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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"YESTERDAY"...AND TODAY

The first half of 1966 had been uncharacteristically quiet as far as Beatles releases go, with only the singles Nowhere Man b/w What Goes On and Paperback Writer b/w Rain appearing in the US.  Capitol Records had even resisted the urge to issue yet another compilation album - until June 20th, that is, when the most wide-ranging collection to date arrived in stores.

"Yesterday"...and Today made news even before its release due to the infamous butcher cover, showing the group with raw meat and baby dolls in pieces.  Complaints from disc jockeys and reviewers who had received promotional copies of the album resulted in the recall of 750,000 units, which were either destroyed or had the new steamer trunk cover pasted over them for resale.  The Wikipedia article for this album contains extensive information about the price that collectors have been willing to pay over the years for original copies in various conditions.

As to the record itself, the line-up was as follows:

SIDE ONE

Drive My Car
I'm Only Sleeping
Nowhere Man
Doctor Robert
Yesterday
Act Naturally

SIDE TWO

And Your Bird Can Sing
If I Needed Someone
We Can Work it Out
What Goes On
Day Tripper

First of all, note that Capitol had reverted to its standard practice of giving us eleven tracks, after magnanimously treating us to twelve on Rubber Soul.  Furthermore, only five songs were new to American fans, as the other six had all appeared on singles over the previous nine months.

But the new tracks were glorious, starting with Drive My Car and If I Needed Someone, the last two leftovers from Rubber Soul.  Even better were the three world premieres from the current album-in-the-works, by coincidence all Lennon compositions.  When the request for material to fill out this album had come from America, producer George Martin had quickly prepared mono and stereo mixes of these songs for Capitol, but he would later submit them to further mixing before their release on the UK version of Revolver.  The most obvious difference is on the track I'm Only Sleeping, with the US mix lacking some of George Harrison's backwards guitar part.

The resulting album spanned almost a full year in the recording history of the Beatles, with a heavy emphasis on songs by John Lennon.  This could have been balanced somewhat if McCartney's great B-side I'm Down (recorded on the same day as Yesterday) had been included.  Instead, that track became one of only a few to somehow never appear on a US album during the group's career.     

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