The Long and Winding … box?

And now for something completely different!

I’m sure to be put in the Music Collector’s Hoarder Hall of Fame for this but this blog is all about CD longboxes.

Longboxes? Boxes you say???

Let me elaborate.

Back in the day, oh say ions ago in the 1980s at the birth of the compact disc, store shelves were full to the brim with CDs that were being sold inside these elaborate boxes with the album cover art on them.

They were usually long and thin thus the term longboxes.

You see, retailers wanted to have a way to shelve CDs without them being easily stolen – there was actually a time where it was worth selling stolen CDs!

Anyway, this led to the first few years of CDs, say from 1983 to 1991 or so, being sold in these beautiful (to me) boxes which seemed like an extension of the CD artwork.

In the early 1990s a lot of artists like Sting and U2 campaigned for more eco-friendly packaging as they viewed the longboxes as harmful to the environment and the music industry complied and out went the CD longbox.

Not that I blame them really. Most normal people threw these boxes away and really it did save me from hoarding several dozen more lol.

Of course for posterity the hoarder collectors come to the rescue once again and you can now gaze upon what was once an industry standard.

To me these longboxes are much like the picture sleeves that came on 45s so I think they’re well worth saving.

Take a gander at the boxes I’ve saved (below).

Purdy aren’t they?:

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Here They Come, Walking Down the Street … Hey, Hey We’re in Mono!

Okay, okay, I like 60s music in mono – “Hello, my name is James and I’m a mono music addict.”

Today I’m highlighting a five LP set put out a couple of years ago by Friday Music called “The Monkees in Mono” by none other than, wait for it, The Monkees!

I thought I would not only discuss some of my favorite mono mixes from the 1960s which are on this set but I also wanted to begin to highlight some of the truly wonderful vinyl box sets that I’ve collected recently which have become all the rage in collectors circles over the past few years.

The advent of Record Store Day has brought this set, along with many other equally terrific collections, to the greedy little hands of music collectors around the world and have made it possible for collectors and newbies alike to experience these albums the way they were originally released in a mixing style that’s long gone but not forgotten.

Now since these five Monkees albums sold in the millions in the 1960s and since you can find pressings of at least the first three albums in this set in mono quite easily, what you may ask is the point of this set?

The point, besides making money of course, is that most original Monkees records were bought by kids and teens and were played to death by their original owners and beat to a pulp or worse over time.

‘The Monkees in Mono” is a nice way to buy clean, crisp remastered versions of these albums and to also get the EXTREMELY rare mono mix of The Monkees fifth album “The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees” which has become quite an expensive collectors item as it isn’t easy to find.

Mono mixes were almost phased out by the time “The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees” was released in the spring of 1968 and this album is even harder to find then the Simon and Garfunkel mono pressing of “Bookends” which was released at roughly the same time.

Friday Music did a nice job of transferring the mono mixes (most likely digital transfers from Rhino Records mono CD versions) on these albums and this set sounds really nice!

The stereo mixes of these albums sound fine but again, the way to hear these records is in mono. The Monkees’ second album “More of the Monkees” especially holds together much better and has much more impact in mono than its stereo counterpart.

Songs like “Last Train to Clarksville”, “She”, “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (longer in mono), “You Told Me”, “You Just May Be the One”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (different vocal parts and much more psychedelic ending than the stereo), “Auntie’s Municipal Court” (way different feel and much spookier in mono) and “Writing Wrongs” all have a bite and punch that’s missing from their stereo counterparts.

From different timings to the way the instruments are placed in the mix to different vocals to different effects; these mono versions let the listener experience these albums in a different (and I say much more satisfying) way then hearing the stereo versions.

One note, the mono tapes of “The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees” have been missing for years and this mono version was taken partially from tape (“Valleri”, “Tapioca Tundra” and “Daydream Believer”) while the rest came from a vinyl copy of the original mono album.

“The Monkees in Mono” comes in an attractive, sturdy box, has nice cover reproductions and contains some of the best pop/rock albums released in the 60s, what more could you want lol?

A tad bit pricey perhaps but nonetheless this a really wonderful set which you can still purchase on Amazon or through your local record store, if you still have one that it is.

Check out some photos below and “Take a giant step, outside your mind” …





Something Wicked (Cool) This Way Comes or Being Roy Haleed and Art Garfunkeled ’til You’re Blind …

Today I thought I’d share with you, dear readers (I hope), something that I got a few years ago; something that is wicked cool (to me anyway) and chaulk full of some of the best music from the 1960s.

It’s a small box that contains fifteen singles by Simon and Garfunkel called “All the Singles” (CBS Sony 80SP 601-15that was released in Japan in 1982.

Now this particular set of singles is extremely rare at least here in the United States. The great thing about this set is that the majority of singles it contains feature the mono single mixes which have never been released on either LP or CD anywhere in the world to my knowledge.

And as I’ve said before, and which will soon become a mantra lol, is that the hit mono single versions of these songs sonically wipe the floor with the currently available stereo mixes which are on the Simon and Garfunkel’s albums in print on CD.

The first twelve singles in this set (all in mono) contain some of Simon and Garfunkel’s best songs – “The Sounds of Silence”, “Homeward Bound” “I Am a Rock” (very different and much ballsier in mono), “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (dazzling in this single version which is even hotter sounding than the mono LP version), “Scarborough Fair”, “Mrs. Robinson”, “The Boxer” (lovely and much denser and darker than the stereo version) and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The last three singles in the set are in stereo and include the Simon and Garfunkel reunion hit “My Little Town” from 1975.

Truly, these Japanese pressings are so superb, so silent that you’d be hard pressed to know the CD I made from this set was mastered from vinyl sources.

I know you have to be a true vinyl head (or nutjob lol) to probably care about the mono mixes but for me they just sound right.

I’m sure some of the millions of people who heard these hit versions day after day when they were young would instinctively say “oh yeah, that sounds like I remember them” if they heard them again.

IF being the operative word as the Simon and Garfunkel mono mixes seem to MIA at least for now anyway.

Until Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are convinced, or at least give their blessing, to re-release their most famous work the way millions of fans heard and bought them, then this set will probably stand as the last word and best way to hear the proper hit versions.

As I had never seen this set before I bought it, I thought folks might enjoy a glimpse or two of the cover and insides of this little jewel (below).

To quote Mr. Paul Simon:

“Are you worried and distressed?
Can’t seem to get no rest?
Put our product to the test
You’ll feel just fine
Buy a big bright green pleasure machine” …








Beatles CD Single “Mini Me’s” – Groovy Baby!

Have you ever been lucky enough to find a something you collect that’s fairly rare and paid next to nothing for it?

Three or four times in my collecting life I’ve had the pleasure to have that happen and luckily it happened to me again just a few months ago.

This past July I stumbled across an ad for The Beatles CD Singles Collection online that was for sale in my hometown. I already own that CD set but then I caught the word “Mini” from the corner of my eye and did a double take.

I own the 5-inch CD set that was released in 1992 but the set being advertised is the much rarer mini 3-inch version that came out a few years earlier in 1989.

The mini set came in a sleek, black longbox (with gold lettering) filled with 22 3-inch CDs featuring of all The Beatles singles (A and B sides). Btw, the singles were also sold separately from the box and came in small plastic cases inside tiny, thin longboxes that featured each singles picture sleeve as the photo on the box.

Mini CDs were a fade from the late 1980s that didn’t really catch on – surprise, surprise  – as who wants to continually walk back and forth to your CD player every few minutes.

I bought a couple of the individual titles (for the cool packaging, jeesh I know kind of sad lol) but I never wanted to pony up for the whole set of 22 discs in the nice long black box with pretty gold lettering. The set was only available for a short time and nowadays commends a hefty price ranging from $175 to $300.

Well, I happened to end up answering the ad and buying this nifty mint set of 22 3-inch CDs which came in the pretty black box with gold lettering for the royal sum of $20.00. Yes, $20.00.

Never one to pass up such a great bargain, the set now proudly sits in a place of honor in my CD collection.

I thought I would never want to mess with playing them but I was wrong, I really enjoy listening to this set! I’m a sucker for things in miniature and this set is just plain fun to take out and enjoy.

Now, as I’ve said before a couple of posts back, The Beatles single mixes are the best way to hear most of their hits. A few of the stereo mixes, especially from the late 60s, may surpass their mono counterparts but generally these songs need to be enjoyed from the hit single versions that come blasting out of the speakers when you play them.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “She’s a Woman”, “Yes it Is”, “Paperback Writer” and “Penny Lane” among many other titles here simply shimmer in mono and make their stereo counterparts “ice cream” to quote John Lennon (who stated that about the stereo vs. mono mix of “Revolution” which is also a part of this set).

I also think the mastering on this set may be the best these unique mono mixes sound on CD. The newer transfers of these mixes from 2009 sound good too but these may have a slight edge in my book.

So, if you ever come across this set for a decent price, grab it! It’s well worth your time. That is if your a Beatles freak in any way like me lol.

If you want to see some cooly, groovy mini Beatles feast your eyes below:





Hey, Hey Take the Last Train to Yesterday or 51 years of Spinning on a Black Banana?

Okay, I’m a little late on this but fifty-one years ago on October 10, 1966, The Monkees eponymous first album was released kicking off over 50 years of Monkeemania.

Now I’m not going to go into the whole history of The Monkees as its been written about numerous times.

I will, however, say that one of the most interesting things about the group to me is that it was originally just the cast of TV series about an out of work, unsuccessful Beatles want-to-be rock group who actually did in reality become a self-contained group and one of the most popular groups of the 1960s.

The other interesting thing to me is that I was born the same year the series premiered. I made my world premiere a mere nine months before the show hit the airwaves and I too have spent the past 51 years with one form or another of Monkeemania.

I’ve been through the “it’s not cool to like them”, “they aren’t a real group” and “it’s just a TV show with no talent actors” from friends and family for over 50 years as well. Oh well lol, some people have no taste.

BUT with the passing of the years and the group’s hugely successful comeback in the 1980s, several generations of music fans have discovered that this make believe “Pinocchio” quartet turned out some of the best, most lasting pop/rock music of the 1960s that stands shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the era.

And that’s saying something!

One other personal note, my father (who passed away in 1979), had a small personal connection to the group which I’ve always enjoyed.

My dad was an electrical engineer for Magnavox for years but I remember him telling me that he had worked out in Los Angeles for RCA for a few years in the 1950s.

Now I’m not exactly sure if I remember every detail of the story correctly but he told me that he went out to L.A. either shortly before The Monkees TV show premiered or shortly after and got to meet Davy Jones through his RCA connections (RCA distributed The Monkees records) and also got an early pressing of this first album.

I still own the personally autographed photo of Davy Jones (see below) he got but unfortunately the album has long bit the dust as even at the early age of 9 months, I was dancing to and manhandling that album, along with my oldest brothers other Monkees records, and ground that pressing into the ground.

Anyway, here’s to The Monkees debut album which still thrills me to this day.

For the anal retentive collectors out there, like me, the photos below contain the following:

  • A first pressing of the mono Lp with the incorrectly spelled “Papa Jeans Blues”
  • The 1980s Arista pressing of the album
  • The Japanese Arista CD version of the album
  • The 1994 Rhino single CD version of the album with bonus tracks
  • The 2006 2 CD Deluxe edtion of the album with a slew of cool bonus tracks
  • The 2014 mother of all Deluxe Editions of the album with a further slew of terrific outakes, backing tracks, mono TV versions, etc. Basically musical crack for Monkees fans lol!
  • The rear jacket of the rare 1970 pressing of the album with the revised Colgems logo
  • My dad’s signed photo of Davy Jones circa 1966

Whew! Enjoy and remember – “Here they come …”


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45’s Shaken not Stirred but Very Dry or Sleeves R Us Please Love Me Do

Okay, there’s no better way to start a Sunday morning than to make a record martini.

First you start with two British 45’s. You want to make sure you have vintage stock from 1962/63 as the mixes must be very dry.

You’ll need the following:

“Love Me Do/P.S. I  Love You” – the 1962 red label first pressing British Parlophone 45

“Please Please Me/Ask Me Why” – British 45 on either the first pressing red label (which I’ve yet to find at a decent price) or as a substitute a later 1963 pressing on the regular black Parlophone label.

Of course any UK 45 pressing of this single will do as until the 1980s all pressings used the dry mixes of the songs but let’s stick to 1963 pressings for today to keep your martini vintage.

You then take these two 45’s and give them several spins on the turntable of your choice. Make sure to spin them quite liberally so they’re shaken just right and play quite loud as to make sure your breakfast record martini comes out perfectly!

Okay, what I’m talking about – in my usual obtuse (not a word you hear much these days lol) way – are the original UK pressings of The Beatles first two singles.

These singles have less echo than their album counterparts thus they are called the dry versions of these songs. Of course these singles are only available in mono as all British Beatles singles were released in mono only until 1969.

Plus, the “Love Me Do” single is only available in mono ANYWHERE as it was never mixed into stereo as the multi-track tapes were destroyed shortly after the single was released.

Any “Love Me Do” or “P.S. I Love You” on stereo pressings are in fake stereo (bleak) anywhere in the world. More on fake stereo down the road.

I must say those new to vinyl or those oldies out there who don’t have many 45’s should really investigate the original 45 pressings if you can find them in decent shape and for a decent price.

Yes they can be a pain to play and clean them and you have to get up several times to flip records etc., but they really are the best way to hear the biggest hits of 1960s artists, The Beatles included.

You can always make digital transfers of your 45’s , or needledrops as they’re called, as they really sound terrific even on a CD (or any digital transfer) and then you have the best of both worlds.

As for these two Beatles 45’s the songs just sound so damn good – the best way you’ll ever hear these songs. You can see why The Beatles really caught on as even over fifty years later these songs just burst out of the speakers and sound so  punchy, clear and dynamic.

I’m not sure if it’s the compression that was added to the 45 mixes when they were transferred to vinyl or if the Brits just knew how to make 45 records but these songs just have more life and pleasure on these than any other format including cassettes, 8-tracks, CDs or future chip implant lol.

So, feast your eyes on these two original pressings that I own below. Oh and also dig the groovy company sleeves that these come in. Like the hype stickers, I love to collect singles with their original company sleeves like the ones on these Parlophone 45’s.

I also threw in a photo of an original UK “I Feel Fine” 45 to show you what that company sleeve looks like as well and also  a newer 45 pressing of “Love Me Do” that was released a couple of years ago with a replica Parlophone sleeve.

Enjoy! But don’t drink too much, it’s only Sunday morning. Cheers!:




Freebie me away or how Best Buy once flew At the Speed of Sound

Welcome once again to the blog that never ends!

Today I take a look at freebies (well, not really free but advertised that way) from Best Buy that have crept into my collection.

You see, once upon a time Best Buy stores actually carried CDs, lots of them. They used to have rows and rows of them and believe it or not they used to be THE place to buy them. These days if you can even find one row of CDs you’d be lucky as CDs are now as cold as yesterdays leftovers.

BUT Best Buy at one time was a great place for Beatles fans. I think it first started with the release of The Beatles Anthology CDs in 1995.

Let me take you back if you will. My oldest brother, nine years my senior but his wife’s family STILL think we’re twins! – was home for Thanksgiving break and after having watched the first installment of The Beatles Anthology TV special on ABeatleC we went to our local Best Buy at midnight to wait in line to buy the first CD set associated with the show called The Beatles Anthology 1.

Best Buy had a free 4 CD set as a giveaway with the new Beatles set and of course I was going to be there come hell or high water, despite my sister-in-law thinking I had lost what little mind I had lol.

Anyway, over the years Best Buy gave away several freebies associated with The Beatles or the solo Beatles especially Paul McCartney.

Some of my favorite freebies have come about in the past few years actually – a trend that is sadly ending as the store no longer really supports CD sales that much.

Below are a few of may favorites – free singles with Best Buy’s exclusive release of the Paul McCartney Archive reissues of “Venus and Mars” and “Wings at the Speed of Sound”.

You filled out an online form and they sent the 45’s to you for free. Well, not really as the CDs cost more but they are pretty cool looking 45’s!

Btw, I’ll do several more posts about 45’s in the future so set your Blog Bat Channel appropriately.

The other really fun things Best Buy have given away with their McCartney Archive releases were the tote bags they packaged with their exclusive releases of the “Tug of War” and “Pipes of Peace” CDs. Of course these magnificent tote bags sit unused in their respective boxes but they sure do look purdy!

I’m sure I’ll do more posts about freebies as I’m positive I forgot some but these will do for now.

In the meantime, take a gander at some of my favorite Best  Buy goodies below:








Surfin’ on the British Isles on such a winter’s day …

“Help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda …”

During the past year, I’ve happened to stumble across UK pressings from two quintessential California pop groups of the 1960s – The Beach Boys -“Summer Days (And Summer Nights)!” and The Mamas and the Papas – “Hits of Gold.”

Now, normally you want to collect pressings of albums from the country where the groups originated because back in the 60s especially dubs of the master tapes would be sent over to other countries making them a generation or two removed from the master tape which tended to make them sound flatter with less bass, etc.

BUT seeing as how I’ve said before on this blog that I suffer from Collectoritis (my own loving term) I just couldn’t resist picking these two albums up because I LOVE British pressings from the 1960s.

I have a friend named Pauline who grew up in the UK (Hi Pauliney!) and I’ve told her many times that the Brits knew how to make records and these two pressings are no exception!

First off British albums from the 1960s just look better! They are covered with clarifoil lamination on the front covers making them very shiny and pretty much resistant to finger prints.

Also, British covers have a flipback style back sleeve which, unlike US covers at the time, made for a bit sturdier cover.

US records were made with back cover artwork folded over cardboard and then the front art was pasted over that leaving the folds covered up on the front.

UK covers were folded over to the back leaving three parts of the cover flipped over the cardboard and since they are covered in clarifoil lamination they leave these three big folds over the back – thus flipback sleeves.

Just a novelty here in the States but pretty damn sturdy and just plan fun – to collectors like me anyway.

The Beach Boys pressing, despite looking  like it was used in a football match (UK meaning which is soccer in the States) and covered in dirt sounded excellent!!!

Once cleaned up, it was surprisingly very quiet and retained all the fidelity of a US pressing. Probably better as UK pressings were made a bit better than the US counterparts and tend to survive abuse better.

Two of my favorites songs from the album, “Let Him Run Wild” and “Girl Don’t Tell Me”, really did sound terrific. Mmm, I might have to track down an original US pressing as well to compare.

The Mamas and Papas sounded good too but because it crammed 16 songs (8 to a side) it sounded a bit more muffled than US copies of the songs I’ve heard but really not too bad. It has a nice track selection which at the time it was released was a good deal.

Well, there you have a mini sermon on UK records from the 60s and if you’re still with me take a glance below to see what I’m talking about.

Until the next blog wave rides up, catch some rays and hang ten. (Yikes, I couldn’t resist!)

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A little hype can be effective – or sticker, sticker everywhere …

Okay, take a deep breath.

This may seem like the height of being anal retentive or horderism (is that a word?) but to some record collectors like me this is actually fun.

You see, there is some hidden disease, known only to a select group of psychologists in outer reaches of Sweden, that propels collectors to save everything that comes with a first issue album or CD.

Why you may ask? I honestly don’t know but some people, including me, do it. Probably the same thing for stamp collectors or book collectors – same disease, different material!

This post I am going to talk about what is called the “hype sticker”!

The hype sticker sometimes comes plastered on the outside shrink wrap of a new vinyl Lp, or even CD for that matter, and usually promotes the latest single release from the album or highlights songs on the album that aren’t listed on the cover.

Sometimes collectors will just slit the side of an album open and keep the shrink wrap on the Lp thus keeping everything including the hype sticker pristine but most of the time people rip off the shrink wrap and the obsessives gently cut the sticker off and save it for posterity.

And believe it or not some of these stickers are more valuable than the Lps they came on! Yes, you see since most sane people throw these things away they become very rare. Albums with a rare hype sticker can sell for much more than an issue without it.

Two really rare hype stickers from The Beatles “White Album” are listed in value in a current price guide as being worth $900 each and that’s just for the sticker!

Okay, not that value is why I saved them. The collector’s disease came upon me young and I was just compelled to save them.

So, below are some examples of a few of the hype stickers I own. The first photo is just stickers alone and the other photos contain albums still in the shrink wrap with their stickers on them.

I make it a point to look for albums still in their shrink wrap with hype stickers even if they’re not particularly valuable as to me it’s a great artifact of the times. I really love it when (as in the photo of “Wings Wild Life” below) an old store sticker from say Ayr-Way or Kmart is on the shrink wrap as well.

Enjoy! Or, at least take a look without running away from your computer screen.



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Picture disc, picture disc on the wall …

Here’s another side item that seems to crop up from time to time in my record collection – picture discs.

Picture discs have been around since the 1930s or maybe even earlier I believe. Most picture discs that were first popular were releases of children’s records but in the 1970s and 80s picture discs made a big comeback with record companies releasing some of the most popular rock and pop albums of the rock era in the picture disc format.

Though I was never a huge fan of picture discs I did enjoy some of the more popular ones that came out in the seventies like The Beatles “Abbey Road” and “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band” discs but I was never one of those avid collectors of the admittedly cool looking discs.

For one thing most picture discs don’t sound as good as regular vinyl issues and another they are usually much more expensive so I tend to only buy the odd shaped and interesting ones or ones that have unique song mixes or stray songs that aren’t available anywhere else.

With the advent of Record Store Day in the last ten years record companies are aiming their greedy little sights on weak aging collectors like me so every now and again I do get suckered, or shall I say tempted, into buying a new one.

Here’s a few I really like. See that Monkees disc from 2016, isn’t it purdy lol:


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