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Beatles’ U.S. albums finally released

Julie Bender | Thursday, December 2, 2004

By 1963 the Beatles were an established act in the United Kingdom, inciting hysteria wherever its Beatle boots tread and selling records faster than hot cakes off the griddle. Despite this phenomenon, miles across the Atlantic, the band was a hard sell. Ingrained with the attitude that nothing “British” would sell in the U.S. – especially nothing noisy with long hair. Major American record labels systematically refused to sign the Beatles. Producer George Martin managed to convince the tiny gospel and R&B label, VeeJay, to take a chance on the band, but its first U.S. release, “Introducing The Beatles,” was a flop, and the group was quickly dropped. Meanwhile, back in England, the Beatles continued to meet with astounding success, and Beatlemania hummed along in full force. After several more months, Capitol Records, a label who had rejected the Beatles four times prior, could no longer deny the band’s potential and quickly snapped up its songs for release in early 1964. Capitol, however, did not release the same albums the British public had seen. Instead, the label took the liberty of changing the song order and cutting the album length down by several songs. Instead of “Please Please Me” and “With the Beatles,” American fans got “Meet the Beatles,” “The Beatles’ Second Album” and other U.S. releases like “Something New and Beatles ’65” in place of the British counterparts. In 1988, things changed when the Beatles catalog was transferred to CD, and in this process the American album versions all but disappeared. Only the original British albums were released on CD, leaving the U.S. albums almost a non-existent part of history.Until now.In what some call a natural, albeit late, move and others a strategic moneymaking ploy, Capitol has finally released the first four American Beatle albums in box-set form, titled, “The Capitol Albums Volume I.” For the first time, Beatles fans can possess and listen to “Meet the Beatles,” “The Beatles’ Second Album,” “Something New and Beatles ’65” in CD format. For original U.S. fans, this is a chance to hear the Beatles exactly how they heard them the first time around in 1964. For fans a generation removed, this is a chance to own a bit of Beatles history. Some complaints have been aired about this release, and rightfully so. “The Capitol Albums” is listed at close to $70, and, after all, these American releases contain no new music. For the fan that already has the British Beatle albums, this is money spent for songs already owned. For a real Beatle’s fan, however, this package is a dream come true. The quality of music is undeniable, and the four CD set comes with a 48-page booklet and the original album cover art. There are the classic songs like “All My Loving” and “She Loves You,” and the lesser known, but equally good songs like “No Reply,” “I’m A Loser” and “This Boy.” Included is even the German version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand.” Even more, each album contains twice the amount of songs, with each song appearing in both the mono and stereo versions. A true Beatles ear will be able to detect the sound differences and delight in both variations. And, with several other U.S. albums still unreleased, there is promise that these songs won’t be the last notes heard from the band. Whether “The Capitol Albums” is a money scam or enticing package, the Beatles unquestionably remain the masters of rock ‘n’ roll. No matter how it is boxed up, wrapped up or sold, the band and its music will always be priceless.