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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vee-Jay goes all in

The ongoing legal wrangling with Capitol Records did little to discourage the decision-makers at Vee-Jay.  Instead, their feeling seemed to be that the Beatles were such a sensation in the US that there was plenty of money to go around to keep everyone happy.  Vee-Jay's Introducing...the Beatles was the second-best selling album in the land, and the singles Please Please Me and Twist and Shout on the Tollie label were rising to the number three and number two spots on the chart.  As litigation passed the two month mark, Vee-Jay prepared two more records for release on the same day - March 23rd, 1964.

One of them was the single Do You Want to Know a Secret b/w Thank You Girl.  The latter song had already served as the B-side to From Me to You about a year earlier, but the real story was the new A-side.  A full four years before ever getting a B-side on one of the group's singles in the UK, George Harrison had his first lead vocal on a Beatles' record released as an A-side in America, and it would go all the way to number two on the Billboard chart.

The other release on this date was a four song extended play single, or EP, entitled Souvenir of Their Visit to America.  In the early days of rock and roll, it was not uncommon for performers such as Elvis or Carl Perkins to have a good portion of their catalog issued on EPs.  The format was still popular in England in the first half of the 1960's, but it was falling out of favor in the US.  Still, Vee-Jay assembled one using four of the ten tracks they had not yet repackaged, as follows:

Side A

A Taste of Honey

Side B

Ask Me Why
Anna (Go to Him)

Note that A Taste of Honey is incorrectly listed as Taste of Honey on both the sleeve (pictured above) and label, and Anna lacks the subtitle (Go to Him).  The Wikipedia entry for this release states that it sold very well (just how well, it does not say), but it did not qualify for the charts due to the fact that part of its sales were of the mail-order variety.

On April 9th, Vee-Jay's gamble paid off when a settlement was finally reached with Capitol Records.  Perhaps surprisingly, Vee-Jay was allowed to maintain control over the same sixteen tracks it had been issuing for a period of six more months, at which point the rights to those titles would revert to Capitol.  The tenacious little label may have lost the ultimate battle (remember that it had originally had a five-year deal before the unpaid royalties scandal), but the Beatles' gravy train would keep it afloat for the immediate future.

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