We now continue our look at the albums of the Beatles, both the official releases from the UK and the very different U.S. releases, starting with what is my favourite Beatles album and the one that got me to delve deeper into the band’s music. This week, we only look at two creations by the U.S.’s Capitol Records.
Rubber Soul (U.S.)- As mentioned last time, the original U.K. version of this album is considered one of the Beatles’ best, which is the case. But the album put together by Capitol Records is, to me, better and my favourite Beatles album of all time For some reason, the U.K. opening track — the hard charging Drive My Car; Nowhere Man, If I Needed Someone and the country-oriented What Goes On were removed, and they were replaced by I’ve Just Seen A Face and It’s Only Love from the U.K. Help! album (two less because the U.S. Rubber Soul has 12 tracks rather than the U.K.’s 14). And whoever is responsible for that decision deserves all the kudos that are possible to give. Starting the album with I’ve Just Seen A Face and including It’s Only Love (which John Lennon wrote and mystifyingly hated, and I think has a wonderfully cuddly feel) makes the U.S. Rubber Soul a definitive folk-rock album. The autumnal looking album cover and the music within are perfectly matched. Drive My Car, on the other hand, is very uptempo; Nowhere Man is near-psychedelic lyric-wise as opposed to musically, What Goes On is goofy but charming and If I Needed Someone is the only one of the four removed tracks, in my opinion, that would have fit in with the folk-rock feel of the U.S. creation. This was the first regular Beatles studio album I ever heard, on 8-track tape, and I listened to it over and over again. Also, I’ve heard conflicting information as to whether the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was inspired by the U.S. or U.K. Rubber Soul to record his masterpiece Pet Sounds, but if it was the former, I could see why. Pet Sounds was (with the sorta exception of Sloop John B) also unified musically in a sorta folk-rock way, but with more advanced recording techniques.
Yesterday and Today (U.S.)- This album, on the other hand, is both wonderful and a travesty, and one of those Capitol grab bags from different sources. Beach Boys fans will know that their 1965 album Today! was sequenced so that Side 1 was uptempo and Side 2 was mostly ballads, and wonderful ones at that. If Rubber Soul was a double album and sequenced similarly, the largely uptempo Yesterday and Today would have been Record 1 and the U.S. Rubber Soul would have been the ballad-y Record 2. Now let’s check out the good and bad about this album. The Good: The album includes the magnificent U.K. standalone single Day Tripper and We Can Work It Out, and U.S. listeners who bought the stereo LP had exclusive (for a time) stereo mixes of those two songs. And as it turns out, the later released U.K. stereo mix of Day Tripper differed from the U.S. mix. As for the other songs, the uptempo songs from the U.K. Rubber Soul fit better here, and including Yesterday from Help! was very lucrative, as it was released as a single by Capitol and hit #1 in the U.S. And with Act Naturally from the U.K. Help!, we were blessed with two Ringo Starr-sung country novelties. The Bad: I’m shocked the Beatles and/or producer George Martin and/or the band’s label EMI consented to this, but they sent Capitol three quite psychedelic songs from the then in-progress U.K. version of Revolver. I will go into more detail in the next installment, but unlike the 14-track U.K. Rubber Soul, the 14-track U.K. Revolver was a musically unified statement, and sending over songs destined for it was, at the very least, mystifying. As well, the versions they sent over were, for some reason, unfinished and not even stereo, and U.S. purchasers of the stereo Yesterday and Today were subjected to murky fake stereo mixes. Still, U.S. purchasers also received a uniquely different mix of I’m Only Sleeping with backward guitars in different places than what was on the final U.K. stereo mix, and what was on the U.K. mono mix. The other two Revolver tracks included here were Dr. Robert and And Your Bird Can Sing. And as we close this review, I didn’t even mention the infamous original “Butcher Block” demented cover of this album, which I am now pleased to have via the 2010 reissue of the original Capitol album, which (sadly) includes the U.K. mixes of every song.
Revolver (U.S.)- Barely worth discussing because, as mentioned above, it’s missing the three songs that were appropriated for Yesterday and Today, all John Lennon contributions. This was the third-to-last Capitol creation. The next one would be much better, but also flawed in one important sense.
Next time: The U.K. Revolver album, Sgt. Pepper and the second to last Capitol-created album.