In something of a change of pace, the Super Deluxe Edition site has recently been looking back at a couple of classic box set releases from the past.
Their latest unboxing-style video features the very rare Paul McCartney (a.k.a. The Fireman) box which is based around the 2008 release, Electric Arguments.
This was McCartney’s third album with musician/producer Youth, and as Paul Sinclair from SDE says, “… [it] broke the mould inasmuch as unlike the previous two albums, it was openly promoted by the record label as being the work of the ex-Beatle. A limited box set edition was available only via McCartney’s website and arrived six months late, in July 2009.”
If you’d like some more detail on this one, check out our comprehensive article on all the releases associated with the Electric Arguments project, including the CD singles, promo CD’s, the single CD editions, vinyl, and spme more of the background to this very limited box set. For the real completists out there see also this post.
Paul Sinclair from Super Deluxe Edition has also revisited the wonderful 2009 Beatles in Mono box set too:
Just when you were recovering from the release of Wings Over America (in deluxe box set, triple vinyl, and standard CD), and Rockshow on DVD and Blu-Ray, comes news of yet another Paul McCartney release to track down.
This time he’s teamed up an Italian dance punk outfit which goes by the name of The Bloody Beetroots. Using some of the basic vocals from a song called “Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight” (from the 2008 Fireman release Electric Arguments performed with Youth – a.k.a. Martin Glover) they’ve just issued a pretty crazy remix single called “Out Of Sight“.
Here’s the teaser clip from June 10th:
Then the single came out as a digital download on June 14.
Rolling Stone magazine says of the song: Out of Sight (which also features Youth) finds the old Beatle appealing to the stadium EDM crowd in a heavily thumping, airily melodic track on which he wails in his finest Little Richard mode. There’s an interesting background article on how the song came about here.
I’m not sure if there’s going to be a physical version on CD or vinyl. If anyone knows that can they please let us know? The only thing I can find is that the track will appear on The Bloody Beetroots’ album Hide, out on Ultra Music in September.
The music: This is a 12-inch vinyl disc released in 1999 containing remixes from “Rushes”, The Fireman (aka Paul McCartney and Youth) LP and CD from 1998. Paul’s Fireman work is electronic, ambient and experimental.
The remixes were done by British musician Nitin Sawhney and this 12 incher contains three of Sawhney’s remixes of the track “Fluid” plus one other song called “Bison”. All the original versions can be found on the “Rushes” CD and LP.
Back then McCartney was keen to keep as many details of his involvement in The Fireman project as low-key as possible. More recently for The Fireman’s “Electric Arguments” CD and LP he’s been much more open about who The Fireman is (see this official site for example). But back in 1993 (for their first outing “Strawberries Ocean Ships Forest“), and in 1998 (for “Rushes“) he was very much incognito and uncredited.
In the UK both “Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest” and “Rushes” came out on the little-known Hydra label. (In the US “Strawberries Ocean Ships Forest” was licensed to Capitol Records to distribute). One small McCartney give-away in the fine print of both these albums and their spin off remixes and singles is that all the songs are copyright to Juggler Music – a veiled reference to the McCartney company MPL Communications and its logo?:
The Cover: This, like all The Fireman releases so far, is an interesting example of design. It’s a triple-fold cardboard “sleeve” which wraps around the disc and is held together by a custom-made red elastic band. Unusual. No designer is credited, but it seems that Norman Hathaway (who did the extensive artwork for the “Electric Arguments” project) was involved. The colours used throughout the design have common themes and elements taken from the “Rushes” CD and LP covers. The vinyl disc has custom labels:
I think Paul is having a bit of a laugh with that second label….;-)
The inner cover is very plain, being three panels (moving left to right):
Only 3000 copies were released worldwide….my copy (which I only just got via Ebay) is no. 2658.
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: