Re-Experiencing the Beatles’ US Albums

by Eric Allen 21 days ago in 60s music

Revisiting the Beatles catalog in celebration of 'Abbey Road' and its 50th anniversary.

Re-Experiencing the Beatles’ US Albums

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ landmark Abbey Road album, and as a way to placate my fixated anxiousness for the release of its super deluxe edition and picture disc, I’ve decided to dust off my box set of the Beatles’ The US Albums. I’m rediscovering and revisiting each individual album in chronological sequence as I await to revel within the newly remixed Abbey Road in all its glory on the golden anniversary of the historic release date. In the meantime…

I wasn’t born when the Beatles first arrived in America, but 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. With the Beatles’ 13-disc box set The US Albums, I'm able to habitually seize 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 US 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 US versions’ etch 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’s 2014 release marked the first time many of these albums had been made available in the UK (which surely was 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 US version of Revolver were issued on compact disc. The original artwork of these releases was painstakingly reproduced, complete with a sticker replica of the alternate Yesterday and Today cover, initially issued after the “butcher” cover was recalled in 1966.

The US 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 US-only release Yesterday and Today. However, these are not the versions included here, but instead merely duplicated track sequencing sourced from an amalgamation of the original 1960s masters and the 2009 remasters. This box set, alongside the deluxe remixed editions of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, and the anniversary remix edition of Abbey Road, are requisite additions to any Beatles completist’s collection.

“Oh yeah, alright/Are you gonna be in my dreams tonight.”

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Eric Allen

I'm a music journalist, blogger and crate digger. I began writing about music during college and again as a freelancer. Links to my published pieces can be found on my music blog at: popmartzoo.com and/or follow me on Twitter:@popmartzoo 

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