Monday, 2 December 2013

American albums for January - Yesterday...and Today


Still no official news about the upcoming CD releases of the American Beatles albums, and the ones listed on Amazon UK have been removed, but here's an entry over at AllMusic.com:

Yesterday...and Today

Main Album: Yesterday...and Today 1966
Release Date January 20, 2014
Label: Universal
Format: CD
Release Info:
  • Compilation
  • Studio Recording

Catalog #: B 001970802

Review by Bruce Eder:

Yesterday...and Today was the last Beatles album to be created exclusively for the American market without the group's direct consent, and its tumultuous history seemed to bring the issue of those albums to a head, both for the group and Capitol Records. 
Owing to business and market differences between England and America, the label had reconfigured every one of the group's long-players in America up to that point, and also generated a few LPs out of singles, B-sides, and EP tracks that had no U.K. equivalent on 12" vinyl -- the Beatles had tolerated it all quietly in the early days, content to go along amid the whirlwind of success they were riding, even in the face of such abominations as the original U.S. Help! album. 
By 1966, however, they were on a firmer footing, and well past being wide-eyed teenagers from the north of England; they'd also begun to express themselves creatively in media beyond music, and take themselves a bit more seriously, and having a bit more fun as well -- by the spring of 1966, after all, they were neck-deep into the making of the Revolver album. 
When confronted with what should have been a routine matter, the proposed 11-song U.S.-only Yesterday...and Today, assembling a bunch of single sides and leftover U.K. LP tracks, they delivered the notorious "butcher cover," depicting the quartet in butcher smocks, handling cuts of meat and pieces of dismembered baby dolls -- it was all their comment on how strangely albums like this one seemed to chop up pieces of their history and repertory. 
Somehow, Capitol Records' executives went along with gag and approved the initial design, and a print run of the album was ordered up, anticipating the usual six-figure release-date demand for a "new" Beatles LP. Then the negative reactions started coming in from record chain buyers and disc jockeys, and Capitol was soon faced with a crisis -- everybody seemed to find the cover tasteless and even grotesque, and it was possible some department store chains would refuse to stock the album. A new, tamer photo replaced the original cover, and untold thousands of copies of the original "butcher cover" sleeves were pasted over with the new picture. 
In the end, between the junking of artwork and some jackets, and the overtime needed to salvage the inventory, Yesterday...and Today ended up as the only U.S. Beatles album to show a loss on Capitol's books. 
From that point forward, there would be better coordination between England and America to prevent such near-disasters. 
As for the album itself, Capitol assembled four songs that had been removed from the British version of Rubber Soul, the singles "Yesterday," "We Can Work It Out," and "Day Tripper," a pair of B-sides, and offered a "preview" of the upcoming Revolver album (released seven weeks later) in the form of "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Doctor Robert" (neither one in its final mix). 
Amazingly, despite origins ranging across 18 months of the band's history, it all hung together very well, with the country-influenced "Act Naturally" and "What Goes On" -- both heavily featuring Ringo Starr -- adding some unexpected roots rock elements amid the cutting-edge, riff-driven glories of "Day Tripper" and others, and the latter contrasting beautifully with McCartney's romantic classic "Yesterday." 
Despite being thrown together in a blender, the album could stand next to almost any of the competition in the summer of 1966, though it became clear with the release of Revolver, two months later, that the band had left most of the sounds represented here far behind them.

So, now we have a catalogue number for this release. Interestingly, this seems to be the only one of the new batch of The Beatles' USA album releases listed on the site. The full discography is here.

Our research dept have also found the same album listed over at Exertis-msent.co.uk, and it also sports a bar code: 0602537645985, which, again, leads us to Amazon Japan's entry for the release. Curiouser and curiouser, as they say.
No doubt, the powers that be are hesitant to break this story, because we are still on the heels of the November releases of the remastered "Live at the BBC" and the new compilation "On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2". The vinyl edition of the former is yet to be out. However, unofficial rumours are strong and the clues we listed certainly point to the conclusion that it's really going to happen. Furthermore, we have also heard whispers of not only single CD releases, but also boxed sets and new vinyl editions of the American catalogue.

As a European, I have to confess that the US albums to us aren't all that interesting, and I can't get really excited about it. Yes, it means that new Beatles releases will be in the shops, which is a good thing, but the American albums are really just footnotes in Beatles history as far as I'm concerned. Besides, I've already got the Capitol albums vol 1 and 2, as well as all the original vinyl editions. And they're not getting played much in this house.
I would much rather see a true official remastering and release of The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl and a Blu-ray/DVD of Let It Be.

12 comments:

Robert Anderson said...

For what it's worth, I'm an American who was first exposed to these releases and I'm also not excited about them, any more than I cared about the Red and Blue collections coming out on CD so long ago. I won't be buying them.

Whitcomb said...

For all the slicing and dicing that Capitol did to the Beatles' catalog, the American albums hold up strongly after all these years, in particular: "Meet the Beatles," "The Beatles Second Album," "Something New," "Rubber Soul" (with almost an entirely different vibe compared to the British original) and "Yesterday...and Today."

And before the original catalog was remastered in 2009, the Capitol box sets were by far the best sonic experience of the Beatles on CD.

So I'm hoping that Universal will indeed issue all of the Capitol albums (plus "A Hard Day's Night," originally on United Artists but now owned by Capitol) in a box set next year.

It would be dandy if such a box set included "Live at the Hollywood Bowl," an album originally conceived of by Capitol but vetoed by EMI until the mid-1970s.

James Peet said...

If only the powers that be would get somebody in charge of archive releases (which they obviously are now) and make them as the hardcore fans would want, no re-imaginings and mash-ups, no incompletions etc. It'll never happen.

There are many things I'd like to see come out and that list has no place for the American albums. "Let It Be" on dvd, a dvd of the promos, Hollywood Bowl, Shea etc. To me Apple/Universal seem too intent on selling merchandise and getting in new fans rather than getting all the missing links resolved.

CrackinThunder said...

It should have the US mix of Yesterday which has more echo/reverb in it that the UK mix.

sstone said...

Well, it sounds like you're in luck. I did some quick research and according to someone on the inside, Paul's next projects for 2014 will be the video game soundtrack, the Archive box sets for Venus & Mars and Speed of Sound in spring, and then a Let it Be movie box set! Add to this list the Capitol Records stuff and it sounds like we're in for a very Beatle-y year.

Roger Stormo said...

Good to know that the Let It Be release is still going to happen.

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shekespeare said...

It's official YouTube channel of The Beatles has uploaded a video advertising of a box set with the collection of American albums of the band. From Meet The Beatles to Hey Jude up, including the Yesterday and Today Butcher cover! Here's the link of the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eyQ0ME0FRU&feature=em-uploademail

Unknown said...

The Examiner has reported that the US Capitol Masters were not used for the production of this set. The 2009 remasters have been used, and tweeked to make them sound more like the genuine US mixes. WHAT A JOKE!! There will be no unique Duo-phonic mixes to be heard. This is definitely a music industry version of New Coke in the process!!

Historical Ken said...

I, too, believed what you have here but I found out that it's simply not true.
This coming from the foremost Beatle Historian Bruce Spizer:
"It has often been said that Capitol butchered the Beatles carefully crafted records. Some Beatles authors and fans have speculated that the infamous butcher cover was created for Capitol's “Yesterday...And Today” LP as a not-too-subtle dig at Capitol for butchering the group's albums. While this makes a good story, it is simply not true. The butcher photos were conceived by photographer Bob Whitaker as part of a bizarre series of images titled "A Somnambulant Adventure." John chose the butcher photo for the cover as a subtle protest against the Vietnam War.
After the recall of the cover he stated, "It's as relevant as Vietnam. If the public can accept something as cruel as the war, they can accept this cover." Capitol made changes to the Beatles albums to help sell the albums in America. The company's strategy of
placing hit singles on the albums clearly contributed to the huge sales generated in America. Capitol did not butcher the Beatles; Capitol marketed the Beatles.
Some critics of these albums have gone so far as to say that Capitol's recent decision to release the albums on CD is an act of greed committed under the guise of giving American baby-boomer fans "what they want." The only truth in such comments is that Capitol is giving Beatles fans "what they want." This is not a case of Capitol telling baby-boomers what they want. It is a case of baby-boomers telling Capitol what they want and Capitol responding accordingly. Anyone who checks out Beatles-related posts on the Internet or reads Beatles magazines such as Beatlefan and Beatlology knows that fans have been clamoring for these albums on CD for over 15 years. We grew up with and loved these albums. We are grateful they are finally being released on CD. It is unfair to criticize a record company for appropriately responding to fan requests."

Roger Stormo said...

I knew that, the remark about "it was all their comment on how strangely albums like this one seemed to chop up pieces of their history and repertory." is in the Allmusic.com review by Bruce Eder. Just yesterday, a journalist asked me about the butcher cover, thinking it was some kind of statement by the Beatles, either about Vietnam or about the US albums. I told him the Beatles themselves have never said anything about the cover being a statement of sorts. And hopefully, that's what he'll print! ;-)

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