Life at 33 1/3
By Carl Meyer
A nerd at large in the Dylan box
Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (Addabbo-version) (Columbia)
Maybe one day.
“Highway 61 Revisited” is one of the greatest
albums ever made. I touched it last week when I
did my story on the 18 CD, 379 track box “The
Cutting Edge” that collects everything put on
tape during the 14 eventful months in 1965-1966
that brought us the “Bringing It All Back
Home”/”Highway 61 Revisited”/”Blonde On
And now I’m at it again. The reason being that
“The Cutting Edge” includes the original takes
that ended up on these three original albums.
But they have been remixed by Steve Addabbo. For
better or worse? I am not the one to decide. Of
the three titles mentioned, “Highway 61
Revisited” is the one that’s gone though the
most dramatic audio changes.
I have compared the three available CD versions
of “Highway 61 Revisited”: The 2003
stereo-edition (a remaster of the original 1965
stereo album), the 2010 mono-edition (a remaster
of the original 1965 mono album) and the 2015
“The Cutting Edge”. Please have in mind that I’m
no hi-fi buff; I know as much about audio
technology as a seven year old kid knows about
quantum physics. In other words, what follows is
subjective guesswork and must be taken for what
it is worth - very little.
But, when it comes to the sound level, i.e.
mastering, the 2003 stereo CD is particularly
powerful: The original positioning of the
individual instruments is odd and very 60’s, the
drums in “Tombstone Blues” for instance are
placed over on the right hand side, but there’s
reverb at work cascading across the stereo
soundscape, creating a tremendous thunder. On
“The Cutting Edge” the drums are moved into the
center, and they no longer dominate the
The new mixes might at least partly have used
the warmer timbre of original mono album as
their reference. On “The Cutting Edge”
everything seems more balanced , elements that
snapped at your eardrums – piercing harmonica,
the metallic howls and rattle of electric
guitars, the overwhelming drum sound – it’s all
muted, balanced out and sewn into a tapestry
that makes the sound experience more pleasant to
the ear, also in relation to the mono LP.
space between the instruments and around Dylan’s
voice. But hence Steve Addabbo’s mixes removes
the untamed, slightly out of control attack of
the 2003 version. The music now sounds
temperate, balanced, almost dainty. This applies
particularly to “Like A Rolling Stone” which
emerges considerably less wild and threatening
on “The Cutting Edge”. Comparing it to my
original American 1965 vinyl pressing, the
difference is still very noticeable (it also
becomes all too obvious that the 2003 remaster
has been manipulated to boost the sound level).
I’m not sure what I prefer: The jangling
extremes of the original mix, or the balanced
beauty created by Steve Addabbo. Addabbo’s made
some courageous choices, I’ll give him that.
Presumably he considered it necessary to adjust
the previously released versions so they did not
differ too much from the work he had done with
the enormous pile of outtakes.
As Addabbo’s mission was to present absolute
everything that was captured on tape, he hit
some unexpected ethical problems as quite a few
of the original released takes had been faded
before the actual recording stopped. He decided
to include what had originally been edited out.
In most cases this means that the songs are
slightly extended, but not really for the better
as they either just keep going a bit longer
before they fade, or come to an abrupt halt.
We are in a gray area. But it can be justified
because “The Cutting Edge” is “The Cutting
Edge”, and not “Highway 61 Revisited”. It
becomes a problem if one chooses to replace the
original mixes with these on a later version of
the album. It is not unthinkable that Sony will
do just that, relaunch “Highway 61 Revisited” on
vinyl with the Addabbo-mixes. Would you
appreciate a “Like A Rolling Stone” that doesn’t
fade out with a haunting, angry rattle but
rather disintegrates into a single hovering Al
Kooper organ note and a short, bark of
As for “Tombstone Blues” it would lose some of
its momentum if culminating in some free form
honky tonk piano after the rest of the band has
stopped playing. But it fits into the context of
“The Cutting Edge”.
You may well ask why I use all this space on an
album that doesn’t exist. The Steve Addabbo
“Highway 61 Revisited” is a construction, a
fantasy, based on what can be extracted from a
18 CD box into an iTunes library on the personal
computer of a nerd who calls himself Carl Meyer.
But nerding is fun, and I have to admit, that
yes, I would buy that album if it ever is made
available on vinyl. It couldn’t replace the
original. But it’s a new and fresh angle to the
same story. It sounds good, and I love the
I conclude with a list of the total playing time
of each track. “The Cutting Edge” listed first,
then the 2003 stereo version and finally the
2010 mono version. Deviations of a second or so
does not necessarily mean that there are
differences between the versions.
1) Like A Rolling Stone - 6:27 (6:06 s) (5:56 m)
2) Tombstone Blues - 6:11 (5:55 s) (5:51 m)
3) It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To
Cry - 4:12 (4:03 s) (3:24 m)
4) *From A Buick 6 - 3:39 (3:15 s) (3:05 m)
5) Ballad Of A Thin Man - 5:54 (5:55 s) (5:48 m)
6) Queen Jane Approximately - 5:23 (5:26 s)
7) Highway 61 Revisited - 3:33 (3:25 s) (3:13 m)
8) Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - 5:32 (5:26 s)
9) Desolation Row - 11:16 (11:19 s) (11:16 m)
*If you can take any more nerd information: The
version of “From A Buick 6”| that was included
on the first few copies of “Highway 61
Revisited” back in late August, early September
1965, was by accident the wrong take. It was
replaced with the right one very quickly, but
some albums were already out there. And I’m the
lucky owner of one of them. The playing time of
this wrong take is 3:10. More or less identical
to the playing time of the right take, but they
do differ. Ho hum.
Dylan: History in the making
Bob Dylan: The Cutting Edge, Bob Dylan 1965-1966, The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 (Columbia)
It could only be Bob Dylan, releasing an 18 CD box set
containing all the work in progress stuff that was left behind during the
making of three albums recorded in 1965 and the early months of 1966,
“Bringing It All Back Home”, “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde”,
and getting away with it. There’s no other artist on this Earth that could
hold your attention through hours and hours of aborted takes, false starts,
studio chatter, jokes, coughing and sudden second thoughts that catch
producers Tom Wilson and Bob Johnston off balance every time.
Here’s a sample. They’re ready to start recording “Gates
Of Eden”, or so Tom Wilson has been led to believe, announcing:
- CO85287 “Gates Of Eden”.
- Aren’t you gonna do it?
- I’m gonna do this other one first.
- What’s the name of it?
- “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
Resigned chuckle from Wilson.
- OK, reslate. CO85287 “It’s Alright Ma”
Dylan starts the song, but comes to a halt after 25 seconds, and Wilson
tells him to back off just a little (from the microphone). Then Bob cuts
- I really don’t feel like doing this song, and I have to do it though...
(Moans) It’s such a long song…
- Suit yourself, I’m with you.
And off they go again.
There’s also a wonderful banter when take 3 of “Mr. Tambourine Man” breaks
down. At the time the arrangement included drums going bomp-cha! bomp-cha!
all the way through as if played by a five year old kid, and suddenly Dylan
simply can’t take it anymore, three minutes into the take he stops playing
- Hey! I can’t…eh… the drum is driving me mad. I’m going out of my brain!
Not surprisingly the takes that follow are without drums, and the song as we
know it starts coming to life.
Yes, this is about songs coming to life. And not just any old songs, but the
songs, the songs that changed the face of rock music and took it to places
it had never been before. The cutting edge. Those three albums are all parts
of the grail. Everything in rock music will forever be measured against
Dylan himself talked about these recordings, or rather “the source of
creativity” that triggered them (to borrow Ron Rosenbaum’s expression) in
Ron Rosebaum’s classic 1978 Bob Dylan interview:
“I always hear other instruments, how they should sound. The closest I ever
got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on
Blonde album. It’s that thin, that wild mercury sound. It’s metallic and
bright gold with whatever that conjures up. That’s my particular sound. I
haven’t been able to succeed in getting it all the time. Mostly I’ve been
driving at a combination of guitar, harmonica and organ, but now I find
myself going into territory that has more percussion in it and (pause)
rhythms of the soul.”
Rosenbaum: “Was that wild mercury sound in ‘I Want You’?”
Dylan: “Yeah, it was in ‘I Want You,’ it was in the album before that too
Rosenbaum: “ Highway 61 Revisited ?”
Dylan: “Yeah. Also in Bringing It Back Home. That’s the sound I’ve always
And that’s what “The Cutting Edge” is all about, the search for that sound.
It is hard to put down in words how fascinating it is to be there, like a
fly on the wall, in that studio, at that particular time, and witness the
proceedings, history in the making. How relaxed the musicians all appear to
be, even at times when they surely don’t have a clue about where they’re
heading, you feel their commitment to and trust in Dylan’s instincts, even
Dylan himself comes across relaxed and in good humour most of the time,
although he is quite clearly an obsessed young man on fire.
You are treated to numerous alternate solutions to all the songs you should
know by heart, every time discarded for a different try, a slightly new
angle, always getting closer to the sounds inside Dylans head. “Like A
Rolling Stone” started out as a waltz, would you believe? There’s an
electric take of “Desolation Row”. A way too slow version of “Sad-Eyed Lady
Of The Lowlands”, the endless and gradually more aggressive search for the
perfect “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” that keeps eluding him, the
many different takes of “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”
(boy did he work hard on that one before he found the right arrangement and
performance!) and then there are songs that they nail more or less on the
Spread out between the familiar Dylan tracks are the songs that never made
it to any of the albums or singles that were released in 1965-1966. Some of
them he gave away. Like “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” (Dylan worked hard on that
one too before he abandoned it) that became a massive hit in the UK for
Other ‘lost’ gems: “I’ll Keep It With Mine” (a song he kept coming back to,
but never seemed to be able to nail), “Farewell, Angelina”, “You Don’t Have
To Do That” (incomplete), “California”, “Sitting On A Barbed-Wire Fence”,
“Medicine Sunday” (early version of “Temporary Like Achilles”), “Jet Pilot”,
“I Wanna Be Your Lover” (done again and again and again, but finally
abandoned), “Lunatic Princess” (incomplete) and my absolute favourite,
“She’s Your Lover Now” - the greatest stack of put-down lines ever written,
masterfully conceived as a dialogue in shifting angles, he talks to his
ex-girlfriend in the verses and turns to her new lover (“with the cowboy
hat”) in the quirky choruses. The only complete version of the song is what
sounds like a demo take, just Dylan and a piano leaking into the song mike,
but what a vocal performance it is! And what caustic lines, they cut like
As a bonus, the 18th CD contains 21 demos recorded in hotel-rooms, for the
most part during his 1966-tour of Great Britain.
What ended up on “Bringing It All Back Home”, “Highway 61 Revisited” and
“Blonde On Blonde” are as far as I can see the definitive versions. I don’t
disagree with any of the decisions made at the time. So why on earth rave
about 18 CD’s of what was left behind – and seemingly for good reasons?
Because it sounds like and is history in the making. You are invited in. You
are there. It’s a privilege. And Dylan is on fire. Everything they did in
there has a burning edge to it. They’re all obsessed with what they are
creating and with the man who keeps pushing them further on, into the
As this is not a CD column, I’d better find a good vinyl-excuse for doing
this piece, and yes, it is possible to get a slice of “The Cutting Edge” on
vinyl. It is not the biggest of slices, but rather a vinyl version of the 2
CD “The Best of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12”, 36
tracks extracted from the 379 track collector’s edition-version. That might
look like not much at all, but the pill is sugar coated as these 36 tracks
play very well and have a much more continuous flow and variation than the
monster-version (a full CD of “Like A Rolling Stone” in its numerous
different, but not that different variations probably sounds like overkill
to the average listener), it plays more like a real album, if you know what
I mean. But you don’t get my favourite version of “She’s Your Lover Now”,
What you do get is three 180 gram vinyl albums packaged in a slipcase with
separate booklet with exclusive photography and liner notes. It also
includes the entire album on 2 CDs. And if bought on Amazon there’s a free
MP3 download on offer as well.
If you are slightly more interested, but not insane like me (the 18 CD box
is expensive, about US$600, and only 5000 copies were made, mine is numbered
2222, not bad, eh?), you could go for the 6 CD ($150), 110 track solution
that’s got books and stuff inside its slip case.
I am happy with my monster box. The box itself is designed by people who
know what nerds like. There’s books printed on high quality paper. There’s
nice looking printed see-through paper sheets. There’s a ‘leopard skin’
adapter for 45s. There’s all the nine vinyl singles that were released in
the US in 1965-1967 in individual picture sleeves. There’s even a strip of
original film cells from “Don’t Look Back”. And the music, to quote Dylan’s
website bobdylan.com: “… every note recorded during the 1965-1966 sessions,
every alternate take and alternate lyric. All previously unreleased
recordings have been mixed, utilizing the original studio tracking tapes as
the source, eliminating unwanted 1960s-era studio processing and artifice.”
And I love it.
Released: November 6, 2015.
Produced by: Tom Wilson and Bob Johnston.
As for the vinyl triple, this is its content: Love Minus Zero/No Limit -
Take 2/I’ll Keep It with Mine - Take 1/Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream - Take 2/She
Belongs to Me - Take 1/Subterranean Homesick Blues - Take 1/Outlaw Blues -
Take 2/On the Road Again - Take 4/Farewell, Angelina - Take 1/If You Gotta
Go, Go Now - Take 2/You Don’t Have to Do That - Take 1/California - Take
1/Mr. Tambourine Man - Take 3/It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to
Cry - Take 8/Like a Rolling Stone - Take 5/Like a Rolling Stone - Take
11/Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence - Take 2/ Medicine Sunday - Take
1/Desolation Row - Take 2/Desolation Row - Take 1/Tombstone Blues - Take
1/Positively 4th Street - Take 5/Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window - Take
1/Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - Take 3/Highway 61 Revisited - Take 3/Queen
Jane Approximately - Take 5/Visions of Johanna - Take 5/She’s Your Lover Now
- Take 6/Lunatic Princess - Take 1/Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat - Take 8/One of
Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) - Take 19/Stuck Inside of Mobile with the
Memphis Blues Again - Take 13/Absolutely Sweet Marie - Take 1/Just Like a
Woman - Take 4/Pledging My Time - Take 1/I Want You - Take 4/Highway 61
Revisited – Take 7
The Beatles remixed: A revelation
The Beatles, 1 + (Apple)
Last week I did a piece on “A Collection Of Beatles
Oldies But Goldies!” an official album release from 1966 that went
mysteriously missing in the 80’s, never to be seen again. EMI and Apple
would argue that there are better compilations around, and they are probably
right but “Oldies But Goldies!” is still the only compilation released while
The Beatles existed, sanctioned by all four as well as both producer George
Martin and manager Brian Epstein. It is part of the lore and should be
reinstated in the catalogue for all to enjoy, whether you’re a streamer, a
down loader, a CD-dino or a vinyl junkie.
What we do have is “1”, that marvellous collection of all
The Beatles’ 27 number 1 singles in the UK and the US. First released in
2000, it went on to become the biggest album-seller of the decade worldwide.
Some feat for a band that ceased to exist back in 1970. A remastered “1” was
released in 2011. And now you will have to replace your copy yet again, that
beast of a hits compilation is back, and it’s mean.
Not only have George Martin’s son Giles and Sam Okell
remixed all of the 24 stereo-recordings (the first three tracks are all in
mono), lifting the sound quality to heights you never thought was possible.
But there are videos too, loads of them. The standard edition contains a
bonus DVD or (Blu-ray) with videos to each of the 27 songs. The
deluxe-edition contains a second DVD (or Blu-ray) with a further 23 videos.
Some of this material is new to these eyes, and all of the footage has been
restored and cleaned up. The quality of the “Paperback Writer” video for
instance is absolutely stunning. It could have been filmed yesterday.
For those who prefer the vinyl version of “1”, the videos
are not included, unfortunately. But at the time of writing, at least the
27-track DVD/Blu-ray can be bought separately.
The vinyl-edition is a double, the first LP covering the years 1962-1966,
the second covering phase two, 1967-1970.
LP 1 is actually almost a restored “Oldies But Goldies!”.
Like its predecessor from 1966, it’s got 16 tracks, 14 of them identical to
both issues, but losing “Michelle” and “Bad Boy” for “Love Me Do” and “Eight
Days A Week”, which is just as well. I still miss “Please Please Me”,
though, The Beatles’ second single, and their first UK no. 1 everywhere (in
BBC, New Musical Express and Melody Maker, to name the three biggest and
most respected chart-providers at the time), except for in the very small
and unreliable Record Retailer, which for different and not very convincing
reasons has become the official UK chart for the 60’s.
Anyway, “1” is a magnificent and extremely impressive journey through the
most remarkable string of hits any single name has ever produced. These 27
songs represents an eight year long revolution that not only changed music
and record production forever, but it also kick started and led the way
through what we now call the 60’s. Fashion, literature, cinema, politics,
journalism, philosophy, religion, comedy, it was all coloured and inspired
by the sound, wit and life of The Beatles. They changed civilisation as we
All this music crammed into a tight eight year run. How was it humanly
possible to achieve so much in such a short time? Today’s artists might
release just two albums in eight years, and those two albums don’t even
sound that different from one another. The Beatles’ complete output, 11
unique studio albums (one of them double), one soundtrack, one compilation,
22 singles (30 of these 44 recordings were not duplicated on any regular
album), and two unique EP’s, was released between October 1962 and May 1970,
and almost every single song was a unique work of (pop)art. The Beatles
never repeated themselves. And it’s not just the music itself; The Beatles
were scientists in the recording studio, inventing the future with medieval
Even if you already have all their albums, especially the re-mastered sets
that were launched in 2009 (CD), 2012 (vinyl stereo) and 2014 (vinyl mono),
I am afraid you need the new version of “1”. If you are into vinyl and have
stopped collecting CDs, you’ll still have to buy the deluxe CD-edition for
the two Blu-ray (or DVD) discs with the 50 videos, all presented in state of
the art surround sound. I promise, it’s worth it.
The Beatles were pioneers of rock‘n’roll-videos too, inventing MTV 16 years
before it was launched. As the 2nd Blu-Ray/DVD can’t be bought separately
(it includes “Rain”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “A Day In The Life”, “Hey
Bulldog”, “Revolution”, “Don’t Let Me Down” as well as the hugely successful
“Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” videos from the “Anthology” series), just
fork out for it.
As for the audio, it’s a revelation. It’s been carved in stone that the
original Beatles mixes were not to be meddled with. The only exceptions
(apart from George Martin’s strange stereo remixes of “Help!” and “Rubber
Soul” when preparing those albums for CD back in 1987) being the soundtrack
of the “Yellow Submarine” movie that had to be fully remixed for the DVD
release in 1999 (creating a brand new soundtrack-album, “Yellow Submarine
Songtrack”, supposed to replace the original soundtrack from 1969) and the
Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” project in 2006. When all the original
Beatles-albums were re-mastered and re-launched on CD in 2009 (and on vinyl
in 2012 and 2014), Apple/EMI stuck to the original mixes again.
But not this time. For the new edition of “1” Giles Martin and Sam Okell
went back to the original multi-track tapes and remixed every song, with
three exceptions, in stereo (the exceptions being “Love Me Do”, “From Me To
You” and “She Loves You”, all remixed in mono). They’ve taken extreme care
not to alter the overall feel of the recordings, there’s nothing here you
don’t recognise, but they have given the songs a new clarity, depth and
punch, the stereo separation and sound-balance is improved, there’s more
space, more details.
The angelic harmony vocals in “Let It Be”, the bass and punch of “Paperback
Writer”, the hammering pianos in the “Penny Lane” intro, the beautiful and
warm clarity of “Yesterday”, the widescreen sound effects of “Yellow
Submarine”, the three dimensional strings in “Eleanor Rigby’, the crisp
acoustic guitars in “Help!”, the guitar attack in “I Feel Fine” and “Ticket
To Ride”, the wonderful vocal harmonies that grace most of the songs. It’s
an overwhelming experience, a real treat.
I’m a little surprised that they didn’t use the multi-track tape for a
stereo mix of “From Me To You”, but rather went for the mono version. And I
still can’t understand why Apple accept that “Please Please Me” was not a
no. 1 in the UK, when it was in all the charts that were quoted at the time.
Or as Dusty Springfield sings in “Nothing Has Been Proved” from the movie
In the news the suicide note, in the court an empty space
Even Mandy’s looking worried, Christine’s pale and drawn
Please Please Me’s number one
There’s actually another song missing as well. “The Long And Winding Road”
topped the US charts for two weeks and is of course included, but the
compilers have ignored the fact that it was not alone up there as it was
registered as a double A-side with “For You Blue”. Take a look at the old
chart, it’s there for all to see.
So actually, “1” should have been a 29 track compilation. We’ve been robbed
for two bona fide no. 1’s. Heads should roll!
Released: November 7, 2015
Produced by: George Martin (except for “The Long And Winding Road”,
produced by Phil Spector)
Remixed by: Giles Martin and Sam Okell
Contents: Love Me Do/ From Me to You/She Loves You/I Want to Hold
Your Hand/Can’t Buy Me Love/A Hard Day’s Night/I Feel Fine/Eight Days a
Week/Ticket to Ride/Help!/Yesterday/Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out/Paperback
Writer/Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby/Penny Lane/All You Need Is Love/Hello,
Goodbye/Lady Madonna/Hey Jude/Get Back/The Ballad of John and
Yoko/Something/Come Together/Let It Be/The Long and Winding Road
1st Blu-ray/DVD contains the videos to all the 27 tracks mentioned above in
2nd Blu-ray/DVD contains these videos in 5.1 mixes: Twist And Shout/Baby
It’s You/Words Of Love/Please Please Me/I Feel Fine/Day Tripper/Day
Tripper/We Can Work It Out/Paperback Writer/Rain/Rain/Strawberry Fields
Forever Within You Without You & Tomorrow Never Knows/A Day In The
Life/Hello, Goodbye/Hello, Goodbye /Hey Bulldog/Hey Jude/Revolution/Get
Back/Don’t Let Me Down/Free As A Bird/ Real Love.
The album that doesn’t exist
The Beatles, A Collection Of Beatles Oldies But Goldies! (Parlophone)
This is a weird
one: An official Beatles-album that doesn’t exist. Or at least that is what
EMI and Apple would have us believe. A stopgap album put together just in
time for Christmas 1966 as the group didn’t have any new product ready for
the Christmas-stockings, breaking a tradition they started back in 1963.
EMI probably panicked when Brian Epstein (the Beatles’ manager) informed
them in late October that the group hadn’t even started recording yet. So
the idea for a hit-collection was born.
As some of The Beatles’ singles had only been mixed in mono (those not
included on regular albums), there was some stereo mixing to be done. George
Martin did the stereo mix of “Paperback Writer” on October 31, and proceeded
with “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on November 7.
The following day, November 8, Geoff Emerick took care of “She Loves You”.
As the original two track master had gone missing, he had to create a fake
stereo mix that sounds strange to a 2015 ear, but in the 60’s this solution
was quite common.
Peter Brown took over on November 10, mixing “We Can Work It Out”, “Day
Tripper” and “This Boy” in stereo. The latter was done accidentally as Brown
probably thought that “Bad Boy” was a typo for “This Boy”. “Bad Boy” had
never been released in England, it was recorded specifically for the U.S.
market and ended up on “Beatles VI” in June 1965.
The stereo mixes of the remaining tracks were already to be found in EMI’s
The Beatles were hardly involved in “A Collection Of Beatles Oldies But
Goldies!” at all. But it’s a generous collection of 16 songs (eight had
never been on a British LP before), including 13 of their 15 British hits so
far (“Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” were omitted), plus fan favourites
“Yesterday” and “Michelle” and said “Bad Boy”. The latter served as a bait,
being the only ‘new’ track of the lot.
The programming is pretty weird. It jumps back and forth in the chronology
and somehow wrong-foots the listener when side 2 ends with “Paperback
Writer,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” - in that order. A
chronological journey from start to finish would have been a more seamless
listening experience as the group’s development, both as composers and
performers, is fascinatingly noticeable from single release to single
In 1966, most of the album’s potential buyers were leaving their teeny
bopper phase behind, wanting to distance themselves from their own
“childish” past. At this age you measure time in months, not in decades, so
just as much as the recent tracks from “Revolver” were more in tune with
their own state of mind. The older recordings simply reminded them of what
they had left behind, when Beatlemania ruled and the mop-tops were
The constant jumping back and forth in time becomes annoying. I bet the
album would have been a stronger seller if the programming had stuck to a
Another thing you can hold against the album is its sleeve. David
Christian’s garish painting of a Carnaby Street dandy placed among subjects
that provides significantly stronger associations to New Vaudeville Band
than to The Beatles, doesn’t exactly trigger your must-have genes – unless
you are heavily into New Vaudeville Band. Robert Whittaker’s photograph of
the group taken in Japan in July 1966 adorns the back. It’s a pretty cool
image, and it would have suited the front cover so much better. By the way,
the photo is inverted, the Japanese noticed of course as Paul’s outfit
sports Japanese characters, so they inverted the image right back for the
A cooler and more luxurious sleeve and chronological programming of the
songs would have yielded higher sales. That’s my theory, and I believe in
it. For I was there, and I didn’t want “A Collection Of Beatles Oldies But
Goldies!” for Christmas. I went for Lee Dorsey’s “Holy Cow” and The Kinks’
“Dead End Street” instead.
I nevertheless think that “A Collection Of Beatles Oldies But Goldies!”
should be hoisted back into the Beatles’ official discography. Since the CD
appeared in the 80s, EMI and Apple have pretended that the collection
doesn’t exist. One is referred to “Past Masters” (which has its
shortcomings), but that is no solution. Come on! “A Collection Of Beatles
Oldies But Goldies!” is the only official compilation LP’ that was released
while The Beatles existed. It is a part of history!
And even if it sounds strange, this album is the only place where you can
find Geoff Emerick’s fake stereo mix of “She Loves You”. Part of the history
Released: December 10, 1966
Produced by: George Martin
Contents (highest chart placing in the UK/US as of original LP
release date in brackets): She Loves You (1/1)/From Me to You (1/41)/We Can
Work It Out (1/1)/Help! (1/1)/Michelle/Yesterday (-/1)/I Feel Fine
(1/1)/Yellow Submarine (1/2)/Can’t Buy Me Love (1/1)/Bad Boy/Day Tripper
(1/5)/A Hard Day’s Night (1/1)/Ticket to Ride (1/1)/Paperback Writer
(1/1)/Eleanor Rigby (1/11)/I Want to Hold Your Hand (1/1)
*We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper and Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine were
double A-side releases in the UK. Neither Michelle nor Bad Boy were released
as singles. Yesterday was only released as a single in the U.S. (it did
however find its belated British release in 1976, reaching no. 8).