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Monday, April 13, 2015

MEET THE BEATLES!

Unaware that Vee-Jay Records was about to release an album of its own, Capitol Records put together a package of the Beatles' most up-to-date recordings, taken primarily from their second UK album.  No American album would be considered complete, however, without the inclusion of the latest hit single.  And so, I Want to Hold Your Hand, the song currently sweeping the nation, was automatically placed at the top of side one.  Also included were that single's American B-side I Saw Her Standing There (note that Capitol did not make the mistake that Vee-Jay had and left Paul's "1, 2, 3, Faw!" count-in intact), as well as its British B-side This Boy.

The other nine songs (this initial album was one of Capitol's generous ones, offering us twelve tracks - most of subsequent albums only featured eleven) came from the November 1963 release With the Beatles.  These songs were all of the original compositions from the British album - seven attributed to Lennon/McCartney and one by Harrison - plus the Broadway standard Till There Was You from The Music Man.  The remaining five tracks from With the Beatles not appearing on this LP were covers of tunes by American rock and roll acts, and some writers speculate that the decision-makers at Capitol may have felt that the Beatles' versions might not go over well with American record buyers.  In their defense, perhaps they also wanted to present the Beatles as true originals, since it was unusual for any group to write most of its own material at that time.  

SIDE ONE

I Want to Hold Your Hand
I Saw Her Standing There
This Boy
It Won't Be Long
All I've Got to Do
All My Loving

SIDE TWO

Don't Bother Me
Little Child
Till There Was You
Hold Me Tight
I Wanna Be Your Man
Not a Second Time

Whereas the cover of Vee-Jay's album was barebones, Capitol pulled out all the stops.  First of all, it used Robert Freeman's soon-to-be-iconic front cover photograph from With the Beatles, yet chose to give it a blue tint.  The back cover contained extensive liner notes, detailing several of the most striking events of Beatlemania in Britain from the past year.  The notes even hyped the group's three upcoming performances on the Ed Sullivan Show and revealed that they were about to begin filming a feature for United Artists.

The reasoning behind the excessive hype was that, like most acts in the music business, the Beatles were expected to soon be forgotten, no matter how huge they were at the moment, so it was best to make a quick buck off of them and move on to the next big thing.  No one could foresee that not only would the LP jump to number one on the charts, it would start to change the perception of the album as a unit of commerce in an industry that was currently dominated by the single.

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