Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Three

Herewith Part Three in a series of posts on some unusual Beatles and Beatles-related items I was able to buy on a recent visit to Vietnam. I should say again here that all my collection of records, CD’s, books and DVDs have been, to date, the official record company releases. I don’t collect pirate or illegal Beatles material. However, I was presented with something of a dilemma in Vietnam by not knowing if these quite intricately produced items were illegal or the real thing. As they were all sealed in heat-shrink plastic and on the outside had official-looking logos, etc. it made it very difficult to tell. In the end because they were so cheap and I didn’t have ready access to the internet to do research on them I decided to buy and check out their credentials later. So far I have not found anything on the web about this next CD.

Its another one I got in Hanoi in the country’s north:

As you can see its called John Lennon “Definitive Lennon”.  It has a shiny, iridescent almost 3D cover that is very nicely done in green, white, silver and black. It really looks expensively produced. The photo above is of the printed slipcase around the over-sized plastic CD jewel case, which contains two CDs.

CD 1 is exactly the same track list as an official EMI Asia and Australia-only release called John Lennon “Peace, Love and Truth” from 2005. The release I have of that CD was printed in the Philippines (see below for info and images).

CD 2 has the same track listing as the CD re-issue of John Lennon’s “Rock’n’Roll” which came out in 2004. It has the same bonus tracks as that CD.

The Vietnam CD has the same SHM-CD logos that are on the Beatles Double Golden Collection series I posted about earlier. SHM-CD seems to be a legitimate process to improve CD technology and they have quite a few authorised releases – you can read more about it here.

Here’s the front cover image of the CD jewel case for “Definitive Lennon”:

The rear cover contains the track-listing:

When you open the jewel case there’s a booklet (with song lyrics) and two CD’s on a swinging “door”:

Here’s a close-up of the printing on CD 1:

As with the “Beatles Double Golden Collection”, the CD box is oversized. Here’s a comparison with the standard CD jewel case for “Lennon Legend”:

You can also see this by comparing the spines of the CD cases. The unofficial one is much wider:

The is what appears to be an official-looking Universal records logo on the outer slipcase, though to my knowledge John Lennon never had a record deal with Universal:

As mentioned above CD 1 from this set is copied from an official 2005 release called “Peace, Love and Truth” which came out in the Asian and Australian markets only. It contains a number of (then) newly remixed version of some classic Lennon songs including “Give Peace a Chance 2005  (featuring Voices of Asia)”, “Gimme Some Truth (Remix), “Love (Remix)”, “Hold On (Remix)”, “Give Peace a Chance 2004 Y2K+”, “Imagine (Remix)”, “Bring On the Lucie (Remix)”, “Mind Games (Remix)” and “I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier (Remix)”. There are also versions of “Real Love (Slow Version)”, “Help ME To Help Myself”, “I Don’t Want to Face It”, “Bless You”, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, “Listen the Snow is Falling” and the standard version of “Give Peace a Chance”.  The cover of the official “Peace, Love and Truth” looks like this:

The rear cover:

The “Definitive Lennon” SHM-CD was amongst some other purchases made in Vietnam. You can see posts on those in Part One and Part Two.  Again, there has been quite a lot of thought, expense and detail put into the production of the disc and its packaging, making it difficult to categorically rule it out as a fake.

I think this is the first detailed information about this release I have seen on the Internet.

UPDATE: I just realised where this CD cover comes from. It always reminded me of something I’d seen before – and its the artwork for the cover of the 2009 charity release “Make Some Noise – The Campaign to Save Darfur”:

Make Some Noise - various artists cover John Lennon songs for the Amnesty International CD release to raise funds for troubled Darfur

If the South East Asian CD “The Definitive John Lennon” is a fake then not only are they ripping off the Lennon estate, they’ve stolen artwork probably donated to the Amnesty International cause……

See also Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part One, and also Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Two

Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Two

This blog is sub-titled “Adventures in Collecting Beatles Music”, and this post continues an examination of some South East Asian Beatles releases purchased in Hanoi on a recent trip to Vietnam.

Further investigation of these hasn’t categorically ruled out their legitimacy but it seems more likely that they’re actually illegal fakes that someone (in China) has taken a lot of time and trouble to manufacture to make them appear very much like official releases…..

In Part One I wrote about the 5 DVD “Anthology” box-set I found in Hanoi.  This next post is about a series of six double CDs called “The Beatles Double Golden Collection”:

It’s a series where two Beatles albums have been released in one CD box, each with an outer cardboard slipcase. The ones I was able to purchase were:

Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine

Please Please Me and Sgt Pepper

Revolver and WIth the Beatles

Help and Rubber Soul

Abbey Road and Let It Be

Hard Days Night and Beatles For Sale

Each CD has the same documentaries as those found on the recent stereo “Beatles Remastered” discs. So, its clear that these CDs came out following the October 2009 release of those new “remastered” CDs.

If that’s the case then I can only assume that there must be at least two more titles in the “Beatles Double Golden Collection” series. There should be one that has the 2 CD “The Beatles” (White Album)”, and one for the 2 CD “Past Masters” release.  These would then fill out the catalogue. The shop in which I purchased the CD’s above mustn’t have these two titles in stock at the time – so I was able to get only these six.

These releases are interesting for a couple of reasons. As you can see above, they have a large logo at top left of the packaging for something called SHM-CD or “Super High Material CD”.  According to the internet this is “…an advance in the materials used in the production of Compact Discs that uses super quality, enhanced transparency polycarbonate material in the manufacture of CD’s”. The aim of this is to improve the sound. A Google search reveals what looks to be legitimate information about SHM-CD . It says it was invented by Universal Records and the Japanese electrics company JVC – both well-known and respected companies. This official-looking website has more information about the technology and some of the releases on SHM-CD. The rear of the slipcase also has some detailed information (in Chinese) about SHM-CD – see the top right-hand side of the image below (click on the image to make it larger):

Slipcase for Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine, with panel about SHM-CD

There’s also a panel showing what looks like very official logos for Apple Records, QuickTime, Enhanced CD, and Compact Disc:

I’d really love to hear from anyone out there who can read Chinese and can shed some light on what the small print says, or who knows if these are legal Chinese copies of Beatles discs.

As to the contents of each CD, they appear to be exactly the same as the recent Beatles Stereo Remastered series – and the quality of the recordings is first rate. The 2-CD jewel cases are not of a standard size but larger in every dimension. You can see this clearly below when they are placed side-by-side with a standard CD jewel case:

Standard CD jewel case (top) compared to Double Golden Collection jewel case (below)

The spines are also wider than standard:

Spine of a standard CD (right) compared to the Double Golden case (left)

Inside there are two CD’s on a swinging inner “door” with CD disc “A” on one side and CD disc “B” on the other:

The booklets in the “Double Golden Collection” contain lots of photographs of the Beatles. There is no text in the booklets at all. All the photos are exactly the same as those found in the booklets which come with the latest official Beatles “Remastered” series:

"Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper" booklet

"Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper" booklet

Here’s a closer shot of one of the CDs in the set:

"Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper" CD 1

The rear cover of the jewel case details all the songs on the two albums. Notice the reference to the the special mini-documentaries. These were produced by Apple and accompany each album in the “Remastered” series as well:

Rear cover of the CD jewel case for "Please Please Me" and "Sgt. Pepper". Notice the last track for each title is the "making of" mini documentary for each album - just like in the official "Remasters" series

Again, the official logos (including Apple) and even a bar-code appear, making it tough when you are standing in a Hanoi record store trying to decide if these are indeed legitimate releases sanctioned by the Beatles and their record company Apple Records. If these are fakes whoever produced them has gone to extraordinary lengths to make them appear to be legitimate Beatle releases.

The other thing is – since returning home I’ve researched these titles fairly extensively on the web and can find nothing about them. I think that this post may be the very first to detail them.

See also Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part One, and also Some Unusual Asian Beatles Items – Part Three