January Beatles Roundup – 4K/Blu-Ray “A Hard Day’s Night” and Japanese “Let it Be … Naked” CD

Not only is January the month of snow and cold in my part of the world but since my birthday is January 14th it’s also the time of year I usually gather all my accumulated Amazon gift cards and go shopping online.

You see I always get a few gift cards at Christmas and on my birthday so inevitably that leads to new music purchases and, more often than not, new Beatles music purchases. And it seems like 2022 is right on target for my normal January binge.

This week I received two of these new January Beatles beauties in the mail – the new 2022 4k/Blu-Ray set of The Beatles’ first film “A Hard Day’s Night” and a 2013 Japanese CD reissue of the 2003 CD “Let it Be … Naked”.

The “A Hard Day’s Night” set comes from The Criterion Collection and features a newly transferred version of that company’s 4k scan of the film, the 1964 film that was originally issued by Criterion in 2014. Criterion’s original release was only on DVD/Blu-Ray while this new set contains a 4k Ultra HD disc and a regular blu-ray disc as well.

(Note: 4k is the amount of screen resolution which equates to 4000 pixels. That’s may times more resolution than a regular DVD or blu-ray thus it usually has more details, color, etc. than other versions.)

All of the content and features are the same on this new 2022 set I believe but the film has been transferred in its native 4k format on the 4k Ultra HD disc which does provide a better picture than the standard blu-ray disc. I believe the blu-ray disc is very similar to the 2014 version but with maybe a touch better picture but it looks pretty much the same to me.

The main reason I bought this though was that even though I don’t own a 4k player or TV I do know a friend who does so I’m going to try and watch it on their set in the future. I was hoping that the newer transfer on the regular blu-ray may be better too and though it may look a tad bit better both it and the 2014 version both look terrific so if there’s a difference it’s negligible, to me anyway.

I would say the main reason to buy this 2022 version is if you own a 4k set-up or if you’re one of those nutty Beatles completists like me. I’ve always loved “A Hard Day’s Night” and this Criterion transfer blows away any previous version not only picture wise but it’s the only release that contains the original theatrical mono soundtrack along with the newer 5.1 remix as well as a stereo soundtrack.

Of course I prefer the original mono soundtrack so along with the picture this Criterion Collection transfer is a must have for any Beatles fan. If you own the 2014 version I’m sure that will be plenty enough for most people but if you do have a 4k set-up than this new set may be something you would enjoy.

The other lovely Beatles nugget I got this week is a 2013 Japanese reissue of the The Beatles stripped down remix of their “Let it Be” album from 2003 entitled “Let it Be .. Naked”.

“Let it Be .. Naked” exists to show how the “Let it Be” album would sound without the Phil Spector touch (or heavy touch depending on your tastes) that many feel hampered the original “Let it Be” album that was released in 1970.

I for one have always really enjoyed “Let it Be .. Naked” and though I really do love the new 2021 Giles Martin remix of the “Let it Be” album I think that this “Naked” version is well worth owning and I really love some of the remixes on this collection.

I know a lot of Beatles fans online really crap on “Let it Be … Naked” but to me its an essential release and well worth owning.

I read somewhere that “Let it Be … Naked” was remastered around 2013 for streaming services so I was hoping that this 2013 Japanese CD may contain that remastering. After listening to it I don’t think it’s a remaster but as usual with Japanese issues I did feel that this disc sounded a bit more open and full than my original US 2003 CD thus I am very happy with it.

Is it worth upgrading from a UK or Us 2003 CD? For most people I’m guessing not but I personally love this Japanese issue and really also enjoy the huge case that comes with it and the usual superb packaging that the Japanese are known for with their CD issues.

After all part of the fun of collecting physical media is the presentation and hands down the presentation of this 2013 Japanese issues wins hands down thus this CD for me is a great purchase.

Well there you have it. I know that this particular post will appeal mainly to all the
Beatle nerds out there but that’s one of the reasons I do this blog. I love to see photos of releases like this as there are precious view sites that do that out there in Webland.

As usual take a gander at the photos of these items above.

Until next time be well and happy and see you soon!

Sealed or Unsealed, That is the Question – A Sealed 1974 Copy of “Cassidy Live!” By David Cassidy With a Case of Vinyl Acne

Any record collector out there knows the thrill of finding a vintage sealed copy of an album by an artist they like and admire. That thrill is amplified when the said copy of that particular sealed vinyl is also obtained for a cheap price – win, win you say.

Of course there’s also the question of should you leave said vintage album sealed as a pristine piece of memorabilia or should you slit the side open and pop that baby on the nearest turntable?

As in everything in life there are different opinions on this scenario.

On the one hand there’s the type of collector who loves the look of pristine sealed vinyl. It takes them back to their childhood when they saw racks of sealed albums just like that at their local Kmart or Woolworth’s way back in the day.

It’s almost as if time has stood still and there is actually air from the past sealed inside that album cover along with the vinyl that features some of your favorite songs from many years ago. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic but you get the picture.

The other type of collector is just looking to find the best sounding copy of a vintage album and what better way than to hear your favorite album than to place a pristine copy of that album from the time of its release that hopefully has no blemishes with sound that knocks your socks off from the first moment your turntable needle hits the vinyl.

Well of course I can see both sides of this scenario and respect each collector’s choice. As the years go by though I’ve recently been leaning on the side of life is too short so let’s take that pristine baby out and have some fun!

As luck should have it I just came face to face with this very dilemma as I purchased an old stock copy of David Cassidy’s 1974 album “Cassidy Live!” which came out on Bell Records in 1974.

As readers of this blog know I’ve loved David Cassidy’s music since I was four years old when the first Partridge Family single and album came out in 1970 and I gladly played to death and beat up several copies of various Partridge and Cassidy records.

Back in the day I pretty much had all the original vinyl pressings of Partridge Family as well as David Cassidy solo records, at least on the Bell Records. All that is except for “Cassidy Live!”. For some reason that particular Cassidy record never came into my line of view and I had never heard of it until many many years after it was originally released.

I did eventually get “Cassidy Live!” when it came out on CD and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it was recorded and how good an album it was even without containing many of the most famous songs Cassidy sang lead on.

Like I said as luck would have it about a week and a half ago I stumbled upon a still sealed copy of “Cassidy Live!” on the Etsy Website, of all things, and since the price was right I decided to buy it and after nearly 48 years add it to my collection of original Cassidy records form the 1970s.

Admittedly many Bell Records pressings form the 1970s are hit and miss – some good but most noisy and full of ticks even sealed so I knew it was somewhat of a gamble buying this copy but I went ahead anyway.

Every so often I’ve come upon a vintage sealed album either in person or online and only one other time in over fifty years of collecting (I once bought a sealed album by mail order that was cracked in two – ugh) have I ever been disappointed in the quality of the record or how it sounded. That is until now.

I just today received this lovely sealed example of “Cassidy Live!” and as I took it out carefully from it’s sealed tomb of nearly 48 years I was dumbfounded to find that as I slide the vinyl out of the inner sleeve I could see what I can only describe as vinyl acne.

There were large swaths of these small sort of acne looking ripples in the vinyl on both sides of the record. Ahhhh! Side one wasn’t too bad actually but side two was full of them. WTF was the only thing that ran through my mind. I have never in all my days of collecting vinyl – and that stretches back to 1969 – seen anything like it.

I was dreading putting this particular copy on my turntable as I feared a million skips and Gods knows what kind of sound may come from my speakers if I played it.

Well I sat for a few moments looking at the cover and of course my curiosity got the best of me and I decided what the hey I’m just going to take a leap of faith and play it.

Why not? It’s not as if the seller would have known the vinyl would look like that. The record was obviously an original sealed pressing that must have had some sort of weird life between 1974 and now even though it was sealed and supposedly protected.

Well funny enough barring two songs on side two the record didn’t sound have bad! In fact mostly it sounded pretty darn good. Unfortunately the last three songs on side two do have audible ticks throughout the songs but nothing unlistenable. Not great but not horrible.

That my friends is the gamble of buying a sealed record that’s been sealed for over forty years. You have no idea what kind of temperatures this piece of vinyl encountered over the years or how it was stored, all of which can lead to this kind of situation.

Of course it could just be a bad pressing but I’m guessing somewhere along the line this album probably met with some sort of heat or something that caused it to have a chronic case of vinyl acne.

At least I didn’t spend a fortune on it and three fourths of it sounds pretty good. Small comfort but after 48 long years I’ve finally added a copy of “Cassidy Live!” to my collection but too bad it had the completion of a teenager.

Honestly though I’ve never even seen another vinyl copy of “Cassidy Live!” in person so I guess it wasn’t a total waste. At least it never skipped!

At least I got to share this here as an example of what can happen when you open a vintage sealed album. It’s rare, at least in my case, but sometimes things don’t always turn out like you plan even with a brand new sealed record.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Take a gander of this album above and until next time be healthy and well and if you buy vinyl always remember – buyer beware lol!






These Ears Are Starting 2022 Off Right With a New Stereo Vinyl Reissue of The Monkees’ “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.” on Rhino Records

It’s hard to believe (sorry, I couldn’t resist – Monkees fans will get it) that it’s nearly one full month into 2022 and this is my first blog post of the year.

What can I say, it’s been a weird start to the year already (thank you Covid) but since my birthday happened to be last week (January 14) and by coincidence there also happened to be a new vinyl reissue of one of my all-time favorite albums I thought I would buy a copy and share my thoughts on it as my first post of 2022.

This past January 14th Rhino Records released a new stereo pressing of The Monkees’ fourth album, and I’d say their overall best, “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd” as part of their “Start Your Ear Off Right” series for 2022.

This spiffy new pressing comes on lovely translucent green vinyl and features the original Colgems logo on the cover as well as the typical Rhino recreation of the original red and white Colgems record label (see photos above).

Now as many of you who may read this blog know I am somewhat of a Monkees fan, to say the least, so needless to say I already own a copy or two of the “Pisces” album. Not only do I own the original ’60s’ stereo and mono Colgems pressings but I also happen to have original RCA German and UK stereo copies as well as a 1980s Japanese Arista repressing along with the various Rhino Records and Friday Music vinyl reissues from the 1980s onward.

So what drove me to buy yet another copy of this terrific album you may ask? Well, if you’ve read this blog at all in the past you wouldn’t even ask that lol but this new reissue did come out on my birthday and it does come with such a nice cover reproduction and a such groovy looking colored vinyl that I bit the bullet and purchased it.

(Note: there really is no logic to a collector’s mentality so if you’re seeking logic go elsewhere)

Now that I own the vinyl and have given it a through listen, what do I think?

First off this new vinyl pressing is dead quiet. I mean there’s not one pop or crackle to be had from the first notes of the opening track “Salesman” to the last fading beeps and whistles of the closing song “Star Collector”. So pressing quality rates a solid “A”.

I’d also have to rate the cover reproduction as a solid “A” as well as it looks great and the back cover photos are reproduced very nicely and Rhino gets a bonus for using the original Colgems label as least on the front cover of the jacket.

Now as for the most important part, how does this new pressing sound?

Well frankly it sounds great! There’s a nice rich sound to the bass on all the tracks without being overblown and the vocals as well and all the subtle percussion touches really shine. Songs like Davy’s “Hard to Believe” and Mike’s “Don’t Call on Me” both have such nice percussion elements that really float out from the speakers sounding nice and crisp – really it’s an impressive sounding disc.

Now I have to say that most time these days I listen to both vinyl and CDs from a small system I put together that consists of an older 1991 Sony Receiver (with a loudness button – love that feature) and vintage 1970s Sony speakers that have 12-inch woofers as well as a decent Audio-Technica manual turntable that is no means high-end but fits my needs perfectly.

This smaller system sounds a bit more vintage to me and tames the sound of some of the hotter new remasters as the bass these old Sony speakers puts out isn’t quite as in your face as newer or more high-end gear so while I think this new vinyl sounds just great on this system if you have a high-end system I’m not sure if you would have the same results – just an fyi. My older fifty-something ears really appreciate a system that sounds a bit more vintage.

Is this pressing taken from the original Colgems stereo master? Sounds like it to me. It’s definitely the original 1967 stereo mix and it just sounds so full and rich that it must be from the original master that Monkees archivist and manager Andrew Sandoval found for one of his Rhino CD reissues.

(Note 2: I forget when the original master was finally located but I think it was around the time of the release of the double Rhino CD “The Monkees Anthology” in 1998. I seem to remember the “Pisces’ tracks on that CD set were the first time they were issued from the original master since the 1960s)

So I would definitely give the mastering from this new vinyl reissue a solid “A” as well.

Is this new reissue from an analog or digital source? I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing it’s probably from the digital master the came from a CD reissue as it is a bit louder in volume than some of the analog reissues I’ve heard but it also sounds so good that I wouldn’t be shocked it was from analog but I kind of doubt Rhino would go to the trouble and expense of a new analog transfer but whatever the case this new reissue sounds superb.

In fact the only flaw I heard on the entire album was a bit of sibilance on Micky’s first vocal appearance on the song “Words”. It lasted just a couple of seconds so it didn’t ruin the song but it was there for sure.

Other than that this new vinyl pressing sounded so good I want to play it again. Honestly I would say it’s one of the better sounding pressings I’ve ever heard of the album. If the original Colgems pressings were this quiet I may opt for the original stereo pressing as the best source for this album but this new reissue is no slouch sound wise that’s for sure.

Oh and the only other interesting things about this new reissue is the odd addition of Leiber and Stoiler to the songwriting credits of “She Hangs Out” (wth?!!, I’ve never seen that one before) and the fact that this new reissue was made in Argentina. I’ve also not seen many pressings come from Argentina but if they sound as good as this one bring more Argentina pressings please!

For those who are interested, here is the matrix info for this new pressing (this may be the same mastering as the 2016 Classic Albums Rhino vinyl box of this album):

Side 1 – R1-552706-G
G1 then symbol that looks like a chair with an S in it then 25446.1(3)…

Side 2- R1-552706-H
G1 then symbol that looks like a chair with an S in it then 25446.2(3)…

Well, there you have it Monkees fans. If you’re a fan of the group or this album in particular and are seeking a decent vinyl copy of this album then you certainly can’t go wrong purchasing this lovely new translucent green Rhino pressing.

If you’re an old-time Monkees fan like me do you really need this?

Probably not but it really does sound nice and isn’t as overpriced as the recent Friday Music mono pressing of this album that came out a few months ago. I tend to avoid Friday Music vinyl as it usually doesn’t sound as good as Rhino pressings.

Besides this new stereo Rhino reissue is ten dollars cheaper than the Friday Music offering so if you decide to get a great sounding colored vinyl pressing of “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd” I would personally opt for the Rhino pressing unless you need a copy of the mono mix and can’t find a decent 1967 mono pressing.

That’s all for now folks! See you next time and until then be well and I hope you’re having a great new year so far!

Venezuela Sky (Orquesta En Fuga) – Christmas week Solo Beatles Vinyl Finds

Well here we are, it’s Christmas week already! I haven’t been to these parts of the Internet for a few weeks so I thought it was high time for another post. 

Unfortunately since my last trip here the world has taken an aggressive turn back into Covid land so hopefully anyone who happens to be reading this finds themselves safe and healthy.

So as a fun sideline right before Christmas I thought I’d share a few solo Beatles vinyl gems that I’ve just recently added to my collection. I don’t know what it is but locally I’ve been finding some really nice Beatles and solo Beatles vinyl. I hope it keeps up but as is life it will probably dry up soon but until then I’m a happy camper.

As luck would have it I found four really superb pressings of solo Beatles albums recently: 

  • An Apple first pressing of “Band on the Run” from Venezuela
  • A UK first pressing of “Ram”
  • An Italian first pressing of “Red Rose Speedway”
  • A later green label single cover of the “Ringo” album

I have to say that each of the four pressings not only look great (the vinyl at least, some of the covers are a little rough) but each of the four sound great. All four are nice and quiet and sound very dynamic.

I was especially surprised by the Venezuela pressing of “Band on the Run”. I don’t have a first UK pressing of this album but I can’t imagine it sounds any better than this pressing. The vinyl is surprisingly quiet with nice rich bass, a lovely clarity to the vocals and the guitars on “Let Me Roll It” just crackle out of the speakers with vibrancy.

Maybe it was the rough state of the cover and its almost xeroxed looking photo quality but I was not expecting this copy of “Band on the Run” to sound as good as it does. I don’t have any other pressings of solo Beatles albums from Venezuela to compare it to but I’m very impressed with the sound of this copy. 

The coolest thing about this copy of “Band on the Run” is that its on a Apple label instead of the specially designed label that accompanied the UK and US pressings. The weird thing is that the full Apple is on the Side 2 songs while Side 1 has the sliced Apple (see photos) which is the reverse of most UK and US pressings. Odd but endearing and the reason it’s so fun to track down obscure foreign pressings of Beatles or solo Beatles records.

The sound of the UK “Ram” and the Italian copy of “Red Rose Speedway” matched my experience with “Band on the Run”. I was actually expecting both of them to sound good and wasn’t let down in the least. Truly I think most UK first pressings of Paul McCartney albums win sound wise hands down and I’m not sure that any other pressing of “Ram” has the depth and warmth that this pressing has in spades.

I have a later UK pressing of “Ram” but this first pressing hands down is the best sounding vinyl version of the album I’ve ever heard.

As for “Red Rose Speedway” it too sounded great but I would say that of the three McCartney pressings this Italian copy didn’t quite have the same dynamic bass as the other two albums. Maybe it’s the way the recording is but whatever the case it still sounded quite good and much better than my first pressing US copy on Apple.

I was surprised to find a UK first pressing of “Ram” locally in such good shape and cheap! In fact all four pressing were under $10 which was another surprising yet happy surprise. It was also weird to find the Venezuela copy of “Band on the Run” but you never know what you’ll stumble on these days.

The last album find was the later budget label copy of Ringo Starr’s best solo album “Ringo”. I have a few of these green label pressings and each of them that I own sound truly wonderful. This copy of “Ringo” looks and sounds unplayed and was just so damn exciting to listen to –  great bass, nice presence and a lovely sound stage.

Of course the original gatefold cover and booklet are missed but as far as sound goes you need look no further than this budget pressing. It actually looks like the original matrix was crossed out in the inner groove of the record so I’m sure this stacks up well to first pressing issues.

I own an original first pressing but it’s not nearly as clean and quiet as this reissue so I prefer the sound of this budge copy for sure.

Well that’s it for now. Just a quick vinyl pick-me-up before Christmas and a nice diversion for the week of glum Covid news.

As usual take a look at some photos of these vinyl gems above and below.

Until next time be well and Merry Christmas!!!

ABBA’s First Album in Almost 40 Years Hits All the Right Notes – This “Voyage” Is Definitely Worth Taking

It is hard to believe that after nearly forty years the pop group that dominated the ’70’s and early ’80s, at least in Europe and the UK and to a lesser degree the US, is back with a new 10-song album.

Today ABBA released their brand new album “Voyage” which is both a comeback as well as a finale goodbye as the group has been quoted this week as saying that this is it for the Swedish pop superstars. The end, goodbye, slutet (I couldn’t resist a little Swedish even though I can’t speak it at all).

Of course if you’re at all familiar with pop radio or pop culture of the past forty odd years or so you are surely familiar with ABBA already. “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, “SOS”, “Fernando” and “Waterloo” are just a few of the many hits that have graced not only radio airwaves around the world but movie screens and stage productions as well.

So after all this time what can we expect from a collection of ten new songs by such well-known and beloved performers as ABBA? After all it’s been a long time since they last recorded and they as well as the rest of the world have changed dramatically especially after nearly two years of the raging Covid-19 pandemic that has wrecked havoc around the globe.

Well let me say that after listening to this new album that landed in my mailbox just a few hours ago that thankfully it sounds as if nothing has really changed all that much and to me that’s quite a good thing! 

Speaking strictly for me I can only view the group and these voices and these arrangements through the lenses of the child and teen that I was in the ’70s and early 1980s.

I loved ABBA then and I still do now. Yeah they might not have been my favorite group and they sometimes were a bit cheesy but oh those voices and those melodies carried me through some the finest as well as many of the roughest times from the most impressionable years of my life. They are forever linked to my musical psyche.

There is no mistaking an ABBA song. The sound of their voices, especially the voices of the two ladies in the group Agnetha and Anni-Frid, and their catchy melodies and arrangements clearly make ABBA stand apart from practically any other group of the era. 

Their continued popularity to the present though the mega success of their records as well as their “Mamma Mia” movies has helped them to transcend time. And after listening to the new “Voyage” album transcending time to me is the perfect way to describe this record.

Let’s go point by point. How does ABBA sound today?

The voices sound great, they sound like ABBA. Check.

The melodies are strong, the songs are catchy. Check.

There are pop songs, light disco songs, a bit of cheese and bit of grandeur. Check.

The album is good and I want to play it again – that checks every box on my list.

What can I tell you this sounds like an ABBA album and after a nearly forty year layoff that’s quite a pleasant and welcome surprise. And while the group’s vocals are lower than they were forty years ago they are still quite strong and lovely and every bit as capable of expressing a wide range of emotions and textures as they always have been.

“Voyage” sounds like ABBA wants to be nothing more then what they are – a superb pop group making music in their seventies. Good pop music I might add. And what else sound they be? I for one wouldn’t want them pandering to current tastes just to sell a record or just to be current.

The whole album sounds like that they reunited because they wanted to make music. It can’t be for the money because God knows they could have cashed in years ago as fans have been after them for ages to reunite.

This album sounds like ABBA wanted to send one last postcard to fans just to keep in touch. They reunited because they reconnected musically and had a lot of fun doing it. Of course there are threads of their younger selves throughout the album yet “Voyage” somehow manages to sound modern without losing themselves in the process.

This is ABBA reuniting on their own terms doing it themselves for themselves. They wrote, produced and performed everything on the album and have left their fans with a final postscript which is touching as well as entertaining. They miraculously have also managed to do what eludes most reunited groups – they sound damn good and that’s quite a feat.

Out of the ten tracks on “Voyage” I didn’t find a stinker among the bunch, I enjoyed all ten from the first listen. Everything is melodic, well arranged and performed and nothing overstays its welcome.

While not everything on the album has stuck in my mind as of yet I have to say that “When You Danced With Me”, one of the first singles “Don’t Shut Me Down”, “Keep An Eye on Dan”, “No Doubt About It” (God this would have been a smash hit single back in the day around 1979!) and “Ode to Freedom” are just superb and well worth the price of the album for sure.

As I said the rest are fine as well but the five songs above had me heading for the repeat button right away as they are so damn ABBA and so damn good.

It’s really rare for such a high profile reunion such as this to generate one really good song but a whole album of good material after all this time is such a welcome relief. What a pleasant tonic for the weirdness that is the year 2021. It’s like riding back into the 70’s and grabbing all that was good about ABBA and yanking it back into the present.

I can’t say how any younger person may or may not feel about the “Voyage” album. Will they like it? Will they relate to it? I have no idea. But for me it’s just been the most pleasant and welcome surprise and the prefect way to send ABBA off into the ether with a classy, well-performed album that makes me smile.

And after the crappiness of the past two years it’s such a joy to be reacquainted with old friends who are just as lovely and warm and fun as you had remembered them.

And that my friend’s is all that I ask from music – pleasure and joy.

As usual take a gander above at some pictures of the CD version of “Voyage” that I received today.

Until next time be well and see you soon!














Current “Get Back” Book Shines New Light on The Beatles “Dark” January 1969 Sessions

When I first heard that there would be a new book to accompany Peter Jackson’s upcoming Beatles documentary “Get Back” I had  a “meh” reaction. 

Part of me thought it might be a nice upgrade to the original book that accompanied first UK box set pressings of The Beatles “Let it Be” album but since I own that book the other part of me said “yawn”.

After all there have been Beatles books before that have accompanied massive Beatles projects like the “Anthology” project from the mid ’90s but I’ve never really gone back to them much so why bother with this new “Get Back” book?

Well as happens frequently, I was wrong.

I managed to see a preview of this new “Get Back” book on YouTube (it’s all the current rage to post previews of all the new Beatles projects online) earlier this week and it really intrigued me. Not only did the book look well made with lots of really nice photographs from the January 1969 sessions that became the “Let it Be” album and film but the text consisted mainly of partial dialog from The Beatles themselves from the Twickenham as well as Apple studios filming and recording sessions.

Count me intrigued. Really intrigued. 

To top it off the Target chain of stores here in the U.S. added four exclusive lobby card reprints from the 1970 “Let it Be” film to the copies of the book that they were selling and for me that was all she wrote, I was in.

Having purchased the book a couple of days ago  I must say I’m very impressed. It’s a nice sized hardback book that does indeed contain hundreds of really terrific photos from throughout the January 1969 filming and recording sessions but the dialog transcripts are really the main draw here. They are fascinating and really shed new light on these sessions.

Of course the “Let it Be” film from 1970 helped to paint January 1969 as a very dark and gloomy time for The Beatles. The only moments of joy are near the end of the film when The Beatles take to the rooftop of their Apple headquarters to perform live for the last time in their career which is truly mesmerizing. The rest of the film is disjointed and jarring and The Beatles seem bored.

What’s amazing about reading the dialogue in this book is that The Beatles come across much more engaged and cooperative than  had previously been surmised. That’s not to say that by January 1969 the Beatles weren’t reaching their end as a group but there were a lot more lighter moments then had previously been seen in past documents of these sessions.

In fact having seen the new trailer for the “Get Back” documentary that comes out on Disney+ next month there were a lot of really light and interesting moments that were left on the cutting room floor. There are hours of footage that seems to show a much more well-rounded version of the events then has ever been seen before. This new trailer for the documentary makes me feel joyful and I can’t wait to see this new version.

That feeling of joy also permeates this new “Get Back” book as well. Yes there are darker moments for sure but reading these transcripts is a lot of fun and kind of washes away many of the darker aspects of this whole project that have permeated anything to do with the “Let it Be” film and album.

I’m guessing that it’s the time after the filming and recording of these January 1969 sessions when The Beatles really began to have business issues that colored everything in their minds for that period with a negative view. By the time The Beatles needed to go back and make these film and audio recordings into a unified album and film they had little interest in the project thus began the really dark association with what became “Let it Be”.

No disrespect to Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of the original “Let it Be” film, but I’m so glad that Peter Jackson was given the task of making something out of the fifty-something hours of used footage from the “Let it Be” film. This new “Get Back” documentary really does make the January 1969 sessions a pleasure to watch instead of the sour experience that the original film depicts.

Also after listening to the new “Let it Be” box set that comes out today I definitely have a more positive view of the whole time period and there is a lot to enjoy from these sessions that hasn’t seen the light of day until now.

By the way I also really enjoyed reading Peter Jackson’s forward in the book. I love how he describes not hearing The Beatles much in his youth and the story of his dad bringing home one of the only 45’s he ever bought, a cover of The Beatles “Something” by Shirley Bassey. 

It wasn’t until Jackson saw the 1973 Red and Blue Beatles greatest hits albums in a store window that he truly discovered the group’s music. That was my way into the group’s catalog as well so it was fun reading how Jackson became a Beatles fan.

Anyway, the new “Get Back” book is good, really good. If you’re a fan of The Beatles and the “Let it Be” album and film then you need to grab a copy of this book, it’s a very interesting read.

As usual see photos of my copy of this new book above and below.

I really think that the Target exclusive “Let it Be” lobby cards are a terrific bonus so if that kind of thing floats your boat then make sure you grab a copy of this book from a Target store or from http://www.target.com. There are other places offering bonus photos as well but to me the lobby cards are more interesting.

If you have no desire for any bonus goodies then buying the book online or at your nearest bookstore would be your best option.

Well that’s all for now.

Until next time be well and see you soon.

The Beatles Deluxe “Let it Be” 5 LP Set is A True Gem and Won’t Let You Down (At Least for the Majority of Beatles Fans)

I think I’m going to call this my “Get Back” week. 

First there was the release this past Tuesday of The Beatles “Get Back” book (more about that coming soon to this blog) then the release yesterday of the official trailer for the upcoming new six-hour “Get Back” documentary by Peter Jackson on Disney+ next month and now the release tomorrow of the newly remixed and remastered “Let it Be” album.

Ahhh that’s my kind of week!

Well as fate would have it I have managed to get ahold of one of the many new “Let it Be” configurations coming out tomorrow – the 5 LP “Let it Be” which includes an impressive 100-page hardback book as well as four full LPs and one 4 song (45 r.p.m.) LP-sized EP.

There are other formats of this new “Let it Be” album as well including a single CD, a 2 CD set, a 6 CD/Blu-Ray set as well as a single LP but this review will take a look at this most impressive new 5 Lp box set.

As usual this new “Let it Be” box set, like many of the Beatles box sets that have been released in the past few years, is a thing of beauty and is full of previously unreleased outtakes along with the main album newly remixed afresh by Giles Martin (son of legendary original Beatles producer George Martin).

The first thing that struck me when I held this set in my hands was not only the hefty weight of the set but the lovely die-cut front cover which looks just amazing in person. It struck me at first glance as sort of a window into the famed “Get Back” sessions from 1969 and after listening to the set I think that’s an apt description.

I must say first off though that this set is by no means a complete chronicle of the almost mythical sessions from January 1969 which consisted of several hours of off the cuff as well as studio performances. 

I read that Giles Martin chose sparingly the outtakes for this set and wanted to make a collection that was easy to digest and listen to repeatedly without the tediousness of listening to every single note and breath that was recorded on the hundreds of hours of audio tape that exist in The Beatles vaults.

I know some Beatles fans will be upset that there isn’t a lot more of the Twickenham Studio audio that’s been bootlegged to death over the years but after having perused this new set I must say I think Giles Martin chose well and this set is indeed a nice window into these sessions and very entertaining. Your mileage may vary but for me this set hit my sweet spot for the “Get Back” sessions and I find it a nice overview.

Anyway, here’s a quick look at the 5 LP set.

The first LP, the 2021 “Let it Be” remix:

I have to say I was really surprised to find that this new 2021 remix sounded very true to the original 1970 Phil Spector mix. Yes there are several nice new moments with more up front vocals and some instruments peaking out here and there but overall this new remix sounds very close to the original LP.

This is probably my favorite of all of Giles Martin’s Beatles remixes. I’m sure other people may think he should have gone farther but to me this just is a much clearer and cleaner sounding version of the original mix. You definitely don’t feel as if Martin is making this sound anything other than the original “Let it Be” album we all know and love but enhanced.

At least on vinyl this album doesn’t sound dramatically different to me and in my opinion that’s a good thing. I’m always afraid of some overly compressed mess that drowns the album of its original charm but that’s not the case here.

(Note: Also I have to say that all the records in my set were pressed very well (no warps) and are very quiet and sound great! Nothing sounded overly compressed or muddy to my ears. One of the better Beatles box sets sound wise in my opinion.)

Here are a couple of mixes that sounded slightly different to me:

Across the Universe – This is the first of the remixes that really stood out to me as sounding a bit different. The vocal is more prominent, a little clearer with a little bit more echo. The orchestration is much more noticeable and you can hear it much better as the various instruments stand out more. Lovely remix and you actually hear more of Specter’s touch with this one. Actually all the songs that contain Spector’s orchestrations stand out a bit more in this new remix.

One After 909 – While not dramatically different sounding this mix is a bit cleaner and sounds a little bit rockier than the original mix. There’s a nice punch to this mix without being overly compressed. I love how live the vocals sound. I may prefer this mix to the original actually, very nice.

The Long and Winding Road – Much like “Across the Universe” this new remix highlights the sound of the orchestration. If anyone was hoping for a de-Spectorized take this is definitely not it. Paul’s vocal also sounds a bit more up front but the orchestration really sounds lovely. It does sound as if they took down the heavenly choir vocals a bit but the orchestration is a little bit cleaner and clearer which was kind of surprising but sounds good.

The rest of the album has its moments of a bit cleaner vocals and better separation of instruments but overall it actually sounds very very faithful to the original 1970 mix. All of the rockier songs tend to have a bit more punch and a little bit cleaner presentation than the original mix which makes them sound improved in my mind but they’re not dramatically different from their original mixes.

Get Back – Apple Sessions, Rehearsals and Apple Jams:

While I haven’t listened to both LPs in full yet what I’ve sampled so far has been a lot of fun. Again not dramatically different versions of these songs but this is a nice sounding collection of outtakes from the sessions.

I’m actually glad that Martin focused on the studio takes rather than put too much of the Twickenham songs in this collection. It’s fun to hear The Beatles in the studio in nice clean and punchy sounding works in progress. The mono Nagra sound pretty good but for repeated listening I prefer the studio takes.

Some highlights so far:

Let it Be/Please Please Me/Let it Be (Take 10) – A very soulful early take of “Let it Be” that I really enjoyed. I must have missed the “Please Please Me” bit because I didn’t hear it but a lovely early take that’s great to hear.

Dig a Pony (Take 14) – Another fun take that while not perfect sounds great. I especially love how Lennon at the end sings that this take wasn’t as good as a previous take and let’s do “Get Back”. Fun stuff and sounds very nice.

One After 909 (Take 3) – A really nice take with much more prominent boogie woogie piano. Again not dramatically different but different enough to be interesting. For some reason this take reminds me of The Rolling Stones, a bit more bluesy.

Don’t Let Me Down (First Rooftop Performance) – Despite the slight lyric goof this is a superb take and nice to have the complete unaltered live take. I enjoy the version of this from “Let it Be … Naked”album which made a composite mix of both live takes but it’s great to have the full unaltered first take sounding as good as this does. More rooftop takes please, thank you.

The Long and Winding Road (Take 19) – A truly wonderful take that sounds so great without any orchestration. I actually may prefer this version over all the others it’s so haunting and subdued and great to have in my collection.

All Things Must Pass (Rehearsals) – The mono Twickenham songs actually sound pretty darn good but I do prefer the studio takes to these mono recordings. It’s just so sad that the Beatles never finished a complete take of this song as these rehearsals are true gems. This would have been one of the highlights of these sessions if they completed a full studio take.

On a side note I love how the inner sleeve uses the same photos and layout as the US “Let it Be” LP but in black and white. Looks very classy and very White Album, I love it.

The unreleased Glyn Johns mix of The Get Back lp:

It’s nice to finally have a great sounding version of this rejected Glyn John’s mix of what became the “Let it Be” album. I’ve always enjoyed this album and it’s nice to finally see it part of a Beatles official package. I’m not sure if this is all the 1970 Glyn Johns mix or if this is actually a mixture of his 1969 and 1970 mixes but whatever it sounds really good and it’s nice to have it.

I must say that this mix is a bit more harsh sounding than all of the other mixes found in this collection. Don’t get me wrong it’s  really interesting and fun album to have it just sounds a little bit brighter than the other outtakes that Giles Martin mixed for this set.

While Glyn Johns’ mix has a more loose feel to it and a more warts and all approach it’s still a good listen and well worth adding to any collection. Actually I would have preferred some of the outtakes Martin chose added to Johns album but it’s still an essential listen.

Plus the album cover recreation of what would have been the “Get Back” lp is just superb and well worth having in full LP size. This alone is worth getting the vinyl set for this album as it’s a legendary version that almost came out instead of “Let it Be”.

The EP:

Across the Universe – An interesting unreleased Glyn Johns mix of one of my favorite Lennon songs. It contains the offbeat background vocals from the first released version of the song mixed lower but still there nonetheless. Not my favorite mix of this song but not bad. It’s basically a better remix of the Wildlife charity album mix.

I Me Mine – A nice mix if this song. Not overly different but minus the Phil Spector orchestrations and much shorter as well.

Don’t Let Me Down – This new Giles Martin mix of the single version of the song is superb. I love the extra added speaking at the beginning. A very powerful and clean sounding mix of this song. May be my favorite of the new remixes.

Let it Be – Another Giles Martin 2021 mix of the single version of this song. Much cleaner than the original mix. It would have been nice to have these two remixes snuck on the earlier album but it’s still great to have them and this is a nice remix as well.

The Book:

The hundred-page hardback book in this set is superb much like the books from Sgt. Pepper and The White Album sets. This is the type of book I was hoping for in the “All things Must Pass” CD set but at least it’s a part of this set.

This book is loaded with great pictures and nice text especially by Kevin Howlett. I love the LP size of this book as it’s the perfect size for the pictures and makes the text easier to read as well and easy to handle.

It’s very well done and really makes this set worth the price I paid for it. The hardback book really makes this set sparkle as it is very high quality as are the covers and labels on the LPs in this set.

Grade: A

Overall I have to say that this new “Let it Be” set is a real winner. It’s packaged well (see the photos above and below), it sounds great and it’s a nice overview of The Beatles “Get Back” sessions. 

(Note 2: The “Let it Be” poster in the photos above is being handed out for free at independent record stores for those who purchase any configuration of this new reissue.)

If you’re a Beatles fan what’s not to love? (Err, I’m sure online there will be plenty of bitching about this and that but to me this set is done just right).

So there you have it. If you’ve been looking forward to this set odds are you’ll find it very enjoyable like I did. The price isn’t too bad (I got mine for around $130) and the content is great.

Well, that’s all for now but more Beatles soon!

Until then be safe and well and I hope you get a chance to hear this new remix of “Let it Be”.

See you soon!

A John Lennon 81st Birthday Salute – Lennon Tape Formats from the Past

October 9, 1941 – a day long ago but somehow not so far away.

You see all these eight-one years later Lennon is still remembered fondly and his music is still revered so at least his presence is still fan being by music fans all around the world.

I’m actually not one for posting and noting every Beatle birthday but it just so happens that I stumbled upon an old box of cassettes and 8-tracks just recently so I thought it might be fun to post a few of my surviving John Lennon albums that I still own on those formats.

Ahhh 8-tracks and cassettes tapes.

Both of those formats scream the 1970s to me as it was in the late 1970s that I went through an 8-track and cassette phase which at the time I thought was great. Looking back neither format could really match the sound one got from vinyl but the portability issue won me over as this was the dark ages, pre-Internet and streaming.

In fact for both the “Imagine” and “Mind Games” albums the cassette and 8-track versions were the first versions of these albums that I ever owned. I distinctly remember finding a ton of solo Beatles 8-tracks, mostly from the UK and France, in a huge discount bin for $.99 cents apiece at Musicland (remember that store?) around 1978 or so.

I bought quite a few solo albums by all four Beatles from Musicland and the “Mind Games” UK 8-track is the only John Lennon one that remains in my collection all these years later. I remember playing the 8-tracks in my dad’s car at the time which I thought was so cool – music wherever I wanted it!

(Note: Truth be told at the time I was only “meh” on the “Mind Games” album but as time has passed it’s now one of my favorite Lennon solo albums.)

Around that same time frame I also got a small portable cassette player for my birthday and also decided to get a few solo albums on the cassette format as well. I actually didn’t buy that many prerecorded cassettes as they were not discounted like the 8-tracks so they weren’t as tempting to try and buy an album I didn’t own.

Plus I mainly wanted the cassette player to tape things but a few store-bought cassettes did cross my path from time to time. No surprise to anyone whose read this blog before I’m sure.

I did manage to get the “The John Lennon Collection” cassette on Geffen Records because as memory serves (or not lol, it’s been a long time) there were either more or different songs on the cassette version. I could be wrong but I think that’s why I bought that particular cassette. I think the Lp had 15 tracks and the cassette had 17 if I’m not mistaken.

I also remember buying the “Menlove Ave.” album on cassette because I had also bought that album on CD when it first came out but the CD version skipped in the same spot on my then Maganvox CD player. After buying two different CD copies I went with the cassette as it obviously didn’t skip.

(Note 2: All these years later I found another Made in Japan copy of the “Menlove Ave.” CD and it plays just fine. I’m sure it was my old Magnavox CD player, my first player from 1986. It had a ton of playing issues and was replaced ASAP when I could afford a new and better player)

As for the sealed “Live Peace at Toronto 1969” 8-track, I found that one last year in Florida right before Covid reared its ugly head and travel ground to a halt. I thought it was so fun to find one still sealed after all these years so it makes it a fun artifact to have in the collection. I’m a sucker for sealed older formats.

Anyway, just a few reminisces about the past on what would have been John Lennon’s 81st birthday – Happy Birthday John!

You can take a gander at my cassettes and 8-tracks above as per usual.

That’s all for now.

Happy Saturday and I hope you’re enjoying your Fall no matter where you are out there!




“The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” by Andrew Sandoval Is An Invaluable Book About The Monkees Career and Well Worth Its (Considerable) Weight in Gold

Good things come to those who wait – or so they say. And in the case of the book I’m taking a look at today, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” by Andrew Sandoval, that is most definitely true.

A strictly limited edition available to purchase exclusively online at https://beatlandbooks.com/, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” is a book Monkees fans have been waiting for several years to come to fruition.

Originally released in June of 2005 under the title “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” this wonderful book was first published by Thunder Bay Press and contained an amazingly comprehensive look at The Monkees not only as a TV show but as a musical group and pop phenomena.

“The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” detailed every Monkees recording session, filming date and public appearance between 1965 and 1970 in an easy to read diary format. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paged through this first edition over the years as this book was the only behind the scenes look at how the group worked.

(Note: I was especially interested in how The Monkees recorded their music which was the main draw for me with “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation”. I’ve loved their music since I was a toddler in the late 1960’s and this was the first book that dug deeply into how and what the group recorded and why they had so many unreleased tracks from the 1960s)

Modeled after author Mark Lewisohn’s books on The Beatles, “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” and “The Complete Beatles Chronicle”, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” had placed Sandoval as The Monkees unofficial yet definitive chronicler of the group’s story and legacy.

Not that Sandoval’s isn’t in a great position for that task as he has not only written about the group but he has been their tour manager for over ten years as well as overseeing their stellar music reissues (on CD and vinyl) throughout the last thirty years or so through Rhino Records. Sandoval also produced a couple of bonus tracks from The Monkees triumphant 2016 “Good Times!” album sessions which makes him not just a chronicler of their story but also a participant as well.

No one else in The Monkees universe is as knowledgeable or as passionate about the group’s music than Sandoval so his involvement in The Monkees story has been a most welcome thing to many of the groups hardcore fans.

Over the years Sandoval has been asked if he would ever update “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” book as there has been so much added to the group’s story since 1970 that fans have been requesting a newer edition practically since the day the book was published in 2005.

Fast forward to 2020.

Sandoval found that he had a lot of time on his hands with the Covid Pandemic basically grounding him for a year or so so he decided the time was right to finally update his book. While fans may have been expecting a reasonably expanded edition of the book that included not only the comeback years of 1980’s but the recently much heralded musical resurgence of 2016’s “Good Times!” that was not the case.

As fate would have it Sandoval found thousands of pages of newly discovered legal documents pertaining to the 1967 firing of Don Kirshner, the man who ran Screen Gems music in the late 1960s and was the group’s musical supervisor, at beginning of 2020.

Plus with the addition of hundreds of photos and over four decades of research, Andrew Sandoval decided to compile a massive new edition of his book that while hundreds of pages bigger than the first edition still only focused on The Monkees most critical years of 1965-1970.

Coming in at a hefty 11 pounds (for the basic flexibound edition, more for the two hardback editions) and at an amazing 740 pages, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” is a dream come true for the diehard Monkees fans and is filled the the brim with loads of unseen color and black and white photos as well as reproductions of unpublished stills and call sheets.

I must say now that the book is finally in my hands I can testify that this wonderfully fine-crafted book is a thing of beauty – and massively heavy! Having only spent a couple of hours so far reading through certain sections of the book I can now report that this new update of Sandoval’s book is by far the most detailed and amazing book I’ve ever read about The Monkees (or practically any music book for that matter including most books on The Beatles).

Just reading the pages on the 1967 “Headquarters” sessions and the ousting of Don Kirshner has brought so many more details out that I never knew. It’s especially great to read both Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith’s perspectives from 1967 that come from the court documents that Sandoval found.

All four group members were deposed for the 1967 court case involving Don Kirshner so reading their accounts from just a few months after the fact is much more revealing than what they had to say, or remembered, from say twenty or thirty years later.

Reading through the chapter about 1967 I now have a much clearer view of all sides of dealing with Don Kirshner and the friction that caused all parties involved as well as the new insights into Nesmith’s hatred of Jeff Barry and Jones’ distrust of both Monkees TV producer Bert Schneider and Screen Gems head Jackie Cooper.

Both Nesmith and Jones newly added interviews from the 1967 court case especially illuminate the toxic brew that surrounded the carefree Monkees image in a way that really casts this well told story in a new and more three dimensional light. I now get a much clearer take on both Nesmith and Jones personalities which makes their friction in later years much easier to understand.

I have to say that the addition of the hundreds of new photos also adds an unexpected insight into the narrative of the group’s story and the times in which they recorded their music and filmed their show. Fantastic stuff and I’m sure that fans of pop culture who aren’t necessarily fans of The Monkees would find a lot to love in this book.

This book was obviously designed and marketed to the 2000 or so die-hard fans out there who have followed the group for decades (yes, my hand is up – way up) and that’s a great treat for all of us who never dreamed that such a superbly put together and lovingly assembled book would be THE last word on The Monkees story in the 1960s (for me anyway).

I honestly can’t see how any other book would even remotely come close to the quality presentation that Andrew Sandoval has provided Monkees fans with “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story”.

For those of you out there who may not have heard of how to order this book, as of this writing there are still a few copies available for a short time of the three editions Sandoval has made available through Beatland Books (https://beatlandbooks.com/).

Yes they are expensive (prices range from $100 plus shipping for the flexibound version to $250 plus shipping for the Super Deluxe hardback version) and yes they are extremely heavy but if you are a fan of The Monkees you owe it to yourself to see if you can grab one of the remaining copies before they are gone. Sandoval says they will not be made available digitally and not be made available again in book form as well.

Well that’s all for now. I’m going to get back to lifting weights as I take this book out for some more perusing as long as I don’t injure myself picking it up!

As usual check out the photos of my flexibound copy of “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” above and below.

Until next time be well and safe and see you soon!

Ringo Starr Changing the World One Song at a Time with His “Change the World” EP

Well what have we here. It’s Friday, September 24th and Ringo Starr has dropped another digital postcard of sorts with the release of his latest EP entitled “Change the World”.

In March of this year Ringo released the first of his two new EPs called “Zoom In” which I reviewed here and I enjoyed very much. That EP contained 5 songs all of which I thought were very solid and enjoyable and definitely a fun listen.

Now with the release of “Change the World” which adds another 4 new Ringo songs we have basically the makings of a very enjoyable new Ringo Starr album albeit on the installment plan.

I actually enjoyed this new EP a bit more than the last one as I think Ringo sounds a bit less processed vocally on this disc and all four songs are very good.

Here’s my take on each track:

“Let’s Change the World” – First track, so far so good. Ringo’s vocal on this track seems less processed than his last EP and is more assured. I like this track. It has sort of a ’90s feel to it. Very catchy and well played. I also like that the lyrics are very relevant to 2021. A solid “B+”.

“Just that Way” – A nice reggae feel. A bit more generic than the last song which was very good. Not a bad track but will need more listens to grow on me. Solid overall with nice backing vocals – “B”.

“Coming Undone” – The highlight of the disc. A bit of a country vibe to this song. A nice vocal and the trumpet also gives it a bit of a New Orleans feel as well. Laid back and a nice slow groove.  Another solid “B+”. This track would have been great on Ringo’s “Goodnight Vienna” album. For some reason this song reminded me of that album and would have been great on it instead of one of the lesser songs on that LP.

“Rock Around the Clock” – The most processed sounding vocal on the disc but very energetic and a nice take on this evergreen rock classic. The superb guitar work really propels this track into one of Ringo’s better remakes. Another “B+”.

As usual the musicianship is very strong on this entire disc and Ringo certainly seems to be in very good form and he really sounds engaged on every song.

As I’ve said before I’m so glad that Ringo is still making music at all let alone music this good. I saw him last night on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and though he does look great for being 81 years old you can definitely see his age is beginning to show more so than in the past especially in his hands for sure. 

Who knows how long we’ll have Ringo around making music so I’m so glad he’s releasing new songs in whatever format he chooses to release them in. I will definitely give this new EP more spins and that’s really all you can ask from new music is wanting to hear it again.

Above you can glimpse some photos of the CD version of “Change the World” which was just released today on streaming services as well if you don’t want to go the physical route. Alas it seems the physical route for music seems to be biding time until it vanishes completely but until it goes I’ll enjoy every last release and I sure hope Ringo plans another EP in the near future!

That’s all for now.

I hope all you Beatles fans out there give these four new songs a spin – they’re very good and it’s sure nice to hear from Ringo especially as this friggin’ Covid mess is still engulfing the world.

Be well and see you soon!