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Archive for June 2nd, 2014

UPDATE 6/2: Meet The Beatles, Japan-Style: New Box Set Collects Fabs’ Original Japanese Albums, U.S. Edition Coming In July

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Beatles - Japan Box

UPDATE 6/2: It now appears that Capitol Records will be releasing this box set in the U.S. on July 15!  See below for updated Amazon links and more! 

ORIGINAL POST (5/5/14): Attn: Beatle collectors – you know who you are! On June 25, Universal Music Japan is extending an invitation to Meet the Beatles as you would have fifty years ago in that country. The new Meet the Beatles box set presents mini-LP CD replicas of five albums released by the Fab Four in Japan in 1964 and 1965. As with the recent release of The U.S. Albums, it is indicated that this box set will be sourced from The Beatles’ approved 2009 remasters:

  • Meet the Beatles! (1964, mono)
  • The Beatles’ Second Album (1964, mono)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (1964, stereo)
  • Beatles No.5 (1965, stereo)
  • Help! (1965, indicated as “original stereo mix”)

Each mini-LP replica “faithfully replicates the original Japanese album artwork, including OBI and inner sleeve.” These are available on legitimate CD for the first time anywhere in the world, and longtime Beatlefans will notice a number of variations from the U.S. and U.K. editions of these albums. Not included in this set is 1965’s Beatles for Sale, which would have functioned as Beatles No. 4 and mirrors the track listing as the original British album of that name. Also a number of Japanese compilations have naturally been excluded, like 1964’s The Fresh Sounds from Liverpool (which joined Beatle tracks with those by Peter and Gordon, The Hollies, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and others) and 95 Million People’s Popular Request (with the Fabs plus Matt Monro, The Dave Clark Five, Cliff Richard and more).

The Beatles’ Japanese releases arrived via the Toshiba-owned Odeon label. Titles were initially released on both black and red vinyl, with the highly desirable red vinyl indicating the first pressing of a title. Meet the Beatles was the first Fab album to hit Japan, with a release date of April 1964. The group’s first two U.K. long players, Please Please Me and With the Beatles, weren’t released in Japan until 1966 – after the country had already received Rubber Soul – when the group toured there. As is still the custom today, the LPs were issued with OBI strips wrapped around the covers.

Beatles - Hard Day's Night JapanMeet the Beatles! resembles the American album but has a different track listing with 14 tracks instead of 12, orange and red lettering on the front cover (instead of blue and brown) , and a unique back cover. Second Album (or Beatles No. 2! per its back cover) follows suit, with 14 songs vs. the U.S. version’s 11, and red lettering rather than brown on the cover, and different rear artwork. The Japanese A Hard Day’s Night replicates the original U.K. album’s track listing, but varies in its art. Beatles No. 5 shares “She’s a Woman” and “I Feel Fine” with its U.S. counterpart Beatles ’65, but little else. Help! , like A Hard Day’s Night, maintains the original U.K. album track listing. It also retains the familiar U.K. front cover artwork, adding a gatefold and a color back cover image.  Even the OBI strips are being replicated, with the first three albums having shorter strips that didn’t cover the entire length of the album cover.

Those first three albums will be presented in mono, with the final two in stereo.  Help! is surprisingly listed as being in its “original stereo mix.”  The U.S. Albums, in contrast, utilized producer George Martin’s 1987 stereo remix in assembling the U.S. version of the album.

Hit the jump for more on this Japan-exclusive box set, including the complete track listings and current pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 2, 2014 at 12:26

Posted in Box Sets, News, The Beatles

Still Unforgettable: “The Extraordinary Nat King Cole” Collects Hits, Rarities, Unreleased Songs

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Extraordinary Nat King ColeThe title of Capitol’s upcoming Nat King Cole compilation is a simple but accurate one: The Extraordinary Nat King Cole. In his too-short 45 years, Cole transformed himself from an acclaimed jazz pianist to one of America’s pre-eminent vocalists. His smooth-voiced baritone helped put Capitol Records on the map, and he broke down barriers previously unheard of for African-American entertainers. Cole’s posthumous 1991 duet on “Unforgettable” with daughter Natalie Cole earned him a new generation of fan, and his rendition of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” keeps him in constant rotation every holiday season. Yet this compilation, to be available in single-disc CD and Blu-ray audio formats and a double-disc CD package with rarities and previously unreleased music, is the first major-label catalogue initiative for Cole since 2009’s remix set, Re:Generations.

While too few of Cole’s original albums are in print as individual CDs today, he’s been the recipient of two complete solo Capitol box sets from Bear Family (one box spanning 1955-1959 and another covering 1960-1964) as well as a Mosaic box set chronicling all 349 of The Nat King Cole Trio’s Capitol recordings. Collectors’ Choice Music issued a number of Cole’s classic albums on CD including 18 albums on 9 CDs available individually and as The Nat King Cole Collection Box Set Volume 1. Yet, miraculously, the Deluxe Edition of The Extraordinary Nat King Cole is packed with never-before-released songs, alternate takes and other rarities.

The standard single-disc edition offers 22 tracks (also available in the high-definition Blu-ray Audio format) emphasizing Cole’s swinging sessions with arranger-conductors including Nelson Riddle, Richard Wess and Billy May. This compilation features both familiar classics (“L-O-V-E,” “Orange Colored Sky,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,” “Almost Like Being in Love”) and lesser-known gems (“You’ve Got the Indian Sign on Me”) as well as two rare and infrequently-anthologized duets with Capitol labelmate and fellow icon of cool, Dean Martin (“Long, Long Ago” and “Open Up the Doghouse (Two Cats Are Coming In)).” Of course, “Unforgettable” also finds a place on this compilation in Cole’s 1961 solo recording. The previously-unissued Nat Simon/Charles Tobias song “You’re Wrong, All Wrong” (1953) with a Nelson Riddle arrangement, closes out the disc.

There’s much more from the vaults on the second disc of the Deluxe Edition!  Hit the jump for more details plus the full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 2, 2014 at 10:13