All You Need is Vinyl – The Beatles – The Singles Collection (2019) – A Review

I tried to resist, I truly did.

Any new Beatles music related item has a way of knocking at my brain until I mull it over again and again and then finally give in and purchase it. (Well, at least in most cases).

Anyway, last week a truly lovely box set of 22 vinyl singles was released called “The Beatles – The Singles Collection”. Instead of using strictly American or British sleeves for the records as has been the custom, this new set uses pictures sleeves lovingly reproduced from around the world which in itself is reason alone for collector’s to be intrigued.

But word came that the entire set was also newly mastered completely in analog straight from the original singles masters except for a few songs which don’t have an analog master still surviving or in the case of the 1990’s Beatles singles only have digital masters.

That tasty “analog” factoid my friends is the reason many a collector, me included, were really tempted to get this set. A new mastering in analog is rarely done and has the potential to be truly great.

Now let me preface this by saying I already own a great box set of The Beatles singles that was released in 1982 which sounds terrific. There was truly no NEED for me to buy this set. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s got brand new mastering but really another singles collection?

And don’t get me started on the price! This set’s retail list price is around $229 which is a lot of money for something that honestly most collector’s won’t even play much. It is a great looking set but really falls more into the memorabilia side of things for most people and I totally get that.

In fact, I did actually resist this set for quite a long while – for me anyway. I didn’t have it on pre-order and didn’t rush out to buy it last week. I only broke down in the last few days since I had quite a lot of credit at my local record store which made the price MUCH more attractive to me.

Let me also say that there has been a decidedly mixed reaction to this set online as well. Many collector’s have reported warped records, distorted sound and a general lack of quality control for the set.

One big time reviewer thought the set even sounded more digital than analog and he was the one who reported it was all analog as he got it from the mastering engineer himself!

Since I have a weird sense of curiosity I was dying to know for myself how this set sounds. And well, since I have a track record of giving into most things Beatles – here we are.

So after looking and listening to this set the past couple of days here’s what I’ve found:

Pros:

* The artwork throughout the set including the box and booklet is SUPERB! No one online has disputed the fact that these sleeves and labels which reproduce singles from around the world are truly magnificent.

Most of the sleeves look nearly perfect but there has been comment that the “We Can  Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” sleeve has some pixelization on it. It indeed does but I was relieved to see it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

Most everything looks great and each sleeve is made of sturdy cardboard and each single is tucked inside a nice protective paper sleeve.

* The sound of the discs was also a plus for me. These discs are definitely mastered “hot” and most of these songs jump right out of the speaker with a loudness level much like original pressings but with a clarity that’s missing from the few worn originals I personally own.

The 1982 Beatles singles set I own sounds great and this new set actually sounds a bit more aggressive yet more detailed at the same time. Luckily all the singles in my set are nearly dead quiet which is also a plus.

I’ve read online that some folks are having problems tracking these discs (skipping issues) and several folks have reported a lot of distortion as well.

I can say that luckily I didn’t have either issue but at times a couple of the singles were so hot sounding I thought they reached the limit just before distorting but overall I was very pleased by what I heard. I may in fact make a digital CD of the set to play more often as it’s a pain to switch singles all the time.

I guessing the thought with this set was to make the singles sound as close to the sound of the original UK singles as possible. For the most part I think they succeeded.

Some of the singles here sound just great and better than ever: “Love Me Do” (this sounds like the best version of the Ringo drumming take I’ve heard so far), “I Feel Fine”, “Paperback Writer” all sound just great to me.

Some of the singles still sound congested and murky – “Help” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” come to mind – but all of them sound like a different listening experience to me which is a good thing.

Nothing sounded bad to me but after a while I was a bit fatigued by the punchiness of the sound of the early singles but overall I’m very happy with the sound.

The Cons:

* While I didn’t have any skipping issues with these discs I did have six discs in the set that had some slight warping on them. They were not enough to mar the sound but I could see the needle go up and down like a roller coaster but they disc played fine.

Funny enough the worst warp was the “We Can  Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” disc which also had the worst sleeve in the set. Too bad as that was the number one record in the States the week I was born. Lol, maybe we’re just a little warped together.

* I also had two discs that had small blogs on them that I think must have been a glue like substance. Both discs with the issue played fine but had a thud at those spots. I was fortunate to finally be able to remove both spots thought that took some time and effort. Both discs now play thud free but that was a bit of a errr moment for me.

Overall/Conclusion:

So where does this all leave me. Actually overall I’m very pleased with the set. It sounds really nice on my system and now that all the discs are pop/thud free I’m pretty happy. I’m not liking the slight warps on a couple of discs but I’ve played them a couple of times each and they play fine so I’m good.

The sleeves are truly wonderful and it was a blast to play the set even though I was flipping over discs constantly. It reminded me of my long ago days spent on a small turntable pouring over 45’s so nostalgia wins again!

I can see why some people are upset and have returned the set. If they distorted or skipped I would have returned it myself. But they all sound fine so because I got a really good price on the set I’m pleased.

My rating would be:

Packaging: 10

Sound: 8

It’s too bad that at this price point this set sound have any production issues but welcome to 21st Century record buying! it’s become very common thus I limit my vinyl purchasing to Beatles or Monkees items that have unique or new mastering.

So there you have it! Feast your eyes above on this lovely set. As usual I’ve posted quite a few photos so folks can see what’s inside if they decide to take the leap and get the set. I must say though that I may have been lucky as I’ve heard others have worse issues.

I must say you’d have to be a super fan to want to buy this set but then again I’m sure that’s the target audience for this set.

As far as my box set, it looks great and sounds great so I’m happy. It’s a more aggressive sound than my 1982 box singles set but the detail it has and the punch make this a fun listening experience and that’s a really good thing!

That’s all for now.

See you next time!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Black Friday RSD 2019 – The Monkees “Christmas Party Plus!” and Paul McCartney’s “Home Tonight/In a Hurry”

Well, it’s been a bit since I’ve stepped back into this blog world but the day after stuffing myself at Thanksgiving seemed to be the perfect time to say hello.

And of course today is also Black Friday which also happens to be Record Store Day Black Friday so that’s REALLY something to celebrate.

The main Record Store Day takes place in April of every year but today’s little brother off-shoot also offers plenty of indie record store exclusives and for Beatles and Monkees fans it offers two really interesting goodies: a double 45 colored vinyl set by The Monkees called “Christmas Party Plus!” and a groovy picture disc 45 of two brand new Paul McCartney songs called “Home Tonight”/”In a Hurry”.

Luckily, I managed to stroll right into my local record store about ten minutes after they opened this morning and right away scored both discs!

Here’s what I found:

The Monkees “Christmas Party Plus!”:

Now if you’re going to go to the trouble of offering exclusive content for Record Store Day, Rhino Records (who owns The Monkees catalog) did it right!

This lovely colored vinyl double set comes in a nice and sturdy mini-Lp sleeve that looks just like the full album cover for last year’s Monkees release “Christmas Party”. I LOVE the mini sleeve and the green and red discs look and play superb (not a pop to be had)!

I reviewed that album last year and I must say it’s really grown into one of my favorite Monkees releases.

Disc 1 of this set this new plus edition includes  a new radio mix of  the song “Unwrap You At Christmas” which is making it’s first appearance on physical media, It was released online as a download last year but here sounds much better as it’s not as hot or compressed as the download version and is much easier on the ears.

I love this remix though truth be told it’s not dramatically different from the album version but fun nonetheless.

The flip side of Disc 1 contains a charming demo version of the song by Andy Partridge and features vocals by a Holly Partridge which I”m guessing must be his wife.

This demo is in nice sounding stereo and pretty much sounds like The Monkees version but is so good by itself that I may add it to my Christmas playlist as it’s really well done and a nice bonus to have even though there’s  not a Monkee in sight.

Disc 2 contains the superb “Riu Chiu” from The Monkees 1967 Christmas episode which feature acapella vocals form all four Monkees. This version doesn’t sound much different from the version on the vinyl Lp but is always fun to hear as this may be one of the best vocal performances  the group ever did.

The true highlight of this new Plus! edition is the inclusion (finally!) of the original 1976 mix of “Christmas is My Time of Year” which features Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork and produced by famed Monkees producer Chip Douglas.

This 1976 mix features drumming by Eddie Hoe who played on many 1967 Monkees tracks and while the drums are not as pronounced in the mix and the remix version of this which is available on the Target CD version of “Christmas Party” this 1976 sounds much more like a vintage Monkees track and is much superior to the remix.

I’m not sure if this 1976 mix is taken from master tape as it sounds a little less dynamic than the remix version (a likely reason Rhino has used the remix version) but it sounds really good and is much better than the old cassette bootleg version I own which is resson to celebrate.

All in all a great release and well worth tracking down one of the limited 5000 of this set that were pressed.

Paul McCartney – “Home Tonight””In a Hurry”

Well what can I say, two brand new Paul McCartney tracks on an exclusive picture disc – what’s not to love!

These two new tracks were supposedly recorded during the sessions for McCartney’s “Egypt Station” album which came out last year and were available last week as downloads.

Both songs are making their physical media debut on this 45 and surprisingly sound great on this disc and are a bit smoother sounding on vinyl than the download versions.

Picture discs are notorious for their less than stellar sound but this disc was really super quiet and though there was a trace of rumble before the music started for the most part both of these songs sound just great here and are well worth owning.

Honestly I love both of these songs but “In a Hurry” is currently my favorite of the two so far. It’s a shame these two tracks weren’t on the “Egypt Station”  album as they are much more enjoyable than say “Come On to Me” and “Fuh You” and would have made the album much stronger in their place.

These two new songs sound much more like vintage McCartney and less modern than the two songs I just mentioned which is probably why they didn’t make the album proper but they are light and breezy and melodic as hell which in my book is what I associate with McCartney’s best work and they are a joy to listen to and this lovely picture disc is a welcome release for them.

Well there you have it. Happy Black Friday shopping if you’re out and about in the crowds. If you’re a record fan and are lucky enough to have an independent record store in your area that participates in Record Store Day then you might want to try and track these two new groovy releases down.

Until next time be well and Happy Holidays!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Beatles Late October CD Roundup: “Abbey Road” 2 SHM-CD set and Paul McCartney “Hey Grandude!” Book on CD Edition

 

 

Okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I LOVE SHM-CD’s!

I know, I know, many out there in sanity land (the majority of people) think it’s crazy to buy these Japanese versions of CD’s that you can buy at any store in the U.S. but I swear they sound better.

I don’t know what’s going on – wishful thinking, psychosis or what – but sometimes when I buy these SHM-CD versions I’m surprised at just how smooth and clear they sound as compared to the regular CD versions.

This latest blog is the perfect example.

I just got the 2 SHM-CD version of The Beatles recent “Abbey Road” Deluxe 2 CD set with the first CD containing the 2019 remix and the second CD containing some choice outtakes from the sessions and i must say it’s impressive.

Not only does it sound great but as usual the Japanese version is made and packaged better than the standard CD issues which seem to me to be getting more cheaply made which leads to problems playing them as I have seen reported online.

This new SHM-CD set plays well and looks like much more care was taken in its production which alone makes the SHM-CD version worth tracking down in my humble opinion.

When I first sat down to listen to the set I surprised at how much better I liked the 2019 remix on this SHM-CD as compared to the standard CD. First off it didn’t seem quite as loud to me. For example when I played the remix disc in the big set (see my previous post of the 3 CD/Blu-Ray “Abbey Road” set) it sounded very pumped and in your face.

This new SHM-CD didn’t hit me in the same way. It sounds much more in line with the blu-ray from that big set which definitely sounds better than its CD counterpart.

I don’t do the technical waveform readings that I see online so I can only go by my ears but my ears tell me this new SHM-CD sounds better than the regular CD pressing for sure and certainly better than the 2019 remix CD disc from the big set.

Playing this new Japanese version has made me a much bigger fan of the remix as I feel I can take it in more and enjoy it more than the regular CD version. It feels a bit more relaxed to listen to and while a bit loud not quite as loud as the regular CD version.

I said a coupe of blogs ago when I reviewed the big “Abbey Road” set that this new 2019 remix was my least favorite of the recent Beatles album remixes but as time has gone on I think it’s now my favorite.

The 2019 remix isn’t a drastic remix but adds more clarity and I enjoy the way the background vocals pop out unexpectedly on certain songs and the small differences in the placement of instruments that it makes this album seem to come alive to me in a fresh way.

To me the original mix will always be the canon version but I truly can say that I love this new remix and would love to see a remix like this for both “Let it Be” and most certainly my favorite Beatles album “Revolver”.

I’m not always a fan of the remix phenomena but if they’re done as well as this disc then I’m excited to see more. I certainly hope these don’t replace the original mixes as they are a time capsule of their creation but these new mixes can be fun.

Besides my now triple dip into the new “Abbey Road” experience I also managed to get a hold of the new Book on CD for Paul McCartney’s new picture book “Hey Grandude!” I haven’t bitten the bullet and bought the actual book yet as I would rarely ever read it but I read online that there was a CD version read by McCartney himself with some new McCartney incidental music on it so I thought why not?

I didn’t see the CD version available stateside but it is readily available online from Amazon UK. If you’re a McCartney fan I’d say definitely try and track it down as it’s a lot of fun.

On first listen I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed playing the “Hey Grandude!” CD. It’s only about 11 minutes long but features McCartney doing an excellent job of reading and acting out his book along with some typically lovely McCartney guitar noodling.

Though I wouldn’t say it’s quite a full song the short guitar piece he does play is very melodic and enjoyable and sounds great. Besides any time I get to hear some new McCartney music is fine by me!

Well there you have it. A late October Beatles collecting update. For those of you out there who still enjoy physical media there’s a lot of Beatles goodies to feast on lately and these two gems should be on your list for sure if you decide to track them down.

There are the usual photos above so feast your eyes and enjoy.

Until next time be well  …. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”.

 

 

A Partridge Flies Solo – David Cassidy “The Bell Years 1972-74” 4-CD Set

Can I be honest here?

Growing up I was a huge fan of The Partridge Family (as I’ve stated many times before). To this day I still enjoy pulling out those old recordings with the lush vocals of both David Cassidy as well as the background singers. It was Class A, old school ’70’s pop music, the likes of which will probably never come again. Ahhh what could be better.

BUT, having said that, I was never really a fan of Cassidy’s solo work from that same time period all that much … until recently.

Back in the day I had his “Cherish” 45 which I always loved (it really could have been a Partridge Family track for sure) and also owned vinyl pressings of “Rock Me Baby” and “Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes”. But truth be told though they both kind of left me flat.

Where were the lush vocals? Why was Cassidy’s voice so much more raw? Why did his voice sound so, so .. different?

In my younger years I was all about pure Top Forty pop and didn’t really give these fine albums a chance. They were somewhat like the Partridge recordings but more rock oriented which Cassidy obviously wanted but as for me – meh.

So with David Cassidy’s untimely passing in late 2017 I decided to try his solo work once again. I bought these albums on CD (as well as his RCA work) and decided to give them a reexamination.

Boy am I glad I did! This time I was really impressed – they were actually pretty darn good. And Cassidy’s vocals though different from his Partridge persona were also mighty fine. Damn fine in fact.

This brings me to the latest reissue of David Cassidy’s solo work – “The Bell Years 1972-74” from Cherry Red Records in the UK.

It’s a four CD set and contains all of the Bell Records solo albums Cassidy recorded in his Partridge Family years and includes the following albums: “Cherish”, “Rock Me Baby”, “Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes” and “Cassidy Live!”.

This nifty set comes in a small cardboard case and all four CDs are represented in lovely mini-lp style cardboard sleeves that replicate the original vinyl pressings.

The real bonus for Cassidy fans are three bonus tracks from Bell 45’s – “All I Wanna Do is Touch You” (the flip-side of “Cherish”), and the 1974 single “If I Didn’t Care”/”Frozen Noses”. Both “All I Wanna Do is Touch You” and “Frozen Noses” are making their CD debut here and are enough to justify getting the set alone as they are truly fine performances.

If you’re a Partridge Family fan the “Cherish” album most certainly will be appealing as it’s basically a Partridge album done under Cassidy’s name. Same type of songs, same producer and same background singers.

It’s really on the “Rock Me Baby” and “Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes” albums where Cassidy changes his vocal approach to a more rock oriented and less polished sound. In my younger years that bothered me but now these alums sound fresh and fun and boy could Cassidy sing any style of music well.

Of all the albums in this set, it’s really the “Cassidy Live!” album that surprised me most. I never knew this album existed growing up and I was really thinking I might hate it. I’ve seen footage of Cassidy live in the ’70’s and it seemed to me that he sounded rushed and breathless and couldn’t be heard well over the din of screaming.

What a surprise when I finally popped this CD in that not only did it sound really nice, the best mastering of the four CDs in the set, but it was a truly fine live recording that really showcases how good Cassidy was as a live performer in his prime.

By keeping the track listing light on well known hits this live album comes across as a nice sampler of Cassidy’s solo work from the early ’70’s with songs like “It’s Preying on My Mind”, “Some Kind of Summer” and covers of “How Can I Be Sure” and “For What It’s Worth” really standing out and feature Cassidy as a truly talented rock performer.

As for the rest of the set, the mastering is decent though it sounds like it’s slightly tweaked versions of the CDs that were put out by Sony. They are a bit loud but I think they sound somewhat better than the earlier CD reissues of some of these albums by 7T’s Records (a division of Cherry Red Records).

As for the bonus tracks I can’t tell if “All I Wanna Do is Touch You” is a needledrop as it sounds like a mono mix like the original 45 but if it is it still sounds nice here. Both “If I Didn’t Care” and “Frozen Noses” though sound like they come from a tape source and in fact the booklet (above) shows a photo of a tape box for these songs so I’m guessing that’s the case.

For the price, if you are curious about exploring David Cassidy’s solo recordings and are still a fan of physical media and/or Cassidy then it’s well worth your time to look this set up.

It has a lovely small booklet that comes inside the box and the mini-lp’s sure do make it feel as though your stepping back in time – for me at least anyway.

I can see why I didn’t take to these albums in the ’70’s and why they didn’t sell as well as The Partridge Family albums. Cassidy was trying to stretch out and become his own performer leaving the pure pop behind somewhat.

Too bad I didn’t pay more attention at the time as these records are really quite good. Cassidy sings them so well and the material is mostly first rate as well.

Better late then never and it’s always fun for me to discover some “new” pop nuggets from the ’70’s as they sure are a much needed respite from the crazy fake news world we live in now.

Well that’s all for this blog from my side of the Web.

As usual you can catch some photos of this set (above) and until next time be well and enjoy the early Fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Abbey – More New Beatles “Abbey Road” Anniversary variations

 

Today is unofficially Beatles Day, at least as far as Beatles fans are concerned, as multiple versions of a new “Abbey Road” Anniversary reissue hit store shelves (and yes streaming services) around the world.

Yesterday I took a look at the king of all the new releases – a Deluxe multi-CD/Blu-Ray set – but since I can never leave well enough alone I thought I’d highlight a couple of the other variations that came out today and happened to make it to my overcrowded (and groaning) book shelves.

Beside the big box set there are the following variations of the new “Abbey Road” to consider if you want to buy the album in a physical format: a 1 lp vinyl version, a multi-disc vinyl version in a box, a picture disc vinyl version, a single CD version as well as a 2 CD version that contains an alternate version of the album made up of out-takes.

As you can see from the photos above, I chose to add the single vinyl version of the album to my collection as well as the nifty 2 CD collection.

If you’ve ever read this blog you know that “collectoritis” is a sickness i suffer from so it’s not that unusual for me to add multiple versions of these reissues to my collection as some of the variations also have variations in sound or edits of the material. I spoke of how much I enjoyed the big box set but these two new variations also offer something for the collector to savor.

For one, the new vinyl version is by far the best sounding version of the new 2019 remix of the album as it isn’t nearly as compressed (ie. loud) as the CD version which allows the listener, especially older listeners, a chance to really enjoy the new remix more without the fatiguing pound of compression that somewhat plagues the CD version.

As I said yesterday the new box set also contains this lovely less compressed version but alas the Blu-Ray disc which contains it has some playback issues (at least on my copy) that mar the listening experience thus one of the vinyl versions is the way to go if you prefer to hear this lovely new remix with more dynamics.

(Note: As I write this I am listening to the new remix on the new 2 CD version at a lower volume and it’s charms are more apparent then they seemed yesterday. I am really starting to enjoy the new things that pop out like the end of “Come Together” with Lennon’s vocal ad-libs not present on the original mix and the great backing vocals on “Oh! Darling”. I doubt the CD in this set is mastered lower than the one in the big set but today I must be paying it lower as it sounds quite good. The vinyl just sounds better.)

The 2 CD set also offers the nice alternate version of the “Abbey Road” album which though the box set also contains these same out-takes they aren’t in the order of the album as on this set thus it’s a really nice listen for those who want to hear the album in a complete alternate form.

I haven’t delved into the 2 CD set yet so while I can’t say if it contains any differences in edits or sound level I wouldn’t be surprised if it did as a similar 2 CD version of the recent “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” had different levels in sound with extra dialogue present that wasn’t on the Deluxe box set.

So for all of you out there who are just finding out about this new release or are considering buying/listening to it, here are two more alternatives for you to ponder.

Of course for all the freaks out there like me out there you better close your eyes and open up your wallet (yikes) as there are a  lot of cool alternatives if you decide to add this new version of “Abbey Road” to your collection.

Happy 50th dear old Abbey now off for some intense listening, so glad it’s Friday.

Enjoy the photos above and until next time be well and have a great (Beatles) weekend!

 

 

 

FIRST LOOK – The Beatles “Abbey Road” Anniversary CD/Blu-Ray Box Set (A Review)

 

 

Well here we are, another beautiful Fall day filled with sunshine, warmth … and box sets. Box sets? Yes, Beatles box sets to be precise. The Beatles “Abbey Road” Anniversary CD/Bu-Ray box set to be exactly exact.

Today I got a hold of this sumptuous looking (and sounding) new Beatles anniversary box set and I thought I’d share some of my initial thoughts as I explore its contents. The actual release date is tomorrow, September 27th, but since this gem has found its way into my sweaty little hands today, here we go.

Like the other Beatles Deluxe box sets (“Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The BEATLES (White Album)”) this new 3 CD/1 Blu-Ray box set was put together by Giles Martin (son of original Beatles producer George Martin) and is full of some really wonderful behind the scenes snapshots of The Beatles working circa 1969.

This Deluxe CD set not only features a complete new 2019 remix of The Beatles 1969 swan song album “Abbey Road” it also features two CDs filled with prime out-takes and demos from the albums recording sessions as well as a Blu-Ray disc which contains surround sound mixes in Dolby Atmos and 5.1 surround and Hi-Res stereo as well.

Got that?

As I’m settling into some listening, here’s what I’ve found so far:

The 2019 Remix

I’ve just skimmed it but so far what I’ve heard I’ve enjoyed. As with the other new remixes that have come out in the past few years I’ll have to see how much I actually play it in the future but it is enjoyable.

Given my aging ears I’d say that my main criticism of this new mix is like Giles Martin’s remix of “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” it’s a tad bit too loud for my tastes but played at a low volume it’s interesting. Not drastically different from the original mix but nice.

I’d say of the three new remixes of Beatles albums this one is my least favorite but enjoyable nonetheless.

The bass is pumped up a bit too much but as I’m sure this is aimed at a newer listening audience it does its job well. Too bad there isn’t a new remaster of the original mix as well but as long as there are some cool out-takes I’m happy.

The Out-Takes (Disc 2 and 3)

As with all these Beatles Deluxe box sets this is the true pay dirt for me! I love to hear how songs progressed in the studio so any glimpse into the recording process is what makes these sets a must buy – for me.

After listening to the pumped up 2019 remix of the main album it’s a joy to hear these out-takes and demos in all their sonic glory. There seems to be no messing about with compression so the out-takes discs are much easier on the ears and a pleasure to explore.

There’s a lot of studio chatter on these discs (which I absolutely LOVE!) and what struck me most was the light hearted banter especially from Lennon which reminded me of listening to Beatles studio out-takes from the 1963/64 era.

Highlights for me so far are the early mix of the long medley on Side 2 (not pristine sound but sounding MUCH better than bootleg versions I own), McCartney demos of two songs he gave away – “Come and Get It” (an original 1969 mix that sounds superb!) and “Goodbye” – plus a great early version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and a truly beautiful strings only version of George Harrison’s “Something” that is one of the highlights of all the Deluxe box sets – really wonderful.

Blu-Ray Audio Disc

I haven’t really explored the Blu-Ray disc that much but I will say that if I feel like hearing the new remix I would probably reach for this disc as listening to it on my small surround sound set-up was a bit easier on the ears.

I did however experience some issues while trying to play the disc on my older Sony Blu-Ray player. When I got to the later songs they tended to skip here and there which was a bit annoying as one would imagine.

I also have a newer Oppo Blu-Ray player which played it fine but beware in case you have an older player that may have the same issues.

I’m an old school two speaker stereo geek anyway so as far as the surround sound I probably won’t play it much but what I heard did sound pretty good. I’ll have to explore this Blu-Ray disc more later after I’ve played the out-takes discs a few more times.

There is also a terrific hardback book included with the CD set that’s filled with great photos and information and it’s formatted so much better than last years While Album set – you can actually hold this without feeling the blood rush from your hands from the weight and size of it.

Conclusion

What can I say, this new set is truly a Beatles fans dream come true. While it didn’t include as many out-takes as the previous sets what is here is choice and on first listen may actually be one of my favorite sets of out-takes to listen to and enjoy.

I’ve really had fun listening so far but time will tell how much I go back to this set in the future. I have a feeling at least Discs 2 and 3 will get plenty of airtime at my house that’s for sure.

Well there you have it. Just a quick over view of a really, really fine new Beatles box set that fits in quite nicely to my Beatles collection.

If you’re a fan of the group I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed. If you have any of the other sets I’m sure you know how nice these sets are and how much fun they are to go back to over and over again.

As usual above I’ve posted quite a few photos of the set so folks can get a sense of what’s inside. I also got a nice lithograph free with the set I purchased today which you can also see above.

Until next time be well and … here it is, come and get it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine All the People … Watching TV? – “John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky” Blu-Ray (A Review)

I must say this has been an interesting (and expensive!) year for Beatles and solo Beatles fans and collectors alike.

Not only did we get great archive releases from Paul McCartney last Fall (“Wild Life” deluxe box set, “Red Rose Speedway” deluxe box set) there was also a sweet multi-disc set from The Beatles (50th anniversary of the “White Album”) released last November and coming next week is a 50th anniversary multi-disc set of The Beatles swan song album “Abbey Road” which is sure to be a high point in this year of major Beatles booty.

Not to be outdone, the Lennon camp has also jumped into the fray and issued a superb box set themselves also last October entitled “Imagine -The Ultimate Collection”.

This truly wonderful collection features 4 CDs plus 2 Blu-Ray discs containing new stereo and 5.1 remixes of the entire album as well as out-takes and alternates from Lennon’s “Imagine” album sessions. It’s basically an in-depth audio study of  how the “Imagine”  album was made and contains a treasure trove of unreleased and interesting audio glimpses into Lennon’s recording process.

Released at the same time last Fall was a DVD/Blu-Ray disc containing two documentaries about those same sessions called “Imagine/Gimme Some Truth”.

This DVD or Blu-Ray featured the film “Imagine” that Lennon and Ono made in 1971 featuring lots of footage of the “Imagine” recording sessions set to music (basically a video album) as well as a later made documentary called “Gimme Some Truth” that featured a more in-depth look at the album with interviews and lots of footage of the “Imagine” sessions.

Fast forward to this past September 13 and the release of a new documentary entitled “John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky” which is available on both DVD and Blu-Ray.

This enticing documentary also about about the recording of the “Imagine” album was originally broadcast on television in November 2018 and has now finally made its way to home video. I didn’t have a chance to see the film last fall so I was curious to see how it stacked up to the other two films about “Imagine” which I do own and love.

First off, this new documentary has new unseen footage throughout from the “Imagine” sessions which alone makes it a must see for Lennon fans. Of course seeing Lennon and fellow ex- Beatle George Harrison work closely in the studio never gets old – at least for me anyway.

After watching the film what sold me on “John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky” the most were the fascinating new interviews it contains which made the first half of this film a really fun presentation.

Lennon’s oldest son Julian Lennon in particular comes across as really grounded and insightful but the interviews with people I’d never heard speak about these sessions before including photographer David Bailey and personal assistant Dan Richter were also really interesting and gave a much richer insight into Lennon and Ono at the time these sessions occurred.

I may be experiencing a bit of “Imagine” burn-out from having lived with these sessions a lot in the past year as I really enjoyed the first half of the film enormously but towards the end I ended up wishing for more studio footage and less talking heads.

I think the film makes a good point about Ono’s involvement in the writing and recording of the album but at times in the second half of the film it seemed a little bit heavy handed in Ono’s direction but enjoyable nonetheless.

Luckily the bonus features on this disc which include “How Do You Sleep? (Takes 5 &6 Raw Studio Mix)”, “Oh My Love (Raw Studio Mix)” and “Oh, Yoko! (Bahamas, 1969)” bring more music back into the mix again which brings this disc back up a notch. These raw studio mixes contained here (along with the session footage) are terrific and sound and look amazing.

While “John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky” may not be a must see it’s certainly entertaining and well worth seeking out if you want some insight into Lennon’s frame of mind as he works in the recording studio post-Beatles.

All in all it’s a quite good film and if your a Lennon fan you may want to buy it but if you already own the “Imagine/Gimme Some Truth” docs from last year this may be something you’d want to track down somewhere online vs buying it to own.

As usual above I’ve posted some photos of the blu-ray disc I got last week so folks can see what they’d get if they decide to purchase the disc.

I’m so glad The Beatles as a group and solo are now finally opening up their vaults but I can feel the groan from my wallet ever time I see a new release in the pipeline.

Fortunately they’ve all been worth it up until now. Next up “Abbey Road”!!!

Well, that’s all for now (folks).

Until next time … get yourself some truth and be well.