ABBA’s First Album in Almost 40 Years Hits All the Right Notes – This “Voyage” Is Definitely Worth Taking

It is hard to believe that after nearly forty years the pop group that dominated the ’70’s and early ’80s, at least in Europe and the UK and to a lesser degree the US, is back with a new 10-song album.

Today ABBA released their brand new album “Voyage” which is both a comeback as well as a finale goodbye as the group has been quoted this week as saying that this is it for the Swedish pop superstars. The end, goodbye, slutet (I couldn’t resist a little Swedish even though I can’t speak it at all).

Of course if you’re at all familiar with pop radio or pop culture of the past forty odd years or so you are surely familiar with ABBA already. “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, “SOS”, “Fernando” and “Waterloo” are just a few of the many hits that have graced not only radio airwaves around the world but movie screens and stage productions as well.

So after all this time what can we expect from a collection of ten new songs by such well-known and beloved performers as ABBA? After all it’s been a long time since they last recorded and they as well as the rest of the world have changed dramatically especially after nearly two years of the raging Covid-19 pandemic that has wrecked havoc around the globe.

Well let me say that after listening to this new album that landed in my mailbox just a few hours ago that thankfully it sounds as if nothing has really changed all that much and to me that’s quite a good thing! 

Speaking strictly for me I can only view the group and these voices and these arrangements through the lenses of the child and teen that I was in the ’70s and early 1980s.

I loved ABBA then and I still do now. Yeah they might not have been my favorite group and they sometimes were a bit cheesy but oh those voices and those melodies carried me through some the finest as well as many of the roughest times from the most impressionable years of my life. They are forever linked to my musical psyche.

There is no mistaking an ABBA song. The sound of their voices, especially the voices of the two ladies in the group Agnetha and Anni-Frid, and their catchy melodies and arrangements clearly make ABBA stand apart from practically any other group of the era. 

Their continued popularity to the present though the mega success of their records as well as their “Mamma Mia” movies has helped them to transcend time. And after listening to the new “Voyage” album transcending time to me is the perfect way to describe this record.

Let’s go point by point. How does ABBA sound today?

The voices sound great, they sound like ABBA. Check.

The melodies are strong, the songs are catchy. Check.

There are pop songs, light disco songs, a bit of cheese and bit of grandeur. Check.

The album is good and I want to play it again – that checks every box on my list.

What can I tell you this sounds like an ABBA album and after a nearly forty year layoff that’s quite a pleasant and welcome surprise. And while the group’s vocals are lower than they were forty years ago they are still quite strong and lovely and every bit as capable of expressing a wide range of emotions and textures as they always have been.

“Voyage” sounds like ABBA wants to be nothing more then what they are – a superb pop group making music in their seventies. Good pop music I might add. And what else sound they be? I for one wouldn’t want them pandering to current tastes just to sell a record or just to be current.

The whole album sounds like that they reunited because they wanted to make music. It can’t be for the money because God knows they could have cashed in years ago as fans have been after them for ages to reunite.

This album sounds like ABBA wanted to send one last postcard to fans just to keep in touch. They reunited because they reconnected musically and had a lot of fun doing it. Of course there are threads of their younger selves throughout the album yet “Voyage” somehow manages to sound modern without losing themselves in the process.

This is ABBA reuniting on their own terms doing it themselves for themselves. They wrote, produced and performed everything on the album and have left their fans with a final postscript which is touching as well as entertaining. They miraculously have also managed to do what eludes most reunited groups – they sound damn good and that’s quite a feat.

Out of the ten tracks on “Voyage” I didn’t find a stinker among the bunch, I enjoyed all ten from the first listen. Everything is melodic, well arranged and performed and nothing overstays its welcome.

While not everything on the album has stuck in my mind as of yet I have to say that “When You Danced With Me”, one of the first singles “Don’t Shut Me Down”, “Keep An Eye on Dan”, “No Doubt About It” (God this would have been a smash hit single back in the day around 1979!) and “Ode to Freedom” are just superb and well worth the price of the album for sure.

As I said the rest are fine as well but the five songs above had me heading for the repeat button right away as they are so damn ABBA and so damn good.

It’s really rare for such a high profile reunion such as this to generate one really good song but a whole album of good material after all this time is such a welcome relief. What a pleasant tonic for the weirdness that is the year 2021. It’s like riding back into the 70’s and grabbing all that was good about ABBA and yanking it back into the present.

I can’t say how any younger person may or may not feel about the “Voyage” album. Will they like it? Will they relate to it? I have no idea. But for me it’s just been the most pleasant and welcome surprise and the prefect way to send ABBA off into the ether with a classy, well-performed album that makes me smile.

And after the crappiness of the past two years it’s such a joy to be reacquainted with old friends who are just as lovely and warm and fun as you had remembered them.

And that my friend’s is all that I ask from music – pleasure and joy.

As usual take a gander above at some pictures of the CD version of “Voyage” that I received today.

Until next time be well and see you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current “Get Back” Book Shines New Light on The Beatles “Dark” January 1969 Sessions

When I first heard that there would be a new book to accompany Peter Jackson’s upcoming Beatles documentary “Get Back” I had  a “meh” reaction. 

Part of me thought it might be a nice upgrade to the original book that accompanied first UK box set pressings of The Beatles “Let it Be” album but since I own that book the other part of me said “yawn”.

After all there have been Beatles books before that have accompanied massive Beatles projects like the “Anthology” project from the mid ’90s but I’ve never really gone back to them much so why bother with this new “Get Back” book?

Well as happens frequently, I was wrong.

I managed to see a preview of this new “Get Back” book on YouTube (it’s all the current rage to post previews of all the new Beatles projects online) earlier this week and it really intrigued me. Not only did the book look well made with lots of really nice photographs from the January 1969 sessions that became the “Let it Be” album and film but the text consisted mainly of partial dialog from The Beatles themselves from the Twickenham as well as Apple studios filming and recording sessions.

Count me intrigued. Really intrigued. 

To top it off the Target chain of stores here in the U.S. added four exclusive lobby card reprints from the 1970 “Let it Be” film to the copies of the book that they were selling and for me that was all she wrote, I was in.

Having purchased the book a couple of days ago  I must say I’m very impressed. It’s a nice sized hardback book that does indeed contain hundreds of really terrific photos from throughout the January 1969 filming and recording sessions but the dialog transcripts are really the main draw here. They are fascinating and really shed new light on these sessions.

Of course the “Let it Be” film from 1970 helped to paint January 1969 as a very dark and gloomy time for The Beatles. The only moments of joy are near the end of the film when The Beatles take to the rooftop of their Apple headquarters to perform live for the last time in their career which is truly mesmerizing. The rest of the film is disjointed and jarring and The Beatles seem bored.

What’s amazing about reading the dialogue in this book is that The Beatles come across much more engaged and cooperative than  had previously been surmised. That’s not to say that by January 1969 the Beatles weren’t reaching their end as a group but there were a lot more lighter moments then had previously been seen in past documents of these sessions.

In fact having seen the new trailer for the “Get Back” documentary that comes out on Disney+ next month there were a lot of really light and interesting moments that were left on the cutting room floor. There are hours of footage that seems to show a much more well-rounded version of the events then has ever been seen before. This new trailer for the documentary makes me feel joyful and I can’t wait to see this new version.

That feeling of joy also permeates this new “Get Back” book as well. Yes there are darker moments for sure but reading these transcripts is a lot of fun and kind of washes away many of the darker aspects of this whole project that have permeated anything to do with the “Let it Be” film and album.

I’m guessing that it’s the time after the filming and recording of these January 1969 sessions when The Beatles really began to have business issues that colored everything in their minds for that period with a negative view. By the time The Beatles needed to go back and make these film and audio recordings into a unified album and film they had little interest in the project thus began the really dark association with what became “Let it Be”.

No disrespect to Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of the original “Let it Be” film, but I’m so glad that Peter Jackson was given the task of making something out of the fifty-something hours of used footage from the “Let it Be” film. This new “Get Back” documentary really does make the January 1969 sessions a pleasure to watch instead of the sour experience that the original film depicts.

Also after listening to the new “Let it Be” box set that comes out today I definitely have a more positive view of the whole time period and there is a lot to enjoy from these sessions that hasn’t seen the light of day until now.

By the way I also really enjoyed reading Peter Jackson’s forward in the book. I love how he describes not hearing The Beatles much in his youth and the story of his dad bringing home one of the only 45’s he ever bought, a cover of The Beatles “Something” by Shirley Bassey. 

It wasn’t until Jackson saw the 1973 Red and Blue Beatles greatest hits albums in a store window that he truly discovered the group’s music. That was my way into the group’s catalog as well so it was fun reading how Jackson became a Beatles fan.

Anyway, the new “Get Back” book is good, really good. If you’re a fan of The Beatles and the “Let it Be” album and film then you need to grab a copy of this book, it’s a very interesting read.

As usual see photos of my copy of this new book above and below.

I really think that the Target exclusive “Let it Be” lobby cards are a terrific bonus so if that kind of thing floats your boat then make sure you grab a copy of this book from a Target store or from http://www.target.com. There are other places offering bonus photos as well but to me the lobby cards are more interesting.

If you have no desire for any bonus goodies then buying the book online or at your nearest bookstore would be your best option.

Well that’s all for now.

Until next time be well and see you soon.

The Beatles Deluxe “Let it Be” 5 LP Set is A True Gem and Won’t Let You Down (At Least for the Majority of Beatles Fans)

I think I’m going to call this my “Get Back” week. 

First there was the release this past Tuesday of The Beatles “Get Back” book (more about that coming soon to this blog) then the release yesterday of the official trailer for the upcoming new six-hour “Get Back” documentary by Peter Jackson on Disney+ next month and now the release tomorrow of the newly remixed and remastered “Let it Be” album.

Ahhh that’s my kind of week!

Well as fate would have it I have managed to get ahold of one of the many new “Let it Be” configurations coming out tomorrow – the 5 LP “Let it Be” which includes an impressive 100-page hardback book as well as four full LPs and one 4 song (45 r.p.m.) LP-sized EP.

There are other formats of this new “Let it Be” album as well including a single CD, a 2 CD set, a 6 CD/Blu-Ray set as well as a single LP but this review will take a look at this most impressive new 5 Lp box set.

As usual this new “Let it Be” box set, like many of the Beatles box sets that have been released in the past few years, is a thing of beauty and is full of previously unreleased outtakes along with the main album newly remixed afresh by Giles Martin (son of legendary original Beatles producer George Martin).

The first thing that struck me when I held this set in my hands was not only the hefty weight of the set but the lovely die-cut front cover which looks just amazing in person. It struck me at first glance as sort of a window into the famed “Get Back” sessions from 1969 and after listening to the set I think that’s an apt description.

I must say first off though that this set is by no means a complete chronicle of the almost mythical sessions from January 1969 which consisted of several hours of off the cuff as well as studio performances. 

I read that Giles Martin chose sparingly the outtakes for this set and wanted to make a collection that was easy to digest and listen to repeatedly without the tediousness of listening to every single note and breath that was recorded on the hundreds of hours of audio tape that exist in The Beatles vaults.

I know some Beatles fans will be upset that there isn’t a lot more of the Twickenham Studio audio that’s been bootlegged to death over the years but after having perused this new set I must say I think Giles Martin chose well and this set is indeed a nice window into these sessions and very entertaining. Your mileage may vary but for me this set hit my sweet spot for the “Get Back” sessions and I find it a nice overview.

Anyway, here’s a quick look at the 5 LP set.

The first LP, the 2021 “Let it Be” remix:

I have to say I was really surprised to find that this new 2021 remix sounded very true to the original 1970 Phil Spector mix. Yes there are several nice new moments with more up front vocals and some instruments peaking out here and there but overall this new remix sounds very close to the original LP.

This is probably my favorite of all of Giles Martin’s Beatles remixes. I’m sure other people may think he should have gone farther but to me this just is a much clearer and cleaner sounding version of the original mix. You definitely don’t feel as if Martin is making this sound anything other than the original “Let it Be” album we all know and love but enhanced.

At least on vinyl this album doesn’t sound dramatically different to me and in my opinion that’s a good thing. I’m always afraid of some overly compressed mess that drowns the album of its original charm but that’s not the case here.

(Note: Also I have to say that all the records in my set were pressed very well (no warps) and are very quiet and sound great! Nothing sounded overly compressed or muddy to my ears. One of the better Beatles box sets sound wise in my opinion.)

Here are a couple of mixes that sounded slightly different to me:

Across the Universe – This is the first of the remixes that really stood out to me as sounding a bit different. The vocal is more prominent, a little clearer with a little bit more echo. The orchestration is much more noticeable and you can hear it much better as the various instruments stand out more. Lovely remix and you actually hear more of Specter’s touch with this one. Actually all the songs that contain Spector’s orchestrations stand out a bit more in this new remix.

One After 909 – While not dramatically different sounding this mix is a bit cleaner and sounds a little bit rockier than the original mix. There’s a nice punch to this mix without being overly compressed. I love how live the vocals sound. I may prefer this mix to the original actually, very nice.

The Long and Winding Road – Much like “Across the Universe” this new remix highlights the sound of the orchestration. If anyone was hoping for a de-Spectorized take this is definitely not it. Paul’s vocal also sounds a bit more up front but the orchestration really sounds lovely. It does sound as if they took down the heavenly choir vocals a bit but the orchestration is a little bit cleaner and clearer which was kind of surprising but sounds good.

The rest of the album has its moments of a bit cleaner vocals and better separation of instruments but overall it actually sounds very very faithful to the original 1970 mix. All of the rockier songs tend to have a bit more punch and a little bit cleaner presentation than the original mix which makes them sound improved in my mind but they’re not dramatically different from their original mixes.

Get Back – Apple Sessions, Rehearsals and Apple Jams:

While I haven’t listened to both LPs in full yet what I’ve sampled so far has been a lot of fun. Again not dramatically different versions of these songs but this is a nice sounding collection of outtakes from the sessions.

I’m actually glad that Martin focused on the studio takes rather than put too much of the Twickenham songs in this collection. It’s fun to hear The Beatles in the studio in nice clean and punchy sounding works in progress. The mono Nagra sound pretty good but for repeated listening I prefer the studio takes.

Some highlights so far:

Let it Be/Please Please Me/Let it Be (Take 10) – A very soulful early take of “Let it Be” that I really enjoyed. I must have missed the “Please Please Me” bit because I didn’t hear it but a lovely early take that’s great to hear.

Dig a Pony (Take 14) – Another fun take that while not perfect sounds great. I especially love how Lennon at the end sings that this take wasn’t as good as a previous take and let’s do “Get Back”. Fun stuff and sounds very nice.

One After 909 (Take 3) – A really nice take with much more prominent boogie woogie piano. Again not dramatically different but different enough to be interesting. For some reason this take reminds me of The Rolling Stones, a bit more bluesy.

Don’t Let Me Down (First Rooftop Performance) – Despite the slight lyric goof this is a superb take and nice to have the complete unaltered live take. I enjoy the version of this from “Let it Be … Naked”album which made a composite mix of both live takes but it’s great to have the full unaltered first take sounding as good as this does. More rooftop takes please, thank you.

The Long and Winding Road (Take 19) – A truly wonderful take that sounds so great without any orchestration. I actually may prefer this version over all the others it’s so haunting and subdued and great to have in my collection.

All Things Must Pass (Rehearsals) – The mono Twickenham songs actually sound pretty darn good but I do prefer the studio takes to these mono recordings. It’s just so sad that the Beatles never finished a complete take of this song as these rehearsals are true gems. This would have been one of the highlights of these sessions if they completed a full studio take.

On a side note I love how the inner sleeve uses the same photos and layout as the US “Let it Be” LP but in black and white. Looks very classy and very White Album, I love it.

The unreleased Glyn Johns mix of The Get Back lp:

It’s nice to finally have a great sounding version of this rejected Glyn John’s mix of what became the “Let it Be” album. I’ve always enjoyed this album and it’s nice to finally see it part of a Beatles official package. I’m not sure if this is all the 1970 Glyn Johns mix or if this is actually a mixture of his 1969 and 1970 mixes but whatever it sounds really good and it’s nice to have it.

I must say that this mix is a bit more harsh sounding than all of the other mixes found in this collection. Don’t get me wrong it’s  really interesting and fun album to have it just sounds a little bit brighter than the other outtakes that Giles Martin mixed for this set.

While Glyn Johns’ mix has a more loose feel to it and a more warts and all approach it’s still a good listen and well worth adding to any collection. Actually I would have preferred some of the outtakes Martin chose added to Johns album but it’s still an essential listen.

Plus the album cover recreation of what would have been the “Get Back” lp is just superb and well worth having in full LP size. This alone is worth getting the vinyl set for this album as it’s a legendary version that almost came out instead of “Let it Be”.

The EP:

Across the Universe – An interesting unreleased Glyn Johns mix of one of my favorite Lennon songs. It contains the offbeat background vocals from the first released version of the song mixed lower but still there nonetheless. Not my favorite mix of this song but not bad. It’s basically a better remix of the Wildlife charity album mix.

I Me Mine – A nice mix if this song. Not overly different but minus the Phil Spector orchestrations and much shorter as well.

Don’t Let Me Down – This new Giles Martin mix of the single version of the song is superb. I love the extra added speaking at the beginning. A very powerful and clean sounding mix of this song. May be my favorite of the new remixes.

Let it Be – Another Giles Martin 2021 mix of the single version of this song. Much cleaner than the original mix. It would have been nice to have these two remixes snuck on the earlier album but it’s still great to have them and this is a nice remix as well.

The Book:

The hundred-page hardback book in this set is superb much like the books from Sgt. Pepper and The White Album sets. This is the type of book I was hoping for in the “All things Must Pass” CD set but at least it’s a part of this set.

This book is loaded with great pictures and nice text especially by Kevin Howlett. I love the LP size of this book as it’s the perfect size for the pictures and makes the text easier to read as well and easy to handle.

It’s very well done and really makes this set worth the price I paid for it. The hardback book really makes this set sparkle as it is very high quality as are the covers and labels on the LPs in this set.

Grade: A

Overall I have to say that this new “Let it Be” set is a real winner. It’s packaged well (see the photos above and below), it sounds great and it’s a nice overview of The Beatles “Get Back” sessions. 

(Note 2: The “Let it Be” poster in the photos above is being handed out for free at independent record stores for those who purchase any configuration of this new reissue.)

If you’re a Beatles fan what’s not to love? (Err, I’m sure online there will be plenty of bitching about this and that but to me this set is done just right).

So there you have it. If you’ve been looking forward to this set odds are you’ll find it very enjoyable like I did. The price isn’t too bad (I got mine for around $130) and the content is great.

Well, that’s all for now but more Beatles soon!

Until then be safe and well and I hope you get a chance to hear this new remix of “Let it Be”.

See you soon!

A John Lennon 81st Birthday Salute – Lennon Tape Formats from the Past

October 9, 1941 – a day long ago but somehow not so far away.

You see all these eight-one years later Lennon is still remembered fondly and his music is still revered so at least his presence is still fan being by music fans all around the world.

I’m actually not one for posting and noting every Beatle birthday but it just so happens that I stumbled upon an old box of cassettes and 8-tracks just recently so I thought it might be fun to post a few of my surviving John Lennon albums that I still own on those formats.

Ahhh 8-tracks and cassettes tapes.

Both of those formats scream the 1970s to me as it was in the late 1970s that I went through an 8-track and cassette phase which at the time I thought was great. Looking back neither format could really match the sound one got from vinyl but the portability issue won me over as this was the dark ages, pre-Internet and streaming.

In fact for both the “Imagine” and “Mind Games” albums the cassette and 8-track versions were the first versions of these albums that I ever owned. I distinctly remember finding a ton of solo Beatles 8-tracks, mostly from the UK and France, in a huge discount bin for $.99 cents apiece at Musicland (remember that store?) around 1978 or so.

I bought quite a few solo albums by all four Beatles from Musicland and the “Mind Games” UK 8-track is the only John Lennon one that remains in my collection all these years later. I remember playing the 8-tracks in my dad’s car at the time which I thought was so cool – music wherever I wanted it!

(Note: Truth be told at the time I was only “meh” on the “Mind Games” album but as time has passed it’s now one of my favorite Lennon solo albums.)

Around that same time frame I also got a small portable cassette player for my birthday and also decided to get a few solo albums on the cassette format as well. I actually didn’t buy that many prerecorded cassettes as they were not discounted like the 8-tracks so they weren’t as tempting to try and buy an album I didn’t own.

Plus I mainly wanted the cassette player to tape things but a few store-bought cassettes did cross my path from time to time. No surprise to anyone whose read this blog before I’m sure.

I did manage to get the “The John Lennon Collection” cassette on Geffen Records because as memory serves (or not lol, it’s been a long time) there were either more or different songs on the cassette version. I could be wrong but I think that’s why I bought that particular cassette. I think the Lp had 15 tracks and the cassette had 17 if I’m not mistaken.

I also remember buying the “Menlove Ave.” album on cassette because I had also bought that album on CD when it first came out but the CD version skipped in the same spot on my then Maganvox CD player. After buying two different CD copies I went with the cassette as it obviously didn’t skip.

(Note 2: All these years later I found another Made in Japan copy of the “Menlove Ave.” CD and it plays just fine. I’m sure it was my old Magnavox CD player, my first player from 1986. It had a ton of playing issues and was replaced ASAP when I could afford a new and better player)

As for the sealed “Live Peace at Toronto 1969” 8-track, I found that one last year in Florida right before Covid reared its ugly head and travel ground to a halt. I thought it was so fun to find one still sealed after all these years so it makes it a fun artifact to have in the collection. I’m a sucker for sealed older formats.

Anyway, just a few reminisces about the past on what would have been John Lennon’s 81st birthday – Happy Birthday John!

You can take a gander at my cassettes and 8-tracks above as per usual.

That’s all for now.

Happy Saturday and I hope you’re enjoying your Fall no matter where you are out there!

 

 

 

“The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” by Andrew Sandoval Is An Invaluable Book About The Monkees Career and Well Worth Its (Considerable) Weight in Gold

Good things come to those who wait – or so they say. And in the case of the book I’m taking a look at today, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” by Andrew Sandoval, that is most definitely true.

A strictly limited edition available to purchase exclusively online at https://beatlandbooks.com/, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” is a book Monkees fans have been waiting for several years to come to fruition.

Originally released in June of 2005 under the title “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” this wonderful book was first published by Thunder Bay Press and contained an amazingly comprehensive look at The Monkees not only as a TV show but as a musical group and pop phenomena.

“The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” detailed every Monkees recording session, filming date and public appearance between 1965 and 1970 in an easy to read diary format. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paged through this first edition over the years as this book was the only behind the scenes look at how the group worked.

(Note: I was especially interested in how The Monkees recorded their music which was the main draw for me with “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation”. I’ve loved their music since I was a toddler in the late 1960’s and this was the first book that dug deeply into how and what the group recorded and why they had so many unreleased tracks from the 1960s)

Modeled after author Mark Lewisohn’s books on The Beatles, “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” and “The Complete Beatles Chronicle”, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” had placed Sandoval as The Monkees unofficial yet definitive chronicler of the group’s story and legacy.

Not that Sandoval’s isn’t in a great position for that task as he has not only written about the group but he has been their tour manager for over ten years as well as overseeing their stellar music reissues (on CD and vinyl) throughout the last thirty years or so through Rhino Records. Sandoval also produced a couple of bonus tracks from The Monkees triumphant 2016 “Good Times!” album sessions which makes him not just a chronicler of their story but also a participant as well.

No one else in The Monkees universe is as knowledgeable or as passionate about the group’s music than Sandoval so his involvement in The Monkees story has been a most welcome thing to many of the groups hardcore fans.

Over the years Sandoval has been asked if he would ever update “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation” book as there has been so much added to the group’s story since 1970 that fans have been requesting a newer edition practically since the day the book was published in 2005.

Fast forward to 2020.

Sandoval found that he had a lot of time on his hands with the Covid Pandemic basically grounding him for a year or so so he decided the time was right to finally update his book. While fans may have been expecting a reasonably expanded edition of the book that included not only the comeback years of 1980’s but the recently much heralded musical resurgence of 2016’s “Good Times!” that was not the case.

As fate would have it Sandoval found thousands of pages of newly discovered legal documents pertaining to the 1967 firing of Don Kirshner, the man who ran Screen Gems music in the late 1960s and was the group’s musical supervisor, at beginning of 2020.

Plus with the addition of hundreds of photos and over four decades of research, Andrew Sandoval decided to compile a massive new edition of his book that while hundreds of pages bigger than the first edition still only focused on The Monkees most critical years of 1965-1970.

Coming in at a hefty 11 pounds (for the basic flexibound edition, more for the two hardback editions) and at an amazing 740 pages, “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” is a dream come true for the diehard Monkees fans and is filled the the brim with loads of unseen color and black and white photos as well as reproductions of unpublished stills and call sheets.

I must say now that the book is finally in my hands I can testify that this wonderfully fine-crafted book is a thing of beauty – and massively heavy! Having only spent a couple of hours so far reading through certain sections of the book I can now report that this new update of Sandoval’s book is by far the most detailed and amazing book I’ve ever read about The Monkees (or practically any music book for that matter including most books on The Beatles).

Just reading the pages on the 1967 “Headquarters” sessions and the ousting of Don Kirshner has brought so many more details out that I never knew. It’s especially great to read both Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith’s perspectives from 1967 that come from the court documents that Sandoval found.

All four group members were deposed for the 1967 court case involving Don Kirshner so reading their accounts from just a few months after the fact is much more revealing than what they had to say, or remembered, from say twenty or thirty years later.

Reading through the chapter about 1967 I now have a much clearer view of all sides of dealing with Don Kirshner and the friction that caused all parties involved as well as the new insights into Nesmith’s hatred of Jeff Barry and Jones’ distrust of both Monkees TV producer Bert Schneider and Screen Gems head Jackie Cooper.

Both Nesmith and Jones newly added interviews from the 1967 court case especially illuminate the toxic brew that surrounded the carefree Monkees image in a way that really casts this well told story in a new and more three dimensional light. I now get a much clearer take on both Nesmith and Jones personalities which makes their friction in later years much easier to understand.

I have to say that the addition of the hundreds of new photos also adds an unexpected insight into the narrative of the group’s story and the times in which they recorded their music and filmed their show. Fantastic stuff and I’m sure that fans of pop culture who aren’t necessarily fans of The Monkees would find a lot to love in this book.

This book was obviously designed and marketed to the 2000 or so die-hard fans out there who have followed the group for decades (yes, my hand is up – way up) and that’s a great treat for all of us who never dreamed that such a superbly put together and lovingly assembled book would be THE last word on The Monkees story in the 1960s (for me anyway).

I honestly can’t see how any other book would even remotely come close to the quality presentation that Andrew Sandoval has provided Monkees fans with “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story”.

For those of you out there who may not have heard of how to order this book, as of this writing there are still a few copies available for a short time of the three editions Sandoval has made available through Beatland Books (https://beatlandbooks.com/).

Yes they are expensive (prices range from $100 plus shipping for the flexibound version to $250 plus shipping for the Super Deluxe hardback version) and yes they are extremely heavy but if you are a fan of The Monkees you owe it to yourself to see if you can grab one of the remaining copies before they are gone. Sandoval says they will not be made available digitally and not be made available again in book form as well.

Well that’s all for now. I’m going to get back to lifting weights as I take this book out for some more perusing as long as I don’t injure myself picking it up!

As usual check out the photos of my flexibound copy of “The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story” above and below.

Until next time be well and safe and see you soon!

Ringo Starr Changing the World One Song at a Time with His “Change the World” EP

Well what have we here. It’s Friday, September 24th and Ringo Starr has dropped another digital postcard of sorts with the release of his latest EP entitled “Change the World”.

In March of this year Ringo released the first of his two new EPs called “Zoom In” which I reviewed here and I enjoyed very much. That EP contained 5 songs all of which I thought were very solid and enjoyable and definitely a fun listen.

Now with the release of “Change the World” which adds another 4 new Ringo songs we have basically the makings of a very enjoyable new Ringo Starr album albeit on the installment plan.

I actually enjoyed this new EP a bit more than the last one as I think Ringo sounds a bit less processed vocally on this disc and all four songs are very good.

Here’s my take on each track:

“Let’s Change the World” – First track, so far so good. Ringo’s vocal on this track seems less processed than his last EP and is more assured. I like this track. It has sort of a ’90s feel to it. Very catchy and well played. I also like that the lyrics are very relevant to 2021. A solid “B+”.

“Just that Way” – A nice reggae feel. A bit more generic than the last song which was very good. Not a bad track but will need more listens to grow on me. Solid overall with nice backing vocals – “B”.

“Coming Undone” – The highlight of the disc. A bit of a country vibe to this song. A nice vocal and the trumpet also gives it a bit of a New Orleans feel as well. Laid back and a nice slow groove.  Another solid “B+”. This track would have been great on Ringo’s “Goodnight Vienna” album. For some reason this song reminded me of that album and would have been great on it instead of one of the lesser songs on that LP.

“Rock Around the Clock” – The most processed sounding vocal on the disc but very energetic and a nice take on this evergreen rock classic. The superb guitar work really propels this track into one of Ringo’s better remakes. Another “B+”.

As usual the musicianship is very strong on this entire disc and Ringo certainly seems to be in very good form and he really sounds engaged on every song.

As I’ve said before I’m so glad that Ringo is still making music at all let alone music this good. I saw him last night on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and though he does look great for being 81 years old you can definitely see his age is beginning to show more so than in the past especially in his hands for sure. 

Who knows how long we’ll have Ringo around making music so I’m so glad he’s releasing new songs in whatever format he chooses to release them in. I will definitely give this new EP more spins and that’s really all you can ask from new music is wanting to hear it again.

Above you can glimpse some photos of the CD version of “Change the World” which was just released today on streaming services as well if you don’t want to go the physical route. Alas it seems the physical route for music seems to be biding time until it vanishes completely but until it goes I’ll enjoy every last release and I sure hope Ringo plans another EP in the near future!

That’s all for now.

I hope all you Beatles fans out there give these four new songs a spin – they’re very good and it’s sure nice to hear from Ringo especially as this friggin’ Covid mess is still engulfing the world.

Be well and see you soon!

“Vinylology – The Beatles Solo” – A Superb Book on Collecting Solo Beatles British Vinyl

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been to this corner of the Web, it’s been a busy month, but today I’m returning to share some information and photos of a recently published book that any true Beatles fan/vinyl nerd would want to add to their collection.

“Vinylology- The Beatles Solo – The Ultimate Guide to UK LP Pressings Variations 1968-2000” by Denis Shabes is a terrific book that takes a close look at The Beatles solo albums pressed in the UK up to the year 2000.

Published in October of 2020 by a small company called Apcor Publishing from Europe, “Vinylology- The Beatles Solo – The Ultimate Guide to UK LP Pressings Variations 1968-2000” is a treasure trove of information and photos of all the solo Beatles UK pressings.

Much like the books by Bruce Spizer that detail Beatles and solo Beatles pressings from the U.S., this 332-page glossy book is stuffed with pictures of covers, labels, inner sleeves and posters from all of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s solo albums released in the UK in the prime of their solo careers.

As any Beatles vinyl collector knows most of the UK pressings are considered the best sounding pressings out there so it’s nice to be able to have a guide that details first and later variations of the UK pressings.

I first discovered of this books existence a few weeks ago while watching a YouTube video by Andrew Milton of Parlogram Auctions. He was doing a video about George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass”  and held up the book while showing a couple of pages about the album. I had recently acquired a lovely UK vinyl pressing of “All Things Must Pass” and was curious to see if it was a first pressing or not so needless to say I was hooked.

(Note: my UK copy of “All Things Must Pass” is a later copy as it has the larger box made in the UK as first issues used U.S. pressed boxes which were smaller than later UK pressed ones. Lol, that’s the kind of detail I LOVE)

I looked the book up on the Web and even though you can only order it online and with shipping from Europe it was bit pricey (in the $90 range) I decided to take a chance and order it and I can honestly say I have no regrets.

Now I realize that this type of book only appeals to a small niche of collectors but if you’re a fan of The Beatles solo years I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed by the superb job Shabes has done detailing these UK pressings. It’s obvious from reading the book that he has done tremendous research on the UK solo Beatles pressings and the photos alone are worth the price of admission.

As you can see from my photos above the book is wonderfully laid out and easy to read. Plus the attention to every little nook and cranny from the curves of various inner sleeves to the smallest of label change between pressings is the stuff that collectors (some say obsessives) dream about and enjoy.

If you’re like me and had never heard of this book there’s a link below where you can see more about it and order a copy if you are so inclined. It seems that the pressing of “Vinylology- The Beatles Solo – The Ultimate Guide to UK LP Pressings Variations 1968-2000” is fairly limited but I’m sure if you have any interest you can still snag a copy.  It’s a must buy if you collect UK pressings so if you do have at ordering this book!

Well that’s all for now. Just a quick update about this truly wonderful book. It’s all too rare to find a new Beatles book that has interesting information as everything about The Beatles has practically been said but this book is just terrific and of very high quality.

I hope you are safe and well and until next time listen to some music and see you soon!

Book – Vinylology

 

Let Them Roll Across Your Sound System – George Harrison “All Things Must Pass” 50th Anniversary/Three Versions to Ponder

“Everyone has choice” …

Those opening lyrics to the song “Run of the Mill” by George Harrison from his classic 1970 triple album set “All Things Must Pass” certainly ring true in 2021 as far as buying physical media product is concerned.

Last Friday, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of this now legendary record, a host of different versions of “All Things Must Pass” have been made available to fans for purchase.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can get:

  • A double CD of the album containing a brand new 2020 remix of the album by Paul Hix along with Harrison’s only son Dhani Harrison plus a mini poster and small booklet
  • A triple CD of the album that contains the 2 CDs mentioned above plus a CD of previously unreleased studio outtakes and demos and the mini poster and slightly fuller booklet
  • A Target store exclusive version of the 3 CD set that contains a sticker pack plus the small poster and booklet
  • A five CD/Blu-ray Deluxe box set that contains the 3 CDs mentioned above plus two more CDs of unreleased demos plus a Blu-ray disc which contains Hi Definition/Surround Sound versions of the album plus a larger 56-page booklet and bigger poster
  • A triple Lp vinyl set containing just the 2020 remix of the album plus poster and small Lp-sized pamphlet
  • An exclusive green splatter version of the above 3 Lp vinyl set on sale from http://www.georgeharrison.com
  • A 5 Lp vinyl set that contains all the audio content from the 3 CD set plus bigger poster and small Lp-sized pamphlet
  • A deluxe 8 Lp vinyl set that contains all the audio from the 5 CD/blu-ray set in two separate cases plus a hardback book as well as a large poster (truly lovely looking)
  • The grand daddy version of them all, an Uber Deluxe set that comes in a large wooden crate and contains the 8 LP vinyl set, the 5 CD/Blu-ray set plus two books as well as other memorabilia including some lovely figurines of George Harrison and the gnomes from the cover of “All Things Must Pass”. (Note: this set costs a whopping $999 plus shipping and though I didn’t get one does looks superbly well done and fantastic.)

Phew, I think that’s all! See what I mean, purchasers of physical media really have a choice.

And as usual I went overboard and bought more variations then I thought I would (or needed) but really for me I did pretty well considering all the variations out there to empty my wallet.

I ended up purchasing the Deluxe 5 CD/Blu-ray set, the 5 Lp vinyl set as well as the groovy Target exclusive 3 CD set (see photos above and below) and I have to say that I’ve had a great time reacquainting myself with this superb album and the sessions that produced it.

Now that I’ve spent over a week listening to and absorbing these beauties I bought I thought I’d share a few thoughts about them as well as about the remix of the album that has somewhat polarized the George Harrison/Beatles fanbase online.

Let’s take each point on its own.

The 2020 Remix:

Okay, let me first start off and say I’m not the biggest fan of remixing classic albums. Sometimes I like the result and other times I feel why mess up a good thing and change what wasn’t broken to begin with?

I have detailed my thoughts on previous Beatles and solo Beatles remixes here on this blog and while most of the time they are enjoyable they tend to be mastered too loud and that takes away some of the pleasure of listening to these albums.

As time has gone by I am growing to see these new remixes as nice alternative ways of experiencing these classic records and I’ve never thought of them as being in any way superior to the original mixes nor should they ever be considered such. All of these albums are of a certain time and place and the original mixes should always be considered the way to hear these records.

But I see that the remixes must have a place in keeping these artists in the public eye and aid in exposing this terrific music to new generations so if that’s the case then great, that’s a valid reason why these things should exist.

I have to say that I was really nervous about this particular remix of “All Things Must Pass” as I saw a lot of previews of the set online from Uber set buyers who got their sets delivered a week earlier than most and some of them were not too pleased about the new remix.

Then there was also a particularly nasty video from Bobby Whitlock who was one of the musicians who played on “All Things Must Pass” album back in 1970 who basically couldn’t find enough ways to say how much he hated the new remix and how bad it was and how much this was a pure cash grab – yikes!

As usual with these things I really wanted to hear this remix for myself and after having listened to the remix on both vinyl and CD I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Yes I said enjoyed. I have to say that again the mix is a bit loud for my tastes, at least the CD versions, but certainly not horrible or brickwalled and thoroughly enjoyable.

After listening to the complete remix I’d have to say this is one of my favorite of all the solo remixes so far. I think it’s world’s better than the Paul McCartney “Tug of War” remix from a few years ago which was very harsh sounding and to me it’s better than the “Imagine” and “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” remixes both of which I enjoyed. 

I love the sound of Harrison’s voice being brought up a bit in the 2020 mix with Harrison’s voice on top of the Spector mix which I rather enjoy. I love the original mix but it sounds like Harrison is more present in this new remix without losing the the Spector touch in the music. Very enjoyable. More enjoyable that I thought it would be.

I view the new remix and a cross between the majestic original Spector mix and the more intimate way Harrison sounds on the Day One demos from the 5 CD box set. Yes in places this new remix sounds a bit muddy or thick but new things still stick out with instruments I’ve never heard or noticed before and the much richer bass really works on quite a few of the tracks.

Is it better than the original mix? – no.

Is it good? – in my opinion, yes. Hell yes!  Very good and quite enjoyable.

I do find that I enjoy playing the vinyl version of the new remix a bit more than the CD as I can turn the vinyl up a bit louder and let it breath a bit more which takes me into the new mix a bit more than the CD.

The Bonus Tracks:

The bonus tracks are really worth the price of admission for this set – they are superb! I especially love the Day One demos which feature Ringo Starr and Klaus Voormann which sound like Harrison’s version of the “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album albeit from a more spiritual perspective. This is “All Things Must Pass” stripped bare with an intimacy and directness that’s great to hear.

Anyone who likes the songs on the album but doesn’t like the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” will revel in this disc as it presents quite a few of the songs from the 1970 set more intimately but sounding more like a full band as there’s bass and drum as well as guitar which fleshes the songs out more than the acoustic demos from the Demos Day Two disc. The acoustic demos are great as well though and sound much better than the bootleg versions that have been making the rounds for years. 

The studio outtakes of the songs from “All Things Must Pass” are equally a trill to hear and I will definitely get many repeated plays from me as I truly love to hear the work-in-progress takes as they are newer and fresher and sound a bit livelier than the produced versions from the finished album. 

Highlights for me include the extended Take 5 of “Hear Me Lord” with a blazing guitar solo from Eric Clapton as well as the Take 1 slower version of “Art of Dying” (written in the “Revolver” era, too bad it there wasn’t a Beatles take on this superb tune) and the lovely and languid Take 27 of “Isn’t It a Pity”, a song of which I never grow tired.

I can say that almost universally fan reaction to the bonus tracks have been very favorable as well it should. The outtakes sound great and really give a nice insight into how Harrison worked in the studio.  

One misstep for me is that the lovely completed take of “I Live for You” from the 2001 reissue of this album wasn’t included. Don’t get me wrong I love the demo version from the 5 CD set but I really miss the added pedal steel guitar from the finished take which makes the song one of my favorites from the entire project. 

The Packaging:

I must say the packaging on all three of the versions I bought is truly wonderful.  I love the small box on the Target 3 CD version which closely replicates the original vinyl set as well as the sticker set that comes with it – a very nice touch. 

(Note: I just got the Target exclusive version yesterday as I guess the first shipments that came out on release day had an exclusive sticker on the box but didn’t include the sticker pack. Make sure your sticker looks like the one above and states sticker pack included and not just a red exclusive sticker to get the version with the stickers).

At first I was kind of disappointed to hear the the Deluxe 5CD/Blu-ray set would be in a smaller box but after having received it it’s very well done. I like the size. It fits in well with my Monkees Deluxe box sets which are roughly the same size and is modeled after them. The box is well done and though I feel it’s still a tad overpriced it’s VERY lovely.

I also really like the 56 page book. Lovely photos and nice information though it would have been great to have a small hardback but it’s not a bad little booklet. I would have liked a bit more session info/details but it’s still pretty nice.

The box and presentation for the 5 Lp is very nice as well and is just basically a larger version of the original Lp box set from 1970. I was just going to buy the standard 3 Lp version to have the 2020 remix on vinyl but since the 5 Lp was less than twenty dollars more than the 3 Lp set I went for that as it had the two discs of outtake material as well.

(Note 2: All five Lps in the set I purchased were perfectly flat, warp free and all were super quiet and very clean. I’ve read online that several people got warped Lps but that wasn’t the case with my set. Very well pressed and the set sounds great)

I would have loved to buy the 8 Lp set but at $200 it was way more expensive than the 5  Lp set and I really only wanted the remix on vinyl but got the 5 Lp set because it made more sense than the 3 Lp set pricewise.

The Cost:

Well here’s the sticky part. I think that the sets are all very well done and put together very well but as far as value for money the 5 CD/Blu-ray set is a bit overpriced. Had it been around $75-$80 I think it would have been a very good deal. 

Similar John Lennon and Paul McCartney sets cost much less and contain hardback books in bigger sizes than this set yet cost way less. I think the Target or regular 3 CD version is a fair price though and well worth the cost. 

The cost of the 5 Lp set wasn’t too bad and seeing how well done the 8 Lp set is with the sweet hardback book I think that set is actually  decently priced but I wish the 5 CD/Blu-ray set was a bit cheaper but nonetheless a very fine set to own.

I didn’t even consider the Uber set because quite frankly it was way out of my price range. After seeing many online videos of the unboxing of the set it does look tremendous but it’s nonetheless too big and bulky for me but it looks like it was designed superbly and with love and care.

Conclusion:

I have to say I’m overall very pleased with these 50th Anniversary “All Things Must Pass” sets as this album is one of my all-time favorite releases by a solo Beatle and really one of my all-time favorite records by anyone. It’s worth the price of admission for all this great music and since I have purchased various bootlegs of material from these sessions in the past I feel the added price is sort of a tax on having obtained some of this material unofficially.

In short the album is great, the remix is really well done and whatever version you pick you’ll be sure to get a quality reissue filled with great music! There is no better endorsement for a physical media product than to say it’s quality through and through.

Of course if you only stream your music you should at least check this album out. It’s a monumental achievement and filled with some of the best pop/rock music of the 20th century. 

That’s all for now. I hope you’re enjoying these later days of summer and that you are safe and well.

Until next time be healthy and see you soon!

Record Store Day Strikes Again – Another Link in the Collector’s Chain – The Monkees “Missing Links” Volume 2 and 3

A week ago today there was another Record Store Day across the world.

For those uninformed Record Store Day highlights independent record stores around the world and record companies release exclusive items, mostly vinyl and CDs, only to those independent record stores who are part of the Record Store Day system.

Collector’s love Record Store Day as they are usually a ton of cool and exclusive vinyl that they can add to their collections though truth be told the flippers and prices are beginning too really drag the fun out of trying to fight your way through the crowds to find these limited edition goodies.

I had to work last Saturday so it made it easier to stay away and not spend any money. I have a hard time when items are right in front of me so I thought I had done well. I had good intentions, I really did, but nearly a week later I fell victim to my own collector’s greed and purchased a couple of items that were available last week.

You see there were three groovy colored vinyl pressings of three of my favorite Monkees albums/collections that were released last week through Friday Music Records: “Missing Links Volume 1”, “Missing Links Volume 2” and “Missing Links Volume 3”

(Note: Each of these three volumes were limited to 2000 copies pressed so they pretty much flew off of the shelves and are now going for obscene money online.)

These three albums originally came out on Rhino Records in the late 1980s and early 1990s and were lovingly put together by esteemed Monkees historian and manager Andrew Sandoval and Bill Inglot who engineered all three sets.

All of these collections are full of fantastic Monkees songs that were left in the vaults in the 1960s and thought to be lost to the mists of time until Sandoval and Inglot searched high and low and restored them to their sonic glory and made them a big part of the Monkees canon.

The quality of the music on these sets is truly astounding as many of the songs on them were not only just as strong as but in many cases better than the songs that were picked to go on the original Colgems Monkees albums in the ’60s. In fact I’d say song for song “Missing Links Volume Two” is one of the strongest Monkees albums that was ever issued and should have come out at the time.

(Note 2: All three Missing Links CDs are long out of print and are now hard to find)

Only one of these Missing Links collections was originally released on vinyl, Volume One, and the other two only were released on compact disc so naturally most collector’s have longed to have the others on vinyl if they were done right and sounded good.

And there’s the catch – done right. 

Normally I would have been chomping at the bits to get these on vinyl but Friday Music who released them has a tendency to be hit or miss on their vinyl reissues with some nice quality releases and some not so much.

After reading the pre-release information about these discs it was clear that Friday Music, who licensed the albums from Rhino Records, was just going to copy the CD masters over to vinyl and hope for the best. That kind of put me off as I already own the original CDs which sound great so why bother getting these?

Then there is also the sticky question as to why Friday Music has taken off the credits for Andrew Sandoval and Bill Inglot which is truly a crime. Without Sandoval’s and Inglot dedication none of these gems would more than likely never seen the light of day and not in the great quality in which they were issued by Rhino Records.

Friday Music has previously reissued some nice Monkees CDs and vinyl but even those lacked the Sandoval and Inglot credits and they should be called out for that as they are taking credit for someone else’s hard work.

All of these issues weighed on my mind plus the fact that these three new vinyl issues by Friday Music were priced way too high set me off of buying them so I skipped Record Store Day last week.

Well as is usual with me I caved. It just so happens that I came upon the two volumes that I didn’t own on vinyl (volumes two and three) this week at a small record store in Michigan that still had some in stock and also had them priced under what I had seen them online so I’ll be damned if I didn’t buy them! (Not a shocker really if you’ve ever read this blog before lol).

I knew that if I saw them in person it would be too tempting and sure enough I was right. Even though I felt that they didn’t hold a candle to the recent and lovely Run Out Groove reissue of “The Monkees” the collector in me won out and so here we are.

Now that I have these two lovelies in my hands and have played them what do I think you may ask?

Well, let’s see. 

The Positives:

  • Each of the volumes is pressed very well, nice and flat and super quiet and the colored vinyl sure does look purdy
  • They each sound pretty good though you can tell they were sourced from the CDs and they sound a little flat in places but overall they sound nice. They actually remind me of the sound of original Colgems pressings which were decent but not great so that’s kind of fun
  • I love how the back covers look like the 1969 era Colgems Monkees albums as these issues would have been great to have been released at the time as they feature a lot of songs that were on the Saturday morning reruns of The Monkees TV show which was getting great ratings 

The Negatives:

  • The price – ugh too high. At least most of Friday Records previous Monkees releases were reissued with groovy new gatefold covers with cool photos of picture sleeves of the era, etc. These three sets are just bare bones with no notes or photos at all. A missed opportunity. (Truth be told it seems that Rhino Records isn’t that keen on quality Monkees reissues anymore)
  • The artwork is obviously scanned from the Rhino CD booklets as they are pixelated and grainy – see photos above and below

All in all a mixed bag but I have to say they were fun to play and sound decent enough. I really should have taken more of a stand and not bought them as they should have credited Sandoval and Inglot but the collector in me got the best of my judgement. 

They are fun to own but I am so looking forward to the next Run Out Groove Monkees vinyl release (“More of the Monkees”) as Run Out Groove releases are truly superb and done right in every way possible.

Well there you have it. That’s all from this collector’s corner of the Web. As usual you can take a gander at these two new albums above and below to see how they look.

Until next time, have a great weekend and be safe and well … and listen to some music!

In a World of Pure Imagination … “McCartney III Imagined”

Okay, sometimes being an old fart is a good thing but sometimes being an old fart can just get in your way.

Take for example this new CD that just arrived in my mailbox called “McCartney III Imagined”.

This groovy new CD takes Paul McCartney’s latest album that was released a few months ago and casts it in a new light featuring the entire album redone with new remixes and new takes of the songs by some of today’s modern musicians. I won’t pretend to know most of them besides Beck (the old fartitis I was talking about) but I was curious to hear what they had done to McCartney’s album.

Actually the music on this CD has been available online for weeks but when it was first announced I was, shall I say, less than enthused about the idea and decided to not listen to these new remixes/versions online and waited for the old fart physical disc to be released.

Well that disc was released today and voilà here we are and here that discs sits in my old-fashioned CD player.

I sat and looked at the new cover and read over the contents and thought “well, here we go, let’s give it a try.”

And here’s where the old fart gets in the way. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find that I sort of liked some of these remixes. Actually most of them were pretty darn good! I pretty much enjoyed the entire CD and that  did surprise me. I’m happy to say that this new CD is a lot of fun and not what I was expecting.

My initial worry was that this album would sound like one of those tribute albums that barely resembled a Paul McCartney album. I thought I’d have to really dig deep to hear any trace of McCartney in these new versions of the songs from “McCartney III” but I was totally and happily mistaken.

Not is McCartney all over these new remixes but much of the album reminds me of the experimental remixes McCartney himself put together in the 1980s especially for the material on his 12-inch singles (remember those?) and his 45 b-sides (remember them?).

Here’s a run down of my thoughts on each track on this new 2021 version of “McCartney III”:

Find My Way (featuring Beck) – I actually really enjoyed this take. It reminds me a lot of ’80s McCartney and is the perfect link to the McCartney II album. It definitely has a much more experimental vibe much more so than the mix that was on the original album last year.

The Kiss of Venus (Dominic Fike) – Not bad but not my cup of tea. I do enjoy hearing a modern spin on this track but prefer McCartney’s original.

Pretty Boys (featuring Khruangbin) – I actually love this! Again reminds me of McCartney II. Love the atmosphere of this version. This takes the track to another level, very fun. Also reminds me of the late 1980s McCartney b-sides which I love.

Women and Wives (St. Vincent remix) – Now this is really cool. Great remix. Love the jazzy yet bluesy feel. I may prefer this mix to the original. I’m surprised at how much I’m really enjoying this album so far. It’s actually quite good probably my favorite on the album.

Deep Down (Blood Orange remix) – The beginning of this remix reminds me of Brian Wilson for some reason. I love the transformation of this track too, really interesting. While I love the original track this remix has a little bit more variation which is really fun to hear. This remix has a bit lighter touch than the original yet still atmospheric.

Seize the Day (featuring Phoebe Bridger’s) – Now I really enjoy this version. I like Bridger’s vocal. This is modern yet retro as well – my sweet spot. One of my favorites on the album. It shows how strong McCartney’s writing is when other people can make the songs shine.

Slidin’ (EOB remix) – I still really love this song it reminds me of the great lost Wings single from the ’70s. This remix is actually pretty terrific. This sounds a little bit more like the Foo Fighters but still very interesting.

Long Tailed Winter Bird (Damon Albarn remix) – Pretty cool remix actually. A little soul, a little techno – great vibe to this mix. I still prefer the original but this is pretty cool.

Lavatory Lil (Josh Homme) – Not bad but doesn’t add much to the track. Not horrible. Not my favorite but I can listen to it, interesting.

When Winter Comes (Anderson .Paak remix) – This is interesting but I love the simplicity and the beauty of the original. Fun and not bad but the original is a minor McCartney classic that really stands on its own and doesn’t need a thing added to it.

Deep Deep Feeling (3D RDN remix) – I’m kind of meh on this remix. I like the atmosphere of the original much much better. Probably my least favorite remix on this album though I do enjoy the “Temporary Secretary” riff throughout. This may grow on me.

Long Tailed Winter Bird (Idris Elba remix) – Interesting but near the bottom on my list of the remixes on this album. There are parts I enjoy but maybe a little too modern sounding for my taste.

There you have it. One really good new/old yet new Paul McCartney album – and that’s never a bad thing.

Like I said when I’m wrong I’m wrong. I’ll think I’ll actually come back to this album a lot. It’s very atmospheric and much much better than I was anticipating. This time around though I’m skipping the multi-colored vinyl editions and different cover variations – this one CD version will do me just fine.

But I’m happy to say that this CD is a really well worth seeking out especially for all those other old fart McCartney fans out there who may have pooh-poohed it. Go on, give it a try. Hunt down a copy or hunt it down online. It’s really fun and very Paul McCartney.

Well, there you have it. Just a quick note on this new Paul McCartney album. I’m old so it’s time to take a nap.

Until next time be well and see you soon.

Take care and be well … AND GET VACINATED!!!