Beatlemaniacs rejoice! This week marks the release of the Beatles US Albums box set! I will provide a review, however, I made the mistake of placing an advance order with Amazon.ca. Now I have to wait for my set. Grrrrrr. You'd think they could figure this out. Some Canadian folks are even ordering from the Amazon UK site these days so they can get new releases on time. But enough!
Back in the UK! Original EMI Parlophone albums: Please Please Me  [Hear] + With the Beatles  [Hear]
Just a brief notes: I've struggled with including lots of dates, track listings + other such discography matters in the body of my blog. They are too weighty and descriptive for my purposes, and have all ready been covered at great length elsewhere. Therefore I am providing online links to the sites where you can readily find all this info and more, at the bottom of this blog.
Also below: I am including some footnotes ** below for any terms the average reader today might not be familiar with so you can best follow my report. Hope this helps!
1st Capitol Canada LP: Beatlemania: With the Beatles
VeeJay's US January 1964 Introducing the Beatles album. Hear the album @ Youtube
Yup! The Beatles first North American album was released in Canada the year before any were released in the USA. So there. A "Boo!" is also in order! Unfortunately, you won't find the Beatlemania album in the new Capitol US box set or on any other cd official release. Indeed, the Capitol US parent company ordered the record to be discontinued in 1966. It was shortly afterwards replaced in Canada with the Capitol USA's Meet the Beatles album instead, which you will find in the box. Vinyl copies of the Canadian album were later begrudgingly repressed in vinyl, due to popular demand here in Canada, but just for the Canadian market, from 1970 until the end of the vinyl era in the 80's. And then? Goodbye to our Beatlemania album!
2nd Capitol Canada Lp: Twist + Shout
Capitol Canada's second Beatles album, Twist + Shout was a mix and match of the Beatle's early single 45 A + B ** side songs, and a number of tracks from the first EMI/ Parlophone Beatle album Please Please Me in the UK. The cover photo was from the Beatles Twist + Shout British extended play [EP] ** record. Note the "She Loves you" banner promoting the Beatles first #1 hit single ** also on the front cover. "She Loves You" was top of the pops in London Ontario + on Toronto's CHUM AM radio station chart ** months before it was released stateside, another Canuck first. Hooray for us! We knew they were great first! Yup!
UK EMI/ Parlophone July 1963 Twist + Shout EP cover art
So what's the bad news? You won't find the Canadian Twist + Shout album in the new Capitol box set either. It met the same fate as Beatlemania, once again being deleted and replaced by the Capitol USA Early Beatles album in 1966. Like the Beatlemania album it too was later back in print during 1970, vinyl only, for the Canadian market through until the late 1980's. It was never officially released on cd either.
3rd Capitol Canada Lp: Long Tall Sally
After throwing in a few more singles and B sides, Capitol Canada was unfortunately at a loss to fill out the rest of the album without including some of the songs from the Beatlemania album again. Too add insult to injury, the very same version of "Roll Over Beethoven" was among them. A false claim on the back cover said that it was a new recording of the song.
Capitol USA's April 1964 Second Album!
We can't get too self righteous in Canada. Like with the US releases, Capitol Canada was also pulling off the profitable marketing scam of squeezing 3 top selling Beatle albums out of the 2 which had been originally released in the UK by EMI Parlophone. North American albums usually included 2 or 3 songs less than their UK counterparts. The 45 single A+B sides and EP tracks were also not added in the original album British releases to avoid duplication. That meant more money in the Capitol record company pockets, and to a lesser degree the Beatles too. It was also a compromise of the bands carefully ordered and arranged track listings, a big trade mark and important record album development pioneered by the band. Tut, tut Capitol Canada! Tut, tut Capitol USA!
4th Capitol Canada Lp: Something New!
Capitol Canada's July 1964 Something New LP [below]
Capitol Canada and Capitol USA released the same Something New album with one minor exception. On the back cover of the Canadian album it claimed it was the Beatles 4th album, which was quite true in Canada. In the US it was listed as their third album. That was only true if one ignored the first million selling US VeeJay album, "Introducing the Beatles" , from which Capitol USA was receiving no money. Therefore it didn't belong in the count, as far as Capitol USA was concerned!
Original July 1964 UK EMI Parlophone Hard Days Night Album [Hear]
In all fairness, we should note that the real third Beatles album was in fact the EMI/ Parlophone release A Hard Days Night. Half that UK album was the soundtrack from the Beatles first movie, "A Hard Days Night". The second side was a batch of new songs. In North America, the United Artist [UA] movie company which released the film had exclusive rights to the movie songs, which of course they also released as a million copy selling soundtrack album. So what if they were a few songs short to make a full Beatles record album! No problem! United Artists topped off the record with some corny instrumental versions of the Beatles songs by the George Martin Orchestra. George Martin, if you don't know, was the Beatle's top notch UK producer. The songs were actually pretty cool in an offbeat way. The orchestra's Ringo Theme [This Boy] [Hear] even turned out to be a minor 45 rpm hit single. But these songs were not actual Beatle recordings! No way!
United Artists June 1964 Hard Days Night Soundtrack: US Mono Version/ Canadian LP same.
Something New contained the rest of the Beatle songs from the British album, with a few EP + single tracks thrown in to fill it up too. So that resulted in two, count them "two" best selling albums from "one" in both Canada + the USA; one for the Capitol companies, and another for United Artists. You will note that the United Artists Hard Days Night soundtrack has now been officially released on CD in the Beatles US Album box set for the first time. The cover notes on Something New however, has the US linear notes claiming it was the third Beatles album.
Something New was Capitol Canada's 4th album, but only Capitol USA's 3rd.
How did this happen?
Let's be frank, what we have here is a typical peripheral dependency situation, born of the economy of scale between the relative size of the two markets for the US and Canadian albums. Capitol Canada was only a subsidiary of the US parent company, selling their own licensed Beatle records in the smaller Canadian market. Some were also sold as imports in the US, making Capitol Canada pretty leading edge. Ultimately though we are left with bragging rights but little else. As the parent company, and owner of Capitol Canada, Capitol USA decide it was in their best economic interest to eliminate the Canadian titles and sell the standardized US versions across the continent in both countries instead.
Capitol US January 1964 Meet the Beatles replaced the lost Canadian albums in 1966!
Capitol Canada had little wiggle room. It worked like this: EMI/ Parlophone owned the exclusive distribution rights to the Beatle records in the UK. In early 1963, it had offered the "right of first refusal" to the two North American Capitol labels because it owned both of the companies. They therefore had first dibs, should they so wish, to release these or any other EMI Parlophone records in North America. When the Beatle records came along, Capitol Canada had already had some previous success marketing EMI's UK hits here "in the colony", unlike the US Capitol label. Basically, the weird English accents, musical style and dress of the British artists hadn't resulted in many big hits in the US before, so they decided to pass on the rights to the Beatle's records until much later in 1963. Capitol Canada however, had taken advantage of the offer, scoring the distribution rights to all of the Beatles first records from the get go. It turned out to be a very wise move for awhile anyway.
[VeeJay's US "Pictures, Songs + Stories" again contained the "songs" from it's "Introducing the Beatles" album, along with new artwork or "pictures" and linear notes or "stories", to produce another bogus best selling Beatles album for their young unsuspecting fans!]
[VeeJay also took first dibs on British country + music hall singer Frank Ifield around the same time as the Beatles. Their musical styles were completely different. The only thing they both had in common was that they were British! Nonetheless VeeJay created another album with 2 songs from their Introducing the Beatles lp [Please Please Me/ Ask Me Why] and the 2 sides of an early Beatles single they also had the rights too [From Me To You/ Thank You Girl] These were padded out with 8 Frank Ifield songs. By adding a completely false + misleading "On Stage" subtitle it looked like a new live Beatle's album. Having run out of copyrighted Beatle photos a cover drawing had to suffice. That it did, and VeeJay had another hit on its hands! What a rip off eh? For more info see Youtube Weblinks below.]
Stateside, US gospel + R+B label VeeJay Records took advantage of the offer instead. Like Capitol Canada, it suffered a commercial loss on the 45 rpm singles when they were first released in early 1963. VeeJay then shelved the first Beatle's album figuring it wouldn't sell either. However, when Beatlemania completely swept North America in January 1964 both VeeJay and Capitol Canada found themselves sitting on a goldmine. Capitol USA however, was receiving no revenues from the popular Capitol Canada imports. The same with the million selling Veejay re-releases! An interesting footnote; VeeJay even managed to release the Beatle's first album six times with different covers and slightly re-arranged song listings to cash in big time on the Beatlemania craze! Capitol USA was not impressed to say the least!
The Big 3 Canadian "Lost Beatle Albums": Gone but not forgotten!
What's the end result?
Before 1964 was out Capitol USA shut down any further independent Canadian releases and as I explained, by 1966 had eliminated the existing Canadian titles entirely, creating a larger market for their own Beatle records. VeeJay was taken to court on a copyright technicality to gain exclusive rights to their Beatle recordings. Out spent in legal fees, by the end of 1964 their Beatle catalogue also became the exclusive property of Capitol USA. So in the end, as the saying goes, the winner takes all.
[Bogus 1964 US VeeJay albums: The label milked their same handful of Beatle tunes + a later interview disc for all they were worth by re-releasing the songs over + over again using different covers in a hurry to make lots of $$$ off the Beatle craze! Capitol USA had gotten a court order stopping them from selling Beatle songs after October, transferring the sole rights to them instead. Listen to the VeeJay Hear the Beatles Tell All album, an interview with 2 DJ's one the Beatles didn't particularly like @ Youtube ]
Nowadays, good used copies of the original Beatle albums on both Capitol USA + VeeJay sell for big bucks. The Canadian releases? Well no, not really. They have nostalgia value in Canada among Beatlemaniacs but stateside are considered little more than a curio.
Really, it's an especially unfortunate situation all around. Consider this: the Canadian albums were much superior in quality being made directly from the Beatles original mono UK recordings. The US ones often featured fake stereo "Duophonic" versions instead for the new stereo market. Also fake "collapsed" mono versions of some other songs that they didn't like for reasons unknown. Rather than just releasing the original George Martin produced EMI Parlophone recordings, Capitol USA took it upon themselves to remix these all instead especially for the US teenage market. I will discuss these recordings further in my review of the Beatles US Album box. Truth be told, they were kind of neat in their own way, but hardly the real McCoy! Another Beatlemania article on the Canadian + VeeJay 45's might also be in order if interest and time exists.
The Long + Short of it?
If you have or can find original vinyl copies of the Canadian albums, enjoy them! The dollar value alone does not necessarily make the Capitol US albums a better buy from a listening perspective, far from it. To end on an even more upbeat note it is perhaps also worthwhile noting that the Capitol Canada albums are often critically respected + recognized as being among the best early Beatle releases in many international fan circles. Indeed, "needle drop" copies of the Capitol Canada albums have been privately made into collector cds, most notably by Dr. Ebbetts as a part of his unofficial DESS [Doctor Ebetts Sound Systems] Beatles catalogue. The good "doctor" went so far as to re-release all of the Canadian albums and their later variants, including a number of narrow + wide stereo re-releases from the 1970's and 80's. Since the doctor went out of business a few years ago these remain rare and highly treasured additions to any true Beatles collection. One should think they will even be more appreciated now that they are the "lost Beatle albums" conspicuous by the absence in the new best selling Beatle box set.
Oh, and one last point worth noting for our purposes today! The new Capitol US box set will apparently attempt to "correct" the deficiencies in the American Beatle albums 50 years later, especially for our stateside Capitol record collecting friends! Sometimes the winner does takes all and the good guys do finish last, in the "Capitol-ist" world of Beatle recordings as in life in general it seems!
Still, while I await my set of the latest new improved Capitol US Beatle albums in the mail, I guess I'll just have to listen to my old tried and true original Capitol Canada Beatle albums instead. Hmmm. Wait! Maybe that's not such a bad consolation prize after all? We will see! ;-)
** = TERMS:
45 rpm single: a small cheap two A and B sided often mono vinyl record with an edited 2-5 minute song on each side. They were marketed to teenagers who first heard them by way of concerts + radio play. Sometimes they came in a paper picture sleeve.
33 1/3 LP album: a more expensive larger vinyl A and B sided record. The total length of the LP [long player] or album [interchangeable] was usually between 25 to 35 minutes long. It contained a collection of songs by the recording artist. They were generally just a collection of hit singles padded out with a few other new throw away songs to fill up both sides until the Beatles came along. The biggest advantage was you didn't have to get up to manually turn the record over so often to hear the other side.
EP: a middle priced extended play record, like a 45 single but with 3 or 4 songs. The songs might be new, a collection of old repackaged hits or from an existing album. They usually came in a cardboard picture sleeve. They were very popular in the UK, but not so much in the US or Canada.
RPM: rounds per minute, or the speed at which the record would be played on a record player.
Mono Record: The sound field was spread out evenly between one or two speakers to create a more flatter if not more powerful sound on the early record players and mono AM radio. Up until 1968 Beatle records were originally recorded, produced and mixed in mono by George Martin increasingly under direction with the band.
Stereo: The sound field is spread out to recreate more depth than a mono recording on a pair of two sound system speakers. FM radio stations could later commonly broadcast these records in stereo as well. Early stereo Beatle records usually featured instruments and vocals on different sides, some other degree of simple balance or the use of echo among other techniques to create a stereo sound or sometimes effect. These were mixed and produced after the mono recordings were completed without the Beatles direct involvement until late in the 1960's.
AM radio: mono broadcast stations usually staffed by "disc jockey" personalities who would play the most popular songs of the day, often regardless of their different styles. If a record got a lot of call in requests and sold well it was played, something for everybody in a simpler age. Some stations would compete for an adult, country, jazz or classical audience instead. However mixed or teenage AM radio formats were very popular in North America during the Beatle years. In the US deep south the music was also often segregated into white and black race music stations to a lesser degree well into the 1960's, not so much in Canada.
In the UK the British Broadcast System [BBC] controlled all the radio stations. Speciality shows were set aside for less frequently played teenage popular music. European or off shore pirate radio stations would often aim their programming for the increasingly disenfranchised youth market. The Beatles were regularly featured on the BBC radio shows as a part of a teen packaged show. Their later longer album orientated recordings were increasingly played on the other stations as they began to appear less, by choice, on the more strictly regulated BBC, where they nonetheless recorded many fine shows.
Hits: best selling songs, the popularity of which was largely determined by the number of listener phone in requests for radio play and record store sales. These were ranked accordingly each week on a top 10, 20, 30, 40 or 100 radio station or trade magazine list or chart. Albums were also listed + ranked on separate charts based mostly upon record orders and sales.
Needle drops: Pristine vinyl records are played on top of the line stereo equipment to copy them digitally onto CD. These unofficial "pirate" copies are the most accurate versions of the original record mix releases because they come directly from the initial source. They are usually made of records that have not been officially released on CD for exactly that reason
Capitol Canada's Paul White was the man responsible for the Canadian releases. Here's his story + how the lost Canadian Beatle albums came to be @ Ottawa Citizen
A complete Canadian Beatles discography with detailed track information + dates etc is @ Beatle Bible
Another excellent guide to the Canadian versions of the Beatles albums is @ Capitol 6000
More very thorough, detailed + copious notes on the Capitol Canada albums are @ McGill.ca
Here's a link to a Dr. Ebbetts website. It includes detailed info and downloads of the art work for all his various "needle drop" copies of the complete Beatle album catalogue from the UK, US, Japan, Canada, Germany, Brazil and Mexico etc. All Beatle albums are not the same nor are they equal, the new US box set not withstanding @ DESS
Bruce Spizer is a leading Beatle expert on their various albums and singles, including the Canadian ones. His reference books, available on Amazon.ca are the Bible of Beatle record collecting, as far as I am concerned. The album and label photos, recording and release data, plus the pictures of the original Beatle promo items are thorough + exhaustive, while also making for very kool coffee table books for even the most casual Beatles fan. Meet Bruce + find out more @ Bruce Spizer
Bruce Spizer: The Beatle Record Bibles!
Here's a Beatle link to an online Capitol Canada Album forum. Some of the gang know their stuff, other's not so much but they are keen. I'll see if I can find a better one for you, but the forum basically touches upon the main issues and are interesting enough if you'd like to join in @ Beatlelinks
This site has some great photos of the Canadian Beatle album covers + labels. Unfortunately the price list is quite outdated @ Canadian Guide
An excellent quality VeeJay Beatles + Frank Ifield On Stage album is worth $15,-20,000. How to spot a fake @ Youtube
Hear + see Frank Ifields VeeJay 45 "I Remember You" @ Youtube
Most everybody thinks their old Beatle albums are worth a kajillion dollars. Millions and millions were made for many years so they seldom are, American and Canadian ones alike. Here's how to spot the collectibles, or at least know when your Canadian copy was actually released: 1964? 1966? the 1970's or 1980's? Often you'll find they are relatively worthless re-releases in the cash sense! Also beware of any VeeJay records, lots of them are cheap fakes. Otherwise they command top dollar amongst collectors, perhaps for their kitsch value @ Maritime Vinyl