Monday, January 14, 2008

Meet the Beatles

I used to have all the Beatles records.

Well, their albums, anyway.

Their American albums, that is. The ones released by Capitol records, at least.

My Big Sister (who's 5'4'') had a full collection of Beatles records. She had many singles, too. I didn't. Just albums.

If you aren't a Beatlemaniac, you might not appreciate this. But, since I am, it means something to me.

You see, she had Introducing... the Beatles, which was their actual first album. It was on Vee Jay Records, a small label out of Chicago that was known primarily for jazz and R&B artists.

Back in 1963, Capitol Records, who was the American affiliate of EMI, passed on EMI's new pop group from Liverpool. So, EMI contracted with Vee Jay Records to distribute the Beatles in the USA.

Because of financial difficulties within the company, they ended up losing the contract. Mostly because Capitol could out-lawyer them. So, Vee Jay only had one album: the afore-mentioned Introducing... the Beatles.

And my Big Sister had a copy. And, she had all the Capitol releases, as well as the United Artist soundtrack to A Hard Day's Night.

I had all their Capitol releases, plus A Hard Day's Night.

Oh, not original releases, like my Big Sister had. I had the Apple re-releases.

I did have an original mono Capitol Meet the Beatles, their first Capitol release, though. Second-hand, because I didn't have the money to buy an album in 1964. Few first-graders did. But, when I did get the money, I bought all the Beatles albums that were available.

Now, in case you interested ... and actually, even if you're not, it's still so ... Capitol didn't release the same records in the US that Parlophone (EMI's label in the UK) released in the UK. For a couple of different reasons.

For one thing, in the US, it's common that albums include recent hit singles of an artist. Not so in the UK. When the Beatles released a single in the UK, it generally was left off their upcoming album. They'd release singles from an album from time to time, but albums didn't often contain singles.

In the US, Capitol Records put Beatles singles on albums. And, since US albums often had 10-12 songs, instead of the 14 or so that the UK put on theirs, Capitol Records managed to get about three Beatles albums for every two Parlophone albums.

And, the fact that Capitol could squeeze more sales out of the same number of songs made the re-arranging of albums an easy decision.

So, I had all the US Beatles albums. Not the UK albums.

And, in case you hadn't noticed, I've been saying "had." Past tense.

A divorce will wreak havoc on a record collection.

I've been without Beatles records ever since.

Until recently.

This fall, on the way back from a visit to Athens to visit The Little Princess, I bought a Beatles CD. A Hard Day's Night. The UK version. With 13 songs. Seven from the movie and six other songs.

Sat in the Wal-mart parking lot, added it to my iTunes, moved it over to the iPod, and listened to it on the way back. Over and over.

It was great.

And I knew that I wanted more.

I wanted my Beatles albums. But that wasn't possible.

But a new CD collection was possible. All I had to do was get the rest of their CDs.

Only, the albums I used to have aren't available on CD. Not all of them.

Before Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the US and UK albums were different. Very different. Different songs, different song order, different album titles. Even when the titles were the same, like Rubber Soul and Revolver, the songs were different.

Even after Sgt. Pepper, there were two US albums that didn't correspond to UK albums: Magical Mystery Tour and Hey Jude (AKA The Beatles Again). But the rest of their later albums matched.

So, I could get some of the same albums ... as CDs ... as before. But some, I couldn't.

Anyway, I decided to make the best of the situation.

And so did The Wife.

For Christmas, she gave me a lot of Beatles CDs. Not just the Red and Blue collections (actually, 1962-1966 and 1967-1970), but the White Album (actually, The Beatles), Abbey Road, Revolver, Rubber Soul, (the UK versions) and others.

We also picked up a few, like the Anthology and Live at the BBC sets, just after first of the year.

But the final step was a gift certificate from Amazon.com that my Big Sister gave me for Christmas. I used it to finish up my collection.

Yes, I now have the Beatles collection. Their entire CD catalog.

I've even put some of the songs in iTunes twice.

The songs from the US versions of the albums, I've added again, putting them in US album order for the iPod.

Now, even though I don't have, say, Beatles '65, I do. Sort of. I just scroll down to Beatles '65 on the iPod, and hit play, and No Reply starts playing. Then I'm A Loser, Baby's In Black, Rock and Roll Music, I'll Follow the Sun, Mr. Moonlight, Honey Don't, I'll Be Back, She's A Woman, I Feel Fine, and Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby. Just like it really was Beatles '65.

Same thing for The Beatles' Second Album, Something New, Beatles VI, Yesterday... and Today, and all the rest of the US albums.

No, I don't have my old albums. But I have all the songs from them.

It's great.

I've had the chance to Meet The Beatles all over again.

6 comments:

  1. Throw in 8 tracks and you've bought the same tunes like 20 times. It's only a Northern Song, my friend, only a Northern Song

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  2. [...] Thanks to his iPod, Basil discovers a new group: The Beatles! [...]

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  3. Good to know the Beatles are back home! ;)

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  4. I am delighted your collection is now complete! It would be cool to have all the Beatles' songs on my iPod.
    The thing about my records...they are SO scratched up! I guess that goes with the territory of being a young child when you are buying records. Remember when the needle broke on the record player, and I thought if I used one of Mama's sewing needles, it would work just fine? sigh.....
    And some records have disappeared over the years. It's a mystery to me. So, your collection is better and more complete than mine. Congratulations!
    It was nice chatting with you yesterday. I am feeling better today. Take care!

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  5. Yeah, I have some bad memories of our mistreatment of those ... and other ... records. I fold up into the fetal position every time I think about it.

    My collection consists of the official catalog as listed on the Beatles Website. Plus, Past Masters 1 and 2. (Why they aren't listed on the Beatles site is beyond me).

    What do you have on CD? Anything?

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  6. Basil, when the Beatles were old news, I had not even born. Still, by the time I'd reached the age of 11 or 12, my younger sister and I knew most of their well-known songs. We'd sing them a capella inventing harmonies our younger selves thought clever. What we would do is that we would play a song of theirs over and over, sometimes scratching those old LPs my father owned because we were trying to copy down the words. Then we'd sing, just the two of us with our Beatles.

    Alex and I never felt compelled to do this for any other group we listened to, though we loved and still love many different kinds of music. They were just the bees knees the Beatles. Worth writing the words of their songs down. Worth sitting for hours on end practicing together in our talentless little voices to the point where when we had finished harmonizing something we liked, we'd look at each other in wordless communication and smile, because their music filled us so.

    Since then, I've listened to them sporadically and never with the intensity of my youth That's going to change today. I'll use your road map to build up my spare collection of their music. Thanks for reminding me of something nice and good. You didn't know you had done that by writing your post did you? I thought I'd let you know.

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