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Saturday 27 April 2013

The Beatles Shell Help! LP

I recently aquired this album, a genuine Dutch pressing of the Beatles' Help! LP from 1979, where a Shell logo is shown in the background. This special issue of the Help! album was produced for Shell Oil for the kickoff of their 1979 "Shell Helps" campaign. As part of this promotion, Shell Oil arranged to produce a small number of these special versions of the Beatles’ Help! album to be given out at a company-wide meeting of their Dutch distributors and store managers. Less than 2000 copies were printed - so unless you were a Shell Oil distributor or store manager in 1979, you couldn't get it anywhere.
original Dutch pressing on black vinyl
All of the sleeves for this album were manufactured in Holland but some copies of the vinyl were pressed in Sweden. There are two opinions about the Swedish edition: Some say that around 1000 copies were pressed in each country, some (mainly those who have Swedish pressings to sell) say that a minority of the copies were pressed in Sweden.
original Swedish pressing on black vinyl

Never before and never since have the Beatles allowed any of their official albums to have been given such a major cover artwork overhaul for a commercial promotion by another company. One can only wonder how this one managed to get approved.

These days, (as is the case with quite a number of these rare international Beatles album releases, see footnote) you can get bootleg pressings. Some on coloured vinyl, some on picture discs. Buyers beware: all the originals were on black vinyl only, all others are fakes. And what's more: there are fakes on black vinyl circulating as well. As I haven't come across any of these, I can't tell you how to distinguish between a fake and an official pressing - but they say that fakes all have a thinner cardboard cover and that the vinyls have scratched matrix numbers. An original will set you back around $500, the fakes are usually a lot cheaper.


 Of course, this isn't the only Beatles/Shell association; their televised 1964 Melbourne concert was sponsored by the oil company, and the resulting TV Show was called "The Beatles sing for Shell".

Footnote: Here are some of the albums we know about which exist as newly produced fakes.
- Yesterday And Today (butcher cover) USA
- The Beatles Christmas Album USA
- From Then To You UK
- The Beatles Hottest Hits (Denmark)
- The Beatles Help! (Shell cover) The Netherlands
- The Beatles Help! (export to Switzerland) Germany
And other albums from various countries with interesting front covers.

1 comment:

socorro said...

Some other reproductions/fakes include the following German book club pressings:
Odeon Impression 6086 (Beatles Beat)
Odeon Impression 6279
Fono-Ring Great Hits
Deutscher Schallplattenclub "chair cover"
Deutscher Schallplattenclub "balloon cover"
Also the following French LPs:
"Horse Cover" OSX 231
Les Beatles 1965, OSX 228