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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

BEATLES '65

While Vee-Jay was flooding the US market with its final flurry of re-releases in the fall of 1964, Capitol was uncharacteristically laying low, though not for lack of trying.  With the permission of manager Brian Epstein and the Beatles, the LA-based label had recorded the group's Hollywood Bowl concert on August 23rd with the intention of issuing a live album, but the relatively primitive equipment of the time and the overwhelming screaming of the crowd made those recordings unusable (thirteen years later, producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick would find a way to create an album using those same tapes).

Instead, Capitol assembled a documentary album entitled The Beatles' Story and issued it on November 23rd.  Amazingly, this two-record set went all the way to number seven on the Billboard albums chart.  On the same date, the single I Feel Fine b/w She's a Woman was released, four days ahead of its UK debut.  These exciting songs were the first new material from the group since A Hard Day's Night back in the summer, and the single quickly became a number one hit.

On December 15th, just barely in time for Christmas, the latest album arrived - Beatles '65.

SIDE ONE

No Reply
I'm a Loser
Baby's in Black
Rock and Roll Music
I'll Follow the Sun
Mr. Moonlight

SIDE TWO

Honey Don't
I'll Be Back
She's a Woman
I Feel Fine
Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby

Eight of these songs were from the new British album Beatles for Sale (in fact, the tracks on side one of this album are the first six from that one, and in the same order for a change).  Of course, that left Capitol with six tracks in reserve for a future compilation.  In addition, we were finally treated to I'll Be Back, the one leftover from the UK version of A Hard Day's Night, plus the almost obligatory inclusion of the two songs from the latest single.

At this point, I find it necessary to invoke the name of Dave Dexter, Jr. - a name which lives in infamy for many Beatles fans.  It was he who had turned the group down on behalf of Capitol Records multiple times in 1963.  When the label eventually agreed to issue their material in the US, Dexter was the man who decided how to repackage it for the American market.  He also had the authority to reproduce the recordings, frequently sweetening George Martin's preferred dry sound by adding reverb.  The most extreme example of this by far is on the songs from the single, I Feel Fine and, most egregiously, on She's a Woman.  Yet when these tracks are followed on this album by Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - a song on which Martin and engineer Norman Smith themselves added a tremendous amount of reverb to George Harrison's vocal - they don't sound that out of place.

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