Ahhh The Beatles. Yes I know I’ve posted a lot about The Beatles here but I’ve just been in a such mood lately to step back into the haze of time especially to U.S. circa 1965 and the height of Beatlemania.
To me there’s no better way to step back into that era than to listen to the Beatles’ albums Capitol Records released in 1965 – “The Early Beatles”, “Beatles VI”, “Help!” and “Rubber Soul”.
You see Capitol Records not only re-sequenced their Beatles releases but they also used fake stereo on certain songs, added echo on others and compressed the sound making these Beatles records much different from their UK cousins which are more what The Beatles envisioned when they made them.
In the past I’ve been pretty pro UK Beatles releases and while I still consider them the way The Beatles wanted them there is a certain charm and nostalgia attached to the Capitol albums and as time goes by these versions are more a mirror of my childhood as these are the versions I grew up listening to here in the States.
Anyway, tonight I thought I’d take a look at one of the more interesting Beatles releases of the past 15 years or so – The Beatles Capitol Albums – Vol. 2 CD box set which features four of these groovy Capitol Beatles albums – warts and all.
This 4 CD set came out in 2006 and was the follow-up to the The Beatles Capitol Albums – Vol. 1 which was released in 2004.
Why start with Volume 2 you may ask? Why not as I usually reply. But actually this set has a very interesting twist to its release that first Capitol albums CD set lacked.
You see when this set came out in April 2006 there was a mistake with the mono versions of two of the discs – “Beatles VI” and “Rubber Soul”.
Instead of using the true mono mixes of these albums somehow mono fold-downs from the stereo versions were used and there was quite an uproar in Beatles fandom to say the least.
These Capitol sets were meant to replicate The Beatles Capitol albums exactly as they came out in the 1960’s and fans were outraged to find these mistaken mixes as they had been waiting for these albums for a couple of years since the release of the first set.
If I remember correctly some third party mastering house used the stereo mixdown versions by mistake (which actually didn’t matter for the other two albums as they were originally stereo fold-downs to begin with) which sent Capitol into a frenzy trying to fix the mistake.
Eventually Capitol repressed the set with the corrected versions but they also offered to swap the two bad discs for those who bought the set and wanted to exchange them.
Ever the collector I sent my bad discs back to Capitol and had them replaced BUT I also bought a new set with the corrected versions as well. And as I also usually do I saved all the letters and envelopes from EMI about the disc exchange (see above) for posterity.
The easiest way to tell if you had a corrected set at retail or not was to look at the small print on the hype sticker on the outside of the box and if you saw a SK1 at the bottom of the sticker you knew you had a corrected set.
There were numerous bad sets on the market for years and many places never ordered the corrected sets as most sales happened at the initial release and quickly fell off soon after.
I’m sure some casual fans never even noticed or cared about the mistake as the discs themselves sounded fine but they didn’t contain the correct mono versions which was a problem for hardcore fans,
There are small but distinct differences in sound on the correct vs. incorrect mono mixes which are easy to hear if you know what to listen for on certain songs,
For example in the song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” there is an audible cough in the mono version that’s missing on the stereo version and the song “I’m Looking Through You” has a false start in stereo that’s lacking on the mono version just to name two differences.
Another way to tell if you had the good vs bad discs was to look at the timing of the discs when you put them in your CD player.
According to a Wikipedia post these are the timing differences:
Discs with the correct mono mixes have a slightly longer playing time.
Disc 1 = 52:25
Disc 2 = 56:16 (disc with incorrect mono version is 56:01)
Disc 3 = 59:07
Disc 4 = 59:08 (disc with incorrect mono version is 59:01)
Surprisingly enough I didn’t save a copy of the mistake discs, unusual for me lol, but I think I wasn’t sure if they’d repress the whole set so I jumped on the exchange when I saw online that Capitol was offering it.
Above you can take a gander at the two U.S. sets I own (I also own the Japanese version of this set but that’s a story for a future blog!) and look at the lovely mini album reproductions and the reproductions of the original Capitol vinyl labels for these albums.
One thing that’s interesting is that I looked at the matrix for the SK! set I own and all of the discs in it have an RE in the matrix in the center of the discs.
The copies of “Beatles VI” and “Rubber Soul” that I sent to EMI for an exchange don’t have an RE in the matrix yet play the correct mono versions, interesting. They also have the same timing as the SK1 discs as well.
In the future I’ll take a look at the Volume One set as well as the Japanese versions of these sets which have better made covers than the U.S. sets.
Well that’s my Beatles fix for the day my friends.
Anyone in the mood for a game of Monopoly or an episode of “Bewitched”?
Sorry, it’s hard to kick that 1965 habit.
Until next time, be well and Beatle on!!!