMG and Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, this LP is being issued for the first time on vinyl – and it will be on red coloured vinyl to boot! 3000 copies are being pressed, and the 2LP set will come in a gatefold cover with an exclusive photo print:

Finally, a John Lennon title is included in the 2020 RSD list. A 7″ black vinyl single of his 1970 hit ‘Instant Karma!’ is being billed as the 2020 Ultimate Mixes. The single will feature newly mixed audio and a faithful reproduction of original UK sleeve artwork. 7000 copies are being pressed:

Record Store Day this year is on Saturday, April 18. Check here for the full list of what is planned for release. You can find the US RSD store here. The official RSD UK store is here.

Two Books, Two CD Variations, and One DVD – Beatle Finds

We attended the quarterly fundraiser for a Sydney community radio station last week. About every three months the classical music station Fine Music 102.5 set up a hall full of tables loaded with donated books, CDs, DVDs, sheet music and a small number of vinyl records.

In the book section there was a very interesting Beatle-related book and a John Lennon book too. In the CD section we found two CD’s – both variations of titles already in the collection – by The Beatles and Paul McCartney. And amongst the DVDs a fun item featuring one Ringo Starr…..

First up, the Beatle-related book:Derek Taylor front

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today came out thirty years ago as part of what was then the 20th anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love. It uses the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP as a stepping off point to build an historical appreciation of what was a fairly wild and crazy year in music, art, fashion, politics, religion, relationships and generational change.

Written by a genuine Beatle insider (former Apple press officer Derek Taylor), this book is also associated with a television program of the same name released that year.

Derek Taylor is witty, erudite and clever at pulling together a massive amount of information to give a detailed impression of what was going on around the world in a year of countercutural change. The book includes lots of archive interviews, observations, and photographs as well as extensive transcripts from the Granada TV documentary. Really interesting.

Jump ahead about twenty-five years and you have the second book we discovered. It’s also a reminiscence of times past, evident in the title: Days That I’ll Remeber -Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Author Jonathan Cott has been a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and has written for The New York Times and The New Yorker. He is the author of 19 books on a wide range of topics, including works on Bob Dylan, classical music, children’s literature, and poetry – but especially music. Cott’s relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono dates back to 1968 when he went to interview them in their London flat. 

During that meeting a friendship was born that lasted for the rest of Lennon’s life, and continues today between Cott and Yoko Ono. It was Jonathan Cott who conducted what was to become the final Lennon print interview before his death. In Days That I’ll Remember Cott is presenting – for the first time – complete versions of all his significant interviews with the pair, and as such this is an important and significant work to have in the collection.The other finds are probably of lesser importance or interest, but we’ll detail them here for you anyway!

First up a CD version of The Beatles’ compilation album from 2000. Simply called 1 it contains (as the hype sticker on the front states) “27 No.1 singles on 1 CD”. Millions of these were sold around the world. So what’s new/different here? Only that this copy comes from South Africa, and there are a few distinguishing differences, namely the words “Made in the RSA” near the bar code on the rear:

There’s also a different, country-specific catalogue number there (CDPCSJ (WE) 7213), and it is also printed on the CD inside:

Plus there’s a really small logo on the left at the bottom. It has a musical note in it’s design, with some lettering that is tiny and difficult to read, but it says “A.S.A.M.I. Seal of Approval”. We’re guessing that is (or was) some sort of South African recording industry association that vouched for the autheticity of the pressing:

Otherwise all other presentation and content will be very familiar if you already have this CD:

Also on the CD tables was Paul McCartney’s 1997 large-scale classical recording, Standing Stone:

Above is the front and back of the outer cardboard slipcase which holds the CD jewel case and thick booklet with lyrics, photos, reproduced artworks, and an essay about the compostion and performance of the work. The one we found here is the UK pressing (we already have US and Canadian pressings of this which both have small variations on what you see here):

Here are the front and rear covers of the booklet:

The beautiful cover images are by Linda McCartney, and here is a peek inside. This artwork is by Paul:Finally, to end on a lighter note, a little kid’s DVD called Thomas & Friends:

If you look closely at the credits you can see listed there as Storyteller – Ringo Starr:

It’s great to have an example of Ringo’s work narrating this classic kids animation series. He did the voice-overs for the first two series only.

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