Sunday, November 28, 2010

Michael Jackson's Vision DVD Review

Michael Jackon's Vision
Rating: ****

Michael Jackson did have a vision. It shows in all of the iconic music videos that he made in his career. Recently, all of Jackson’s videos have been released on the new DVD set Michael Jackson’s Vision. The set boasts three discs and 42 music videos. For most Jackson fans, this is something we’ve been waiting for.

The music videos of Michael Jackson have been released on home video before. In the late 1990’s, two collections called HIStory were released on VHS and DVD. Also in 2003, there was the Number Ones DVD to support the compilation of the same name. However, these sets didn’t include all of Jackson’s videos. With the popularity of YouTube and other video sharing sites, all of Jackson’s videos were able to be seen. Still, to have the missing videos on a physical DVD was not possible…until now.

Before I get to the features in this set, I want to start off with my main negative: the screen formatting of the actual videos. The back of the DVD case reads that the DVDs are formatted for widescreen TVs. A majority of Jackson’s videos were filmed in the 4:3 ratio, which is the main ratio for full screen. To support the widescreen videos and to enhance the quality, the full screen videos are placed in the center of the screen. Depending on what kind of DVD player or TV you have, the video might be surrounded by not two but four black bars. This is extremely annoying for many people. I find it that if you use a “zoom in” feature on your TV remote or DVD player, the top and bottom bars can go away. The black bars on the left and right can’t be removed. For the videos that were shot in widescreen, the screen is normal and has black bars on the top and bottom. If Michael Jackson had a vision, I’m sure it wasn’t surrounded by four black bars.

As for the actual content on the DVDs, it’s great. Disc 1 is probably the best of the two or three that are in the set. Disc 1 features material from Jackson’s three essential albums: Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad. All of these videos are in full screen, as described before. Still, try not to focus too much on the negatives: enjoy the videos. The videos for “She’s Out Of My Life”, “Dirty Diana”, and a few others are making their debut on DVD. The videos for “Smooth Criminal”, “Speed Demon”, “Come Together”, and “Leave Me Alone” are all pulled from Jackson’s 1988 movie Moonwalker. Disc 2 features material from the albums Dangerous, HIStory, Blood on the Dance Floor, and Invincible. Videos like “Remember the Time”, “Jam”, and others are all in widescreen. A few music videos have made their debut on DVD, including the whole 12 minutes of “You Rock My World” which features a cameo from the legendary Marlon Brando. Although the video isn’t in the ranks of “Billie Jean” or even “Thriller”, it’s still relevant. The third disc is actually a bonus disc. This one only has seven videos on it. The first three are promo videos from the Jacksons, which aren’t anything special. Jackson’s duet with Paul McCartney “Say, Say, Say” is on here. Although it’s incredibly corny, I love it because it was intended to be that way. The prison cell version of “They Don’t Care About Us” makes more sense than the one that was shown on TV. Also on here is a video called “Why” which is by the group 3T. 3T is a group that consists of Tito Jackson’s three sons. For “Why”, their Uncle Michael got to sing with them and appear in the actual video that is shown. The last video is “One More Chance”. This video, before then, was never released. The song, featured as the new track on the Number Ones compilation, was filmed in Las Vegas in 2003. The video was going to be released but before that could happen, police raided Neverland Ranch which would lead to Jackson’s 2004-2005 child molestation trial. The video isn’t that special in content. It’s basically an audience standing on a stage, while they watch Michael perform where they should be sitting.

Is it worth it to get Michael Jackson’s Visions? It really depends on what kind of fan you are. If you want everything the King of Pop has done, go and get it now. If you just want certain videos, you’re probably better off with the HIStory DVDs or Number Ones. Despite the whole formatting issue, this is an impressive release from the estate of Michael Jackson. Go out and get it!


Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Not Always Going to be This Grey: George Harrison's All Things Must Pass is 40

George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
George Harrison
All Things Must Pass
1970
Rating: **** 1/2

In April of 1970, the Beatles were no more. They had broken up and gone off with their own solo careers. Each member was now able to have artistic freedom without any fighting, which was what the Beatles had been in their last months together. For George Harrison, making a new album meant inviting all of his friends and releasing it as a triple disc set (which can now, luckily, fit all onto two CDs). Of the twelve studio albums Harrison made, All Things Must Pass is arguably his greatest. There’s a great variety of songs and they really show the true musician Harrison was.

All Things Must Pass wasn’t Harrison’s first solo album. In 1968, Harrison released Wonderwall Music which was a soundtrack to the movie of the same name (minus the “music” part). In 1969, Harrison got experimental on Electronic Sounds, which featured nothing but some forty minutes of synthesizers. All Things Must Pass is, for many fans, Harrison’s real first album. Many of the songs on the album were from the Beatles days, specifically from The White Album and Let It Be sessions.

The opening track, “I’d Have You Anytime”, is a wonderful opener. Harrison plays brilliantly on slide guitar and the lyrics are great. “My Sweet Lord” is probably the most popular song off the album, as it was the first #1 solo single for a Beatle. The background “Halleluiah” vocals give the song a very religious vibe. Harrison was sued a couple of years later, since Harrison had supposedly plagiarized the Chiffon’s hit “He’s So Fine”. Harrison’s manager and former Beatles manager, Allen Klien, was playing from both sides and may’ve started the lawsuit just for the money. Harrison ended up owning the rights for “He’s So Fine” and that was that. “Wah-Wah” is impressive for its guitar work from Harrison and his best friend, Eric Clapton, while “Isn’t It A Pity” is one of Harrison’s best ballads and also became a hit for him. “What Is Life” has a really catchy opening that’ll leave you hooked and wanting more. The music and lyrics are wonderful and I think this just might be my favorite song off the album. George also covers the Bob Dylan song, “If Not For You”. While I have yet to hear the original, this song sounds as if it’s George’s. “Behind That Locked Door” is a bit bluesy as George plays slide guitar (or is that a ukulele). The sound is hallow and echoes, which makes it special. “Let It Down” is a bit of a rocker that goes back to the Let It Be sessions while “Run of the Mill” concludes the first disc nicely.

The second disc opens with “Beware of Darkness”, a very chilling song. “Watch out now” sings George at the beginning of each verse. As always, George is shining on guitar. The next two songs are, in some way, autobiographical. “Apple Scruffs” is supposedly about Beatle fans that would wait outside of Apple Corps or Abbey Road Studios. “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)” is about the man himself, who was the original owner of George’s mansion Friar Park. “Awaiting on You All” follows in the same vein as “My Sweet Lord” but this time, there’s a lot more going on instrument wise. The song suggests that by “chanting the name of lord” you’ll be free. “All Things Must Pass” was rehearsed during the Let It Be sessions. This song shows how great George was at writing moving songs. “I Dig Love” is a bit dull but the second version of “Isn’t It A Pity” makes up for it. The album ends with the powerful “Hear Me Lord”. However, it isn’t really the end of the album. The third record (or today, it’s on the second disc) is a whole blues jam with George’s fans. Like most jam sessions, it goes on for a long time and it’s easy to lose interest.

All Things Must Pass earned George Harrison a hit album in the charts. Due to the album’s success, Harrison was able to continue his success with more wonderful music. In 2001, George Harrison reissued the album with bonus tracks and a new front cover, now in color. Harrison even re-recorded “My Sweet Lord” as a bonus track. Harrison died on November 29, 2001 after his long battle with cancer. All Things Must Pass is, without a doubt, George’s finest piece of work.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Axl Roses sues "Guitar Hero" for use of Slash and music in game

Axl Rose has been known to do some crazy things. This might top the list. Recently, Rose has sued Guitar Hero makers Activision for $20 million. Why? In the company's 2007 release of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock the game not only features "Welcome to the Jungle" but also features former guitarist Slash as a playable character. Rose had said Activision could use "Welcome to the Jungle" only if the game didn't include songs from Velvet Revolver, the supergroup that Slash (along with former GNR band mates Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum) is in. The game offered songs by Velvet Revolver to download. Rose's hate for Slash is showing clearly. In 2009 when Rose was asked whether he'd perform with any of his former GNR band mate, Rose described Slash as "a cancer and better removed, avoided".
Axl, Axl, Axl. Why are you doing this? Just kiss and make up with Slash. Thanks.

Note: This is my 100th post!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Queen's A Night At The Opera is 35

Queen - A Night at the Opera
Queen
A Night At The Opera
1975
Rating: ****

By 1975, Queen were still a new rock band trying to make it big. Formed in 1971, the band consisted of singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon, and drummer Roger Taylor. The band had already released three albums: Queen, Queen II, and Sheer Heart Attack. The band did have a few hit singles with "Keep Yourself Alive" and "Killer Queen" but still, the band hadn't really hit it big. That would change in 1975 when the band released A Night At The Opera. Released in 1975, the album was named after the Marx Brothers movie of the same name. The album boosted Queen to rock n roll stardom. Today, critics consider A Night At The Opera to be the band's best album.

The album opens with the bizarrely titled "Death on Two Legs". According to sources, the song was written by Mercury around 1972 out of his hate for Queen's former manager. With a lyric like "But now you can kiss my ass goodbye" sounds like Freddie is mad! "Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon" and "Seaside Rendezvous" are both wonderfully weird while Roger Taylor's "I'm In Love With My Car" may have an amusing title but the song is really rocking. "You're My Best Friend" is one of Queen's best love songs, which was written by John Deacon. "'39" is a very catchy song while "Sweet Lady" has some great guitar work from Brian May. "The Prophet Song" might go on a bit too long but it's still enjoyable. "Love of My Life" is a wonderful ballad written by Mercury, who wrote it for his girlfriend (Mercury was bisexual) at the time. "Good Company" isn't very memorable but "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the best song off the album. The song, written by Mercury, is a six minute epic that showcases what Queen did best. The song itself isn't really about anything, nor could Mercury say what it was about before he passed away. "Bohemian Rhapsody" isn't only one of Queen's best songs but it's also one of the greatest songs ever made in rock history. From it's ballad-esque beginning to it's rocking finish, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a winner. The album, however, closes with the short and sweet "God Save The Queen".

A Night At The Opera currently sits at #52 of my top 200 favorite albums. I really do like this album and it's also my favorite from Queen. The success of this album and "Bohemian Rhapsody" would help the band go on for over a decade until 1991 when Mercury died from AIDS on November 24, 1991. For the 19th anniversery of Mercury's passing, this is my tribute to probably the greatest singer/front man in rock history.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Official: The Beatles are on iTunes!

Yesterday on Apple.com, the site's main page read "Tomorrow is another day...that you'll never forget". People were speculating what the announcement could be. Rolling Stone were hoping for a $10 monthly subscription for iTunes accounts. I myself thought "What if the Beatles came to iTunes?" I had no idea that I was right.

This is no joke: After many years of waiting, the Beatles are finally on iTunes. All 13 of the band's albums are available for $12.99, except The Beatles and Past Masters Vol. 1 and 2 which are $19.99. The price for one songs is $1.29. All the albums are from the critically praised remasters released last year. Each album also comes with the mini-documentaries just like the CDs had embedded on them (and if you bought the box set, you got a DVD with all of the docs on there). The price for the box set is $149.00. The albums also include the booklets, which are in a digital form iTunes calls iTunes LP. Also available are the Red and Blue albums which both sell for $19.99.

This is a huge day in Beatles history and iTunes history. I still can't believe the Beatles are on iTunes. A decade after I became a fan of this amazing band, their music is now on the internet to legally download. Also, you got most of the Beatles' solo careers up there as well. Still, this day doesn't do much for me. I already have the box set from last year, which I'm VERY happy with. My only fear with iTunes is that the new generation of fans won't get to know what it's like to own the albums on CD, even vinyl. I know that every true Beatles fan already own that box set. The packaging is gorgeous and worth every penny. It may not be the same but I hope putting the band on iTunes will introduce a new generation of fans to the greatest band of all time.

Below are statements made by Paul and Ringo, as well as John and George's widows Yoko and Olivia.

“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes. It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”- Sir Paul McCartney (well said, Paul!)

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes” At last, if you want it—you can get it now—The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo.” - Ringo Starr (as for autographs...PISS OFF! Just kidding! We love you, Ringo!)

“In the joyful spirit of Give Peace A Chance, I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,”- Yoko Ono (I 100% agree with Yoko. It does feel so right with John's 70th and the 30th anniversary of his passing that we honor the band he started)

“The Beatles on iTunes—Bravo!”- Olivia Harrison (That's it, Olivia? How do you think George would react? Still, good to hear from you. Don't get me wrong: Olivia kicks ass. Both metaphorically and physically)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paul McCartney & Wings Band On The Run reissue review

Wings - Band on the Run
Paul McCartney & Wings
Band On The Run
1973
Album rating: **** 1/2
Bonus CD rating: ****
Bonus DVD rating: **** 1/2

In 2009, the Beatles catalogue was reissued and remastered for the first time since the albums were first issued on CD in 1987. This year, John Lennon’s solo albums and most of Apple Records’ acts albums have gotten the remaster/reissue treatment. Now, it’s Paul McCartney’s turn. However compared to the other Beatle-related reissues, McCartney’s reissues are being released by Macca’s MPL label and his new record label since 2007, Hear Music (which are associated with Starbucks. Yes, the coffee place). MPL and Hear Music have started “The Paul McCartney Archive Collection” with 1973’s Band On The Run. The albums have been released in four different versions. I bought the deluxe edition, which includes two CDs and a DVD. If you already own Band On The Run and are wondering if you should repurchase this new version, read this please.

First, I’ll start with the original album on the first disc. From what I’ve read, Band On The Run has been reissued a few times before on CD. The first time was 1987, then 1993, and then in 1999 for a special 25th anniversary edition. Before this, I’ve owned the 1987 master. Before I overwrote the old tracks with the new tracks on iTunes, I did a bit of a sound comparison. The 1987 masters aren’t bad at all. In fact, they are quite loud. When I heard the 2010 tracks, those are a bit louder. Still, I transferred the album. Overall, the album sounds great. I haven’t discovered anything new like I did with the Beatles reissues last year (which are required to get no matter who you are. Those old versions from 1987 were butchered compared to the new ones, although they aren’t particularly bad). I can say though that when you listen to the album, it feels like you’re in the studio with Paul, Linda, and Denny. There’s also a lot more emphasis on the bass playing. One thing that threw me off was that the song “Helen Wheels” was missing from the first disc. Instead, it’s on the second disc. Just as I figured, the US and international version of the album include the song as the eighth of ten tracks. This new reissue is following the UK release, which doesn’t have the song. If you use iTunes, this can be simply fixed after changing some info around without getting rid of your song count for the original album (read below for more info on how to do this, that is if it really bothers you). Aside from this, the new remaster album is still great. I just wish that they kept the fans from the US in mind.

The second disc has ten songs on it. One of them is “Helen Wheels”, as mentioned before. Another song on the disc is “Country Dreamer”, which is just alright. Also, there’s the song “Zoo Gang”, which Wings recorded for the short lived TV series of the same name. “Zoo Gang” previously appeared as a bonus track on Venus And Mars. I did another sound comparison, since I own Venus And Mars (as well as everything else Paul made with Wings except Wings Over America, which I do have on vinyl). The two tracks sound exactly the same. They are both just as loud. I mean, that was just from one brief listen. The other songs are a few songs from the 1974 documentary One Hand Clapping. The DVD actually has some great material on it. The DVD runs for some 90 minutes. First, you got the original promo videos for “Band On the Run”, “Mamunia”, and “Helen Wheels”. The first two aren’t anything amazing, although the first video does have is an artsy video with Beatles pictures in it. “Helen Wheels” is nothing much either but the picture looks really good. They did a fine job remastering that one!

However, the real treat on the DVD is the full-length 50 minute 1974 documentary, One Hand Clapping. Excluding bootlegs, the documentary has never been released. The quality of the video for the documentary is just alright. Still, it’s a golden nugget for die-hards. The documentary is of Wings rehearsing with their new line-up in 1974. At that time, Paul hired guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton. You get to see the band play Wings songs old and new, even unreleased. You also get to hear a bit from each member. As most of you probably know, I’m an avid fan of Jimmy McCulloch and just seeing how young he was in this is amazing. This also the first time I’ve heard anything from Geoff Britton, since he was only in the band for about six months. The DVD also includes a promotional video for the album and a 15 minute feature of the day the album’s iconic album cover.

Should you get the new Band On The Run reissue, although you own it already? It depends what kind of fan you are of Paul. You can get the single disc version but this deluxe edition is a real treat and it’s not expensive. If you are a die-hard Beatles fan or Paul fan, go and get this now. Also, there’s more to come from the Paul McCartney Archives Collection. With the album came a small paper showing pictures of future releases. These are the six albums that are pictured: McCartney, Ram, Venus And Mars, Wings At the Speed of Sound, Wings Over America, and McCartney II. No release date is given. I don’t think I’ll repurchase Venus And Mars and At the Speed of Sound unless they offer something that grabs me. Ram is my all time favorite album by Macca. I already own McCartney but my copy is scratched up just a bit. I do have Wings Over America on vinyl but it’s a bit scratchy. I’d love to buy it. Stay tuned for more McCartney!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Queen sign to Universal, reissues coming out next year

Recently, the three surviving members of Queen ended their 40 year stay with EMI and have now switched to Universal. Now that Queen is on Universal, the label plans to reissue 15 Queen albums. Starting in March 2011, Universal will reissue the band's first five albums which include:

Queen
Queen II
Sheer Heart Attack
A Night at the Opera
A Day at the Races

This is all being done in honor of the band's 40th anniversary since forming. There is no word on when the other albums will be released.

I'm a bit confused here. EMI have loss another one of their acts. First Paul McCartney, then the Rolling Stones, and now Queen. It must suck to be EMI. As for the reissues, I'm not sure if I'm going to get them. I own all of those five albums in different ways. I've got Queen II, Opera, and Races all on CD. I transfered the cassette of Queen to digital and got Sheer Heart Attack on iTunes (which is now on a CD-R, of course). The last time the Queen albums were touched was in 1991. That's nearly a 20 year difference. I think I'm happy with what I've got for now. Universal did the same thing with the Stones a year ago and not too many people liked the new reissue. For the Stones, I didn't get them. I'm already happy with what I got by them. The sound on them is great. I did, however, get Exile On Main Street just for that second disc.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dio's "Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987" review

Dio - Dio at Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
Dio
Dio At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
Rating: **** or quite possibly **** 1/2


Almost six months after his tragic passing, a new Dio album has been released. This is Dio's first posthumous release (and could be the first of many upcoming releases) and it's a great one. From the original archival tapes by the BBC, Dio At Donington UK: 1983 & 1987 is a great collection of music from the greatest singer in metal music. This two disc album was released today and I got it in the mail today. I have to say that I'm really impressed with this release.

The two shows on these two discs are from the times the Dio band performed at the Monsters of Rock tours. Both shows are very impressive and for me, it feels like you're at the actual show(s). Luckily, I saw Dio live in concert back in 2003 when they were on tour with Motorhead and Iron Maiden. It was an amazing show and Ronnie just gave 100%. What I find amazing about Ronnie is that no matter how old he got, his voice was still the same which is very rare for rock singers these days.

The 1983 (exact date: August 20, 1983) show is my favorite of the two shows. I don't know why, really. It might have to do with the fact that the Dio band were still fresh and had just released their debut album Holy Diver in May. Ronnie was already known for his stint in Rainbow from 1975 to 1978 and for his stint in Black Sabbath from 1980 to 1982. His new band included a very young Vivian Campbell on guitar, Dio's former Rainbow band mate bassist Jimmy Bain, and Dio's former Sabbath band mate Vinny Appice. The booklet describes this line-up best: Dio's vocals, his former band mate's experience, and the youth of Campbell shine in this show. The band plays a mix of Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio songs. "Stand Up and Shout" opens the show (of course!) and is followed by a strong performance of "Straight Through the Heart". There are plenty of goodies such as a good minute of the Rainbow epic "Stargazer" (which goes on for some seven to eight minute on their Rising album) and an eleven minute version of "Heaven and Hell". I'm also digging the sped up version of "Man On the Silver Mountain"! Overall, an impressive show!

The 1987 show took place on August 22. At this time, there were some changes in the band's line-up. Dio, Bain, and Appice are still in but Campbell has been replaced by guitarist Craig Goldy and added in 1984, keyboardist Claude Schnell. At this time, Dio had released Dream Evil about a month ago. A few songs from that album are played. Sabbath songs such as "Neon Knights" are played (in both shows, "Children of the Sea" and "Heaven and Hell" are played). "Rock and Roll Children" is also in the setlist, which had been released back in 1985 on the Sacred Heart album (which I recently bought as well. Very solid album). The band intertwines that song with the Rainbow song "Long Live Rock N Roll". Overall, the 1987 performance is great.

Along with the two disc, you get two backstage pass replicas from those two shows. The passes aren't laminated but they are made of plastic (think of them as sturdier credit cards). If you are a Dio fan, there are no excuses: you need this album. It makes a fine addition to your other Dio-related releases. Also, I've noticed that Ronnie gets credit as executive producer. Obviously, Ronnie was working on the offical release of these concerts before he died. What a way to go out!

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Michael Jackson studio album to be released December 14

After many months of speculation and rumors, Epic Records have announced that they will release the first posthumous studio album by Michael Jackson. The album, simply titled Michael, will be released on December 14. The album is said to feature some dozen complete unreleased songs. The album's first single, "Breaking News", will be released on November 8 on the King of Pop's official website. Reports claim that "Breaking News" was recorded in New Jersey in 2007. While this is all very exciting, there is still some speculation in this release. According to TMZ (I know. They suck but just read), Michael's children have stated that the recording is not of their father singing. Michael's oldest child, Prince, has said it sounds nothing like the original. People involved in the project are saying that Jackson's children are being "manipulated" by their grandmother (Michael's mother) and other people who don't want the album released.

Okay I'm confused. This is great that more of Michael's music will be released. Ever since he passed, this is the thing I've been most curious about: a posthumous studio album. As for the recordings being phony, this does concern me especially if it's coming from Michael's own family. However, this is freakin TMZ who are reporting this. TMZ is one of the worst news sources ever. They are more gossip than fact. I also don't like people in the project saying that his children are being manipulated. That just doesn't sound right. See how f***ed up the music business is? Still, I'll get the new album. I'm looking forward to it very much.

PS: I know that barely anyone reads this blog at all but I'm just going to answer this to people who are curious about why I write posts on Michael. Technically, he isn't rock or heavy metal. Am I just doing this because he died a year ago?
When I first got into classic rock and heavy metal, one of the the things I tried to avoid was newer music or whatever. Being a Beatles fan, I learned about Michael's connection with Paul McCartney. Whenever I would read about music history, Thriller would always creep up on me. In 2003 or 2004, everyone was against him and making fun of him due to his then recent counts of child molestation. I may've been one of them for a while but whenever anyone is against someone else (example: Yoko Ono), I try to find ever reason to like that person. At the time of Michael's trial in 2005, there were countless documentaries on TV about him. I watched them and felt so sorry for him. This guy had a rough life. He's innocent. So I did liked Michael Jackson as a person. As for his music, I just heard a few songs here and there. I thought they were catchy and cool. However, I was afraid of buying the music because I thought I would laughed at (which is weird. I already was listening to The Mamas and the Papas and Metallica. Two COMPLETELY different groups!).
When Michael passed, it was really depressing. I found the coverage depressing and when that happens, I just listen to the music of someone when they pass. I didn't have any of his music though. Weeks later I picked up Thriller and I really liked it. There'll be those people who say they've loved Michael always and listen to him all the time. These people were saying this after he died. I'll be one of the few honest ones: I didn't really get into his music after he passed away. I'm sure if he didn't pass away, I would've gotten Thriller at some point that summer.
Long story short for those who wish not to read all my rambling: I'm sure Michale's legacy will live on forever, even without me. I want to be one of those people who will help keep his music alive for more generations to come, just like my other favorite artists.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You Never Give Me Your Money: How much you’re spending on Beatles-related Reissues

On September 9, 2009 Apple, EMI, and Capitol Records reissued the entire Beatles catalogue. All the albums had been remastered and restored for the first time since 1987, when the Beatles albums were first released on CD. Both critics and fans loved the new reissues and though the sound on the CDs was brilliant. It was worth every penny, for many fans. However this year sees the release of more Beatles related products, all of which are pricy. This leaves the fan to ask themselves: should I buy what I already own? With the Beatles issues, it was a no brainer: of course you were going to shell out some two hundred bucks for a box set of albums by the greatest rock band of all time. However with these other reissues, what does a fan do? This will cover all the prices for the Apple/EMI/Capitol reissues released this year and will determine whether to buy it or not.

Note: All prices are based on Amazon.com

The Beatles Red and Blue albums

These two double compilations were the original greatest hits albums of the Beatles. There’s a great selection of songs and it’s good for anyone who’s new to the band.

Red Album price: $19.88

Blue Album price: $13.99

Last time released: 1993

Should I get it?: If you’re a collector or completist, then yes. If you already have the remasters box set, then no. There’s nothing new on here…at least I don’t think so.

John Lennon reissues

Early in October, Yoko Ono reissued the entire Lennon catalogue to commemorate what would’ve been Lennon’s 70th birthday on October 9. The albums feature John’s original mixes and new liner notes. Among the reissues is Double Fantasy Stripped Down. The album includes the original 1980 album along with a stripped down version of the album (remember Let It Be…Naked? This is like that).

Box set price: $149.99 (this set doesn’t come with the stripped Double Fantasy)

Single disc price: $12.99 or less

Double disc price: $19.99 for Sometime in New York City (which finally re-adds the bonus live disc not included in the 2004-2005 reissue)

Last time released: 2000 to 2005

Should I get it?: If you don’t own any of John’s music, go ahead. If you already own the ones from last decade, stick with those. I just bought what I didn’t have already and I also got the new Double Fantasy as my copy was pretty old. Plus, I wanted to hear the stripped version!

Apple reissues

At the end of October, Apple Records reissued some 14 selected titles from their catalogue. Artists include Badfinger, James Taylor, Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax, Billy Preston, and others. Of those artists, I like Badfinger the most. I own all their albums, even the one album they did as the Iveys (which wasn’t picked to be reissued).

Box set price: $303.49…screw that! I think the reason why it’s so expensive is because it’s a limited edition.

Single album price: $12.99 more or less

Last time released: For Badfinger- 1992 or earlier. The others…no clue

Should I get it?: Only if you’re a fan of any of those artists which I doubt (who reads this blog anyway?). I’m torn between getting and not getting the Badfinger titles, which there are four of. I’ve said before that I’d gladly repurchase Ass, since my version has poor sound quality. But I’m afraid if I get that, then I’ll have to get the three others. According to one Badfinger web site creator, they aren’t a must have unless you’re a diehard fan of Badfinger and want those bonus tracks (which have changed from the earlier versions, which I find weird). There is one title that’s a “best of” Apple records. You may want to check that out.

Paul McCartney reissues

McCartney’s albums by himself and with Wings will be reissued. This month, they started with Band on the Run. More titles and release dates will be announced soon. Below are the prices for the different versions of Band on the Run.

Single disc: $10.46

Double disc and one DVD: $14.99

Triple disc and one DVD: $74.99 (this also comes with a 120 page hardcover book with rare pictures taken by Linda McCartney and Clive Arrowsmith. The third disc is the same as the second disc from the 25th Anniversary edition from 1999. That disc is a audio documentary on the making of the album)

Vinyl record (2 records): $33.23 (with an MP3 download of 18 tracks)

Last time released: 1993 and 1999

Should I get it?: I recently pre-order the two disc version. I’m excited to see the long lost documentary One Hand Clapping from 1974, which is on the DVD. If you don’t have the album, then get the single disc. I already own Band on the Run on CD and vinyl. The play count for the album on my iTunes is ridiculously big. However, it’s not my favorite by Paul. When it comes to his albums with Wings, this is my favorite. When it comes to Paul’s solo work, I’ll stick with Ram. If any other titles comes out, I really have to think about getting them. If they got any extra goodies, I just might get them. Of all the Beatles solo material, I own more of Paul’s stuff.

Also if you don’t have the Beatles reissues themselves, what are you waiting for? Get them now! The stereo box set is priced at $188. There’s no problem with getting them one at a time either. Though if you are a diehard fan, you should already have them. It’s kind of like a crime to not have those reissues by now.