It is a Beatles movie that would become a “midnight movie” favorite, it has been released on VHS and standard DVD, but they were mere transfers from the original film negatives. Now, almost 45 years after its original release in theaters, Yellow Submarine has been digitally remastered for Blue-Ray and DVD release in May.
If you’re a Beatles fan and you have seen this film countless times, you’re probably thinking “how can this be better?” Take a look at the trailer above. According to the press release, this new version of Yellow Submarine is in 4K digital resolution and “all done by hand, frame by frame.”
The soundtrack album will also be reissued, although judging from the mention at Billboard.com about it featuring 15 songs, this is most likely a new version of the 1999 Songtrack version of Yellow Submarine with then-new mixes of the songs, and not any of Sir George Martin‘s beautiful incidental music that was on the original 1969 soundtrack album.
No word yet on if this will be shown in theaters for any one-off showings before the Blue-Ray/DVD release date.
The Covered section of ThisIsBooksMusic.com is a look at album cover homage and parody, and sometimes a bit more humor than the norm. Album cover homage has been an unspoken tradition for years, where other artists will do it on albums, picture sleeves, or in music videos. In the last year, there have been issues of Lady Gaga doing homage to a film with a dance scene, which left some people feeling it’s a violation of one’s copyright. In the last few weeks, there has been talk about photographic copyrights, and how more photographers want to be better protected in this day of digital and social media. In other words, if someone recreates a famous image with their own picture, there may be penalties. In the last week, I noticed two possibilities of potential punishment. The first is the forthcoming episode of Andrew Zimmern‘s show Bizarre Foods, where this season will keep him exploring the foods of the United States. Perhaps this was a budget concert and it would make it easier for producers to just shoot around our own country and see what weirdness lurks in our backyards. This is key, because he is going to explore the United States, so the image Zimmern and the Travel Channel are using is a tribute and parody of not only Bruce Springsteen‘s 1984 album Born In The U.S.A., but also the last 15 seconds of the video. We all know the famous ass shot of Springsteen with a baseball cap in his back pocket, but Zimmern chooses to show hos culinary vibe by carrying a napkin. Zimmern looks at the camera, which is not on the album cover, but in the last 15 seconds of the music video.
I combined the shots from the video so you can get a sense of what I’m talking about, but you can also watch the video below.
I’m a huge fan of the show Portlandia, and in last week’s episode (called Grover), Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and two friends were on a scavenger hunt and sported Sgt. Pepper outfits. Now even THAT might be a violation one day, but in the scene they also did this, complete with someone walking across the street barefoot (or “caucasian flesh-colored socks”)
Could something as simple as this screenshot be considered a violation of someone’s copyright? This is not new, and it has even affected parts of the foodie community, where people say that there is a need to copyright recipes.
From the outside, it seems you can’t even do homage to something, to pay tribute for the love of something you grew up with. What’s next, hairstyles? Hair color/dye? Shoelace techniques? Everyone is broke except for the precious 1 percent, and everyone wants to make money from something that in the past had not been a concern, so why not place a price on everything from seeds to intellectual property, brick tones, to keys, melodies, and octaves? My shoe size is an 11, but because I have wide feet. Does that mean I may not be able to wear a size 11 because my feet are too wide? Explain this.
Then again, maybe it’s a minor blip of things but it’s sad to think that these mere glimpses of pop culture and photographic appreciation could one day do more harm than good.
For George Harrison‘s first solo single following the announcement of the end of The Beatles in April 1970, he released what was to be a preview of a statement that was a long time coming for him. “My Sweet Lord”/”Isn’t It A Pity” was released as a double A-side on November 23, 1970. Up until 1969, the Billboard singles chart made it a regular habit to chart both sides of a single individually, so one record could have two different spots, with the A-side generally being higher than the B-side. If radio DJ’s felt strongly over the B-side, they’d give that a shot instead, so one side of the record might be a hit in one part of the country or state, while the other side might’ve been a hit elsewhere. That changed in 1969 when it was decided that if they were going to chart, both songs would chart “as one”. The first Beatles single to do that was “Something”/”Come Together”.
For Harrison’s first, “My Sweet Lord” was a folk-flavored song that spoke highly about his spirituality, while “Isn’t It A Pity” was a moody and somber piece about the human condition. Radio received both songs very well, but since “My Sweet Lord” was released close to the 1970 holiday season, it mixed in with some Christmas song programming and thus becoming a tradition of hearing it during Christmas, even though it is not a Christmas song.
What I love about “My Sweet Lord” is that it’s such an honest song for Harrison, which might seem funny considering he wasn’t honest about revealing the fact that its melody came directly from the girl group song “He’s So Fine” (by The Chiffons). Then again, anyone who listened to The Beatles’ Christmas records knew that pulling songs out of the air randomly was not anything new, since on the 1965 record, Ringo Starr would try to sing The Four Tops‘ “It’s The Same Old Song” before Harrison himself said the word “copyright”. Paul McCartney asks what will happen since they don’t have a copyright, and John Lennon states that perhaps “we’ll get the lilacs (lyrics) out of an old brown shoe”, a term Harrison would nick for himself when he and the band recorded “Old Brown Shoe” as the B-side to “The Ballad Of John & Yoko” four years later.
Thievery aside, it was Harrison’s way of saying that living life is part of the struggle, but that hopefully one day he will be able to “meet him” someday. The first half of the song has him singing “I really want to see you/I really want to see you/I really want to see you, lord/I really want to see you, lord, but it takes so long, my lord”, mixed in with a chorus singing the word “hallelujah”, alluding to his upbringing as a Christian in Liverpool. Once the second half of the song comes around, he changes his calling, equal to him converting to his Hindi beliefs and admiration of the culture and religion of India. All of a sudden, the song has him singing the Hare Krishna mantra, the first time that had ever been done in a pop song, and the first time a #1 pop song featured the mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
This is followed by the Gurur Brahma, or a “daily prayer” Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu
Gurur Devo Mahesh Varah
Guru Shakshat Para Brahma
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah
Anyone who had listened to Harrison’s work with The Beatles knew he was incorporating more Indian sounds and themes in his music since “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, so in many ways, the Hare Krishna mantra and a daily prayer was him showing his independence as a Beatle, and telling the world “this is me, this is very much a part of me, and I hope you will continue on this life voyage with me”. You don’t have to be religious to understand his devotion in the song, and thus it stands out as much more than just something to sing to alongside “Here Comes Santa Claus”.
As the song gained recognition around the world, it would be released with different picture sleeves, a few simply taking excerpts from the All Things Must Pass album, some simply taking Beatles photos from the Get Back/Let It Be sessions:
The sleeve used for the U.S. and UK (shown at the top) was a somber pick meant to represent not “Beatle George” but a new George circa November 1970, and he never looked back.
Many know some of the grand stories of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but the history and perspective of “the quiet Beatle” has often remained, well, quiet. No longer. Martin Scorsese has put together a documentary film called George Harrison: Living In The Material World, and will be released in the UK and US and different ways. In the UK, it will be released on the 10th of October as a DVD, Blu-Ray, and a cool looking DVD/Blu-Ray deluxe edition that will include an exclusive CD of previously unheard music from Harrison, AND a book of photography to accompany the film. In the US, the documentary will be split in two and be shown on HBO on October 5th and 6th. No word yet on when it will be released as hard copy here in the States.
The film will include interviews with Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Sir George Martin, Tom Petty, Eric Idle, Jackie Stewart, Phil Spector, Yoko Ono, and of course Paul and Ringo, each one talking about Harrison and the impact he made on their lives and of course the interaction they had with him as not “Beatle George”, but as friend.
A month before the movie makes its public premiere, Olivia Harrison will release a book that shares its name with the documentary, and it will feature photos, letters, diaries, and memorabilia taken from all aspects of George’s public and private life.
As he did with The Beatles and his solo work, it seems the documentary and book is merely a continuation of the journey of and in life that he wanted himself to explore, and others who appreciated his words and music.
If you think the cover of this book is eye-candy, I’m sure you’ll find more delights in this book.
Beatlegmania is a series of books put together by Beatles collector John C. Winn, and he’s about to release the 4th installment. It’s being described as being “packed with full-color illustrations, facts and stories behind dozens of vinyl bootlegs, including the Deccagone singles, Get Back Journals box, Lost Lennon Tapes series, and much more.”
Winn has done a number of books on The Beatles, many of which have received positive reviews from critics and fans alike. You can pre-order Beatlegmania Vol. 4 and other books he has done by heading to his homepage at MultiPlusBooks.com.
Let’s get the latter part of that question out of the way so you’ll know the focus of this article. In a time of social media, where musicians, producers, rappers, singers, and entertainers are able to interact for the first time via Twitter and Facebook, fans are able to be “in touch” with the people they may idolize. On one hand it might be dangerous, as it can lead to idolatry or worse. On the good side, artists are able to find out what fans really want while fans can pop the bubble and realize that for the most part, artists and entertainers are as real as they make themselves out to be. Away from the facades, most humans are indeed human. But this is not about the people behind the names and personas, but rather their output.
As I was growing up and getting into music as much more than just something cool to listen to, I made lists of projects I wanted released. I have a book somewhere where I actually came up with the “cassingle” concept, where one would be able to have the same two songs on a 7″ 45rpm record on a cassette. This was before they were placed on the market, and had I knew about trademarks, I could have cashed in big time. At a young age, I was already an armchair record company CEO, wanting labels to release this or that, and I was never afraid to find out who controlled certain departments at a label, so that my mail would go directly to them. In time I became a writer, and I would continue writing to publicists and music supervisors not only for free music (back when “free music” was reserved for a select few) but in the hopes one of my ideas would be used. I wanted to be in the recording industry, I wanted to not only work in the mailroom, but become a publicist, reissue supervisor, I wanted to run a label. I wanted to be bigger than Capitol, Atlantic, Warner Bros., and Columbia combined. Wishful thinking, I know, but it would not stop me from wanting to make an impact, however small.
If I’ve made an impact, I’d like to think it was with my reviews and articles. If I’m able to find a way for fans to at least be motivated to listen to something I recommend, I’m happy. I’ll rarely hear about it, but I’m hopeful people will take that chance.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do was reissues, to be with a record label, go through the tape library and archives, and find what is rare and/or unknown. I wanted to raid old recording studios and warehouses because during elementary school, I’d regularly go to the Hawai’i State Library and go through old books, microfiche, and file cabinets looking for anything on topics that moved me. I wanted to know what existed before me, especially when they were hidden from general view. I wanted to adapt that craving for knowledge and apply it to a record label. I look forward to becoming a music supervisor for a project so I can also do the liner notes, and be able to fulfill my dream of winning Best Album Liner Notes.
There have been many times when I’ve written to labels and asked them “why haven’t you reissued this?” A publicist for an audiophile reissue label told me this when I gave them a list of albums I’d like to see them handle: “we don’t do outside A&R”. In other words, my suggestions were not welcome and at that point it rubbed me the wrong way. I wasn’t trying to take the guy’s position, I simply wanted to suggest, and even an idea was not something they cared to even read. I had sent another reissue label an idea for a box set, and they told me point blank that that artist is not someone of value. The artist, Eddie Bo, was someone whose music was and still is heavily sampled in hip-hop, soul/R&B, and dance music, and I felt the label, who released a lot of disco, soul, R&B, and blues compilations, would do Bo’s music justice. They felt he wouldn’t sell because Bo was so obscure. A decade later, said label released a box set with heavy duty funk and soul obscurities, with a booklet featuring liner notes from a journalist friend. The label’s British reissue division released these exact obscurities in a series of compilations, and yet due to “no sales potential” here in the U.S., my suggestion was ignored. All of a sudden, this box set is released and it receives a good amount of position reviews. Granted, I’m not in Los Angeles or New York so I can’t make the same impact a music supervisor could do there, but I had an idea and it was ignored, only for someone else to take credit for a similar idea. I also had another idea for a reissue project, sent it in to the head of the label and was told “this will absolutely not sell.” Less than a year, that label released a compilation CD featuring my suggestions. Keep in mind that “a suggestion is a suggestion”, and any group of people can have the same idea, but c’mon. Chances of any other label having the same idea was slim, and again, it irked me. It’s not just the face that my suggestions and ideas were turned into something fruitful, it’s just that it would be nice to work on those projects for the labels.
The small but tight bootlegging industry of the late 1960’s and 1970’s gave power to the fan who wanted to release more music by artists than a label cared to do. All you had to have was a few hundred dollars, a pressing plant to make your records, and a few connections on how to obtain live recordings or studio outtakes. In time, these bootleggers would gain local, regional, national, and in time world attention. The legitimate record industry were pissed, because they felt bootleggers were taking away millions from labels and artists. Little did these labels know that some artists were in favor of these boots, as it often gave them a bit of street credibility when fans were able to hear an artist sound “in the raw” without the polish of a professional recording. Did bootleggers actually steal millions of dollars, no. Did bootleggers earn thousands of dollars, yes, and according to some books and articles about bootlegging, some were able to pay their way through college through the sales of “illegal records”. As compact discs became more popular, bootlegs would eventually find its way in the digital realm and the audio quality would highly improve, changing the definition of what had been known as “bootleg quality recordings”. The introduction of the MP3 digital file in the mid-1990’s meant that any and all audio files could be transferred on the internet, via e-mail and Usenet. Initially it was okay to low-quality files, generally single songs mailed out. As modem speeds increased, so did the amount of digital transmissions (upload and download). Audio quality also improved, to the point where an MP3 was considered “as good as a high quality cassette”, which meant “not CD quality, but good enough for general use.” That was all that fans needed to know in order to abandon hard copy completely. While the MP3 made it possible to download almost anything ever recorded, what some fans wanted was the obscure stuff. Yes, even in the digital world where obscurity means nothing when any audio file can be infinitely cloned, fans still wanted more.
Look at any music community and you’ll find thousands of people wanting to hear more music. We are in a period in time when we are able to consume as much music as possible, or at least download as much music as possible and never having the time to hear it all. It’s megabyte and gigabyte gluttony, and people want to hear not only what’s new, but anything and everything that came out in the last 120 years. Fans are making an impact by creating their own compilations and digital “box sets”, coming up with concepts and ideas that at one time was plentiful in the legitimate music industry. As the industry moved from “music projects” to “mandatory quarterly sales of units”, it seems quality control and creativity… maybe not disappeared 100 percent, but moved to people at independent labels who still care for the music. Those who are not a part of that inner circle are taking their wares online and giving the fans what they want or should have.
There’s a lot of stuff online that I’m not interested in, but people are making custom compilations on everything from 80’s classics, deep disco, Germany military funk, hip-hop instrumentals, country ballads: name a genre, there’s probably a custom compilation out there. If you love avant-garde and experimental music, you’ll find a community catering to that. I’m sure there are fanatical classical fans who must have performances of pieces that may be in the wrong key, I don’t know. Of course, if you want to find music by the top selling artists, you’ll find them in abundance.
Yet with all of these homemade and custom projects available online, it doesn’t take away the fact that fans want to hear them, and many are still willing to buy them, whether it’s in digital form or hard copy. Nas fans support their favorite MC and yet his current label, Def Jam, is holding back. Is it a sales opportunity missed, a label unable to release it because of uncleared samples, or just not caring for the demands of fans?
As anyone in any business will tell you, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. If you’re complaining about why artists aren’t playing in your city, find a way to bring them there yourself, find people who could do it, make the connections and make it happen. I do not have the money it takes to go to any artist, label, or recording studio to say “I want to reissue this, how much would it cost for me to license these recordings?”, but I would like to be involved with people who do. Yet if I did have the funds to work with, trust me, I would do everything in my power to do the kind of work I want to, to hear the music I want to hear and to satisfy the fans who have been waiting for it too. The reason why box sets were hugely popular in the 80’s and 90’s is because fans wanted more, and labels did not think those old and rejected recordings were of value. All of a sudden, Bob Dylan‘s Biograph and Eric Clapton‘s Crossroads box sets sold immensely, and almost every other artist had a box set in their name. If they didn’t, the bootleggers would come in to save the day. Major labels would often say “we have exhausted the vaults, there’s no more”, and somehow bootlegger Ignacio from the Philippine mountains would be sitting in a warehouse full of unheard of soundboard concert recordings by everyone who toured in that part of the world. At that time, the recording industry did give fans what they wanted, and everyone was rewarded.
Is it a Nas issue? A Def Jam issue? Or has the industry not placed value on hip-hop reissues because the market has been widely neglected? Is hip-hop not “rock” enough, and why does the music have to live up to rock’n’roll when the music was, as Chuck D. had said many times before, a generation’s rock’n’roll? Perhaps when the industry twisted the rock’n’roll power of hip-hop, and had to find its Elvis Presley, its Beatles, its Rolling Stones, that’s when things shifted for the worse. Perhaps a part of rock’n’roll’s power is that idolatry, the idea that there are mere musical Gods walking on this Earth, artists play it up all the time in a live setting, but that power has to do with what they’re creating. The majesty of rock’n’roll, hard rock, and heavy metal can be heard in blues, in jazz, in soul, in funk, and very much in hip-hop. Yet what the opportunists have done is milk the hip-hop lucrative teet for everything but the music. The music is secondary, and it’s as if the industry wants to cater to those who want to buy in the lifestyle and not the music. It’s not a music industry, it’s a lifestyle industry, or as a music executive told me, “it’s less of a music industry these days and more of a T-shirt industry”. In other words, everyone is selling shirts and shoes because it makes more money than the music itself, while music itself is now a tool to sell toothpaste and Armor-All.
Less music, more lifestyle: Does that perception make fans feel that if they “buy” into a lifestyle, they’ll become what they’re not? Maybe that’s another topic, another time, but if there’s any truth to this, then music fans are truly missing some incredible music. It’s not just what remains unreleased, but the millions of artists who are struggling to be heard but are shut out by an industry that continues to close down creativity for the sake of finding a better recipe to make money. How can you blame an industry for struggling to find a way to make the public buy things they haven’t had faith in for a decade? Then again, how can one blame fans for knowing, wanting, and demanding better?
Evidence is keeping busy and will continue this throughout 2011. In the meantime, he has just released I Don’t Lead Love, where he drops rhymes over manipulated Beatles tracks. If you like Evidence, and/or have a love for hearing what people are doing with the Beatles tracks available, listen to this.
Unlike the previous edition of Covered where I found a new album cover that had similar features to an older album, this one is actual homage/parody. We all know The Beatles right, four guys from Liverpool, one guy was named after his love of jewelry, went to West Germany, played a lot, did uppers which was a gateway to LSD, blah blah? Anyway, in 1967, following the death of their manager Brian Epstein, Paul McCartney felt it might be a cool idea to hire a bus, take a ride out in the country and film whatever happened. As some critics stated, “nothing happened”. Magical Mystery Tour was released in late 1967 and shown on British TV in black & white, even though the film was shot in colour. Everyone hated it, and there were no plans to release the film in the U.S. However, Capitol Records felt a need to cash in as they always did on having product for the holidays. In the UK, Magical Mystery Tourwas released as a double 7″ EP. The EP format was dead in the U.S., so all of the songs on the EP were placed on Side 1 of the album. Side 2 consisted of the singles that the band released in 1967. Even though not an album approved by The Beatles, it became a hit to the point where pressings were imported into other countries. The West German pressing, when released in the early 1970’s, became prized as it was the only place for years to find “true stereo” mixes of “Baby You’re A Rich Man” and “All You Need Is Love”. As for the film, it would become a cult favorite in the U.S. when it was featured as a “midnight movie”.
Stoner metal, stoner rock, call that sludgy hard rock what you want, but that sound made famous by Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer has a name, and like most things metal, it has traveled to Russia. Lowriderz are a Russian stoner metal band from St. Petersburg, and for their latest release they show album cover love for MMT. Goo goo g’joob indeed.
Ravi Shankar connection with The Beatles, especially with George Harrison, allowed him not only to expand his audience but to bring Indian classical music to the rest of the world. Harrison released a few Shankar albums and singles on Apple Records, and he also went out of his way to produce a great documentary film on his music and life up to 1972 called Raga. The film was released on VHS but has not been widely seen for years, but now the film has been restored and remastered for DVD, which was released on October 12th.
The DVD Raga also comes with a CD of the soundtrack album, highly sought after by Shankar and Apple Records completists.
Record collecting has many multiples. You can choose to collect anything and everything from a particular artist, a record label, producer, musician, city, state, region, country, era, mono-only, genre, whatever. I was going to say “it’s endless” but there are thousands of ways to collect what you want, and never enough time or money (unless you have a lot of it, and if you do, please send some to my PayPal account, thank you) to get what you want.
Collectors tend to have their own level of expertise, things they specifically want or at least are knowledgeable about. I tend to dabble in a little bit of everything, I know a good amount about The Beatles (as discussed here) but always willing to know more. If people want a superrare funk or soul 45, there are a number of collectors, dealers, and well known hip-hop DJ’s people can track down to find the right pressing.
Another thing that collectors like to do is to find different pressings of the same album, and there are variables of what constitutes “multiple pressings”. I’ll read articles and blogs about people who will go through thrift stores, yard and garage sales and they’ll end up buying a Helen Reddy album even if they’re not a true fan of hers or her music. Somehow, they’ll post a note saying “I have 20 copies of Love Song for Jeffrey, including the quad 8-track, and I don’t know why”. Generally, what you’ll often hear about are people buying the same album multiple times from the same country. I know I have multiple copies of Cecilio & Kapono‘s first album, Loggins & Messina‘s Sittin’ In, but other than being able to buy and organize a few copies of the same album, there’s no really good reason other than to be a collector and play a game that no one really participates in, let’s be honest about this. UNLESS you are amongst a community of collectors who do the same, then it’s appreciated, or at least you can all murk in your disgust of the foolish game.
If you’re a hip-hop DJ that still uses vinyl, then you may want multiple copies of the same record for that reason alone. You place one record on one turntable, then a different copy on the other, and you can “juggle” beats, do a routine, or create a live mix on the spot. That has always been the case for hip-hop DJ’s, but the advances in CD and MP3 technology has made it possible to manipulate songs without having to have the physical record there. DJ’s no longer have to lug boxes and crates of records from gig to gig, hell they don’t have to carry it to a recording session, nor do you have to go to anyone else’s recording studio. Everything can be done digitally, you can have a rapper send you their vocals with a click track, and you can assemble it an ocean away.
Of course, records aren’t solely the tools of the trade for fans of hip-hop music. Having multiple copies of the same record is a different level of madness in record collecting, and it’s a madness that has been going on for decades. As an example again, let’s touch on The Beatles. If you are an American who loves the Revolver album, you have a lot of options to choose from. Let’s say you discovered their music in 1981 and went to the store to pick up a copy of Revolver. If you bought the album brand new/still sealed, you would have the album on Capitol Records in the purple label variation. You then discover that Capitol Records pressed up the album with different labels, as they would rotate the look of their labels every few years. In time, you find yourself with the original Capitol rainbow swirl, both stereo and mono. Then you buy the lime green label, the one on Apple, and the orange one that followed. Same album, same songs, not much difference in any of them. You also have an album that had only 11 songs, which you discovered was shorter than the proper UK version that contained 14. The UK version was not available, but you went to a record store and saw a Japanese pressing or a French pressing, both equal to the 14-track UK album. You buy the French one because it’s cheaper, but hope to buy the Japanese one someday because you had read the sound quality is incredible. You bring home the French pressing and say “wow, this sounds as if if was mastered different.” Or maybe you don’t care, you just want to have your favorite album from as many countries as possible. You know that The Beatles phenomenon was worldwide, so you’re going to go out of your way, within your budget, to get as many world pressings as possible. You are able to do that.
There are reasons as to why one would do it. Some enjoy doing this to be able to hear how an album was heard in the country it was pressed in. In the digital era, the idea of hearing a different mastering in each country is almost a non-existent concept since everything comes from the same digital rip. The songs/files are cloned, so with the exception of the quality of the bit-rate in each file (i.e. an MP3 ripped at 128kbps) will not sound as good as one ripped at 320kbps), what you hear in Atlanta will be the same digital file you’ll download in Paris. In the analog era, a master tape was sent to each world division of a record label. While that master tape may be the approved mix of an album, a mastering engineer in one country may not have the same equipment as the engineer in another country, or an engineer might feel the need to tweak the audio a bit without permission. A pressing in Japan will sound great while the one in Germany might be better. Collectors will often have a select list of preferred countries to buy record pressings from due to their reputation from other collectors, such as U.S., UK, (West) Germany, and Japan. That’s not to ignore a pressing of an album from Australia, in fact some collectors will tell you that a pressing done in the country of the artist’s origin are often preferred because the level of quality control is higher. In other words, wanting multiple copies of albums is very much an audio issue.
One of my favorite albums was one that was a favorite of my dad’s and one I would grow into, Ramsey Lewis‘ Sun Goddess. I have two copies of the album, but also have the 1990 CD and a Japanese pressing from the late 1990’s that sounds incredible. However, there are two other pressings that I would like to have: the Japanese pressing:
and the U.S. Columbia Half-Speed Mastered pressing:
It’s the same album as the one I already have four copies of, so why would I want two more? It’s a chance to hear the same seven songs mastered slightly different than what I’m used to. I love the sound of Columbia albums in the 1970’s, but I’m curious to know if it was mastered differently for Japanese audiences, and if that master is different from the Japanese CD (most likely it is). Even if I obtained the Japanaese LP, why would I now want the album yet again, in Half-Speed Mastered form? Because it was mastered differently, and this matters to me because I want to know, hear, and experience the differences, however small. Half-Speed Mastering was done at a time when perhaps record labels stopped caring for quality control so much, so having to create something with a specific slogan was their way of not only making more money, but letting the public know “we have created a better pressing which we think you will prefer.” Arguably it was the Deluxe Edition of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, where the public had the option to buy the same set of songs again, but perhaps with slightly different graphics on the cover. To the casual music fan, this means nothing to them. To the serious music listener and audiophile, it’s all about variations, and I wnat to hear them. I also know of a British pressing of Sun Goddess on CBS with an orange label, and just to be a completist, maybe I’d buy that too but right now my goal is to get the Japan pressing and the Half-Speed. Are there Australian, French, and German pressings? Was there an inferior Taiwan pressing? There might be, but I don’t have too much interest in them.
There are two albums in my collection that I am a bit fanatical about, and while it’s not an urgent collecting game, it’s one that I play. I am looking for different world pressings of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Welcome To The PleasureDome and the 1970 Woodstock 3LP soundtrack album.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood might not be on the list of mandatory artists to collect, definitely not up there with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or Elvis Presley, but I got into them primarily because of the sound and production, done primarily by Trevor Horn. I also loved what Paul Morley did with his level of superhype, created with incredible liner notes and myth creation. It was never “oh, Frankie Goes To Hollywood are from Liverpool, maybe they’ll be as big as The Beatles” or “they’re kinda new wave”, it was always about the music. I love Welcome To The PleasureDome, and it’s an album that I think saved me from complete mental hell when I had moved from Honolulu to the Pacific Northwest. I also liked how their record label, Zang Tuum Tumb, would release a single but not just the standard 7″ 45 or the 12″. There would be an alternate 12″, maybe a 7″ and 12″ picture disc, the cassingle, the shaped picture disc, or maybe two promotional mixes made exclusively for radio. I loved the ideas of multiples (which sounds like something you’d hear in a porn video but that’s another topic, perhaps another time), so I would find myself getting records from different countries. I wanted to explore that with Welcome To The PleasureDome and I have to a small degree. I have the US, UK, UK picture disc, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Yugoslavian pressings. In the US it was released via Island Records, which at the time was a WEA-affiliated label. In Japan it was released through Island/Polystar, and in New Zealand through Festival, and it’s cool to see the variations, however minor. Since FGTH were not as big as The Beatles, being able to find other world pressings should not be difficult. As I look at the page for the album at Discogs.com, I see that there are pressings in Greece, Israel, Portugal, Scandinavia, France, Italy, and Spain. I want them all. Were there pressings in Hong Kong? South Korea? I want to know. But as you can see, the list of countries isn’t big. Compare that with a Beatles album that was released around the world. I could easily complete my collection by the end of the week.
Then there’s the Woodstock soundtrack. I fell in love with the movie in 1979 or 1980 when it was shown on HBO. I clearly remember the promo on HBO with Casey Kasem, and as they showed that shot after Jimi Hendrix‘s section, Kasem did a voice-over which said “Woodstock: where it all began.” I grew up with a good amount of rock’n’roll and heavy music that came from what my dad and uncles listened to, it wasn’t “classic rock” just yet, just “the good shit”. I was born a year after the festival, and the idea of going to a concert in some large, random farm in upstate New York, surrounded by over 500,000 people as people passed around wine, weed, and granola was something that moved me. C’mon, a 3-day festival with all of this great music, funky ass smelly people, and a trippy mud slide? I would’ve been happy with the granola, but if I was alive when the festival happened, you know I would’ve not only had smoked weed, but I would’ve been in the forest trying to survive the brown acid that Chip Monck told me was not specifically too good.
One day my parents and I went to the Kamehameha Super Swap Meet one weekend, something we always did, and after falling in love with what was the longest movie I had ever seen up until that point, I saw the soundtrack album. Three records, and the cost? A massive three dollars. I begged and pleaded, and told them “get me this, and you will not have to get me anything for Christmas” or some stupid shit just so I could get the record, take it home, and listen. They gave me the pitiful look, but once I saw the hand reaching into the purse, I smiled and ran to the man who had the album. Gave him the three dollars, wanting to go home right now. I either played Santana‘s “Soul Sacrifice” or Ten Years After‘s “I’m Going Home” first, and I just put myself into the music and got lost. 1979 was the year I discovered The Beatles and hip-hop, and I believe was the year I found Woodstock. I was set for life. Well, I wasn’t prepared for losing a parent, good friends, and bills, but still.
Woodstock became a worldwide phenomenon, now every country wanted to have their own gigantic festival and a lot of them failed. But the myth created behind the movie and soundtrack was what I lived for, for the simply fact that it looked and sounded good. As a kid I would say “if I had a time machine, I’d want to go to 1950 so I could experience The Beatles and Woodstock in real time”. As I got older, I still think it would have been an incredible thing to be a part of, but that’s a very naive me speaking as a pre-teen. Someone like me with my ethnic mix might not have been able to live outside of Hawai’i or California, either I would be a statistic or fighting for the civil rights of all but… it would have been interesting.
Nonetheless, the soundtrack album moved me and I was always curious as to how the soundtrack was perceived. I don’t have as many pressings of Woodstock as I do of Welcome To The PleasureDome but I do have them for the U.S., Germany, Taiwan, and Israel. The album, a 3LP set, was originally released in 1970 on Cotillion Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic. Back then, the double album was considered “the event” but a 3LP set? Even The Beatles didn’t have a 3-record set, and now there’s one for a damn music and art fair? Anyway, as is the case with Atlantic-related albums in other countries, sometimes Woodstock would be released not with the Cotillion label, but with the Atlantic label, such as this pressing from Venezuela:
Or labels that have absolutely nothing to do with Cotillion or Atlantic, such as these pressings from South Korea and China respectively:
The album was also released with different covers. Uruguay pressing? Sure:
In India, the album was not released as a 3LP set but as three individual records with a different color scheme for each one:
In South Korea, there seems to be a few counterfeit pressings, which seems to have been customary in Asian countries that didn’t have proper record label affiliates. Somewhere down the line, there was an official pressing, and that had a completely different album cover as well. I can use eBay and other sites to find out which pressings are out there, it’s much cheaper to do that than it is to fly there and look for any stores or collectors, but that’s all a part of the fun of being a collector. There’s no really good reason to do it, other than to do it, and it’s not mandatory or life threatening. It’s merely a hobby, and I try to make it fun. It may be as corny to the outsider as it is for someone who attends Happy Meal toy conventions, but perhaps it’s a way to spice up a hobby that at times can be boring. It’s nothing but dust collecting on an archive I can’t really do anything with unless I’m interactive with it, which means taking the record out of the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, and lowering the stylus onto it.
As record companies started steering away from actual records and into cassettes and CD’s, many countries didn’t bother pressing up vinyl for a lot of titles. Or in the U.S., where vinyl was king, you would only be able to find cassette and CD, and had to hunt down an imported pressing, sometimes 50 to 100 percent more in cost. If you were lucky, maybe the labels pressed up promotional copies for radio and DJ’s, but as the compact disc became the king in the 1990’s, records were pushed to the side. In 2010, it’s rare to find any new album pressed in more than one country unless it’s someone very popular. To make things worse, new record prices in 2010 are often tagged with “import prices”, and add to that that labels will also press them up at 180g or 200g, making them “of audiophile quality”. Sound may not crystal clear, but the record is thick and heavy enough to give them a chance to add an extra ten dollars to any new release. Unfair, sure, but they’re also taking advantage of the vinyl revival/renaissance of the early 21st century. For the 40 dollars you might spend on the new Neil Young, you can buy 40 records from the dollar bin, which is why record collecting is still fun for me, the exploration aspect of it. If I want to get different label, cover, and pressing variations, I can choose to go that route.
Now for my question. How many of you do the same thing, and for what albums? Post your replies.