The Beatles

Rare Beatles Records Part 1: The Butcher Cover

We thought we would spend a few words on some of the rare Beatles records that have recently come in the shop. One that most people know is the Butcher Cover. And since you are probably already familiar with the story, we will just quickly summarize it here. The cover, featuring the wholesome Beatles Four in lab coats covered in raw meat while holding baby dolls, proved too gruesome for the public. Consequently, Capitol recalled the record. They pasted the new, much tamer “Trunk” cover on top of the “Butcher.” Then they sent the records back to stores for sale.

Butcher States

There are 3 states of the cover. 1st: the original cover on top of which Capitol never got the chance to apply the new one. The rarest version since someone hung onto it when they weren’t supposed to. 2nd: the unpeeled cover where the second cover remains pasted on top of the original. 3rd: when someone has peeled off the second cover to reveal the original Butcher cover. If you do have or find a second state and want to sell it, we recommend leaving it as is. If you want to keep it and unveil the Butcher, we recommend sending it to a professional for the cleanest peel.

The Beatles
Butcher cover in 2nd (unpeeled) and 3rd (peeled) states. In this example, a professional did not peel off the Trunk cover to reveal the Butcher.

We’ve seen many a customer (not only at our shop but in others as well) hit The Beatles section, pull out a copy of “Yesterday and Today,” and lose their gaze in the cover hoping to find the Butcher underneath. Like people used to do in front of those 3-D images at the mall. There are those who actually try to lift the paper off the cover themselves, usually starting at the corners. Typically, people carry this out at home but, as incredible as it may sound, we have seen some attempt it right in front of us in the shop. Prior to purchase, we might add. So to save time, eye-ball strain, and countless “Yesterday” covers from being mangled, we’d like to offer some tips and visual examples to help quickly identify the Butcher.

Ringo's Turtle Neck
Can you see Ringo’s Turtle Neck?

Tips to Quickly Identify a Butcher

One of the ways you can quickly rule out a butcher is if the cover sports the gold medal record award insignia. Capitol added this to the cover long after they stopped re-pasting the covers. So if you see that award, it’s not a butcher and you can move on.

If you come across an early version, Ringo’s turtle neck should be easy to spot as it bleeds through the white portion of the second cover. As you can see above. Just to the right of the steamer trunk. In all the examples we’ve had, the turtle neck has been glaringly apparent. Of course, the more stark white the cover, the cleaner the outline of the turtle neck. But you should nevertheless see it. If you don’t, if you have to strain your eyes too long, the mythical creature has escaped you. It isn’t a Butcher. For those who still may hold out hope in this regard, we offer a visual example of a cover riddled with dirt and mold. Even here you can still clearly see the turtle neck.

One of the grodier examples of a Butcher Cover we’ve come across.

Furthermore, if a copy of “Yesterday” is sitting in the bins of record store and not on the wall or behind the counter, it is unlikely it is a Butcher. Store owners typically know what to look out for when it comes to this record. You’ll have better luck stumbling upon this at flea market, garage sale, or thrift than you would in a retail environment.

Actual Rarity

While the Butcher cover is rare, it is not by any means the rarest Beatles record. One should keep in mind that the Beatles were, and in many ways still are, the world’s most popular band. As such, their records were pressed by the thousands. And the same applies to the Butcher cover. Remember, Capitol recalled, pasted, and redistributed the record. It’s not like they destroyed it and started over, which would make the record extremely rare to own. So the probability of finding it is actually quite high. We ourselves have had many copies of it in our six years of business and have had even more opportunities to buy them.

We do not intend to burst anyone’s bubble with this last bit of information. Rather we try to keep expectations realistic in the “collector” realm of the record world. Don’t get us wrong: the Butcher cover is still rare, collectible, and valuable. However, you’re not going to retire early if you own one. It’s more about the pleasure of having one of the more interesting records by pop’s most influential bands.

To go further down the rabbit hole, click here:

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Greg Foat: “Symphonie Pacifique”

England’s jazz pianist Greg Foat has to be the hardest working musician in the genre today. In the last 9 years he has released 13 full length albums. Each of them is unique in its own way, demonstrating that Foat is not afraid to try out new styles. For instance, Girl and Robot with Flowers is a beautiful mix of jazz with electronic styles. The Jazzman label originally released it in 2012 and then recently issued it again this last March. Since Covid was then in full swing, we were unable to get our hands on it before it sold out across Europe.

Galaxies like Grains of Sand and Nightshade are collaborations with Warren Hampshire. Both are sonically rich. Both pay homage to one of jazz’s more familiar genres: Library Music. What is truly novel about these releases is how they effortlessly fuse jazz with ambient music. A genre that has become increasingly popular among jazz musicians. If you haven’t heard Alabaster de Plumes’ To Cy & Lee we highly recommend you do so. It will touch parts of your soul you never knew you had. De Plume’s release is now available in the shop and Athens of the North’s reissue of Galaxies arrives shortly.

Last year, the Greg Foat Group put out two bangers back-to-back. The first, The Mage, is a nod to the spiritual side of jazz. The opening track “Of My Hands” could easily be the soundtrack on any creed’s day of worship. The Dreaming Jewels boils the rare groove side of jazz down its very essence. Fender Rhodes piano and drum breaks all day – perfect addition to a b-boy set or when you’re in the mood for something like 70s Donald Byrd. Both titles will also be arriving in our bins again shortly. For more on the latter release, check out our other blurb:

Symphonie Pacifique is everything above and more! It is, in our opinion, Foat’s most mature work yet. And a double LP to boot! It is Electronic, Library, Ambient, Spiritual, Groovie, Soul Stirring and much more. All this in one package, rather than individual albums working around a central theme, creates the strongest of musical synergies. It suddenly moves you in different directions while at the same time remaining familiar. It’s the culmination of his brilliant music and a good place to start to explore (or explore again) his catalogue. The first batch has already come and gone but reinforcements are on their way. Oh yeah, did we mention it’s on Strut too!

San Francisco Jazz

Local S.F. Jazz LP: The Culprit’s Blues by Culp & Co.

Just before Covid-19 locked down San Francisco, I had stumbled into Noise Records in the Outer Richmond. Sara, the owner’s mom (and one of the sweetest ladies on the planet), was playing this amazing jazz record. I thought it was a Dexter Gordon or Horace Silver session. The musicianship was phenomenal. The sophisticated structure of the compositions were full of catchy melodies. The recording quality was high. This had to be a Blue Note or Prestige title.

However, turned out it was a record by a group of young jazz men from the Bay Area. The leader of the quintet is the pianist Nick Culp and features Sara’s son, Daniel Brown (owner of Noise), on saxophone. All the compositions are by Culp and the record was released in 2017 on his very own Oakland-based label Gutbucket Records. The cover photo, just as striking as the music it houses, is from the butterfly collection of and serves a beautiful ode to Culp’s late father. The featured genus of buttefly are termed “blues” – capturing also one of the jazz styles played on the record.

Besides being a fresh record, we’re extra happy its a local record. Like other noteworthy, contemporary jazz LPs being made around the world, this too keeps the genre alive by contributing a new vocabulary to its language. It does not merely regurgitate a bluesy hard bop style but rather make a new record within the sub genre. It’s not Dexter or Horace, it’s Nick Culp. For all you listening to Kamasi, Yussef Kamal, Greg Foat, Muriel Grossmann, and the like, we recommend adding Culp to that roster. Serious jazz is also being played right under our noses. Peep the opening track here: First batch has sold out but more should be available in shop when doors reopen.

German HipHop

More Prime HipHop Cuts for the Hungry Beat-Heads.

The Postpartum label continues to serve up those tasty beats. They kicked off 2020 by releasing both new and old material. All of which remains in line with the golden-era, boom-bap style they’re known for. The old material they re-issued on LP draws from their German roster of producers. Mr. Käfer and DJ Obsolete were the first two artists on the label (PPTLP-1 and PPTLP-2). However, the label put out their first LPs in a limited run of 150 copies on colored vinyl. Here, they are reproduced on black vinyl and issued in the same quantity. We hope PostPartum continues this trend since the early output is must-have and the first runs fetch cheddar on the secondary market.

The same goes for the 10 inch by AK420’s Rua Augusta (PPT10-), which dropped in 2017 on colored vinyl and this year on black. This has to be the shop favorite of the batch. This year, AK420 also released a second 10 inch called Loungin’. Pressed on slick marble green vinyl. Sure to be another future staple in PP’s catalogue. For their other new LP releases, the label reached across the pond to South America, adding two Peruvian beat-makers to their family. Skillz Flav’! and Ill’ J aka Mad Kid. Both bring a slightly different but equally dope sound to the label. Drum heavy and vocal sample laden, these are perfect beats for trading bars around the cypher. Give a listen on PP’s Bandcamp: For more on the releases we’ve carried in the past:

108’s Mission Infinite Live HipHop

108 Mission Infinite

Moving from Germany back here to the Bay, we’d like to highlight the truly special issue of one of our dopest and rarest HipHop albums. 108’s Mission Infinite came out in 1996 on a CD only run of 200 copies. Not sure how anyone got their hands on this thing in ’96; we’ve been collecting the genre for over 20 years and have never laid eyes on it. Fortunately, this rare San Jose rap gem is available once again on LP, cassette, and CD from a small European label NBN Archives. To describe this album: it’s Bay-all-the-way. Live instrumentation with smooth, laid-back lyrics provided by Encore and Grand the Visitor (from Homeless Derilex). No show-boating, no battle-raps, no trying-too-hard; here, these two are kicking lyrics for the sake of kicking lyrics. Reminds us of riding around town in an old homie’s Cadillac while heads spit over old funk instrumentals. Peep it:

Boys Don't Cry Cure

The Cure “Boys Don’t Cry” UK 45 Single

Growing up in the 80s, New Wave music was always in our ears. Either from the stereo in mom’s Volvo or the rooms of older, much more musically dialed in, cousins. Joy Division, The Smiths, O.M.D. and especially The Cure. Therefore, it’s always exciting when Cure items walk in the door of the shop. Like this gorgeous UK only 45 single of Boys Don’t Cry, which had never appeared on our radar before. The B-side contains Plastic Passion. The Cure released the single in 1979 (#5 in their catalogue); one year before the release of their second LP of the same name.

Plastic Passion Cure

We love everything about this two track release. From the gorgeous cover art to the provocative song titles. The black-and-white, masculine military photo clashes with the purple and blue color scheme of the background. Perfectly underscoring the song title itself. 5’2″ Helga, on the other hand, reads like an advertisement in the back of naughty magazine. This also give the single that sort of do-it-yourself feel – typical of the post-punk, zine reading aesthetic. This rich texture is somewhat lost on the New Zealand version of the single, which opted for an all black-and-white look:

Cure Disintegration Picture Disc

From the same collection came a picture disc version of The Cure’s Disintegration. The packaging in and of itself is a work of art. The translucent inner sleeve is laced with light blue flowers. The disc is also translucent with the original cover art on one side while the other is a negative image of the flower layout on the sleeve. When you insert the disc inside the sleeve, you actually create another art piece. Unfortunately, the cover makes no mention of its designer but it’s safe to say they knew what they were doing. This has to be one of the most stunning cover packages we’ve seen on any album.

The Cure Disintegration
Idris Ackamoor Jazz

“An Angel Fell” by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

One of the pleasures of owning a record shop is getting a visit from musicians. Being Jazz heads, it’s extra special to get a visit from a talent like Idris Ackamoor. Tenor man and founding member of The Pyramids. Even more special when the legend comes bearing a bag of back stock from his hefty catalogue.

The Pyramids formed in Ohio in the early 70s under the tutelage of Cecil Taylor. After touring Africa and expanding their sound, the group settled in San Francisco. Around this time, they released three LPs on their own private label, Pyramid Records. Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth/Speed/Merging. Must haves for anyone into Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry, and the like. Afrocentric, contemplative, avant-garde Jazz.

Jazz The Pyramids
Some of the many goodies Idris Ackamoor dropped off in the shop.

The Pyramids split in 1977 and for the next 30 years Idris spearheaded another Jazz outfit called the Cultural Odyssey but he reformed the Pyramids in 2010. Three albums soon followed: Otherworldly, We Be All Africans, and An Angel Fell. The last two released by the label Strut in the U.K. Here The Pyramids find themselves among the prestigious company of artists like the Ethiopian Jazz man Mulatu Astatke and Lloyd Miller (who merged traditional Middle Eastern instruments with American Jazz).

While we were familiar with The Pyramids’ early LPs (having pulled original copies from storage units or garages), the Strut releases had, unfortunately, slipped under our noses. Dropping the needle on An Angel Fell, we were blown away. It is an exceptional record. And totally in line with the contemporary Jazz sound we enjoy: like Kamasi Washington or Greg Foat. Well-recorded and funky with spiritual messages that concern the state of our planet. Hear it for yourself:

Greg Foat 2019

The Latest LP From U.K. Jazzman Greg Foat

We first heard about the pianist Greg Foat while at a friend’s listening party a few years back. We thought he was playing a cut from Miles’ “Elevator to the Gallows” but we were pleasantly surprised when he corrected us. It was a new jazz record by a new artist from the U.K. Naturally, we delved into researching more about Foat and his work and soon discovered we were late to the game. Foat had already established a hearty catalogue of jazz in all its forms – the first, Dark Is the Sun.

The first print was long gone, fetching high sums on the secondary market, but had gone through a few represses. Timmion Records in Finland remastered and cut these second runs in Finland. A label known mostly for Soul records but also for the quality fidelity of their vinyl. Here Foat beautifully blends the harpsichord with floating electronic sounds. His subsequent release, Girl and Robot with Flowers, is that reminiscent of Miles’ Gallows, although the b-side drifts into a more electronic mix of jazz and hip-hip similar to the sounds on Dark.

Between his early work of 2011/12 and the two albums he put out this past year, Foat scored a number of albums. These were collaborations with other artists like Warren Hampshire and lean more in the direction of ambient, library, and classical. His 2019 LPs, The Mage and The Dreaming Jewels, are jazz all the way and both equally excellent. The first is Foat’s venture into a more spiritual sound. He captures the slow builds and vocal harmonies found on 70’s labels like Strata East or Tribe. The second, the release we’re featuring here, is straight raw jazz-funk in its most hard hitting form.

Foat plays the fender rhodes on the entire record. It also features the incredible drumming of Malcolm Catto. If you don’t know his work, it’s worth checking out as well. Every track on this album is fire. Great for listening at home or playing out. A must for those who love all those 70s jazz-funk records the hiphop producers sampled back-in-the-day. Give the album a fill listen here: First batch sold out before hitting the bins. Don’t let the second pass you by!

Pop Up Art Show San Francisco

“Enjoy Imaginary Music” by Brazilian Artist Fábio Benê

We’re excited to host our first art show at the shop and Fabio’s work could not be more fitting! Come join us Saturday December 14th from 6-10pm! A handful of San Francisco’s top DJs will be spinning all night!

Fábio paints over real album covers, creating his own world of imaginary musicians and titles. Each cover features a brief description of these fictional artists and their work. The audience is invited to imagine new songs based on this new reality Fabio creates. The covers, the portrayed musicians, and the descriptions.

Playfully riffing on conventional cover art, Fabio presents the collection as part of a spoof record label called Enjoy Imaginary Music. EIM becomes the first label to release un-recordable and un-streamable music, transforming the audience’s mind into a record player.

A little on Benê himself. He lives in San Francisco but hails originally from São Paulo, Brazil. His work draws heavily from street culture, music, and everyday observations. Benê explores a range of expressions from marginalized mediums to multimedia experiments, testing a different process for each series. With strong character-based work, Fabio creates images that spark curiosity and generate conversations. See more of his work on the his website:

Come have a cold beverage, listen to great tunes, and Enjoy Imaginary Music!

David Bowie Monsters

David Bowie Single “Up the Hill Backwards”

“Up the Hill Backwards” is the fourth and final single from Bowie’s 1980 LP release Monsters. The B-Side features an unreleased instrumental track entitled “Crystal Japan.” Particularly special to this 12inch is the accompanying bonus material. A 12 x 12 sheet of stamps designed by Bowie himself. The fact that the perforations holding the sheet together are still in tact is a miracle. Typically things like this don’t survive 40 years of handling.

The images are of Bowie in his Pierrot clown costume. It appears that Bowie took the photo sheet and colored them in with felt pens, adding some text to a few while crossing others out with an X, which gives the sheet a feel of a “work in progress.” The front and back of the single’s cover bear the same aesthetic with a dulled pastel variation. A must for any Bowie fan.

David Bowie Single
Durand Jones Colemine Records

Durand Jones & The Indications “Cruisin to the Park” 45.

There is a lot of throwback music coming out these days. New records that capture an old sound so well they actually seem like they were made in the genre’s heyday. For example, the rock group Drab Majesty emulates that 80s synth-pop style. Kaleta & the Super Yamba Band have fooled customers into thinking we’re playing Fela Kuti. In the hip-hop world, cats like Kluas Layers mirror the beats of the 93 Golden Age with boom bap drums and echoing horns.

One of the most abundant genres to experience this new birth is Soul. Sweet Soul, in particular, which is a favorite in our shop. There are so many new labels and artists who have studied that sound and boiled it down to its concentrate for their albums. Smooth all the way through. The new Durand Jones & the Indications 45 is a prime example of this laid back neo soul groove. Perfect for cruising around town, late night deejay sets, or that mix tape you’ve been planning for that special someone.