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Life at 33 1/3   By Carl Meyer

 

Update November 28, 2015

A nerd at large in the Dylan box

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (Addabbo-version) (Columbia)

Released: 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 Blonde”-trilogy.
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 recording.
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.

There’s 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 Dylan-laughter?
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 story.
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) (4:55 m)
7) Highway 61 Revisited - 3:33 (3:25 s) (3:13 m)
8) Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - 5:32 (5:26 s) (5:06 m)
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.
Good luck.
Kind regards
The Nerd


Update November 22, 2015

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”.
- No!
- 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 through:
- I really don’t feel like doing this song, and I have to do it though... (Moans) It’s such a long song…
Wilson chuckles.
- 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 and hollers:
- 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 them.
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 heard.”
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 first take.
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 Manfred Mann.
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 razorblades!
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 unknown.
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”, unfortunately.
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


Update November 14, 2015

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 know it.
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 tools.
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 “Scandal” (1989):
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 5.1 mixes.
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.


Update November 7, 2015

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 archives.
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 release.
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 everybody’s’ darlings.
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 chronological order.
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 Japanese edition.
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 too.
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).

 


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

A nerd at large in the Dylan box

Dylan: History in the making

The Beatles remixed: A revelation

The album that doesn’t exist