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Release Round-Up: Week of December 9

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Sinatra - London Contents

Frank Sinatra, London (UMe) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This 3-CD/1-DVD swingin’ affair spans 1953-1984 and features over 50 previously unreleased tracks on CD and DVD – all dedicated to Sinatra’s performances in the great city.  At its centerpiece is an expanded and remastered edition of Sinatra Sings Great Songs from Great Britain, the Chairman’s only studio album recorded outside of the United States!  Watch for Joe’s full review soon!

Beatles 1962-1966

The Beatles, 1962-1966 / 1967-1970 / 1 / Love (Vinyl Only) (Capitol/Apple)

1962-1966: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1967-1970: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Love: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Fabs’ famous “red” and “blue” albums, along with the CD-era compilation Beatles 1 and the Cirque du Soleil soundtrack Love are remastered and reissued on heavyweight 180g vinyl just in time for the holidays!

Jam - Setting

The Jam, Setting Sons: Deluxe Edition (Universal) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Paul Weller and The Jam’s seminal 1979 rock classic is expanded as a two-disc Deluxe Edition with single versions, non-LP B-sides, demos and live tracks.


Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey, Going Back Home: Deluxe Edition (Chess) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The acclaimed 2013 album from Dr. Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson and The Who’s Roger Daltrey has been expanded into a double-disc affair with the addition of outtakes, alternates, and live tracks from Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Royal Albert Hall from earlier this year.

Supertramp - Crime of the Century

Supertramp, Crime of the Century: Deluxe Edition (Universal) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Blu-ray Audio: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3-LP Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

This 2-CD set marks the 40th anniversary of Supertramp’s landmark album, adding a previously unreleased concert from Hammersmith Odeon in March 1975, newly mixed by original producer Ken Scott!

Carrie - Hits

Carrie Underwood, Greatest Hits – Decade # 1 (Arista Nashville) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The biggest star to emerge from American Idol collects the best of her first decade on this 2-disc retrospective including duets with Randy Travis, Vince Gill and Brad Paisley, and three previously unreleased work tape demos.

Judy - Swan Songs

Judy Garland, Swan Songs, First Flights: Her First and Last Recordings (Doremi/Hallow) (Amazon U.S. TBD / Amazon U.K.)

Exact contents haven’t been released yet, but this new 3-CD celebration of the legendary entertainer promises that “Judy Garland is heard in exciting live performances from her last years, many never previously released on CD and collected here for the first time – Swan Songs. And for the first time on CD are charming and historic recordings from Garland’s youth made between the ages of 7 and 17 – First Flights. All in new state-of-the-art transfers and remastering!”  The set is also available at Discovery Records.

Only Folk Collection

Various Artists, The Only Folk Collection You’ll Ever Need (Shout!) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This 2-CD, 30-track folk sampler features a “Who’s Who” of folk music including Bob Dylan (“The Times They Are A-Changin’”), Peter, Paul and Mary (“Blowin’ in the Wind”), Doc Watson (“Sitting on Top of the World”), Phil Ochs (“I Ain’t Marching Anymore”), The Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man”), Tim Hardin (“If I Were a Carpenter”), Fairport Convention (“Who Knows Where the Time Goes”) and others.

Written by Joe Marchese

December 9, 2014 at 08:41

Review: The George Harrison Remasters – “The Apple Years 1968-1975”

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Harrison Box Cover

“Silence often says much more/Than trying to say what’s been said before/But that is all I want to do/To give my love to you…”

Those lyrics, penned by George Harrison for his song “That is All,” could be directed to a female lover or to a higher power, but the sentiment rang true for the artist in any circumstance. Harrison’s lifetime of work was marked by its forward thinking, a trajectory that is eloquently expressed on the new box set The Apple Years 1968-1975. Over the six albums contained in this small box of wonders, the onetime “Quiet Beatle” eschewed the virtues of silence to speak volumes through his music. He also refused to “say what’s been said before,” experimenting with various sonic palettes during this creatively fertile period which saw the collapse of the most important band in music history and the birth of a solo artist who struggled to find his place “living in the material world,” and made that struggle a major part of his life in song.

This new cube-style box set, designed to complement 2004’s Dark Horse Years 1976-1992 collection, includes new, beautifully-remastered digipak editions of Harrison’s six Apple LPs beginning with 1968’s Wonderwall Music – the very first solo album by any Beatle – and continuing with the even more experimental Electronic Sound as issued on the Zapple label (1969), the acclaimed triple-LP All Things Must Pass (1970), Living in the Material World (1973), Dark Horse (1974) and Harrison’s Apple swansong Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975). The all-star Concert for Bangla Desh is not included; it last saw a deluxe reissue in 2005. All of the individual CDs are also available as standalone releases, though a DVD of bonus material will remain exclusive to the box. Whether purchased individually or as one package, these discs offer a fresh perspective on Harrison’s most prolific years.

The Beatles established Apple Records with lofty goals, envisioning a kind of musical utopia for the band and for talented newcomers whom they would shepherd to success. Though the Apple story didn’t turn out quite as planned, Harrison thrived both as a solo artist and as the most prolific producer in the Fab Four. At Apple, he lent his talent to records by Badfinger, Jackie Lomax, Lon and Derrek Von Eaton, Radha Krsna Temple, Doris Troy, Billy Preston and others. As a solo artist, he inaugurated the label’s LP series with 1968’s Wonderwall Music soundtrack and nearly closed it out with the final Apple album of original material (Extra Texture).

Read on, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2014 at 13:03

Release Round-Up: Week of September 9

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Beatles in Mono box front

The Beatles, The Beatles in Mono (Apple/UMe) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Here it is – a massive white box filled with 14 newly-remastered vinyl LPs from the Fab Four, all in original mono – just the way the boys intended all those years ago!

Midnight Special Box Set

The Midnight Special various editions (StarVista/Time Life)

Deluxe 11-DVD Box Set: StarVista

6-DVD Set: Amazon U.S.

1-DVD: Amazon U.S.

The groundbreaking late-night music show is celebrated on a variety of releases featuring live performances from a galaxy of seventies superstars!

Queen Live At The Rainbow 74

Queen, Live at the Rainbow ’74 various formats (Virgin/Hollywood)

1CD: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. (TBD)
2CD: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
DVD: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
Blu-ray: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
CD/Blu-ray: Amazon U.K. (TBD) / Amazon U.S. 
2LP: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S. (TBD)
4LP: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.
2CD/DVD/Blu-ray: Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor stormed London’s Rainbow Theatre forty years ago for concerts in March and November ’74; now, these pivotal concerts have been released in a variety of audio and video formats!

Super Session SACD

Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, Super Session SACD (Audio Fidelity) (Amazon U.S.)

Al Kooper’s long-awaited 5.1 mix of this quintessential jam record is finally here on hybrid SACD, courtesy Audio Fidelity!

Seeds - Singles

The Seeds, Singles As and Bs 1965-1970 (Ace/Big Beat) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This release marks the culmination of Big Beat’s Seeds reissue series – a 24-track anthology of every A and B side released by the band for GNP Crescendo and MGM including the Top 40 nugget “Pushin’ Too Hard” (which is also presented in its original, unedited form as a bonus track).  Most of these tracks have never appeared on CD in these versions, all sourced from original single masters!


JL Icon

Ringo Starr, ICON / John Lennon, ICON (Capitol/UMe)

Two Fabs headline this month’s batch of budget-priced 11-song ICON compilations – also including entries from Iggy Pop, The Ohio Players, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Slaughter, and Chante Moore.  The Ringo comp, on the Apple/Capitol label, is a fun one for completists, with a couple of recent, rarely-anthologized tracks (“Walk with You” with Macca, “King of Broken Hearts” with George Harrison) along with the expected hits and a live version of “Yellow Submarine.”  The Lennon title lacks some big hits (“Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” “Woman”) but both titles have new remastering credits.

Ringo Starr: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

John Lennon: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Ian Matthews - Stealin Home

Iain Matthews, Stealin’ Home (Omnivore) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Omnivore gives a lavish expansion to the 1978 breakthrough LP from Iain Matthews (Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort), adding a 9-track live concert set previously available only in Japan!  Stealin’ Home features an eclectic tunestack ranging from John Martyn to Rodgers and Hammerstein, all filtered through Matthews’ folk, rock and pop sensibilities – plus new liner notes, rare photos and more!

GD - Wake Up

Grateful Dead, Wake Up To Find Out: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY 3/29/1990 (Rhino) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Rhino revisits the Dead’s memorable 1990 show – featuring saxophone great Branford Marsalis sitting in – on a new 3-CD set!

Don't Make Me Over

Treat Me Nice

Various Artists, Don’t Make Me Over: The Songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David / Treat Me Nice: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller (Jasmine)

Bacharach and David: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Leiber and Stoller: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

In case you missed them: U.K. public domain label Jasmine has a couple of packed 2-disc sets drawing on pre-1963 recordings from two legendary songwriting teams.  The Bacharach and David set includes songs from the duo separately and together for a total of 60 tracks by artists including Dionne Warwick, Gene Pitney, The Shirelles, Johnny Mathis, Don Gibson and Sarah Vaughan.  The Leiber and Stoller package has 64 songs from Elvis Presley, Jay and the Americans, The Coasters, The Isley Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Both sets contain new liner notes and track listings with discographical annotation.

Movie Stars Sing

U.K. PD label Sepia has another quartet of vintage releases with many tracks and albums making their first appearances on CD.  The label has a two-fer of arranger Don Costa’s orchestral LPs Theme from ‘The Unforgiven’ and Hollywood Premiere featuring Costa-ized versions of popular movie themes.  Lawrence Welk’s Last Date is two-fered with the bandleader’s Moon River; the first LP features pop hits and the second collects Broadway and Hollywood themes.  A third two-fer comes from the great Bobby Troup.  Do-Re-Mi features Troup singing his own compositions such as the inevitable “Route 66,” while Here s To My Lady features standards like “That’s All” and “The Nearness Of You.”  Lastly, Sepia offers Movie Stars Sing!, collecting rare sides from expected (Julie Andrews, Rita Moreno) and unexpected stars (Mae West, Bette Davis) from Hollywood’s Golden Age!

Don Costa, Theme from ‘The Unforgiven’ / Hollywood Premiere : Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bobby Troup, Do-Re-Mi / Here’s to My Lady: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Lawrence Welk, Last Date / Moon River : Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Movie Stars Sing! : Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Joe Marchese

September 9, 2014 at 08:59

Give Me Love: George Harrison’s “Apple Years” Are Collected On New Box Set

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Harrison Box Cover

George Harrison’s years at Apple Records were among his most productive.  The Quiet Beatle inaugurated Apple’s LP series with 1968’s Wonderwall Music soundtrack and nearly closed out the label with its final album of original material (1975’s Extra Texture (Read All About It)).  In between, Harrison released a series of solo records, oversaw the soundtrack to his groundbreaking Concert for Bangla Desh, and lent a helping hand to Apple artists including Badfinger, Jackie Lomax, Billy Preston, Doris Troy and Lon and Derrek Van Eaton.  Following the 2004 Dark Horse Years box set and 2010’s box of Collaborations with Ravi Shankar, the Harrison family has announced the release of The Apple Years 1968-1975 via Apple and Capitol/UMe.

This 7-CD/1-DVD box set, arriving on September 22 in the U.K. and September 23 in the U.S., includes expanded and newly-remastered versions of Harrison’s Apple albums beginning with 1968’s Wonderwall Music – the very first solo album by any Beatle – and continuing with the even more experimental Electronic Sound as issued on the Zapple label (1969), the acclaimed triple-album All Things Must Pass (1970), Living in the Material World (1973), Dark Horse (1974) and Harrison’s Apple swansong Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975).  The all-star Concert for Bangla Desh is not included; it last saw a deluxe reissue in 2005.  All of the individual CDs will also be available as standalone releases, while the DVD will remain exclusive to the box set.

All Things Must Pass was last expanded and reissued on CD in 2001 with Harrison’s participation.  After his November 2001 death, a reissue arrived for Living in the Material World in 2006.  Dark Horse and Extra Texture haven’t been revisited on CD since Capitol’s reissues in 1992.  After the jump: we’ll look at the contents of each disc! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 2, 2014 at 10:33

Release Round-Up: Week of July 22

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Beatles - Japan BoxThe Beatles, The Japan Box (Apple/UMe)

Stereo remasters, mono remasters, U.S. albums…and now, the first five albums from Japan on CD! What will they think of next? (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Herbie Hancock - WB YearsHerbie Hancock, The Warner Bros. Years: 1969-1972 (Rhino)

UPDATE: This title has been delayed to August 5.  Three Warner Bros. albums (released before Herbie prolifically joined Columbia), each expanded with rare and unreleased promo single versions. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lost Time in a BottleJim Croce, Lost Time in a Bottle (Cleopatra)

A compilation of rare and unreleased demos and live performances from the celebrated singer, including two sets from 1964 and 1973. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Power and the GloryGentle Giant, The Power and the Glory (Alucard)

Steven Wilson remixes Gentle Giant’s 1974 album in stereo and 5.1 on a variety of formats!

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD-Audio/CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Blu-ray Audio/CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Roslyn KindRoslyn Kind, Give Me You/This is Roslyn Kind (Masterworks Broadway)

Masterworks brings together the 1969 and 1968 RCA albums from Barbra Streisand’s talented half-sister, Roslyn Kind, on one CD-R or DD – including songs by Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and more!

Steve Lawrence Walking ProudSteve Lawrence with Eydie Gorme, Walking Proud: The Teen Pop Sides 1959-1966 (Teensville/Rare Rockin’ Records)

The Australian Teensville label compiles 33 sides from Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, individually and collectively, concentrating on the Brill Building-style pop songs they recorded for the ABC-Paramount, United Artists and Columbia labels! (Amazon U.S.)

Rio VINYLDuran Duran, Rio (Expanded Vinyl) (Parlophone)

This 180-gram, 2LP version of the classic New Wave album (possibly available when the album was expanded in 2009) features the original U.K. album master of Rio with a bonus 12″ featuring five remixes by David Kershenbaum for the original U.S. pressing. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

July 22, 2014 at 07:59

Release Round-Up: Week of June 24

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A Hard Day's Night CriterionThe Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night: The Criterion Collection (Criterion)

The first Beatles film gets the luxe treatment for its 50th anniversary – sounds pretty fab!

Blu-ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Three Dog Night - TDNThree Dog Night, Three Dog Night: Expanded Edition (Iconoclassic)

Iconoclassic remasters and expands the debut album from the band fronted by Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells!  Bonus tracks include two mono single sides and “Time to Get Alone” written and produced by Brian Wilson. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Brazil ConnectionVarious Artists, Studio Rio Presents The Brazil Connection (Legacy)

This fun little release features brand-new bossa nova recordings backing some great original R&B vocals, including Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” and more. A perfect summer party album!

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Jersey Boys OSTJersey BoysMusic from the Motion Picture and Broadway Musical (WaterTower Music/Rhino)

The hit Broadway play is now a film, directed by Clint Eastwood, and the soundtrack features both original hits by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons plus new versions recorded for the film itself. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Walt Disney Records Lion King cover artThe Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – The Legacy Collection (Walt Disney Records)

Disney’s exciting new “Legacy Collection” line of expanded soundtracks to their classic films kicks off with a 20th anniversary edition of the soundtrack to The Lion King, featuring all the songs you love from Elton John and Tim Rice, over 30 minutes of unreleased score and demo material and striking new artwork created just for this package. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The Beatles Go Mono Once More – on Vinyl

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Beatles in Mono box front

It sure has been quite a year for Beatlemaniacs looking to fill their shelves with catalogue wares from The Fab Four. Last winter saw the CD release of a second volume of BBC recordings (coinciding with a remaster of the first from 1994) and a digital-only, copyright-saving official bootleg; this year, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the band’s first appearance on American shores, Apple/UMe recreated (sort of) the band’s U.S. discography on CD, and will in July do the same for the group’s first five Japanese albums. Which begs the question: what’s next? That answer has finally taken shape with the announcement that the Beatles’ highly sought-after monaural discography will be reissued on vinyl.

As fans well know, a few months before The Second Disc launched, the gem of The Beatles’ extensive remastering campaign in 2009 was the premiere of the band’s complete mono discography on CD. (Only the band’s first four albums, when first released on compact disc in 1987, were presented in mono.) The band’s first ten U.K. albums (counting the U.S. LP program of Magical Mystery Tour, now part of the “official” discography) were compiled in one box, along with a Mono Masters compilation collating all of the group’s mono singles (including unreleased true mono mixes of the songs featured in Yellow Submarine for an EP that never came to light).

Now, exactly five years after that fabled, platinum-certified box was released (remember when we all thought it was a limited edition affair?) Apple/UMe is putting the same contents out on vinyl, both separately and boxed together (the box, of course, will feature a hardback book with essays by Kevin Howlett and rare photos and memorabilia).

Well…maybe not exactly the same contents. The press release offers this tantalizing tidbit that will surely set audiophiles ears to maximum discretion (emphasis ours):

n an audiophile-minded undertaking, The Beatles’ acclaimed mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Sean Magee and GRAMMY®-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.

Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles’ albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.

So, five years after fans debated the quality of The Beatles in mono and stereo, mastered in the ’60s or in 2009, it looks like the debate shall continue!

The Beatles in Mono vinyl box, and its individual contents, can be pre-ordered below.

The Beatles in Mono (Apple/UMe, 2014) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)

  • Please Please Me (Parlophone, 1963) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • With The Beatles (Parlophone, 1963) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (Parlophone, 1964) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Beatles for Sale (Parlophone, 1964) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Help! (Parlophone, 1965) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Rubber Soul (Parlophone, 1965) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Revolver (Parlophone, 1966)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Parlophone, 1967) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol (U.S.), 1967)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • The Beatles (2-LP) (Apple, 1968) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Mono Masters (3-LP) (Apple/EMI, 2009)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)

Written by Mike Duquette

June 16, 2014 at 10:38

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

And We Love Them: “A Hard Day’s Night” Added to Criterion Collection for 50th Anniversary

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A Hard Day's Night CriterionDespite the insistence of punk rock saint Joe Strummer, Beatlemania seems no closer to biting the dust in 2014. Apple Corps have made quite the big deal out of this year’s 50th anniversary mark of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr making their first trip to America in 1964, branding a generation with their blend of highly original, mania-inducing pop/rock. November saw the release of a second volume of recordings for the BBC and a copyright-busting, officially-sanctioned digital box set of bootlegs, while this winter has seen surviving Beatles Paul and Ringo reuniting for a Grammy Awards-produced television tribute as well as the release of a box set approximately containing the band’s catalogue as it first appeared in the United States.

The most exciting release commemorating The Beatles in 2014, however, may have just been revealed: on June 24, the band’s first film, A Hard Day’s Night, is added to The Criterion Collection’s line of high-quality Blu-Ray and DVD releases, newly remastered and packed with some enticing special features.

Widely considered to be one of the most influential films in pop music history, with a style and tone that influenced countless imitators (and later, clips on MTV), the black-and-white film finds The Fab Four heading from their native Liverpool to London for a show, dodging fans and getting into bizarre comedic situations along the way. An Oscar-nominated script by Alun Owen and keen direction by Richard Lester (whose loose style would be utilized in 1965’s follow-up, Help!) kept the film from being a quick cash-in, and the soundtrack, bolstered by the chart-toppers of the title track and “Can’t Buy Me Love,” further immortalized the picture as a key piece of that first wave of Beatlemania.

The package comes loaded with special features to please both cinephiles and audio enthusiasts. The film has been completely restored in 4K (a transfer approved by director Lester), and can be heard in both its original mono soundtrack and a brand-new 5.1 surround mix commissioned by Apple Corps. Additional features on this single Blu-Ray/double-disc DVD set include:

  • Audio commentary featuring various members of the film’s cast and crew
  • In Their Own Voices, a new piece combining interviews with the Beatles from 1964 with behind-the-scenes footage and photos
  • You Can’t Do That: The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night,” a 1994 documentary program by producer Walter Shenson
  • Things They Said Today, a 2002 documentary about the film featuring Lester, music producer George Martin, writer Alun Owen, cinematographer Gilbert Taylor and others
  • New piece about Lester’s early work, featuring a new audio interview with the director
  • The Running Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959), Lester’s Oscar-nominated short featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan
  • Anatomy of a Style, a new piece on Lester’s approach to editing
  • New interview with Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn
  • Deleted scene
  • Trailers
  • Booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton

A single-disc DVD will also be available. Amazon links are not yet live, but Criterion’s page has pre-order links there; stay tuned to The Second Disc for pre-order links as they’re available.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 18, 2014 at 09:11

Review: The Beatles, “The U.S. Albums”

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The Beatles - U.S. Albums Box

I. Meet the Beatles!

Did The Beatles save rock and roll?

If John, Paul, George and Ringo didn’t save the still-young form, they certainly gifted it with a reinvigorating, exhilarating jolt of musical euphoria the likes of which hadn’t been seen before – and hasn’t been duplicated since.  The scene was early 1964.  Buddy Holly was long gone, and the big hits had dried up – at the moment, at least – for Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.  Elvis had served his time in the Army, threatening to turn the rebellious rogue into a symbol of The Establishment.  Of course, all was far from lost.  The rise of the Brill Building led to some of the most well-crafted, immaculately-produced records of all time, though many of those were as indebted to classic Tin Pan Alley songwriting as to the youthful spirit of rock and roll.

Enter The Beatles.  By the end of the tumultuous year, the group had charted 28 records in the U.S. Hot 100 (11 in the Top 10) and released five – count ‘em, five – albums on Capitol plus one soundtrack on United Artists.  Capitol had a lot of catching up to do to sate seemingly insatiable demand for the music of the Liverpudlian quartet.  Those heady early days in which The Beatles began the charge that would transform “rock and roll” into “rock” are chronicled on the splendid new 13-CD box set The U.S. Albums.  It presents the unique albums released stateside between 1964 and 1966, plus one from 1970, including five which have never before appeared on CD (well, legally, anyway) anywhere in the world.  [Every album in the box is also available for individual sale save The Beatles’ Story which is exclusive to the box.]

From the time The Beatles broke into the British Top 20 in late 1962 with “Love Me Do,” there was no turning back.  By the end of 1963, the hard-working band had scored five singles in the U.K. Top 20, three of which went to No. 1.  Debut long-player Please Please Me was No. 1 on the U.K. Albums Chart for 30 weeks, only finally displaced with the arrival of sophomore LP With the Beatles.  The stage was set for world domination, and the key to that international success was America.  But could The Beatles repeat that level of success on American shores?

Dave Dexter Jr., head of Capitol’s international A&R, had been rejecting Beatles singles since late 1962 and “Love Me Do.”  Dexter’s recalcitrance led to EMI entering into early licensing agreements with labels like Swan and Vee-Jay (Remember The Beatles vs. The Four Seasons?  Or Introducing…The Beatles?  Altogether unsurprisingly, they’re not included in this box set!).  But the executive could only ignore the future Fabs for so long.  “She Loves You,” rejected by Dexter for U.S. release, had become the first British record to sell one million copies prior to its release; With the Beatles sold 500,000 copies within a week of its release date.  Capitol had no choice but to pay attention to these numbers, especially given the small size of the U.K. compared to the U.S. market.  When Capitol finally acquiesced and signed the lads, Dexter was the one in charge of packaging the band’s music for American audiences.

Meet the Beatles, his first newly-created U.S. album, was based on With the Beatles, the group’s second British LP.  It arrived in stores on January 20, 1964, just weeks before the band debuted on the February 9 broadcast of The Ed Sullivan Show.  73 million viewers tuned in, a higher number than had watched any program in television history.  The reviews weren’t all glowing; in fact, many were far from it.  But Beatlemania couldn’t be stopped.  The ensuing frenzy was, perhaps, a manifestation of the power of the nascent youth culture, but soon the Fab Four dominated culture, period.

The American media was poised to rebel against this revolution, looking upon The Beatles’ seemingly inevitable success with curiosity and distrust.  But America, still smarting from the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963, was poised to accept these bright young men with all of their enormous promise, goofy humor, and messages of love and hope in their music.  What wasn’t immediately evident except perhaps to the most perceptive listeners was the mélange of influences that informed The Beatles’ revolutionary sound – showtunes, music hall ballads, rockabilly, country-and-western, Brill Building pop, and rhythm and blues, to name a few.  It didn’t hurt that the lads’ looks were as revolutionary as their music.  They were, of course, “the whole package.”    The Beatles were frequently queried about how long such success could possibly last.  Even the most confident of them likely couldn’t have imagined the fact that, 50 years later, their music would remain just as beloved – perhaps even more – as during those heady days of 1964.

Meet the Beatles! didn’t disappoint…far from it.  Dexter’s LP remained at No. 1 on the Billboard chart for eleven weeks, ceding only to The Beatles’ Second Album.  When the United Artists soundtrack album to A Hard Day’s Night arrived, it spent 14 weeks at No. 1, the longest run of any album in 1964.  Capitol’s Something New could have been considered a disappointment as it peaked at No. 2, but it was held from the top position by…A Hard Day’s NightBeatles ’65 spent nine weeks at No. 1 and was crowned the best-selling LP of 1965.  The Beatles were no flash in the pan.

After the jump: what exactly will you find in The U.S. Albums?

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Written by Joe Marchese

January 28, 2014 at 13:10

Posted in Box Sets, Reviews, The Beatles

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