The Shelf is Sinking – “Tug of War” Remixed, Revisited and Rebought

I don’t know how it happens (okay, I do but that’s beside the point).

First you buy one copy of something then you buy another slightly different version of that same album and then months later you look at your shelves and notice that your CD’s looks more like store inventory than a collection!

At least that’s what happened to me with the Paul McCartney album Tug of War which was recently (2015) reissued and remixed as part of McCartney’s wonderful Archive Collection.

Ever since it’s release in 1982, Tug of War has remained one of my all-time favorite McCartney albums for several reasons.

First off you have an album full of top-rate McCartney songs – always a good starting point. Songs like “Tug of War”, “Take it Away”, “The Pound is Sinking” (one hell of a great vocal by McCartney on this one!), “Here Today” and “Wanderlust” are all Beatles level songwriting and still sound majestic to this day.

Second, you have great production by the esteemed and legendary producer George Martin (who, to those not in the know, was The Beatles producer throughout their career).

Martin lends a classical sheen to the songs here and really enhances McCartney’s artful pop bringing a level of sophistication to this collection that brings the music up a notch or two in McCartney’s solo canon.

Third, there’s a bit of nostalgia involved as this album came out the year I turned sixteen and for some reason the music from my teenage years still shines like a beacon in the night as far as my musical memories and enjoyment are concerned.

Anyway, back to the future so to speak.

It all started with it was announced in late 2015 that a Super Deluxe Limited edition version of McCartney’s Tug of War album was going to be released and only 1000 copies were being produced with “handwritten, numbered” photos as part of the set (more on that later).

Now I’ve been pretty good about not buying every stinking version of these McCartney Archive Collection albums. Most of them come out on vinyl, CD and Deluxe CD versions (which contain books and a DVD and extra music) so I pretty much stick to the Deluxe and CD versions and occasionally the vinyl version.

Okay, I do every so often get tempted by the evil Best Buy bonuses like the groovy tote bag they issued for Tug of War or the stray bonus 45 that came with their issues of Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound.

BUT this Super Deluxe limited version of one of the McCartney Archive Collection albums was a first (and last it seems) as no other McCartney album has had a special set like this made for it.

Now just to show the collector mindset I was convinced, and truth be told I still wonder, that McCartney hand numbered the photos in each of the 1000 Super Deluxe sets himself.

It’s not as far-fetched as it seems as he did sign (or initial as it seems) a Record Store Day pressing of his song “Hope for the Future” so there is precedent. McCartney himself seems to hold the Tug of War album in high esteem so I wouldn’t put it past him to sneak his handwriting on the set.

I did manage to get my order in as soon as I saw the link on McCartney’s Website and I’m still glad I did. The set is really beautiful and now goes for crazy money – way, way more than the original asking price.

Well as you can see above I didn’t stop at the Super Deluxe limited version of Tug of War lol.

As of this writing I also own the 2 disc vinyl version from Barnes & Noble which came with an exclusive pressing of the “Ebony and  Ivory” 45, the regular 2 CD version of the set, the Best Buy 2 CD set with tote bag, the regular Deluxe Edition (I had some store credit at a local record store so couldn’t resist – I know you have to be a collector TRUST ME), the Capitol reissue CD from last year as well as the Capitol SHM-CD mini-lp version from Japan also from last year!

Whew, that’s a lot of Tug of War!

I’ve since calmed down again and am trying to keep these Archive sets in perspective. Plus the rate of archive releases from McCartney has slowed down and I fear they may go to online/download versions in the future but it’s not like I lack physical McCartney discs anyway!

Okay, who am I kidding? I can be weak but I at least I’m not buying every stinking variation of the other McCartney Archive albums, the Tug of War album holds a soft spot in my heart so I went a little crazy with that one.

Before I leave this I must point out my thoughts on the new 2015 remix of Tug of War. I think it’s mostly good but it is mixed a bit too loud for my tastes (the vinyl version is lower so it’s a bit kinder to the ears) and while some songs work some songs like “Take it Way” lose a bit of the magic that exists in the original mix.

Thankfully the original mix was included in the Deluxe and Super Deluxe sets and is still my preferred was of listening to the album.

The 2015 remix is okay and a fun oddity but it shouldn’t replace the much superior original mix in my opinion.

So, feast your eyes above at my Tug of War madness!

And if you’ve never heard the Tug of War album before you must hurry online or order from Amazon or your nearest record store (yes, they still have them!) as it’s one of the best albums in McCartney’s long and winding career (couldn’t resist!).

Until next time, be well and … Take it Away!




All Things Must SHM – George Harrison on SHM-CD

“Turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so …”

Or so it may seem if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time.

You see I must admit I really LOVE Japanese CD pressings as evidenced by the plethora of SHM-CD and other Japanese CDs that I’ve posted on this blog.

In keeping with this Japanese theme, today I thought I’d share with you some terrific George Harrison SHM-CDs that I own from the Land of the Rising Sun.

(Note: As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts SHM-CD stands for Super High Material CD. SHM-CDs are made in Japan with higher quality material that supposedly enhances the playback ability of the discs which also supposedly enhances the sound quality. Much like Blu-Spec CDs, which are also popular in Japan, SHM-CDs are coveted by collectors.

Truth be told I’ve never heard much of a difference on the few Blu-Spec discs that I own but I do hear a difference on the SHM-CD discs I own. For me the SHM-CDs really do enhance the sound a bit. Many will argue otherwise but I still love my SHM-CDs!)

There were two batches of George Harrison SHM-CDs released in Japan  – one in 2014 that corresponded with the worldwide release of the George Harrison “Apple Years 1968-75” CD box set and another batch released in 2017 that corresponded with the release of the “George Harrison Vinyl Collection” vinyl box set.

The 2017 SHM-CDs were supposedly taken from the masters that produced the 2017 box set and these 2017 transfers didn’t make it onto CD in any country other than Japan.

So, here we are – where are we?

Let me just say that for the most part these SHM-CDs sound fantastic! As I’ve said before I’m not going to go into the debate as to whether or not the SHM-CDs indeed sound better than a regular CD pressing, I’m just going to tell you how these SHM-CDs sound on my system – in my opinion.

Let me start with the two 2014 SHM-CDs I own – “All Things Must Pass” and “Extra Texture“.

I really like the mastering on these discs which are taken from the Apple Years box set that I mentioned above.

I would consider the SHM-CD versions of both of these albums to be my go-to discs for each album. Both sound superb and the SHM-CD versions sound a bit better than their regular CD counterparts.

The vocals on each of these discs sound a bit more clearer and warmer and the bass especially just sounds smoother and stronger than the regular CD versions. Not night and day better but better. I also love that both of these discs have some really nice bonus tracks which really enhances these CD pressings of the albums.

Now onto the 2017 versions.

I’d say for the most part these too sound great BUT I’d have to say the 2017 SHM-CD of “All Things Must Pass” sounds worse than the 2014 version as it’s much louder than the 2014 and also doesn’t include the terrific bonus tracks.

I will say that the packaging for the 2017 wins hands down though as it’s a near perfect replica of the original UK vinyl pressing from 1970 and is quite stunning to look at in person.

For some reason the 2017 SHM-CD doesn’t sound like the 2017 vinyl pressing, to me anyway. I like the 2017 vinyl pressing but this SHM-CD sounds more like the 2000 CD version of “All Things Must  Pass” that was supervised by George Harrison himself before he died. It too was a bit loud and could have used some taming. This 2017 CD version is beautiful but a slight disappointment sound wise.

The other 2017 disc that is good but not great is the SHM-CD of Harrison’s “Living in the Material World“, one of my favorite Harrison albums.

This CD does seem to match the mastering on the 2017 vinyl set as it’s much more muted sounding than the original CD or vinyl pressing.

I actually like this SHM-CD better than it’s vinyl counterpart which seems a bit too muffled sounding as if the high end has been rolled off. The SHM-CD still sounds a bit muffled but is much better sounding than the vinyl version.

Again the 2017 Japanese mini-Lp SHM-CD pressing is gorgeous and sounds good but  I may actually prefer the previous remaster of this album which came out in 2006 which has some nice bonus tracks and sounds a bit punchier and less muted.

As for the rest of the 2017 SHM-CDs that I own – “Dark Horse“, “33 and 1/3“, “George Harrison“, “Somewhere in England“, “Gone Troppo” and “Brainwashed” –  each of them I think sound superb!

I think the discs of “33 and 1/3” and “George Harrison” especially stand out as the bass on them is the best I’ve heard on these albums and they just shine in comparison to any other CD pressings I own. These two also really shine on the 2017 vinyl box set as well and these discs sound very close to those vinyl pressings.

The SHM-CDs of “Somewhere in England” and “Gone Troppo” sound actually more like the first CD issue of these albums by Warner Brothers in the early 1990s where the bass isn’t quite as full as the other discs but nonetheless sound really nice. Nice to hear them not goosed up in volume at all.

I’d have to say that for all the albums but the two 2017’s I mentioned with slight sound issues these Japanese SHM-CDs are my go-to discs when I put these albums in my CD player to get my George Harrison fix!

It really is worth taking the time to track down these lovely mini-CD Japanese SHM-CD versions of these albums if your a fan of Harrison’s work. They’re limited pressings but still can be found online at various online stores.

Take a gander above at these groovy looking discs and until next time be well and Be Here Now to quote one of my favorite George Harrison songs.
















A Partridge in a Japanese Tree – David Cassidy Blu-Spec CDs






“Hello world, hear the song that we’re singin’ …”

Does that phrase remind you of something? Something sort of bird-ish? Something musical?

Does it maybe bring back some happy memories from the past like puka shells and shag haircuts?

Of course to anyone over the age of 45 those lyrics conjure up images of a groovy multi-colored bus and a singing musical family from a TV show called The Partridge Family.

For those uninformed out there The Partridge Family was a popular TV show that ran on the ABC television network from 1970-1974. It starred Shirley Jones and spawned one of the decades biggest teen idols – David Cassidy.

Not only was The Partridge Family a big hit on television but the make believe group was also responsible for some major hit records that were released from the show featuring the languid and well-sung vocals of Cassidy with some background help from Jones (sorry, no one else in The Partridge Family cast sang a note or played on any of the recordings).

Cassidy sang lead on most of the recordings that were released from the TV show including the No. 1 smash “I Think I Love You” from 1970 as well as two more Top Ten hits “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” and “I’ll Meet You Halfway” plus the Top 15 hit “I Woke Up in Love This Morning.”

Fast forward 48 years or so (really? Yikes!) and with the passing of David Cassidy this past November some of the music of The Partridge Family as well as Cassidy’s solo career have been issued  recently once again on compact disc – this time in Japan.

Three CDs – “The Definitive Collection”, “Cherish” and “Rock Me Baby” – were reissued on Blu-Spec CD, a CD format that’s popular primarily in Japan.

Blu-Spec CDs are made with the same process that produce Blu-Ray movie discs and are supposedly better sounding than normal CDs.

Much like SHM-CDs which are also popular in Japan, some collectors believe these discs produce better and more accurate sound thus are sought after by some as an upgrade in sound quality of domestic discs produced in the States.

I happened to track down all three of these Blu-Spec discs, no surprise to readers of this blog!, and wanted to share some thoughts and photos of the discs that are fairly obscure in this country as most people have never heard of the Blu-Spec format and don’t track down import CDs.

I own the regular editions of the “Cherish” and “Rock Me Baby” CDs that came out in the early 2000s in the U.S. so I was anxious to see if these new Japanese discs hold any improvement in sound as the U.S. versions sounded okay but were mastered a tad loud and were just of average sound quality.

I don’t own the older US version of the “Definitive Collection” which features Partridge Family hits mixed with solo David Cassidy hits so this CD is completely new to me.

Let’s start with the best sounding of the three discs “The Definitive Collection.”

Not only is this disc a nice overview of David Cassidy’s biggest hits but it is also a really nice sounding disc.

I like the mastering on this CD as the songs don’t seem to be mastered overly loud – a problem with some of the more recent Partridge Family and David Cassidy CDs on the Buddha label from the early 2000s.

I was pleasantly surprised that The Partridge Family songs sounded near to the best sounding digital versions of these hits that were released by the Razor & Tie label in the 1990s. Even Cassidy’s solo hits sound a bit better, less hot, than the same songs on the “Cherish” and “Rock Me Baby” CDs.

Unfortunately, the “Cherish ” and “Rock Me Baby” CDs use the same masters that produced the U.S. versions. They might actually sound a bit improved on these Blu-Spec versions as they do sound a bit more open and tad bit less muddy but for those collectors out there who love this music the difference between these and the much less expensive U.S. versions probably would not be worth it.

And as the “Cherish” album is practically a Partridge Family album – same sound, same musicians and producers as the group – it’s worth tracking down a version of the album as it’s quite good.

The “Rock Me Baby” album is good as well but is definitely a more rock oriented album and not quite as smooth as The Partridge Family discs with Cassidy adopting a huskier vocal approach that may take some getting used to if you’re only a fan of his work under the Partridge Family banner.

As usual the packaging is first rate on these Japanese CDs but unless you’re a mad collector like me you’d probably be just as happy tracking down the U.S. discs.

I’m guessing the mastering on the “Definitive Collection” is probably the same as the U.S. version and if it is than that disc is a good deal as I think this CD sounds really nice and is a great place to land if you just have a causal interest in this material and want to own it (yes Virginia, some people want to own their music and not just stream it!!!).

The artwork – minus the Japanese lyric booklets – is the same as the U.S. discs as well but I did notice something I’ve never seen before in that the Definitive Collection disc, which features music from The Partridge Family, has been released on the Columbia label unlike the U.S. version which was released on Arista who owns the Partridge Family material.

Columbia/Screen Gems, now owned by Sony, was the original studio that made The Partridge Family TV show and recordings so it’s interesting to see the Columbia label pop up on a new Partridge Family reissue – mmm.

Anyway, feast your yes on the Blu-Spec discs above and until next time – Come On, Get Happy!!!



Instant Rewind – Monkees on Columbia VHS


Okay hands up, anyone out there remember VHS tapes?

Good, a lot of you.

Now anyone out there remember Monkees VHS tapes?


Bueller? Lol. Anyone?

Well for those perpetually curious about all things Monkees and those who want to see some actual Monkees VHS tapes, you’ve come to the right spot on the Web!

Today I’m taking a look back at some of the VHS tapes of The Monkees TV series that were released by Columbia Pictures in 1986 and 1987.

You see, in 1986 The Monkees returned to the pop landscape in a HUGE way! And that my dear friends was a weird and wonderful thing.

If you were born in the late 1960s or earlier and lived through the 1970s you would be hard pressed to see any way in which The Monkees could ever possibly become one of the hottest acts of 1986.

Until 1986 The Monkees were seen by many, especially the rock press and critics, as cardboard cutouts that leaped off of cereal boxes to hoist their evil corporate-run hands onto radio and record sales stealing the limelight from more legitimate acts.

No seriously, The Monkees were scorned.

Most “hipsters” even at the mere mention of the group mockingly sung the TV theme song (“Hey, Hey, We’re The Monk -ees”) and then proceeded to laugh the group off. The Monkees were seen as merely a kids TV show that should be consigned to the past – end of story.

That is until MTV started playing The Monkees TV series in early 1986 and The Monkees phenomena started a major phase two and a cultural rebirth lifted The Monkees from the scrapheap of time.

MTV’s exposure of The Monkees caused a huge demand for Monkees live appearances as well as all sort of Monkees products including vinyl, CDs and VHS tapes. At one point The Monkees had seven, yes seven, of their albums on the Billboard Top 200 charts at the same time!

And, as usual, I was there to eagerly soak up all of those various releases and revel in the most unlikely but satisfying return of one of my all-time favorite musical acts to TV (as well as cable) and radio airwaves.

Now while I really enjoyed The Monkees TV series, in 1986 I hadn’t actually seen it for several years, probably since the CBS Saturday morning reruns in the early 1970s.

For me The Monkees appeal was 85 percent driven by my love of their music and 15 percent by my memories of the TV show.

It was such a revelation to finally get to see all the episodes of the series when they ran on MTV and it was really nice to finally be able to own some of the episodes via the  release of the Columbia VHS tapes.

Each Columbia VHS tape contained two complete Monkees episodes and included two of my all-time favorite Monkee episodes – “I was a Teen-Age Monster” and “The Devil and Peter Tork” both of which I remembered seeing as a child on the Saturday morning reruns of the show all those years ago (cue the George Harrison song!)

I’ve come to really enjoy the series now that I can actually watch it whenever I want. Plus since it’s currently available in stunning quality on Blu-Ray I can enjoy the madness of the series even more because the color really pops off the screen like a Andy Warhol painting (more on the Blu-Ray box set in future posts!).

BUT in 1986 Columbia pictures (who then still owned all the group’s output on TV and record as well as their name) put out these few VHS cassettes and at the time I was thrilled to have them.

I’ve since transferred these VHS tapes to recordable DVD and they still look pretty darn good – not great but good.

Rhino records bought The Monkees catalog in the early 1990s and later issued the complete series on VHS and DVD and those looked even better but the original Columbia VHS tapes look just fine – if you can still play them that is.

I’ve put photos above of the five Columbia VHS Monkees tapes that I own. Included is a groovy sheet from Rhino advertising their Monkees audio catalog reissues from that time period (which came in one of the VHS tapes) and a really nice promotional display card for the VHS tapes that folds open to advertise the tapes in a store.

I just found the VHS display card this past weekend at an antique store which prompted me to drag my VHS tapes from the darkness of storage out into the sunlight to make this blog post.

Anyway, enjoy this look at the Columbia Monkees VHS tapes!!!There will be more Monkees VHS tapes in the future so keep an eye out.

Until next time be well and

“Here They Come” …