Beatles Grab Bag – Three Japanese Beatles CD Variations

Sometimes you just never know what you’ll find when browsing through the used bins in various shops.

With the all the virus madness putting a hard hit stop on shopping, I thought I might reminisce about some of my fun Beatles CD finds from the past year. In particular some Japanese Beatles CDs that I found in a couple of offbeat bookstores.

I’ve read online that some people don’t find much in the way of Beatles in the used record stores or thrift stores but for me this past year brought some lovely gems.  Of course I love me some imported Beatles CDs and if they’re from Japan even better!

So let’s go back a bit to the height of the CD era. The Beatles first hit the shelves in the CD format in 1987 and by 1988 all their studio work had finally made it to the digital age. At the time I, along with most fans, were happy to have digital Beatles but there were a few glitches with the first batch of CDs released in 1987.

Most Beatles fans found the 1987/88 CDs lacking especially the first four which were only released in mono and not the odd but endearing wide stereo that fans had grown accustomed to and loved.

Looking back on the pre-2009 Remastered Beatles CDs many folks, including myself, were really pushing for some updated Beatles CDs that sounded closer to what people experienced on vinyl.

The 1987/88 CDs lacked the warmth, clarity and punch of the cherished vinyl pressings that most hardcore fans owned and loved.

So where does this lead me? Well last year I found two 1980’s Beatles CDs from Japan which made me re-evaluate the pre-2009 CDs.

In fact after buying and listening to them closely, the original Japanese CD pressings of “Revolver” and “Let it Be” kind of took me by surprise. They actually sounded pretty damn good!

(Note: actually neither the “Revolver” or “Let it Be” CD’s are first Japanese issues, I believe, as they both have the Apple logo but they contain the pre-2009 mastering of each album.)

Let me preface this by saying that I am a big fan of the 2009 remastered CDs for the most part. The first four in stereo are really great and the mono box set is fantastic!

It wasn’t until I ran into these two Japanese pressings that I re-listened closely to the older versions and after all this time they don’t sound bad at all. Not all the 1987/88 CDs are great but for the most part after re-listening they actually sound very nice.

Of course these Japanese CDs are a fun find as they all came from tiny little stores in which I thought I would never find imported CDs and for a cheap price too. Such is the age of declining interest in my beloved little silver discs.

Nevertheless in retrospect I’m glad I kept the 1987/88 CDs as everything from “Revolver” on is just fine sound wise. The earlier ones sound a bit better on the 2009 CDs so all’s good.

The other Japanese CD I found last year was of a CD called “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” that came out in 1999. This CD features all the songs from the “Yellow Submarine” film with the added bonus of being remixed from the multi-tracks.

The original soundtrack album for “Yellow Submarine” only featured six Beatles songs from the film leaving out several more tunes that were featured in the film. Thus making the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” a much better Beatles experience than the original  soundtrack LP from 1969.

Truth be told I always found the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” CD to sound a little bit too digital and kind of flat at times. More digital sounding than analog.

I was surprised top find that this original Japanese import CD sounded really nice and not nearly as digital as I had remembered. I’m sure it’s the same mastering but for some reason this Japanese CD sounds warmer and more lively than my original US pressing.

I could be wrong, and I probably am, but this CD sounds better in my ears  and besides it sure is purdy. LOVE the groovy OBI on this.

Anyway, just a bit of a CD distraction today to counteract all the dreariness of the news.

As usual there are photos above so you can take a gander at these little Japanese gems. Not the rarest CDs but a fun find for me and a reminder of what life was like pre-Covid.

That’s all for now.

Take care and be well and I hope you have some good music to get you through the day.

 

 

 

 

Not Just a Slice But the Whole Pie – The Paul McCartney Deluxe 5CD/2 DVD “Flaming Pie” Box Set

Well now, that’s some really good pie!

Of course I’m talking about Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” (not available at your local grocers); the Deluxe 5CD/2DVD “Flaming Pie” to be exact.

Last week I took a look at the lovely 2 CD version of “Flaming Pie” that was released the same day but I wanted to take some time to really digest all the contents of this terrific new Deluxe set so here I am with some thoughts on this feast of music.

Let’s dissect this pie piece by piece shall we:

The Packaging/Booklets: “A”

As per usual with the previous sets in McCartney’s ongoing Archive Collection the box itself and the books, booklets and memorabilia reproductions are top notch!  I particularly love that the box on this box set closes with a magnetic strip underneath the front side cover – very classy.

For longtime purchasers of these sets you’ll also notice that the cardboard that holds the 5 CD/2DVD discs is much thicker and sturdier than previous sets which is also nice.

I also loved reading the main book which details the making of the album and the writing of the songs. I’ve read some people online were disappointed in it but I really enjoyed reading it. It took me into the time period of the late 1990’s and really gave me a feel for what was going on in McCartney’s life.

Really all the booklets and reproductions are of such high quality that I can see why the cost of this set is rather high. Too high? Well that depends on your outlook and wallet.

The CDs: “A”

I already addressed the sound of the reissued album (terrific!) and most of the bonus tracks in my review of the 2 CD version of “Flaming Pie” from last week.

So what are the contents of the 5 CD set?

* Disc 1 is the newly remastered album.

* Disc 2 contains the home recordings/demos which are found on Disc 2 of the 2 CD set.

* Disc 3 contains the same studio outtakes and alternates as the 2 CD set but adds rough mixes of “The Song We Were Singing”, “The World Tonight”, “Little Willow” and “If You Wanna”. (Note: all three are fun but not essential)

* Disc 4 contains four of the b-side tracks from Disc 2 of the 2 CD set but adds the unique “The Ballad of the Skeletons” (with Allen Ginsberg) as well as six of the Oobu Joobu segments that were originally released as bonus tracks on CD singles from the album

* Disc 5 contains the audio called Flaming Pie At The Mill which is basically a radio show uncut with Paul going through his home studio and demonstrating his studio equipment/instruments while discussing the “Flaming Pie” album

So, are the extra audio nuggets worth it? I guess it depends on how big a McCartney fan you are – and I am a big fan. It’s worth it to me as I love the radio special disc as well as the odd but endearing “The Ballad of the Skeletons” which I didn’t own previously.

Granted most of this bonus audio is on the 2 CD set so really if you aren’t that interested in rough mixes and already have the Oobu Joobu stuff (which I do but it’s nice to have it all together on one disc) then I can see wanting to pass on the Deluxe set strictly in terms of the audio content.

The DVDs: “A”

DVD One: The “In the World Tonight” documentary about the making of “Flaming Pie” which was originally issued as a separate DVD by Rhino Records

DVD Two:

Bonus Film
1. Beautiful Night
2. Making Of Beautiful Night
3. Little Willow
4. The World Tonight [Dir. Alistair Donald]
5. The World Tonight [Dir. Geoff Wonfor]
6. Young Boy [Dir. Alistair Donald]
7. Young Boy [Dir. Geoff Wonfor]
8. Flaming Pie EPK 1
9. Flaming Pie EPK 2
10. In The World Tonight EPK
11. Flaming Pie Album Artwork Meeting
12. TFI Friday Performances
13. David Frost Interview

The first DVD is an excellent documentary and is great to see again but I already own it so this was no big surprise as it’s not really any different from the original DVD that came out around the time “Flaming Pie” was originally issued. Too bad it wasn’t on Blu-Ray but it’s still nice to have.

The second DVD however was a lot of fun as I have never seen the two live performances from TGI Friday or the David Frost interview.  Both of the TGI Friday performances were reminiscent of McCartney’s 1980 “Coming Up” video with McCartney accompanying video of himself playing various instruments – very fun.

Overall I really enjoyed this disc even though at times the duplicate videos and EPK’s were a bit repetitious. The video quality is very good and really as a Macca completest these DVDs are a treasure.

(Note: this Deluxe edition also contains all the tracks in HiRes audio (like previous sets)  that you can download from a code on a card in the box set.)

Conclusion: Overall Grade a Solid “A”

Well, here we are – where are we? I’d say this new Deluxe set is so lovingly made and the content so enjoyable that along with the other Deluxe editions from the McCartney Archive Collection it’s a must buy for McCartney fans.

BUT, and here’s the big issue, the price of this set was really kind of off putting to say the least. The “Flaming Pie” Deluxe set’s retail list price is $255.98. Yes, you heard right over $255 – yikes!

Now had I not got a pre-order deal online that knocked that price down by $100 I would have seriously thought of just getting the 2 CD set. I think around $160 is not too bad for all the booklets and CDs etc. but around $250 is a getting to be a bit much.

Don’t get me wrong this set is super – well made and very lovely – but it’s quite a step up in price compared to many of the earlier McCartney Archive Deluxe sets. Granted there’s an ever dwindling number of folks who want this kind of physical media but the worrying trend in prices is a concern.

But price aside this is one terrific set and if you’re a McCartney fan and love the “Flaming Pie” album as I do then this set is a goldmine especially if you happen to get it at a decent price.

As usual above you can see some photos of this groovy new set.

For those who don’t want to spend the money for the physical set most of the audio is available online in various spots and is well worth tracking down as this is really Grade A McCartney music and among the best music of McCartney’s long and storied career.

Until next time as always be safe and well!