The Fan Who Almost Threw a £10k Beatle Record Away

We love stories like this. This is the tale of a rare Beatle item that almost ended up as landfill. It comes from the Liverpool Echo newspaper.

A British man named Derek Plant was clearing out some records purchased by his late father at a car boot sale some 40 years ago when, by complete accident, he discovered an extremely rare Beatle acetate that no-one knew was there.

It was a recording of the song ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, made in September 1968. It’s an early take that is quite different to the one that eventually appeared on The White Album:

Back in the day acetate recordings were created at the studio when an artist wanted to take home an example of a song they were working on to listen to some more. They don’t stand up to many plays and are fairly fragile things. In this case an acetate was made for Paul McCartney.

How it came to be in that car boot sale box of records is unknown, but Derek was about to take it to the tip. Unbeknownst to him the rare disc was tucked away inside the cover of this children’s novelty record:

As he was packing his van the Ken Dodd and the Diddymen record just happened to fall out of the box, land on the driveway, and it was only then it revealed it’s Beatle treasure inside. The acetate had been hidden inside that record sleeve all along. Having been a Beatle collector for years, Derek knew immediately that he’d discovered something very special.

The acetate is now up for auction at Omega Auction House’s Beatles Auction in the UK where online bids close on September 28. It is Lot 100. The top estimate by Omega is for the 7″ disc to fetch £10,000 (that’s about US$13,800 or AUS$18,900).

It’s on the way to that figure. At the time of writing someone has already bid £5,000. Not bad for a record that was so very close to being literally thrown away.

Linda McCartney Retrospective – Aussie COVID Delay

A couple of weeks ago the weekend edition of my local newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, carried this front page article in it’s lift-out arts section:

The article inside also appeared in sister paper, the Melbourne Age.

(click on the images above to see larger versions)

This was announcing something of a coup for the regional Art Gallery of Ballarat in Victoria in securing what was to be a fascinating exhibition of Linda McCartney photographs called Linda McCartney: Retrospective. The exhibition was one of the main attractions of a bigger event called the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, showcasing photography and photographers from around the world. The exhibit was set to run from August 24 through to October 24.

Sadly though it has all been postponed indefinitely due to the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus putting the whole state of Victoria into a strict lockdown. Due to a separate outbreak it has also put Sydney (where I write this today) and many parts of the state of New South Wales also into lockdown……

It is all very disappointing. This would have been the first time this extensive look back at the career of Linda McCartney (1941-1998) would have been shown in Australia. Curated by Paul McCartney, along with his daughters Mary and Stella, Linda McCartney: Retrospective features more than 200 photographs, including images of the McCartney family, the 1960s music scene, and a series of prints from the McCartney’s time in Australia between 1975 and 1993 which have never been shown before.

From the exhibit website: “Linda McCartney’s photographic career spanned from 1965 to 1997, during which [she] bore witness to the evolution of pop and youth culture as we know it. Linda’s early portraits of the burgeoning New York 1960s music scene capture the vulnerability of future world conquering rock stars. Known for her portraits of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, among many others, she was the first female photographer whose work was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1968, with a portrait of Eric Clapton. Linda McCartney: Retrospective showcases some of the most iconic artists and moments from the 1960s music scene alongside intimate family portraits. The photographs capture the world as she experienced it, representing the people, places and landscape around Linda in her inimitable, spontaneous and experimental style.”

The exhibition that was to be shown here has some images exclusive to Australia, but the core works have been shown at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery in 2019, and also last year at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. This video give just a taste of what we’re missing:

See also lindamccartney.com for more.

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale site says “New Dates To Be Announced“, so……fingers crossed.

That’s not a Collection. THIS is a Collection.

The recent McCartney III release, and its follow-up McCartney III Imagined, will probably go down in history as having the most vinyl colour, cover artwork and physical format variations of any Beatle or Beatle-related release ever.

For the McCartney III LP, CD and cassette we produced this chart to help keep track:

(click on the image to see a larger version)

That’s no less than12 LPs in different colours (not counting the very rare Third Man Records test pressing – of which only 3 copies were made available in the world), 12 CD variants with colour, cover or track-listing differences, and 2 cassettes. It also doesn’t include all the different bundles that came in boxes containing either tee-shirts, dice, etc.

Then, as the variants of McCartney III Imagined started to pile up, we produced this chart:

(click on the image to see a larger version)

Here you can see there were 10 LPs in different colours and/or cover artwork, 6 CDs, and again two different cassette variations.

If you’ve ever wondered if anyone has actually succeeded in collecting absolutely every variation of those two releases, wonder no more.

One of our readers this week sent in this amazing image of all the variants he collected of these two releases and we think you’ll agree it is mighty impressive:

From what we can see for McCartney III he doesn’t have absolutely everything, but comes pretty darn close! Obviously missing is the very limited Third Man Records pressing on yellow and black vinyl and sporting a unique cover design. There were only 333 copies of this pressed. These were available only via the Third Man Records website, and only for a very limited time before all were snapped up.

As for the McCartney III Imagined LPs, CD,s and cassettes though…..we reckon he’s got the full set of everything. What an impressive collection!

Paul McCartney – The Stories Behind the Songs. A Review and a Giveaway Competition

Fifty years as a solo artist, and as a member of the band Wings, has seen Paul McCartney produce an absolutely enormous catalogue of songs. Picking the eyes out of that extraordinary post-Beatle career and giving us the lowdown on how some of the most memorable of his solo compositions came about is the task of a new book about to hit stores near you.

It’s called Paul McCartney: The Stories Behind the Songs and in it author Mike Evans dives deep into 50 key songs across a recording span of fifty years. The territory he traverses here ranges across 26 solo and Wings albums, from McCartney (1970) all the way through to McCartney III (2020). It also includes key single releases that never made it onto albums – and let’s face it, there are so many of these (especially in the early days) that are absolute classics. No book about McCartney’s output over this period would be complete without songs like ‘Another Day’; ‘Live and Let Die’; ‘Helen Wheels’; ‘Mull of Kintyre’; and rarer items like ‘(I Want To) Come Home’ from 2009 – to name but a few.

With last year’s McCartney III being included it’s refreshing to have book that is so current. It’s also refreshing to have a book that contains a discography, not one but two indexes, and that has a bibliography up the back. That is testament to thorough research and so helpful when seeking out information on particular albums and songs. It makes it so much easier to go straight to what you’re looking for, especially when dipping in out. And this is probably the way most readers will use this book: it’s the sort of reference you’ll keep coming back to as curiosity about different albums, songs and singles take your attention.

Each album and single in the book includes full session details, personnel lists and chart data and is described in detail, from original inspiration to the final release. Quotes from co-writers, session musicians and studio personnel bring the making of every song to life, alongside a wealth of related photographs in and out of the studio.

Just what to put in and what to leave out must have meant many a sleepless night for author Mike Evans. He says himself that he’s opening a pandora’s box: “The final list of inclusions is inevitably subjective and some readers are bound to ask, “Well, what about…?” Such exclusions include ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’ and ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’, both singles from 1972, and ‘We All Stand Together’ (with the Frog Chorus) from the 1984 Rupert Bear animated film Rupert and the Frog Song.” We’ll go out on a limb and support him wholeheartedly on those choices.

Likewise he’s decided not to include music from McCartney’s five volumes of classical recordings, the instrumental projects he released under the psuedonym The Fireman (though he does include a song from 2008’s Electric Arguments), and two singles featuring Kanye West (plus one with Kanye and Rihanna).

Conversely, Evans explains in his Introduction the inclusion of a few non-original compositions: “‘Walking in the Park with Eloise’ from 1974, written by Paul’s dad Jim McCartney; ‘No Other Baby’, a UK skiffle record from 1957; and the old gospel song ‘Light from Your Lighthouse’, (which is actually credited to McCartney on the recording). Along with his three albums of mainly non-original material – 1988’s “Russian” rock ’n’ roll release Choba B CCCP, the similar Run Devil Run collection from 1999, and the 2011 “standards” album Kisses on the Bottom – all of these songs reflect the essential influences that informed McCartney’s musical taste during his teenage years.” Fair enough.

As we said earlier, this is a book you don’t have to read cover-to-cover if you don’t want to. You can dip in and out as the mood or interest strikes. It is well-researched and well worth it.

Paul McCartney: The Stories Behind the Songs is published by Welbeck on September 2.

BOOK GIVEAWAY COMPETITION

Now, for our readers in the UK and Europe we have a treat.

Thanks to the kind folks at Welbeck Publishing you can win one of three copies of Paul McCartney: The Stories Behind the Songs. All you have to do is to be the first to correctly answer this question:

‘Jenny Wren’ is one of the many memorable songs on the 2005 album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. It features an evocative solo using an ancient Armenian woodwind instrument called the duduk. Who was the player?

The first three people to correctly answer will win a copy of the book.

Remember, this is only for our readers in the UK or Europe!

UPDATE! UPDATE!

The answer to who played the beautiful duduk solo on the song ‘Jenny Wren’ was Pedro Eustache.

No more entires please. We have our three winners. They are Michael from Germany, Fin from Ireland and Chris from the UK. Your books will be in the post to you shortly. Thank you to the lovely folks at Welbeck Publishing for providing the prizes.

McCartney III Imagined: The Variants So Far (Further Update…)

Just when you thought you’d made it through to release date without any other variations of this one….

A mere three days before the physical release (at last!) of Paul McCartney’s McCartney III Imagined, Universal Music has gone and thrown one more colour variant into the mix: Violet Vinyl.

This is “exclusive” to the official McCartney stores in the US, in the UK, and also in France.

And it seems to be available in a couple of the official UMe stores too. We found it for sale in the German Bravado store for example.

It brings to ten the number of different coloured vinyl you can buy. It’s a nice round number.

It’ll be nice to finally get this as a physical release. The digital version came out on April 16, so it has been a long wait.

So, here’s the lay of the land visually as far as all the known variants that will be shipped this Friday, July 23. (Click on the image below to enlarge):

McCartney III Imagined: The Variants So Far (Update)

Back in April we posted a list of the physical variants (to date) of the forthcoming McCartney III Imagined.

Since then there have been a few additions, so here’s an update about. It includes a standard cassette (available fairly widely), plus a more limited pink cassette and two ‘Limited Edition Mini Jacket’ CD versions. These appear to be only available via the US official Paul McCartney website.

Here’s the regular, or standard, ‘Smokey Tint’ cassette:

And here is the more limited pink shell cassette:

There have also been two low-cost ‘mini jacket’ CD alternates added too – much like the ones made available in the initial McCartney III release program. These are just simple cardboard sleeves. One is available with the standard McCartney III Imagined cover:

The other comes in the colourful ‘alternate’ McCartney III Imagined cover:

Release day for physical product is getting closer – it’s July 23 – and there’ll be a bonus track included on each of these – ‘Long Tailed Winter Bird (Idris Elba Remix)’.

Here’s a chart showing all the release variations of McCartney III Imagined so far (as usual, click on the images to see larger versions):

‘McCartney 3, 2, 1’ is Coming to Hulu

Paul McCartney has just posted this on Instagram:

Seems the McCartney and Rick Rubin documentary series examining the former Beatles’ musical history has landed at Hulu.

It’ll be a fascinating six-part series that will launch on the streamer on July 16. News that two were working together on a documentary series first broke in December last year.

“Never before have fans had the opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share, in such expansive, celebratory detail, the experience of creating his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “To be an observer as Paul and Rick Rubin deconstruct how some of the biggest hits in music history came to be is truly enlightening. It is an honor that Paul chose to return to Hulu to share this one-of-a-kind series.”

For more detailed information see Deadline (which broke the original story), New Musical Express, or Rolling Stone.

McCartney III Imagined – Out This Week

This week we get to hear what McCartney III Imagined sounds like in full – at least on digital services. The physical mediums for this one aren’t coming until July….

There’s already been a bit of shock from some welded-on McCartney followers about the three tracks previewed from the album so far. They are a re-interpretation of ‘The Kiss of Venus’ by Dominic Fike; ‘Find My Way’ – featuring Beck; and a remix of ‘Slidin” by Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien.

Stand by for quite a few more surprises.

It’s becoming fairly obvious we should all keep an open mind about what else might be in store because, based on what we’ve heard so far, some of it is going to be “out there” and out of the comfort zones of many fans. And that’s a good thing because it means these songs will be heard and appreciated by a far wider (and younger) audience than would have been the case if this remained just a McCartney-only release.

It’s clear that Paul McCartney and MPL sent out the raw elements of his songs to an eclectic and interesting bunch of musos and told them to do with them what they will.

If you want a contemporaneous example of a similar approach then look no further than Crowded House. They’ve got a new album coming in June and have released a single in the lead-up called ‘To The Island’. Check it out below in its original form:

Then have a listen to this:

Just like McCartney has done, Crowded House invited a third party (in this case Kevin Parker from Tame Impala) to do a remix. Here’s what Neil Finn said about it in an email to fans:

With all the world up-ended and nothing in its right place, we became curious to hear how our favourite contemporary musicians and record makers might re-imagine a Crowded House song. I emailed our version of ‘To The Island’ to Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) with an invitation to take it apart and reassemble in his own unique way. Happily, he really liked the song and it was an absolute delight to hear what he made from it, an exotic fantasy I would call it.

I think you’ll agree that the end result is very different – and in some ways quite confronting. But it means that Crowded House (a legacy band still making great new music) will also be heard by a much wider audience.

Strap in because McCartney III Imagined is going to be ‘To The Island’ writ large.

Personally, we’re excited to hear it.

RAM Gets 50th Anniversary Half Speed Master

In March last year we got news that there was to be a 50th anniversary Half Speed Master edition of Paul McCartney’s first solo outing – which of course was simply called McCartney.

This year it’s the turn of RAM, Paul and Linda’s great LP from 1971.

The new RAM vinyl will be very limited (reportedly just 2000 copies for the UK) and it will only be available via independent stores and the usual McCartney/Universal channels.

The RAM Half Speed Master will be released on May 14, so if you want a copy you’d better get your skates on.

Paul McCartney – McCartney III Imagined

After more dice being mailed out to certain fans and a short social media teaser campaign, it’s just been officially announced that there’s to be an album of McCartney III covers and remixes – called McCartney III Imagined.

The details are here and it looks to be a REALLY eclectic and inventive choice of artists:

It’s a 2LP set – and the coloured vinyl whirlwind begins all over again……

At the official McCartney store you can order a limited edition exclusive splatter vinyl, and exclusive cover art:

And of course plain old black:

As far as we know right now there’ll also be an exclusive limited edition gold vinyl version available through Indie stores:Plus a green Spotify exclusive version (available through the official McCartney store):Newbury Comics in the US has weighed in again, this time with red vinyl:

Barnes and Noble (in the US) has added blue to the rainbow:

While Target has announced a silver vinyl exclusive with “alternate artwork” enclosed:

Meanwhile, back over at the McCartney Store (only in the US) they now have a limited edition pink vinyl available, 2500 copies only:

And the official store in the US has also added a dark green vinyl variant. It comes in the same unique cover as the splatter and pink. This green is darker than the Spoitfy vinyl, and there are only 2000 copies available apparently:

McCartney iii Imagined 2There’ll be a single CD too:

And Target stores (US only) will have the CD “with alternate artwork enclosed”:The first YouTube video has also hit. It is Dominic Fike’s version of ‘The Kiss of Venus’. Interesting!

So, what is your take on it? Let us know in the comments below.

Some sites are saying the digital release is April 16. Looks like physical media won’t ship until July 23 though, which is a long way off.

Keep an eye on our site for more details (and vinyl colour variations) as they emerge!