Monkees on Laser – Rarely Seen Monkees LaserDiscs

LaserDiscs?

Monkees LaserDiscs?

Never heard of LaserDiscs you say?

Okay, let’s hit rewind and take a quick look at the LaserDisc and why on earth anyone would have owned them.

You see LaserDiscs were a format of video first released in the late 1970s and were in production until the dawn of the DVD era with the last North American LaserDisc being produced in 2000.

The LaserDisc looked like a giant compact disc and contained video as well as audio.

Usually the discs were two-sided and contained movies, TV series, concerts and documentaries and were aimed at video enthusiasts who wanted the best quality copy of their favorite movies or TV shows or what have you that they could purchase.

The main advantage of the LaserDisc was that it had much superior video and audio quality as compared to VHS tapes which were the most popular video format competing with LaserDiscs at the time – that is until the creation of the DVD.

Now I have a little bit more of a sentimental attachment to LaserDiscs then most as my father was an electrical engineer for Magnavox back in the 1970s and he brought one of the machines home (with a LaserDisc containing the movie “Jaws”) for awhile and we got to see the amazing video quality of the LaserDisc before the players hit the market.

We tested Maganavox equipment from time to time but I distinctly remember being AMAZED at this crazy new format and how cool it was to watch a movie at home. I saw the LaserDisc  player way before we had an VHS player so the LaserDisc was implanted in my mind as THE video format.

Anyway, this brings me to Monkees LaserDiscs.

As you can imagine, I too had a LaserDisc player (surprise, surprise) that I bought somewhere in the 1990s and purchased Monkees and Beatles discs as well as a few movies and other fun stuff that came out on the LaserDisc format.

The Monkees discs I’ve pictured above are a remnant of the few years I was into the LaserDisc.

I still have my LaserDisc player, which works, but rarely hook it up nowadays but I’ve managed to transfer these Monkees discs to recordable DVDs and still watch them from time to time and I must say the quality is still pretty darn good.

The recent Blu-Ray release of The Monkees TV series blows these discs away but they’re on par with the quality of the Rhino DVD sets that are still in print. In fact, the two Rhino LaserDiscs pictured above are from the same transfer as the DVDs and look pretty much the same which tells you why video enthusiasts liked the LaserDisc format.

The major downside of the LaserDisc format was the weight of the discs (you think records are heavy!) and that it was a pain to have to switch sides constantly unless you had a high end player which flipped the sides for you.

And of course LaserDiscs were really expensive which was most likely the reason the format never gained too much traction in the marketplace.

So, take a look at the Monkees LaserDiscs I still own.

You rarely see them these days and I thought it might be a fun thing for Monkees fans to see or for anyone curious about LaserDiscs.

Until next time be well pass the popcorn, it feels like time to watch some TV …

 

 

 

 

 

The Beatles 1962-1970 – The “Red ” and “Blue” albums on CD

The Beatles are one of the only rock groups who would need two, count them two, double albums to cover their greatest hits!

First released in 1973, these collections called “The Beatles 1962-1966” (the ‘Red’ album) and “The Beatles 1967-1970” (the ‘Blue’ album) cover the entire span of The Beatles recording career and have been huge sellers in all formats they’ve been released on from vinyl to 8-Tracks to compact disc and even the dreaded download (he said with a smirk).

They’re a great place to start if you’re new to The Beatles music and they’ve served as great starting points for several generations of “Fab Four” freaks – me included.

You see the first Beatles record I ever owned was the “1962-1966” set which I got in 1975, a couple years after it was released. I remember staring at the front and back cover of the album as it played and being amazed at how much the band’s image had changed over such a short time.

Of course I knew most but not all of the songs already and played that set over and over again that year as my love of the Fabs music grew from a spark into a raging wildfire!

I loved the early years of The Beatles so much that the next Beatles album I acquired was an Apple pressing of the Capitol album “The Beatles’ Second Album”. I didn’t get the “1967-1970” collection until a couple of years later but I remember checking it out from my local library before I bought it.

At that young age, nine years old, I liked a lot of the songs on the “Blue” set but was kind of perplexed by some of the more adventurous tunes like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus”.

By 1977 The Beatles later years had become some of my favorite music they ever produced and I ended up playing the “Blue” set a bit more than the “Red” one over time but my love of all things Beatles started with the “1962-1966” set so it has always remained a favorite of mine to this day.

Nowadays I tend to reach for a specific Beatles albums when I want a “Fab” fix because there’s so much more to The Beatles catalog then just their hits but I have to admit that these two collections hold a special place in my heart for sure.

Today I’m highlighting the CD versions of these sets that have been released over the years along with some groovy promo CDs that were put out to promote them.

The first time these albums made it to store shelves in CD form was 1993 and I remember fans being very perturbed that the “Red” set was released as a two CD set when in fact it could fit onto just one CD.

The Beatles company Apple stated that they wanted the albums to go out as they originally did on vinyl as double sets but that didn’t sit well with most hardcore fans though of course these CDs ended up selling well of course.

I wasn’t too concerned about the two CD controversy as I was (and still am) a rabid Beatles collector and very sentimental about these albums and welcomed their release on CD.

The thing I really loved about the 1993 CD version of the “Red” album was that it was the first time five early Beatles songs were released on CD in stereo – “All My Loving”, Can’t Buy Me Love”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “And I Love Her” and “Eight Days a Week”.

I LOVED hearing the stereo versions of these songs and it whetted my appetite for all The Beatles early albums to be released on CD in stereo.

(Note: in 1993 the first four Beatles albums were only available on CD in mono and Apple at the time wasn’t too concerned about getting early Beatles music out on CD in stereo though this was a step in the right direction)

I still think these five tracks sound really nice on the 1993 CD especially “A Hard Day’s Night” which is the best stereo version of this song available on the CD format (the 2010 remaster is a bit too muted compared to this version).

The “Red” and “Blue” sets were re-issued again in 2010 this time taken from the 2009 remasters of The Beatles work in which all stereo and mono mixes were made available on CD.

I tend to reach for the 2010 remastered versions of these sets if I play them as I think overall the 2009 remasters sound great.

Of course my CD of choice for these albums are the lovely 2014 Japanese SHM-CD mini-lp CDs versions of these sets that have been released as limited editions in the Land of the Rising Sun.

I’m not going to go over the whole “do SHM-CD’s sound better bit” but needless to say these sets LOOK fantastic as they faithfully re-create the original UK vinyl versions of these albums to a tee down to the correct inner sleeves and disc labels.

If you’re going to collect physical media then why not get the best and most attractive versions of your favorite music – says the great rationale(r) lol.

As usual above you can see photos of all these CD variations I’ve mentioned in this blog post.

I’ve also thrown in two promo CDs for these sets that came out in 1993 to promote the original CD releases of these albums.

The first promo CD is a radio sampler featuring six songs from the “Red” and “Blue” sets and the other one is a UK promo CD that features a nice interview with Beatles producer George Martin talking about various songs on both albums.

You don’t see the interview promo CD much these days so I thought other Beatles collectors might get a kick out of seeing it.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this Beatles geekout on these two wonderful collections and if you’ve never sampled any Beatles music these two sets are a great place to start even if you’re not into physical media and want to sample them online.

And if you do want to dip your toes into the physical media water these two sets are plentiful in used bins around the country in either vinyl or CD so this again makes a great place to start a Beatles fixation … err, collection.

Until next time, be well and sit back and relax with one of these albums playing in the background – ahhh!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy 75th George Harrison! – “Concert for George” 2018 2 CD/2 Blu-Ray Review

 

Happy Birthday Mr. George Harrison!

Tomorrow, February 25th would have been George Harrison’s 75th birthday (he passed away in 2001) and to celebrate I thought I’d post a review of a new 2 CD/2 Blu-Ray reissue that just came out featuring Harrison’s music – “Concert for George”.

The Concert for George took place at the Royal Albert Hall in the London on November 29, 2002 and was a celebration of the life and music of George Harrison that featured a host of Harrison’s famous friends (and legendary musicians) playing Harrison’s music and sharing personal memories of him.

The concert performers included former Beatles band mates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as Harrison’s Traveling Wilbury cohorts Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame) and Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) as well as Harrison’s dear friend Eric Clapton plus Bill Preston and Harrison’s only son Dhani Harrison.

Needless to say the concert is a stellar representation of George Harrison’s music that features some of my favorite live performances from Paul McCartney (“For You Blue”, “Something” and “All Things Must Pass”) and Ringo Starr (“Photograph” and “Honey Don’t”) as well as a killer live version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that features not only McCartney and Starr but Eric Clapton who played guitar on The Beatles original studio recording.

Really all the performers shine in this concert and it’s an emotional and joyful celebration and a perfect tribute to the life and music of George Harrison.

In observance of Harrison’s 75th birthday, the George Harrison estate decided to reissue “Concert for George” in several new configurations.

The “Concert for George” had previously been issued by Rhino Records in 2003 (CD and DVD) and 2011 (Blu-Ray) but the new versions released yesterday include: CD, 2 CD/2 DVD set, 2 CD/ 2 Blu-Ray set and 4 Lp vinyl set as well as a sold out more expensive vinyl set with deluxe extras that was available strictly through georgeharrison.com.

Now, I own the previous versions of this set and was not really overexcited by this re-release but I did manage to pick up a copy of the new 2 CD/ 2 Blu-Ray set to compare and see if there was any improvements to previous releases.

The most recent release of this concert from 2011, a 2 Blu-Ray set, was my preferred version of this concert – until now.

While the credits in the booklet only mention a remastering of the audio (I think) I compared the Blu-Ray’s in the new set to the 2011 version and I could see a definite improvement in the clarity of the picture on this new set.

The old one was no slouch but it did tend to look a bit blurrier on certain shots and softer then this new set.

I particularly noticed things like the fabric and light on the backdrop of the stage on the first rock song “I Want to Tell You” seemed to stand out more with better clarity and texture.

I also noticed that Ringo Starr’s jacket was a richer shade of red and again seemed clearer than the previous Blu-Ray and McCartney’s clothes also seemed to have a sharpness that was somewhat lacking in the previous Blu-Ray version.

Not to say the previous one was bad and that it’s a night and day difference but the new Blu-Ray set was a joy to watch and going back and forth with the old Blu-Ray seemed to confirm that the new set overall had better clarity for sure.

The sound on every edition is superb and the new set is no different. I’ve always liked the sound on the Blu-Rays better then the CDs which is still the case here.

The CD version is a bit flatter or glassy sounding to me compared to the surround version on the Blu-Ray but not bad by any means.

I didn’t notice a huge difference in sound quality on the new CD version but will have to spend more time with it to see if it’s much different at all.

I will say if you’ve never seen or bought this concert before then this new set is a MUST as it’s a terrific concert filled with one stellar performance after another.

If you own previous versions it’s not night and day better but I do think the new Blu-Ray’s do look better. It’s up to whether or not you’re a huge fan of Harrison or his music (or if you have ‘collectoritis’ like me) as to whether it’s worth buying this once again.

As usual there are photos above of the new set and a couple of screen shots which unfortunately won’t help you see the crispness of the picture but I thought I’d throw them in for grins anyway.

Even if you don’t get this set take a minute tomorrow to play a George Harrison song or two in celebration of Harrison’s 75th.

Until next time, you say it’s your birthday

TTFN

 

 

Wouldn’t It Be Nice – Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” 2018 Colored Vinyl Review

 

Okay, what do you think of when I say The Beach Boys?

Surf? Sun? Surf boards?

Well, there’s much more to The Beach Boys music than “Fun, Fun Fun” and “Surfer Girl”.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the early Beach Boys records but if you look beyond the classic surf-themed hits you’ll find a treasure trove of some of the most original and creatively written (and produced) pop music EVER!

Yes, I said ever.

You see Brian Wilson (the main Beach Boys songwriter and producer) is one of the most talented and complex figures of the rock era and he spearheaded the creation of what some say may be one of the best pop albums ever made and I’m inclined to agree with that statement.

In 1966, Wilson created the landmark Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds” which featured not only some of the best songs The Beach Boys ever recorded including “God Only Knows”, “Wouldn’t it Be Nice”, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”, “I Know There’s an Answer” and “Caroline, No” but some of the most unique production and arrangement choices that to this day are still impressive.

For those of you out there who’ve never listened to the “Pet Sounds” album beyond its three big hits, the album is full of subject matter (and melodies) that embrace introspection and melancholy just as much as joy and cheerfulness which were the trademarks of Beach Boys music up until around 1965.

Wilson has said that the “Pet Sounds” album came from God and one certainly gets a sense of the spirit or at least a sense of self-discovery when listening to the album – at least I experience the album that way.

I’ve been a fan of “Pet Sounds” since I discovered it in the late 1970s and have owned it in several different configurations (shocking I know lol).

I own this album in box set form (two to be exact), gold CD (also two), DVD-A audio disc with surround sound and a special 40th anniversary edition with a fuzzy cover but for some strange reason I’ve never owned this album on vinyl – until now.

Just this month Universal Music (who now owns and releases The Beach Boys music) has offered a limited pressing of 2,000 copies of “Pet Sounds” on green and yellow vinyl exclusively from this Website – https://thesoundofvinyl.us/pet-sounds-limited-edition-yellow-green.html

Well of course that was just enough to push me over the edge, the collector in me won out and I finally bought this new colored vinyl edition which I received in the mail this week.

This new 2018 pressing features the stereo version of the album that was created in the late 1990s.  Brian Wilson only made a mono mix of the album originally and that’s my preferred choice for listening to “Pet Sounds” but I must say I’ve grown to really enjoy this stereo version as well.

I am used to hearing the stereo version on CD and I originally thought it was just okay until it was reissued by the MFSL label a few years ago and I found that version much more warm and musical sounding.

This new 2018 pressing sounds much like the MFSL stereo version, warm and smooth and with a nice depth to the sound stage, which is different from the more closed in mono mix but just as enjoyable. I’d say that both the mono and stereo versions are equally enjoyable ways of listening to the album – just different.

In fact I’d now say this vinyl version is my preferred way of hearing the stereo mix of the album as it is even warmer sounding than the CD versions yet still very dynamic.

I read online someone else had bought this new colored vinyl version and said it was dreadful – super noisy with lots of distortion. I must say that on my first play of this 2018 pressing I too was shocked at how much noise and dirt seemed to be present on the vinyl.

Luckily after three cleanings and letting it dry for a couple of days I returned to play the album and found it sounded just great! I’m kind of dismayed that this nice limited edition pressing would come out of the pressing plant so dirty but once it was cleaned it sounded just fine.

There was just a tad bit of crinkle on at the beginning of side 1 but after that the rest of the album was practically noise free and really wonderful sounding.

If you’re a fan of the album or The Beach Boys and want to grab one of these before they’re gone just remember to give it a really good cleaning before you play it.

Everything else about this vinyl version is just fine – nice sturdy cover with lovely colors and not blurry at all and the vinyl has this nice sea of green spilling into the yellow in waves on my copy which looks lovely.

Take a peak at the 2018 vinyl in the photos above.

As I said I will feature more about “Pet Sounds” and other Beach Boys release in future blog posts.

Until then be well and TTFN

 

 

 

 

“SHM” Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – A Behind the Scenes look at The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Sessions (And Yes, I’m Turning Japanese!)

 

What is it about The Beatles Sgt. Peppers album?

I know it’s considered by some to be one of the first concept albums but to me it always seemed more like a place then a concept.

From the moment I first heard the complete album sometime in the mid-1970s I was taken in by the sight of the lavish cover and the far-out sounds on the record.

Even in 1976 the album sounded a bit out of time to me. It didn’t seem current yet it didn’t seem old. I always felt like I was stepping into some sort of Secret Garden or enchanted place whenever I played Sgt. Pepper.

There were fairgrounds (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”) and classical orchestras playing in the park near newspaper taxis (“She’s Leaving Home”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), an Indian garden full of incense and flowers (“Within You Without You”), an older couple blowing out birthday cake candles on a bench near the sidewalk (“When I’m Sixty-Four”) and a pensive runaway standing by herself gazing into the sky (“She’s Leaving Home”).

And the “piece de resistance” song from the album “A Day in the Life” feels as if you walked out of the park and stumbled into a crazy kaleidoscope of sound that at times feels like a nightmare or at least a tour through Alice’s garden given by the Cheshire Cat.

At least that’s what it felt like to me listening to this album at the rip old age of ten. This is the one Beatles album that always seemed like it existed in another time, another place or even cosmic inner space for that matter.

I know John Lennon has said in interviews that his songs from the album at least could have gone on any Beatles album but I think that’s really stretching things a bit.

“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “A Day in the Life” most certainly would have felt out of place on “Please Please Me” or “A Hard Day’s Night” for example.

I’m not sure it was even the reputation that Sgt. Pepper had garnered even by that time (1976) that really influenced me as I really wasn’t too steeped in the myth of the album when I was ten years old. My oldest brother had just recommended I give it a listen and I did – over and over again.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” has just always felt different to me from all the other Beatles albums and it still does to this day – in a good way of course.

Which brings me to the collector angle of this post – the WONDERFUL Super Deluxe Edition of the 50th Anniversary box set of the Sgt. Pepper album that came out last May.

For once, this is a Beatles reissue that was done right!

There are four CDs – one that contains a new remix of the album by Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin), two CDs worth of outtakes from the sessions including early versions and alternate mixes and my favorite disc of the set (Disc 4) a freshly remastered “direct transfer” of the mono Lp along with unused mono mixes from the album.

First off, I LOVE outtakes and alternate mixes! I love getting a peak inside the making of my favorite albums and this monster box set does just that.

I especially love the instrumental take of “Penny Lane (Take 6)” which now sounds like an outtake from The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” (an album McCartney loved and was inspired by) and the instrumental takes of “She’s Leaving Home” and the unedited mono mix of that same song – just superb stuff.

And my favorite outtake from the entire box, the unaltered Take 1 of “Strawberry Fields Forever” with its lovely background vocals intact, justifies the price of this set by itself. The previous version of this outtake which was included on The Beatles “Anthology 1” CD in 1995 removed these background vocals which was a massive oversight.

(Note: “Strawberry Fields forever” and “Penny Lane” were supposed to be a part of the Sgt. Pepper album but were put out as a single instead – thus their inclusion on this set)

I know some folks don’t like the new 2017 remix of the album but I find it to be a nice listen. I have to go on record as saying I’m not a huge fan of remixes but this one is pretty decent. I just wish it was a bit less compressed (loud) but I do think it gives a nice new take on the sound of the album without really changing it too drastically.

Plus there is a DVD and Blu-Ray in the set that has the lovely “Making of Sgt. Pepper” TV special from 1992 that features interviews with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and George Martin.

The DVD and Blu-Ray also contain videos for “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane” and “A Day in the Life” AND the new album remix in 5.1 sound and Hi-Resolution sound which is a nice touch.

Throw in the nice hardback book that comes with the set and some groovy posters and you’ve really got a classy way to celebrate a classic album.

Now of course, I own the SHM-CD version of this terrific set which came out exclusively in Japan.

The Japanese set has all the CDs pressed on SHM-CDs (Super High Material CDs) which I feel sound great (not getting into the argument as to whether SHM-CDs do or don’t improve the sound, I think they do) as well as a really nifty pop-up version of the cover which you can assemble and sit next to your box set (I know, like that will happen, once a collector always a collector lol!).

Anyway, feast your eyes on the magnificent Japanese version I own of this box set (see above photos). You don’t see many photos of the Japanese Pepper set online so I thought it might be nice to highlight what it looks like for those collector folks like me who think stuff like that looks purdy.

I myself am taking another dive into Wonderland as I’ve been playing the CDs from this set once again as I write this article.

Hopefully the success of this set last summer (No. 1 in the UK and No. 3 in the US) will inspire more sets for other Beatles albums in the future (I think it has – White Album, White Album) but until then I’m just going to gorge myself with Pepper.

Or as they say:

Let me take you down, cause I’m going to … 

TTFN!

 

 

 

 

 

Paul McCartney “Press to Play” and A Tale of Two Mixes

“Press to Play”. It’s a Paul McCartney album. From 1986? It had the hit song “Press” on it.

Still doesn’t ring a bell?

I guess you’d really have to be a McCartney fan to remember this album as it’s one of the poorest selling albums of McCartney’s entire solo career, at least in the United States.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad album, on the contrary, I think it’s pretty darn good.

Even McCartney himself seems to shrug the album off but that’s probably because it got such a lukewarm sales reception (it only hit #30 on the Billboard Hot 200) and it came at a time in his career when he was sort of lost and floundering a bit as to what kind of music he should make.

The “Press to Play” album arrived only a couple of years after the critically drubbed film and album project he made called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” (1984).

Up until the Broad Street film and album, McCartney had pretty much been a hit-making machine but after 1985 McCartney stopped hitting the Top Ten in the singles chart though his albums still continued to chart high and sell well.

Stunned by the very lukewarm reception to “Give My Regards to Broad Street”, McCartney pinned his hopes on a major commercial comeback with the “Press to Play” album and was disappointed and rudderless for a while after it failed to ignite the charts.

Looking back, I still think the “Press to Play” album is a pretty solid record and holds a unique place in McCartney’s catalog.

Produced by the then young hot-shot producer Hugh Padgham (who had produced Phil Collins and The Police), “Press to Play” seems to walk a fine line (McCartney pun intended) between the experimental/adventurous McCartney and the slick pop production McCartney.

While “Press to Play” at times tries too hard to be current and suffers from a bit of 1980’s sterile production, the album still manages to succeed with a slew of really interesting songs.

Tunes like the more experimental and esoteric “Talk More Talk” and “Pretty Little Head” mingle freely with the lovely McCartney ballad “Only Love Remains” and the haunting acoustic  “Footprints” (with its weathered vocals from McCartney) as well as a trio of classy and melodic pop – “Write Away”, “Tough on a Tightrope” and “It’s Not True”.

Only “Stranglehold”, “Angry” and “Move Over Busker” strike me as a bit flat and generic though certainly not bad by any means.

The other interesting thing about the “Press to Play” album is the extreme variety of remixes of the songs that were released as singles.

(Note: in a future blog I will examine these various remixes and singles from this album but for this post I’m just going to mention the remixes for the song “Press”)

The first single “Press” for example was released in several variations. A rare mix by producer Hugh Padgham was released in the UK on I believe on a 45, a limited edition 10-inch single and also on some early vinyl pressings of the album as well as some very rare CD versions.

The more familiar mix of “Press” that was released in the US (and the majority of UK vinyl and CD versions) was mixed by Bert Bevans and Steve Forward and that’s the version that most people who remember the song think of and that’s the version that was used on the video of the song as well.

I knew of the rare mix of “Press” but had never actually heard it until a couple of years ago. I didn’t buy the UK 45 or 10-inch singles of the song but finally managed to track down one of the elusive UK CD versions of “Press to Play” that contains the rare mix.

I have several photos (above) of the two UK CDs I own of the “Press to Play” album and have highlighted the CD disc hubs of both CDs – one with the rare mix and one with the regular mix.

You can’t tell by the cover of the booklets if you have a CD with the rare mix, you have to examine the hub (see above) or play the disc.

The rare mix of “Press” has a run time of 4:23 and the regular mix has a run time of 4:42. Obviously the two mixes sound fairly different and just a few seconds in you can tell right away if you have the rare mix of “Press” or not.

I actually prefer the regular mix of “Press” as that’s the one I grew up listening to but the rare mix is a nice variation and fun to hear.

I’ve also highlighted in the photos above a rare DJ vinyl US promo of the “Press to Play” album with gold promotional stamp that has translucent vinyl which you can see when holding it up to a good light source.

And of course I’ve included the 1993 UK McCartney Collection CD of “Press to Play” which includes some nice bonus tracks like McCartney’s last Top Ten hit (I don’t count the one he did with Kanye West recently as it’s not truly a McCartney single) “Spies Like Us” from the film of the same name.

In the future I will show some of the many other “Press to Play” vinyl singles, etc. I own  but for today enjoy this quick look at “Press to Play” and these two different mixes of “Press”.

Unfortunately I know of no US version on either vinyl or CD that contain the rare mix of “Press” so if you’re looking for it you need to check out UK copies.

Some McCartney fans aren’t even aware there are UK CDs of the album that do actually contain the rare mix so for those out there looking for it I hope the photos above help you in your search.

I hope to track down an early UK vinyl pressing of “Press to Play” with the rare mix of “Press” and if I ever find one I’ll post it here!

Until next time,

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“All the Best!” Fest – Paul McCartney hits 1987 with multiple formats

Is 1987 really over thirty years ago – yikes!

I remember 1987 well and it should come as no surprise that it’s the music from that year that has burrowed its way into my head more than any other event.

In 1987 some of the big albums I remember buying include U2’s “The Joshua Tree” (one of my favorites) and Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango in the Night” (one of the best Mac albums and still one I play and enjoy).

But, 1987 was also the year that The Monkees released their first new album in over sixteen years (“Pool It!”) and the year that George Harrison released a critically acclaimed and best-selling new album (“Cloud Nine”) after a five year hiatus. (I always remember years by Beatles and/or Monkees releases, sad I know, but true).

Paul McCartney (Harrison’s ex-band mate and now also ex-Wings leader) also released a new album in 1987 – a greatest hits collections entitled “All the Best!”

I still find “All the Best!” to be one of the best compilations of McCartney’s hits that he’s ever released partly because of nostalgia but also partly because I just love the song selection especially the track selection on the UK version.

You see weirdly enough McCartney chose to release different song selections for the UK vinyl and CD versions of “All the Best!” versus the versions that came out in the United States.

The UK versions of the album included a new song (“Once Upon a Long Ago”) as well as an unreleased song in the United States (a children’s song called “We All Stand Together”) which really skewed the UK version as my album of choice. I love both songs and for years “All the Best!” remained the best place to hear them.

Now 1987 was also near the beginning of a weird phase (especially in the UK) in the music industry of artists releasing multiple versions of their hit singles with exclusive bonus tracks that could only be found on that particular single.

Mainstream/Legacy artists such as Harrison and McCartney embraced this somewhat annoying record company practice and began issuing vinyl/CD singles of their songs with nifty exclusive tracks that could entice mad collectors (guilty, lol) to hunt mail order catalogs and record dealers to try and purchase them.

In McCartney’s case, the lead off single from the UK version of “All the Best!” was the new song “Once Upon a Long Ago” – an enchanting and wistful McCartney ballad that remains an underrated gem (and is pretty much MIA to this day Stateside).

For some strange reason (probably McCartney’s US label Capitol not finding it commercial enough) “Once Upon a Long Ago” wasn’t released AT ALL in the States though it did manage to crack the Top Ten in Britain.

“Once Upon a Long Ago” benefited (suffered?) from the then current multiple version trend and was released on a slew of different versions in the UK: 45 single, CD single and two 12-inch maxi-singles.

The CD single and the two 12-inch maxi-singles each contained exclusive bonus tracks available nowhere else (at least at the time) and finding these releases revealed some truly wonderful and orphaned McCartney tracks.

Songs like the McCartney/McManus (Elvis Costello) original “Back on My Feet” and the spirited workouts of fifties rock classics like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “Midnight Special” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” were well worth the time and trouble to hunt down and enjoy.

Now as a collector I thought it was fun and a pain at the same time to buy these special single variations as most stores didn’t carry import CDs or vinyl though luckily my local record store was able to order most of them for me.

The rock and roll oldies later became more widely available on the McCartney album “Choba B CCCP – the Russian Album” (1991) while “Once Upon a Long Ago” was released on the CD version of “Press to Play” in 1993 as part of the McCartney Collection though not in the single length as on the UK “All the Best!”.

Still, looking back these single variations sound terrific and are loads of fun to play. I don’t regret buying them one bit and take them out every now and again for a spin on the old turntable or CD player.

Above I have included several photos of all my variations of the “All the Best!” album that I own on CD and vinyl. Note that a rare Canadian CD issue of “All the Best!” has the UK track listing which was later replaced with the USA track selection.

The vinyl issue above is a US version and sounds terrific even though I miss the UK song selection.

Anyway, enjoy this mini “All the Best!” fest and until next time,

TTFN!