Hitting the High Seas – Monkees CD Variations Part 2 (More Monkees in Japan)

 

“Here we come, walking down the street …”

That phrase certainly does seem familiar. Doesn’t it?

Well if you’re of a certain age it most certainly does. Anyone who was a fan of television or popular music from oh say 1966 to 1987 or so would be able to name that tune in probably three notes.

Of course that phrase and this blog post is about … The Monkees. Anyone whose seen this blog knows that I love The Monkees.

Today I saw that it’s the thirty-third (Seriously? Yikes!) anniversary of the release of The Monkees 1987 comeback album “Pool It!” (originally released in August 1987) which inspired me to go digging for some kind of rarities to celebrate that occasion.

Lo and behold that little bit of digging turned up a groovy promo CD of the “Pool It!” from Japan as well as a couple of other Japanese Monkees CDs I own that you don’t see much of these days – at least in the States.

The three Japanese Monkees CDs I’m talking about include:

“The Monkees” – 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the album released in 2006

“More of the Monkees” – 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the album also released in 2006

“Pool It!” – 1995 reissue of the CD from Rhino Records, promo copy

Let’s start with the 1995 reissue of “Pool It!” shall we. At the time of the albums release in 1987 I was so primed for a new Monkees album, the first full new album the group put out sine 1970, that I’m sure I would have loved and devoured anything they put out.

It just so happens that at the time I loved the “Pool It!” album (shocker, I know). I loved that it sounded modern and was filled with songs I was certain would be very radio friendly thus pushing the album to be a big seller.

Well, that didn’t really happen.

The album got virtually zero airplay and along with it’s first single “Heart and Soul” (which by the way to this day I think is a good tune and superb music video) didn’t really set the charts on fire and quickly disappeared as fast as it came.

There are several reasons for this under performance by the now hot reunited Monkees trio but chief among them was a feud with MTV which resulted in the group being banned from MTV’s playlists and airwaves.

Even without being a big seller, I was happy to have new Monkees material and of course the group was still in good voice and it was just nice to see them back from teh great beyond so to speak as in 1984/85 any sort of Monkees revival at all seemed like pure science fiction.

Anyway, these days looking back I feel that the “Pool It!” album is way too mired in ’80’s production as well as a few bland songs. I would say that five of the songs are really quite good – “Heart and Soul”,”Don’t Bring Me Down”, “Midnight”, “Since You Went Away” and “Gettin’ In” – while the others are decent but not quite as memorable.

I must say though that the Japanese promo CD is truly a fun find and I’m glad I own it. As a true blue nostalgia nut it’s fun sometimes to step back into the 1980’s and this particular version of the “Pool It!” is one I pull out when I’m in the mood.

The other two Japanese CDs really aren’t Japanese pressings – that is the discs aren’t. Both the Deluxe versions of “The Monkees” and “More of the Monkees” are the regular Rhino US CD versions that are packaged with lovely Japanese inserts and booklets that surround the US CD sets.

Of course at the time I ordered them online I had no idea that they weren’t Japanese full pressings and was a little bit miffed when they came in the mail.

You can see the collector in me kept them anyway because of the superb packaging and as you can see above I never opened the US discs preferring to keep them as backup copies.

Little did I know at the time that both sets would be bettered by three disc Super Deluxe sets years later but even so these 2 CD sets contain several mixes that are unique to those sets which makes them must own sets nonetheless.

Both of the Deluxe sets above contain the original stereo as well as mono mixes of each album plus a plethora of fantastic remixes, outtakes, alternate mixes and TV mono mixes which really flesh out both albums and really take you inside the frantic recording sessions from the early days of The Monkees recording career.

Some of my personal favorites from both sets include: The Kind Of Girl I Could Love (Alternate Mix)” and “Papa Gene’s Blues (Alternate Mix)” both featuring all four Monkees on background vocals, “You Just May Be The One (TV Version)”, “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun To Care) (Demo Version)”, the slowed down “Tear Drop City (Alternate Mix)” as well as “Valleri (First Recorded Version)”, “Words (First Recorded Version)” and “I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet (First Recorded Version)”

Both of these sets are superbly done and are well worth taking the time to track down as they are models of how to reissue a classic album that not only illuminates how the album was made for the super fan but is also filled with enough truly great unreleased content that even a casual fan of ’60’s pop/rock would find something to love in each set.

Of course the groovy Japanese packaging is superb as well and since these sets are rarely seen I thought it might be fun to show what they looked like for those Monkeeheads out there who may never have run into them.

That’s all for now.

Take care and be safe and well.

Until next time … Same Bat Time and Same Bat Channel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul McCartney Over Japan – McCartney Japanese CD Variations (Part 1)

I’ve shared several interesting Paul McCartney Japanese CDs before – shocker if you’ve ever read this blog.

I mean, what’s not to love?  Japanese CDs are well made, sound great and sometimes have interesting bonus content and/or different packaging. Basically a collector’s dream country for music releases.

So, as if you couldn’t guess, today I’ve picked some interesting CD variations from Paul McCartney’s solo catalog from, wait for it – Japan! To quote the great man himself, “here I go again”

* “McCartney” – the first Japanese CD issue from 1988

* “All the Best!” – Gold CD Japanese exclusive issue from 1987

* “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” – the first Japanese CD issue from 2005 with exclusive bonus track (“She is So Beautiful”)

Two of these gems I happened to stumble upon in the past year or so (“McCartney” and “All the Best!”) while “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”  I bought at its initial release because of the exclusive bonus track.

Okay, let’s take a look at each one:

“McCartney”

I found this copy a few months ago I believe, if memory serves, online through Amazon. The seller wanted very little for it and described it as the first CD issue so I thought why not?

This first solo album from McCartney is one of my all-time favorite of his albums. I love the warm folky and sometimes raw feel of the tracks with “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Every Night”, “Junk” and the bluesy “Momma Miss America” as some of the songs I would put on any McCartney playlist I would make.

And I would also say that this first CD issue sounds really nice. It’s possibly only bettered by the DCC issue of this album which was mastered by the esteemed Steve Hoffman. The DCC has such luscious and wonderful bass that it wins the race for the best sounding version of this album.

The McCartney Archive issue also sounds great too come to think of it so this Japanese issue may come in third. What I like about this Japanese CD is that it sounds much like the first vinyl issue of the album while the DCC and McCartney Archive sound fuller and with a bit more oomph.

If I want to hear a digital version of this album that sounds close to what the original vinyl sounded like from 1970 then this is the CD I pull out. Sometimes I just feel like time traveling and hearing the music as it was when it was released.

“All the Best!”

Now this is a CD I’ve know about for years and never got at the time as it was pretty expensive. In fact it’s still kind of pricey but again last year I happened to find a copy in great shape for a really good price so bingo, here it is.

(Note: notice a trend here? The price of CDs continues to fall because folks are wanting to get rid of physical media. Me the sicko that I am can’t wait to add these things to my collection.)

Anyway, I’ve read over the years that this gold CD version of McCartney’s late ’80’s  greatest hits was by far the best sounding version of this disc and beat the U.S. version hands down.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it does sound nice and it does follow the UK track listing which includes “Once Upon a Long Ago” and “We All Stand Together” (two of my all-time favorite McCartney tracks) which is nice.

(Note 2: I know several McCartney fans really dislike these two songs. I get the fact that “We All Stand Together” is a children’s song and I can see why some folks bristle at it. I’m not so sure why “Once Upon a Long Ago” gets so much flak though. Yes the lyrics are clumsy in spots but I have always found the song haunting and much like its video it conjures up images of warmth in winter and the holidays – all good things in my eyes.)

But as far as sound it’s probably better than the U.S. CD but I’d say that the original UK CD may be a tad bit better and warmer. This Japanese CD sounded a bit more digital but was nonetheless very good sounding.

If I didn’t own the original UK CD I’d be thrilled but since I do it’s probably second best.

“Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”

Now this particular Japanese CD is  one of the treasures in my Paul McCartney CD collection. Not only is this one of the better McCartney solo albums (IMHO) but it’s the only place I believe that you can find the exquisite “She is So Beautiful” on physical media.

I’ve always felt that “She is So Beautiful” was better than several songs that did make the album. To me this song is Paul McCartney meets “Pet Sounds”. Every time I hear it it reminds me of Brian Wilson and his golden era of 1966/67 production work.

This of course is my preferred way of listening to this lovely album that to this day stands as one of McCartney’s high moments in his solo career and is easily in my Top Ten of solo McCartney albums.

Well, that’s all for today. Just another trip down memory lane and another peek inside the world of Paul McCartney music collecting.

Photos above of all three discs in case you want to see these beauties up close.

Again, for those Macca geeks out there if you’ve never heard “she is SO Beautiful” from the “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” sessions it’s well worth your time tracking this Japanese CD. To me the album isn’t complete without it.

Until next time be well!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beatles Grab Bag – Three Japanese Beatles CD Variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all for now.

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

 

 

 

 

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

Well now, that’s some really good pie!

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

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

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

The Packaging/Booklets: “A”

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

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

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

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

The CDs: “A”

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

So what are the contents of the 5 CD set?

* Disc 1 is the newly remastered album.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The DVDs: “A”

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

DVD Two:

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Overall Grade a Solid “A”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time as always be safe and well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four “HEAD”ed Monkee – Examples of The Monkees “HEAD” on Home Video and CD

 

Welcome to another fine summer day in my corner of the virtual universe!

Today I thought I’d turn the way back machine to 1968. I know, I know, I’m always dialing the way back machine but I was just so in the mood.

When I think of 1968 my mind turns, naturally, to music.

So much great music from 1968 including “The BEATLES” (nicknamed “The White Album”), “Bookends” (Simon & Garfunkel) and “Friends” (The Beach Boys) – just to name a few of my favorite albums and groups from that year.

But today I thought I’d turn my attention to one of the most unique, and interesting, pieces from The Monkees catalog; their movie “HEAD” and its accompanying soundtrack album.

I’ve done pieces on “HEAD” here before but I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of its video incarnations as well as a fun oddball UK CD release from 1992.

As I’ve said before The Monkees film “HEAD” is one strange and amazing piece of filmmaking. To say it’s something different in the group’s canon is an understatement. “HEAD” is one unrelenting ride into the late ’60’s burgeoning era of independent films via Hollywood and one of its biggest musical creations.

The film basically is a series of strange vignettes that chronicle The Monkees phenomena and exposes, in an offbeat and frankly confusing way at times, Hollywood’s penchant for creating illusions and how those illusions (The Monkees) react to their own odd universe (stardom) with all the manipulation that Hollywood stardom entails.

Okay that sounds odd and “HEAD” IS odd but it’s also fascinating, frustrating and in the end fulfilling. The movie is also filled with some of The Monkees best songs including the exquisite “The Porpoise Song (Theme from “HEAD”), “As We Go Along”, “Can You Did It?”, “Do I Have to Do This All Over Again” and “Circle Sky”.

I first stumbled upon the film of “HEAD” via a bootleg VHS tape I acquired in the mid 1980’s. I  remember being just fascinated and perplexed and utterly amazed at the difference of the “film” Monkees to their TV counterparts.

When The Monkees revival happened in 1986 I was finally able to get my hands on a really nice quality copy of the film when I purchased an official copy that was released by RCA/Columbia Pictures (see above) on VHS tape. Remember VHS tape?

Later Rhino Records released an even better transfer of the film on DVD which was then superseded by an even BETTER transfer by an esteemed company called Criterion as part of their Criterion Collection who take great pride in making classic films available in the best quality possible.

The recent Criterion release from one of their Blu-Ray and DVD box sets (“America Lost and Found: The BBS Story”) looks (and sounds) fantastic (also see above). Not only was the film meticulously transferred but the songs were remixed into 5.1 sound and have never and I mean never sounded better!

This stunning print (minus some of the bonus features) was also released as a part of “The Monkees – The Complete Series”, a very limited Blu-Ray set that was available at one time through Monkees.com (more on that set in a future blog post).

The other interesting “HEAD” release from my collection is a 1992 CD release of the soundtrack that came out in the UK on an obscure label called Lightning Records. In fact if my memory serves, and sometimes it doesn’t lol, this was the first CD release of the entire soundtrack.

The album cover was white like the first UK vinyl release and this particular CD issue also features an alternate mix of Mike Nesmith’s song “Circle Sky” which though not superior to the normal mix is a fun variation nonetheless.

At the time I remember thinking how cool it was to get this mix on CD plus the rest of the soundtrack sounding very good, excellent in fact, with very nice mastering.

To this day this is one nice sounding CD though the release of the superb Rhino 3 CD box set of “HEAD” from 2010 is pretty much the last word on this album. The Lightning CD though is a fun collectible and worth tracking down if you can find one.

And if you’ve never seen the film “HEAD” and you’re familiar with The Monkees TV show you may want to give it a try. You may not like it and you may be a bit confused but it is certainly a different experience from watching their TV show.

Well there you have it. A sort of “HEAD” O-Gram from me for the day. As usual you can take a quick gander at the four-“HEAD”ed Monkee above if you’re interested.

That’s all for now, until next time be well and safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the Band … On Vinyl – “The Monkees Live: The Mike & Micky Show” 2 LP Set

Welcome my friends to another summer Friday here in Webland!

I was going to post a look at the groovy new Deluxe 5CD/2DVD box set of Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” album but I am still in the process of savory every single morsel of its contents before I give my thoughts.

Sooo, since anther gem of a grooviness landed at my door yesterday I thought I’d share some thoughts on that instead.

Recently I shared a review of the fabulous CD “The Monkees Live – The Mike & Micky Show” and low and behold the 2 Lp vinyl addition finally managed to makes it way to me so tada here we go with a look at these lovely slices of vinyl.

I had this vinyl set on pre-order since ot was announced but for some strange reason the album was in and out of stock and it took several weeks for it to get here. As they say sometimes it’s just worth the wait and I’m happy to report this 2 Lp set is terrific and well worth the wait for sure!

I won’t go into too much detail about the music on this new set as my previous review of the CD details the songs, etc. on the album. I will say, however, that as good as the CD sounds (and it’s one fine sounding CD) this 2 Lp set I think may sound even better.

Mastered by renowned mastering engineer Kevin Gray, this new 2 Lp set absolutely sounds breathtaking. The music is crisp and clear and packs a lot of punch and the vocals, the vocals just sound so amazing. Everything on the set sounds balanced and alive with all the dynamics intact.

This new 2 Lp set sounds so warm and inviting I’ve honestly never heard The Monkees sound so good. Everything about this set is a treat. The vinyl is dead quiet and the mastering makes it sound almost analog though it was certainly digitally captured and mastered.

After playing side one of the album I decided that it was just too good to stop. That to me says it all. You just sit enveloped in the sound as if The Monkees are performing right in front of you.

The fact that this live album is by far the best representation aurally of the group ever doesn’t hurt but this new 2 Lp set just hits my sweet spot as is now my go to version of this album.

I would highly recommend tracking it down if you’re a fan of the group and are interested in the best sounding version that you can get your hands on and enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong the CD version and I ‘m sure the download version sound great but there’s something special about the sound of this 2 Lp set that really captures the feel of The Monkees 1960’s Lp’s while improving on the fidelity.

As usual you can take a gander at the set above.

That’s all for now. Just a break from all the McCartney music I’ve been enjoying all week. I should be back soon with some thoughts on that set but until then take care and be well.

Until next time, enjoy and it’s Friday!!!

 

 

 

A Flaming Delight – Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” is Reissued With a Souped-Up Recipe (Part 1 – the 2 CD Set)

Who doesn’t love a Paul McCartney album reissue? Speak up, I can’t hear you.

Okay, okay, I may be in the minority here but anytime there’s a reissue of a classic Paul McCartney album, that my friends, is always a reason to celebrate. In my humble opinion anyway.

And as luck would have it today is just that kind of celebration day as I finally got my hands on a choice McCartney reissue that just came out this past Friday, a lovely remastered version of Paul McCartney’s 1997 album “Flaming Pie”.

The “Flaming Pie” album came out hot on the heels of the very successful and critically acclaimed “Beatles Anthology” series and CD sets which were released in 1995 and 1996.

The Anthology project must have really inspired McCartney and brought his creative juices to a boil as the “Flaming Pie” album turned out to be one of his best solo albums (so far) and included several songs that would fit comfortably on a late era Beatles album.

Songs like the haunting acoustic ballads “Calico Skies”and “Little Willow” (a tribute to Ringo Starr’s first wife Maureen who had just recently died), the emotionally stirring “Somedays” (inspired by his first wife Linda’s battle with cancer) as well as the first single “The World Tonight” are all top tier McCartney.

Add the wonderfully playful title track as well as the majestic album closer “Beautiful Night” (featuring drumming by none other than fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr) as well as several others and you have one of the true gems in McCartney’s solo music canon.

So here we are today with this fantastic new reissue of the album that’s a part of McCartney’s ongoing (and superb!) Archive Collection.

What do you get with this new remaster you may ask? Well it depends on which version you buy as there are several choices and formats depending on your interest level in the album and the size of your wallet.

Here’s what’s available:

* A 2 CD set with the remastered album on Disc 1 with a second disc that contains 21 tracks that features several outtakes, rough mixes and demos as well as stray bonus tracks. This is the cheapest option available and the one that has the most bang for your buck

* A Deluxe Edition housed in a lovely large cloth covered box that contains 5 CDs and 2 DVDs as well as several books and reproductions of photos and documents like McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for songs on the album

* A two Lp vinyl version of the album with just the remastered album

* A 3 Lp vinyl version of the album plus the bonus tracks from the 2 CD set

* A Super Deluxe Collector’s Edition limited to 3000 copies which is much like the one above but in a much bigger box (and price tag $$$) with added goodies like the 3 Lp set as well as the 3 Lp set from above and an exclusive vinyl record featuring McCartney’s collaboration with Allen Ginsberg (“The Ballad of the Skeletons”) as well as extra art prints but with basically the same musical content as the regular Deluxe Edition

Whew!

Today in Part 1 of this “Flaming Pie” extravaganza I’m taking a look at the basic 2 CD set of the remastered album.

First off I have to say that the remastering of the album on Disc 1 featured in this set is superb! The album sounds a bit less compressed than the original CD release (shocking but great news!) with clean and clear dynamics throughout.

On several songs I notice lovely little flourishes either with the orchestrations or the clarity of the vocals that now jump out at me. It’s really fun to rediscover this album with better dynamics making the songs so much more impressive all these years after they were originally released.

The absolute mind blower of this set I must say is the 21 track Disc 2 which features several terrific home demos and rough mixes.

Highlights for me include the home demo of “The Song We Were Singing” which features a later dropped middle eight section as well as the charming home demos of “Young Boy” and “Beautiful Night” plus the truly rocking and great rough mix of “Whole Life” which really should have been on the album and the cassette demo version of the languid “Heaven on a Sunday”.

I was kind of worried that all the demos would have a sameness sound to them but I really enjoyed listening to these bonus tracks as a nice look into the making of the album and was surprised at how much I really enjoyed the flow of the selection of songs on this disc.

Really the 2 CD set contains most of the bonus tracks from the Deluxe Edition (minus about five or six rough mixes) so really this 2 CD set is the perfect purchase for fans of this album who aren’t Macca heads who need everything.

Don’t get me wrong though the Deluxe Edition is a thing of beauty and well worth the time if your a McCartney fan but this 2 CD set is a great buy if you just want the lovely new album remaster as well as the majority of truly fun bonus tracks.

The thing about the “Flaming Pie” album that most appeals to me as a long-time McCartney listener is that the emotional pull of the material gives you a rare peek inside McCartney’s emotional core. Not the kind of raw emotion of John Lennon’s first stark solo album mind you but for a musician like McCartney who usually holds his emotions close to his chest this album is a revelation.

Of course Linda McCartney died a year after the album was released so obviously McCartney was going through quite a lot at the time.

Linda’s voice and presence in McCartney’s solo work really defines the Wings era sound and even on this later album her presence, though not as big as earlier albums, really evokes  ’70s and ’80’s McCartney music which is some of my favorite (and most free-spirited) work of his solo career.

It’s nice to revisit the songs on this album in better sound quality and equally nice to hear the behind the scenes demos. To me the end of the Linda era signifies a real change in McCartney’s solo work and this album is a great way to end that era on a high note.

Well, that’s all for now. As usual I’ve posted a few photos of the new 2 CD set above.

Next up is my look at the 5CD/2 DVD Deluxe Edition!!!

Until then be well and take care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul McCartney “Pipes of Peace” on CD – The First (1983) and The Last (2017)

October 1983. I know it was a long time ago but do any of you out there who were alive at the time remember what you were doing?

I for one was in my senior year in high school and as was typical of me then, and now quite frankly, I was eagerly awaiting the release of a brand new Paul McCartney album which was to be released on October 17, 1983.

That album, called “Pipes of Peace”, was the sequel to his very successful and acclaimed album “Tug of War” from 1982 and I was chomping at the bit to hear it.

I already loved and owned the first single from the album, “Say Say Say” the duet with Micheal Jackson, and knew that the upcoming “Pipes of Peace” was pretty much recorded at the same sessions as “Tug of War” and was also produced by George Martin.

Enough said, I’m in, take my money I remember feeling as the release date approached. Of course that’s usually my attitude toward new McCartney releases it was just more heightened at that time and that age.

Now I also distinctly remember being quite surprised by both the critical and commercial  reception that greeted “Pipes of Peace” which was not what  I was expecting and seemed to come out of nowhere.

Don’t get me wrong I loved the album, still do in fact, but the critics were less than kind to the album in many of the reviews that I read and I was quite shocked when the album stalled at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 200 albums after entering at 16 the week before – truly weird.

The single “Say Say Say” was an out and out smash hitting number one for several weeks so it was truly strange to see the album kind of not tank really but not do as well as I had expected.

To this day a lot of McCartney fans are lukewarm at best to this album but from day one I’ve always loved it. Granted the “Tug of War” album is a much stronger collection of songs but I’ve always enjoyed this lighter sounding sequel and it never fails to put me in a calmer peace of mind whenever I play it.

“Pipes of Peace” holds many happy memories for me and remains one of my my all-time favorite McCartney albums. In fact the title song as well as “Keep Under Cover”, “So Bad” and especially “Through Our Love” are songs I return to frequently and have enjoyed quite often throughout the years.

In honor of this lovely album I thought I would post some photos of the first CD issue of the album from the UK from 1983 as well as the last CD issue, I’m guessing anyway, from 2017 on Capitol Records which contains the latest remaster of the album from the Paul McCartney Archive Collection.

I must say both CDs sound quite good but I may give the slight edge to the newer remaster as it has a bit more punch than the original. The original CD is definitely warmer and has great acoustics but sounds slightly softer and less detailed than the remaster.

Both are quite good and every time I play the Made in Japan original UK CD it really takes me back in time as that’s how I remember the album sounding in 1983.

Can it really be over thirty-seven years ago, yikes!

As usual take a gander above at the two CD issues as well as a bonus ad I cut out from some magazine at the time (Rolling Stone magazine most likely) and if you’ve never heard the “Pipes of Peace” album you should definitely check it out as it’s stood the test of time.

(Note: Just for grins I also added a couple of photos of the first US CD issue of the album on Columbia Records – one made in Japan and one made in the US. Both of these CDs sound pretty much the same as the UK first issue but may sound even a tad bit better.)

Anyway, enjoy this quick peak at Paul McCartney’s “Pipes of Peace” and until next time be well and more of my musings coming soon …

 

 

 

 

 

Cheer Up Sleepy Jean – Monkees CD Variations (Part 1)

Well, it’s been a bit since I stepped into the virtual word of blogs but as we near the end of very hot and steamy July (in these parts anyway) I thought it might be a good time to drop back in and say hello.

The best way to survive the heat , for me at least, is to try and find a cool place and listen to some music. And what better music to listen to then some older music, some 1960’s music.

Fans of classic ’60’s pop/rock are in luck as today I have The Monkees on my mind so I thought it might be fun to take a look at some variations of Monkees CDs that have managed to make their way into my collection.

The two CDs I’m highlighting today are a 1987 German import CD of the group’s classic second album “More of the Monkees” as well as a copy of the 1994 Rhino Records CD version of their fifth long player “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” that happens to be a BMG Record Club version.

First up, “More of the Monkees”:

I found this groovy imported version of the 1987 Arista Records CD sometime last year and was immediately struck by the unusual cover. Let me back-track a bit though for a second.

In 1987 Arista Records, who at that time owned The Monkees music catalog, had decided to release some of The Monkees albums on CD for the first time after having licensing The Monkees catalog to Rhino Records who had reissued the group’s catalog very successfully on vinyl in 1985 and 1986.

The Arista version of “More of the Monkees” holds a special place for Monkees collector’s as several songs on this CD were remixed from the multi-track masters thus creating unique versions of some of the songs from this album.

This Arista CD is the only place to find nifty remixes of the following songs: “She”, “Mary, Mary”, “Hold on Girl”, “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, “The Kind of Girl I  Could Love”, “The Day We Fall in Love” and “Sometime on the Morning”.

Many of The Monkees original master tapes were still MIA at the time so Arista remixed these songs to give the CD version of the album a sonic boost.

In 1994 when Rhino Records took control of the group’s catalog these remixes were replaced by the original mixes thus this Arista CD is a must have for fans of the group as these remixes sound really nice and have various length and vocal differences that are fun to hear.

As I said earlier the truly unique thing about this German version of the Arista CD is the cover with the special price banner that wraps around the CD booklet. This CD was available in the States but lacked this groovy wrap around.

Small difference I know but I’ve never seen this CD version before so I thought it might be fun to share it here.

Next up is “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees”:

In 1994 after Rhino Records won control of The Monkees catalog they began reissuing all of their albums on CD along with some choice bonus tracks.

This CD issue of the album included some terrific outtakes including the superb early version of “The Girl I Left Behind Me” (one of my favorite all-time Monkees alternate takes) as well as shirt and goofy Peter Tork spoken ditty “Alvin” and the notorious “Lady’s Baby”  also by Peter Tork which was worked on so much that Tork spent a fortune recording it only to have it rescinded to the vault.

In 2010 this terrific 1994 CD was expanded to a superb deluxe 3 CD set by Rhino Records with a treasure trove of previously unreleased gems from the 1967/68 sessions for the album.

Truth be told though that as time goes by I find that I prefer the 1994/95 mastering for the original Monkees albums on these first Rhino Records issued CDs. They’re easier on the ears and these CDs also contain unique mixes of some of the bonus tracks that were replaced by other mixes on subsequent reissues.

The only unique thing about the CD version “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees” here today is that it’s a copy form the BMG Music Club which I happened to find in the used bin sometime last year.

All of my copies of the 1994/95 Rhino CDs were bought in stores when they originally came out so I had never run across a BMG copy before thus it landed here lol (see photos above).

For anyone new to Monkees collecting their is something unique mix wise in almost every CD version of their albums that were released on both Arista and Rhino Records so it’s worth the time trying to track them down if you can and have the interest.

As usual you can take a gander at these CDs above. I think I’m going to take some time in front of a fan and a stereo ad give these bad boys a spin.

That’s all for now! Until next time be safe and well and enjoy your late summer.

 

 

 

 

“Up to Date” – A Partridge Cartridge and Its CD Siblings

Nothing says the 1970’s like 8-track tapes.

I mean really. Not that they were the best sounding medium but in the 1970’s 8-tracks were everywhere.

At the time I thought they were pretty cool, you could bring your favorite albums with you in the car! Ahhh the days before CDs and streaming.

So why all this talk of 8-tracks? Well, you see. I happen to have just come into my possession a super groovy 8-track tape form 1971 and thought I’d share it here.  The tape in question, “Up to Date” by The Partridge Family, is one of my all-time favorite albums from the 1970s so what better way to remember it than to acquire the 8-track version.

I have one other Partridge cartridge (8-track lol) but it doesn’t come in the cool blue old-style Bell Records logo cardboard case that’s on this tape. Small thing I know but that’s what’s fun about collecting. (Err, trust me, you have to be a collector).

Most of The Partridge Family records and tapes I own have the then current style Bell Records loco but I’ve been seeing quite a few Partridge Family records online with this old style ’60’s Bell logo so I was quite surprised and delighted to find it on this tape.

Now of course I no longer have an 8-track player (yet!) but the allure of the past bit me so voila here it is.

I have to say that of all The Partridge Family recordings this particular album, along with “Sound Magazine”, is probably my favorite by the group.

The wistfulness of songs like “Morning Rider on the Road” and “I’ll Leave Myself a Little Time” plus the pop perfection of “I’ll Meet You Halfway”, “There’s No Doubt in My Mind”, “You Are Always on My Mind”, “She’d Rather Have the Rain” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” make this album one of the best collections put out under the Partridge banner.

Even though Cassidy’s silken voice was still being sped up a tad on this album, the last album producer Wes Farrell applied this technique to to make Cassidy sound younger, the songs are so strong that it remains a true pop gem from the early seventies that still holds up to this day.

I also thought I’d share the various CD pressings of this fine album as well – see above.

The first CD issue from 1992 on the Razor & Tie label is by far the best digital sounding version of this album. Mastered by Bill Inglot, this “Up to Date” CD stays very true ot the vinyl version of the album and is very easy on the ears.

I’ve also included the later Buddha Records/Sony reissue CD which sounds okay but is mastered a tad bit loud for my tastes. And even more recent reissue of the album, coupled with the first Partridge platter “The Partridge Family Album”, is even louder still which is a shame as it’s nice to have it on one CD with along with the first album.

It doesn’t take much looking to find the Razor & Tie CD of “Up to Date” but if you’re a fan of this album then it’s worth the hunt as the CD sounds pretty darn good. Maybe not quite as good as the best vinyl pressing but close enough to be one of the best options out there for this collection.

As usual check out my photos above so you can get a glimpse of the groovy 8-track a well as the CDs.

Well that’s all for now. Pardon me as I take a stroll back in time to my plush shag carpet and rest a while on my curved orange cough while I sip a Fresca.

Until next time be well and … Have a nice day!!!