The Beatles 1(+) … Or Two?


Ahhhh “The Beatles 1”.

It’s not only one of the biggest selling CD’s of all time – with over 31 million copies sold so far around the world – it’s also, as of 2015, a fantastic collection of Beatles promo videos and live performances.

The original “Beatles 1” CD which came out in 2000 contained 27 number one hits that the Fab Four achieved in Britain and the U.S. The collection has been reissued on CD in 2011 in remastered from (taken from the 2009 Beatles remasters) and most recently in this new 2015 collection.

As a major Beatles fan I enjoyed the “1” CD but just the hits is never enough “Fab” for me so I rarely played it. So when word came the Giles Martin, son of original Beatles producer George Martin, was remixing all the hits on “1” and that a video compilation was going to be bundled with it I was overjoyed.

(Note: I prefer the 2011 remastered CD version of this album which sounds much better to me as I like the mastering better so that’s the one I play if I want to hear the album with the original mixes.)

A lot of Beatles video archive material came out with the Beatles Anthology project in 1995 but there was never a compilation of full length Beatles videos or live performances so this collection was a very welcome addition to The Beatles canon as far as I was concerned.

And of course Apple, The Beatles company, didn’t disappoint as the new “Beatles 1” collection contained beautifully restored  video material including Beatles promos like “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane” both in glorious color as well as terrific black and white live performances like “From Me to You” (from their 1963 Royal Command Performance for the Queen), “She Loves You” (live from the Swedish TV Show “Drop-In”) and various promos they made in 1965 for broadcast around the world.

And as usual there were several versions of the new “Beatles 1” set with the mother load being called “The Beatles 1+” which contained a second DVD of Beatles performances including the reunion singles form 1995 “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love” which contain remixed versions of those songs by the songs producer Jeff Lynne which are truly great and need to be released on audio disc!

Today I’m highlighting two versions of the 2015 “Beatles 1” CD/DVD/Blu-Ray sets, both from Japan:
* A SHM-CD/DVD set that contains the “1” CD and a DVD of all the songs from the disc (the small yellow CD/DVD package)
* A SHM-CD/Blu-Ray set that contains the “1” CD plus the Blu-Ray of all the songs from “1” plus a bonus Blu-Ray disc of extra videos/performances (the large red CD/Blu-Ray package)

The Japanese DVD and Blu-Rays play in U.S. players and look fabulous.

Readers of this blog will know how much I enjoy SHM-CD’s so I thought it might be fun to take a look at two of the SHM-CD sets available in Japan as you don’t see their content much on the Web so here you are!

I really enjoy the remix Giles Martin did for the “1” audio disc and of course the SHM-CD version sounds best to me with a bit more clarity than the standard CD version.

The “1+” collection is a must-buy for any Beatles fan as it’s just a fun watch and listen and i doubt that you’d ever get these videos to look much better. The Blu-Ray is the best looking version but the DVD isn’t too far behind as it looks great as well.

If you’re not into import versions the standard U.S. versions of this collection have the same content and are well worth tracking down in these dying days of physical media.

I believe most of these videos are up on YouTube as well (or somewhere on the Web) but above you can fest you eyes on the truly lovely sets from Japan that both also contain nice informative booklets as well.

I really hope that the  Beatles Anthology collection gets a nice upgrade as well but who knows now that record companies are starting to shy away from physical product. Time will tell.

Well that’s it for now. TGIF wherever you are in the world today.

Until next time be well and enjoy this first day of summer!




John Lennon/Yoko Ono – “Double Fantasy” Triple Play

John Lennon would be 79 years old this coming October – ouch!

That means that it’s been almost forty years since the release of his final album with Yoko Ono entitled “Double Fantasy”. FORTY YEARS … incredible.

Anyway, as I’ve said before time has a way of sneaking up on you so today I thought I’d take a look back at the Lennon’s final album together and reminisce a bit about the era.

The reason I’ve decided to trip down memory lane back to 1980 and the “Double Fantasy” album in particular was because of an interesting (and sad) article that came out in the New York Times last week called “The Day the Music Burned”.

“The Day the Music Burned” details a fire in the backlot of Universal Studios in 2008 that burned quite a lot of priceless film and video archive material as well as supposedly over 500,000 master tapes of some of the biggest recording stars of the 20th Century including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, The Carpenters, Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana and Yoko Ono. Yoko Ono?

You see John Lennon and Yoko Ono were signed to Geffen Records in 1980 and apparently a lot of Geffen Records masters were destroyed. Did that include tapes from the “Double Fantasy” sessions?

No one is absolutely sure as a lot of the material stored at Universal was haphazardly cataloged and whether John Lennon masters or multi-tracks were there wasn’t mentioned. It may just be Ono’s solo work that was included in the fire but probably only Universal or Ono know for sure.

In any case I’m guessing Yoko Ono may have them stored safely herself somewhere but it got me thinking about the “Double Fantasy” album nonetheless and it started my mind wandering back in time.

I was 14 years in the Fall of 1980 when the “Double Fantasy” album was released. I remember it well. The first single from the album, “(Just Like) Starting Over”, had been released a few weeks prior the album’s November release so I was anxiously awaiting getting my hands on the full record.

I didn’t really get into The Beatles or the solo Beatles work until around 1975 so I had never experienced the release of a new Lennon album in real time until the release of “Double Fantasy”.

I vividly remember trying to scour the radio for my first listen of “(Just Like) Starting Over” in early October when it was released and finally stumbling upon it late at night in my parents bed as they had a radio on the nightstand that I listened to before I went to my own bed to sleep.

My first listen of “(Just Like) Starting Over” struck me as just okay but the song grew on me until I feel in love with it in the weeks leading up to “Double Fantasy’s” release.

I managed to get the “Double Fantasy” album on its release day as my neighbor’s mother worked at a local mall and bought it for me that day and I paid her for the album when she got home from work.

Playing the album I was pleasantly surprised that I really loved all of John Lennon’s songs especially “Watching the Wheels” and “I’m Losing You”. Ono’s songs not so much at least at first. I grew to like them but in the CD age I usually program around them I must admit though in all honestly they’re not that bad.

It’s an understatement to say the the events of December 8, 1980, when Lennon was gunned down by an obsessed fan, are burned into my memory forever tainting my feelings for “Double Fantasy” as a more melancholy experience than my initial joy at hearing new Lennon material.

Some things become a total time capsule of a period and “Double Fantasy” is now imprinted in my mind as a reminder of the Fall of 1980 as well as the death of John Lennon.

So this brings me to today’s post which highlights three CD versions of the “Double Fantasy” album that I happen to own: a 1994 MFSL gold CD, a Japanese CD of the 2000 remaster with bonus tracks and the most recent CD a SHM-CD also from Japan from 2014.

Really, none of these CDs sounds bad at all. If I had to choose I’d definitely say the best sounding version is the 1994 Gold MFSL CD. It’s smooth and clear with nice bass and has a pleasant analog sound that really is a joy from start to finish.

The 2000 remastered CD sounds fine but a tad bit loud. I do enjoy the bonus tracks though. The Ono song “Walking on Thin Ice” is especially chilling and poignant as it was the song John Lennon was working on the night he was killed.

I happened upon this 2000 Japanese version of the remastered CD and was drawn to the huge, beautiful box that it comes in so naturally I had to buy it. I love the look of this set, the artwork is done so well it really reminds me of the first vinyl issue of the album. It just takes me back.

The SHM-CD from 2014 is the most recent CD release of this album and it sounds quite good. Again a bit loud but good. I prefer the 1994 gold CD but this version is nice and the SHM-CD has really nice bass so this version is definitely a fun listen.

As usual you can take a gander above and see photos of these three CDs.

These Lennon songs on“Double Fantasy” are some of my favorite of his solo catalog and while they may not be as cutting as the songs on his first solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, they hold more memories for me and that wins this album a special place in my heart.

I hope that the multi-tracks for these sessions still exist as I would love to hear a complete“Double Fantasy” sessions box like the recent “Imagine” box set because Lennon was in a more playful state of mind at these sessions and practically all the banter as well as songs from these sessions were recorded on tape.

Well, that’s it for 1980 for now.

Until next time, take care and be well!













Handmade Monkees Love – Rhino Records “Headquarters Sessions” and “Summer 1967 – The Complete U.S. Concert Recordings” Box Sets

The Monkees were a fake band and couldn’t play their instruments.

I’ve heard it time and time again from so-called “serious” rock fans. More so before The Monkees mid-’80’s revival but it’s still out there in the ether so to speak.

Okay, let’s take a look at these statements.

One, The Monkees weren’t a real band:

Technically the answer is yes and no. “The Monkees” was conceived as a television show about a struggling rock group that wanted fame and fortune in the mid-1960’s, the height  of The Beatles reign in the pop music world.

The four Monkees – Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith – were cast like any other TV show to play this fictitious group.

BUT – and here’s where it gets sticky- the four cast members DID play together as a self-contained group on record and on stage. They each played an instrument – Peter Tork in fact was proficient on several instruments – and each performed quite competently both in the studio and on the concert stage.

Does that make them a real group?

(Note: The Monkees performed musically on their third and fourth albums, that is they actually played as a self contained group, which is something most Motown acts and many of the popular groups of the day didn’t do as they relied totally on studio musicians. Hmmm, seems like a REAL group to me.)

The TV producers always planned on releasing recordings from the show but little did they know that the popularity of the recordings would dwarf the popularity of the TV show. The records sold like hot cakes creating a true phenomena for the “group” as they became one of the biggest recording acts of the 1960’s.

And The Monkees as a stage act have outlasted the TV show by 51 years so does that make them a group?

Yes, in my mind The Monkees was/is more a group than a TV show but they are indeed both which it what makes their story so intriguing.

Anyway, the gist of this post today is to highlight what I consider the pinnacle of The Monkees as both a recording and a live act – two box sets called “Headquarters Sessions” and “Summer 1967 – The Complete U.S. Concert Recordings“.

Both of these sets were released through Rhino Records Handmade imprint and only made available online.

“Headquarters Sessions” was released in 2000 and limited to 4500 copies and “Summer 1967 – The Complete U.S. Concert Recordings” was released in 2001 and limited to 3500 copies.

As a fan and collector of The Monkees music these two CD sets represent the holy grail as far as Monkees recordings go as a self-contained group. These seven CD’s contain all the energetic, garage band glory of The Monkees as a real group.

No studio musicians, no slick production, just real honest to goodness fun rock and roll music played with spirit and energy and sounding damn fine if you ask me.

The “Headquarters Sessions” set contains most of the sessions for the album that still exist on tape and contains several unreleased songs in embryonic form as well as mono and stereo mixes for both released and unreleased songs from the album as well as the single that was released right before the album came out.

Granted there are a lot of instrumentals as there are several backing tracks without vocals but as a fan this set is just glorious. It shows the group, yes at this moment they became a true group, as talented performers and songwriters and excellent singers.

The “Summer 1967 – The Complete U.S. Concert Recordings” is even more raw and consists of four complete concerts from the end of their 1967 U.S. tour. Three of the concerts are in stereo while the first show is a mono soundboard test to see how the group would sound recorded live.

Again, four shows may seem like overkill but it is so fun to hear the raw energetic real Monkees sound before a frenetic  audience screaming their heads off.

It’s amazing to me how good the group sounds live (with NO overdubs) as Dolenz had only been playing drums for about a year when these recordings were made which just shows how musically adapt he was and how well the group took to performing live.

It could have been a disaster having the group play live but instead it ended up being a raw and exciting garage band thrashing out an hour long set of terrific pop music. What is more counter-culture than that, taking a popular TV show and turning it into something authentic and raw and not just playing it safe.

Rhino Records also released a groovy red colored short Lp called “Selections from The Headquarters Sessions” in 2012 which was limited to 2500 copies. This is the only vinyl appearance so far of some of these sessions and is still easy to locate online.

Both of the CD sets are now tough to find in physical form but I believe you can hear them on various streaming platforms. If you’ve never heard these releases try and track them down online, you may be pleasantly surprised at how good The Monkees sound as a bonafide group!

As usual take a gander above at the physical sets and if you’ve never seen them you can see the love that went into making them as they are both terrific looking and sounding sets.

Until next time be well and remember …

“We were born to love one another
This is something we all need
We were born to love one another
We must be what we’re goin’ to be
And what we have to be is free” – Peter Tork/Joey Richards recorded by The Monkees 1967





No Maybes About It … Paul McCartney Amazes With Three-Hour Extravaganza at Allen County Memorial Coliseum





Paul McCartney is a freak of nature – there I’ve said it.

Seriously, how can anyone over fifty years into their musical career perform a nearly three hour show, play several instruments (all really well I may add) including bass, electric and acoustic guitar, piano and even ukulele barely break a sweat while never leaving the stage.

And do all of that while keeping the audience in the palm of their hands – to quote the man himself maybe I’m amazed.

Then again I’ve seen McCartney in concert nine times previously so I pretty much knew what to expect but boy is he still able to deliver.

After casually strolling on stage at around 8:10 p.m. McCartney ripped into The Beatles classic “A Hard Day’s Night” and never stopped until nearly 11 p.m.

Looking fit and much younger than his age, McCartney was enthusiastic and thoroughly seemed to enjoy himself bopping from instrument to instrument through the night as he acknowledged the audience in all parts of the coliseum.

So, you may ask,  how does this performance stack up to the nine previous McCartney shows I’ve had the pleasure of seeing? Quite well actually.

First off I must say that for the first third of the show McCartney’s voice was a bit ragged at times and there were signs of weariness especially on songs like the superb “Letting Go” (SO much better with real horn players!) and “Let Me Roll It” but by the acoustic set  and the last two thirds of the show his voice settled into a groove and he sounded great.

I have to say the acoustic portion of the show was one of the best acoustic sets I’ve heard the man do and certainly the highlight of the evening for me.

Songs like “In Spite of All the Danger” (an old Quarrymen song, pre-Beatles), “From Me to You” and “Love Me Do” were all superb! There was even some fresh banter from McCartney when he talked of getting the Beatle screams in the old days with the women in the audience gladly providing a couple of samples.

The other slight drawback to the night was the sound. Again the first third of the night was a tad muddy (at least where I was sitting) and sounded a bit too loud but by the acoustic set it had settled down as well and was better the last two thirds of the night. It seems that since McCartney usually plays bigger arenas the sound may have been pumped a bit too high for this smaller setting.

I was really surprised at McCartney’s nice performances of the vocal shredding “Maybe I’m Amazed” as well as “Live and Let Die” both of which sounded really good and in the past have proved challenging at some shows but he pulled them both off beautifully last night.

As usual McCartney was warm and engaging throughout the entire performance and made the crowd of over 11,000 seem like they were at an intimate night club as he told story after story about his songs and storied career.

I must say too that the newer songs from his latest album “Egypt Station” all sounded terrific especially “Who Cares” and the notorious “Fuh You” which took me a while to warm up to on the recording but which sounded wonderful live.

The sold-out crowd was very enthusiastic throughout the entire show and were definitely glad McCartney had finally come to the Summit City.

As far as the ten shows I’ve seen McCartney perform this one was definitely the most relaxed, the easiest to get too and probably the most enjoyable. I was early enough to the show that even the merchandise table was a breeze and I managed to nab one of the 100 limited edition posters for this particular show that were offered for sale (see above).

Seeing as how McCartney will be 77 later this month this may be the last time I see him perform live. If it is it was certainly a great way to remember him as a performer. He always gives 1000 percent and last night was just a magical experience.

Ten down and who knows maybe an eleventh will manage to squeeze itself in sometime. Either way Paul McCartney has to be seen live to be believed!

Here’s the complete setlist from last night’s show in Fort Wayne, IN:

As usual I’ve posted a few photos above of the concert last night and since I have the day off today it’s time for a nap lol.

Until next time be well and Happy early Summer!!!








There’s a Paul McCartney “Rock Show” Tonight – In Celebration: “Wings Over America” (Times Two)




As the title of this post says there is indeed a rock show tonight! This evening I’m celebrating seeing my tenth Paul McCartney show and in my hometown to boot!

I’ve traveled far and wide since 1989 to see Paul McCartney perform live in concert – once in Chicago (1989), three times in Indianapolis (1990, 2002 and 2013), twice in Detroit (2005 and 2017),  three times in St. Louis (1993, 2012 and 2016) and tonight here in Fort Wayne, IN.

In celebration of seeing the “Fab” Sir Paul tonight I thought it might be fun to post a couple of different versions I own of my favorite Paul McCartney live album of them all – 1976’s triple Lp “Wings Over America”.

The “Wings Over America” set documents McCartney’s triumphant return to live performances in the States. Paul McCartney hadn’t toured in the U.S. since his last performance with The Beatles in 1966.

This triple live album has always been one of my favorite live albums as McCartney was at the height of his vocal powers in 1976 and the set was filled with searing performances of some of Wings best songs.

Highlights include deep cuts like “Beware My Love”, “Call Me Back Again” and “Soily” as well as some of Wings bigger hits like “Band on the Run”, “Listen to What the Man Said”, “Silly Love Songs” and the powerhouse opening trio of “Venus and Mars/ Rock Show/ Jet”.

While the studio versions of the songs from “Wings Over America” are all excellent, the live versions of these songs on this set have that something extra – extra energy, extra excitement and passionate vocals – that make them the definitive performances of this material.

I also have to say that the live take of The Beatles “The Long and Winding Road” from this set is my all-time favorite performance of the song by far.

Above you can see photos of two fairly rare pressings of this set – one mini-Lp CD set from Japan from 1999 and the 1980’s vinyl pressing of the album on Columbia Records.

Both of these versions of “Wings Over America” are rarely seen nowadays and both are fantastic collectibles.

The 1999 Japanese CD pressing in particular is one of the best mini-Lp reproductions I’ve ever seen. Every detail is meticulously done right – the inner sleeves, the original vinyl labels as well as the lovely small reproduction of the poster that came with the 1976 vinyl set. It’s even contains three CDs (to mimic the three original vinyl lps) even though the content can fit on two discs.

The 1999 Japanese also shares the same mastering as the original UK CD and sounds terrific.

I have to say though that the Columbia Records pressing of “Wings Over America” is no slouch in the sound department either. This pressing is very quiet and like all the other Columbia Records McCartney discs sounds really nice.

I’d say this Columbia pressing sounds just as nice, if not better, than my original Capitol U.S. pressing from 1976.

I’m not sure if the Columbia pressing was supposed to contain the poster as there’s an empty space for it in the sleeve but I bought this copy used a couple of years ago and it just contains the three vinyl Lps with the inner sleeves.

Well that’s if for now. I’m off to get ready for tonight’s show! As usual take a gander above at my two favorite “Wings Over America” pressings and as always be well.

(Note: Details of tonight’s concert coming soon.)

As for me:

“Sitting in the stand of the sports arena …