Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The extra EP

The vinyl E.P. collection boxed set.
The E.P. ("extended play") was a vinyl format which was very popular in my part of the world, but not in the U.S.A. The E.P. was a 7" disc, which made it look like a single, but it had more than the two songs which the single traditionally had. An E.P. usually consisted of between 3 and 5 songs, but usually just 4. It played at 45 rounds per minute, just like a single. Whereas many singles came in paper sleeves, and many of them didn't have photo covers, most E.P.s had laminated cardboard sleeves and a colour photo.
Many countries released Beatles E.P.s, and for the Beatles themselves, the E.P.s were important products. It was a product for those who wanted more than singles, but who couldn't afford forking out the cost of an album (L.P. - "long playing" record). Still, most of The Beatles' UK E.P.s were put together from two different singles, or from songs extracted from a contemporary album. Only two E.P.s were especially made to be individual products: the "Long Tall Sally" E.P. (re-released in 2014 as a "black Friday" release in conjunction with Record Store Day) and the "Magical Mystery Tour" double-E.P. These were both standalone products, not derived from singles or album cuts. But another E.P. was manufactured by EMI in 1981, and it was also a special release.

On this 1966 E.P., all the tracks were from 1965, only the front cover photo was from 1966.
Thirteen E.P.s were released by the group in the sixties, between 1963 and 1967. The E.P.s were all released on EMI's Parlophone label, which was The Beatles' record company in Great Britain. Just like all the Parlophone singles had the letter R as a prefix, all the E.P.s had the GEP prefix, except "Magical Mystery Tour", which was a special project. It was the only E.P. available in stereo, hence the prefix SMMT for the stereo version and plain MMT for the mono one.

GEP 8880 "The Beatles Hits"
GEP 8882 "Twist and Shout"
GEP 8883 "The Beatles No.1"
GEP 8891 "All My Loving"
GEP 8913 "Long Tall Sally"
GEP 8920 "A Hard Day's Night (extracts from the film)"
GEP 8924 "A Hard Day's Night (extracts from the film) Vol.2"
GEP 8931 "Beatles For Sale"
GEP 8938 "Beatles For Sale No.2"
GEP 8946 "The Beatles Million Sellers"
GEP 8948 "Yesterday"
GEP 8952 "Nowhere Man"
MMT1/SMMT1 Magical Mystery Tour"

After that, people had more money and could afford to buy L.P.s, so E.P.s stopped being important.

The "Long Tall Sally" EP.

In 1981, after having had success with the 1978 so called "blue box", a boxed set containing all The Beatles' regular U.K. albums, plus an additional L.P. with "Rarities", EMI decided to put all the EPs together in a similarly designed blue box as well. For this release, an extra E.P. of "rarities" was also made.

This nameless E.P. contained the following: "The Inner Light" (the stereo mix, all previous releases had used a mono mix of the song), "Baby You're A Rich Man" (the true stereo mix, previously only available on the World Records Beatles albums boxed set), "She's a Woman" (stereo mix, with Paul's count-in of the song available nowhere else) and "This Boy" (reprocessed stereo, previously only available on the "Love Songs" album).
The E.P. had no title (or perhaps it was just called "The Beatles"), and had a unique catalogue number: SGE1.

The U.K. single sleeve for "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever".
The sleeve of the extra E.P. in the boxed set was laminated.
For the cover, EMI wanted to reuse the front cover of the U.K. "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" single sleeve, one of only two U.K. single sleeves which had a photo cover. The original photo was by Jean-Marie Perier, and the design for the sleeve placed the photo inside a golden picture frame. There was just one problem: EMI no longer had the original art on file. The way they handled this was to borrow a copy of the original "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" single from Swedish collector Staffan Olander, and use that to reproduce the cover. We have no information whether or not they tried to contact Perier, the photographer, to ask if he perhaps had the negative or a few original positives lying around. Nevertheless, the E.P.s were pressed, covers and box manufactured and the collection was released on December 7, 1981.

The extra E.P.: back cover and record.
Whereas the "Rarities" album included with the blue box L.P. collection was to be made available individually after a year of exclusively being part of the boxed set, the nameless extra E.P. from the boxed set has never been made available on it's own.

Eleven years after the vinyl E.P. boxed set was released, a CD version was released on 15th June 1992, also containing that extra E.P., now on a compact disc.

The Compact Disc EP. Collection of 1992.

On March 20, 1995, The Beatles released a single which was dressed up as an E.P., "Baby It's You".

"Baby It's You" with radio versions of four songs. Single or E.P.?

The vinyl version of it totally looks the part: it has four songs, it is presented in a cardboard cover with a laminated front and the flips on the back, and the layout with the song titles written on a white stripe at the top shouts E.P. However, the catalogue number gives it away: R6406. The famous Parlophone R-series singles. And it's CD counterpart looks nothing like an E.P., it looks like a modern day (1995) CD maxi single.

The back of "Baby It's You".


James Percival said...

I bought quite a few of the vinyl EPs, especially Long Tall Sally to complete my collection of all Beatles recordings (although I did later buy the Rock N Roll LP); later, as a 40th birthday present to myself I bought the CD collection. The thing that has always intrigued me is just how many EPs the Beatles sold in the UK and worldwide. I think you are right to say that EPs were essentially a way of making the most popular songs affordable because in real terms albums were prohibitively expensive in the early 1960s. Magical Mystery Tour was a puzzle and anachronism however it is viewed and it is no surprise the US album has now become the standard (and also the first Beatles album I ever bought in 1978)>

Sirron Nitram said...

What's the reason for this article? No mention of any re release

Beatlemilio said...

Hi, Roger.
Thanks for this post.
Just for clarification. Before this 1981 nameless EP release, the first stereo appearance of “This Boy” was in 1976, as the B-side of a Canadian single (with “All My Loving” in the A-side), referenced Capitol 72144.
And the first stereo appearance for “Baby You’re A Rich Man” was on the German release of “Magical Mystery Tour” (mastered in 1971).