The Beatles: The U.S. Albums
Although I wasn’t born when the Beatles first arrived in America, that didn’t stop me from liberating their albums from my eldest sister and memorizing every word, harmony and riff until I could hear them in my sleep, and repeatedly dream of the Capitol Records’ label with its dome logo and colorband ring spinning in my head. However, I’ll shamefacedly admit that during my early adulthood I thought I’d outgrown the mop topped Fab Four and briefly pushed them aside as I sought to forge my own musical identity, but an eager audiophile soon set me back onto the right track. Now, with the release of the Beatles’ 13-disc box set The U.S. Albums, I too finally have the opportunity to turn back time and experience a taste of Beatlemania for myself. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America and first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, this box set includes all of the original artwork from the Capitol Records’ releases, and a 64-page illustrated booklet with an in depth essay written by American television executive and author Bill Flanagan. Warning: this box set is NOT for Beatles purists, but instead intended solely for fans who want to recreate their youthful American listening experience of the Beatles in digital form.
If like me, you lived in the U.S. during your formative years, these are the track sequences and album covers you know (and worship) for better or worse, which differ greatly from the versions first released on CD in 1987, and again with the release of the Beatles’ remastered catalog in 2009. While many can (and undoubtedly will) endlessly argue the U.S. versions’ echt value, the point here isn’t to determine which versions are superior, but instead to transport you back into the youthful euphoria of hearing the Beatles’ albums for the first time in America. Whether revered or despised likely depends upon your own introduction into the Beatles’ musical canon, but these Americanized versions, with their synthesis of Capitol’s stereo and mono versions and George Martin’s remastering, are historic nonetheless. The set includes the best of both worlds; Capitol’s unique variations of several mixes interspersed with the 2009 remastered tracks, ensuring the ultimate retro Beatles experience.
This set also marks the first time many of these albums have been made available in the U.K. (which could mean quite a revelation to young Beatles’ fans across the pond), as well as the first time The Beatles’ Story (available exclusively in this box set), Hey Jude, Yesterday and Today, A Hard Day’s Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), and the U.S. version of Revolver have been available on compact disc. The original artwork of these releases has been painstakingly reproduced, complete with a sticker replica of the alternate Yesterday and Today cover, which was originally issued after the “butcher” cover was recalled in 1966.
The U.S. albums (notorious for their equalized echo chamber sound, or duophonic simulated stereo, and arbitrarily sequenced track lists) reportedly annoyed the band members, which is believed to be the inspiration behind the infamous “Butcher’s Block” cover (featuring the band holding disjointed baby dolls and raw meat while sporting white lab coats) for the U.S. only release Yesterday and Today.
The Capitol/Universal 2014 box set includes:
Meet the Beatles!, The Beatles’ Second Album, A Hard Day’s Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Something New, Beatles ’65, The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Rubber Soul, Yesterday and Today, Revolver, Hey Jude, and The Beatles’ Story.