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!