Thursday, June 27, 2013

Apple Records: Back Off Boogaloo

One of the first Apple singles I remember purchasing was Ringo Starr’s “Back off Boogaloo” in 1972. It is also the only US release on Apple that was issued on some releases with a blue apple on the label. I was oblivious of the blue label until the early 80s when I saw one owned by a collector friend of mine. I was not aware that it even existed. After seeing the initial one, I originally thought that the blue label was a mistake due to a lack of yellow ink in the CMYK printing process.

Jacksonville, Illinois pressing

I later learned that pressings from the Jacksonville, IL Capitol plant issued many, if not all, of the blue apple labels. It was only when I discovered that most foreign pressings had the blue label that I realized that the color was intentional. I did not procure one until my friend John Sellards so graciously gave me a copy in the late 80s or early 90s. All the versions I’ve seen pressed at Los Angeles; Winchester, VA; and Scranton, PA have variations of the green apple label blank; however, it is possible that they also issued some blue versions as well.

Winchester, Virginia pressing

I opted to buy this single, as it was a non-album cut until it was released on his greatest hits LP, “Blast from your Past,” in 1975. That album was the second US release with a red apple label – the first being “Let it Be” by The Beatles. “Let it Be” was issued on the Apple label, but by United Artists and not Capitol; therefore, a label color distinction was made. The UK versions of “Let it Be” had the traditional green label.

Later in 1972 when I began collecting Apple releases, I was able to purchase some of the relatively unknown recordings from the label – which pretty much categorized most of the 80+ or so American singles on Apple.

Ringo wrote “Back off Boogaloo” after having dinner with Marc Bolan of T. Rex who used the word “boogaloo” a number of times during the evening’s conversation. Besides Ringo on drums and vocals, George Harrison plays slide guitar, Klaus Voormann was on bass, and Gary Wright of Spooky Tooth handled keyboards. Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan, and Jean Gilbert were brought in for back-up vocals. The single was produced by Harrison.

Ringo later re-recorded the song in 1981 for his “Stop and Smell the Roses” album released on the ill-fated “Boardwalk” label. The original 1972 release peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 and #2 in the UK.

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