White Album 50th – Martin and Okell on How They Did It

The versions unboxed:

The details: The Beatles

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Beatles Launch Official “U.S. Albums” Website

Beatles US Albums Advertisement

The 50th year has kicked off with a bang – the big release of the Beatles The U.S. Albums in a 13 album box set, and as individual titles on CD or digital download. Yesterday the Beatles official website unveiled a new interactive page dedicated to the release (just click on the image below to go there):Beatles Official US Albums Website

Meanwhile on YouTube, this guy was amonst the very first to get a copy of the box set and upload an “unboxing” video showing the contents in detail:

Beatles 2012 Remastered Vinyl – Released (First Pictures)

Is Australia the very first country to see the new Beatles Remastered Stereo Vinyl Box Set delivered?

The new records aren’t due for release in the UK and the USA until next week (12 and 13 November respectively). However, today I got a call from my local record store in Sydney saying “Come on in – your order for the Beatles box set is ready for collection today“.  (That’s Thursday, 8 November)

Naturally I high-tailed it down there – and here are the first pictures of it being unpacked. It comes in a big protective outer box:

The large sticker declaring the contents is placed on both sides of the box:

The two shipping labels on the side. Both say “Deliver Thursday”:

 

When you open the box you see what looks like another box-within-a-box:

It is held in place by two thick white foam inserts that you usually see in packaging for large electrical goods like TV’s, etc.  At this point I should say this package is incredibly heavy. You actually have to lie it on its side to slide it out:

What initially looked like an inner box is actually a thick brown cardboard wrap around the main package (above). Once you take it off you see this:

It’s just like the Beatles Remastered Stereo CD box released in 2009. There’s a thin cardboard outer sleeve around the record box itself. As you can see above it has “The Beatles” and an Apple logo printed on the front. This is what’s printed on the rear:

The outer sleeve slides off to reveal the main, lidded box:

Opening the lid – there are two pieces of black foam and two large moisture absorbing packs:

The book and all the LPs are completely sealed in heat-shrink plastic:

“Let It Be” (below) has the green Apple on the rear:

The book is really heavy and looks amazing – even in its heat-shrink wrap:

It has black-edged pages:

One side of the outer sleeve has the record and book edges printed on it. I guess that’s so it’ll look good when sitting on a shelf with that edge facing out:

Well, that’s about it for now. Hope you enjoyed this. Haven’t had time to open up any of the records or the book. Just wanted to get this up quickly for all to have sneak peek at the new Beatles Remastered Stereo Vinyl Box Set. 

(Click on images to see larger versions)

Yellow Submarine – Songtrack and Blu-Ray

The new “Yellow Submarine” has been out for a couple of weeks now and my copies have just arrived – courtesy of Amazon in the United States.

I got the re-packaged “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” CD.  Yes I know, it’s the exact same songs re-mixed and remastered way back in 1999.  Despite a perfect opportunity to do so Apple hasn’t provided us with the 09.09.09 remixes that were used for the “1962-66″ (Red), “1967-70” (Blue), and the “1” re-issues – but the same old remixes used on the original “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” release. As one Beatles collector wrote: “Just how lazy is that. Making us pay again for the same 12 year-old mixes?”

But it does come in the re-versioned packing making it compatible with all the new-look cardboard CD covers, including the back-catalogue titles in the 2009 box set – and the Beatles “1”, and so the completist collector just has to have it:

I also got the Blu-Ray of the 1968 film (it’s also out in a refreshed DVD, too) in excellent remastered quality.

(Click on images to see a large version)

But did you know that there was a unique, limited edition Blu-Ray cover offered in the UK, apparently issued in small numbers only by the HMV chain of record stores there? Check it out in this un-boxing video…

For more on “Yellow Submarine” see this post. Yes, the Blu-Ray will be crystal clear and worth it, but what are we collectors really getting that’s new?

The Fireman – Electric Arguments Deluxe Edition (and others…)

This latest addition to my collection was released a little while back now – but I’ve just been able to secure a very nice copy of the very rare and limited deluxe edition of the 2008 release “Electric Arguments” by The Fireman (a.k.a Paul McCartney and his producer, Youth). This is a truly over-the-top item, a bespoke, hand-made item with unique artwork and inserts.

Before we get to the details of this release, we’ll take a look at the standard editions first – and there are a quite a few. Just the scale of the different versions and artwork created for the “Electric Arguments” project is staggering.

The most common commercially-released and readily available version of “Electric Arguments” came out as a single CD.  McCartney was between labels at the time and so in the UK it was released and distributed on the One Little Indian label. In the US it was released and distributed by ATO Records.

In both markets the CD is contained in a cardboard digipac gate-fold, the cover of which looked like this in both markets:

The black square and those circles that look like stickers on the front of the cover are actually printed onto the shrink-wrap plastic around the cardboard cover, not on the cover itself. The only difference between the two countries is the catalogue number and the printing on the CD – which carries the name and logo of the record company releasing it:

The UK CD released and distributed by One Little Indian - catalogue number: tplp1003cd

The US released - distributed by ATO Records - catalogue number: 88088-21640-2/ATO 0063

(If you’d like to see larger versions of any photographs here just click on the image).

The CD gate-fold contains a 46 page booklet, which slips into a pocket inside the cover:

This official, commercial CD release was supported by three promotional CDs. These were only sent to music reviewers and to radio stations. The first contained exactly the same 13 tracks as the commercially-released album, but with a completely different cover and artwork, and different printing on the CD, which states “For promotional use only”. Its catalogue number is MPL 922:

There were also two separate, single-song promo CD’s sent to radio stations to promote the album. The first (and more common one) was for the song “Sing the Changes”. It came out in a simple digipac gate-fold with unique artwork and printing on the CD itself. It has the catalogue number MPL 1006-CDPROMO:

The second and more difficult to find promo CD contains the song “Dance ’til We’re High”. Again, like the other two promos, it is presented as a unique picture disc mounted on a clear tray in a digipak cover with alternate artwork. The CD printing was different, and the catalogue number is 1011tp7cdp:

There was also a limited edition, double LP vinyl pressing of the album (catalogue number tplp1003/5016958 1040 1 6) which has been Direct Metal Mastered at the Abbey Road studios. The two LPs are in a gate-fold cover which has the same artwork as used on the outside as the commercially released CD. Its pressed on heavy 200g vinyl and the cover comes inside a thick clear-plastic outer with a yellow limited edition numbered sticker on the outside:

Inside the gate-fold cover of the 2 LP set is a 15 page book:

The LP packaging also contains a CD copy of the album which is held in a simple custom slipcase envelope. Here are the front and rear covers:

The records themselves are also held in thick paper inner sleeves with even more artwork on them and each side of the the vinyl has these custom designed labels:

Then, a few months after all these releases above (LP and CDs) came what could only be described as a very special and limited edition of the whole “Electric Arguments” project. This version has the catalogue number TPLP1003DE. It came sealed in this large, custom-made paper satchel:

Inside the bag is a heavy-duty steel box:

Before we go any further, I must acknowledge and talk about the person responsible for the entire design of The Fireman “Electric Arguments” packaging. Art direction for the project (including the standard CD, promo CDs and the Deluxe Edition) is by Norman Hathaway, a creative director based in Brooklyn, New York who has done a number of other projects for Paul McCartney, including CD covers and books. It’s not the first time Hathaway has done a Fireman album either – he also did the artwork for “Rushes”, Paul McCartney’s second collaboration with producer Youth. His work on “Electric Arguments” though, particularly this Deluxe Edition, is very special. I’m really not sure how they manufactured it – parts really do have the look and feel of being hand-made.

Once you open the metal box you see this sheet pasted inside the lid:

As you can see, its like a replica studio reel-to-reel tape box, listing the contents, and stating it was recorded at May Hill, McCartney’s own Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex in the UK. Down the bottom it says in Paul’s handwriting: “This is not a pizza. Enjoy it: Paul McCartney x x “. The next thing you see is the first of two art prints, exclusive to the box set:

Underneath these is a deep red cloth-bound folder, with embossed writing on the outside saying “the fireman – electric arguments – paul mccartney – youth”:

This opens up to reveal not one, but four separate CDs:

This CD holder looks truly handmade – you can see it in the image above, and it has nice detail touches, like the words “electric arguments” imprinted on the cardboard inside the place where the CD sits. The CDs are: the full 13-track album (with different printing on the disc to the standard release);  a 7-track bonus song CD; a high resolution stereo audio CD with all 13 songs from the standard edition, plus a further bonus track (a dub-step remix of the song “Highway”), and three videos (“Sing the Changes”, “Dance ’til We’re High” and “In the Studio”); and finally a multi-track audio files data DVD containing mixing “stems” for 5 different tracks from the album:

 

OK. Then comes a 46 page art book, which is the same as the booklet you get with the standard CD but in a larger format:

And then a copy of the 200g vinyl 2 LP set:

Really, for the collector and completist it is all fairly breathtaking!

Finally, to get an idea of the Deluxe packaging in it’s entirety here are two short videos of owners “un-boxing” their copies. The first is a bit rough in places, but it gives you a good idea of the way this entire project is put together:

For more on The Fireman and “Electric Arguments” go to these official sites:

http://www.thefiremanmusic.com/purchase

http://www.thefiremanmusic.com/home

http://www.thefiremanmusic.com/media/gallery/

Magical Mystery Tour – HMV Box Set

I’ve been able to get hold of another in the 1987 series of box sets released by the British HMV record store chain to celebrate the first editions of the Beatles on CD. I’ve previously posted on the “Sgt Pepper” box set, and also the “Beatles Red 1962-1966” box set.  Now they’re joined by the HMV “Magical Mystery Tour”:

When the Beatles catalogue came out on CD for the very first time back in 1987 it was a big deal and HMV (which has close ties back to the Beatles record company EMI) released a series of limited edition 12” x 12″ box sets containing CD’s to mark the occasion. There were 12 box sets released in all, plus a large (and expensive) HMV box which housed every CD then available.

Box set BEACD25/6 was “Magical Mystery Tour”, and it came with a 12-page booklet, a large fold out colour poster, and a badge. You can see the front cover image of the box above. It features the same artwork as that used on the CD. When you take the lid off this is what you first see:

This is a large format 12-page booklet with lots of photographs and the text is an article about the making of the film “Magical Mystery Tour”, plus the background to each song. Here are couple of pages from the booklet:

Underneath the booklet is a poster featuring the band in their tuxedos from a scene in the film, plus text on the left-hand side telling the Magical Mystery Tour story:

Then comes the CD itself, held in place by a special cardboard holder with a slot just right for the CD, which is in the standard plastic jewel case. There’s a small thumb-slot at the top to help you get the CD out:

Also in the box is a small metal Magical Mystery Tour/HMV pin or badge:

The CD that comes with the HMV box is the original 1987 UK release with its own booklet:

Like the other titles in the set, inside the lid of the HMV box there’s a limited edition stamped number. Mine as you can see is a nice round number, 004949:

There were apparently 10,000 copies of “Magical Mystery Tour” released worldwide, although one site I found disputes this saying there were only 8000.

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth Box

This is the next installment of close-up, detailed photos of the current John Lennon re-issue program. We’ve already had a look at the “Signature” box set containing freshly remastered editions of all the original studio albums, plus two CDs of singles, home recordings and outtakes.

Now its the turn of the other box set issued as part of the program called “Gimme Some Truth”. First thing to say is that it is much smaller that the “Signature” box set (although that’s not saying much as the “Signature” set is huge). Its really just a slipcase kind of affair, designed to hold four CDs in cardboard sleeves plus a book. The other thing to say is that there’s nothing new here audio-wise for the avid collector. These are compilations completely made up of previously released tracks – most of which have been re-issued in a variety of forms many, many times…

The front and rear photos on the box are of John and Yoko in New York, only they’ve been superimposed on a drawing of New York Harbour (as imagined by John Lennon). It was taken by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, best known for his photo for the cover of “Abbey Road”:

"Gimme Some Truth" - front cover

And the rear:

"Gimme Some Truth" - rear cover

Here’s a shot from the same photo session with Iain Macmillan:

Inside the box are four themed CDs that gather John Lennon’s songs into categories. The first is “Working Class Hero”:

This photo is taken by Bob Gruen, a long-time friend and frequent photographer of Lennon who has taken some of his most iconic shots, including the images for the “Walls and Bridges” album, and he did the photograph used on the recent biography of John by Philip Norman. There are 18 tracks on this CD and they include “Power to the People”, “Steel and Glass” and “Give Peace a Chance”.

The second CD is called “Woman”, and gathers together love songs and songs specifically about the women in Lennon’s life:

This image is by Lilo Raymond, and is a photograph from the same sessions as the one used for the front cover of the 1983 posthumous LP release called “Heart Play – Unfinished Dialogue” which contained conversations with John and Yoko recorded in 1980:

The “Woman” CD also contains 18 songs, such as “Mother”, “Hold On” and “Jealous Guy”.  The third CD is “Borrowed Time”:

Got to be one of the saddest photos of John, don’t you think? So much potential there and a baby boy he won’t get the chance to see grow up….. Songs include “Nobody Told Me”, Watching the Wheels”, and of course “Borrowed Time”. The image was taken by Nishi Saimaru, who’s 1990 book “The John Lennon Family Album” features intimate family photographs taken over a three year period with the Lennon’s in New York, Miami, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. She also took the cover photo for that other four CD box set released in 1990, simply called “Lennon“.

The fourth and final disc collects Lennon covering tracks from his youth – early rock’n’roll standards plus a couple of other more contemporary rockers.

This is one of a series of famous images taken by Jurgen Vollmer of a young John Lennon in a Hamburg doorway. Vollmer, Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann met the Beatles in Germany in the early 60’s. Later, John was to write: “… Vollmer was the first photographer to capture the beauty and the spirit of The Beatles…We tried very hard to find someone with his touch after we returned from Hamburg, Germany…nobody could…The photographs…speak for themselves.” One of his photos from the same session was used on the cover of the 1975 album “Rock ‘N’ Roll”:

The “Gimme Some Truth” box also contains a 24-page book featuring an article (“Truth In All It’s Forms – The Songs of John Lennon”) by Anthony DeCurtis. DeCurtis also wrote the essay for the “Signature” box. It is illustrated with additional photographs, Lennon drawings and hand-written lyrics.

The front and rear covers of the book feature a Lennon drawing with his face morphing into Yoko Ono’s, and vice versa:

The final inclusion in the box is a business card-sized piece of cardboard with the word “Online” on one side and instructions and a PIN code for you to access the John Lennon Universe on the web on the other.

I’m not sure, but I think this card and PIN get you access to less comprehensive content in the “Universe” to that of the “Signature” box one. If anyone confirm that let me know.

See also the John LennonSignature Box” revealed, and the Paul McCartney Deluxe “Band on the Run” CD and vinyl sets.