Capitol Records in the USA joined itself with Electrical and Musical Industries (EMI) in 1955, forming "The Greatest Recording Organisation in the World." In 1963, Capitol featured such popular artists as Nat "King" Cole and the Beach Boys. The surf and drag sound was still very much "in." Music coming to the US from England was "out." As nearly every Beatles fan knows, no British artist had ever made it big in America. Capitol knew this, and they were unwilling at first to take a chance on the Beatles. Consequently, the group's first four singles and first album were not issued by Capitol in the US. In fact, "Love Me Do" wasn't issued at all as a single in the States until 1964.
But shortly before the release of With the Beatles and the group's fifth single, Capitol bought in. They issued bumper stickers, stand-ups, pinback buttons, and a lot of other promotional gimmickry as part of their "The Beatles are Coming!" campaign. Get it? "The British are coming!"--Paul Revere's cry. Capitol executives even posed wearing Beatles wigs, at one point in time.
At the end of 1963, the first US copies of "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
reached radio stations, and what remains is a matter of record. (I.e.,
"the rest is history.") However, some fans today are discovering for the
first time that the US issued albums that were different than the British
issues, sometimes VERY different. In fact, this was true in quite a few
countries. France issued EP's (4 songs each) instead of singles until 1967.
Japan's first few albums were different from those in England, and they
issued a large number of singles and EP's that were not released in England.
A few German releases were different. Several countries issued different
"Greatest Hits" collections (Denmark, Australia, Germany) that were not
issued in England or in the US. But the US releases seem to have attracted
a lot of attention over the years. This is a chronicle of those releases.
CRACKING THE CODE
First: how to read the Capitol prefixes.
If you find an old Capitol album, you'll see the record number divided into a prefix (from 1 to 4 letters) and a number. For example, you might find a copy of Meet the Beatles numbered: ST-2047
The number is the actual release number. Capitol started numbering at 100, with some of their subsidiaries (like Tower) starting at higher numbers (such as 5000 for Tower and 3350 for Apple). By 1968, their regular issue albums had reached 2999. From 3000 to 9999 were reserved for subsidiaries. So they started over at 100. That's why the White Album is number 101! In about 1972, the numbering reached 999 and they jumped ahead to 10000. So albums like Rarities have higher numbers.
The prefix is composed of letters. If the record is in stereo, then the first letter is "S." No letter corresponds to a mono recording.
The next letter is the price code. The prices changed over the years, of course. "T" was the standard main line record, so you'll find a lot of "T's" among Beatles issues.
If there are other letters, it means there was some kind of special
packaging, such as a boxed set, gatefold cover, booklet, etc.. The fourth
letter denotes the packaging, although apparently this was loosely applied.
The next to last letter (in a batch of 3 or 4) denotes the number of records.
"SMAL" represents a stereo issue with one record. "SWBO" is a stereo issue
with two records. "STCH" is a stereo issue with three records. "TGO" would
be a mono issue with seven records, although the Beatles never released
such a thing!
Meet the Beatles!
T-2047 or ST-2047
The album starts off with the Beatles latest single, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," followed by its US b-side, "I Saw Her Standing There," and its UK b-side, "This Boy." Since mono mixes of the UK single had been sent to Capitol, there are two songs on this album which appear in "rechanneled" stereo.
Several songs were removed from the With the Beatles album (to appear later), but the rest of the selections for Meet the Beatles! come from With the Beatles and appear in the same order as they do on the UK album.
The album's front cover features the same picture of the Beatles in
half-shadow as does the UK album, but US copies are tinted blue. The cover
blurb falsely claims that this was the "first" album by the group. Apparently,
Capitol wanted American fans to ignore the release on Vee Jay records.
The Beatles Second Album
T-2080 or ST-2080
Capitol obtained from Parlophone (in England) a copy of the "She Loves You" single (that song, plus "I'll Get You") and stereo mixes of the songs from the British "Long Tall Sally" EP. The b-side of "Can't Buy Me Love," namely, "You Can't Do That," also appears on this album. As before, the songs from singles appear in rechanneled stereo.
Two of the Long Tall Sally EP songs, the 3 single sides, and the remainder of the With the Beatles album were collected into this l.p., which makes somewhat of a nice mix. In fact, this was the first instance of songs being released first in America. The two EP songs weren't issued in England until 2 months later, and their UK release was mono only. In fact, the mixes for "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" were also in Capitol's possession, but they held them back until the next album.
The Beatles were hot, and the album shot to #1, like its predecessor
T-2108 or ST-2108
The Beatles first film, A Hard Day's Night, was released through United Artists, who apparently produced the film so that they would have the right to issue the soundtrack album! Due to a licensing tangle, however, Capitol was able to issue all of the Hard Day's Night songs. Some of these they issued as singles only, while others are featured on this album and Beatles '65. The contract allegedly prevented Capitol from calling the album "Hard Day's Night." This proved to be no problem for Capitol. In fact, United Artists never received stereo mixes of the songs, so Capitol was able to present in stereo selections that UA issued only in mono and fake stereo.
All in all, eight songs from the Hard Day's Night album combine with the two remaining Long Tall Sally EP songs and "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand" to form this album, the whole of which is in true stereo. The songs are not in order, however; in fact, the AHDN songs on side two of this album are in reverse order to the British l.p..
Three songs, "Hard Day's Night," "I Should Have Known Better," and "Can't Buy Me Love," did not appear on a Capitol album for some time. One song from the British album would appear on Beatles '65 later in the year.
Note: The German song had not been released in the UK at the time.
This album was kept out of the #1 spot by Hard Day's Night, the UA release.
TBO-2222 or STBO-2222
Vee Jay records was successful in marketing an album of interviews.
This success prompted others to get into the act, including Capitol. Beatles
Story features a spread of photos as well as interviews with the Beatles
and others. This album was promoted as telling the story of the Beatles--their
rise to fame, so to speak. The album sold well...VERY well for an interview
album. And it was a two record set, to boot! By this time, the Beatles
had been such a boon to Capitol that the company opened another factory--its
third--this one in Jacksonville, IL. That factory is still open today,
T-2228 or ST-2228
A new single, "I Feel Fine" and "She's a Woman," was being issued in
England, along with an album, Beatles For Sale. The left over song from
AHDN, "I'll Be Back" was combined with the two songs from the single and
8 songs from For Sale to become Beatles '65 in the USA. Even the order
is essentially the same as in England. As always, on the stereo album the
two single tracks were in rechanneled stereo. The rest of the album is
in true stereo on the stereo release. Another #1.
The Early Beatles
T-2309 or ST-2309
Capitol had won its war with Vee Jay records. Therefore, it could now
issue the Please Please Me album (which Vee Jay had essentially issued
as Introducing the Beatles). Capitol removed two songs from the album,
"Misery" and "There's a Place"--apparently to issue later. "There's a Place"
did wind up on a "Star Line" single, but neither song showed up on a US
album until 1980! Capitol also issued "From Me to You" as a single on the
Star Line label.
T-2358 or ST-2358
Maybe YOU can count to six, but someone at Capitol couldn't! This is their SEVENTH Beatles album release. The usual explanation is that Beatles Story wasn't counted.
The remaining songs from Beatles For Sale are on this album, but there's some new material as well. The Beatles recorded two songs for the American market, both of which appear here. These are "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and "Bad Boy." Also, the b-side of their newest single, "Yes It Is," was included on Beatles VI (in rechanneled stereo, of course). Capitol also got the jump on the Help! album by issuing two songs slated for that album, "Tell Me What You See" and "You Like Me Too Much."
True, "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" wound up on the Help! album in the UK, too.
But apparently it replaced "Wait" at the last moment. At the time, "...Lizzy"
was prepared just for Capitol. Another hot Beatles release, of course!
The photo layout from this album also wound up in Australia on one of their
"greatest hits" releases.
MAS-2386 or SMAS-2386
What a coup! Capitol selected the seven Beatles songs from the UK Help! album which were in the film, padded the rest of the album with George Martin instrumentals, added a bunch of pictures from the movie, and hiked the price by a buck. What was the result? Another big hit, of course. "Ticket to Ride" is in rechanneled stereo on this l.p..
The bit of "James Bond Theme" which appears before the title track became a popular introduction to the song. It appears on the US releases of 1962-1966 as well.
The photos on the front cover were rearranged so that Paul appears to
be pointing to the Capitol logo. Coincidence? Anyway, the pix had already
been accidentally reversed, so whether here or in the UK, the semaphore
is gibberish. Or is it a secret message?
T-2442 or ST-2442
Two of the four left over Help! songs, "I've Just Seen a Face" and "It's Only Love," found their way onto the US Rubber Soul album. The other two songs were released as a single. By now, US albums were beginning to resemble their British counterparts, at least to some extent, although the United States did receive its own special mixes of quite a few songs. On this album, "The Word" and "I'm Looking Through You" (stereo mixes) are noticibly different than in England. This album hit #1 in the US without any singles being issued from it. Common now in the UK, maybe, but not here!
Two of the songs from the UK album, "Nowhere Man" and "What Goes On,"
were issued as a single in the US.
T-2553 or ST-2553
Take a few left over Rubber Soul tracks ("Drive My Car," "Nowhere Man," "If I Needed Someone," and "What Goes On"). Add two old Help! tracks that had been issued as a single ("Yesterday" and "Act Naturally"). Pour in a single from late '65 ("We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper"). Then supply a bonus of three songs from the still-unreleased NEW British album ("I'm Only Sleeping," "Doctor Robert," and "And Your Bird Can Sing"). What do you get? The appropriately-titled Yesterday...and Today, another popular album in the good old USA.
The front cover to the "new" album was the same shot that was used in England to promote the "Paperback Writer" single: an unfinished photograph of the Beatles wearing butcher smocks and holding cuts of meat and dolls. The picture was part of a group of three that was meant to shatter the Beatles' image. Instead, this picture became an instant collectors' item! Radio stations began to remark about the album immediately, and Capitol issued a withdrawal notice before the actual release date.
Some copies (less than 60,000) got out with the original cover intact. Many more were reissued the same week with a new photo (the Beatles around a steamer trunk) pasted over the original one. Later copies feature only the "trunk" cover. The pause in Capitol's plans didn't stop this album from hitting #1.
NOTE: "We Can Work It Out" and "Day Tripper" had been mixed for stereo for an Australian album. So they ARE in true stereo on this album.
NOTE 2: Most releases on vinyl feature the three Revolver songs in rechanneled
stereo. Capitol didn't want to wait the week it would take to get the stereo
mixes. But all tape copies, the "record club" issues from the late 60's
and 70's, and some later copies of the album, do feature the Revolver songs
in stereo-- although the mixes differ from the UK mix, as usual.
T-2576 or ST-2576
This album lacks the three songs that were issued on Yesterday...and Today. Otherwise, it very much resembles the British release. Perhaps Capitol's mistake of having rushed Y&T to release only to have to withdraw it prompted them to think carefully. Or maybe they just decided not to include "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" on this album. For whatever reason, the US Revolver is almost the same as the UK issue.
Of note, however, is the fact that by now (in the US) stereo copies
were selling at the same rate as mono copies. Germany had already abandoned
mono. Now, the United States was on their way toward doing so.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
MAS-2653 or SMAS-2653
Just like the British release? Almost. This album lacks the "dog cut"
and "inner groove" at the end. Otherwise, even its gatefold cover and insert
roughly resemble the UK issue. In the Summer of '67, this album hit #1
without any singles being issued to promote it. Issued with a red/pink/white
dayglo inner sleeve.
Magical Mystery Tour
MAL-2835 or SMAL-2835
When Parlophone and the Beatles served notice that they intended to release MMT as an EP, Capitol refused. They had tried twice to sell Beatles EP's; both tries were dismal failures. Rather than being burned again, they sent a representative to England to collect songs for this album, including a fresh mix of "Strawberry Fields Forever." The last three songs on the album, however, were issued in rechanneled stereo on the album, following Capitol's usual practice. They didn't request stereo copies of the single songs (except SFF and Hello Goodbye), and they didn't get any.
"Hello Goodbye," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," "Baby, You're a Rich Man," and "All You Need Is Love" round out the album.
This was the last Beatles album in the US that was available in both
mono and stereo. The mono copies are more difficult to find than the stereo
records, by possibly a 5 to 1 margin.
The album sure looks nice in 12"
size...it came to be copied in the UK, being issued there in 1976 (with
a prototype circulating before then). Germany replaced its MMT EP with
the album in 1971.
Ah, two whole albums of Beatles music! The story (according to Beatles Book #66) is that Capitol had treated the whole album to compression and limiting, but that George Harrison discovered this and attempted to undo their treatment. On "Cry Baby Cry," you can detect a "bad spot" (at "by the children") where something went wrong in the process.
The album featured a stark white cover with raised letters: "The Beatles." There was print only on the spine (title and catalog number) and on the back cover (one word: "stereo"). The UK issue opened from the top; the US issue took a more standard approach by opening from the side. Inside were goodies: a poster with lyrics on one side and four color photos (slightly smaller than the UK issue). There was also a tissue paper to keep the photos from being damaged. The UK issue featured black sleeves which were not included here.
This record was the first Beatles album release on their new label, Apple, and the record labels indicated that the album was manufactured by Capitol but issued by Apple. Finally, the albums were numbered, with each factory numbering differently. There were reportedly 12 copies of #1 (I know of two), and they numbered over 3,200,000 of them. Collecting variations in numbering style can be an interesting sideline.
Another variation, usually not noticed, deals with the "banding" of the album. When Sgt. Pepper was released in England, the tracks were not separated (banded), but they ran all together. The US album WAS banded. When this album was released, apparently there was considerable sweat over whether the album should be banded: you'll find some copies banded and others unbanded. Even copies pressed at the same factory differ in this way.
Another #1 without singles.
The Beatles wanted to issue another EP, but this time even Parlophone
was against it. Two old songs, four new songs, and some George Martin instrumentals
fill this album, which sold well despite containing very little new material.
The liner notes on the back cover are different from those on the British
album, which was the last one to be issued in England in both mono and
stereo. In the majority of nations now, stereo records were playable on
mono machines, rendering mono "obsolete."
The Beatles deliberately did not list "Her Majesty" at the end of side
2. But no one informed the industry moguls in the US. As a result, the
song was added to the eight track's listing and to SOME of the albums.
You'll find the song added to some covers and some labels as well. It was
eventually removed again from the cover. Thus, the album again differed
ever so slightly from the British release.
SO-385 or SW-385
This album, a collection of oldies, was originally entitled Beatles Again, and the first pressings display that title on the labels. "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Should Have Known Better," "Paperback Writer" and "Rain," "Lady Madonna," "Hey Jude" and "Revolution," "Ballad of John and Yoko" and "Old Brown Shoe," and "Don't Let Me Down" made it onto this album, although not in that order. All of the songs are in true stereo here, with some of them being mixed for stereo especially for this album. Oddly, there were four other songs that Capitol COULD have included here but did not:
"Hard Day's Night"; "Misery"; "There's a Place"; and "From Me to You." Apparently they were leery of including HDN on any album at all! Two b-sides, "I'm Down" and "The Inner Light" were apparently also not favored by Capitol when compiling this l.p..
The Hey Jude! album was popular enough that it was issued in England
in 1979. At around the time of this album's release, Capitol opened their
FOURTH factory... in Winchester, VA. Within a couple of years, they phased
out the use of their factory in Scranton, PA.
Let It Be
This album was released in conjunction with United Artists, who owned
the film rights. In quite a few countries, the album was released as a
boxed set, with a special booklet. In the US, the album was issued with
a gatefold cover...and a red label, marking the end of the Beatles. Interestingly,
all of the Beatles' original US releases differ in some way from those
in England. This album went out of print in 1975 for three years.
Beatles Christmas Album
"BC" stands for "Beatles Christmas." This album was available to fan
club members for $2. It contains all of the messages from their Christmas
flexi-discs, including the 1963 message, which had not been released in
the USA until this time.
1962-1966 and 1967-1970
SKBO-3403 and SKBO-3404
Four records of "greatest hits." One record company was issuing unauthorized ("bootleg") issues of Beatles compilation albums. These records, the Alpha Omega series (Vol. 1-3), were selling quite well, including being hawked on TV for a time. Capitol/Apple countered with "official releases." The Beatles themselves participated in selecting the tracks, the pictures, and the colors.
The track listing (insert) was compiled by Capitol and is deceptive. "Hard Day's Night" was making its first appearance on a Capitol album. Likewise for "From Me to You." These are referred to as belonging to the Help! album, where (in the US) instrumental versions of those songs appear!
It is noteworthy that Capitol had so far not obtained stereo mixes for
any of the songs released as singles. Even "Hard Day's Night" appears in
fake stereo on the album. The only exception was "From Me to You," which
for all I know Capitol had a stereo Copy of since 1965. Also, "Hello Goodbye"
turned up in mono on the compilation, for reason unknown.
Beatles Special Limited Edition
This 9 album boxed set featured Apple copies of various Beatles albums. It was inevitable that boxed sets would be issued, but how these particular albums were chosen is not known. Since several albums were omitted, reason dictates that there was SOME strategy involved.
NOTE: There was a 17 record set, containing all the albums except Let
it Be, but that boxed set was given as a promo item to Capitol sales representatives.
It was not commercially available.
Rock and Roll Music
Two records of previously released material, stereo- reversed by George Martin. This album featured a new stereo mix of "I Call Your Name" and the first US stereo appearance of "I'm Down."
The album cover was a horrible silver thing, reminding people of the
50's. John Lennon had offered to draw them a cover, but EMI stupidly rejected
the idea. Oh well.
Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl
The first album of new Beatles materials in 7 years. Capitol had planned
to issue live albums in the 60's. They had recorded two Hollywood Bowl
concerts for that purpose. Despite talk, up through 1971, the album wasn't
released until '77. For many, it was worth the wait. The only problem _I_
have with it is the mention of the Bay City Rollers in the liner notes!
Another two record set built around a theme. The only thing new here is a new mix of "Girl." The package, with a lyric book, was somewhat attractive. Even this album went gold in the US.
In 1980, this album was split into two "budget line" albums.
Sgt. Pepper's ... (picture disc)
There was a picture disc craze on, and Capitol got into it. The disco
film called Sgt. Pepper's... was hot in the USA, so this was chosen as
the first "special" release. In Canada, the album appeared on marbled vinyl.
In other countries, the picture discs were slightly different.
The Beatles (white vinyl)
Colored vinyl was also "in". For America, this meant red, white, and blue. This was the white one.
1962-1966 (red vinyl)
Red vinyl release of the 1973 album.
1967-1970 (blue vinyl)
Blue vinyl release of the 1973 album.
Love Songs (gold vinyl)
This album was never released in the USA, but it came out in Canada.
Oddly, some copies were sealed together with British (leftover?) copies
of the "Get Back" book that had originally been included with the Let it
Be album in England. I have personally seen two such copies.
Abbey Road (picture disc)
The last of the Beatles "special issues" on Capitol. Since the craze
was dying down somewhat, this one is a little harder to find than the Sgt.
Pepper picture disc.
Hard Day's Night
Capitol acquired the rights to ALL United Artists releases. They promptly
issued this album on their purple label. Oddly, they decided NOT to include
stereo versions of any of the songs. The Beatles songs are in rechanneled
Let It Be
Now, in 1979, this album was being issued again. Between late '75 and
this album's release, pirate copies had been surfacing. This reissue no
longer features a gatefold cover but WAS issued with a poster (of the front
This album grew out of a project called "The Beatles Collection," a boxed set of all of the British album releases. There was an extra album called Rarities included with the boxed set. Old b-sides mostly...non-album tracks. The album was not supposed to be issued commercially, but Parlophone changed their minds. Capitol also decided to issue the album...as a budget line release. They made some copies of this budget release and were ready to issue it commercially.
Along came a bootleg album called "Collectors' Items," which featured a more attractive cover and better track selection. Capitol modified its track selection immediately and changed their cover ideas. The "butcher cover" shot was included on the inside as an added attraction.
This album features the first stereo release of "Penny Lane" and "Sie
Liebt Dich" in the US. "Misery" and "There's a Place" were also included
here in stereo...for the first time on Capitol (although the Vee Jay record
did feature stereo versions). "The Inner Light" was featured here in mono;
a stereo version would be made available in England only a year later.
The ugly cover notwithstanding (and most people thought so), this is actually a fine release from Capitol. They released first their "Movie Medley," which charted well. Then they sent to Parlophone for true stereo copies of all the songs. Finally, "Hard Day's Night" and "Ticket to Ride" would appear in the US in stereo! And nice-sounding stereo it was, too. The long (British) version of "I Am the Walrus" is here too. Finally, there is a new mix of "I Should Have Known Better" which fixes the break in the harmonica intro that's found on the previous stereo mix.
Gold vinyl promos were sent out, the album was promoted on TV and in
other ways (That's what those Beatles "chu-bops" were for.), and it sold
Twenty Greatest Hits
Featuring stereo versions of such songs as "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
and "I Feel Fine," this greatest hits set sold somewhat well in the US.
In other countries, slightly different versions of the album were issued,
to reflect what songs had charted best in those countries.
Again showing a trend of improvement, Capitol planned to issue an album
of truly new tracks and alternate versions. It was to be a worldwide release.
One track, "Leave My Kitten Alone," which was to be a single, circulated
on the radio. But the legal problems between the Beatles and Capitol/EMI
prevented the release of the album...for at least 10 years! Soon, maybe.
If you can't wait, there are always the bootleg copies.
In 1987-8, the Parlophone albums were issued in the US, to correspond
to the CD issues. In addition, one new album came out. This was the combination
of the two Past Masters CD's. For the first time, "Yes It Is" and "This
Boy" appeared in stereo in the US. Strangely, for a short time, three sets
of "greatest hits" compilations were available in the USA. The album was
a limited release; the CDs are supposed to follow it into obscurity, now
that 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 have been reissued.
Back to Pepperland Beatles pages.