Cultural Sonar had this article Stop Knocking the American Releases of The Beatles, Already. The premise that Dave Dexter Jr “understood the American record market.
“He knew that the UK Beatles albums, with their subtle, artsy cover photos and astute liner notes would not grab the attention of American teenagers. He replaced them with splashy photo collages and BIG, BOLD TYPE, USUALLY IN ALL CAPS… He also tweaked the music itself… to make The Beatles positively jump out of American transistor radios, car stereos, and phonographs.”
The biggest contention about the US albums is this: “Dex took even greater liberties with the track listings. In Britain, Beatles albums contained 14 songs each [except A Hard Day’s Night, which had 13], and never included singles… But in America, anything above 11 songs on an LP meant higher royalty payments to the artist, and singles were used to drive album sales. So while EMI in Britain released seven Beatles albums and thirteen singles between 1962 and 1966, it only took Dex half as long (from 1964 to ‘66) to carve all that material into ten Beatles LPs for Capitol!”
Meh. I will concede that Meet the Beatles, Capitol Records’ initial foray into Beatlemania – totally acting as though the VeeJay album Introducing the Beatles album did not exist – was/is a fine album.
I’ll allow for the value of the American version of Rubber Soul, which, to this day, my friend Fred Hembeck prefers. This quote got my attention, especially since both Brian Wilson (June 20) and Paul McCartney (June 18) are celebrating their 75th birthdays this month. “When… Wilson says that Rubber Soul inspired him to make Pet Sounds, he’s referring to the folkier, acoustic-heavy American version that Dex assembled.”
I’ll even make the case for the Help soundtrack, with the seven songs from Side 1 of the UK Help album plus five instrumentals.
But these three albums have something in common: they have 12 songs, rather than the 11 that the other albums before Sgt. Pepper contain. So Side 2 of the other albums seemed inadequate to me much of the time, just a bit too short.
Moreover, for reasons too complicated to go into here, the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack on United Artist and the misleading title Something New, the third Capitol album, have several tracks in common, which bugged me. Yet certain songs were never on a Capitol album in the 1960s.
Notably, From Me To You was an early, pivotal UK single that could have been on The Beatles Second Album or The Early Beatles (Capitol’s variation on Introducing…); Misery and There’s A Place; and I’m Down, the B-side of the Help single that should have been on Yesterday and Today, between Act Naturally and Day Tripper, which are in the same key.
Other songs never on a Capitol/Apple album before the group broke up: the Love Me Do single version; A Hard Day’s Night; Sie Liebt Dich, a German-language version of She Loves You; The Inner Light, the B-side of Lady Madonna; and the single version of Get Back.
So I’ll still listen to those American releases, but mostly, I have been won over by the original UK versions.