The news of the Apple Records catalogue getting a new remastering and reissuing is one of the many catalogue stories one should file under “cautious optimism.” It is awesome to have these classic, underappreciated records from luminaries like Badfinger, James Taylor and Billy Preston back into local record shops, bearing fresh digital remasters by the team that did a pretty darn good job on last year’s Beatles remasters.
But there are things we have to remember as fans. First, pretty much all of this material has been put out on disc before – some of it even had bonus content (which the new remasters will hopefully replicate and expand upon) – plus, although these LPs are going to be released digitally (the first in the Apple catalogue to receive such treatment), it’s not going to be the litmus test for the (hopefully) eventual iTunes release of The Beatles’ catalogue. (As good as these artists are, you can’t tell me they’ll indicate how The Beatles will sell digitally. Not that EMI seems to be banking on that notion, but even so.)
Anyway, with some time to go before the October 25 reissue date for these albums, The Second Disc provides you with a look back at this material and how it was released on CD in the past. This is the first in a two-part series; Part 2, to be posted tomorrow, will look at the other parts of the Apple catalogue not covered in this upcoming reissue campaign – namely, a few soundtracks and all the music released on the label by anyone who was a Beatle.
Have a go at Apple’s Back Tracks after the jump.
James Taylor, James Taylor (Apple SAPCOR 3, 1968 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 97577 2, 1991)
Before Sweet Baby James (1970) established Taylor as a folk master on Warner Bros. Records, Taylor cut one album for Apple, and it proved that he knew what he was doing before that landmark album. Tracks like “Something in the Way She Moves” and the unforgettable “Carolina in My Mind” (originally recorded with Paul McCartney and George Harrison – part of the “holy host of others” cited in the lyrics) was a notable stepping stone in young Taylor’s career. The initial CD release of the record did not have any bonus content, but getting it on disc was enough of a treat – especially as those aforementioned greats were re-recorded for Taylor’s first greatest-hits package.
The Modern Jazz Quartet, Under the Jasmin Tree (Apple SAPCOR 4, 1968 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 97582 2, 1993) / Space (Apple SAPCOR 10, 1969)
These two albums from the venerable MJQ – a longtime fixture on Atlantic Records – didn’t suffer from any attempt at eclecticism or modernization, despite the fact that they were on an eclectic, modern label. Fans of bop and swing styles will enjoy these two albums – the first of which was the only one included in the early-’90s reissues of the Apple catalogue. (The two will be paired up for the new reissue campaign.)
Mary Hopkin, Post Card (Apple SAPCOR 5, 1968 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 97578 2, 1991)
This folky, AM-radio-ready affair was elevated by production from Paul McCartney and George Martin; it’s a bit overstuffed with standards but it’s a good, mellow album to listen to. The 1991 CD issue reinstated every song on the original U.K. LP pressing (the Gershwin standard “Someone to Watch Over Me” was left from the U.S. version) and added a non-LP B-side (a cover of The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which backed hit single “Those Were the Days”) and versions of that chart-topper in Spanish and Italian.
Jackie Lomax, Is This What You Want?(Apple SAPCOR 6, 1968 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 97581 2, 1991)
A fellow Liverpudlian and guitarist for local band The Undertakers, Lomax received heavy support from The Beatles during the end of their own career; the best known single, “Sour Milk Sea,” was written by George Harrison and featured backup from Paul, George and Ringo. Lomax cut a few other singles for Apple before escaping its collapse, and those sides were appended to the CD reissue of the album by Capitol.
The Iveys, Maybe Tomorrow (Apple SAPCOR 8, 1969 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 98692 2, 1992)
The most confusing omission from the new Apple reissue series is this album, the exceedingly rare first outing by The Iveys, a band that would rename itself Badfinger after a year. The album, like all Badfinger albums, is unfairly good British power-pop; it’s no surprise that Paul McCartney wanted to write them hits but Pete Ham and Tom Evans did a damn good job creating material, too. Four non-LP tracks were added to the very-hard-to-find CD release.
Billy Preston, That’s the Way God Planned It (Apple SAPCOR 9, 1969 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 97580 2, 1991)
Next to Taylor, organist Billy Preston was arguably the most famous solo artist of all time signed to Apple. He was also the only one on Apple to play with The Beatles when they were still The Beatles, on “Get Back.” Preston had his own killer back-up band on this LP – Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richards on bass and Ginger Baker on drums. (Holy cow!) Preston wrote most of the material (fellow Apple-mate Doris Troy co-wrote two tracks) and covered tunes by W.C. Handy and Bob Dylan. The three bonus tracks on the Capitol reissue were two outtakes (including an alternate of the title track) and a B-side, “As I Get Older,” with a major pedigree (Ray Charles produced, Sylvester Stewart of Sly and The Family Stone co-wrote).
Badfinger, Magic Christian Music (Apple SAPCOR 12, 1970 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 97579 2, 1991)
The “first” Badfinger LP (featuring Joey Molland on bass in place of Ron Griffiths) is actually part of Maybe Tomorrow with songs from The Magic Christian film and a bunch of new tunes, including “Come and Get It,” a Top 10 hit penned by Paul McCartney. One can only hope the new reissue will expand on the two bonus tracks and include the rest of Maybe Tomorrow.
Doris Troy, Doris Troy (Apple SAPCOR 13 (U.K.), 1970 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 98701 2, 1992)
Best known for her Top 10 hit “Just One Look” for Atlantic, Troy was recruited by George Harrison and Billy Preston for this rock/soul outing. Like many of the other Apple releases, it’d be more obscure if it didn’t have such a Fab pedigree attached to it – but the CD reissue added a bunch of bonus tracks: two B-sides (including a cover of The Beatles’ “Get Back”) and three session outtakes.
Billy Preston, Encouraging Words (Apple SAPCOR 14 (U.K.), 1970 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 81279 2, 1993)
Armed with the same backing band from That’s the Way God Planned It and George Harrison in the producer’s chair, Preston made a record easily as good as its predecessor; unfortunately, the label couldn’t last long enough to give Preston his due, and he would jump ship to A&M in the 1970s, where he’d record some of the best soul music anyone committed to wax. The Capitol reissue included two bonus tracks – a non-LP single (“All That I Got (I’m Gonna Give It to You)”) and a B-side, “As Long as I Got My Baby.”
John Tavener, The Whale (Apple SAPCOR 15, 1970 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 98497 2, 1993) / Celtic Requiem (Apple SAPCOR 20 (U.K.), 1993 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 984xx 2, 1993)
Another pair of left-field entries in the Apple discography, Tavener was an avant-garde classical composer in his early twenties when John and Ringo, particularly, allowed him to record two early pieces for Apple. Both came out during the reissue campaign and went out of print very quickly. These two will ostensibly be released on one disc.
Badfinger, No Dice (Apple SAPCOR 16, 1970 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 98698 2, 1992)
Another super job by Badfinger, this record included another Top 10 hit (“I Can’t Take It”) and a song that may be the casual fan’s introduction to the band: “Without You,” a heartrending breakup ballad which was taken to No. 1 by Harry Nilsson in 1972 and back into the Top 5 by Mariah Carey in 1994. Five additional cuts round out the original reissue.
Badfinger, Straight Up (Apple SAPCOR 19, 1971 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 81403 2, 1995)
Unfortunately, this is where the Badfinger story took a turn for the worse. The early sessions for Straight Up, produced by Geoff Emerick (who’d produced No Dice), were scrapped by George Harrison for new ones under his guidance as producer. The band was drained by the time Harrison abandoned the project for The Concert for Bangladesh, and went along with hastily prepared sessions with Todd Rundgren as producer. Despite another batch of Top 20 singles (“Baby Blue” and “Day After Day”) in the U.S., the album was marred by critical confusion and the implosion of Apple Records. The bonus material on the eventual reissue saw some of the early Emerick sessions unearthed from the vault, as well as the U.S. single mix of “Baby Blue.”
Mary Hopkin, Earth Song/Ocean Song (Apple SAPCOR 21 (U.K.), 1971 – reissue Capitol CDP 7 98695 2, 1992)
Although this was a more obscure LP than Hopkin’s predecessor, it was still a worthy effort, thanks to the notability of Tony Visconti as producer. The CD version, which had no extra content, was the stateside debut of the record.
Badfinger, Ass (Apple SAPCOR 27, 1974)
Hastily recorded, remixed and disowned in the final days of Badfinger’s tenure on Apple, this album was rushed to compete with the band’s Warner Bros. debut from the same year. It didn’t do particularly well, and the reissue only made it to a few non-U.S. markets, with one lonely bonus track.