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Thoughts on US/UK Beatle album differences

Subject: Re: Why the differences in U.S. vs U.K. albums
From: Kintyre)
Date: 22 Mar 1996 16:14:28 GMT

The last time this topic came up, I posted some information I
had learned here on rmb, and am repeating it here in at least a
partial defense of Capitol:

Like you, I always attributed the differences in the Parlophone and
Capitol releases to be purely the result of greed on the part of
Capitol. NealK posted a wonderful explanation of the situation a
while back that made me change my thinking. I was hoping he would
repost it in response to your comments, but since he hasn't, I'll
have a bash at it.
Although the opportunity to make some extra profit off the Beatles
could certainly have played a part, there were other things that
played into the repackaging of the Beatles for the American market:

1. UK albums generally had more tracks than the standard US album.
Increasing the number of tracks on a US album reset the royalties
to be paid at a higher figure, so Capitol chose to cut a song or
two from an album. That was indeed a financial move on their part,
but not one made simply because they wanted to rip off Beatle fans
by "saving up" songs for later albums -- at that point the general
belief was that there would only be a couple of Beatle albums
before they went the way of all fads anyway!

2. UK albums generally did not include hit singles, US albums did.
Fans expected to see "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the album and
Capitol complied. In order to put the singles on, they had to remove
other songs. This had more effect on the number of "left over" songs
than reducing the number of tracks did.

3. The Beatles already had several hit singles and a hit album
(Please Please Me) out in England before they became popular in the
states. These songs became available to Capitol for release and added
to the volume of songs in the "extra songs pool" for compiling extra

4. Capitol also selected tracks based on what they believed
American fans would like. Since many of the songs the Beatles
covered on early albums were originally by American artists, they
had to consider whether the remake would go over well. Was the
original such a favorite that a cover would seem a rip off of the
original artist or a poor imitation? Or was the original such a
dog that seeing the cover listed on the album might turn off a
potential buyer? How long had it been since the original? If it
was last years big hit, were Americans ready to hear it again? All
that turned out to be a moot point -- the Beatles repeatedly outdid
the originals with their covers -- and we would have happily
listened to them sing the phone book anyway!

5. In the US, movie soundtrack albums were just that -- music and
songs from the movie. Therefore, with the Hard Days Night and Help!
albums we got the George Martin Orchestra doing instrumental
versions of some songs. The UK got a solid line-up of the Beatles
including songs that were not featured in the movies. More songs
for the pool!  

NealK's excellent post went on to say that, given those
circumstances, the track lists Capitol came up with were just fine,
in fact, it would have been difficult to do any better. There has
been some argument here on rmb that in the case of Rubber Soul,
Capitol did even better than the Beatles original. Since they had
more songs to choose from in putting together their track lists, I
guess it is only logical that at some point they would come up with
an album that was a little more cohesive or flowed better than the
original. It is all a matter of personal preference anyway --
everyone has a song they don't care for. And who hasn't taped an
album leaving off a song or rearranging the order? I was thrilled
when EMI put out the original Parlophone releases on CD. It was
wonderful to hear the songs grouped the way the Beatles wrote them
and listen to their musical progression from album to album. What
a revelation to find "I've Just Seen a Face" was written back with
the other "Help!" songs -- But there will always be a part of me
that "needs" to hear it with the rest of Rubber Soul!

But back to the original point. Capitol was not adverse to making
big money off the Beatles, but to say they bastardized and
prostituted the music and tore apart the albums for the sole purpose
of creating more albums simply isn't true.


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