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Friday, January 4, 2013

Yesterday b/w I Should Have Known Better

I was unaware of this release until I read about it in The Mammoth Book of the Beatles by Sean Egan.  All of my information in this entry comes from that source.

Egan relates that in early 1976, three years after the release of the Red and Blue albums, the Beatles' contract with EMI expired.  Over the course of the next several years the recording giant would conduct an aggressive repackaging campaign of the group's back catalog to capitalize on the public's never-ending demand for material by the greatest act in showbiz history.  It didn't even matter that every recording the group had ever made was still readily available - just the illusion of something new was good enough to get fans to plunk down their money for the latest release.

On March 6th, all twenty-two of the group's original UK singles - from Love Me Do to Let It Be - were re-released in new picture sleeves.  Two days later, this new single appeared - the first addition to the band's official catalog.  The Beatles, manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin had decided back in 1965 not to release Yesterday as a single, feeling it was not representative of their work as a group.  It was buried on the British version of the album Help! - the thirteenth track out of a total fourteen.  Other record companies under the EMI umbrella, including Capitol in the US, were free to do as they pleased, so the song soon appeared as a single throughout the world, rapidly achieving its status as one of the all-time great standards.  On March 8th, 1976, the recording finally got its due on the Beatles' home turf.

For reasons unknown, EMI did not select another song from the Help! sessions for the B-side, but jumped back one full year for I Should Have Known Better.  While this catchy tune had previously served as the B-side to A Hard Day's Night in the US, its placement here is a bit of a head-scratcher.

This single went as high as number eight.  By April 4th, all twenty-three singles appeared in the top one hundred.  Egan correctly points out that this is "a feat possibly even more impressive than the group's domination of the Billboard chart in 1964 - considering that they were a defunct unit who were playing no part in advertising the records in question."


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