An 'Alternative' Beatles Catalogue?

Before the ‘album’ was standardised as the canonical musical form for the expression of cohesive, singular artistic statements in popular music, many artists’ music was packaged and repackaged at will by record companies and subsidaries keen to make as much money as possible from lucrative acts. No act was more lucrative than the Beatles, and as such, in the early-1960s, before Sergeant Pepper’s changed the game for good, Capitol and Vee-Jay released a number of bastardised collections of Beatles songs to an eager American market. Steven Hyden, at the AV Club, reflects on the phenomenon, and in particular on Yesterday and Today:

In these American versions, songs were shaved off their UK counterparts in order to spread the wealth of valuable Beatles material across more money-making LP releases. Stand-alone singles padded out these crass profit-margin busters, forcing Beatles-hungry fans to repurchase songs they already had on 45. And in the process, carefully assembled track lists were thoughtlessly cast aside, and an accurate representation of The Beatles’ unprecedented artistic growth was obscured.

Yesterday And Today is notable among these “fake” Beatles U.S. albums for a number of reasons. Released in 1966 between the historic double-shot of Rubber Soul and Revolver (probably the two best Beatles albums ever, and I’m sure not a single person would disagree with me), Yesterday And Today was among the last of Capitol’s fabricated Fab Four releases. Though it should be noted that the versions of Rubber Soul and Revolver released in America aren’t the “real” UK releases. Yesterday And Today lifts songs from both records; it takes “Nowhere Man,” “Drive My Car,” “If I Needed Someone,” and “What Goes On” from Rubber Soul, and “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Doctor Robert,” and “And Your Bird Can Sing” from Revolver. Yesterday also borrows from Help! (“Act Naturally” and “Yesterday”) and re-purposes the epic “Day Tripper”/”We Can Work It Out” single to round out the 11 tracks. 

Published on 16 August 2012

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