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Top 5: Botched Beatles releases

Top 5: Botched Beatles / Movie Medley

Apple take The Beatles’ legacy very seriously. This has been illustrated recently by the fact that they are refusing to allow the reverb-drenched and fake stereo Capitol versions of some songs appear on the new U.S. Albums box set despite the fact that they are historically accurate.

However, Apple didn’t always rule the Beatles’ domain with an iron fist and EMI have allowed some rather dubious releases into the shops over the years and decades.

Here’s our favourite five Beatles releases that shouldn’t have happened:


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1 Cassette Tapes of the 1970s

Shockingly, EMI messed around with the running order of studio albums to balance the timings for the cassette releases back in the 1970s. So for example, instead the first track on the Please Please Me being I Saw Her Standing There (with Paul’s memorable “1,2,3,4..” count-in) it’s Misery on the tape! Only Sgt Pepper’s Hearts Club Band went unbutchered; Rubber Soul doesn’t begin with Drive My Car, The White Album (incredibly) doesn’t end with Goodnight, and Abbey Road kicks off with Here Comes The Sun not Come Together. The running orders were finally corrected when new tapes were issued in 1987.


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2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Music compilation(s)

In early 1976 The Beatles’ contract with EMI came to an end and the label started to look at ways to exploit the band’s catalogue. A wave of fifties nostalgia in the mid-’70s prompted them to release the double album Rock ‘n’ Roll Music in June 1976. The retro-fifties design treatment (jukebox, a ’57 Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Marilyn Monroe) for a band that was the very definition of the sixties, was as bizarre as it was misguided. The first two sides featured lots of the early covers found on albums like Please Please Me and Beatles For Sale with sides three and four moving on to the ‘rockier’ later tracks like Taxman, Hey Bulldog and Get Back. George Martin did some controversial ‘fiddling’ and created new stereo mixes. John Lennon and Ringo were particularly vocal about their dislike for the artwork and it was later improved when this double was split into two albums. As a final insult these ended up on EMI’s budget ‘Music For Pleasure’ imprint. Beatles don’t do ‘budget’!!


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3. The Beatles’ Movie Medley

Released in 1982 to promote the movie music compilation Reel Music, The Beatles’ Movie Medley was basically a Fab Four ‘megamix’ designed to compete with the likes of the Stars On 45 Medley. The four minute single features excerpts from Magical Mystery Tour, All You Need Is Love, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, I Should Have Known Better, A Hard Day’s Night, Ticket To Ride and Get Back. It did manage to scrape into the UK top ten but remains the only Beatles’ single not available on CD, which tells its own story.


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4. Sessions album (unreleased)

EMI had made the most of previously reissued material. They reissued all the singles in the mid-seventies and were constantly putting out compilations such a Love Songs (1977), Rarities (1978), The Beatles Ballads (1980) and 20 Greatest Hits (1982). There was also a number of box sets including The Beatles Collection (vinyl ‘blue’ box) and The Beatles Box. What they hadn’t done at any point during the 1970s was issue any previously unreleased studio material. They fiddled around for years with ideas, possible track listings and titles, such as Look Back, or Rarities 2. The truth was 12 years after the band split they were still not exactly sure what they had, so in 1982 engineer John Barrett was tasked with listening to all the session recordings.

This eventually lead not to an album release, but to The Beatles Live At Abbey Road, a tour of the famous recording studio open to the (paying) public for a couple of months in late summer 1983. This provided a visual history of The Beatles’ recording career accompanied by a soundtrack featuring outtakes and alternate mixes. Ironically, the combination of preparing the tapes for this show and allowing the public in, lead to material getting in the hands of bootleggers. Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick eventually prepared a 13-track Sessions album in 1984 (full of edits and remixes) but a planned 1985 release  was eventually scrapped when the surviving Beatles found out about the plans. D’oh! Ten years much of this would surface on the Anthology project.


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Love Me Do 50th Anniversary reissue

If you think all the cock-ups are consigned to history, think again. On 5 October 2012 EMI proudly re-issued the seven-inch single of The Beatles debut single Love Me Do. This was in celebration of 50 years since the original release. What should have been fantastic celebration turned into something of a damb squib. The reason? EMI had accidentally released the version of the song with session drummer Andy White behind the kit. He had played on the album version of Love Me Do, but not the version issued as a single back in 1962 which featured Ringo. They withdraw the incorrect version on the eve of release but not early enough to stop some fans getting deliveries from sites like Play.com. HMV Trocadero in London also put out its entire stock of the ‘wrong’ version on the morning of Monday 8 October, proving that someone hadn’t got the memo.



Apple/Universal will issue The U.S. Albums box set on 20 January 2014.

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28 responses to Top 5: Botched Beatles releases

  1. DogFacedBoy says:

    Bit rough on Rock N Roll comps – they were the first place I heard all the 50’s rock n roll covers (hence the artwork) from the EPs n B-sides before yer days of Past Masters and pricey 3″ CD single box sets

    and, what no ‘Love’? :-)

  2. Zurth says:

    I wait for the Mono- and StereoVersion of the US-White Album. The most tracks are different to the english version.

  3. Stevie Dal says:

    I’d love a straight reissue of Beatles Ballads, one of the best compilations ever released.

  4. Dougie Adam says:

    Love was made with the Beatles and Apple’s approval – Harrison had the original idea and McCartney, Starr and Ono had a listen to the mixes etc.

  5. Justin says:

    I agree Paul. “LOVE” in 5.1 is how it should be heard, I’m guessing that surround was the original intent for both the stage show and the release.

    I also have fond memories of both “Rock N Roll Music” on vinyl and “Ballads” compilations. The “Ballads” cassette in particular lived in my parents car for years.

  6. nick brown says:

    I Am A Huge Beatles Fan And I Think That They Should Release A Get Back Box Set I Mean There Was Over 700 Hours Of Audio Recorded And What Do We Get A Few Tracks On Anthology 3 And Let’s Not Forget The Fly On The Wall On Let It Be Naked All 26 Mins Come On Apple And E.M.I. Don’t You Realise Your’e Sitting On A Goldmine I Personally Have All The Get Back/ Let It Be Sessions And They Are Fantastic Just A Raw Garrage Band Without The Phil Spector Treatment,Getting Back To Let It Be Naked This Must Be The Worst Beatles album Ever !

    • Chris Straub says:

      what???

    • John says:

      Hi Nick, I am also a huge 1st generation Beatle fan. I saw them in Atlantic City, NJ in August of ’64; did NOT hear a thing. Anyway, I also have damn near all of the 700 hours of the Get Back sessions. I would be surprised if the Beatles would want much if any of this released. They still won’t release “Let It Be”. I think that if this was released that it would take the title “Worst Beatle Album Ever. Maybe if released like the BBC tapes, just a couple of cd’s at a time. A box set just may be too much.

  7. nick brown says:

    For Those People Who Liked The Love Album If You Go On You Tube
    There Is A Fan Made Version Called Hate.Love Hate Get It
    It’s Intresting To Say The Least

  8. My Jelly says:

    Total garbage ‘Apple taking The Beatles legacy very seriously’ along with Universal they have released yet another ‘money spinner’ with the ‘USA Albums Box set’. But it’s not in the original format, the tracks are the 2009 remasters not the original recordings. You pay ‘if your daft enough’ £145 for the USA replica lp covers. Treat yourselves to the Capitol Volume 1 & 2 box sets to hear what the original USA releases sounded like.
    Another money spinner from Apple/Universal pay £35 on I-Tunes to download poor recordings duplicated songs into MP3 format painful on the ears. The latest ‘Beatles at the Beeb’ Volumes 1 & 2 are suffice. How about sorting out the whole back catalogue out to the standards of ‘Yellow Submarine’ (1999) and ‘Let It Be…Naked’ (2003).

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The point is those reverb-drenched US versions are not what the band intended the records to sound like. So it is not ‘total garbage’ to say that by NOT restoring them Apple are taking the Beatles legacy seriously. Why would they want to reissue something considered third rate and not how they wanted their records to sound?! If a third party scribbled over the “Mona Lisa” after Leonardo Da Vinci had finished painting it, would you want that to remain part of the painting even though the artist had no hand in it or wanted it to be there?

      The price of the US Albums box is a separate issue. Some may consider it as cash-grab. Fine. Don’t buy it. It’s definitely a slightly flawed concept, no question. But the artists have the right to say ‘that’s crap, we’ve never liked it and we don’t want it (re)released’.

      • John says:

        The point of releasing the USA albums as originally released is this; This is what we FIRST generation fans FIRST heard when The Beatles were breaking here in the USA. It was our FIRST introduction to THE BAND. We ALL know they sound 1000% better now. Those “second and third rate” recordings are our history with the band. We all have much better sounding recordings of the same songs. We can listen to THEM anytime we wish. Maybe we want what WE grew up with. Is that so wrong? No one is forcing YOU to buy it. Since it IS being released in this way I guess they never said “that’s crap, we’ve never liked it and we don’t want it (re)released.”

  9. wardo says:

    My biggest beef with Apple is the continued non-appearance of the Christmas messages on some kind of release, be it CD, download or streaming.

  10. Mark Phillips says:

    “The point is those reverb-drenched US versions are not what the band intended the records to sound like. ”

    Sorry to disagree but whatever the band intended, the US releases should replicate what the original albums actually sounded like. After all, they sold millions of copies and millions of American Beatles fans must hanker for a CD that sounds like they remember.

    It’s totally pointless to put the 2009 tracks out again, in a different order. If they won’t release the correct mixes, “butchered” or not, it’s a huge miscalculation.

    I’m sticking to the Capitol box sets.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Don’t have any issues with people disagreeing. My earlier point was that there is a logic behind what Apple are doing, even if you don’t like it and think it’s the wrong decision.

      By the way, my understanding is that unique edits/versions on the US Albums reissues will remain – they are being taken from Capitol Analogue masters. What they are not using are the fake stereo versions and tracks with added reverb. In other words it’s not quite as black and white as you make out. There will still be tracks unique to the US albums amongst the 2009 remaster versions.

  11. Gary says:

    Look if Apple cared at all about the fans they’d stick out a version of the film Let It Be. My old bootleg of it is horrific. It’s way over due, so stop fleecing fans with yet more box sets, just get Let It Be out of the vaults.

  12. Gazelle says:

    An interesting article. I was not aware of the amended running order of the original cassette releases. The only other release not discussed here is 1977’s ‘Live At The Hollywood Bowl’, which to my knowledge has never been available digitally – either on CD or download – and as such, has been effectively airbrushed from what is considered to be their canon.

  13. abitoftap says:

    In the early 70s a friend had an 8 track cartridge system. I remember eg a Roxy lp where one song was faded down then up as it switched between 2 of the 4 programs. Having read the cassette track rearrangement bit, I thought that they were likely to have done even worse things to the 8 track cartridge versions. I was right! Look what they did to Abbey Road…..http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Beatles-Abbey-Road-factory-sealed-APPLE-8-track-tape-Beatles-unopened-circa-1970-/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/z/7bgAAOxyVLNSt0h3/$_57.JPG

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Brilliant! “Her Majesty” as track four – you couldn’t make it up!! Also no one needs to have “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” that early in the album.

  14. Marshall Fish says:

    Great article and a fun read! Thanks.

    Marshall

    My review of The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 iTunes release:
    http://marshfish.hubpages.com/hub/Review-The-Beatles-Bootleg-Recordings-1963-iTunes-release

  15. Joey d'Entremont says:

    Hey, I actually have a copy of The Beatles Movie Medley 45. I wonder if it`s worth anything.

  16. Tom Gardner says:

    If the track listing mash up was bad for The Beatles catalogue the first three Springsteen cassettes in the UK suffered far worse including the fading in and out of tracks – The original Born To Run tape has the title track split into 2 parts over both sides.

    As for the missing Beatles compilations, I’d welcome a release on CD of “A Collection of Oldies…” and the US “Rarities” album.

  17. David Barron says:

    This has to be a Boxset for Beatles Completists only, and even though I am a fan this one I am not buying as the only US Album that anyone should buy is Magical Mystery Tour.

    There was no doubt that from 1987 onwards which way Apple/The Beatles wanted people to listen to the albums, and that is how they were originally released here in the UK, reverb free, mixed and originally sequenced by George Martin/The Beatles.

    Past Masters is no doubt a compromise but there had to be somewhere back in 1988 for all the UK Singles, EPs and other oddities that did not appear on the original UK Albums to appear on a Double LP/CD.

  18. Kevin says:

    It should also be noted that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Music compilation came out at time when the Beatles were enjoying a minor resurgence in popularity (in the US, this was undoubtedly helped by McCartney’s Wings Over America tour). According to Wikipedia, the album reached no. 2 on the album chart (Wings at the Speed of Sound was no. 1). “Got to Get You Into My Life” (backed with “Helter Skelter”) was released as a single, and was a hit.

    The only problem I had with the compilation was that the album sleeve did not hold together well at all. The adhesive holding the various parts together failed pretty quickly; my copy had one side of the gatefold sleeve come completely apart, with the other side just starting to.

  19. Jacko says:

    I’ve just picked them up individually at Walmart. Easy peasy!

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