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:


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.

John Lennon – Signature Box

Well, our copy of the new John Lennon “Signature Box” has finally arrived safely in the post, thanks to Amazon, all the way from America.

You’ll no doubt see lots and lots of small photos of the exterior and YouTube “un-boxing” videos, so I thought I’d scan in some extreme close ups of what’s inside to give you an idea of the contents from that perspective.

As you know (and any Google Image search will reveal) the exterior of the “Signature Box” and it’s main parts look like this:

You can see above that it is really a box-within-a-box as the entire exterior (which has the word “Lennon” in sky blue lettering on top, and a Lennon signature embossed in white on the front) slides up and off to reveal an inner box. What you first see at the very top of that box are three items: the first is a 60-page, hard-cover book with simply the word “Yes” deeply embossed in blue on the front cover:

There is a deep blue ribbon underneath this book to help you lift it out of the box neatly (those of you with the Beatles Remastered Stereo boxes will have seen something similar used in that box to help you lift out the CDs). This book contains a lengthy essay called “John Lennon – The Life and Afterlife” by Anthony DeCurtis. It is illustrated lavishly with photographs, drawings and hand-written lyrics. Also with the book at the top of the box is a four-page cardboard fold-out sheet with this on the front:

On one side are three separate messages about John Lennon and his legacy from Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon, all signed August 9th, 2010. On the other side are four words: Give Peace A Chance. The final item you find at the top of 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.

(If you don’t have a PIN code you can still have a snoop around the “Universe” – only with a lot of the functionality disabled).

Once you have lifted these three items out you can see the CD’s tucked away vertically inside underneath the book. They’re held in place by a piece of white soft foam with finger cut-outs so that you can get the CDs out a little more easily:

All the CDs are housed in redesigned cardboard gate-fold covers, utilizing the original artwork but in the now-familiar style of all the newly remastered Beatles CD covers. (Incidentally, the new Paul McCartney archive re-issues [starting with “Band on the Run” next month] will also have this new look). The re-issued and remastered CDs now all have booklets with sleeve notes (by Paul Du Noyer), lyrics and additional photographs.  The only thing here that’s new music content-wise are two CDs housed together in a unique, plain white gate-fold cover. One of them contains six singles which are not on the albums:

The other contains 13 tracks which are previously unreleased studio outtakes or home recordings:

Then, at the bottom of the box is a slide-out drawer (its got a small blue ribbon tab so you can pull it out). It contains a white, hard covered folder with John Lennon’s signature embossed in white on the front. The drawer also has a long blue ribbon under the folder to assist you in lifting it out. Inside is a John Lennon 70th Birthday art print on high quality paper:

This tasteful art theme is continued on two sides of the inner box, with a further Lennon drawing appearing on the left-hand side:

And again on the right-hand side:

I hope this has given you a different perspective on the contents. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the packaging to try to make it hang together artistically in both design and colours. The strongest motifs are clouds, blue sky, and plain white). Its a MUCH bigger box than you’d expect – in fact the nine CDs inside look quite small by the time you get to them. There is a lot of packaging around them. It is significantly larger than the John Lennon  “Anthology” four-CD set and book that came out in 1998 (and which has some very similar design elements).

The Second Disc has written a comprehensive review of the “Signature Box”.

Next post will be a similar close-up, in-depth look at the new 4 CD “Gimme Some Truth” package.

See also the Paul McCartney Deluxe CD set, and the two disc vinyl.

Beatles Stereo Remasters and USB Unboxing

There seems to be a LOT of interest in the unboxing pictures I posted of me opening up the Beatles In Mono remasters.

There’s also been a steady stream of people looking at the pics of the packaging for the Beatles “Apple” USB posted a while back.

So that left the Beatles Stereo Remastered box set still to do as an “unboxing”.

Instead of me doing it in still photos, I thought I’d have a quick look around on YouTube to see if there was a decent video example of the Stereo Box set being opened so you can see what it contains, and also to see if there was anything on the little Beatles USB that contains all the CD remasters in both MP3 and FLAC 24-bit quality, plus all the mini documentaries and the artwork for each album.

Turns out there is one video that does both the Stereo Box and a really detailed look at the packaging for the USB and the little Apple USB itself. Two for the price of one:

In searching for these I also found a guy who shows the user interface for the USB once it is plugged into your computer. You get to see what he’s seeing as he moves around the menus:

Thanks to Ian C. Rogers and zenkenobi.

Good Evening New York City (Deluxe Ed) – Unboxing Pics

OK. I know this Paul McCartney release has been out a while now….but there’s a story behind why I am so late in showing you some un-boxing pics of my copy of the Deluxe Edition.

I ordered this online via Paul McCartney’s very own website pretty much the day it came out. It was released in the US on November 17 and in the UK on November 23. However, my copy didn’t make it into my mailbox until mid-January. I had a lot of correspondence with the McCartney organisation, plus the company they hired to carry out online distribution of the disc, trying to find out what the delay was and where my order had got to. It really was a lot of hassle over what I thought should have been a quick and easy transaction – especially since I’d ordered it directly from the official site….

I have to say though that it was worth the wait. For US$23.99 it is a fair bit of product for your money. Now that I actually have Good Evening New York City I’m very impressed with the packaging, plus you get 2 CDs and 2 DVDs of content. It comes in a thick hardback book-style that is taller than a standard CD:

Carefully cutting open the plastic cover

I always like to cut around and keep any stickers on the outside packaging:

GENYC Sticker

As you can see in the photo below the Deluxe version is in a hardback format and the spine is quite thick:

The "spine" of the CD/DVD package

Inside the plastic on the rear is a cardboard insert listing all the songs featured in the two concert CDs and DVD. A lot of people would just throw this insert away but I’ll be hanging onto it (for more reasons than that I just like to keep this sort of stuff – see below). I’ll just slip it in amongst the pages inside:

The loose rear card

If you look really closely you’ll see a little surprise I got when opening this one up. Despite this package taking ages to get to me, and after many complaint letters, they’ve actually sent me  (I guess accidentally) a PROMO copy of the disc! Go figure. Check out the close-up of the sticker on the rear card:

The sticker saying "Promo Only - Not For Sale"

Inside the hardback Deluxe version is a 40-page book with lots of great photos and an essay by Michael Azerrad:

Book open to pages 12 and 13

There is a re-worked shorter version of this essay in the Standard edition. The Deluxe version also has some amazing fold-out double pages with photo montages and historic shots of the Beatles at the old Shea Stadium, and McCartney playing the brand new Citi Field stadium – which is practically on the same site:

The Deluxe version gets some double fold-out pages in the book

Each CD gets a baseball image and signature in different colours:

Sticking with the Citi Field theme - baseball CD's

The DVD’s also get the baseball look (these all slip into the cardboard pockets you can see inside the front and rear covers):

The two DVDs

One DVD is the entire concert filmed live over two nights. The other is a bonus DVD featuring Paul McCartney and band’s appearance live on the Late Show with David Letterman where they played out in the open before a huge crowd, perched on an awning above the street outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre TV studios. The performance is an echo of the famous Beatles final roof-top concert of 1969…. If you’d like a peak at some of the Letterman material have look here.

Finally, a comparison photo of the Deluxe Edition (2 CDs and 2 DVDs) alongside the Standard Edition (2 CDs and 1 DVD):

Deluxe alongside Standard

Unboxing “The Treasures of the Beatles”

OK. As I mentioned in the last blog post, a new book has come into the collection. It was only released in November.

I don’t know if you’ve seen these types of books before but they are like a box set in that the book itself sits inside a hard outer casing. The hardback book slides out and, as well as the usual text and photographs, on certain pages inside are pouches that contain replicas of memorabilia associated with the topic. I’ve got one of these already about Bob Dylan. Its called “The Bob Dylan Scrapbook”. I saw another of these books in a store the other day – it was a history book all about the Vietnam war.

Anyway, this new release is all about The Beatles. Its called “Treasures of the Beatles” and it follows the history of the band from the early days in Liverpool and Hamburg, up through each album, the creation of Apple Records, and on to the perhaps inevitable break-up and briefly the solo careers beyond.

It is written by Terry Burrows. He’s a fairly prolific music author and you can see some of his long list of other things he’s written here, including some other Beatles-related titles.

Terry has written a loving tribute to the band and there are lots of great photos inside – some of which I’ve never seen before. But the great part about discovering this book is opening up the little pouches which are full of surprises like publicity and concert posters, replica concert tickets, contracts, hand-written set lists, tour itineraries, postcards, and even a 1967 invitation to The Magical Mystery Tour.

What does it all look like as you browse through the book? Below are some photos,  an “unboxing” of the book with a few pages on display and some of the facsimiles of rare memorabilia that are contained within. Enjoy.

“Treasures of the Beatles” Terry Burrows   2009 Hardback    Published by Crows Nest Books

Front Cover (Outer Box)

Back Cover (Outer Box)

Front Cover (Book)

Pages example 1 - showing one of the pouches

Treasures example - including (burned) replica contract document, etc.

Pages example 2

Treasures example - including posters

Replica concert ticket

Book spine

Beatles Mono Box – Unboxing Pix

Well, as promised in an earlier post, here are some photographs of my “un-boxing” of the remastered Beatles In Mono. It’s a white box that holds 10 CDs – that is each original mono album released by the group, plus a 2 CD set called “Mono Masters”. This is like the “Past Masters” double that is available either individually or in the stereo remastered box set. However, “Mono Masters” has a slightly different track list with four different songs unique to this package. These are from “Yellow Submarine” and have never previously been issued in mono on CD: “Only A Northern Song”, “All Together Now”, “Hey Bulldog” and “It’s All Too Much”.

The box also contains a 44 page booklet with lots of great photos and text by Beatles aficionado Kevin Howlett.

Interestingly the small print on the removable promotional flyer that is tucked into the shrink wrap on the outside of the box says “Made in Japan” – so I guess EMI commissioned their Japanese pressing plant to produce these sets. It was reported that only 10,000 box sets were made. Such was the demand though that EMI quickly moved to create more. I read that another 3,000 were being produced, though this is unconfirmed. I know these box sets are expensive but given the interest, another 3,000 doesn’t seem enough for the whole world. If you have any more details on this let me know.

The packaging for the individual CDs in this set is different to the newly-designed stereo remaster covers, recreating down to the finest detail how the original UK LP record covers would have looked back in they day had you purchased them when they were first released. This includes the paper inner sleeve for the disc, all original inserts and cover art. Even how the cover was glued together is authentic. There’s also a resealable plastic outer sleeve for the cover and a small, protective plastic sleeve for the disc itself – just like those you get on LPs (at least in Australia!). You can see examples of these in photos below. Notice also that the CD labels printed on the CD echo what the original LP labels would have looked like (in the photo of “Please Please Me” below check out the very early Parlophone label).

The “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” CDs here also contain the original 1965 stereo mixes of these albums (which are different to the 1987 George Martin stereo remixes done for the first round of CD issues of the Beatles catalogue.  So, now we have three different versions to compare!)

Beatles In Mono

Label:  Apple      Cat.No:   5 099969 945120

JAPAN/2009/11CDs/book/boxed set/all original covers and inserts

I like to keep the shrink-wrap on to help protect the box and so a razor blade is required to carefully cut an opening

I like to keep the shrink-wrap on to help protect the box and so a razor blade is required to carefully cut an opening

The box slides out to reveal 11 CDs (in their plastic covers) and the 44 page booklet

The box slides out to reveal 11 CDs and the 44 page booklet

The Mono set revealed

The Mono set (in their plastic covers) revealed

All the original inserts are included - like the Sgt Pepper cut-out card and the "psychodelic" pink-coloured inner-sleeve

All the original inserts are included - like the famous "Sgt Pepper" cut-out card and the "psychedelic" pink-coloured inner-sleeve. You can also see the little plastic sleeve to help protect the CD

Detail of how they have strived to recreate the original covers. The old-fashioned fold-over tabs on the outside and even the original paper inner sleeves. Note the old PArlophone label printed on the CD

Detail of how they've striven to recreate the original covers. The old-fashioned fold-over tabs and even the original paper inner sleeves. Note the old Parlophone label printed on the CD