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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Beatles Box of 1981

The Beatles From Liverpool

Back in 1981, World Records, EMI's mail order division put together a boxed set of eight newly compiled Beatles albums.
The set was advertised vigourously in the national press from 5th November 1980 through into 1981. This means it was at the forefront right across the period of John's murder, and therefore sales must have been quite good, but as this box set was sold only by mail order the figures did not qualify for chart entry, and consequently are not publicly known.
All the songs throughout the eight albums are arranged chronologically, and the covers reflect this, in that each has a picture from the appropriate period on the front, and a well-written biography of the period by Hugh Marshall on the rear.
The Box itself is well designed looking like a wooden crate (see detail above), with plenty of information and sold for £29:75.
And Simon Sinclair who compiled these albums seems to have known what he was doing, because he has sprinkled the albums with some interesting variations from the regular versions of the songs.
Main track differences from the regular Beatles albums in the UK:

  • Across The Universe - (Version 2) produced by Phil Spector.
  • All My Loving - begins with five taps on Ringo's "hi-hat" cymbal.
  • All You Need Is Love - the mono version.
  • And I Love Her - contains six bars of acoustic guitar in the fadeout instead of the usual four.
  • Baby You're A Rich Man - the true stereo version, previously found just on the German Magical Mystery Tour LP.
  • The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - appears as it does on The Beatles ("white album"), minus the opening guitar obbligato.
  • The End/Her Majesty - the pause between the two songs lasts for only five seconds. On Abbey Road, the time between tracks is fifteen seconds.
  • Get Back - the album version, produced by Phil Spector.
  • I'm Only Sleeping - the extremely rare version with the slightly delayed guitar solo, previously found just on the U.S. stereo eight-track tape edition of "Yesterday" And Today.
  • I Am The Walrus - the composite version put together by Capitol Records engineers John Palladino and George Irwin for the U.S. commercial Rarities.
  • I Feel Fine - the true stereo version that begins with tapping drum sticks, whispering, coughing and Ringo closing his "hi-hat" cymbal.
  • Let It Be (Version 2) "reproduced for disc" by Phil Spector.
  • Love Me Do - (Version 1) the rare one with Ringo on drums.
  • Penny Lane - the composite version from the U.S. commercial Rarities.
  • She's A Woman - the true stereo version previously available just in Australia and in Singapore/Malaysia/Hong Kong.
  • Strawberry Fields Forever - the true stereo version.
  • Thank You Girl - the original mono version without John's extra harmonica fills.
  • This Boy - the mono version.

    Full track list
    Album 1
    Album 1
    Side One :
    Love Me Do - (2:19) - Original single version w/Ringo on drums
    P.S. I Love You - (2:02)
    I Saw Her Standing There - (2:50)
    Please Please Me - (2:00)
    Misery - (1:43)
    Do You Want To Know A Secret - (1:55)
    A Taste Of Honey - (2:02)
    Twist And Shout - (2:32)

    Side Two :
    From Me To You - (1:55)
    Thank You Girl - (2:01) - Original mono version without John's extra harmonica fills
    She Loves You - (2:18)
    It Won't Be Long - (2:11)
    Please Mr. Postman - (2:34)
    All My Loving - (2:04) - features a 6 tap hi hat intro
    Roll Over Beethoven - (2:44)
    Money (That's What I Want) - (2:47)

    Album 2
    Album 2
    Side Three :
    I Want To Hold Your Hand - (2:24)
    This Boy - (2:11) - mono version
    Can't Buy Me Love - (2:15)
    You Can't Do That - (2:33)
    A Hard Day's Night - (2:32)
    I Should Have Known Better - (2:42)
    If I Fell - (2:16)
    And I Love Her - (2:47) - final riff is repeated 6 times (instead of the normal 4)

    Side Four :
    Things We Said Today - (2:35)
    I'll Be Back - (2:22)
    Long Tall Sally - (1:58)
    I Call Your Name - (2:02)
    Matchbox - (1:37)
    Slow Down - (2:54)
    She's A Woman - (2:57) - True stereo version
    I Feel Fine - (2:19) - true stereo version that begins with tapping drum sticks, whispers etc.

    Album 3
    Album 3
    Side Five :
    Eight Days A Week - (2:43)
    No Reply - (2:11)
    I'm A Loser - (2:31)
    I'll Follow The Sun - (1:46)
    Mr. Moonlight - (2:35)
    Every Little Thing - (2:01)
    I Don't Want To Spoil The Party - (2:33)
    Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey - (2:37)

    Side Six :
    Ticket To Ride - (3:03)
    I'm Down - (2:30)
    Help! - (2:16)
    The Night Before - (2:33)
    You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - (2:08)
    I Need You - George Harrison - (2:28)
    Another Girl - (2:02)
    You're Going To Lose That Girl - (2:18)

    Album 4
    Album 4
    Side Seven :
    Yesterday - (2:04)
    Act Naturally - (2:27)
    Tell Me What You See - (2:35)
    It's Only Love - (1:53)
    You Like Me Too Much - (2:34)
    I've Just Seen A Face - (2:04)
    Day Tripper - (2:37) - Different stereo mix (also found on "Yesterday & Today")
    We Can Work It Out - (2:10)

    Side Eight :
    Michelle - (2:40)
    Drive My Car - (2:25)
    Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - (2:00)
    You Won't See Me - (3:19)
    Nowhere Man - (2:40)
    Girl - (2:26)
    I'm Looking Through You - (2:20)
    In My Life - (2:23)

    Album 5
    Album 5
    Side Nine :
    Paperback Writer - (2:25) - Remixed stereo version (Also found on the "Hey Jude" album)
    Rain - (2:59)
    Here, There And Everywhere - (2:29)
    Taxman - George Harrison - (2:36)
    I'm Only Sleeping - (2:58) - Extremely rare version with the slightly delayed guitar solo
    Good Day Sunshine - (2:08)
    Yellow Submarine - (2:40)

    Side Ten :
    Eleanor Rigby - (2:11)
    And Your Bird Can Sing - (2:02)
    For No One - (2:03)
    Doctor Robert - (2:14)
    Got To Get You Into My Life - (2:27)
    Penny Lane - (3:00) - Composite version taken from the US rarities album
    Strawberry Fields Forever - (4:05) - True stereo version

    Album 6
    Album 6
    Side Eleven :
    Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - (1:59)
    With A Little Help From My Friends - (2:46)
    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - (3:25)
    Fixing A Hole - (2:35)
    She's Leaving Home - (3:24)
    Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite - (2:36)
    A Day In The Life - (5:03)

    Side Twelve :
    When I'm Sixty-Four - (2:38)
    Lovely Rita - (2:43)
    All You Need Is Love - (3:57) - original mono version
    Baby, You're A Rich Man - (3:07) - the true stereo version
    Magical Mystery Tour - (2:48)
    Your Mother Should Know - (2:33)
    The Fool On The Hill - (3:00)
    I Am The Walrus - (4:35) - composite version also found on the US "Rarities" album

    Album 7
    Album 7
    Side Thirteen :
    Hello Goodbye - (3:24)
    Lady Madonna - (2:17)
    Hey Jude - (7:11)
    Revolution - (3:22)
    Back In The U.S.S.R. - (2:45)
    Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da - (3:10)
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps - (4:46)

    Side Fourteen :
    The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill - (3:05) - Without guitar intro
    Happiness Is A Warm Gun - (2:47)
    Martha My Dear - (2:28)
    I'm So Tired - (2:01)
    Piggies - George Harrison - (2:04)
    Don't Pass Me By - Richard Starkey - (3:52)
    Julia - (2:57)
    All Together Now - (2:08)

    Album 8
    Album 8
    Side Fifteen :
    Get Back - (3:09) - Album version, produced by Phil Spector
    Don't Let Me Down - (3:34)
    The Ballad Of John And Yoko - (3:51)
    Across The Universe - (3:51) - Version 2, produced by George Martin
    For You Blue - (2:33)
    Two Of Us - (3:33)
    The Long And Winding Road - (3:40)
    Let It Be - (4:01)

    Side Sixteen :
    Come Together - (4:16)
    Something - (2:59)
    Maxwell's Silver Hammer - (3:24)
    Octopus's Garden - (2:49)
    Here Comes The Sun - (3:04)
    Because - (2:45)
    Golden Slumbers - (1:31)
    Carry That Weight - (1:37)
    The End - (2:04)
    Her Majesty - (0:23)

    Japan poster
    The box was available in several countries. In Japan, a poster (depicted above) was included in the box.
    The album box set was deleted in the UK in 1982, only to reappear in July 1987 as an eight cassette box, called "The Last Chance Edition".

    Due to good sales, the boxed set is fairly common, and shouldn't command too high a price, although some people will always have the nerve, or the excuse of ignorance.

    bigbadm said...

    I am extremely fortunate to have the Japanese version of this album. At my local used record shop I found a version released in Mexico on the Reader's Digest/Capitol label.

    There are different mixes used for that album than what is on the Japanese release. "Thank You Girl" is in mono on the Japanese release but is in stereo on the Mexican version. Unlike the stereo version used on the "Beatles Second Album" it lacks the heavy echo and reverb that was used on the american version. "Money" is in mono on the Mexican version, but stereo on the Japanese version. "It Won't Be Long" stereo version sounds better than the stereo version on the Japanese release. There are also other mixing oddities on that release.

    I just obtained a copy from New Zealand, also on the "Reader's Digest" label and unfortunately it matches the Japanese release.

    Berko said...

    Hi, I have this box set in good condition, also as far as I know it has a genuine John Lennon signature on the back. Would this make it worth much more?

    wogew said...

    John Lennon was killed in 1980, this boxed set was released a year later.

    Richard said...

    Actually, this set came out in 1980. That's when I got mine, I was a freshman in college.

    wogew said...

    You're right, the first advertisement for this boxed set appeared in the British media on the 5th of November 1980. So it's possible that Lennon may have signed one of them in the month before he was killed.

    Unknown said...

    Roger I have a set also. Was given to me by a old gentleman. Are they worth anything. My set has 1980 Franklin mint.

    Unknown said...

    The Mexican Version of this set has some of the special mixes of the rest of the world editions, but also has some different ones.

    1. LOVE ME DO (Ringo on drums)
    2. PLEASE PLEASE ME (Skips the first bass chord)
    3. THANK YOU GIRL (Stereo, not much reverb)
    4. ALL MY LOVING (hit hat intro)
    5. MONEY (mono)
    6. THIS BOY (Duophonic)
    7. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER (More a mistake than a different mix, in the last verse, the sound in the left channel seems to be taken from a spoiled tape)
    8. AND I LOVE HER (long outro)
    9. SLOW DOWN (mono)
    10. I FEEL FINE (No whispering intro)
    11. MR. MOONLIGHT (Mono, which is strange, since the rest of the songs in Disc 3 side A are in stereo)
    12. HELP (James Bond intro)
    13. ANOTHER GIRL (More a mistake than anything else, starting the song paul's voice seems to come from a throat with a phlegm, when singing the word "Got"
    14. YOU LIKE ME TOO MUCH(first, it is mono and then it starts so low, and suddenly just before the first verse the sound becomes clearer, again a mistake)
    15. I'VE JUST SEEN A FACE (mono)
    16. DAY TRIPPER (American version)
    17. RAIN (Another mistake, the sound in one channel disappears in ringo's bridge before the backwards recording)
    18. PENNY LANE (trumpet ending)
    19. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE (mono)
    20. I AM THE WALRUS (extra chord in the beginning and before "yellow matter custard")
    21. WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS (At the beginning, it has the "Eh Oh" from the The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill ending)
    22. THE CONTINUING STORY OF BUNGALOW BILL (It has the intro but not the "Eh oh" at the end)
    23.I'M ONLY SLEEPING (American version)

    And I think that's all, the rest are regular versions in stereo, I might have skipped one or two "special" versions, It's been a long time I don't listen to this set, I think I'll do it over the next weekend.

    Greetings from México
    Carlos Torres

    bigbadm said...

    Great Job Carlos, you caught some things that I didn't.

    Unknown said...

    Thanks Bigbadm

    P.S. I love is also duophonic, I love this set, it was my first "important thing" about The Beatles, I was in Jr. High School and I was 14 the first time I got this, I have three sets now, The first one is the cassette edition, but in Mexico the tapes don't have the pictures on the cover, all 8 cassettes have the same cover, and Money (That's What I Want) has a fade out. Then I bought the vinyl edition, because of the covers and the notes at the back of them, BUT, Let It Be ends with a fade out!, of course it is a mistake, then I had the oportunity to buy it again, and everything was perfect, I had the opportunity to listen to the World Records Edition, that's why I know which versions are included in that one, but I don't have it though, friends: Any ideas where can I get it? or at least the sound and high-res scans of the covers to make my own box on CDs? I'll be glad to share mine, I'm not Doc Ebbetts but I can get pretty decent transfers from vinyl.

    Greetings from Mexico!

    bigbadm said...

    I wouldn't recommend the British version. The individual record covers are too big and used a lousy glue. The Australian version is a lot nicer with custom label that says "The Beatles".

    The Japanese version is just beautiful. Also, it came out prior to 1987, which the EMI/Odeon used a special chemical on the vinyl that it never attracted dust. Which means you don't get the static or any popping noises. I've never seen a German version. Also, try to find the Japanese EP's that was re-issued in 1982.

    There is a website that has Dr. Ebbetts versions of this record, but I don't think the moderator would like to type it in. Plus I don't need it.

    Habitante del Valle said...

    I have One REader's Digest Mexican Box Set - Cassettes are sealed.Box (VG+) goldmine grading.

    Craggyisland said...

    Worth mentioning that the cover of the second disc was originally printed with the photo reversed (making Lennon look like he's playing left handed). This was later corrected, as shown above. No idea how many were sold before the correction.