Welcome back! As we creep back into that wonderful Fall time of year my mind, as per usual, is turning toward listening to some old vinyl.
Not just any old vinyl mind you, lately I’ve been taking a look at all the original UK Beatles vinyl I own and making needledrops (vinyl transfers to digital) of all the first pressing mono and stereo copies that reside in my collection.
Today I wanted to feature two of my absolute favorite pressings – two of the best mono albums in the entire Beatles catalog (in my humble opinion): “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
As fate would have it I acquired both of these lovely pressings in 1999. Back then I was just getting into Ebay and at that time one could find really good deals on Beatle vinyl especially if you looked for playable copies that weren’t in Near Mint condition.
Nowadays original Beatles UK pressings will set you back quite a bit but then you could find them much cheaper and usually in decent shape without spending a fortune.
Funny enough I remember that I won both of these albums together in one auction from someone who lived in Atlanta, Georgia. Why do I remember that you say? Well I remember thinking how funny it was to find two first pressing Beatles UK monos in Atlanta of all places. I don’t know why but that struck me as odd.
Anyway, I could tell from the photos in the auction that both were well loved and played but the description said they both sounded great so after not many other bids I won the pair for $30 including shipping which I thought was fair.
When I got them in the mail I was very pleased as the covers were really in decent shape and though I could tell the vinyl was well-played both albums looked pretty good.
Now at the time of this auction I don’t remember if I knew that there was a rare first pressing of the “Revolver” album that was only pressed for one day which contained an alternate mix (Mono Mix 11) of “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
As the story goes The Beatles producer George Martin called the pressing plant on the first day of the pressing of the album and requested that this version of the mono record be stopped so the mix could be switched with a more preferred version of the mono mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
Most likely John Lennon asked Martin to switch the mix at the last minute and though most other artists would not have the ability to do such a late minute change thus was the power and clout of The Beatles that EMI allowed the substitution.
Even though EMI granted the change they insisted that the copies they already pressed would go out for sale and not destroyed thus this lovely collectible was born.
(Note: I don’t think I learned about that rare pressing until several years later reading one of Bruce Spizer’s terrific Beatles books on the UK Beatle albums called “Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records”).
As luck would have it the pressing of “Revolver” from that Ebay purchase was indeed the rare version of the album that contains the alternate mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
I just remember thinking at the time how great both albums sounded though I was a little frustrated there’s was a slight skip on one track on side one of “Revolver”. I remember not contacting the seller because I thought it was a good price and that “Pepper” played nearly perfect so what the heck why not keep them.
It’s a good thing I did as years later when I realized that my copy of “Revolver” had the matrix number XEX 606-1 that it was indeed the rare album with the alternate mix.
(Note 2: I’ve just recently read that even though this rare mix version was only pressed for one day EMI who released the album was capable of pressing up to 120,000 copies of an album in a day so accounting for the smaller stereo pressings there may actually be upwards of 80,000 or more copies of this mono pressing floating around the UK somewhere.)
As for the mono mix 11 of “Tomorrow Never Knows” it’s actually not drastically different to the familiar mono mix but it does have differences in John Lennon’s vocals and the volume of the tape loops that run throughout the song.
The telltale sign that’s it is the rare mix is that it fades out much longer than the normal mono mix and features more of the tack piano in the fade than the regular mix.
It wasn’t until I read about the rare mix and discovered I owned it on my pressing. I’m guessing I just thought it was the difference between mono and stereo and didn’t really pay much attention to this mix.
It wasn’t until I bought another UK mono pressing of “Revolver” that contained the regular mono mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” that I could clearly tell the difference and now I really love listening to this alternate mix.
I’m so glad side two of my copy of “Revolver” with the rare mix plays perfectly and sounds great. I actually dubbed side one from my other UK mono copy of “Revolver” (both of these copies have XEX 605-2 on side one) so that I have a pristine digital audio representation of the first UK mono pressing of this album.
As I said the mono pressing of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” plays fantastic with very little noise and though it looks like it was well loved sounds like a fairly unplayed copy.
By the way the matrixes on my copy of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” are side one XEX 637-1 and side two XEX 638-1 for those who want to know.
Well there you have it. As usual you can see photos of these two beauties above and below. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is missing its original red inner sleeve but is otherwise complete.
That’s all for now so until next time be well and safe and play some music!