7a Records Strikes Again – “Demoiselle” by Micky Dolenz is a Gem of an Album That Highlights Rare Solo Material from the ’90s

 
Well, what have we here? Another Monkees related release from 7a Records?
 
First we had the lovely “Dolenz Sings Nesmith – The EP” by Micky Dolenz from early in 2022 followed by two great solo releases by Mike Nesmith (“And the Hits Just Keep On Comin'”, “Tantamount to Treason, Vol. 1”– both 50th anniversary packages) then the recent superb “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” reissue and now we have a brand new 7a Records release by Micky Dolenz called “Demoiselle”.
 
“Demoiselle” consists of rare demos of eight songs composed by Dolenz mainly from the early ’90s that would have made the basis of a solid solo album. These eight demos had been issued previously on a CD (available only through Dolenz’s Website) but now are being made available again by 7a Records.
 
(Note: several of these demos ended up being recorded for The Monkees 1996 reunion album called “Justus”)
 
As a bonus 7a Records has added three more Dolenz demos/studio tracks plus a live version of the pop standard “Since I Fell for You” to their release of “Demoiselle” making this new release a must have for Dolenz fans.
 
I had heard of the original release of “Demoiselle” that was sold in 1998 on Micky Dolenz’s Website but for some reason never managed to get a hold of one. I think it sold out fairly quickly but back in the late ’90s I wasn’t that game for ordering from Websites so I never really bothered pursuing getting a copy.
 
As luck would have it 7a Records has come to the rescue and made that CD available again with bonus tracks plus a superb package that includes their usual detailed liner notes.
 
I’ve said it before but it’s too bad that Micky Dolenz never really had much of a solo career post Monkees at least until recently. The material on “Demoiselle” shows that he was a decent writer and as far as his voice is concerned he, to this day, sounds much like he did when he was belting out songs for The Monkees in the 1960s.
 
Because of Dolenz’s limited solo material this release fills in the gaps and provides a picture of what he might have done as a solo artist in the ’90s.
 
I just received the new CD a few days ago and here’s a look at my impressions of each track on “Demoiselle”:
 
My Heart is Failing Me – Written by “It Never Rains in Southern California” songwriter and performer Albert Hammond, this track reminds me of 1986 era Paul McCartney. It would have fit nicely on McCartney’s “Press to Play” album. Production wise it sounds very ’80s but a solid song with great vocals. Nice tune and worthy of single release.

Lonely Weekends – This sounds very much like a Mike Nesmith influenced song with it mariachi flavor. Fun tune and of course sung well by Dolenz. Too bad there’s not much solo work from Dolenz from this time period as I would love to hear a fully-produced version of this song.

Never Enough– I love this version of the song and I think it’s even better than the Monkee’s version from their 1996 “Justus” reunion album. I like the more laid-back approach and this sounds more fluid than the Monkee’s version.

Dyin’ of a Broken Heart– Another track that was re-recorded for 1996’s “Justus”album. Unlike the previous “Never Enough” I prefer The Monkee’s version of this track but this version is okay. A little bit too synthesized for my tastes but not bad.

We Were Not That Bad – I really like this song. This would have been a solid song on any solo album from Micky and one of Dolenz’s better songwriting attempts. Interesting that he mentions in the liner notes that it was inspired by The Beatles “Blackbird” and is basically that chord structure backwards. Too bad a full album of Dolenz’s compositions never came out because he’s actually a decent writer.

Piston Power – Another strong Dolenz composition with a little boogie woogie/rock feel. Nice vocals and vibe to this track. Just a fun song that I would have loved to hear in a fully produced version.

Put a Hold on Your Heart – Another Albert Hammond song. This song is very reminiscent of Human League’s song “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” which has the same lick. Not a bad song but not as strong as the first Hammond song on the album.

Regional Girl– Another “Justus” song that takes a lighter approach than The Monkee’s version. Overall I prefer The Monkee’s approach but this version is fun and well-sung.

Torch for Hire – The last of the none-Dolenz compositions. A very nice track. Sounds a bit ’80s but a really solid song that Dolenz sings well. Again a fully produced version would have sounded amazing.

It’s the Season – Nice tune. It’s the oldest written self-composed track on the album as it comes from the late 1970s. To me this song sounds very Monkee-like especially Dolenz’s vocal. More a riff then a song but still very nice

Since I Fell for You – A terrific live version of this classic song. Dolenz sings the song extremely well and it’s a great tune. A little odd to have it amongst all the other demos written by Dolenz but certainly a lovely track to listen to any time.

Beverly Hills– Another nice Dolenz composition that was released on a single by Dolenz in Japan in 1982 when he toured there during their Monkees resurgence. Even though the song has been released previously by 7a this is a terrific tune and one of Dolenz better self-composed songs.

There you have it, a really solid and enjoyable album from Micky Dolenz. If you’re a Monkees fan I’m sure you’d be happy to get your hands on a copy.
 
I have to say 7a Records has outdone themselves with quality music releases in 2022 and I hope this pace continues. I’m guessing that it will as a photo of an upcoming new Davy Jones release is featured in the last 7a booklet so it looks as if 2022 is the year of the solo Monkees music releases!
 
As usual check above for photos of this groovy new album.
 
Until next time be safe and well and see you soon!
 
 
 
 
 

Once Upon a Summer Night … Memories of Olivia Newton-John

There are some voices from the past that are so evocative of a certain time and place that hearing them always transports you back in time.

I listen to a lot of music, as you may well know if you read this blog, but there are only a select few voices that elicit such a major response in my psyche. One of those voices belonged to Olivia Newton-John.

Looking back the performers I listened to between 1978 and 1984 seem to have a stronger pull on my heartstrings than any other time period before or since. Nostalgia yes, certainly, but it’s more than that for me.

I think those formative years between the age of 12 and 18 are a magical time in a person’s life. Everything from that time period seems heightened now – the people, the food, the dress and especially the music. Music reminds you of everything that was going on around you at the time you were listening to it – good  or bad.

So a couple of days ago when I heard that Olivia Newton-John had died I had one of those unexpected pangs in my chest. I mean it’s not like I was a rapid fan of her music but apparently something about her voice and her spirit had penetrated deeper than I had ever suspected.

I don’t want to be sad here. I think it’s best to celebrate someone’s life rather than dwell in sadness so I’m going to fondly look back at some of my favorite Olivia Newton-John music.

Even though I became more fond of Olivia’s music post 1978 my remembrances of her music date back to the early seventies with such songs as “Let Me Be There” (from 1973), “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” (1974), “I Honestly Love You” (also 1974), “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975) and “Please Mister Please” (also 1975) all of which I heard on the radio and enjoyed immensely.

It wasn’t until I saw the movie “Grease” in the summer of 1978 that I began to actually buy any of Olivia Newton-John’s records.

In fact I distinctly remember bopping out of a local theater during the opening week of “Grease” in June of 1978 , along with my older brother Tom who drove me to see the film, and riding to the nearest Kmart where I bought the 45 of “You’re the One That I Want” in the picture sleeve (yes, I still have it!).

I absolutely loved that 45 and played it to death that summer. Even though I didn’t buy the full “Grease” soundtrack I did start to acquire the next few Olivia Newton-John albums as they came out.

Really all of Olivia’s hits from that period are so ingrained that they just make me feel. I feel happy and sad and nostalgic whenever I hear her voice but most of all I feel as if I’m that same person again who sat near an old Magnavox stereo in the late 1970s’ blaring those hits out into the summer nights of my youth.

Songs from that period like “A Little More Love” (1978), “Deeper Than the Night” (1979), “Magic” (1980), “Xanadu” (1980), “Suddenly” (1980), “Physical” (1981), “Make a Move on Me” (1981) and “Twist of Fate” (1983) all remain sealed in time in a plastic bubble in which every warm summer night or cool winter evening is there waiting for me like a beacon in the night to rediscover and enjoy.

After 1984 I gradually began to pay less attention to Olivia Newton-John’s recordings but her effect on  my psyche never went away. There was something about her smile and her genuinely kind spirit that whenever I hear her voice or see the odd interview I am taken back to how much comfort and joy I felt listening to her music.

In 2015 I was fortunate enough to see Olivia Newton-John perform live in Las Vegas. I am so glad I did. Not only was her lovely voice intact but she sounded just as good as she did in the early seventies when I first heard her on the radio.

Not only that but the warmth and grace she exhibited on stage was a pleasure to witness. She spoke with several audience members and I thought wow she seems to be one of the most down to earth performers I’ve ever encountered.

Trust me I’ve interviewed over 150 famous musicians in my time writing for a local newspaper and performers with her warmth and grace are very rare.

One of my favorite Olivia CDs is a recording of that very same Las Vegas show (see above) and it’s a really nice overview of her entire career and one of my favorite of her recordings as it brings back fond memories of that terrific performance.

Well there you go. Just a few random thoughts on a truly unique talent. I will always love her biggest hits and now that she’s passed I think the memory of her voice and talent will grow even more special to me as time goes on.

Anyway I thought I’d post photos the seven Olivia Newton-John CDs in my collection – above. Each and every one is a gem and I’m planning on giving them all another spin soon.

Take a gander at the photos above and as you do take these last few warm summer nights of 2022 and try and listen to and appreciate the angelic voice of a truly special talent that made millions of people around the world hopelessly devoted to her special magic.

Until next time be well and see you soon …

 

FIRST LOOK: “McCartney – I, II, III” Limited CD Box Set

Welcome back to my little side of the Web.

It’s been a bit since I was here so I thought it was time to say hello again – hello.

Today’s post may very well fall under the heading of “Totally Not Necessary But Cool Anyway” but what the hey, you only live once. As a collector I’ve been down this road before and here I go again (yes a blatant McCartney reference.)

This Friday a lovely set of three Paul McCartney albums is being re-released on both CD and vinyl. All three of them  – “McCartney”, “McCartney II” and “McCartney III” – feature McCartney as not only the sole songwriter but also the sole instrumentalist and vocalist (well mainly, Linda McCartney helps with background vocals on “McCartney” and “McCartney III” has a few tracks with McCartney’s band) – thus the McCartney titles.

I happened to receive this set in the mail a couple of days early (that usually never happens) so I thought folks might enjoy seeing what this set looks like.

Now you may ask so what’s so interesting about buying more copies of three albums I already own?

Are these new versions of those albums? No. Are there cool new bonus tracks to get excited about? No. Is there some new and wonderful mastering of these albums perhaps that will make it worth buying these albums yet again?  Well, no actually.

So who is this set for you may ask and why buy it? 

Well the answer is simply McCartney fans. Obsessive McCartney fans. You can’t see it but my hand just went up.

Seriously though this set may well in fact attract some younger fans who are just discovering McCartney’s wonderful solo catalog I’m afraid this set feels like it’s aimed at the obsessives who, like me, like label minutia and release variations. Though you probably already know that if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts.

Now that’s not to say that this isn’t a lovely set – it is. In fact it’s superbly put together and as far as presentation goes it gets an “A”. 

To start off with it comes in a nifty hardbound small case (okay, the cover art isn’t exactly stellar but serviceable) and the three albums are presented in mini-lp sleeves that replicate the original UK vinyl releases fairly well.

(Note: I only bought the CD version of this set as it was priced reasonably and I LOVE mini-lp versions of McCartney albums on CD)

All three albums sport their original gatefold covers and best of all they also sport the original LP labels from Apple and Parlophone which I don’t think have ever been released on CD. They may be incorrect, it’s been a long day and I’m getting old lol, but I don’t seem to recall that being the case.

The “McCartney II” CD also comes with a small fold-out poster that replicates the original inner LP sleeve and the “McCartney III” CD  contains it’s normal booklet.

There are also three small photo cards that have introductions on the back by Paul McCartney in which he recalls the circumstances in which each of the three albums were made. He briefly tells why he decided to go it alone with all three instead of using other musicians to flesh the tracks out.

Again nothing new really just an all around lovely small box set of all three of his homemade albums.

I really hadn’t intended to buy this set but after seeing that it included the reproductions of the original record labels I thought this made a nice variation to have on CD and really I would think that this may be the last time these albums make it onto CD.

(Note 2: I’ve said this very thing before when these albums were released as part of McCartney’s archive collection so who knows they may end up sneaking these out on CD one more time but I really doubt it. I think.)

If you’ve already purchased the McCartney archive issues of “McCartney” and “McCartney II” then you’ll already have these masterings so there’s really nothing new sound wise. “McCartney III” also sounds the same as the original CD release from just a few months ago so that again is really nothing new.

The main purpose of this post is for the obsessives out there like me who are on the fence about buying this set and want to see what you get if you buy it. 

Well there’s plenty of photos above and below so feast your eyes and who knows you may just feel like another version of these albums on CD is worth it.

I actually love this set though honestly I needed more versions of these albums on CD like I need a hole in the head but here we are – where are we? It’s worth it to me as at least the CD isn’t too expensive. The vinyl set on the other hand is a bit pricey but I’m sure all three pressings probably look and sound great but I wanted to stick to under $40 if I’m going to get these again.

Well, that’s all for now. Just a quick McCartney update.

As usual be well and safe and until next time I hope you have a great end to your summer as Fall is right around the corner.

Ta ta for now and see you soon!

“Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” Album Reissued in Wonderful Remastered Sound on 2-CD set From 7a Records

Let me turn the way back clock to 1976.

For starters it was the year of the United States Bicentennial.

Anyone who was alive at the time remembers that the Bicentennial was quite a big deal and it was the talk of 1976, at least as I remember it. Of course I was just 10-years-old at the time but it was a monumental celebration as I recall.

There was another less monumental thing that happened that year as well. It just so happens that I experienced a mini-case of Monkeemania as 1976 was also the year that the album “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” was released.

Now anyone who reads this blog knows that I remember things in my life in relation to what music happened to be released at the time so remembering 1976 for “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” is not unusual, at least for me.

You see by 1976 The Monkees as a group had been inactive for six years.

I had been a fan of The Monkees since I was practically out of the womb and played and scratched copies of my oldest brothers first five Monkees albums until they looked more like frisbees than records. Also the groups records were tough to find in stores by that time as they had been out of print since 1971 when The Monkees Colgems label folded.

Even their TV show hadn’t been rerun on a major network since 1973 so anything Monkees related was pretty scarce to come by at least in my neck of the woods.

For those who don’t remember in 1976 there was no Internet and no easy way, at least for a ten-year-old, to find out the current information about what music was coming out, etc. You just had to be lucky to  walk through a store at the right time and hopefully notice a new album by your favorite artist on display.

That’s the case with the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” LP. I remember walking thorough a local Kmart store and running over to a display that showed the album.

Around that same time I also remember getting a frozen Coke, I did that every time I went to Kmart, and receiving a cup with drawn images that said Monkees at the bottom. Of course the Monkees on the cup included Micky and Davy but who were those other two? Maybe two new Monkees I remember thinking to myself. 

After all this time I can’t remember if I got the cup before or after the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” album came out but I managed to hold on to that fragile plastic cup and it survives, barely, to this very day (see photo of the cup below).

I do however distinctly remember stumbling on the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” album in the record section of Kmart and acting as if it was indeed a brand new Monkees album. Two new Monkees or not this was as close as I was going to get to a brand new Monkees album so I was thrilled that it had been released.

My mother wasn’t quite as thrilled with the existence of a new Monkees album as I was so I ended up waiting a few weeks until I managed to persuade her to buy the album for me.

I remember playing that album a lot that summer of 1976 and as I did staring at that what was then an oh so far-out looking rear cover as I tried to decide which of the songs I liked best.

Flash forward oh say roughly forty-six years or so and what happens to land in my mailbox but a groovy new 2-CD reissue by 7a Records of that long-ago “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” album.

I had actually hoped that 7a Records would one day do a reissue of this album but I had heard that Capitol Records had misplaced the master tapes so I assumed it would never happen. Then a few months ago 7a Records posted a cryptic message on Facebook saying they found some long lost Monkees related master tapes and viola we have a new reissue of “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart”.

I’ve done blogs on several of 7a Record’s Monkee related products and every time I review them I marvel at the high quality of not only the sound of their products but the truly first class artwork and booklets that come with their releases.

I’m happy to say that this new reissue of “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” is no exception as it is a quality first class reissue of one of my favorite lost pop albums of the ’70s.

As a bonus the second disc of this new set features a concert by Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart in Japan from 1976 that was originally released on an exquisite sounding CD by Varese Sarabande in 2007.

The sound on both discs in this set is first-rate and since this is the first issue of the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” from the actual master tapes it’s a joy to listen to from start to finish. There actually was an earlier CD reissue of the “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart”  album in 2005 on Cherry Red Records from the UK but it was taken from a needledrop and sounded fairly bland and lifeless.

While I can’t say this album is on the same level as The Monkees ’60s albums it is nonetheless a fine pop album that holds up pretty well despite a few dated spacey sound effects from side two.

Songs like “Right Now”, “You and I” (written by Dolenz and Jones and later remade by The Monkees in 1996), “I Love You (And I’m Glad That I Said It)”, “It Always Hurts the Most in the Morning” and “I Remember the Feeling” are truly pop gems that hopefully will be rediscovered by modern listeners.

I’ve always been particularly fond of the song “You and I” and even love the 1996 remake on The Monkees “Justus” album but I’ve always had a fondness for this 1976 version best and am so glad to have such a great sounding version available on CD.

In fact the only song that I still get the urge to skip is “Along Came Jones” as I’ve never been that fond of comedic songs. The rest of the album though is a real pleasure to rediscover especially when it sounds as good as this reissue does.

What can I tell you, 7a Records knows how to do reissues right and this new 2-CD “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” is by far my favorite of all the reissues 7a Records has ever done as this album holds a warm spot in my heart and memories.

If you’re a Monkees or Boyce and Hart fan and know or have never heard this album you owe it to yourself to grab this 2-CD (or 2-LP version that’s also available) set and give it a spin or two.

As usual there are plenty of photos above and below to look to get a glimpse of this new 2-CD set or even older versions of the album on LP and CD.

Until next time be well and safe and I’ll hopefully see you around this parts soon!

The photos below feature the cup (what’s left of it) I got at Kmart with a frozen Coke in 1976 promoting Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart as a group:

Below: Photos of the original Capitol 1976 pressing of “Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart” and previous CD reissues of the same album and the CD ” Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart – Concert in Japan”:

The Beatles “Get Back” Documentary Finally Arrives on Blu-Ray – The Long and Winding Saga Concludes (I Think)

What a long strange trip it’s been, so they say.

After months of near misses, false landings and several odd missteps The Beatles epic documentary “Get Back” by famed director Peter Jackson FINALLY reached store shelves this past week!

No seriously, I’m not kidding. At least I don’t think so. After all the weirdness of this release it’s hard to tell.

On July 12th the “Get Back” documentary arrived as both a 3-disc Collector’s Blu-ray set as well as a more barebone 3-DVD set that features just the three discs stacked on top of themselves with no special packaging whatsoever.

(Note: Apparently the DVD version is next to impossible to actually find on store shelves – I have yet to see it in person in a store myself – but it is apparently available online)

Unfortunately there is still a bit of weirdness with availability of the Blu-ray set as even though people have managed to buy it many retailers are getting limited stock and while I have seen the Blu-ray package in one store it is still pretty scarce on store shelves in my area – at least so far anyway.

Even online retailers like Bullmoose and Amazon show the Blu-ray set as currently not available while Target stores sold out of their pre-order supply and even The Beatles own Website in the US says that are now out of stock of the Blu-ray.

On release week, seriously? I guess this is going to become common place I’m afraid.

Readers of this blog may remember that this past April I posted a blog in which I thought for sure the “Get Back” documentary had finally been released at that time – well, the DVD version anyway.

In fact I happened to buy a copy of said DVD set from none other retailer than Amazon. Surely Amazon wouldn’t stock an illegitimate product from such a high profile act as The Beatles? The funny thing is I’m not one hundred percent sure it is legit but I’m thinking it more than likely is – are you confused yet? 

The DVD itself that I received while a very barebones package looks like the genuine article. The picture and sound are very good and I can’t imagine that Amazon would have knowingly stocked a bootleg version.

It must be, and I’m only surmising here, that Amazon had been sitting on old stock of the “Get Back” DVD set that was originally supposed to be issued this past February and decided to release them in dribs and drabs as it was available for a few days then gone then available again – very strange.

Supposedly a technical glitch halted the Blu-ray release which was also to come out in February but there was no word on if this defect only affected the Blu-ray version as the DVD wasn’t really mentioned as being defective – it was just implied.

Strangely enough there was next to no word officially from either Disney who distributes this set or Apple which is The Beatles company who own this material and put the plans in motion to get director Peter Jackson to make the documentary.

If this doesn’t give you the impression that Disney doesn’t really support physical media anymore it certainly should. What other explanation could there be? This set has certainly not been made widely available at least as far as I can see and the complete silence from Disney about the total cluster of this release speaks volumes.

Disney supports streaming its content via Disney+ and in the future that looks like it will be the only game in town folks. Truth be told I’m sure that’s what most major studios are feeling but it’s becoming more clear with each and every new release whether it be a movie or music for that matter that owning a product is becoming a thing of the past (sigh).

Still following me? Don’t worry I’m still a little foggy about everything too.

Anyway I finally managed to get a hold of a copy of the Blu-ray set and now that I own it and have skimmed through it I must say I am pleased as punch that I decided to get it.

That wasn’t always my intention truth be told.

I was happy enough with the picture and sound of the DVD version that I managed to buy from Amazon but after reading a few online reviews saying that the Blu-ray set had better quality than the Disney+ streaming version I thought ‘hey, why not get the Blu-ray version’? (not that it was much of a hard well for me anyway lol).

Well I tried to pre-order the Blu-ray “Get Back” from Amazon but then a couple of weeks ago before the release date Amazon mysteriously cancelled my order saying that they couldn’t get more stock.

Seriously, again?

From then on the Blu-ray hasn’t been listed as available on Amazon except for a third-party seller who must have old stock copies from February that they selling for more than twice the cost of the new copy.

Ahhhhhh.

Well I finally managed to get a hold of a copy of the Blu-ray a couple of days ago and here are my thoughts:

First off the Blu-ray set has way better packaging.

It has an attractive hard cover that also holds a hard cover book inside. The book contains sleeves covered in pictures from the “Get Back” sessions and those sleeves hold the discs (see photos above and below). There are also four small card photos of each Beatles in a slot in the back of the inner book which is a nice touch has well.

Compared to the skimpy presentation of the DVD this set is total improvement. I’m not sure why Disney couldn’t do both a DVD and Blu-ray set this way but as far as packaging is concerned the Blu-ray wins hands down.

Now to picture quality.

I watched the Disney+ streaming version of “Get Back” way back in November and remembered being impressed with its picture quality even though on my TV the Disney+ app was glitchy and froze up frequently (one of the major strikes against streaming).

I thought the DVD set was a slight notch below the Disney+ version and assumed the Blu-ray wouldn’t be a major upgrade but I have to say that after watching this new Blu-ray set I think the picture quality of “Get Back” not only matches the Disney+ stream I saw but improves upon it.

I have read a lot of reviews that are down on the heavy DNR (digital noise remover) applied by director Peter Jackson to “Get Back” but to me it’s worlds better than any other footage of these sessions that I’ve ever seen. I think removing the grain from the film does give the “Get Back” footage more of the look of a videotape which makes viewing these sessions come to life in way that film doesn’t.

If that was Peter Jackson’s intention – to make these sessions seem like you are actually here – then he achieved it well and it works for me. I’m fine with how the “Get Back”  documentary looks.

Whatever your feeling is on how Peter Jackson handled the footage I think this new Blu-ray version is definitely an improvement over the DVD version I got in April so I’m very pleased.

Another thing I noticed video-wise comparing the DVD to Blu-ray is that the on-screen dialog captions that come up when The Beatles are talking look much smaller and sharper on this new Blu-ray version much like what I saw on Disney+.

The captioning on the DVD version looks almost cheap at times as it’s much bigger and blurrier and makes the video look much less professional looking than the Blu-ray version (again see photos below).

Since this is permanent on the screen and not true closed-captioning it’s baffling that there’s a difference. I wasn’t expecting the captioning to look that different.

Since all of the other titling onscreen throughout the documentary looks the same on DVD as well as Blu-ray I thought the dialogue captioning would be standard too. I can live with it on the DVD but I prefer the way the Blu-ray captioning looks compared to the DVD.

Not only is the video better but the 7.1 uncompressed PCM audio option on the Blu-ray, which is missing from the DVD set, is a much better listening experience than the sound of the DVD set. The 7.1 uncompressed PCM audio features much deeper sounding bass along with a much smoother sound and more clarity than the DVD version.

(Note 2: I don’t have the capability of 7.1 on my system but even the downmixed sound from the uncompressed 7.1 PCM audio sounds great on my system and beats out the sound of the DVD)

Again the DVD is fine and I like it it’s just that the Blu-ray audio is better and I prefer the way the Blu-ray sounds compared to the DVD.

Now what would really have made this Blu-ray set a complete home run would have been some nice bonus content.

It would have been great to have a bonus disc that featured either a restored version of the original “Let it Be” film (the 1970 film that featured some of the footage from these sessions) or even an option to view the complete rooftop concert by itself without the footage of the people on the street being interviewed.

Such a disc would have been great and too bad it wasn’t included.

Or was it?

Well to top off all the good bounty of new 1969 Beatles footage low and behold a grey market DVD/Blu-ray set entitled “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” has also made its way to the world and does feature what would make a superb bonus disc to this new “Get Back” set.

As luck would have it a friend of mine happened to gift me this very underground set and to say it’s a nice bonus is an understatement.

The “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” features not only the complete 1969 Beatles rooftop concert without any of the man on the street footage (just The Beatles) but it also features the IMAX version of the “Get Back” rooftop concert as it was shown in theaters earlier this year.

Also included is an option to view the main rooftop songs onscreen with all the camera angles from the “Get Back” documentary along with the same songs as they appear in the original “Let it Be” film. This is an option I didn’t think I’d enjoy but I must say it’s pretty darn cool (see photos of this screen below).

(Note 3: The very lower left-hand corner of the screen contains the footage of these songs that appeared in the “Let it Be” film)

Now I usually don’t mention grey area items unless they are really quite exceptional and this set my friends fits that bill. Oh and by the way I don’t endorse bootlegs and I have no idea where to find them but since this magical set made its way into my hands I thought I’d share its contents here.

So this is in fact my defacto bonus disc it’s just too bad that something like this couldn’t have been included in the official Blu-ray set. Well you can’t have everything and as it is this new Blu-ray set is a real treat and well worth adding to your collection if your a Beatles fan.

So there you go. After months of drama and weirdness at least an official Blu-ray set of the truly wonderful “Get Back” documentary is out there and able to be purchased.

And if your a Beatles fan I would say don’t hesitate getting a copy if you can find one as it’s highly likely that this set won’t be around very long as I doubt Disney is gung-ho on keeping it in print beyond what seems like a small first issue.

As usual there are plenty of photos of the “Get Back” set as well as the “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” to keep you entertained so look above and below to see what they contain.

That’s all for now. I hope if you’re a Beatles fan you manage to get your hands on either the Blu-ray set (ideally) or the DVD set.

Both are good value and this nearly 8-hour documentary is well-worth your time as this is practically the only footage of The Beatles at work in the studio for hours on end creating their magical music.

If you own a Blu-ray player treat yourself to the Blu-ray set as it has the best picture and sound as well as grooviest packaging. The DVD is no slouch btw I just prefer the Blu-ray set.

Take care and be well and see you back here soon.

The last three images below are onscreen images from the “Get Back” Blu-ray set:

Below: Images taken onscreen from first issue DVD:

Below: Images taken from the packaging as well as onscreen from “Get Back: The Rooftop Concert” DVD/Blu-Ray set

I Read the Newsprint Today, Oh Boy … Scrapbooks in Time, Beatles Style

This weekend I was scrolling through new videos on YouTube when a very cool video by one of my favorite Beatles sites (https://www.parlogramauctions.com/) came on that featured a ton of old Beatles scrapbooks.

Obviously the scrapbooks featured in the Parlogram Auction video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyplKZWtSv4) were kept by an uber Beatles fan in the UK. I said to myself I can relate to being an uber Beatles fan and the video reminded me that for a time when I was in grade school and high school (from around 1975 to 1984) I too kept a few Beatles scrapbooks.

(Note: my scrapbooks also contains things as early as 1971 to as late as 1988. The earlier W-MEE Top 100 of 1971 flyer – see below – came from my older brother.)

Now I live in the Midwest so my scrapbooks don’t have quite the broad reach or appeal as that huge collection of UK newspaper clippings from the YouTube video but it does bring back a lot of warm memories.

It’s hard to believe most of the clippings that I saved are now over forty years old but the passage of time hasn’t really hit them too much as they all seem to look practically as new as the day I cut them out.

Honestly I can’t for the life of me remember why I decided to clip any Beatles related news stories but for a time I did just that. Not only did I save newspaper clippings but in that same period I was an avid reader of Billboard magazine and managed to buy a few copies here and there and grabbed a few bits and pieces to put in the scrapbook as well.

(Note 2: I saved many full-page advertisements for Beatles and solo Beatles releases. Three of them are shown down below in the photos)

The early ’80s was also a time when I bought my records from places like Kmart so I also managed to save quite a few of their in-store Top Ten record flyers. A few of those are featured too plus a few radio flyers promoting the Top Ten from a local radio station called WMEE.

It’s so funny the things that pop into my head as I searched through these scrapbooks.

Several things initially jumped out to me like frozen Cokes (I used to get a frozen Coke as the machine for it was right near the record section of Kmart), old movie theaters now long gone (the Holiday theater in an ad below was an enormous old theater that was built in 1969 and closed in 2000) and hanging out at the local mall’s small book store called Reader’s World waiting for the latest issue of Billboard Magazine to show up in the stands.

I also remember the local Musicland record store (part of the national chain) which is featured below in a newspaper ad for exclusive Beatles flexi discs that they were giving away in 1982. I believe these flexi discs were tied into Musicland’s promotion for The Beatles then recent “Reel Music” album release.

I bought several Beatles/solo Beatles albums from Musicland (“George Harrison”, “Back to the Egg”, “Let it Be” and “Tug of War” to name a few) and I also bought my first three CDs ever from them as well in 1986 – Paul McCartney’s “Venus and Mars”, “Tug of War” and “Wings Over America” (all on the Columbia label btw).

I also happened to find a flyer advertising “The Lost Lennon Tapes” show from 1988 which was broadcast Sunday mornings on a local radio station called Rock 104. I remember tuning in and religiously taping all the Lost Lennon shows from 1988 to around 1990 or so.

I’m not sure where I got that flyer from but I must have stuck it in these old scrapbooks for safe keeping – and I’m glad I did too, LOVE the look of that flyer.

As you can see the 1980 to 1984 time period is my heaviest time for saving any and every Beatles/solo Beatles clipping. Those high school years for me have imprinted themselves indelibly in my mind and have remained my favorite solo Beatles era to this day. Even now just thinking of that time period makes me nostalgic.

Anyway, have a look at some of the things I saved in my scrapbooks from long ago. I’m so glad that all the articles still look pretty good. It’s another mirror into the past that even if you weren’t there you may find interesting if your a Beatles fan.

As usual there are plenty of photos above and below.

Well that’s all for now!

Take and care be safe and well. And they’ll be more blog posts coming soon to a theater near you …

Paul McCartney 80 at 80 – A Birthday Celebration

You say it’s your birthday … 

And so it is. It’s not just any birthday mind you, it’s Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday this upcoming Saturday on June 18th. Let that sink in a minute – yes I said 80th.

In honor of this major milestone I thought it might be fun to take a look back at eighty of my favorite songs from McCartney’s often maligned solo career. More times than I can say I’ve heard so-called Beatle fans say McCartney’s musical career began and ended with The Beatles.

Yes of course McCartney’s writing was beyond stellar throughout The Beatles short but miraculous career but to say that McCartney hasn’t produced much of worth since 1970 is just plain ignorant not to mention mean-spirited and just plain wrong.

If one takes the time to pick though Paul McCartney’s solo catalog you can find many, many incredible songs that can easily stand along side his Beatles work. A few come to my mind as we speak: “Calico Skies”, “Jenny Wren”, “Every Night”, “Back on My Feet”, “Tomorrow” and “Beautiful Night” just to name a few; all fine songs that fit comfortably along side his greatest Beatles work.

I know that some of you cynics out there are scowling even now but whatever – open your ears!

Below is my list, repeat MY LIST, of eighty songs from throughout McCartney’s solo career that I find to be outstanding. I’ve chosen to stay away from many of his solo and Wings hits as most people are already familiar with those songs.

(Note: Besides I tend to lean toward deep album tracks as they tend to be some of McCartney’s best work.)

Instead I’ve chosen mainly deep cut album tracks as well as a few choice b-sides, rarities and in one case an unreleased outtake (don’t ask where to find it but it’s out there and is one of McCartney’s lost treasures for sure).

Anyway, without further ado here’s my list of McCartney 80 at 80.

If you’ve not heard some of these songs I think it would open your mind to the continued greatness of Paul McCartney as a songwriter and performer and no he didn’t stop being great after The Beatles:

1. Kicked Around No More
2. Daytime Nightime Suffering
3. Every Night
4. On the Way
5. The Pound is Sinking
6. Ode to a Koala Bear
7. It’s Not True (45 mix)
8. Footprints
9. The Back Seat of My Car
10. Little Lamb Dragonfly
11. Tomorrow
12. Some People Never Know
13. Through Our Love
14. Beware My Love
15. Wanderlust
16. Cafe on the Left Bank
17. London Town
18. Once Upon a Long Ago
19. No Words
20. Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People
21. She’s My Baby
22. No Values
23. Back on My Feet
24. Old Siam, Sir
25. So Glad to See You Here
26. Morse Moose and the Grey Goose
27. Mistress and Maid
28. Flaming Pie
29. The World Tonight
30. Don’t Let it Bring You Down
31. Arrow Through Me
32. Too Much Rain
33. Mr. Bellamy
34. Only Mama Knows
35. Vintage Clothes
36. C Moon
37. She is So Beautiful (a lovely track exclusive to a Japanese CD)
38. Jenny Wren
39. Only Love Remains
40. Pretty Little Head (45 mix)
41. People Want Peace
42. Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link
43. Slidin’
44. Winter Bird/When Winter Comes
45. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
46. Dress Me Up As a Robber
47. Tug of War
48. Keep Under Cover
49. Cage (unreleased song from the “Back to the Egg” sessions)
50. Calico Skies
51. Another Day
52. Talk More Talk
53. Big Boys Bickering
54. She’s Given Up Talking
55. Letting Go (45 mix)
56. Dear Boy
57. Too Many People
58. One of These Days
59. Dance Til’ We’re High
60. Two Magpies
61. C’mon People
62. Baby’s Request (1979 version)
63. My Brave Face
64. We Got Married
65. Distractions
66. I Owe it All to You
67. Pipes of Peace
68. New
69. Appreciate
70. Sally G
71. Struggle
72. The Mess
73. Bluebird
74. Soily
75. Big Barn Bed
76. Run Devil Run
77. Junk
78. Road
79. Beautiful Night
80. Somedays 

Well there you have it. Happy Birthday Sir Paul McCartney!

Here’s to many more years of songwriting and performing and no matter what happens after your 80th you’ve already left the world with such timeless and wonderful music that anything after today is just icing on the cake!!

Above and below are some photos of a selection of CD releases from my Paul McCartney collection. Some are old, some are new (the newest and probably last CD release of some of these albums) and a couple (“London Town” and “Back to the Egg”) are grey area discs that look and sound so nice I thought it would be fun to share them here.

That’s all for now and until next time be well and see you soon!

Weekend Finds – A Picture (Sleeve) is Worth a Thousand Words/The Beatles, The Monkees and The Partridge Family and more …

Sometimes you find the coolest things in the most unexpected places.

What with Covid restrictions easing up quite a bit, at least where I live in the U.S., slowly but surely I’m finding my way back into a few antique stores and flea markets.

Honestly most times I find nothing much of interest in antique stores but every so often I strike gold. This past weekend was one of those times. I found a few really nice items for very little money so I thought I’d share them here. Of course they’re music related, shocker, but fun nonetheless.

I happened to pass by a small antique mall that I’ve been to several times and since the sun was shining and I was in a good mood I thought I’d stop in and see what I could find.

As luck would have it I managed to stumble upon a small table full of tiny 45 record cases. Much to my surprise each case was filled with a massive collection of really nice 45’s with their accompanying picture sleeves!

Now I have to say I really LOVE old picture sleeves and when they are in great shape – which is rare – I’m even more excited. The kicker was not only were these sleeves and 45s in great shape overall but they were priced around $1- $3 dollars for the sleeve AND the 45. Now that’s my kind of find!

I managed to snag the first two Partridge Family 45’s, a David Cassidy 45 of “Cherish”, a minty looking 45 of The Monkees “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (with the original price tag which I love), a Beatles 45 of “Yesterday” (sleeve only) , a cool looking Carpenters 45 of “Rainy Days and Mondays” as well as a lovely Supremes 45 of “Stop! In the Name of Love” plus four older sleeves from the ’50s/early ’60s (Paul Anka, Chubby Checker, The Lettermen and a very young Tony Orlando!) that were four for a $1 since they had no records with them.

The interesting thing about two of the Bell Records I found, David Cassidy’s “Cherish” and The Partridge Family’s “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted”, was that they were pressed on regular vinyl and not styrene. Most of the Bell Records 45s from my childhood were pressed on styrene which doesn’t hold up well to time so I was thrilled to find regular vinyl pressings which sound fantastic.

I’m also a fan of 45 mixes as they tend to sound punchier and more dynamic than their album counterparts so hearing these great sounding records was a complete pleasure. There really is no better sound for these songs than their original 45 mixes. I have some of these same versions of these songs on CD but for some reason the original 45s jump out of my speakers in a way that breaths live into the songs that isn’t captured in their digital form.

Anyway since I don’t regularly find such a cheap treasure trove of goodies I thought I’d post this lot here – see photos above and below.

Just a quick update to share these great 45s and their sleeves.

That’s all for now. I’ll have more soon so until the be safe and see you soon.

The Beatles Blue Box Collection – A Homemade CD Box Set (Or the Winner of the You May Have Too Much Time on Your Hands Award)

Sometimes you just have to take fate into your own hands – or at least collecting.

Years ago, actually about 15 years ago to be exact, I thought it might be fun to make some CD-Rs (recordable CDs) of my favorite Beatles UK vinyl pressings.

I had acquired quite a few original as well as reissue Beatles vinyl and I figured if I made some nice CD-Rs I could lessen the wear on my vinyl as well as be able to listen to said vinyl pretty much anywhere.

Fifteen years ago there was really wasn’t that many great options for Beatles album on CD. This was before the 2009 CD remasters and just before the era of the elaborate Beatles remix box sets and the resurgence of vinyl. At the time, while I thought the existing Beatles CDs were okay, I could never find digital sources as decent sounding as my Beatles vinyl sources.

The best sources I found were not surprisingly the original UK album pressings as well as a 1986 pressing of the famed Blue Box Collection set which I happened to find for a cheap price on eBay.

(Note: The Beatles Blue Box Collection was a collection of the Beatles British stereo UK albums. These Blue Box sets were released from 1978 to approximately 1986 and contained whatever current UK pressings of Beatles UK vinyl EMI was producing at the time. Most Beatles fans find that these Blue Box sets contain the most affordable as well as some of the best sounding sources for Beatles recorded output.

Btw there were also box sets made of their mono albums as well but those sets were much more limited and this post deals with the stereo version)

So since I had no digital sources that wowed me I set off on making homemade CD-Rs that would fill the gap until by some miracle The Beatles catalog was treated to an upgrade.

I was going to start from the beginning with the gold label mono pressing of the “Please Please Me” album but I thought it might be better to start with stereo pressings since at that time the early Beatles was MIA on CD in stereo.

Also at that time I didn’t own an original stereo “Please Please Me” or the superior wide German stereo pressing so I thought I’d begin by recording my 1986 Blue Box collection to CD-R first.

(Note 2: since I made this CD-R set I have acquired all the best UK stereo pressing so my next project may be a transfer of all those copies to CD-R or at least digital on my computer)

Now by 1986 the Blue Box albums were still analog but by this time all the Beatles UK pressings did not  use any of the original tube mastered pressings from the 1960s. All the pressings in my 1986 box were mastered using solid state which gave the albums much more detail but not nearly the warm glow of the original tube mastered vinyl.

The later 1986 pressings do sound great but different from the original UK pressings. I’d say the original tube pressings have a denser sound with more mid-range punch to the vocals. Some people say the tube cuts are muddier but I still love to hear that original sound.

As far as the 1986 pressings I’d say that with the clearer and still analog sound of these LPs you may actually have the best sounding Beatles on vinyl.

So off I went to record. I manged to ten of the albums from my Blue Box set (see photo above for which ones) plus I added my German stereo pressing of “Magical Mystery Tour” (the best stereo pressing there is IMHO) as well as an original UK 1966 stereo pressing of “A Collection of Beatles Oldies” just to make sure I had all the hits.

For some strange reason I didn’t record “The White Album” – not sure why – but overall I love how this homemade CD collection sounds and to this day I still play the CDs from this set often. Though truth be told I play them more from digital copies on an Ipod than the discs but I still enjoy these transfers.

A few years later I added a CD in which I dubbed my first pressing of the UK red label “Love Me Do” single with a second black label UK pressing of the “Please Please Me” single as these two singles are much dryer sounding than their LP counterparts and have never been issued digitally in any form in their original 45 state.

I remember stumbling on the CD insert artwork online at the time for each album so it was easy enough to download and print out great looking artwork.

As you can tell by the photos above and below I also went the extra mile by making lovely looking CD inserts as well as LightScribe CD labels with the accurate original UK labels. Some say that a tad bit anal but I love how this set  looks and the attention to detail makes it feel like a genuine Apple/EMI set.

I never did record my original Beatles UK vinyl pressings to CD-R – yet. I may indeed do that someday soon while I can still find blank CD-Rs and as long as my stand alone Pioneer CD recorder still works.

Unfortunately my LightScribe computer bit the dust years ago so any future CD-Rs will just be to be able to have digital files of all my best Beatles vinyl pressings.

Anyway I thought it might be fun to share this lovely homemade set that I made all those years ago and still enjoy to this day.

I do like the 2009 remasters and the current box sets but for the sound that I grew up with listening to vinyl it’s nice to be able to hear digital sources for some of the best sounding Beatles vinyl out there.

That’s all for now.

I hope you are safe and well.

I’ll be back soon and until then ciao and see you soon!

The Monkees “Headquarters” at 55 – Over Fifty Years of Sunny Girlfriends, A Man Named Webster and A Randy Scouse Git

Color me old.

I know I’ve said in the past that I was going to try and stay away from excessive anniversary posts … “and here I go again” (just a nod and a wink to today’s post – Monkees fans will get it).

Yesterday, May 22, was the 55th anniversary of The Monkees seminal album “Headquarters”.

It just seemed to me that the double nickel anniversary of one of my all-time favorite records couldn’t go past without some kind of special mention from me. Okay seeing as today is May 23rd I may have missed the exact anniversary by a day but nonetheless here we are.

As I’ve said many time before on this blog the “Headquarters” album may be my favorite album by The Monkees. This 1967 album was the first time that the make-believe television creation actually morphed into a real pop/rock group.

The “Headquarters” album was the first time that the four group members/actors who comprised the TV show cast of “The Monkees” were allowed to play all of the instruments (errr, well mostly all) on a full Monkees album.

The previous two Monkees albums (“The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees”) featured scant instrumental work featuring one or two group members and mainly used session players with vocals provided by the four Monkees.

This method of working did produce some exceptional pop records and while the results speak for themselves (the first two Monkees albums sold over 5 million copies each!) there was some kind of magic that happened when the group took over the reigns and actually became The Monkees for real.

Now of course there’s no way you can compare the playing of the four Monkees to the exceptional chops of the session players who played on the first two Monkees albums. By comparison the actual four Monkees sounded more like a very good garage band with a lot of spirit.

But here’s the magical thing. This “garage band” and amateur sounding Monkees not only hold up damn well to the studio pros but the excitement and energy the group generated made the “Headquarters” album just as fun, more fun in fact, to listen to as the first two albums.

It also didn’t hurt that group members Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz provided quite a few self-composed songs on the album that were first-rate pop songs which were as good as many of the songs on their first records – the giant hits withstanding.

There’s just an energy and a feeling of freedom as well as an adventurous to the songs and performances on the “Headquarters” album that really makes it come alive in a way the first two records didn’t in comparison. Plus there’s something about the rough garage band quality of the “Headquarters” Monkees that matches the on-screen Monkees perfectly.

Of course the on-screen Monkees were a band struggling to be The Beatles who quite never seemed to make it in the music industry. A band like that would probably sound less polished and less slick than The Monkees of their first two mega-selling albums.

All one has to do is watch of the rerun version of an early Monkees episode entitled “Royal Flush”. In the 1967 summer rerun version of this episode the 1966 song “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day” is replaced with the song “You Told Me” from the then current “Headquarters” album.

While I love the song “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day” there’s an energy and excitement that the song “You Told Me” injects into the romp from this episode that makes that rerun version my preferred way of seeing the “Royal Flush” episode.

To me The Monkees of “Headquarters” are much better suited to the on-screen Monkees and as far as the show is concerned make a much better match for the fictional garage band then the super slick studio Monkees.

Of course both versions of The Monkees are great but there’s an extra magic present in the  “Headquarters” Monkees and really this version of the group fits the TV show much better and would have made a better choice for the TV show if the goal was about striving for the better show vs striving for the hit record.

Enough said. There’s my two cents about the “Headquarters” album.

Today in honor of the albums 55th anniversary I thought I’d share a few of the different versions of the “Headquarters” album that I own on vinyl as well as CD.

(Note: this isn’t even all the versions I own of the “Headquarters” album – seriously, I know – but these are some of the favorite ones from my collection)

So today we have the following versions – see photos above and below:

  • An RCA original stereo German vinyl pressing
  • A stereo “Beards” RE second vinyl pressing that came out I’m guessing in late 1968 (still in the shrink wrap no less)
  • A Japanese Arista CD issue from around 1992 with a groovy uniquely-colored back cover (this Arista version features the album completely remixed from the multi-tracks like the 1987 US CD version)
  • The original Rhino 1994 CD release with bonus tracks plus hype sticker and card
  • A Rhino CD release from around 2011 with no bonus tracks but with the small hype sticker
  • A Friday Music 2 CD Deluxe Edition which is Friday Music’s reissue of the Rhino 2 CD Deluxe Edition which contains a ton of outtakes and rarities from the “Headquarters” sessions

Plus as an extra bonus I threw in a photo of my lithograph of the “Headquarters” album signed by all four Monkees that was offered via mail order for a brief time by Rhino Records in 1996.

Well there you have it. Just my little tribute to The Monkees “Headquarters” album on its 55th anniversary.

That’s all for now.

Until next time be safe and well and see you soon and listen to some Monkees!