A Tale of Two UK First Pressing Monos – The Beatles “Revolver” (XEX 606-1) and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

Welcome back! As we creep back into that wonderful Fall time of year my mind, as per usual, is turning toward listening to some old vinyl. 

Not just any old vinyl mind you, lately I’ve been taking a look at all the original UK Beatles vinyl I own and making needledrops (vinyl transfers to digital) of all the first pressing mono and stereo copies that reside in my collection.

Today I wanted to feature two of my absolute favorite pressings – two of the best mono albums in the entire Beatles catalog (in my humble opinion): “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

As fate would have it I acquired both of these lovely pressings in 1999. Back then I was just getting into Ebay and at that time one could find really good deals on Beatle vinyl especially if you looked for playable copies that weren’t in Near Mint condition.

Nowadays original Beatles UK pressings will set you back quite a bit but then you could find them much cheaper and usually in decent shape without spending a fortune.

Funny enough I remember that I won both of these albums together in one auction from someone who lived in Atlanta, Georgia. Why do I remember that you say? Well I remember thinking how funny it was to find two first pressing Beatles UK monos in Atlanta of all places. I don’t know why but that struck me as odd.

Anyway, I could tell from the photos in the auction that both were well  loved and played but the description said they both sounded great so after not many other bids I won the pair for $30 including shipping which I thought was fair.

When I got them in the mail I was very pleased as the covers were really in decent shape and though I could tell the vinyl was well-played both albums looked pretty good.

Now at the time of this auction I don’t remember if I knew that there was a rare first pressing of the “Revolver” album that was only pressed for one day which contained an alternate mix (Mono Mix 11) of “Tomorrow Never Knows”

As the story goes The Beatles producer George Martin called the pressing plant on the first day of the pressing of the album and requested that this version of the mono record be stopped so the mix could be switched with a more preferred version of the mono mix of  “Tomorrow Never Knows”.

Most likely John Lennon asked Martin to switch the mix at the last minute and though most other artists would not have the ability to do such a late minute change thus was the power and clout of The Beatles that EMI allowed the substitution.

Even though EMI granted the change they insisted that the copies they already pressed would go out for sale and not destroyed thus this lovely collectible was born.

(Note: I don’t think I learned about that rare pressing until several years later reading one of Bruce Spizer’s terrific Beatles books on the UK Beatle albums called “Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records”).

As luck would have it the pressing of “Revolver” from that Ebay purchase was indeed the rare version of the album that contains the alternate mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows”

I just remember thinking at the time how great both albums sounded though I was a little frustrated there’s was a slight skip on one track on side one of “Revolver”. I remember not contacting the seller because I thought it was a good price and that “Pepper” played nearly perfect so what the heck why not keep them.

It’s a good thing I did as years later when I realized that my copy of “Revolver” had the matrix number XEX 606-1 that it was indeed the rare album with the alternate mix.

(Note 2: I’ve just recently read that even though this rare mix version was only pressed for one day EMI who released the album was capable of pressing up to 120,000 copies of an album in a day so accounting for the smaller stereo pressings there may actually be upwards of 80,000 or more copies of this mono pressing floating around the UK somewhere.)

As for the mono mix 11 of “Tomorrow Never Knows” it’s actually not drastically different to the familiar mono mix but it does have differences in John Lennon’s vocals and the volume of the tape loops that run throughout the song. 

The telltale sign that’s it is the rare mix is that it fades out much longer than the normal mono mix and features more of the tack piano in the fade than the regular mix.

It wasn’t until I read about the rare mix and discovered I owned it on my pressing. I’m guessing I just thought it was the difference between mono and stereo and didn’t really pay much attention to this mix.

It wasn’t until I bought another UK mono pressing of  “Revolver” that contained the regular mono mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” that I could clearly tell the difference and now I really love listening to this alternate mix.

I’m so glad side two of my copy of “Revolver” with the rare mix plays perfectly and sounds great. I actually dubbed side one from my other UK mono copy of “Revolver” (both of these copies have XEX 605-2 on side one) so that I have a pristine digital audio representation of the first UK mono pressing of this album.

As I said the mono pressing of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” plays fantastic with very little noise and though it looks like it was well loved sounds like a fairly unplayed copy. 

By the way the matrixes on my copy of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” are side one XEX 637-1 and side two XEX 638-1 for those who want to know.

Well there you have it. As usual you can see photos of these two beauties above and below. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is missing its original red inner sleeve but is otherwise complete.

That’s all for now so until next time be well and safe and play some music!

Nothing More Than Wishes – A Dream 50th Anniversary Partridge Family CD Box Set

Who would have believed that’s it’s been nearly fifty years since the television show The Partridge Family made it’s network premiere!

On September 25, 1970 that famous multicolored egg cracked open and unleashed one of pop cultures most beloved music and television acts that still has millions of fans around the world.

Speaking only for me I have no idea what I was doing on that particular Friday night of September 25th 1970 (I was only four years old) but I do have a vivid memory of having the single “I Think I Love You“, in its picture sleeve no less, bought for me.

As memory serves I was shopping in an L.S. Ayers store with my mother and one of my older brothers probably around October when my brother asked my mom if he could have the single.  Well my mother knew that even at that age I was a music nut so she bought me a copy as well.

(Note: I still have that single to this day but the 45 and the picture sleeve look like they’ve survived a tornado and I wouldn’t dare to try and play the single as it has been worn to bits)

The other fleeting memory I have from the early 1970’s and The Partridge Family is around 1971 when I attended nursery school I insisted that they take a children’s record off the record player (probably some song like “Old MacDonald”) and play my copy of “The Partridge Family Album” which I had duly brought with me.

I know I know I was a weird child but it worked and I also remember one of the younger teachers smiling and waving her head to the music as my Partridge album played.

I also remember having the picture of The Partridge Family that came inside the first album (the same photo that’s on the “I Think I Love You” picture sleeve) tacked onto a bulletin board for years as a child.

Needless to say that The Partridge Family and I go way back so in honor of that it might be fun to share something that would be the perfect way to celebrate this 50th anniversary – a 4 CD Partridge Family box set!

Now before anyone thinks that a CD set is coming out I have to say there are no plans that I know of for any such box set. And I seriously doubt in today’s streaming culture anything like it ever will BUT I did manage to get an unofficial set a few years ago that fits the bill nicely.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine found a four CD set called “The Partridge Family Anthology” online somewhere and since it looks real they bought it for me as a gift.

As you can see from the photos above and below this set looks completely genuine and I can see how someone not familiar with the group could be fooled into thinking it was an official product.

I was flabbergasted when I first saw the CDs as every little detail looks nice – the Arista logo, the artwork inside and out, the Made in West Germany text on the rear of the CDs (a nod to CD collector’s obsession with early CDs made in West Germany) and best of all the track selection.

You see each volume of this CD set corresponds with a season of The Partridge Family TV show and features all the songs from that particular season – containing both released and unreleased songs!

While it’s obvious the unreleased songs came from a dub from the DVDs of the show I must say this set sounds pretty darn good and as several of these lost tracks that were broadcast on the show but never released on vinyl have a slim chance of ever being released officially I’ll take what I can get.

It’s a pity too as a real 4 CD set mastered from the genuine master tapes and including alternate mixes from the TV show would be a Partridge Family fans dreams come true.

But to quote the late David Cassidy himself “Dreams are nuthin’ more than wishes” as clearly Arista Records/Sony have no interest in releasing such a thing. Its a shame as the the few songs that didn’t make it onto vinyl but were broadcast on the TV show are quite good and worthy of release.

Well anyway, here’s my 50th anniversary salute to The Partridge Family! A bit early and a bit fantasy but every bit heartfelt and happy. Yes I said happy as in “Come on, get happy”!

Take a gander at the photos of this unofficial set and if you were around when the series premiered reply to this blog and share your remembrances.

As for me I shall take one of thee CDs out and give it a spin.

Until next time be well and safe and remember … “Come on now and meet everybody …”

They Both Shine On – John Lennon CD Boxed Sets (from the Past)

It looks like this upcoming October will be bringing a surprise for John Lennon fans. In celebration of what would have been Lennon’s 80th birthday a new box set with a book and a blu-ray disc (also available in a 2 CD set without the book/blu-ray) called “John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth/The Ultimate Mixes” will hit store shelves around the world.

This new set will be a sort of greatest hits plus deep album cuts and will feature all the songs newly remixed as well as remixed in 5.1 and Dolby Atmos or in hi-res stereo 96/24 PCM for those who buy the box set with the blu-ray. Whew!

BUT that’s jumping the gun a bit. Since this new box set isn’t due for a few weeks I thought I’d take a look at two earlier box sets of Lennon’s music that are certainly more comprehensive as they are both 4 discs each and booth contain nice overviews of Lennon’s solo career.

Below are two of my favorite John Lennon box sets: “Lennon” a 4 CD set from 1990 and “Gimme Some Truth” (the first box set with this title from 2010):

“Lennon” (4 CD set):

This is the first CD box set that was released by the Lennon estate and was compiled by ace Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. And I have to say that Lewisohn did a first rate job with the track selection on this set.

I’ve always felt that song wise this box set stands up as one of the best one stop shopping documents of John Lennon’s music in the CD era.

Not only are the hits represented but really all of the best album/deep cuts from throughout Lennon’s solo career are here plus the original mixes of the “Live Peace in Toronto 1969” are here as well as the original mixes of the live songs with Elton John from 1974.

It’s a super nice set that gets a star marked off as the sound is a bit muddied at times from what was called the “no-noise” process. Truth be told it’s really a bad listen as I think the sound is decent yet could be improved.

The box I have shown above is the first issue of this box with discs printed in West Germany that’s missing the song title for “Imagine” on the rear of the box. I always thought it was quite funny as in imagine this song title there but I’m sure it was a printing error. Later boxes corrected it.

The box itself is a simple affair as well as the flimsy book inside but the discs themselves are a nice listen. I especially still pull out Disc 4 as it’s the best way to hear all of Lennon’s 1980 material in one place without having to flip around Yoko’s material.

(Note: actually I’ve grown to like some of Yoko’s material but still prefer to hear Lennon’s songs by themselves)

“Gimme Some Truth” (4 CD set):

Now this set is a real treat as it takes Lennon’s solo material out of context which actually helps make some songs stand out that didn’t really grab me on their original albums.

Take for instance the song “You Are Here” from the “Mind Games” album. I never really took notice of the song but upon hearing it on Disc 2 of this set I fell in love with it. I love the dreamy Hawaiian/tropical feel of the song and it took me hearing it outside of the “Mind Games” album to really appreciate it.

This box set also contains quite a nice selection of all of Lennon’s solo material which makes it a great purchase for fans of Lennon who want more than a greatest hits CD. Plus this set was priced right and can still be found pretty cheaply.

The other thing about this set and really the main draw for it is the sound quality. This set was part of the 2010 remastering of Lennon’s solo work that used his original mixes that he oversaw but with much, much better sound and remastering than the 1990 set above.

I guess if I had to choose between the two sets this one would win out as the sound is really nice and it’s a great way to hear Lennon’s solo material especially in a fresh new context.

Plus this set has a better booklet than the 1990 “Lennon” CD set though in all honesty even though it sounds muddier I still play the “Lennon” set every now and then especially Disc 4.

Take a look at track selections above and compare how each set stands in terms of Lennon’s solo music (see photos above and below).

As usual take care and be well and safe!

Until next time, see you soon.


Meet the Monkees … Again and Again – and Again

Well here we are on a beautiful late summer Saturday. You can feel the Fall weather creeping in with milder temperatures, the air is a little less muggy and Halloween, my favorite time of year, is just around the corner.

And for me this fallish time of year brings back so many memories from the past. Most of them include music naturally, so I thought what better way to begin the Fall season than to take a quite peek at three versions of one of the first albums I ever owned – “The Monkees”.

Ahhhh, The Monkees. It was a television show and a group. I won’t go into the history of the so-called pre-fab four as I have many times in the past but needless to say I’ve acquired many a pressing of this first Monkees album over the years but today I’m just focusing on three.

  • The first pressing mono album with the incorrect spelling of “Papa Jean’s Blues”
  • A 1980’s copy of the album on Arista Records
  • An F.y.e. exclusive blue vinyl copy of the record that came out in 2016

I’d say that all three of these versions of this album are really not that common. The original mono copy can be found but usually not in as nice of condition as the one I own and found a couple of years ago.

I’d say the Arista pressing from the 1980’s is also pretty darn rare and I’ve only come across it once – thus the copy pictured here.

The F.y.e exclusive disc probably isn’t as rare as the first two but fun to have nonetheless so I thought I’d put it here as well in case folks have never seen it.

Here are some quick thoughts after a playing session with each:

The Original Mono pressing

What can I say, this beauty is one great sounding record. I was lucky enough to find a truly wonderful copy of this pressing a couple of years ago and man I must say it sounds fantastic! Both sides have a 2S in the martix in the run-out groove so it’s obviously an early pressing.

Every song on this pressing just pops out of the speakers with a nice punch and clarity and with not a hint of sibilance that I’ve often found on old Colgems pressings.

Luckily the record hasn’t been played to death and just smokes any other mono version of the album I own on either vinyl or CD.

I must say this album sounds great in either mono or stereo but this early pressing is really nice sounding if you can find one in decent shape.

The Arista Pressing

I wasn’t too sure how I’d like the sound of this pressing when I finally stumbled on a copy recently in my travels – pre-Covid travels I might add.

The cover looks absolutely terrible and looks as if Arista photocopied a Rhino copy and just tried to clean it up a bit making it look even worse in the process.

Now the reason this album is on the Arista label is that Rhino Records had licensed The Monkees entire catalog from Arista in 1985 through 1987 and of course when The Monkees made a spectacular comeback into the public  eye Rhino Records sold a ton of Monkees albums to new and old fans alike.

Well Arista decided to start issuing their own versions of The Monkees catalog beginning with the first four Monkees albums on CD as well as the first two on vinyl.

These Arista versions of these albums contained a weird mixture of mono and stereo mixes as well as some new remixes of songs as at the time quite a few of The Monkees original masters were still MIA.

The Arista vinyl version “The Monkees” matches it CD cousin and contains the same collection of mixes and I was pleasantly surprised at just how darn good this record sounded when I plopped in my turntable.

I’d say it sounds even better than it’s CD twin with a nice full sound and lovely bass and the remixed tracks really shine on this pressing as well.

The vinyl is dead quiet and I’d say this may be the best sounding vinyl version of the stereo album I own – it’s that good.

I believe the Arista CD versions of the albums sold okay but apparently their vinyl versions of the first two Monkees albums sold poorly and were quickly destined for the cut-out bins (see photos above for a cut-out slice in the cover).

The F.y.e pressing

The F.y.e blue vinyl exclusive pressing of “The Monkees” came out in 2016 as part of all the 50th Anniversary Monkees celebrations and is the same mastering as the colored vinyl copy that came out as part of the Classic Album Collection on Rhino Records.

I have to say that while not quite as good sounding as the Arista pressing it’s not bad actually. Side 2 sounds better to me than Side 1 but overall it’s a nice pressing – very quiet with good dynamics  – but nice quite a smooth and lively as the Arista pressing.

Well, there you have it. Just a little bit of Monkees nostalgia to get your three-day weekend going. (It’s the Labor Day holiday here in the States on Monday).

As usual you can take a gander above and below at these three unique pressings of The Monkees first platter. And vinyl is really the way to go with this album as that’s how I listened to this music for years and that’s what always feels right when I listen to this music to this day.

I hope all is well and safe in your world and until next time go out and enjoy the sunshine if you have it and sneak in some music if you can as well.

“Instant” Remix – John Lennon RSD 45 Previews Upcoming Ultimate Mixes Box Set

Well I’m a bit late to the party but better late than never I say. Today I thought I’d share one of the cool 2020 Record Store Day items that just happened to come my way.

You see last Saturday was the first of three Saturdays that Record Store Day items will be made available to indie record stores across the globe.

Normally Record Store Day is held on one particular Saturday usually in April but like everything else Covid has reared its ugly head and messed things up thus the three separate Record Store Days instead of one.

This year August 29th, September 26th, and October 2nd are being designated as RSD Drops and each of these Saturdays will have exclusive items available to purchase from your local indie record store.

Anyway, while I didn’t happen to make it out to an actual record store this past Saturday, I was able to purchase the one thing that I was looking for online – a brand new 45 reissue by John Lennon featuring one of his all-time classic solo tunes “Instant Karma! (We All Shine One)”.

I did manage to hear this new remix last week online but I am happy to say that playing this lovely new 45 was a much better experience. This new single plays dead quiet and features nice full, smooth bass, tight crisp drums and a now distortion-free lead vocal from Lennon.

The background vocals also leap forward in a clarity that’s missing on not only the original mix but also on all the previous attempts to remix this song.

As a bonus the b-side by Yoko Ono is actually a really nice baroque sounding song called “Who Has Seen the Wind?” which I rather enjoyed. The music is wonderful and Ono’s singing while an acquired taste isn’t too bad and really fits the song.

I’m actually really excited now to hear all the remixes that will be part of the upcoming “John Lennon: Gimme Some Truth – The Ultimate Mixes” which will feature either a 4 CD set of Lennon’s hits and album cuts that includes a Blu-Ray with high definition 24-96 stereo, immersive 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes and 124 page book or a 2 CD version minus the Blu-Ray and book.

Lennon’s entire catalog was remixed in 2000 and while I enjoy some of those remixes I generally found them to be too “hot” sounding, too compressed.

After hearing this new remix of “Instant Karma! (We All Shine One)” I have high hopes that this new set will be worth buying as this new remix has punch but sounds easier on the ears.

I’ll admit when I first heard of this new set I was skeptical but now I think it could be something really nice and potentially great.

Well, there you have it. Just a quick look at this new Lennon 45. By the way the cardboard cover that reproduces the original 45 sleeve artwork is very well done and the pressing of this 45 is terrific too – flat and dead quiet.

As usual you can gander at a few photos of this groovy 45 above.

Until next time be well and see you soon!