Paul McCartney “Pipes of Peace” on CD – The First (1983) and The Last (2017)

October 1983. I know it was a long time ago but do any of you out there who were alive at the time remember what you were doing?

I for one was in my senior year in high school and as was typical of me then, and now quite frankly, I was eagerly awaiting the release of a brand new Paul McCartney album which was to be released on October 17, 1983.

That album, called “Pipes of Peace”, was the sequel to his very successful and acclaimed album “Tug of War” from 1982 and I was chomping at the bit to hear it.

I already loved and owned the first single from the album, “Say Say Say” the duet with Micheal Jackson, and knew that the upcoming “Pipes of Peace” was pretty much recorded at the same sessions as “Tug of War” and was also produced by George Martin.

Enough said, I’m in, take my money I remember feeling as the release date approached. Of course that’s usually my attitude toward new McCartney releases it was just more heightened at that time and that age.

Now I also distinctly remember being quite surprised by both the critical and commercial  reception that greeted “Pipes of Peace” which was not what  I was expecting and seemed to come out of nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong I loved the album, still do in fact, but the critics were less than kind to the album in many of the reviews that I read and I was quite shocked when the album stalled at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 200 albums after entering at 16 the week before – truly weird.

The single “Say Say Say” was an out and out smash hitting number one for several weeks so it was truly strange to see the album kind of not tank really but not do as well as I had expected.

To this day a lot of McCartney fans are lukewarm at best to this album but from day one I’ve always loved it. Granted the “Tug of War” album is a much stronger collection of songs but I’ve always enjoyed this lighter sounding sequel and it never fails to put me in a calmer peace of mind whenever I play it.

“Pipes of Peace” holds many happy memories for me and remains one of my my all-time favorite McCartney albums. In fact the title song as well as “Keep Under Cover”, “So Bad” and especially “Through Our Love” are songs I return to frequently and have enjoyed quite often throughout the years.

In honor of this lovely album I thought I would post some photos of the first CD issue of the album from the UK from 1983 as well as the last CD issue, I’m guessing anyway, from 2017 on Capitol Records which contains the latest remaster of the album from the Paul McCartney Archive Collection.

I must say both CDs sound quite good but I may give the slight edge to the newer remaster as it has a bit more punch than the original. The original CD is definitely warmer and has great acoustics but sounds slightly softer and less detailed than the remaster.

Both are quite good and every time I play the Made in Japan original UK CD it really takes me back in time as that’s how I remember the album sounding in 1983.

Can it really be over thirty-seven years ago, yikes!

As usual take a gander above at the two CD issues as well as a bonus ad I cut out from some magazine at the time (Rolling Stone magazine most likely) and if you’ve never heard the “Pipes of Peace” album you should definitely check it out as it’s stood the test of time.

(Note: Just for grins I also added a couple of photos of the first US CD issue of the album on Columbia Records – one made in Japan and one made in the US. Both of these CDs sound pretty much the same as the UK first issue but may sound even a tad bit better.)

Anyway, enjoy this quick peak at Paul McCartney’s “Pipes of Peace” and until next time be well and more of my musings coming soon …

 

 

 

 

 

Cheer Up Sleepy Jean – Monkees CD Variations (Part 1)

Well, it’s been a bit since I stepped into the virtual word of blogs but as we near the end of very hot and steamy July (in these parts anyway) I thought it might be a good time to drop back in and say hello.

The best way to survive the heat , for me at least, is to try and find a cool place and listen to some music. And what better music to listen to then some older music, some 1960’s music.

Fans of classic ’60’s pop/rock are in luck as today I have The Monkees on my mind so I thought it might be fun to take a look at some variations of Monkees CDs that have managed to make their way into my collection.

The two CDs I’m highlighting today are a 1987 German import CD of the group’s classic second album “More of the Monkees” as well as a copy of the 1994 Rhino Records CD version of their fifth long player “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” that happens to be a BMG Record Club version.

First up, “More of the Monkees”:

I found this groovy imported version of the 1987 Arista Records CD sometime last year and was immediately struck by the unusual cover. Let me back-track a bit though for a second.

In 1987 Arista Records, who at that time owned The Monkees music catalog, had decided to release some of The Monkees albums on CD for the first time after having licensing The Monkees catalog to Rhino Records who had reissued the group’s catalog very successfully on vinyl in 1985 and 1986.

The Arista version of “More of the Monkees” holds a special place for Monkees collector’s as several songs on this CD were remixed from the multi-track masters thus creating unique versions of some of the songs from this album.

This Arista CD is the only place to find nifty remixes of the following songs: “She”, “Mary, Mary”, “Hold on Girl”, “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, “The Kind of Girl I  Could Love”, “The Day We Fall in Love” and “Sometime on the Morning”.

Many of The Monkees original master tapes were still MIA at the time so Arista remixed these songs to give the CD version of the album a sonic boost.

In 1994 when Rhino Records took control of the group’s catalog these remixes were replaced by the original mixes thus this Arista CD is a must have for fans of the group as these remixes sound really nice and have various length and vocal differences that are fun to hear.

As I said earlier the truly unique thing about this German version of the Arista CD is the cover with the special price banner that wraps around the CD booklet. This CD was available in the States but lacked this groovy wrap around.

Small difference I know but I’ve never seen this CD version before so I thought it might be fun to share it here.

Next up is “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees”:

In 1994 after Rhino Records won control of The Monkees catalog they began reissuing all of their albums on CD along with some choice bonus tracks.

This CD issue of the album included some terrific outtakes including the superb early version of “The Girl I Left Behind Me” (one of my favorite all-time Monkees alternate takes) as well as shirt and goofy Peter Tork spoken ditty “Alvin” and the notorious “Lady’s Baby”  also by Peter Tork which was worked on so much that Tork spent a fortune recording it only to have it rescinded to the vault.

In 2010 this terrific 1994 CD was expanded to a superb deluxe 3 CD set by Rhino Records with a treasure trove of previously unreleased gems from the 1967/68 sessions for the album.

Truth be told though that as time goes by I find that I prefer the 1994/95 mastering for the original Monkees albums on these first Rhino Records issued CDs. They’re easier on the ears and these CDs also contain unique mixes of some of the bonus tracks that were replaced by other mixes on subsequent reissues.

The only unique thing about the CD version “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” here today is that it’s a copy form the BMG Music Club which I happened to find in the used bin sometime last year.

All of my copies of the 1994/95 Rhino CDs were bought in stores when they originally came out so I had never run across a BMG copy before thus it landed here lol (see photos above).

For anyone new to Monkees collecting their is something unique mix wise in almost every CD version of their albums that were released on both Arista and Rhino Records so it’s worth the time trying to track them down if you can and have the interest.

As usual you can take a gander at these CDs above. I think I’m going to take some time in front of a fan and a stereo ad give these bad boys a spin.

That’s all for now! Until next time be safe and well and enjoy your late summer.

 

 

 

 

“Up to Date” – A Partridge Cartridge and Its CD Siblings

Nothing says the 1970’s like 8-track tapes.

I mean really. Not that they were the best sounding medium but in the 1970’s 8-tracks were everywhere.

At the time I thought they were pretty cool, you could bring your favorite albums with you in the car! Ahhh the days before CDs and streaming.

So why all this talk of 8-tracks? Well, you see. I happen to have just come into my possession a super groovy 8-track tape form 1971 and thought I’d share it here.  The tape in question, “Up to Date” by The Partridge Family, is one of my all-time favorite albums from the 1970s so what better way to remember it than to acquire the 8-track version.

I have one other Partridge cartridge (8-track lol) but it doesn’t come in the cool blue old-style Bell Records logo cardboard case that’s on this tape. Small thing I know but that’s what’s fun about collecting. (Err, trust me, you have to be a collector).

Most of The Partridge Family records and tapes I own have the then current style Bell Records loco but I’ve been seeing quite a few Partridge Family records online with this old style ’60’s Bell logo so I was quite surprised and delighted to find it on this tape.

Now of course I no longer have an 8-track player (yet!) but the allure of the past bit me so voila here it is.

I have to say that of all The Partridge Family recordings this particular album, along with “Sound Magazine”, is probably my favorite by the group.

The wistfulness of songs like “Morning Rider on the Road” and “I’ll Leave Myself a Little Time” plus the pop perfection of “I’ll Meet You Halfway”, “There’s No Doubt in My Mind”, “You Are Always on My Mind”, “She’d Rather Have the Rain” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” make this album one of the best collections put out under the Partridge banner.

Even though Cassidy’s silken voice was still being sped up a tad on this album, the last album producer Wes Farrell applied this technique to to make Cassidy sound younger, the songs are so strong that it remains a true pop gem from the early seventies that still holds up to this day.

I also thought I’d share the various CD pressings of this fine album as well – see above.

The first CD issue from 1992 on the Razor & Tie label is by far the best digital sounding version of this album. Mastered by Bill Inglot, this “Up to Date” CD stays very true ot the vinyl version of the album and is very easy on the ears.

I’ve also included the later Buddha Records/Sony reissue CD which sounds okay but is mastered a tad bit loud for my tastes. And even more recent reissue of the album, coupled with the first Partridge platter “The Partridge Family Album”, is even louder still which is a shame as it’s nice to have it on one CD with along with the first album.

It doesn’t take much looking to find the Razor & Tie CD of “Up to Date” but if you’re a fan of this album then it’s worth the hunt as the CD sounds pretty darn good. Maybe not quite as good as the best vinyl pressing but close enough to be one of the best options out there for this collection.

As usual check out my photos above so you can get a glimpse of the groovy 8-track a well as the CDs.

Well that’s all for now. Pardon me as I take a stroll back in time to my plush shag carpet and rest a while on my curved orange cough while I sip a Fresca.

Until next time be well and … Have a nice day!!!

 

 

 

Monkees Overseas – My Recent Monkee Vinyl Discoveries from Germany and Japan

What a long strange trip it’s been so far. This year will certainly go down as one of the most unusual and scary years in recent memory.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here but today I am back to share some recent (and somewhat obscure) vinyl pressings I’ve somehow managed to discover even in the midst of all this Covid madness and unrest in the world.

The one thing that represents normality to me is music so here are some groovy new Monkees vinyl pressings I’ve added to my stash.

Funny enough I rarely run across original Monkees pressings from overseas but in this last month I’ve come across two lovely Japanese vinyl pressings and one German pressing – “The Monkees” and “More of The Monkees” (both from Japan) and “Instant Replay” (Germany), all stereo.

Since Covid-19 has really limited my in person shopping all three of these gems were online purchases and all were had for very reasonable prices seeing as they are all in excellent shape and sound terrific.

The first album I stumbled upon was an original 1969 German pressing of  “Instant Replay”. The listing said it was a UK copy but I could tell from the photos it was from Germany and looked to be in great shape.

Sure enough when it arrived it was indeed a lovely German first issue that to my surprise played super quiet and just sounded amazing. I have other German pressings of Monkees albums that sound good but a bit muted but this beauty sounds every bit as good and dare I say it better than my original U.S. Colgems pressings.

Overseas pressings are usually taken from dubs of the U.S. masters thus they tend to sound a bit less lively than the original U.S pressings but that’s not the case here.

Original Colgems U.S pressings tend to be noisy and have some sibilant issues which make some songs sound screechy but this German copy is in nearly unplayed condition and everything sounded crisp and clean and very wide open.

Next up I stumbled upon two Japanese pressings from another online seller, one an original 1967 RCA pressing of “More of The Monkees” and the other and 1970’s pressing of “The Monkees”  on Bell Records.

My experience with Japanese pressings is mainly the 1980’s reissues on Arista Records which I gather didn’t come from the best sources as they don’t sound great. Not bad but not great.

I was really curious to see how these earlier pressings sounded and to my surprise I’d say that this copy of “The Monkees”  is probably the best vinyl pressing I’ve ever heard with “More of The Monkees” not far behind.

I take one point off from the sound of “More of The Monkees” as two songs have been rearranged in the playing order (“I’m a Believer” and “She”) and weirdly enough both songs sound quieter and a bit muted whereas the rest of the album just blooms open like a flower with great separation and terrific sound.

It’s amazing how much better these earlier Japanese pressings sound as compared to the 1980’s Arista Records versions. These are so close to the original U.S. Colgems sound wise and with the improvement in pressing quality they just may be the way to go if you want to hear these albums on vinyl.

All three albums are not only quite impressive sonically but the covers are pretty nice as well.

The German “Instant Replay” has a nice laminated cover which really makes the crazy colors pop on the front cover and both of the Japanese covers are made from nice thick paper stock with “More of The Monkees” being exceptionally thick as well as textured to boot.

Plus “The Monkees” pressing has a completely different cover to the more familiar U.S. pressing and also includes some crazy artwork on the inner sleeve which is a real treat (see above).

All in all three great foreign pressing discoveries and much better sounding than UK Monkees pressings which I see more of but pale in comparison sound wise to these gems.

As usual take a gander above at these three beauties and if you’re a fan of vinyl and a Monkees fan it might be worth your while to try and track down some of these foreign pressings as they might just surprise you with how good the sound.

Until next time be well and see you soon!

 

7a Records Continues Its Winning Streak with “Micky Dolenz – Live in Japan” – a new CD/DVD Set

 

These past few weeks may seem like a strange time to celebrate live music what with live performances being restricted due to Covid-19 but for Monkees fans it’s actually been quite a good time to celebrate the groups live concert legacy.

The excellent “The Monkees Live – The Mike and Micky Show” CD, which is perhaps the most enjoyable recording of a Monkees live concert, was released just a few weeks ago as the Pandemic began to take hold in the U.S. and features superb live recordings from the recent 2019 Monkees tour featuring Mike Nesmith and Micky Dolenz.

Now in the past week or so a new CD/DVD set from 7a Records entitled “Micky Dolenz – Live in Japan” has been released and is beginning to make its way into mailboxes and store shelves around the world. As luck would have it it also just happened to have made its way into my mailbox and my hot little hands as well.

Recorded in 1982, “Micky Dolenz – Live in Japan” documents one of Dolenz’ few excursions into live performance for what turned out to be the better part of a decade. You see Dolenz pretty much left the performing side of show business behind in the late 1970s and concentrated on producing and directing in the UK after a brief stint performing with Davy Jones in the play “The Point” in 1977.

Due to an unexpected breakout of Monkeemania in Japan in 1980/81 Dolenz, along with Davy Jones and Peter Tork, toured Japan as a solo artist and gave a series of well received concerts to quite enthusiastic audiences.

Until now the performances documented on this CD were relatively scarce, I believe they might have been released previously in Japan, but I have never seen or heard them so I was quite curious to see how Dolenz fared as performer outside the confines of his Monkees persona.

As it turns out he fared quite well. After a few days with this lovely new set here are some of my thoughts on its contents:

The CD:

First off the sound of the CD is really nice. The vocal mix at times is a bit low but overall it’s a very impressive presentation. It definitely sounds as though 7a had access to a good analog master as the songs have nice clean and punchy bass as well as crisp guitars and drums without sounding sterile or flat.

It’s so nice to hear Dolenz sing this material in the early eighties as he hadn’t been performing live much at the time and his vocal work sounds very close to the original Monkees recordings but with an extra bit of energy.

What’s especially appealing is hearing really solid live versions of rarely performed and deep cut Monkees tracks like “Zor and Zam” and “Pillow Time” as well as Dolenz sung Nesmith tunes like “Sunny Girlfriend” and “You Just May Be the One” which are all highlights of the set.

It should also be noted that Dolenz does some really nice vocal turns on “I Wanna Be Free” (the slower version) and “Shades of Gray” neither of which he sang the lead vocals on as they were originally tackled by Davy Jones.

Another highlight of this set is Dolenz vocal work on “Pleasant Valley Sunday” in which he terrifically recreates all his passionate screams and howls near the end of the song – a really super performance.

Like 7a’s previous “Davy Jones Live in Japan” set this new one also contains some really nice and obscure studio tracks that were cut by Dolenz in the time frame of the 1982 Japan concerts.

I wasn’t really too familiar with some of the bonus tracks but really enjoyed hearing “I’m Your Man” (in two different versions no less) as well as discovering “Tomorrow” from the stage production of Bugsy Malone which Dolenz also directed.

“Tomorrow” is a really nice atmospheric tune that sounds very much like a George Harrison track from the same period. It’s too bad Dolenz couldn’t get his solo music career off the ground at the time as his voice was and still is in top shape and he sounded terrific.

The DVD:

Also like 7a’s Jones set this new collection features the entire show on DVD. While the video quality is only decent, not Hi Res by any means, it certainly is very enjoyable and really fun to see Dolenz almost manic stage presence in this 1982 concert.

The most disappointing thing about the DVD is that after hearing the truly lovely sound on the CD the DVD is a the step down in sound quality. While not horrible the DVD is way more murky and flat sounding as compared to the CD. Again not terrible just disappointing as I listened to the CD first.

Fortunately the CD contains a fully sung Dolenz version of “I Wanna Be Free” as the DVD performance of this song features someone from the audience singing along with Dolenz which kind of works visually but as an audio recording not so much.

I’m guessing the CD is from different shows as maybe Dolenz tried the audience participation just for the cameras but having a different version on the DVD is entertaining and different.

Nit picking aside the DVD is a joy to watch and it along with the CD really makes this set a must buy for any Monkees or Micky Dolenz fans out there.

Conclusion:

Throw in a very through and informative booklet and nice fold out cover and you have one one heck of a nice collection – a real winner in my opinion.

7a Records has been on quite the impressive winning streak of excellent Monkees related releases and this fine set is an impressive addition to their now growing catalog.

As I’ve said before I am truly amazed that we are seeing ANY of this material let alone the treasure trove of Monkees related material that 7a has been able to dig up so far and one can only hope that they keep digging and find some more Monkee related manna to release in the future.

It’s so nice to have a quality look at some of the solo work from at least three Monkees (Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith) as it gives a more well rounded view of the group members as performers and I think that had 7a not done these sets then they would be lost to time.

Anyway it s a really super collection and if you can track one down then by all means do and enjoy!

As usual  I’ve posted some nice photos of the new “Micky Dolenz – Live in Japan” above.

Until next time be safe and well and see you around the Net.

 

 

 

 

1972: Partridge School – The Partridge Family “Notebook” Album

With all the talk lately of virtual school due to the current Coronavirus Pandemic my mind has been drawn back to my years of early education.

I can’t imagine having to take classes via the Internet. I would just hate having to be home while also having to manage classes as well as not being able to go anywhere. As a young kid that must be really tough.

School to me, especially grade school, means the 1970’s, pencils, books, book covers, lunch money and notebooks.

Ahhh, notebooks – that’s the key word. I remember many a notebook in my day, all of them filled with doodles on every margin and yes with some actual school work mixed in of course.

Today, since everything reminds me of music, I thought it would be fun to turn the way back machine dial to 1972 and not only revisit my early grammar school days but highlight the sixth album by The Partridge Family called appropriately enough “The Partridge Family Notebook”.

By the time “The Partridge Family Notebook” landed onto store shelves in the fall of 1972, the television show The Partridge Family was in the first half of its third season on air and while the show’s main heartthrob David Cassidy was still melting hearts around the world a bit of Partridge fatigue had begun to settle in with record buyers.

This sixth Partridge album was the first Partridge album not to go gold (sales of 500,000 copies) and produced the final Top Forty Partridge hit single the superb “Looking Through the Eyes of Love” (#39).

While “The Partridge Family Notebook” landing at #41 on the Billboard Top 200 charts wasn’t that bad for a fictitious television pop group the previous five Partridge Family albums had all sold amazingly well with the first four (“The Partridge Family Album”, “Up to Date“, “Sound Magazine”, “The Partridge Family Christmas Card”) selling over a million copies each.

With the previous two albums (“Shopping Bag” and “The Partridge Family At Home With Their Greatest Hits”) each only selling 500,000 copies obviously the Partridge train was begging to slow down by the fall of 1972.

By this time David Cassidy had also began to release solo albums and singles so there was definitely a glut of product out there with Cassidy’s smooth vocals front which I’m sure caused the beginning of overexposure.

Even though this sixth Partridge album was greeted with a more lukewarm commercial reception than its predecessors I think that it’s actually a pretty decent collection of songs.

At the time of the album’s release I felt that “The Partridge Family Notebook” was a bit of a retread of past Partridge material and while I enjoyed it I thought it wasn’t nearly as strong as the first three Partridge albums which I truly loved.

I must say time has been kinder to this album as I now really enjoy it and rate it as one of my favorite Partridge albums. Songs like “Storybook Love”, “Together We’re Better”, the first single “Looking Through the Eyes of Love”, “Love May Be the Answer” and “Take Good Care of Her” all rank as some of my favorite Partridge moments.

Fans of The Partridge Family TV show I’m sure are very familiar with most of the songs on this album as most of them were featured heavily in the third and fourth seasons of the show.

I’m guessing that Bell Records, the label that released Partridge Family music, must have been expecting bigger sales as “The Partridge Family Notebook” is by far one of the easiest Partridge platters to still be found sealed as the album flooded the cut-out bins in stores throughout the remainder of the 1970’s.

Nonetheless it’s still a fine pop album and one of my favorite albums to reach for in times of crisis such as the past few weeks have brought with all of the Coronavirus uncertainty.

Above I’ve shared a few photos of my “The Partridge Family Notebook” copies that I own on vinyl and CD. This past year in fact I managed to track down the really fun alternate cover of the album that was released in Germany which was also used for the CD issues of the album.

The German vinyl copy also sounds really good but is not quite as bright and clean sounding as the regular US Bell pressing which I also happen to own in near mint condition in the shrink wrap (notice the cut-out mark on the lower right corner).

As for the CD versions I prefer the original Arista CD that even though is mastered a tad bit to loud is still better sounding than the later 7T’s label reissue which is louder even still.

Whatever format you may find this album in give it a listen as it’s filled with a lot of pure pop pleasure that only seems to grow sweeter with time. That may be age speaking but whatever it’s still a good listen.

Well, that’s all for today.  As usual I hope all of you are well out there and remember to stay safe and be courteous of others!

Until next time go spin some music.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Don’t We Chew it in the Road? – Beatles Chu-Bop Bubblegum Mini-Albums

Well, you never know what you may find when you’re cleaning out closets, at least at my house! Today I stumbled upon something I bought a long, long time ago and what seems like oh so far away.

Let me take you back a bit.

The time happened to be September 1982. I was 16 years old and I was just beginning my junior year of high school. I’m not saying I can remember things from that year clearly anymore but I can remember things related to music.

Of course I was a major Beatles fan (shocker I know to readers of this blog) and I not only loved collecting their recordings on 45 and LP but I did have a thing for all things Beatles – dolls, lunch boxes, games … and bubble gum.

Yes I do have a lot of the Beatles bubble gum cards from the 1960’s but there was also some current bubble gum out at the time that featured The Beatles as well. They were called Chu-Bops and featured album artwork from various classic rock acts with little pink bubble gum records inside.

Now I certainly don’t remember where I saw that these were out. They were probably mentioned in Beatlefan (a fan magazine I subscribed to at the time) or maybe I saw them in stores. It’s so long ago I just don’t remember.

I do however remember ordering a complete set from God knows where and to this day i still have that complete set of 16 Beatles Chu-Bop albums still sealed in their original mailing envelope (postmarked September 3, 1982 by the way).

Honestly I thought I had gotten rid of them years ago but I was surprised to find the complete set in a box at the bottom of a stack of boxes in a closet.

Opening up that package really took me back in time and or course the sweet smell of unchewed bubble gum came wafting out at me as I took the set out to peruse the contents.

I must say the artwork is very well done on these and reproduced very nicely. I can’t remember the other artists albums that were made into Chu-Bops at the time but it would have been The Beatles I was mainly interested in so I’m sure these were all the ones I would have bought.

Oddly enough the 16 Beatles albums in this set represent a majority of The Beatles Capitol albums though not all of them. Included was then current compilation album “Reel Music” but not “The Beatles Second Album” or “The Beatles Story” – strange.

One of the albums, “Revolver”, had come undone at the side and the rock solid piece of pink vinyl shaped gum popped out in all its stale glory. I’m amazed, or scared, that after over 38 years the gum still smells sweet as ever though I wouldn’t dare try to chew it.

Nonetheless they were a joy to find and even though they’re stiff as boards and some a bit wavy they’re all like they were the day you would have seen them in a retail store.

Who knows what I intended to do with them? Knowing me I never intended to chew them but honestly I had forgotten I even owned them until today. A sweet surprise in so many ways.

I guess I’ll wait and see how long this nuclear waste bubble gum records will remain in one piece lol. Since they’ve lasted this long I’ll just keep them in their packages and check in on them ever few years.

At least this surprise find is such a nice pick-me-up to end the week as the news has been so ugly and depressing and a trip back to 1982 in any way is a fun diversion.

I can’t imagine many sticks of gum lasting this long but in the world of collectors out there I’m sure there’s still unchewed gum from the 1960’s out there as well in unopened packs of Beatles bubble gum.

As usual feast your eyes on my stale bubblegum albums above. Too bad we don’t have a way to virtually smell as these puppies still smell so sweet – mmm.

Until next time be well and take care out there.

Ta ta for now!

 

Dirty Flowers – Paul McCartney Closes Out the 1980’s on a High Note with “Flowers in the Dirt”

The 1980’s was a tough decade for Paul McCartney’s career.

It started out okay for him with the release of the experimental one man show “McCartney II” album in 1980 (which contained the number 1 smash “Coming Up”) then a couple of years later hit a high point with the commercially and critically acclaimed “Tug of War” in 1982.

But his career began to take a major drift into the abyss with his successful duets with Michael Jackson (“The Girl is Mine” and “Say Say Say”) which angered many long-time fans with whispers of being a sell-out then headed straight into the crapper with the commercial and critical flop of the movie “Give My Regards to Brad Street” in 1984.

While the lovely song “No More Lonely Nights” rightfully hit the Top Ten in late 1984 McCartney’s commercial viability took a major slide shortly thereafter and by 1987 McCartney seemed to be adrift as he lost his sense of what direction he should take his music and how to remain relevant.

Truth be told I’ve always loved this era of McCartney music and the trio of albums produced by George Martin (“Tug of War”, “Pipes of Peace”, “Give My Regards to  Broad Street”) are among my favorites of his solo career.

All of them encompass my high school listening years and while there are some low points on the records and they are slickly produced nonetheless they are all uniformly excellent albums and ones I frequently travel back to for some listening sessions each year.

This brings me to the point of this blog post. In 1989 Paul McCartney was on the verge of an historic comeback to the concert stage and wanted to release an album before the tour that he felt was a strong piece of work that could restore him critically and commercially as well as provide him with strong songs to put in his live show.

One of the main things of interest for this album was McCartney’s songwriting collaborations with punk rock darling Elvis Costello which really peaked my interest in the album.

McCartney had released a superb song co-written with Costello in 1987 called “Back on My Feet” as the flip side of the lovely “Once Upon a Long Ago” UK single so I was really excited to see what else the two could come up with as this song had become a personal favorite potentially making this upcoming album something really special.

When the album, called “Flowers in the Dirt”, finally arrived in early June of 1989 I was certainly not disappointed as I felt that it, along with “Tug of War”, was his some of McCartney’s best work of the decade.

This well-crafted album featured several strong songs including the very Beatley first single and Costello co-write “My Brave Face” as well as “Figure of Eight”, “We Got Married”, “Put it There”, “This One” and “Distractions” which to this day remain some of my all-time favorite gems in McCartney’s solo canon.

Today I thought I’d share some of the various original CD pressings I own of the album including photos of the longbox that came with the first US CD pressing as well as a PDO CD pressing I found of the disc sometime last year in a used bin – I just love how the artwork really shines on the disc of the PDO pressing.

The Japanese 2-disc special 1990 tour issue of the “Flowers in the Dirt” album (see above) is one of the highlights in my collection. The second disc of bonus material was my first exposure to some really choice bonus tracks including the terrific “Loveliest Thing” as well as the sublime live rehearsal take of “The Long and Winding Road” and dreaded by many “P.S. Love Me Do”.

This special Japanese 2 CD set was tough to track down at the time so I’m sure it’s a rarity these days but it is certainly one of the best issues of the album to ever be released.

Even with the great McCartney Archive box set reissue of “Flowers in the Dirt” from a couple of years ago (more on that set in a future blog post) some of these bonus tracks never made it to the physical discs in the box (just bonus downloads) thus making the Japanese 2-disc CD set a must have for McCartney maniacs.

The 1993 McCartney Collection CD issue is also a great disc as it sounds really good (it wasn’t really futzed with no noise as some of the others 1993 discs) and contains the  wonderful bonus tracks “Back on My Feet”, “Flying to My Home” along with “Loveliest Thing” which makes this 1993 CD worth tracking down.

Well there you have it. One of the best Paul McCartney solo albums, in my opinion, and well worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it.

That’s all for now Be safe and until next time be well!

 

 

 

 

 

Wars from the Past – Paul McCartney’s “Tug of War” on CD (X 5)

April 1982, I remember it well. I was just finishing my sophomore year in high school and as per usual for me I was waiting with bated breath for a new album to be released.

This wasn’t just any album mind you. It was an album called “Tug of War” by Paul McCartney and it was the first album he was to release since the death of John Lennon and rumor had it that it was going to be a major return to form and well worth waiting to hear.

Not only was it said to contain some of the best songs of McCartney’s solo career but it was being produced by none other than George Martin, famed Beatles producer extraordinaire.

This was the first full album Martin had produced with McCartney since The Beatles split in 1970 so anticipation was very high that this album would be special. I was so pumped by news about the album on MTV and in various magazines that I could hardly wait to get my hands on it and give it a good spin or two (thousand lol?).

Anyway, I remember the anticipation being so high for the album that the week before it was due in the stores there was a radio special in which the entire album was played on air.

I can’t for the life of me remember what radio show it was but I do remember taping it off the air on a portable tape recorder and playing the special over and over until the record came out in the stores. Ahhh, those were the days.

I also remember that I religiously used to go to a stake out a local book store called Reader’s World each week to look at the latest issue of Billboard magazine as well as any tidbits about the upcoming album.

As I recall the album was delayed a few times so the anticipation was really building up. No McCartney album before or since was greeted with such high hopes and buzz at least for me that’s for sure.

Shortly after the album came out I remember buying an issue of Rolling Stone in which they gave the album a five star review. Five star reviews in Rolling Stone magazine was truly an occasion as the magazine spent most of the 1970’s slagging McCartney and his music off so this was really impressive to me.

Needless to say the “Tug of War” album was and still remains something very special in McCartney’s solo canon for me as it’s the one album of his solo career that brings back the most fond memories.

Of course I loved the album then as well as now so today I thought I’d share photos of five different CD issues of the album that reside in my collection.

They include: the first UK CD pressing, the first US CD pressing on the Columbia Records label, the first Japanese CD pressing, a later Capitol US CD pressing and a mini-lp style Japan CD that was made from the 1993 Paul McCartney Collection masters.

I can honestly say that all five CDs above sound really good but if push came to shove I’d have to say my favorite sounding CD is the Columbia Records version as it just has a sparkle and airiness that’s missing on the others. Actually all three of the first CD pressings of this album (UK, US and Japan) sound damn fine but the Columbia CD wins by a tad.

As for the other two CD issues surprisingly the later Capitol CD sounds damn good as well and the 1993 sounds good too but it would probably be the one that sounds the worst though not bad by any means. It sounds a bit more muted than the others but still very nice though it wins for packaging hands-down for sure.

Take a gander above at the various CD pressings of the “Tug of War” album. And anyone out there whose just getting into this album you must track down an early issue of the CD as the most recent version from McCartney’s acclaimed Archive Collection has been remixed and it really loses the air and sparkle that’s present in the original mix.

You need look no further than to compare the original mix to the remix of the song “Take it Away” as the background vocals on the original mix sound so lush that they seem to float on air but come crashing down to earth in the harsh sounding remix.

If you’re lucky enough to find the Columbia Records CD version stop there as you have the best sounding version on CD that was ever released (IMO).

It’s fun to compare the various CD versions but really any early version is a treat compared to the 2015 remix which just lacks the magic of the original mix.

Well that’s all for now. As usual take care of yourselves and until next time be safe and see you soon.

 

 

 

 

Monkees in the ’70’s – Solo Monkees/Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart – Artifacts, Music and Rarities

Hard to believe (pun intended all you Monkees freaks out there) but the 1970’s was a long time ago.

Even though I was a kid through most of the decade, I can still vividly remember quite a lot about the ’70’s – Watergate, the Bi-Centennial celebrations of 1976, the crappy clothes as well as most of the groovy music and television shows of the era.

I also remember being a Monkees fan and to put it mildly how utterly uncool a thing that was in the have a nice day decade. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before most of the 1970’s was a vast empty desert for Monkees fans.

Sure their TV show was still in reruns in large parts of the country (not where I lived of course) and their songs did happened to creep up on the radio occasionally but after 1971 trying to find Monkees records or any mention of the group was a futile endeavor.

/that all began to change however in the middle of the decade when in 1975 Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones tamed up with Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour and record new music.

I remember being super excited to see the group perform on “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” TV show. As a nine year old it was a real chore to stay up late enough to catch their performance (the show was broadcast on the weekend so it got parental approval) and how cool and odd it was to see two Monkees perform outside the confines of their TV personas.

Even though I was a tad annoyed with Dolenz’ antics while he performed “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (seriously dude just sing the song) I was

Then in 1976 when the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart” album came out on Capitol Records I was over the moon with excitement as this was as close as  I was going to get to a new Monkees album so I devoured the Lp as soon as I saw it at a local Kmart. In those days Kmart was my main source of music purchasing and  I remember scouring the record section every time I went with my parents.

At the time I was really impressed with the record but even then I remember thinking they used too much echo on Davy Jones vocals and wished they’d had Peter and Mike for at least one song but it was still a thrill it was to have some new “Monkees” music even if it was just two actual Monkees on the record.

While I wasn’t thrilled with all the tracks on the Lp songs like “Right Now”, “It Always Hurts the Most in the Morning”, “I Love You (And I’m Glad That I Said It)”, “I Remember the Feeling” and especially the superb “You and I”  were certainly good enough to get heavy rotation on my parent’s Magnavox stereo as I stared at the trippy illustration from the back cover (see photo in booklet above).

I also remember getting a Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart cup with a frozen Coke (another Kmart staple) which has barely survived to the present day (again, see photos above) and for a brief moment I thought that the group may have some legs and keep on releasing new music. Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.

The “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart” album was flop commercially but the interest the group generated from touring did propel a new Monkees greatest hits into the Top 100 on the Billboard charts as well as generating a Laurie House 2 Lp set containing  Monkees hits and album cuts that I ordered from the TV in the summer of 1976.

The “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart” album did briefly manage to surface in the digital age on CD through Cherry Red Records in the UK (not from a tape source though unfortunately). It’s not a bad sounding disc mind you and if you don’t have the original vinyl Lp it’s a nice way to get acquainted with the album.

Another Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart Lp also made it onto CD. The “Concert in Japan” album was released on the Varese Sarabande label and is really worth checking out as it sounds terrific and includes most of The Monkees’ biggest hits as well as Boyce and Hart’s smash “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”.

There are also some nice live versions of “I Remember the Feeling”, “A Teenager in Love” and “I Love You (And I’m Glad that I Said It)” from the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart” Lp which makes this CD a must have for fans of either The Monkees or Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart.

I’ve also posted some photos that I got when I was a member of a Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart fan club as well as some photos I got as member of the David Jones Fan Club as well as my yellow membership card.

Some of the photos come from Dolenz and Jones club tour from 1977 as well as some photos of Jones solo shows from the 1970’s. The Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart fan club was also the source for a low-fi recording of a Dolenz and Jones show from the Rum Point from July 1977 that’s a real treat as well.

I also threw in a UK flyer I got for “The Point”, a play which starred Dolenz and Jones from the 1977/78 time period. It probably came from the Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart club as well as they sent a lot of things like that at the time including the original UK pressing of “The Point” cast recording on MCA Records.

Also, if you’re a big fan of the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart”  album there is a 1995 CD from Australia called “The Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart Anthology” which contains some songs from the Lp ( “I Love You (And I’m Glad that I Said It)”, “A Teenager in Love”, “Sail on Sailor”, “I Remember the Feeling”) that sound like they’re from a tape source and are a great source for these tracks.

You also get a nice selection of Boyce & Hart tracks which are also worth the price of admission as many of them would have made superb Monkees tracks in the 1960’s.

Well that’s all for memory lane today. Until next time be well and as usual take a gander at some of the photos above to see some of these groovy ’70’s artifacts.

Be safe and see you soon!