I would hope this final planned installment in this series needs no introduction! Unless you live under a huge rock, you know who The Beatles were. Even if you don’t personally care for them, find them overrated, or haven’t heard many of their songs, you at least know about them.
For a long time, it was common practice for record companies in different countries to repackage albums, by putting tracks in a different order, keeping off some tracks and substituting others, changing the album title, or using different cover art. I can’t accuse Capitol Records of doing this dastardly when just about all record companies did this once upon a time, and most serious music fans eventually discovered American and British releases differed for many bands.
However, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. There was a reason the powers that be eventually stopped doing this. It ruins artistic integrity, misrepresents a band’s vision, and it’s inconvenient when fans in different countries have different versions of what’s supposed to be the same album. The product should be consistent across all markets.
Capitol primarily repackaged The Beatles’ albums through 1966. The only times after Revolver they did that again were in late 1967, for Magical Mystery Tour (the only repackaging they got right, which is far superior to the British EP), and in 1968, when they cobbled together an album called Hey Jude, consisting of singles and B-sides. To their credit, they rightly understood Rubber Soul and Revolver were something special, not like other albums of the time, and so kept the titles and cover art.
I personally most strongly prefer The Beatles’ middle period (RS through MMT), with their late period coming in second place. However, that doesn’t mean I think their early period sucks. It just means I’m more into the stuff they made after they started coming into more musical maturity and complexity. That said, you can’t get away from the fact that their early period coincides with the highest peak of teenybopper madness. The massive teenybopper fan base is what compelled Capitol to do these repackagings, beyond the fact that this was common practice anyway.
The Beatles’ British albums typically contained 14 songs, whereas American albums of the time tended to have 11. That might’ve only been a handful of songs Capitol held back from each album, worth pennies each, but that added up to millions of pennies for the record company. The teenyboppers bought anything with The Beatles’ names on it, and wouldn’t have cared these weren’t the original British releases.
Capitol gave these manufactured albums generic, cliché, insipid titles like Something New, Beatles ’65, Beatles VI, The Beatles’ Second Album, and The Early Beatles (the lattermost of which was an 11-track version of Please Please Me). They mismatched songs from very different-sounding albums, like putting Help! tracks on RS and mashing together RS and Revolver songs on Yesterday…and Today. This gave fans the completely false impression that The Beatles were still stuck in a certain style long after they’d moved on and matured.
I wish I could say I don’t understand why there was even a market for boxed sets of these repackagings some years back, but everyone knows what nostalgic, aging Boomers are like. They wanted to waltz down memory lane with the albums they grew up with, instead of readjusting to the proper British releases. I don’t want to generalise and insult anyone, given how many Boomers I know and respect, but this generation is beyond self-absorbed. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard/read a Boomer referencing being a Boomer when it has absolutely nothing to do with anything:
“I’m a Baby Boomer, and my mother has Alzheimer’s….”
“I’m a proud Boomer, and I have Golden Retrievers…”
“As a Boomer, I have happy memories of Colorforms…”
“Many Boomers have proud memories of…”
“Did I mention, I’m a Boomer?”
“I live in Boston, have cats, and I’m a Baby Boomer!”
“As more Boomers retire, there’s a greater need for home health aides…”
To quote the worst rapper alive, “Me! Me! It’s all about me!”
I was born at the tail-end of Gen X, and I have never seen any of my generation-mates referencing this accident of birth unless it’s relevant. You were born between 1946-64. Big deal. The world won’t stop turning if you’re not constantly reminding everyone you happen to be a freaking Boomer. Believe it or not, you’re not the first or last generation to deal with things like retirement, divorce, raising children, health problems, buying cars, sex, remarriage, working, caring for aging parents, or owning pets. Get over yourselves already!