Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Beatles Discography - Part 2

To follow up the release of Meet the Beatles, Capitol Records quickly released The Beatles Second Album two months later. The LP contained the covers that were left off Meet the Beatles and five original songs that hadn't been released on LP. The album went straight to No. 1, displacing the American Beatles debut.

The Beatles third LP (4th in the U.S.), A Hard Day’s Night, also had differing U.K./U.S. versions, a trend that would continue until Sgt. Pepper in 1967. The U.K. Version contained 14 original songs, including the seven songs written for the film. The U.S. version had the seven soundtrack songs along with five instrumental tracks performed by studio musicians and conducted by George Martin.

As a soundtrack, the LP was released on United Artists Records in the U.S. and not on Capitol. Each of the LPs had differing though similar cover art, with Robert Freeman photographs; four on the American version with a prominent red border, 20 on the British issue with a blue background. The songs not included in the American release would be included in the Capitol only album Something New just a month later. That LP would also contain two additional original tracks and a German-language version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." A Hard Day's Night would spend 14 weeks at No. 1 with Something New sitting in the penultimate position, never making it to the top.

Here's something for collectors. Parlophone released a limited number of the Something New LP for servicemen overseas. Get your hands on one and you're a thousand dollars richer.

In the U.S., Something New was followed by a documentary LP called The Beatles Story followed by Beatles '65 which contained 8 of the 14 songs from the British canon LP, Beatles For Sale, released December 4, 1964. The six omitted songs would appear on Beatles VI later in the year but not until after Capitol's release of The Early Beatles. Capitol had obtained the right to those songs on Introducing the Beatles released by VeeJay (12 of the 14 songs from Please Please Me). The LP was released without fanfare and was the only American release of a Beatles album not to make it to No. 1 or No. 2 on the charts. The Early Beatles made it to only No. 43.

In the meantime, the Beatles 4th British release, Beatles For Sale, would replace A Hard Day's Night as the top-selling LP and would stay there for seven weeks. It was replaced by The Rolling Stones No. 2, but would return to the top after a week. The Stones would regain the position after three weeks, but the Beatles, for sale it not, would again surge to No. 1 until ousted by Dylan's first electric release, Bringing It All Back Home. Eleven weeks total at No. 1.

The first James Bond film, Dr. No, was released in 1962 and by 1965, with stellar hits like Goldfinger, the 007 films were immensely popular. The Beatles' timely spoof on espionage, Help!, found the Fab Four striving to record their new album while a fanatical cult aimed to steal one of Ringo's rings, all in glorious technicolor. It's not A Hard Day's Night but many consider the musical segments among the first music videos.

The U.K. release of the LP, the Beatles' fifth, had seven songs from the film on Side One with seven additional songs on Side Two, among them "Yesterday," the most covered song in music history. The American version, on the other hand, was a true soundtrack with the seven originals songs and incidental music from the film.

The British album cover features the Beatles in semaphore positions supposedly spelling out HELP. According to Beatle photographer Robert Freeman, their positions just didn’t look right and so, in reality, the Beatles are really spelling out NUVJ , or, on the American release NJUV.

And here's where it gets confusing again. The seven songs from Side Two of the British release were spread among three American releases. Three songs on the previously released Beatles VI, two on Rubber Soul and two on Yesterday and Today, a Capitol only release. You're beginning to see why there were only 11 British releases vs. the 19 in the U.S. 

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