Dateline: Davis, CA. COVID-19 “shelter-in-place” quarantine, March 18 through…?, 2020
Continuing our in-depth examination of how Capitol Records handled the Beatles’ output in the U.S.A…
Tracks as yet “un-albumized” by Capitol will appear in bold, even if they’ve had a Capitol single release.
The Beatles had gone into the studio from February 25 to March 1, 1964 to finish their next single and the songs that would be featured in their film A Hard Day’s Night. They got under way by completing work on Can’t Buy Me Love, which they had started in EMI’s Paris studios during their residency at the Olympia Theatre the month before. It was definitely planned for inclusion in the film, but released as a single well before the film’s release. That way, the film could boast an already-proven hit song on its soundtrack. The single’s B-side “You Can’t Do That” was recorded as well. Its possible inclusion in the film was not assured, and it was snapped up by Second Album’s compilers. (In fact, a “You Can’t Do That” segment was filmed for the final concert sequence, but cut.) The songs intended for performance sequences in the movie were also recorded at these sessions — And I Love Her, I Should Have Known Better, Tell Me Why, If I Fell, I’m Happy Just To Dance With You, along with possible stand-alone British single “Long Tall Sally” and “I Call Your Name” which were quickly shipped stateside to be on Second Album.
The Beatles filmed A Hard Day’s Night through March and April under the working title Beatlemania. The film’s much-improved final title was thought of (based on a line in a Lennon poem, in turn based on expression of Ringo’s), and UA producer Walter Shenson asked the band to come up with a song to match. A Hard Day’s Night was rush-recorded towards the end of film shooting on April 16.
United Artists had no claim over the soundtrack’s release in the UK. As far as Parlophone was concerned, A Hard Day’s Night was first and foremost the Beatles’ third album, and a soundtrack by happenstance. But what they’d recorded so far would only fill one side of an LP. Parlophone needed side two…and Richard Lester indicated he needed one more song to finish off the film.
So from June 1-4, 1964 (after a well-earned break for most of May), the Beatles went back into the studio and recorded I’ll Cry Instead (the track they planned to give Lester), Any Time At All, Things We Said Today, When I Get Home, I’ll Be Back, and two covers: Ringo singing Carl Perkins’ Matchbox, and John tearing through Larry Williams’ Slow Down. (The raucous, wild-man Williams was considered New Orleans’ answer to Little Richard, and was a long-standing Beatles favorite.)
I’ll Cry Instead was dispatched to Lester, busy in the editing room, and UA made careful note of its inclusion. When Parlophone was prepping the British version of the album, they discovered if they included the B-side “You Can’t Do That” and dropped the two cover songs, making the overall album one track shorter (at 13 songs), they could call it an all-original album — every track by Lennon-McCartney!
As they held off releasing the album until the film was ready, Parlophone decided to fill the demand for new Beatles product by expanding the potential “Long Tall Sally” single into an EP — an “extended play” four-song 45-rpm, a format that was quite popular in Britain but never caught on in the States.
The Beatles’ EP Long Tall Sally, featuring “Long Tall Sally” (from the U.S. Second Album) “I Call Your Name” (likewise), and the two covers cut from the album, Matchbox and Slow Down, was released in Britain on June 19.
UA wasn’t scheduled to release the film A Hard Day’s Night in the U.S. until August 11, but they were getting antsy to cash in on the soundtrack, so they put it out super early, on June 26. They had distribution rights only to the eight songs actually in the film, so they created a full-length album by adding four segments from George Martin’s score, which were orchestral re-workings of other Beatles songs.
- A Hard Day’s Night
- Tell Me Why
- I’ll Cry Instead
- “I Should Have Known Better” (orch.)
- I’m Happy Just To Dance With You
- “And I Love Her” (orch.)
- I Should Have Known Better
- If I Fell
- And I Love Her
- “Ringo’s Theme (This Boy)” (orch.)
- Can’t Buy Me Love
- “A Hard Day’s Night” (orch.)
UA put the soundtrack out so early, I’ll Cry Instead remained on the album even though Lester dropped the song from the film at the last minute. (He didn’t think it was high-energy enough to match the action sequences it was intended for — either the frolicking-in-the-field segment, or the police chase segment — so he just used Can’t Buy Me Love twice. No one seemed to mind.)
So…EMI controlled these songs, and gave UA certain rights to them in the U.S., but what did these rights entail? It certainly seems the rights were not exclusive, because Capitol sure as hell went ahead and released them in various formats that summer. (And EMI eventually bought out the UA catalog in 1979, so all subsequent U.S. reissues of A Hard Day’s Night would be under the Capitol banner.)
The best explanation I’ve found is from the Beatles Music History website (great info, but the usual classic-rock website eyesore): Capitol could use the eight tracks in question — as long as they did not explicitly refer to or advertise whatever they put them on as a “motion picture soundtrack.” With that caveat, Capitol now had some choices to make as far as their third Beatles album was concerned.
The British version of A Hard Day’s Night came out as the Beatles third Parlophone album on July 10, 1964, with the following track list: A Hard Day’s Night / I Should Have Known Better / If I Fell / I’m Happy Just To Dance With You / And I Love Her / Tell Me Why / Can’t Buy Me Love / Any Time At All / I’ll Cry Instead / Things We Said Today / When I Get Home / “You Can’t Do That” / I’ll Be Back.
Several writers have remarked that the Beatles’ musical growth was so rapid that the difference between Parlophone’s A Hard Day’s Night side one (recorded mostly in February) was quite noticeable from side two (recorded mostly in June).
A single can’t be a “soundtrack,” right? Capitol figured as much, and put out A Hard Day’s Night / I Should Have Known Better as a single on July 13. (Parlophone put out the title song as a single in the UK too — the “no singles on albums” rule in Britain didn’t apply when the singles were tied to the marketing of their films.)
Capitol desperately needed a third Beatles album out for the summer market. The six songs from the first three British singles, and the ten songs recorded for the first British album waaay back in early ‘63 were still part of Capitol’s legal wrangle with Vee-Jay Records (see previous entry.) Capitol had enough muscle to use them if they wanted to (and occasionally did), but they still regarded this stuff as not really worth the trouble.
That leaves the two German-language songs Sie Liebt Dich and Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand recorded in January ‘64 for the German market (an experiment not to be repeated), Matchbox and Slow Down from the British Long Tall Sally EP, and, technically, everything on the newly-released British album A Hard Day’s Night.
It was immediately decided that A Hard Day’s Night would not be included. Capitol had already capitalized on it as a single, and it skirted too close to UA’s “soundtrack” turf. Its Capitol B-side I Should Have Known Better was tossed, too, for no reason I can see. Maybe it was too closely associated with the movie’s title track due it’s being on the single’s B-side. Nor was Can’t Buy Me Love or I’ll Be Back considered. I have no idea why. Even with those omissions, that still left just enough gas in the tank.
Something New (July 20, 1964)
- I’ll Cry Instead (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- Things We Said Today (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- Any Time At All (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- When I Get Home (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- Slow Down (Long Tall Sally EP)
- Matchbox (Long Tall Sally EP)
- Tell Me Why (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- And I Love Her (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- I’m Happy Just To Dance With You (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- If I Fell (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand (German-language single on EMI’s Odeon Records, 2/4/64)
The cover is another shot from the Ed Sullivan appearance. The title seems a touch ironic as almost all of side two had been available to U.S. record buyers on the UA soundtrack for almost a month. The soundtrack kept Something New out of the #1 album spot, showing that the fans drew no distinction between UA and Capitol product.
And I can kind of follow Capitol’s logic in terms of song choice through this whole process…until the end of side two here. Why the hell did they include “Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand” when they still had other stuff to choose from? I can only guess as to why better options weren’t chosen instead. I’ll Be Back is a brilliant song, and would have made an infinitely better choice. I suppose it may have been a little too downbeat for an album that already included melancholy songs like “If I Fell” and “Things We Said Today.” Capitol was still trying to sell the Beatles based on excitement (!!) after all. Probably someone at Capitol thought the German song would be a fun novelty for the kids. (They used to put shit like that on early Beach Boys albums all the time). Actually, anything from the ‘63 sessions would have been a better call than that Teutonic atrocity.
For two days in August 1964, and then for a longer span of sessions in September-October, the Beatles recorded another set of songs, ten originals and six covers paying homage to their usual inspirations — Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins.
And also in October, Vee-Jay Records’ licensing deal for the sixteen earliest Beatles songs expired, giving Capitol uncontested control over the recordings
In November, Capitol put out the double-LP The Beatles’ Story, an “audio documentary” (read: rip-off) consisting of interview clips, song snippets, and cheesy narration by a trio of bland news radio types.
The Beatles’ latest batch of material came out in the UK in the form of the single I Feel Fine / She’s A Woman (11/27/64, a week earlier in the U.S.) and the album Beatles For Sale (12/4/64) with the following track list: No Reply / I’m A Loser / Rock And Roll Music / I’ll Follow The Sun / Mr. Moonlight / Kansas City-Hey Hey Hey Hey / Eight Days A Week / Words Of Love / Honey Don’t / Every Little Thing / I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party / What You’re Doing / Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby.
With the master tapes in hand, the folks at Capitol rolled up their sleeves and got to work to get the U.S. version onto store shelves in time for Christmas. As usual, the 14-song British album would be snipped to 11 songs. So that’s three songs dropped already. And both sides of the new single would be added, so that’s another two from For Sale that would go into the vaults. Someone may have noticed the For Sale material was a little more muted and world-weary than their earlier stuff. The lone Hard Day’s Night leftover, the regretful I’ll Be Back, would fit perfectly.
The Beatles never regarded Eight Days A Week as anything special. It was vaguely in the running to be the next single (as was No Reply and I’m A Loser — I Feel Fine ended up getting the nod), but ended up as just another album track for Beatles For Sale. (McCartney always avoided the derogatory term “filler” when discussing Beatles songs, and instead used the term “work songs” to describe material they felt was written simply to meet a quota. Eight Days A Week was considered a “work song.”) Someone at Capitol — hell, it may have been Dave Dexter himself — surmised that the bright, bouncy Eight Days A Week would make a great single in the U.S. So it was held off the new album and reserved for a single release early in the new year — and the next album could then be built around it.
Beatles ‘65 (December 15, 1964)
- No Reply (Beatles For Sale)
- I’m A Loser (Beatles For Sale)
- Baby’s In Black (Beatles For Sale)
- Rock And Roll Music (Beatles For Sale)
- I’ll Follow The Sun (Beatles For Sale)
- Mr. Moonlight (Beatles For Sale)
- Honey Don’t (Beatles For Sale)
- I’ll Be Back (UK A Hard Day’s Night)
- She’s A Woman (“I Feel Fine” B-side)
- I Feel Fine (single)
- Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby (Beatles For Sale)
The strategically reserved Eight Days A Week aside, Capitol’s choices as to what to keep and what to cut from Beatles For Sale seem pretty random. Or was the next single choice really strategic? Another version of the story is that Eight Days A Week was one of the arbitrary removals, but Capitol decided to put it out as a single after American DJs started playing the catchy radio-friendly tune off of imported copies of Beatles For Sale as an “exclusive.”
Either way, now they already had more than half an album’s worth of new songs at the ready, and more were about to be added.
Eight Days A Week / I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party was released as a U.S.-only single on February 15, 1965, and sure enough, went to #1. It has been regarded as one of the Beatles’ keystone songs by American listeners ever since, much to the Beatles’ own surprise. (Despite it being a #1 hit, they never included it in a single live performance.)
The Beatles started 1965 by writing and recording songs for the soundtrack to their second film. They followed the strategy that worked well for them on A Hard Day’s Night — release a single in advance of the film, it would naturally be a massive hit, then include the already-beloved massive hit in the movie. The song they picked this time was Ticket To Ride. They recorded it in February, along with its B-side, Yes It Is, and with the songs intended for the soundtrack: Another Girl, You’re Going To Lose That Girl, I Need You, The Night Before, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Tell Me What You See, You Like Me Too Much, and two outtakes, “If You’ve Got Trouble” (a clunker which was wisely dumped after a single take), and “That Means A Lot” (the Beatles really wanted this one to work, and returned to it later.) Richard Lester, returning as director, was presented with more songs than he needed. He chose six, leaving behind Yes It Is, Tell Me What You See, and You Like Me Too Much.
And then there’s the songs Capitol finally got free and clear from Vee-Jay. The Beatles’ songwriting and recording prowess had grown exponentially since the primitive early sessions these songs originated from, so the material was pretty dated. In the end, they decided to be upfront about it, titling it The Early Beatles, and lowering expectations. It simply replaced the now out-of-print Vee-Jay album Introducing…The Beatles as it faded from American record stores, and brought all Beatles songs firmly under the Capitol umbrella.
The Early Beatles (March 22, 1965)
- Love Me Do (II) (Please Please Me)
- Twist And Shout (Please Please Me)
- Anna (Go To Him) (Please Please Me)
- Chains (Please Please Me)
- Boys (Please Please Me)
- Ask Me Why (Please Please Me)
- Please Please Me (Please Please Me)
- P.S. I Love You (Please Please Me)
- Baby It’s You (Please Please Me)
- A Taste Of Honey (Please Please Me)
- Do You Want To Know A Secret (Please Please Me)
NOW ON CAPITOL the cover boldly announced, as if its target market cared about labels. (The cover featured a recent picture of the band from their autumnal Beatles For Sale photo session, certainly not the “early” Beatles.) Even with something as straightforward as this, I think Capitol made some poor choices. The Lennon-McCartney originals There’s A Place, Misery, and From Me To You were left off! Any of them would have made a better choice than something like “Chains” or “A Taste Of Honey.” Or even “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” the group’s oldest (and sappiest) official recordings, and already put out as a Capitol single back in the crazy days of April ‘64.
Ticket To Ride / Yes It Is came out in the U.S. and UK in April 1965.
Just like the year before, the Beatles shot a movie in March, April and now a ways into May. (It was a bigger, more logistically complex production.) Again, the title wasn’t thought of until production was partway through, and Help! was written and recorded in April. This time around, Capitol had two things going for it: the resulting soundtrack album was all theirs. No UA this time. And they were already tantalizingly close to having enough material to put out a full U.S. album a couple of months ahead of the film and its soundtrack.
What did Capitol already have in its arsenal?
Well, there was From Me To You, Misery, and There’s A Place. Those were over two years old, growing hair (so to speak), and would have sounded laughably out of place on an album next to the band’s much more sophisticated 1965 material. (Although I suspect Capitol didn’t care that much about that sort of thing, and probably would have thrown one or more of them on if they had no other options.) And the time for including something like Sie Liebt Dich as a jokey novelty was long past. There was Can’t Buy Me Love and A Hard Day’s Night, released as a Capitol singles, but too indelibly associated with the first film to really put on any other album. I Should Have Known Better was also passed over.
That leaves us with the December ‘64 Beatles For Sale leftovers: Eight Days A Week, which would be the new album’s anchor, its U.S. B-side I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party, along with Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey, Words Of Love, Every Little Thing, and What You’re Doing. Add to those the film soundtrack rejects Yes It Is, Tell Me What You See, and You Like Me Too Much. A total of nine. Two short.
At this point, Capitol once again asked the group if they had anything available that could be put on the Capitol release. Still shooting their movie, the band told them the cupboard was bare. Capitol then took an unprecedented step and asked them if they could make a special trip to the studio and record two songs specifically for this American album. Up-tempo rock & roll, preferably. After a long day of location filming towards the end of their shoot on May 10, 1965, the Beatles dutifully trooped into Abbey Road for an evening session and knocked out two Larry Williams songs, Bad Boy and Dizzy Miss Lizzy, mixed them (only really caring about mono of course), and shipped the tapes out first thing in the morning.
The Beatles VI (June 14, 1965)
- Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey (Beatles For Sale)
- Eight Days A Week (Beatles For Sale)
- You Like Me Too Much (UK Help!)
- Bad Boy (unreleased in the UK)
- I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party (Beatles For Sale)
- Words Of Love (Beatles For Sale)
- What You’re Doing (Beatles For Sale)
- Yes It Is (Ticket To Ride B-side)
- Dizzy Miss Lizzy (UK Help!)
- Tell Me What You See (UK Help!)
- Every Little Thing (Beatles For Sale)
With the film in the can, the Beatles turned their attention to the songs that would appear on the second side of their British Help! album. “You Like Me Too Much” and “Tell Me What You See” were already finished (and had already come out in the U.S.). From June 14 through 17, the Beatles recorded I’ve Just Seen A Face, I’m Down, Yesterday, It’s Only Love, Act Naturally, and Wait (which went unfinished at this time, and would have to…wait). They were also really reluctant to give up on “That Means A Lot,” giving the song another shot at a rare mid-filming recording session on March 30, but ultimately they abandoned it.
The Beatles were justifiably proud of their songwriting skills, and felt that they had outgrown covering others’ material. I suspect Help! was supposed to be another all-original like A Hard Day’s Night (as all other Beatles albums after it would be), but they bailed on what was supposed to be Ringo’s song, “If You’ve Got Trouble,” and the complicated “That Means A Lot” stubbornly refused to come together to their satisfaction. That’s probably why the country & western-loving Ringo sang a quick rundown of Buck Owens’ Act Naturally at the very last hour of the last session for Help! — they couldn’t think of anything else to give him, it was easy to learn and arrange, and the lyrics were about being in the movies. And why what was supposed to be the U.S.-only “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” was hastily tacked on as the last track, leaving one original from the sessions to be the title single’s B-side.
Help! / I’m Down was released in the UK and U.S. in July 1965.
Parlophone released the British Help! on August 6, 1965 as the Beatles’ fifth album — two full sides of music, with the following track list: Help! / The Night Before / You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away / I Need You / Another Girl / You’re Going To Lose That Girl / Ticket To Ride / Act Naturally / It’s Only Love / “You Like Me Too Much” / “Tell Me What You See” / I’ve Just Seen A Face / Yesterday / “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.”
In the U.S., Capitol had total control of the soundtrack, but swiped a dirty trick from United Artists. It turns out, if you pad out a Beatles album with portions of the film’s original orchestral score, people would still buy it by the truckload. The label ends up paying less royalties to the artist because fewer songs are used. So only the seven songs from the movie were put on Capitol’s Help! Not only were they confident it would sell, they packaged it in a gatefold sleeve filled with stills from the movie, called it a “deluxe” album…and charged a dollar more!
Help! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (August 13, 1965)
- The Night Before
- “From Me To You Fantasy” (orch.)
- You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
- I Need You
- “In The Tyrol” (orch.)
- Another Girl
- “Another Hard Day’s Night” (orch.)
- Ticket To Ride
- “The Bitter End/You Can’t Do That” (orch.)
- You’re Going To Lose That Girl
- “The Chase” (orch.)
The four extra tracks from the second side of the British Help! (Act Naturally, It’s Only Love, I’ve Just Seen A Face, Yesterday) once again gave Capitol a head start on the next American album. (The B-side I’m Down was also kicking around, waiting for a slot on an album that it would never get.)
Yesterday, the ballad from side two of the British Help! album, definitely pricked a lot of ears at Capitol Records. It wasn’t in the film, so it wasn’t on the U.S. soundtrack, but damn it was a good song. McCartney’s plaintive solo voice, backed with his acoustic guitar, and a subtle string quartet demonstrated a new maturity in their sound. Just the sort of “class” Capitol was always striving for.
Yesterday / Act Naturally was duly released by Capitol as a U.S.-only single in September 1965 to coincide with another big appearance on the season premiere of The Ed Sullivan Show. Another #1, of course.
It was, to quote a great movie, “an early clue to the new direction.”
The Beatles had always shown remarkable growth as songwriters and recording artists from day one. But the leap they made between Help! and Rubber Soul — between August and December 1965 — was astounding. The complexity and sophistication of the compositions and their recordings set a new standard, raising the bar for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously in the field of what was now just called rock.
Even more amazingly, this groundbreaking album was mostly written and entirely recorded in the space of about four weeks, from October 12 to November 16. The sessions produced fifteen new recordings (plus the completion of Wait from the Help! album sessions back in June.)
On December 3, 1965, Parlophone released the single We Can Work It Out / Day Tripper, and the British version of Rubber Soul, with the following track list: Drive My Car / Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) / You Won’t See Me / Nowhere Man / Think For Yourself / The Word / Michelle / What Goes On / Girl / I’m Looking Through You / In My Life / Wait / If I Needed Someone / Run For Your Life
The album and single came out on the same day in the U.S. For the first time, a Capitol album shared a title, graphics, and artwork with its British counterpart…but not a track list. Capitol still had no shame about getting in there and messing with the content.
The Beatles set trends more than followed them, but someone at Capitol (I have no idea if Dave Dexter was still handling their U.S. output at this point) noted that a lot of the new material was acoustic-textured and dreamily contemplative — along the lines of the burgeoning “folk rock” movement popularized by artists like Bob Dylan and the Byrds that summer. Why not jump on the bandwagon with the American version by taking some of the loud, electric rockers out and putting in more folky stuff? So, out went the funky Stax-Volt pastiche Drive My Car, the twangy, noisy, Ringo-sung What Goes On, If I Needed Someone with its ringing Rickenbacker 12-string riff, and Nowhere Man with its prominent Fender Stratocaster solo. (Think For Yourself, with its overdriven, mood-breaking fuzz bass, stayed, presumably to give George a lead vocal.) In went two quieter acoustic-flavored numbers from side two of the British Help!
Rubber Soul (December 3, 1965)
- I’ve Just Seen A Face (UK Help!)
- Norwegian Wood (This Birds Has Flown) (UK Rubber Soul)
- You Won’t See Me (UK Rubber Soul)
- Think For Yourself (UK Rubber Soul)
- The Word (UK Rubber Soul)
- Michelle (UK Rubber Soul)
- It’s Only Love (UK Help!)
- Girl (UK Rubber Soul)
- I’m Looking Through You (UK Rubber Soul)
- In My Life (UK Rubber Soul)
- Wait (UK Rubber Soul)
- Run For Your Life (UK Rubber Soul)
Twelve tracks this time. I’m frankly very surprised that Capitol did not put the reflective Yesterday on the album, or We Can Work It Out. (Day Tripper, Act Naturally, and I’m Down would not have fit the overall tone.) I don’t think anyone would say the U.S. “folk rock” version was better than the more diverse British version, but the album did turn heads in America, and was acknowledged as a great piece of work. It was this version that inspired Brian Wilson to make Pet Sounds.
[Parlophone finally acknowledged the special status of “Yesterday” by releasing it as a British EP in March 1966. Each of the EP’s four songs had a different Beatle as lead vocalist — “Yesterday” (Paul), “It’s Only Love” (John), “You Like Me Too Much” (George), and “Act Naturally” (Ringo).]
More to come…